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Living and Learning #concussionlife

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By Casey Kearney

 

It’s been almost one month since I was rear-ended and got my second concussion since February. I have had to learn so much about myself, brain trauma and how to manage life since then.

 

To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty tired of talking about my head. I’m tired of saying phrases like “I’m sorry, but my head…” then explaining, “Yes, I had two concussions in four months, and the symptoms won’t go away—it’s Post Concussive Syndrome.” Or having to admit, “That might be too much for me to try to do, blah, blah, blah…

 

I look normal. I can make it appear that everything is fine on social media, and then when I’m laid up for a few days, it’s confusing. I have started back playing a lot of my gigs, which in some ways is great—other moments, I feel really miserable and know its not the best thing to do. It’s a weird balance between not overdoing it and making sure you don’t just give up.

 

I’m the one grimacing at shrill loud noises that sound normal and fine to everyone else in the room. I typically have no music or podcasts on while I drive because it takes full concentration to drive, and even low volume music uses a lot of brain energy.

 

Everything feels delayed, like I’m in a fog, I see you, I hear you, but my reaction time is delayed. Some days the pressure is intense—it feels like my brain is about to explode through my eyeballs.

 

Rainy days are worse. Dizziness and headaches are the norm, though some moments are better than others. My regimen of Motrin and caffeine to get me through has not seemed to help this time around. The doctor said that it is normal for the second concussion to be more intense. I could mask the symptoms before, but this one is less manageable. I’m hoping with time that I will get more consistent relief.

I started easing back into a few gigs. It’s summer, the busiest time of the year, and I was missing it. Most of my gigs are low light, pretty laid back—just me and my guitar, so I hoped it could work. Some days are better than others. The other night I thought I wasn’t gonna make it through, but thankfully nine o’clock hit and I survived.

 

I was excited to have my new baby nephew Jasper and his family make it out to a show. He is the little baby we were heading to the hospital to deliver when we got rear-ended. We are so thankful for his safe delivery and that he and his mama are healthy.

 

I still haven’t been able to return to playing at church. We have a full band, but bass and drums of any kind are painful.

I have been learning really great information and finding helpful explanations for me and the kids to understand. Tricks like “Time Over Task” where you plan to do short increments of an activity rather than complete the whole task at one time and risk neuro-fatigue. It’s frustrating for a personality like mine, but helpful.

 

Even just learning that there is a name to go with my symptoms made me feel less crazy—wow, they get it! I literally cried when I stumbled upon some of the articles because it made me feel relieved to see there were explanations and people who understood my symptoms.

 

I have been trying to enjoy summer as best I can. I have my paddleboard to help with relaxing, equilibrium, balance, etc. I could live on it, it’s so peaceful, but even that has to be done in very short spans. I’m afraid to fall and get hurt again so I’m super careful. I don’t want the kids to be laid up all summer just because I’m not 100 percent. I’m thankful for friends and family who have helped them do the things I can’t.

 

I have chosen to not post every single update on social media because it’s quite a roller coaster and who wants all that depressingness? The doctor appointments, ridiculous insurance, and the legal stuff are all so annoying. I figure my blog posts are helpful to give the reality of what I’m still dealing with for anyone who kind of cares.

 

I look forward to the day I can say “What concussions? I’m fully recovered!”

 

This article originally appeared, in slightly different form, at CaseyKearney.com.

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