Concussion and Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS). Why can no-one prepare you for this? Unlike a pregnancy where every tiny symptom is documented and shared with new expecting mothers, sufferers of Concussion and PCS are left to experience ever emerging symptoms and effects that no-one seems to be able to warn you about. As a sufferer, you are left standing alone in a maelstrom of sensations, physical feelings and emotions that can end up making you want nothing more than ending it all. Medical practitioners failed to get me ready for what i was in for. No-one prepared me for how I was going to feel, think and worsen before I recovered. After researching everything I experienced along the way, I am hoping I can prepare others where their doctors may fail them also
…You’re dizzy, confused. You’re having panic attacks for the first time in your life. Your vision is playing tricks on you. You have sensitivity to light, motion sickness, you keep rubbing your eyes. You have a headache all the time. When you close your eyes there is flashing light, patterns, it’s hard to sleep because when your eyes are closed it’s just as bright as when they are open. At night, light seems dull and yellow, like you can’t see through it’s thick gloom. Your eyes are burning all the time. There is no joy in your life anymore. In your head, it’s absolute chaos
What’s even harder to deal with is everything seems unreal. Like you’re stuck in a bad dream. Like you’re fighting to wake up to the real world. There’s a heavy darkness hanging over you. You’re depressed. You fear every negative possibility no matter how farfetched. You want to die
You may be suffering from a deadly combination of
Atlas displacement This a sad reality for many people and in my humble opinion they are all completely alone during this phase of their life no matter how supportive family and friends try to be. This was my reality and no-one could help me, or even understand me. My name is Dale and this is my experience
A light-hearted 30 something year old who could often be flippant about the seriousness of life, I was not ready for the moment that this hammer of trauma hit me. I had never struggled with psychological issues before other than one day on a plane when claustrophobia got the better of me and I had a meltdown. That was not nice, but not life changing. When I had my accident though, I wondered if I was embarking on a lifelong journey of mental problems, heavy meds and homes for the mentally ill. I’m eternally grateful that I was wrong about that and that I eventually began to recover enough to live life in a way that was satisfying again.
Other than being diagnosed as post-burn-out about 6 months before, ADHD and Surfers ear. I was very health and very active and a very strong minded, I thought It was on a surf trip on the arrid west coast of cape Town, south Africa, that I met this life changing event
It was a Monday afternoon of a long weekend. An innocuous wipe out coming out of a close out barrel at elands bay. A freak accident. It should never happen. But it happens. Kelly Slater broke a foot this way just year before. The lip of the wave came down on me with a great force and punished me for my bad timing on my exit
I felt water compress me from every angle. It was an implosion. I heard a crunch in my right ankle. I knew it was sprained. I’d sprained my ankles often in the last 20 years playing basketball. I knew I could make it back to the car though. But then another sound almost simultaneously to my ankle injury as the water squeezed me into a ball. A mind bending “pop”, and then instantly a loud ringing in my right ear. It sounded like the whining of a high-pitched vacuum cleaner. Maybe water has injected into my ear? Maybe I’ve damaged my ear drum? I was more focused on my ankle
The rest of the set passed over me. I ducked under the rest of the waves and then flapped around like a drowning seagull and got up onto my board. I managed to paddle away from the power section of the break and ride some foam to the beach. When I stood up I knew for sure now that my ankle needed some attention. My last sprain recovered in a record 3 weeks with the new “hot water / ice” treatment I had learned about. That was my plan. I work for myself and I need to be mobile, and I can’t live without exercise, so I needed to start the healing right away I got back to my car limping gingerly across the beach. The families of the other 50 surfers in the water sat on the beach and watched another fallen soldier retreat from the action. Many boards had snapped that day. It was solid, 8 to 10 foot according to the reports and no-less in size to the eye. Maybe I was the first human injury, probably not
