It's All In Your Head

Discussion in 'Training Logs' started by Ero-Sennin, Dec 21, 2013.

  1. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    Got a good suggestion from fellow Mapper belltoller to start a recovery log over a head injury I received in a boxing match. It was kind of like a "sign" people talk about before they do something for me, a comment or thing that happens involving a subject they've been thinking about but haven't acted on yet. In this case I've been thinking about logging down my experiences involving my recovery from my injury, my successes and failures, but haven't had the motivation to do so. Then came the suggestion, so why the hell not do it on Map?

    I think it's appropriate because as practicing martial artists my injury is unfortunately not uncommon, especially in striking related martial arts. I'll state now in the introduction that my experience with this injury is not how it always happens with head injuries and I made a lot of mistakes due to my ignorance at the start of it all which has contributed to the lengthy time it has taken me to get to the point I am at now. I don't want anyone thinking, "well damn man, I'm not going to do boxing or muay thai or etc." from this log.

    I also had some pre existing conditions with a prior head injury I was not aware due to an IED blast while I was in service, as well as some other issues going on which have all contributed to the severity of my situation. A more in depth explanation can be found in the Boxing Journey Thread, this post in particular: reality though, is that it can happen, and maybe through this thread and the sharing of my experience a few people who can tolerate some longs posts can become informed on head injuries a little more, get some info. on how to deal with them, and maybe get a few laughs at how ridiculous it can all be at times when dealing with such an ailment.

    That said, I aim to log my experiences (and in a very personal way, beware) and include a lot about what I've learned about head injuries and what I'm trying to do to deal with some of the lingering symptoms that I constantly have to fight with currently. Maybe somewhere down the line somebody will benefit from it, and hopefully I'll benefit from it as well.

    With that, I close the intro post to the log.
  2. LemonSloth

    LemonSloth Laugh and grow fat!

    For what little it may be worth dude, this is a fantastic idea. I look forward to seeing just how you recover in whatever way you can :)
  3. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    The Beginning

    I had a feeling it was going to happen when I got matched up with him, this towering gorilla of a man who looked like he should be an NFL linebacker instead of competing in a boxing ring. It wasn't a nervous thing, it wasn't a scared thing, it was just one of those feelings I sometimes have like going to Afghanistan and knowing I was going to come back with my legs still attached to my body, or knowing my now wife would agree to marry me without even having to propose (I'm a romantic, I know). Unfortunately for me, the feeling carried through. I didn't defeat myself with it, I still tried my best but for what it was worth it wasn't very good. This man ended up handing me my very first major failure in life and if the repercussions of failure are always like what I am experiencing now, then I'll take it as a hint to not put yourself in stupid situations and be a lot more prepared if you do. A guy who outweighed you by 50lbs and had 6-7 inches of height on you with prior boxing matches was a horrible choice for my first fight.

    So I got knocked out. Before it happened I received a few blows that rocked me and sent my head buzzing, and that set me up for the big one. When I went down I couldn't even move for a good few agonizingly long moments, but I recovered. I remember going into the locker room still buzzing slightly, head full of cobwebs and getting momentarily nauseous but that all went away. Like an idiot I didn't drive with anyone to the match, but I made it home fine. Nothing felt wrong that night, and I hit the rack and woke up a few hours later to go train at the gym. That was probably the dumbest thing I did, go train literally a few hours after I had gotten knocked out.

    I did this for a week. I lightened up my training to be safe of course.:rolleyes:

    Then it hit a week later. I was at a store called Target with my wife and she was shopping for some kind of feminine products while I was looking at the mens clothing. I started feeling weird at first and didn't know why, it's hard to explain but I started getting a cold sweat and shaking and the whole world around me looked alien. I walked to my car in the parking garage and sat alone while my wife shopped. I did this for a few minutes before I called her and told her I didn't feel well and we needed to go immediately. When she finally made it to the car I was in a very strange world, paranoid and frantic. I tried to pull the car out to drive home but couldn't, my wife got scared, I told her to call 911 and she did. Nothing like getting wheeled out to an ambulance in a public place, having all those people who know nothing about you wonder why a fit looking young man is being wheeled away in an emergency.

