For those of you curious as to what has been going on, things have been crazy in this household. It has been a period of five months now, and the family continues to work through a very complex recovery process. So, here’s the beginning to how I was injured, what resulted from the injury, and how we are pushing forward… back towards greatness.
The drive home was difficult to deal with. My sense of gravity, where the ground was, and my vision were all out of whack. I was extremely sensitive to light, sound made my head feel like it was in a vice, and I had the strangest taste lingering in my mouth. When I arrived home, I immediately went into my semi-permanent chamber, The basement.
I was surviving on short, for our cycles: take meds; slowly fade away for an hour; fall asleep; wake up; toss/turn, and damn near cry from the excruciating pain of the migraine; pop in another pill. This went on for over a week. My sleep cycle was nonexistent. I would be up at the most random hours of the night, and watch television with the volume at a whisper (surprisingly, I heard everything!). I got much of my enjoyment from watching shows that had anything to do with the outdoors. I craved sunlight like you wouldn’t believe; however, I know it would be some time before I’d get to enjoy that again.
Remember that strange taste? As it turns out, it would be the only thing I could taste or smell for a little over a month. My brain could not register anything else (thank goodness that’s over). The best way I could describe this would be taste of burnt garlic, and the smell burning plastic, all at the same time! Aside from the drug-induced nausea, this made it especially hard to take in any food – I could feel my body getting weaker as the days went by.
He tells me, “Make sure I keep breathing.”
Then turns around and gets scared when he opens his eyes and I’m right there.
The walk up the stairs on a daily basis was a struggle. My uncle showed up to help the recovery long, and everyone would take turns walking me first to the neighbor’s driveway, then down the street, and soon to the next block. This would all cause my world to start spinning, but slowly my tolerance would continue to build. A follow-on visit, and MRI, and a few interviews later, it was determined that the blood had receded, my fractures had almost completely healed, and I was on track for recovery. My instructions from the neurosurgeon: no work for six weeks, no exercise, no stimulation (no reading, talking for an extended period of time, no television, no music, only rest). This was almost unthinkable (literally). For the next six weeks, this is what I did – a whole lot of nothing. I gradually increased my activity over time, and begin my therapy at the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) clinic. This is what I am currently doing now.
From no-hour days, to four, to six, and now eight, I am slowly returning to my old routine. I am definitely not as sharp as I used to be, but I’m a far cry from where I was in my dungeon days! I am slowly getting back to my pursuit of fitness, and being more engaged intellectually. With the help of my family, and the amazing staff at the TBI clinic, I hope to be back to 100% within a year’s time (this is common against brain injury cases). But we will continue to move forward. My loving wife has served as my rock, and my fire. My children have cheered me on. My friends and family have shown support, patience and understanding. We will meet the objective! We will continue to fight.
What is there to learn and the situation like this? To be honest, I believe I’ve learned a whole lot.
First, no one is immune to injury, or failure.
Though I have failed several times throughout my life, and, yes, I have been injured, I have never felt as weak, or incapable as I have during my recovery from this injury. One of the most difficult things to deal with is that there are no visual signs of injury. When you look in the mirror, you see a normal person, and you look just fine. It can be confusing. If I had a big scar going across my head, I think maybe it would be better to cope – this is not the case. Instead, I’d grow frustrated, and I’d question myself on a daily basis, “Why are you being so weak? Why can’t you beat this?” Shortly after, I would find myself being swept away in waves of pain, and disorientation. Everyday there were many failures, each increasingly difficult to deal with.
Second, sleep can be as precious as water.
As the days went on, I learned that one of the key factors in my ability to perform daily tasks was how I slept at night. Initially, I would sleep throughout the entire day, and had no sense of schedule. After I stopped taking drugs, I struggled to get decent sleep at night.
Because of this, I began researching good sleep practices, I’d listen to talks by people like Dr. Kirk Parsley (Health Optimization Physician) to learn how to optimize my sleep. This meant, mainly, changing my habits which led up to the time I’d lay my head down. I would stop watching television, listening to music, or even using bright lights at least an hour before bed time. Initially, I supplemented with Melatonin, Magnesium, and Vitamin D3, all of which are supposed to support optimal sleep recovery. It took about a month, but soon, I would be getting the best sleep I’ve ever had, and this made all the difference. In fact, throughout all phases of my therapy, I’m constantly being questioned, in great detail, about my sleep habits. Thankfully, I had done much of the research, and leg-work on my own beforehand. I honestly attribute much of my recovery to ensuring I get eight quality hours of sleep a night. This is definitely a practice I will continue.
Lastly, attitude is EVERYTHING!
Your brain is responsible for much of your identity, and is the storage place for your “personality”. When you have different forms of brain damage, inevitably, you will not truly be your full self. This was definitely the case in my story. The days where I’d preach to my boys, “What comes first? Attitude” were long gone. My attitude downright STUNK!
I found myself blaming everything that could possibly go wrong on my injury, and would use it as a crutch most of the time.
Did my injury have a lot to do with some of my struggles, yes. But sometimes, I wouldn’t even give myself a chance! I’d fail, or tell myself I’d fail, before I would even start.
Thankfully, my lovely wife was brave enough to give it to me straight one day. She made me aware of what I was doing, and I was scared. I was scared that I was allowing myself to become a person that I know would eventually self-destruct —I had to change.
So, day by day, I’d seek help. I talked to all of my therapists (at that time, I had three different people working to help me) and let them know what I was struggling with. Each time, they’d listen, and they would encourage me to think positive, and would challenge me to face my recently developed fear of failure.
In reality, I was very fearful that I would never be able to write again. With their help, however, here we are today.
Now, I am getting back to my daily pursuit of excellence; I am working towards being the rock in my family again; and I’m fighting to get back to where I can help other people learn from my experiences.
Make the effort, do your part.
Fight to make your family better! – The Warrior Family
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