I have been wanting to share so many different blogs because I have so many different ideas on what I want to share, for the chance that maybe it will help or educate someone. Obviously, I have really really been wanting to share about my experience of having severe brain damage and always will. Let me just warn you, THE BRAIN IS SO COMPLICATED. Seriously, kudos to neuro surgeons, neuropsychologists, or anybody dealing with the brain. I know I am supposed to share, in spite if people want or think I should or not. I was saved for a reason, God saved me for a reason.
Recently a young lady who is a western influencer had an accident riding her horse causing her to have some brain damage. Stuff like this of course catches my eye more than it used to because I want to know the updates like if her brain has swelled or if she is in a coma or what her mood is like. All because I experienced all of that (well my brain never swelled, praise be to God.) That provoked me even more to share what my symptoms and experience was like, in hopes others understand a little more about what she has gone through.
First, if you are unaware, in 2020 (worst year for so many reasons) I was in a very very fatal car accident causing life threatening damages to my body. My God is an awesome God and had His hands all over me that whole time. Going to the hospital, I do want to give them grace for they do not have experts in neuro therapy or neuropsychology matters, they truly did not know how to handle me. And by that I mean my mood and personality was completely different than the person I am right now and was before. I first of all had no idea what had happened or where I was or what was going on or honestly I was so so out of reality. Post traumatic amnesia is what they call this. I believe our bodies protect us in lots of ways and this protects me because I remember nothing from that traumatizing accident and the way I acted when I was in my PTA. My family has told me lots of stories, that now we kind of laugh about. The "F" word was my favorite word to use and it sounds like pretty much and "cuss word" was strong in my vocabulary. Now I am not saying I never say any of those words, but it was just constant and every other word. I was mad and angry they had me there and I had no clue at all why they would not let me go home.
It was a month after the accident that I slowly started to come to realization of where I was, what had happened, and what was going on. It was not like a flip of a switch in realization it was just me trying to put the puzzle pieces back together. For example, I had asked what my dad and little sister were doing. By the way my father passed away almost five years ago, so I was a little out of it obviously. It took me a little and then I said, "Oh yeah dad was in a accident." So, slowly I was putting my life back together. Slowly, my brain was healing and reconnecting all of the missing parts. Fortunately for me, I got all of those back and look as good as I was and like nothing even happened.
I think what I sometimes want to say, however, is that it is also unfortunate.
Let me explain.
Even those who were there with me and saw me at my very worst, forget that, that is a part of me and always will be. It has become the hardest part of this injury. People will say, "Oh it will get better and you will be able to do all the things you used to," or "You can do all of those activities and probably will be fine later on." Wrong. I literally just talked to my neurophysiologist and he said the fatigue and overwhelming feeling will always be there. Yes, my brain has healed, but there are still bruises causing hurt to the system. Let me explain those changes that some may not notice, but I do and it is HARD.
Fatigue. The number one symptom those with brain damage feel years after even. I know we all get tired and you are probably thinking that right now. Probably telling me to suck it up. I do not know how to explain the fatigue other than compare it to COVID fatigue. The way people describe how tired and out of it they feel, that is a daily feeling for me. To give you a background on what I was like, I was a "goer." My family, my mom, me, we have all always been doing so much at one time and going from place to place. That is one of the hardest things for me to give up. I cannot coach, play intramurals, have a family, while having a job. I can barely have a job, so that is why I started this little business of mine. I needed something to be able to step away and rest for a solid 30-40 minutes. I have to let my brain rest to be rejuvenated. Naps might sound great, but I feel like I am back in kindergarten just wanting to go and not lay down and rest. I have things to do, so that is something that has been so hard for me. Let's say I am tired and haven't rested. I am the next extreme of not making any sense. If I am telling a story, I cannot even think of the simplest word to say. That is when I know, my brain needs to rest.