    I was taken to an ER room, got an IV and some drugs and I felt considerably better. A couple hours later I was feeling ok and my wife drove us home where I knocked out. I was given some information on my injury that stated "do nothing stressful physically or mentally for the next week." Pfffft, what do doctors know. The next week involved me trying to go to school for my summer course, starting to feel horrible and driving back home. The class I was taking was an online math class so missing class attendance wasn't a big issue. So like a fool I did the math at home and online, all the while noticing my symptoms were getting worse the more quadratic equations I did, but I felt I HAD to do it.

    I hadn't showed up for class in a week at that point and I kept giving myself little pep talks about how I'm fine and I should just take a day or two and relax then get back into it. My idea of relaxing involved ignoring the school stuff and attendance, but not ignoring various errands I wanted to get done. I remember the trip in my car that caused the head injury to knock me on my butt completely, I went to go get gas in my car. I remember driving to the gas station and feeling like something was terribly wrong. I was breaking out into cold sweats, shaking, and having a hard time thinking. So I did what any guy would do, tell myself I'm stronger then this, that I'll be fine, just push through it and don't let it control you, you can do this.

    I did it.

    And then I spent the next two days in my bed with the lights off until my wife called 911 and I made my second trip to the ER. I didn't recover like I did from my first ER visit, I spent the next two weeks in bed. I had a severe case of vertigo at random times, a feeling of impending doom constantly over me, I urinated into bottles because I could hardly stand up without the world spinning, I dreaded having to defecate because of the release of pressure after the initial push that would make me want to throw up and emphasize the intense migraine I had, not to mention the dread of walking ten steps to the restroom (sorry Simon, I'm trying to drive home how horrible this is!), and I couldn't think or speak clearly. I don't know how to explain some of the symptoms to somebody, the emotions and anxiety.

    Imagine somebody who has done a lot of "manly man" things in their life, who drives themselves off of a strong will to succeed and lives up to a lot of principals society tends to hold males to. Imagine somebody who was leading a construction crew at 19 over men who were over twice his age because he was motivated enough to surpass them in skill; imagine a somebody who joined the Military and the infantry purposely; imagine the kind of person that gets meritoriously promoted twice, receives awards and joined an elite portion of the infantry. Imagine somebody who has been a rock for other people, who doesn't fear too much and is ready to jump into danger.

    Then imagine what it would take to make that person curl up in their bed, praying to god by way of the beliefs his parents held although he doesn't share in them, crying and hoping he doesn't die. That's how bad it all was. I've had bones broken, joints torn up, I've had a heat stroke that took me weeks to recover from, years to recover from fully, and heat exhaustion at least two other times. None of that stuff even compares to what this injury did to me. It was absolutely terrible. The slow march towards a full recovery has went on ever since, seven months later.

    The biggest trick to recovery is to relax and do nothing after the injury, something I didn't do at all. My ignorance and stubbornness contributed heavily to the state I ended up in, augmented with other conditions I was not aware of. If you receive a mild head, injury the only advice there is to follow is to get a head scan to make sure you're not bleeding in the brain, and do nothing until you feel better, at that point you're ready to start moving back into things slowly. I still have a hard time with the "move into it slowly" bit, and I pay for it every time. I feel like there's an opportunity to gain ground, and then I try to gain too much and it puts me back on my butt although for much shorter durations.

    That was my initial experience with my head injury, and it wasn't and still isn't pleasant in the least. Currently I deal with silent migraines (meaning you don't get the 'headache' but you get some sever symptoms of migraines) and anxiety/panic attacks. This is pretty much what I've dealt with for the last 6 months in varying degrees after the first month of injury and recovery has been slower than molasses on a cold winter day. The severity of symptoms have decreased over the months, I am now in a state of trying to find balance and approaching rehabilitation safely while managing the intense anxiety/panic attacks as well as debilitating migraines, all of which I plan to log down in this thread after these initial posts of a lot of crap.

    End of the Beginning
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  4. Young Noob

    Young Noob Valued Member

    Scary stuff.
  5. Simon

    Simon Administrator Admin Supporter MAP 2017 Koyo Award

    Very brave and very honest.

