Just over 2 1/2 years ago when I first started my blog, I had decided that I would only write about outdoor things. Recently, as some of you know, I suffered a concussion. This concussion did not happen outside, however I strongly believe that this is something that could happen very easily outdoors. I wanted to write about it because I was unaware of these things, and I very much would like people to be aware of these things, if this is something that happens to you when you are outdoors adventuring.
As I say in many of my posts, I am not an expert, and I do not claim to be. This is just what happened to me and I think it’s important to share it.
On January 3, 2018 just a few days into the new year, I was in the basement where I live and had just come from outside. I was walking in the basement to check the oil gauge on the tank and suddenly felt a large obstruction impact the top of my head. It was a wooden beam in the low ceiling.
I hit the beam so hard that it knocked me backwards onto my butt and I sat there for a moment stunned. After a few minutes I got up and felt a little off, but mostly I was okay.
I went to my room and spent the next four hours on my computer working on a video for my YouTube channel.
I advised a few friends of what had happened and many warned to be aware that I might have a concussion. These friends went over the list of symptoms and I also went online and looked them up. I didn’t even have a headache. I felt perfectly fine. I went and made dinner and continued with my evening and the next day I went to work. This is what I looked like…..
I had scheduled the next day to leave work a few hours early for an appointment and I was glad because near the end of the day I started to feel some eyestrain from being on the computer. I am prone to headaches and migraines and I’ve had sinus infections most of my life, so I didn’t even notice the connection.
After my appointment, I spent a few hours on the computer once again. I got up to make dinner and that is the first time I really felt off. My head started to hurt and I felt a bit lightheaded and sick. I went to my room to lie down on my bed and suddenly my head was full of pain.
I called the doctor and being in a small town I was able to get in fairly quickly. I was told immediately that I had a concussion. I was surprised and shocked and honestly had no idea. I was also told the first 48 hours was critical for healing and, well, I had obviously messed that up big time even though I thought I was being cautious.
It was a Friday and I was told that I needed to rest as much as possible, no electronics, no TV, just rest the next few days until I felt better. But I didn’t really feel bad, so I was confused. I did as I was told and on Saturday and Sunday I did my best to lay down, rest and sleep, and listen to audiobooks, which I wasn’t aware that I shouldn’t be doing?
On Monday I went back to work, but after three hours I started to get a very bad headache and feel sick, so I told my boss I would have to call it a day. The next day I went back to work with high hopes assuming I could double my time, but after just 2 1/2 hours I already had a headache even though I pushed on to work longer.
By Tuesday Night, I had a constant headache and felt sick and it wouldn’t go away. I had slept most of the afternoon and evening and when I woke up on Wednesday I still had a headache and felt nauseous. I had now had a headache for two days straight and I was told if my symptoms got worse I should return to the doctor.
My doctor is actually a nurse practitioner and on Wednesdays her office isn’t open until 1pm. Because she had said I would probably need further looking at, I assumed I would get sent to an actual doctor for some sort of testing, and as I didn’t have one, that meant going to emerge. So when I woke up Wednesday morning I had decided to take myself to the hospital and get checked out. I was in fairly quickly and waiting to see Dr. Head if you can believe it? I was amazed at the irony, but that is his name, true story!
Dr. Head came in and did a small exam having me follow a pen with my eyes, testing my strength with my arms, feeling my neck, feeling the actual physical dent that was left on the top of my head from where my head struck the beam, etc, etc.
When he finished he sat down to have a talk with me. His bedside manner was wonderful. He told me I had a serious concussion and if I didn’t take care of it and relieve the symptoms immediately, I could have brain damage for the rest of my life. This definitely made me take notice. Up until now I didn’t realize how serious it was even though people had told me. I didn’t feel dizzy, I wasn’t being forgetful or confused, I wasn’t vomiting or having any of the serious symptoms that I saw online, so I just thought I would get a little headache and it would go away in a few days and all would be well. Boy was I wrong!
Dr. Head told me I was to take an entire week off work, which upset me. I was going to Cuba in a few weeks and would be taking a week off and had to prepare year end at work, but obviously none of this mattered to Dr. Head. His main goal was to get me well and I needed to make it mine .
“But I’m a blogger, I have a YouTube channel, and I’m presenting at shows in just over a month, I need to prepare my presentations. I need to get my posts out.” Dr. Head was very stern, no electronics, no phone, no work, no TV, no radio, no audiobooks, I do not want you to think AT ALL the entire next week. All you are allowed to do is sleep! HOLY SHIT!
