Around the middle of February, I decided it was time to finally see if I could return to work for good. As scary as the idea of returning and failing yet again was, I knew that I would never be able to move forward in the final stages of my recovery process until I was successfully able to work again. I spent the next few weeks going to Starbucks and working on my blog, trying to prepare my body for the return and finally, in mid-March, I returned to my classroom for the first time since that fall.
For the first week, I traded off half days with my long-term substitute and then slowly transitioned back to full days by myself the next week. Those first few weeks were definitely rough—I left work totally and completely exhausted each evening, unable to do much of anything else. However, slowly, I was able to regain some of my confidence and after a few weeks, I knew that I was going to be able to stick it out for the long run. For the rest of the school year, I continued to have migraines and vertigo but it became manageable, and I no longer felt an increase in symptoms each day—something I’d hoped for at the very beginning of my recovery but wasn’t granted.
About a month into my return, I also started seeing a vestibular therapist to help with my continued vertigo/dizziness symptoms. She, like the concussion clinic had in the fall, concluded that my eyes and brain were not operating at the same speed, but she also found deficiencies in my balance, especially with my eyes closed that were caused by the concussion. So, for the next few months, I worked through balance and eye exercises until finally, in mid-June, I was able to leave the program after successfully reducing my body’s sensitivities to my vertigo.
As of today, I still struggle with some vertigo, migraines, and anxiety brought on by my symptoms but that sensitivity is decreasing so much that I feel like I finally have my life back. I was able to return to spin class two weeks ago and though I can’t go as full out as I used to yet, just being there feels like such an achievement—I teared up a little just driving into the gym parking lot. I also successfully weaned myself off nortriptilyne last week and finally am medication free!
I wanted to end with a list of things that I think possibly caused my post concussive syndrome to last so long, as well as what I think aided my recovery the most, though, as I’ve learned through numerous doctor’s visits, no one really knows:
Why My PCS Lasted So Long:
- Laying down and sleeping too much during my initial few weeks of recovery—I’ve since learned that laying down too much can be very detrimental.
- Going from zero to sixty during the initial few weeks of recovery. I mean, I read an entire book from cover to cover on my iPad after not reading for 3 weeks…
- Having an undiagnosed neck injury caused by the whiplash. I honestly think that this was the biggest factor. Until my neck was adjusted, my brain stem was compressed, making it nearly impossible for my brain to repair the concussion damage.
Most Important Recovery Aids:
- Though expensive, I think acupuncture really helped alleviate stress and anxiety throughout the process.
- Also an important stress and anxiety reliever.
- As I mentioned, getting neck injury diagnosed and treated was one of the most important things I could have done, despite all of my doctors saying there was nothing wrong with my neck…
- Vestibular Therapy.
- The support of my friends and family. I know that watching me struggle through all of this was so difficult for everyone, and I truly could not have come through it without everyone’s support.
Finally, I wanted to share a few poems I wrote back in the fall, during the grip of my post intense post concussive syndrome.
Clarity is so hard to grasp
Among the constant jerky
Spinning of my mind. I try
To walk, to breathe in the
Beauty and peace flown in on the tips
Of this new October wind. But
Despite my need, my desperate longing,
My mind will not, can not, find focus.
I look up and see everything else is
In motion: leaves whip & flutter &
Cascade down to the earth, cars
Whisk away to meet obligations unknown,
Runners fly by, breathing heavily, striving
Towards their goals. But me,
Me, despite the motion of my mind,
My feet; the motion around me,
I am still.
I am stuck in a moment, desperate
To join the others in their forward
Motion and leave the stagnant, festering
Hope is a funny thing.
Sometimes its so tangible
That I can hold it in my
Hand, befriend it, caress it.
Other times it is so far
Out of reach, I don’t even
Know how to begin to search.
Most times, however, it sits
Just out of reach, like a
Bird flirting with the danger
Of a lurking cat, coming
Just close enough to alert it
Of its teasing presence, but
Staying just far enough to