    You are one of the posters here who, as you are across the pond, remain a stranger, but also someone who we know is a good person and someone who would be valued as a friend.

    I wish you the very best in your recovery.
  6. Frodocious

    Frodocious She who MUST be obeyed! Moderator Supporter

    Thank you so much for sharing this. My Dad is currently in hospital with a TBI from falling down the stairs and, although your injury is very different to his, reading this gives me a hope for his long term recovery. My dad was very lucky that we have the UK's foremost neurology/brain injury centre near us, but we are still not sure how things are going to progress with him.
  7. Alansmurf

    Alansmurf Aspire to Inspire before you Expire Supporter

    Good article , our thoughts are with you .
  8. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member


    I wish you a full recovery. Thanks for the your sincere words.

    I was knocked out in competition in 1995 by a kick to my head. I was on the ground about 8 seconds I was told before I came to. I never saw the kick and I don't remember hitting the ground. After that I felt fine but went to the hospital where they did a CAT scan to check for internal bleeding. I checked out fine.

    There are plenty of times where I've been almost knocked out. I take the standing 8 count when I feel it coming... I've gotten better at recovering on my feet too. Evading and covering for those few seconds to recover so I'm not knocked out.

    I think a lot of whether you are knocked out or not has to do with genetics. I am particularly susceptible to strikes that come in at certain angles compared to others. So I compensate, developed better neck strength, keeping my chin down, and particular head movement and covers as extra precaution. I also do some things in a lot more moderation these days than I did when competing.

    Ero-Sennin when you say that you failed... there are some thing you can change and there are some things that you have to have the strength to accept, because you cannot change them. The wisdom is in knowing the difference. You may have been destined to fail, it could be that genetically you are susceptible to certain types of head trauma. I would say that you didn't fail to win, but instead that you may have found out something about yourself.

    It will take years to recover, but given you learned something about your own limitations, you may have the opportunity to come back even stronger.

    I would add that back in the old days, those that trained full contact often could only do so a few years before taking a break. Some would train hard for three years and then due to injury and other reasons take six months to a year off before coming back and training hard again. I'm talking about folks that would knock each other out in training before we had all the modern medical knowledge about concussions.

    The more intense the training, the more things have to be done in moderation, the more breaks you need to recover.

    Good luck my friend.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2013
  9. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Keep a note-pad, IPOD, whatever with you at all times. The moment you begin experiencing what you know will be a medically significant event, write it down to the best of your abilities. This will be VERY DIFFICULT during the actual attack, but do your best.

    The more time that passes between the event and its recording, the less detail and the less reliable your recollection will be. Its just the way our minds work - they have a way of shaping things here and there over time and its important to get an accurate accounting of things as later, you and your doctors will be able to go back and find patterns that will be used later to identify triggers.

    I'll wager that you 'know before you know' one of these attacks occurs - an aura, odd taste that triggers a feeling of deja vu will precede that awareness. Its important to note how the aurora manifests itself, the type, any visual amomalies - size, shape colour.

    Neurologists are oftentimes able to identify certain neurological pathologies based on these auras characteristics.

    Anyroads, jotting all that down at symptom onset will also help you learn how to gain some control over how bad the symptoms progress - something for later.

    Great post man!
  10. John R. Gambit

    John R. Gambit The 'Rona Wrangler

    Quadratic equations: they're bad for you.
  11. gapjumper

    gapjumper Intentionally left blank

  12. John R. Gambit

    John R. Gambit The 'Rona Wrangler

    Because they worsen concussions and require effort to study? I think we should adopt a system of guesstimating to replace all math and hereby structure future economies on bottle cap currency.
  13. matveimediaarts

    matveimediaarts Underappreciated genius

    If we just let our Computer Overlords handle the maths, the rest will handle itself.:eek:
  14. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    I'm so glad I know how to Multi-Quote now.

    My sincerest hopes that your father recovers quickly and without much suffering. When I was getting out of service my grandfather had a mild stroke from a fall. While it's not a concussion, it's a brain injury and I found myself having a deeper understanding of what went on with him during my own experience. Brain damage is brain damage.