I went online and told people that I would be absent and as the comments and words of advice flooded in, I ignored them and turned off my phone. I spent the next four or five days doing exactly what I was told. Dying of boredom. I generally equate myself to the energizer bunny on crack. I am over active, I do not stop moving, and generally sleep very little, spending most of my day thinking more than any human should. But now I was being told I wasn’t allowed to think. Do you know how hard it is not to think, especially when you’re trying not to think? It’s mind-boggling, but I continued to do the best I could. Laying down, sleeping when I wasn’t tired, and resting as much as humanly possible.
A few friends told me that fish oil was helpful as well as eating lots of protein, so I filled my diet with protein and consumed fish oil three times a day and spent as much time as is I could resting. A week after my appointment with Dr. Head I went back to see my nurse practitioner and was told I could go back to work for two hours a day. WHAT??? TWO HOURS?? I was amazed that was it, but I abided and after a few days, I started feeling better and pushing the limits once again and my head quickly told me that was not allowed
On Friday, I suffered a major setback and had a headache again for two days. The spot where I actually impacted my head with the beam had only been bruised and sore for a week after the initial impact, but now over two weeks after hitting my head it was all sore again? It was very bizarre, but I understood very quickly that it meant I needed to be serious still and I was not as well as I thought I was. I was extremely depressed and ready to cancel my presentations and any upcoming trips I had scheduled. But I didn’t. Instead, I turned off my brain and stopped thinking for the next day and a half and eventually, I felt okay again.
I was so grateful I had another chance. I went to work on Monday with a new plan. As the computer was my worst trigger, I would do basic filing for the first few hours of my shift, and then do my two hours of computer work which seemed to be my limit before getting a headache. I managed to work four hours and was quite pleased with myself. After napping for a few hours, I had another hour or two in the afternoon to work on my own computer and my blog, youtube and presentations. It wasn’t very much time, but if I was extremely organized, I could make it work. I had no choice.
Today, I have a much more positive outlook on things. I understand that when I push myself too hard my head is going to start hurting and at that time I need to stop what I’m doing, find a quiet place to rest, turn off my brain stop thinking, stop looking at electronics and let my brain recharge again. Once I do this I may be able to get back up and continue again until the pain returns.
Without electronics, I feel mostly normal and can continue through my day for many hours sometimes six or seven even without any pain at all in my head. But if electronics or a computer is involved, I can’t push it over a few hours. This has been difficult and extremely challenging, but I am managing to do what I need to do because I don’t want to have any permanent damage and I would like to get back to normal as soon as possible. As hard as it is to be patient with myself and my healing, it is something I have no choice but to do.
I guess the moral of the story is….. if you hit your head in any capacity at all, even if you don’t think you have a concussion, stay away from electronics as much as possible for the first 48 hours and assume you might have a concussion. You could be causing yourself a lot of damage that you do not know about. I honestly had no clue I had a concussion and I checked my symptoms with several people and consider myself a fairly bright and logical person. This can happen to anyone and I don’t want it to. If just one person reads this post and somewhere down the line it helps that person, I will be happy with what I have written here and possibly will have helped them avoid what’s happening to me right now.
In preparation of the upcoming presentations I was asked to do quite some time ago, demoing my tents at Mew Lake on Family, Day, speaking at the Outdoor Adventure Show in Toronto and at the Quiet Water Symposium, I had been preparing posts and videos in advance and saving them for this month. Thankfully, I have quite a few weeks of content all saved up and prepared for you, so hopefully my posts and videos will go out on schedule every week without a blip.
This week I am actually off in Cuba (pre planned – pre concussion) so I am hoping to get a tonne of rest while I am away and be much stronger when I return. I want to thank everyone for their patience and kind words. At this time I am only able to stay awake about 7-9 hours a day with a nap in between and I am working about half of that, so please know I am getting what I can done and it is very difficult to do so in the time I have available. Hopefully the hours I am able to do things will increase bit by bit until I am back to feeling myself in a month or two? (and i’m probably pushing it with that guess… but fingers crossed. )
Here are some links that I found helpful over the past few weeks to explain concussions and what you need to do:
I really enjoyed this video and it gave me a lot of good information. It was very easy to understand.
I also really liked this video.
This page was recommend to me by a friend who has gone through some big issues with concussions also and I found it very helpful. I had no clue how serious some of this stuff was.
I hope you don’t ever get a concussion, but if you do, please take care of yourself and let yourself heal!