A few weeks ago I wrote a post entitled Relating. It was about the new (past 9 years, since my brain injury) difficulty I had relating to others. I discuss how it’s tough to convey the experience and how great the help from my friends and family was. Recently, I read an article, entitled Voyages in Concussion Land: the homeless, Sidney Crosby and me by Tabatha Southey in The Globe and Mail on Friday, Oct 5, 2012. In it, Tabatha wonders about, “the dissociation many concussion sufferers experience”.
Immediately I thought ‘Dissociation! That’s the word! Perfect.’ However, being my critical, nit-picking-self, I soon found reasons why ‘dissociation’ wasn’t, in fact, ‘perfect’ to describe me. This bit of criticism was made much easier by my recent trip to Toronto and London, Ontario to see my best friends from university. We had a great time! Not only that, I got to see their children (except one). Dissociated could in no way describe how I felt at any time that weekend. Even though all the guys are married and almost all have children, it was such an easy, if not natural, situation that it was as though we still all lived in the same house (Granted, their actual houses now are much, much, cleaner – I can’t emphasize that enough).
Then I came home and this past weekend had a much different, yet also easy/natural time at a friend’s party. So, I’ve started thinking that it’s not people who I ‘dissociate’ from, or can’t relate to, but rather situations, and as long as I’m comfortable, everything is great. Once, at the party this past weekend, I moved away from the people and the music to take a break for a moment. After a few minutes, one of my friends came to join me and I explained to him that it wasn’t that anything was bothering me, I felt great, I was having a really good time, I just needed to let my mind breathe. That’s all it took, a few moments and everything was terrific.
Of course I still have all of the same problems as I did when I wrote my first ‘relating’ post, I just think that, for me, dissociation is not my problem. I can take a few moments and everything is fine. Then again, I have 9 years experience and my brain injury was very clear. There was no second guessing what happened to me. By now, it’s part of my life and I’ve made adjustments, thanks to time. When I read about how people who’ve had brain injuries have feelings of dissociation and feelings that they can’t relate, I sympathize and relate. While I can have great weekends like the one that just passed or the one I had with my friends from university, I can also have lousy ones where I need longer than ‘a few moments’, but I’ve been able to make the lousy ones a rarer occurrence. I can relate because as I’ve just mentioned, I’m still dealing with those same problems and I can sympathize because I know it gets better with time. Though that sucks to hear, that’s how it works. All those stupid, trite, and patronizing idioms about having patience and the therapeutic qualities of time, hold true.
From my perspective, it is important to be cognizant of personal signs / symptoms of the INTERMITTENT / ONGOING adverse implications / symptoms of a concussion.
Approximately 22 1/2 years have passed since I suffered my “mild” concussion.
Despite this length of time, I still require rest time / reduced stimulation every day and more lengthy periods of rest / reduced stimulation on a weekend.
Rest incorporates physical, emotional and cognitive rest.
If I do not consistently apply this adequate rest routine I will experience fatigue, headaches, strong tingling sensations / pins and needles in my head and a need for very minimal auditory and/or visual stimulation. Furthermore, I may also require a day of “down time” to reenergize / recharge.
I have advised persons who have sustained concussions to identify and be very watchful of concussion symptoms emerging on long weekends and holidays that involve travel and minimal / inadequate rest. Also recommend refraining from alcohol when overextending their body, emotions and/or cognitions.