    I have a hard time keeping track of the exact age of people, but he's 90+. He had to rebuild some physical abilities through physical therapy and see a speech therapist for a while due to slurred speaking, but he never lost his wit and humor. It's been a couple years now but last time I saw him you couldn't tell if he was having lingering problems from the minor stroke or just old age, he recovered like a champ.

    Experiences do differ, but healing does happen. I think for those taking care of the inflicted, the personality changes, inability for the individual to fend for themselves, and the hopelessness that person may feel are the biggest challenge for the caretaker. My wife staying strong, hopeful and reliable eased a lot of discomfort for me. I think the thing that hurt her the most is when I would tell her to leave me alone (which was a lot during the first month) because processing the information of a conversation and her presence, along with sounds and smells really gave me a hard time. It's not that I didn't want her around, it's just that her being around or any other extra stimulus threw me into a special state of hell.

    While this may or may not happen in your father's situation, the thing I always wanted to let my wife and other people know is that I loved them. If it happens with your father don't get discouraged, it's just part of the injury. Personality changes happen because of the injury and lifestyle changes, not because the person doesn't still love or want you around in their life. Just thought I would mention this because it's been the hardest thing for my loved ones to deal with since i couldn't even talk to them on the phone without feeling terrible.

    Acceptance is definitely part of coping with this kind of injury. Not accepting it has caused me a lot of trouble. What I see as a failure is me putting a significant amount of my energies into something, only to lose in the end and it's all qualitative to "win or lose." Before I accepted that I would get angry and I couldn't wait to get back into boxing, I even would try to shadow box in my room until the exertion and movement claimed the frail progression I was making and caused me to sit my butt down. I was extremely disappointed in myself and bitter for a bit, but thankfully that didn't last too long. No matter how much "don't exert yourself" was said I just wouldn't do it because I didn't acknowledge getting up and cleaning the house or trying to go for a walk was "exerting yourself." I paid a lot for it.

    Genetics and susceptibility to head injuries certainly play a role. Having a head injury and receiving a head injury on top of that also plays a huge role (story about that linked to in previous post). Rest and taking it easy are the biggest thing! Wish I was wiser to that in the start. :p

    All stuff I've been told but haven't had the motivation to do! Part of the reason I started the log due to a suggestion from a particularly keen member of Map! It's already been helpful for me to go through a recap on the events that took place and has helped put some things in perspective for me. Between this thread and carrying a small notebook around with me, I think I'll be able to overcome my disdain for logs and get to doing things a healthy and constructive way. :p
  15. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    Moving along with this thread, I think it's a good idea to list the different symptoms of an mTBI and give a detailed description of how these symptoms have affected me and my daily life. I think this is important because reading symptoms and seeing "disorientation" under mTBI is one thing, hearing the consequences and perspective of somebody experiencing the symptom is another thing entirely. By doing this I hope to provide some perspective on the injury's symptoms and the hurdles they can cause.

    I'll be using the list of symptoms from:

    This list is basically what you can expect to varying degrees, and don't be fooled by the term "mild" in mTBI in thinking the symptoms can't be severe.

    For clarity, mTBI stands for "mild traumatic brain injury" or in common usage, a 'concussion.' They are associated with physical trauma to the head involving some kind of blunt force, collision or strike. They can also happen with explosions but a TBI by the way of overpressure blast is a bit different (probably won't get to it in this log although I unknowingly was affected by one). TBI's are split into different categories all of which have a different severity and long term repercussions, being 'mild,' 'moderate,' and 'severe.' I received a mild TBI (mTBI).

    Mild traumatic brain injury

    The signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury may include:​

    Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes

    This particular symptom was probably the only one I didn't receive. Lucky me, I remember it all. If you do lose consciousness for even a moment you have received an mTBI as far as doctors are concerned. This does not mean that you will suffer any kind of symptoms though.

    No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused or disoriented

    After the initial knockout I did feel dazed but not confused. I also had a few momentary bouts of being disoriented. Nothing of this was significant enough to cause me worry as it all cleared up within the hour.

