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Where I’ve Been : Part 1

I made a mistake.

I should have been writing about my last few months.  It’s only now, coming out on the other side that I realize this mistake.  I guess that’s how mistakes work, right?  Maybe that’s just called wisdom?

Shortly after putting out my RPG ruleset in the last post, I had a flare up concerning my Post Concussive Syndrome.  The key point being it did not involve any kind of physical impact.  Instead, it involved a nasty combination of lack of sleep, stress and a cognition exercise.  One minute I was taking a cognition test to help out a graduate student in my department and the next I’m headed home with a massive migraine and concussion symptoms.  Once home, I slept for ten hours and felt marginally better afterwards.  It took days to really come all the way out of it.

post-concussion-300x300Needless to say, there was concern and so after consulting my doctor I was referred to a neurologist for the first time in over 12 years.  The referral took a long time and in that time there was a lot of other stressors, a battle with depression and, it so happened, a lot of other medical visits.  (I’d not had a primary care physician in a LONG time.)  With those weeks and months behind me, I can say I know exactly where my personal health stands (and then some!)  On top of that there was the constant barrage of work and family and this constant concern and stress that cognitively, I was getting worse.

Why I didn’t set myself down to write about this as I was going through it, I have no idea.  Maybe I was worried I would sound too whiny?   It could have also been the depression.  The sense that no one really cares anyway so why right about it?  (More on this in future posts, I hope.)  I’m not really sure why.  I just didn’t “feel” it and I didn’t feel like forcing myself.  Looking back, I realize I should have forced myself.  Remember, it’s only called wisdom if you learn from your mistakes!

The neurologist visit came along in early July.  It was actually a pretty simple visit.  No imaging needed.  After hearing my story and my history my doctor looked at me for a quiet second and said, “Alright, we’re going to have a long talk about this.”

“First of all, you have Post Concussive Syndrome.  It’s chronic.  It’s not going away and it’s not going to get better.  The problem is you know all of this but you’re not taking steps to take care of it.”  He assured me that my event in May was normal for an individual with PCS, mainly due to the lack of sleep prior to the event.  He asked if I thought I had migraines.  I played it off, he called me on it and I had to admit, “Yeah, I guess I’m having migraines.”

We talked about depression, anxiety, feeling exhausted at the end of the day, concern over waning executive  functions.  In the end, he made me feel better.  He also helped me get focused on the fact that I need to, immediately, begin taking care of it.  I have to simply face the fact and the truth that I have this issue.  It was likened to someone having a chronically sprained ankle and saying, “Oh, I can keep running.  It’s fine…” We talked strategies and I walked out of the office in a turbulent mix of “Whew, not as bad as I thought,” and “Crap, I really DO have a disability.”

This took me weeks to process.  One of the first things he recommended was quitting caffeine.  More on this later but I did it.  Make no mistake, it was hell.  However, last Friday was the first time in over 25 years I had awoken, felt good and didn’t have a craving for coffee.  I’ve also been following the holy triad of PCS; sleep, hydration and moderate exercise.  It’s taken weeks but I’m actually starting to notice a significant difference.

With all of this has been a slow and steady building of the desire to write again.  But it wasn’t quite time yet.  I kept thinking it was time but my digital trashcan was being continually filled up with rough drafts and half-baked ideas.  It was close but not yet.

There were a few more things I had to do first.

(To be continued)

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