Mood. I have always been a pretty easy going person. Talking before my head injury, I was not moody and had little to no emotions or feelings. Like I still hate crying, but my mood has changed that is for sure. Men, this is just something you probably already know, but women a lot of times get moody and crabby and emotional during their time of the month. I was not that way and it was awesome obviously. Now, however, I do feel a change in my mood during that time and I can't stand it. Anxiety has become a thing that I often feel. I do not want to say I never had anxiety before, but I rarely was anxious over things going on in my life or worrying about the future. This happens to nearly every person with brain trauma, but I got the jack of all trades. My frontal right lobe was most damaged and that, my friends, is where you find your emotions. So, for that let me tell you something that not a lot of people like to share, but I feel it is important. My neurophysiologist put me on anti-depressants from the beginning to regulate my emotions. Recently I wanted to try to get off of them. Bad bad choice because I was a whole other person. At first it made me sad that for the rest of my life I will need those and made me feel like a crazy person, but it is not my fault and if it helps me to live a better more emotionally sane life, that is what I will be doing. Although through medications, I still have moments where I do get upset quick and am an angrier person. That has never been me to have angry moments. I know that a lot of people with brain trauma have it all the time and a lot worse, but mine has only happened like a few times. So, in itself that is a blessing.
Attention. Like I have said, I have always been a goer and a doer. I get involved in so much, while also having a personal life. I also could be reading, looking at something while someone is talking to me and I would fully understand what they had just told me. Now, if you are saying something to me, you have to have my absolute FULL attention for me to remember or even follow along with you. So, when I am cleaning or cooking or doing some sort of task, you have to make me stop and listen or I will not get at all what you have said. Yes, you might be that way too in a way, but I was not. I was pretty sharp and could pay attention to multiple things while doing multiple things.
Social skills. I have recently shared on how brain trauma can affect someone with their social skills and that is so true. Some people will not talk at all and some just talk and talk. My family and I are talkers there is no doubt about it. Both my mom and dad love to talk, my aunts love to talk, and we just are socializers. So, I have always been a talker. Now it is worse and there are times I keep talking and talking and I start to annoy myself. I know I annoy others. Yes, I can feel it when you are irritated with me and this part of me. And times that has happened it really makes me hate myself and this new version of me. I can sense that someone just does not really wan to be around me, even some of my closest friends/family and that hurts a little. Trust me I hate that new part of me too. I am trying so hard to overcome that portion of this brain trauma by just realizing it and just shutting up. I have had moments I feel annoying and irritable to be around I have gone to my mom crying (I rarely rarely cry by the way) and telling her that I wish my vocals would have never been okay and I am not able to talk. I do not want sympathy over this. I do not want any sympathy. I just want realization that this is not who I was and I need a little grace at times.
Honesty. I am sure we have some people here that are going to be completely honest and will share their opinion. That is not always a bad thing. I have become unaware of things I should share and things that I should not. This has improved over time, but sometimes I am very blunt and honest. A lot of times I should not be, but it is a new part of me that it is harder for me to get a social que that I should not be saying that right then and there. Another thing I am trying to work on changing in myself. It is also so frustrating to me to be this way.
This is me and this is my story of brain trauma. It might and does look different for each and every person. I would say given the trauma to my brain, I am pretty blessed with how well I function. However, I was told before I left that it is a wound that no one can see. Strangers will not ever know that is a part of me. They cannot see all of the "bruises" and blood stains on my brain causing changes in me and some of the few issues I do have. I remember my speech therapist going over how even people that are aware of your wounds will forget. That is a fact. Truthfully, I forget sometimes when I am putting a lot on my plate or think I can keep going and do not need to rest or nap.
I recently watched a movie called "Brain On Fire" and I highly recommend watching it. If you have Netflix it is on there, so go give it a watch. But, it is obviously about a young gal who is feeling and seeing weird changes in herself because her brain is on fire. If you watch you will see how she becomes very emotionally all over the place, is very honest, her social life is changing, and she also has seizures. I was a lot of things in the beginning, over time I have improved on a lot and have never had a seizure thankfully, but have a much higher chance of having one. Watching, I kind of saw what I was probably like in the hospital in the beginning and what a lot of people are like with brain trauma. I do not know what the western influencer is like now or how she is doing with the aftermath, but I can bet there will be symptoms she will carry for the rest of her life. She will learn how to deal with them and that is a journey that I am also taking right now to make a better me and beautiful life.
P.S. Jokes have been made a lot of times that I actually do have a brain and I have proof so there you go ;)