    Memory or concentration problems

    Concentration problems lasted about three months for me before clearing up. I leaned more on the concentration problems then having difficulty remembering things (or I just don't remember having memory problems :p). This symptom was particularly disheartening because it's almost unreal. I could easily answer something that had been driven into my skull from a young age, like 1+1=?, but give me a quadratic equation (common theme because that's what we were doing in the math class at the time) and I found myself unable to figure out where certain numbers were supposed to go with a template of how to do a quadratic equation in front of me. It's hard to describe being shown how to do something in the simplest way, and then not being able to concentrate hard enough to be able to perform the task yourself.


    The onset of headaches was like nothing I had ever experienced. I didn't get a head"ache" as there was no pain, but there were specific regions in my head that would 'buzz.' Imagine sleeping on your arm and waking up to it being asleep and shaking it out to the point of getting the pins and needles feeling. Now imagine this in your head.

    Depending on where this buzzing was going on dictated my mood as well. When the left side buzzed I would become increasingly anxious and emotional with a feeling of impending doom, when the right side buzzed I simply felt distraught. The "buzzing" took a good three months to stop happening at all.

    Currently I'm dealing with migraines that will induce their own symptoms, mainly disorientation to a small degree and feeling distraught. Unfortunately my body has associated issues with my head to mean "you're going to be bedridden and die" and any time I have issues with migraines (which are frequent but vary in intensity) I have pretty sever anxiety attacks if I try to do anything but sit my butt down in my home. To further add to this, going out and doing anything other than sitting on my butt in my home also causes me to have anxiety, which causes an anxiety attack, which causes a migraine, which causes a nasty viscous circle. This circle of stupidity is my current challenge to overcome in my recovery currently.

    Dizziness or loss of balance

    Ever been drunk to the point of getting dizzy? Just imagine that but without the pleasant night of drinking it took for you to get there, and it doesn't go away. This lasted most significantly the the weeks I was bed ridden, and would come and go in bouts if I tried to exert myself at all for a good month after I had risen from the sheets.

    This happened whenever I moved my head, especially during intense headaches where my head was buzzing. Look left and the world lurched, look back straight to make it stop and the world just kept lurching. A lot of the time I felt I was constantly turning in one direction even though visually nothing was moving. The dizziness causes obvious problems with balance, and on many trips to the restroom I felt like I was walking on a ship in the middle of a storm.

    Another more direct symptom description would be having cases of vertigo. If you've ever been jolted out of sleep because you felt like you were falling, this is basically what vertigo is. In my case, and mostly during the two weeks of being bed ridden I would experience this for a longer duration and if I didn't move my head the vertigo feeling continued to happen.

    I still have some very minor issues with dizziness when I walk into a new environment (ex. being going from indoors to outdoors). However this can also be a symptom of anxiety as well. All that happens now is feeling like my center of balance is a little jerky for a few steps before things straighten up.

    Nausea or vomiting

    Vomiting never happened, but with all the dizziness I certainly felt nauseous quite often. Nausea also occurs during migraines as well. It's the general symptom of just feeling like crap, and for the first two months of injury it's basically how I felt all the time to varying degrees. It wasn't pleasant.

    Sensory problems, such as blurred vision, ringing in the ears or a bad taste in the mouth

    These symptoms were especially tough for me. When my body isn't doing things it's supposed to do without conscious thought, it causes me to have some serious anxiety. The most significant problems with these symptoms were my two weeks of being bed ridden. My ability to focus my eyes were diminished, or one eye would seem to stop working well while the other was fine. I can't tell you how many times I rubbed my eyes or blinked to try and get the blurred vision to go away to no avail, because nothing was in my eye. This symptom of blurred vision also can happen with an intense migraine, so I sometimes still suffer it to a lesser degree today.

    There have been other issues with sensory problems involving vision for me as well. For about three months I sometimes had a hard time focusing on things with a certain texture. If you've ever seen one of those optical illusion pictures on the internet where a still image is moving, that's what it's like. Things like textured plaster or a checkered design would wave around in my vision. Very strange thing to experience. This doesn't affect me much today though.

    Ringing in the ears still happens now, 7 months later, but was much worse during the first three months of injury. Imagine just sitting down and all of a sudden feeling like a wave hits one side of your head, and then you hear the beeping sound of a auditory test that doesn't go away. Sometimes it's loud, sometimes it's quite. More then a few times I've looked at my wife or a doctor and said, "do you hear that?" to which the obvious reply was "nope."

