liar liar, post-concussion update.

I'm a liar. But not in a bad way. 😉

Anyway, this isn't a case of lying to someone else, it's lying to myself.

I mentioned before about getting in the habit of being honest with other people so I've been making an effort and although I do still have a tendency to say "of course I'm fine, everything's fine", I am now occasionally opening up a bit more and telling people how I really am even though it's really not second nature for me.

Obviously I don't want to just moan constantly, and I don't want lots of attention or fuss, but I'm making a concerted effort to be a bit more open and keep people informed when things aren't quite right.

But I need to stop lying to myself. I realise that's what I've been doing, mind over matter, don't accept what's happening and it won't.

Sometimes lying to yourself can be useful. It allows you to achieve things you wouldn't otherwise manage. It's got me to the end of many races. (this hurts, I want to stop, Oh my that sea looks scary, I'm going to die, etc)

Ignoring injuries and pressing on *can* work - as long as you know when that's appropriate, when you're not going to be causing yourself more damage in the long term, when it's not going to slow recovery. You get experience and a feel for this as you get older and run, train and race more. But that has to be an individual decision, based on your own opinions and experience, not someone else's.

I know you can just keep going with planar-fascitis, it hurts like hell, but it won't get worse and will take the same amount of time to heal. I wouldn't run on a stress fracture... but *can* cycle with one, and a boot. 😀

I know you can run a marathon with a cracked rib, it's not going to make it worse, and it will take just as long to heal. The psychological reward of managing something like that is immense, and a useful token to have stashed away in your "life bank of experience" for the future. But that's just me, I wouldn't recommend anyone do something I've done,  you have to make your own choices in life.

The problem is having an amorphous invisible injury and thinking/assuming that my actions aren't making it worse or setting me back, I now know this isn't the case after a concussion - brains are complicated.

what is post concussion syndrome?

Following concussion some people get post concussion syndrome. It's complicated. The brain is complicated. It's biology, it's chemistry, it's physics... one idea is that the concussion causes some structural damage to the brain disrupting the nerve messaging system, some believe it's just a form of PTSD, but it's not conclusive or totally understood.
Similarly there's no treatment, or medicine that will just fix it. Other than asking if I want anything for the headaches or sleeplessness, my doctor asks if I want CBT. The only option is treatment for the individual symptoms and understanding what helps and what causes problems for you.
Then time...

Then time, for some people it's 3 months, some 6 months, some a year, some longer.

I have post concussion syndrome.

It would have been useful getting warned about this stuff on leaving hospital, rather than just shown the door, a pat on the back and wished good luck.

I've had concussion several times in the past through my life, as a child I have (happy) memories of having torches shone in my eyes after some stupid event or other.... as an adult... as a 6'2" adult, I have knocked myself out before on low beams, doorways and so on, I've woken up staring up at a low ceiling beam before.
I've never had any long term problems or effects.

I just assumed this was like any other injury I've had. I thought the *accident*, would be the same. There would be an initial healing and getting better over a short time (days to weeks), and then over a slightly longer time (weeks to months) everything will get back to normal. Then over time, forget about it and just add it to the memory bank of things I've been through in my life.

I now realise this is a very different sort of injury and I need to manage it differently.

I took it easy for a few weeks and then started very gently getting back to my normal routine. That seemed to be working for a while. But as the weeks rolled into months, it became clear that there were problems that weren't getting better (see honesty for the rundown: headaches, dizzyness, insomnia, ringing ears, emotional, memory shot to hell), and that some actions and behaviour of mine actually made them worse - lack of sleep, driving, bright lights, concentrating for long periods of time, running a 10k race hard. Also, it became very apparent over four months (ok I'm a slow learner) that some of my actions were making things much worse over a longer period and setting me back each time.

The past two weeks have been bad. So much so that I needed to leave work early on Thursday and go home, I was fine later on. I burst into tears walking in on Friday morning.

I really must add here that my employer has been fantastic, understanding and supportive. I expect and believe that they would give me as much time and space as I needed, but I want to and need to be active, busy, working, productive, useful.

Wake up

Wake up call....

The wake up call was helping out at the Wendover Woods 50 race on Saturday. After the previous two weeks, this was to be a perfect storm of triggers.

I had to get up at 4am.... although since I'm not sleeping well at the moment I was already awake staring at the clock anyway as it ticked over 3:45, and waited for it to roll on.
Then drive over 60 miles to an unfamiliar location, with overnight diversions on the motorway.
Duties were directing cars for parking, so not complicated or difficult at all, but with hindsight, I was standing up for several hours, constantly looking for cars - initially in the dark, thinking 'where are they going?', waving torches, pointing them into the right direction.
Once the race started we strolled into the HQ to see what was needed next, I grabbed a coffee, and that was it, my balance had gone, and I felt terrible and emotional. I explained to Nici what was going on, and apologised. quite a lot. She ordered me to sit in my car. I apologised again as I left. sat in the car. and cried. a lot. I was angry, and crying because I was angry.
After a bit, (well 45 mins or so) I felt ok. I walked about a bit still feeling a bit spaced out, but helped putting up a couple of flags. Nici intercepted me and, in the nicest possible terms, told me to go away but to make sure and let her know when I left, another 45 mins or so I was feeling non-spaced out, just managed to catch sight of a friend running through - Spencer, gave him a cheer and decided to head home. I find Nici and apologise again, she tells me to talk to the hand and we hug.
I drive back home, easier in the light but concentrating all the way - just one emergency stop needed on the M25, the car in front brakes and swerves into the reservation to avoid the car in front, I brake in a straight line, in see the car behind brake and swerve into the centre to avoid me! I guess I was the one keeping enough of a gap. 😀

Back home Cara asks how it went. "Fine" I hear someone say, I'm unstable and dizzy for the rest of the Saturday. Sunday is a write off, by Sunday night, I'm feeling ok again.

I talk to Cara. This isn't something I can just press on through, I'm making things worse trying.

I need to change my behaviour for a while. I need to get better. Unlike other organs which come with a hot-swap-replacement spare, I've only got one brain. I use it quite a bit.