House-Bound: Surviving a Moderate Concussion

For the first third of this year, I was recovering from a moderate concussion that I had gotten from a fall at work in February. Due to this incident, I was house-bound for the most part. Sometimes I would go out for 30 minutes to an hour on a good day if I was feeling well, with help from Fern. Any longer than that, I would collapse from the dizziness or get incredibly nauseous.

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It started off as a very terrifying experience because I was sent to the emergency room where they put me in a hard collar for almost 3 hours.

Super uncomfortable. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom. I either had to hold it until my bladder exploded or use a bedpan. Have you ever urinated in a shallow cardboard toilet bowl? Yeah, it’s honestly a whole new level of humiliation. And, I felt bad for the poor nurse who had to help me out. The main thought that ran through my head while she was essentially “changing” me was, “I bet I’m not even close to her worst patient.”

I got a CT scan and a couple other tests which all came back clear. So, the doctors sent me home saying that I got a mild concussion and that my symptoms should start to calm down in a few days. Guess what my symptoms did not do.

You guessed it.

My symptoms went from bad to worse as the week went by. I got super nauseous every time I tried to eat and I got massive headaches every hour or so. Saturday morning, about five days after the incident, I woke up with blurred to no vision in my right eye. Terrifying, right? I freaked out and woke up Fern, to which he responded by taking me to the emergency room. While we were on the bus on the way to the hospital, I lost feeling in my right arm. If I wasn’t panicking before, I was certainly panicking then. After several tests, all of them coming back clear, the feeling in my arm came back and I had a set appointment for more poking and prodding at a later date.

For the most part, that was the peak of my physical suffering. It was the mental suffering that was not done messing with me yet.

I don’t know about you, but being stuck at home alone for several weeks sucks. Fern couldn’t stay with me all the time because we needed to pay rent, and I certainly couldn’t do anything about that while concussed. And, since I just moved out of my small hometown at the end of last year, I did not have any friends nearby.

Some good friends made the drive out to see me which kept me sane. My best friend, Julia, already lived 20-30 minutes away from me when I was living with my parents. Now I’m another 20-30 minutes farther and she still came to see me when I had my breakdowns or even just to keep me company as we binged Netflix or watched the Try Guys on YouTube. Gas ain’t cheap around these parts so, true friend right there. Having friends and family visit with you is crucial to the healing process. Mainly for your sanity and mental stability.

Many more obstacles seemed to pile down on me while I was recovering, which is always the way, right? Financial issues. Family issues. School issues. Relationship issues. Work issues. Since I was injured, I was unable to work at all, so I couldn’t work extra jobs to help pay for rent and food. We actually needed to go to the food bank at one point. It was either that or get evicted. And school was incredibly difficult while concussed. I was unable to sit through 3-hour lectures for several weeks which harmed my grade. I was able to get some leeway but there was only so much my professors could do.

I had also been hearing that rumours were being spread about me at work and people were going after my job. Apparently me sitting at home posting pictures on Instagram of the short walk I had made a lot of people say, “That’s not fair. She’s not actually sick.” For those of you who don’t understand how to recover from a concussion, let me tell you one very important thing my occupational therapist taught me: Do not just sit on your ass all day. Do not just nap all day. Go for a walk. Clean the house a bit. Anything to increase your stamina.

Because of all this stress, I was not in a good mindset. I was defeated and felt like there was no point for me to get better. But then, I had some great talks with great people. I came to the conclusion that I was not motivated to get better because that meant that I had to go back to work; a place where coworkers are fake and management was not communicating well with their workers. I loved working for IKEA but, working in such a big store with over 300 coworkers, it turns into a high school you see in the movies. There are cliques: bullies, popular people, loners. It basically turned into a place in which I did not feel safe or comfortable. If you can’t trust the people you see everyday, then it’s not a good environment to be in. Not to say all IKEA stores are like that, just that one in particular.

After deciding to quit, (just deciding, not even actually quitting) a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and my recovery incline was getting steeper. Recovery from a concussion isn’t just rest and getting physical stamina back. It’s a brain injury, meaning if your mind is filled with negativity, your brain will not heal properly. It’s all about perspective, as they say. So, getting that new outlook, it helped me realize that the pain I was feeling wasn’t just because I slipped and fell.

About a month after I officially quit IKEA, I was almost fully recovered and obtained a receptionist/office services position at a big law firm downtown. My mindset on life had changed drastically and my stamina was so close to being regular. I felt immensely better. This just goes to show you that when recovering from any injury, you have to take into consideration how important your psychological recovery is, not just your physical recovery. Every type of trauma, big or small, takes a toll on your health, both mental and physical.

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