    A bad taste in my mouth is not something I experienced.

    Sensitivity to light or sound

    Funnily enough I didn't really have a sensitivity to light. I got annoyed with telling doctors, "the light in the room is fine, it doesn't bother me." Sound on the other hand was and still can be a problem.

    If you can imagine being startled to the point where you jump a little and your heart starts racing you can imagine the feeling unexpected sounds, like my wife putting her hand on the rooms doorknob, did to me. The sensitivity to sound was horrible, especially when I was bed ridden and there was construction work going on outside. It was like having super sensitive hearing, and if you dropped a needle on the rug it would be cause to grip the sheets and grimace. This lasted most significantly the first two to three months of the injury. I am still affected by this on particularly bad days with anxiety or migraines but am not sure if the continuity is a symptom of the mTBI or just anxiety/migraines.

    Mood changes or mood swings

    I have cried more times, apologized and felt truly sad in the first two months of injury then I can remember my entire life. I'm not somebody who tends to cry or has feelings of sorrow and it's not born out of the expectation society holds to men, it's just my personality. This was a strange experience and the only one I don't think I regret much having. I was very emotional for a good two months. I think I'm emotionally numb a lot of the times and have always been grateful to "feel something," although I didn't particularly like feeling doomed or the anxiety of feeling like you're going to die and leave all your loved ones behind. I would also say the first month of injury is the first time I have ever felt a fear of death and everything involved with it for the first time in my life. This has caused some minor character changes to my personality which makes me feel like I can sympathize with others better, but I'm not very fond of.

    Mood swings happened often and I think that's expected with somebody who is injured. When your world is literally spinning around you and you feel nauseous and like you're going to die, well, you just may not be a pleasant person to be around at that moment.

    Feeling depressed or anxious

    I don't feel the need to go into depression or anxiety as I've mentioned it a lot in other symptoms, and I think we all can understand and sympathize how somebody could feel depressed or anxious over any kind of injury.

    Fatigue or drowsiness

    Fatigue affected me a lot, especially in the two weeks being bed ridden. Nothing like laying in bed to make you feel exhausted. When I started doing chores around the house my endurance was exhausted rather quickly. It also caused me to become drowsy. These symptoms have been common for a lot of different injuries I've had and didn't feel too significant to me. I don't get affected by these symptoms too much anymore, and after about 4 months of recovery I don't feel they are significant anymore.

    Difficulty sleeping

    When your world is spinning around or you have an impending feeling of doom it can be hard to sleep. During the two weeks of being bed ridden I would often get a couple hours of sleep only to wake up to a spinning world and feeling terrible. The difficulty sleeping lasted about two months between varying symptoms and getting knocked out of a sleeping schedule. This doesn't affect me much today.

    Sleeping more than usual

    Sleeping more than usual was always a nice thing, sometimes lasting 15 hours in the initial two months of the injury. Couldn't complain about it, but it's weird to sleep for 15 hours straight, or a full day here and there.

    End of symptoms

    So that is that. I didn't experience anything beyond the list of symptoms described here that are associated with mTBI. One thing to note is that the more stimulation I got (people visiting, outside noises, going to the doctors) the more severe some of the symptoms got. Today, the more stimulation I get the more anxiety I tend to have. The two weeks I spent bed ridden I had to be taken to doctor visits in a wheel chair, and I played it safe with a wheel chair for a good two weeks after the bed ridden phase as well. I can't tell you how good it felt to be able to walk on my own again, or just be able to walk from one room to the next without feeling like dying.

    A lot of these symptoms are also suffered in severe anxiety and with sever migraines so I still get random doses which has created a difficult cycle for me to break out of. The biggest thing I have had to accept and realize is that the worst is over, I'm not going to end up like I was at my worst, and that I need to keep my mind on realizing I'm much better and can make progress. It's been a lot slower than I would like it to be, I've experienced major and minor setbacks (a significant one being able to be somewhat independent at the start of Dec. only to be knocked back into being dependent again, which I'm currently making progress in recovering from) and it's been a boring battle ever since.

