Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Back to Workouts, Post Concussion

Contributed by: Sue Strong, Erica's Wish, Founder and Race Director

You see it in the news, on tv and all over the web. Sports athletes with concussions. Hockey players and head injuries. Kids on bikes, skateboards and rollerblades not wearing helmets. All these scenario’s can lead to one thing.. a concussion. Everyone has heard about concussions, most people know what they are but what do you really know aside from “a really bad head injury/headache”.

How many times have you heard the word CONCUSSION and always thought, “thats awful”. You hear that bright lights and noises really affect those with a concussion but can you actually imagine it?  I had the honour shall we say, of having a first hand experience. This is one experience I would like to avoid again.  Concussions have many degrees. Mine luckily enough was considered mild. One would think, ok not so bad. Well, any degree of a concussion is considered bad. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. From hiding in a dark room for 5 weeks to the exhaustion and the migrane that never leaves, it seems like eternity. You do what the doctor says, rest. You really don’t have a choice. Your body naturally wants to sleep, A LOT. That is the upside. The downside is of course all the symptoms and the pain that goes along with it. It is a very scary injury and one that should never be taken lightly. This is one injury that often goes undiagnosed unfortunately. I personally saw three doctors and an ER before being properly diagnosed.

The doctor tells you to rest and you do. The headaches and numerous symptoms start to dissipate and you think “Great, I am back!”. Sad but true the healing doesn’t end there. I am a runner. Your average run of the mill runner but none the less a runner. No one warned me that the first step out the door would actually hurt. That my heart rate would race so high that I physically could not run. That these symptoms would actually take months to dissapear. Its a strange feeling. I was not sad like when you take time off of exercise and you have lost your fitness; my fitness was taken from me. I was more aware of the extent of this injury and the seriousness of it. It took close to six months before I could run again. I literally had to start by walking. Its a surreal feeling of having the athletic side of you taken away and starting from scratch again but it certainly makes you appreciate life. It shows you that life can change in a minute. I learned alot from that injury and so did everyone around me. Whenever possible, take precautions so you do not end up with a head injury. If you do, listen to your body. Do not try to come back to a regular routine before you are ready. You will know when you are ready. Your brain is a magical organ that will literally shut you down until you are healed.

Here is my advice for anyone post head injury:

1.  If you have a persistant headache, feel nauseous, dizzy or lightheaded, get to a doctor.

2.  If decision making seems impossible (more so that on a normal day), get to a doctor

3.  If you have any issues with your eyesight, get to a doctor.

If your doctor dismisses you, listen to your body and seek another opinion. You know yourself best! Make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones whenever possible by ways of helmets to lessen the chance of brain injuries. You only have one brain, take care of it!

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