    So with all that out of the way, the focus of this thread is going to be centered around anxiety and migraines, and how these things are affecting my life currently, what has been recommended by medical professionals to assist me, and things I've found helpful to relieve some of the more daunting symptoms. Finally I can start logging some day to day things. :p
  16. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Have you discussed with your doctor team these experiences? In particular this below?

    If so, have they told you how very unusual it is for a TBI patient to increase in areas that require psycho/emotive awareness of others - i.e. empathy - the ability to empathise with someone else.

    Its not a "minor" change in personality, its usually a big one - a big problem for the person who's suffered the TBI and everyone else around them as the overwhelming majority of TBI patients loose their ability to sympathise or empathise with others. Its the single greatest problem they face after the physical recovery is settled.

    Yours has gone in the other direction, which is significant.

    Did they mention about trauma to the frontal lobes or left hemisphere ? Don't have to answer (nor should you) of course. But if you haven't already, you really should tell the neurologist about the increase in empathy.

    If you don't see him raise his eyebrows when you mention that, you need a new neurologist.

    You learn a lot about neurologists when you spend three days and nights in the hospital with a son who's skull has so many EEG wires attached to it, he looks like some sort of Electric Medusa, LOL ;)
  17. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    I've discussed a lot of the symptoms with two different neurologists, the personality change bit I haven't as I didn't (and still don't) think it's significant. I had the same sort of experience when I had a heat stroke (I believe I was 17). A lot of times I base my reactions or understanding to things on my own experiences to an extent. Prior to the heat stroke I didn't have much sympathy for people who were sick or couldn't handle an intense work load (ones that make you have to sit down for a bit) and couldn't manage things on their own. The heat stroke made me a lot more understanding and not so judgmental.

    I don't think I've gotten knocked into being more emotional and empathetic though. Given the state I was in which I would describe as agony :)p), I think it's natural that I felt the way I did at the time. Even while I was suffering immensely from the injury I still had part of myself analyzing and comparing the emotions I felt with the lack of feels I generally have and reflecting on it. The injury knocked out my mental fortitude to deal with anxiety and my coping mechanism which were distraction and ignoring, two things that aren't working for me anymore and I've been dealing with a therapist on different ways of dealing with it.

    Nothing was revealed on any head scans I had but I've gotten multiple questions on what regions of my head I was experiencing the buzzing. I was also given an MRI to make sure and nothing came up. I think what I was trying to get across was that the ability to empathize with people having similar ailments as myself (anxiety being the main one, or intense headaches in the present sense) is that I would no longer say something like, "just push through it man, you have to be strong about it" because I took that approach and it hasn't helped me one bit in the way I've tried to apply it lately, it's even hurt me worse. I also know what it feels like to be in the state I was. Getting the emotions empathy invokes still isn't really there, but with a lot of other emotional responses I've always been more calculated in my response; "this is how one should act in this situation because of what said person is feeling" vs. actually giving a reaction by the way I feel about it. Sometimes I feel like a drone. It's not as bad as I'm making it out to sound. :p

    All in all, my character/personality change has come more from experiencing something, and experiences change the way you think and act about things. I don't think by medical terms I had something shut off or turned on like my ability for empathy. I'm probably incorrect by labeling my own interpretation on that particular symptom, or something really was or did happen but is going away with the healing process. For a good while I didn't feel like myself, but that cleared up within a couple months and I'm now at a point where it's not even a thought. I very much feel 'like myself' again, other than the anxiety attacks.

    Or maybe you're right and I got knocked into being the next Jesus Christ figure with an ability to empathize with others and am set to change the world with selfless acts of humanity? I'll provide neck massages and soothing words, free of charge because I understand how it feels. :p

    Edit: Been searching around on Google about the subject. It seems that people who receive a severe TBI, being the worst kind to get, often end up having significant changes in their ability to empathize with others. Brain injuries are freakin' weird. You actually end up getting a good ding to your consciousness, your "being." Makes you wonder about the reality of having an actual soul and not just a functioning brain.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  18. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Well, glad to know you can see where I was going with all that. You'll undoubtedly find, if you do enough research, that the great percentage of these significant changes in their empathetic ability go to the negative.

    There is also a small percentage of those with TBI who experience another remarkable phenomenon - have you sat down at a piano recently, or at an artist's easel?
  19. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    Well the good news is I made it to the convenience store today without many problems. There's nothing like feeling absolutely fine while you're laying around the house with a slight hint of headache that's not a pressing matter, tell yourself you could probably make it down to the store and as soon as you stand to exit your apartment your neck, face, and throat start tightening up. It's a common thing for me, the anxiety brought from knowing the great unknown lay behind the hinged metal panel separating me from the apartment complex hallway. Beware those of weak hearts, for one right turn down the hallway lay the elevator, beyond that the lobby, and behind the glass force field requiring a magnetic key to open . . . . the world lay in wait.

    Yeah whatever. Months ago I used to nearly have an anxiety attack just thinking about making it to the store. A lot of it was knowing I couldn't defend myself if something happened, or worrying that I would have to rely on a stranger for help if my car broke down or I regressed into the state I was bed ridden but out in public (embarrassing). When I initially started to dip my toes into the water I was doing it while my head was still injured, which wasn't smart. I don't think my body/mind trust me to make good decisions for it anymore. The anxiety still comes, but I know I'm not going to be in danger and I've been out enough to know I can handle things until I get home. It still isn't pleasant, and if I have a headache or feel particularly strange that day I could have a strong enough anxiety attack that it makes my head spin and I get to spend the rest of the day wishing I hadn't tried to push it.

    At the start of December I was making a lot of progress. mTBI symptoms generally last from 3-6 months but enough people have issues for up to a year for them to mention it in general information about mTBIs. At the start of December I was at my 6 month mark, had the neurologist tell me I could start pushing things because I wouldn't end up bed ridden, and so I did. I was doing really well for about a week and a half. I got up to walking an hour once a day, exercising in the apartment a little bit, and going to the grocery store (a huge things with all the sensory stimulus there!) on a whim. I went on a whim one day when I wasn't feeling well and I've been recovering from that up to today. I'm starting to feel like I can push things again though.

    That said, since I feel like I'm ready to start logging in simple stuff I'm going to change up some things about my method. First off I'm going to take a nap so I can get back on a normal sleeping schedule where I don't have to worry about being shot or stopped by the police walking around for exercise at 3 in the morning. Instead of trying to jump to the outdoors to test myself I'm going to start trying to do a light workout focusing mainly on isometric exercises and various stretching/strengthening to build up my flexibility. A flexible body is a relaxed one. I've been so inactive I can barely touch my toes. I'll also be adding in a few calisthenics. Once I see how I do with that it will dictate what I do the rest of the day.

    I failed to mention this in the first few posts but I also developed neck problems from the head injury. I didn't move my head much for the first few months because it would make me dizzy, but when I started getting back into things I couldn't even come close to touching my chin to my shoulder right or left. Something significant to note is that tight/injured neck muscles can cause some nasty headaches, which for me means disorientation and some times nausea. I worked out a lot of the kinks (very painful to do) with a tennis ball and it worked great. My neck still isn't 100% though so I'll be working in some neck exercises for flexibility and strength in the mix. I'm not adding them because I have a specific interest in a thick and strong neck while my body has become a flabby mass of disgustingness.

    Posts in this thread take forever. I apologize for it but I'm trying to hint at things I've dealt with for the last 7 months to put them into context with what I try to do today. Like other logs I've had I'll be updating (editing) a daily post with content rather then making a new post every time. No need to spam the Map Homepage with things like "I made it through walking for 10 minutes without too much of a problem!" Nobody wants to read that crap, too much debate about police and law in the Aikido forum and ostriches drawing secrets out of zebra butts by caressing them with their face for all that. :p
  20. Ero-Sennin

    Ero-Sennin Well-Known Member Supporter

    Hopefully I get back into boxing a couple years from now and find I have developed an amazing ability for head movement and defensive tactics that would make Mayweather look like a no0b. :D

    Lots of weird stuff that goes on with head injuries! The guy who was able to start playing musical instruments was insane. Too bad the majority of people get a couple notches knocked towards being a serial killer though. :p

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