I made it into the car and back home the full 4KM’s slowly in the lower gears. Hopping on one leg I got to the front door and realized I had been locked out. I was supposed to be in the water much longer and my family had gone out with the keys. I managed to make a plan and break into our beautiful and secluded farm house with some wire and a partially burned log from night before. As one does. I found the ice, I boiled the water. I was on the road to recovery. But the ringing in my ear. I had to get the water out of there. I stuck my finger in and shook it. Maybe some force would get things moving
It was a long and restless night in bed with the leg elevated and all heat and ice packed up The next day the bruising started to show. Normal. It was also the day of our departure. With my home made bandage made of strips of an old towel I kept the ankle compressed and my wife Melissa drove us home. Also dangerous. The ringing though, was now driving me crazy. So loud, now in both ears
The first work day was upon me after a long weekend. I was feeling distinctly confused now. I chalked it up to being drained from the many hours of paddling and maybe a little too much wine. I had also been on a high protein diet for 3 months which I had just broken and I thought perhaps that could have affected me. My first sugar, complex carbs and alcohol since 8KGs ago. Maybe now I just needed brain food or electrolytes or something
For now, it was life as usual. I stuffed my strapped up foot into my shoe and I limped into the day. This ringing, this ringing. Goodness how tiring it is. I asked google. Hopefully it’s just a short case of tinnitus, or the bewitched ear, which Neils van Gogh had incidentally. Is that why he cut his ear off? Probably. Hopefully it would be over soon for me
I got to my sales meeting, and as hard as it tried, the words were just not coming. This was the first time I needed to communicate in a formal manner since the event. My brain was feeling like my body used to feel the day after a 4 hour basketball marathon. Drained. Dried out. Just, no electricity. I struggled through. I must have sounded completely inept. I was noticing the dizzy and confused sensations more and more. Did I have vodka for breakfast? I didn’t. Melissa drove us home
I plugged through the next few days of the short week as best I could. Glued to my computer for 8 to 10 hours a day. Leg up, heat on heat off, ice on ice off, as often as I could. I was starting to complain bitterly about the ringing to everyone. “I wish this ringing would stop”. I was just throwing it out there. Maybe someone could offer some advice. No such luck. I would eventually have to go to the doc, I was coming to terms with that, arg. Not my favorite thing. Probably there is some sand in there. Except now it was getting louder in the other ear also. That doesn’t make sense, unless water forced something into both ears. The impact was stronger on the right side of my body and face. I was sure it will ease off soon
Friday. Dale, your foot is black, that’s not a sprain. Melissa had been telling me this for a day or two. She had a point though. I insisted otherwise. Ok, I’ll go to pharmacy nurse but that’s it. I agreed to go see someone
The pharmacy nurse had bad news. Very bad news. It looks worse than a sprain. Got to see the doc. Ok. Hmmm, I don’t even have a doc. Haven’t been in years. Also, I didn’t have medical aid, only mellissa did. I was too strong to need to medical aid *facepalm* I found a doc nearby that was a referral from a close family member. Upmarket and fancy office in a very expensive neighbourhood. I’ll be in good hands. This leg will be better soon. This infernal ringing though. In the process, crutch 1 acquired from the pharmacy. 2 would have been better in retrospect. I hated spending money on health when the human body just heals so naturally. That’s how I used to think
Visit 1 to the doctor
Bruising consistent with ligament damage (a sprain). “Walk for me” she said… I walked. Well, I tried. “Your leg looks broken”
Bummer. “Doc I’m so dizzy and confused also, and my ears are ringing so loud it wakes me up at night. “
Misleading answer alert: “Yes it’s probably just related to your leg. Go for x-rays first and let’s figure out what this leg is doing”
X-rays acquired. Back to the doc. Ears ringing, limping, dazed, dizzy and confused. Feeling nervous now. Last broken bones were 15 years ago. Waiting for news. It was bad news. Spiral fracture of the fibula. Very bad news. Deep breath, how long doc? 6 weeks, yeeesh
Gulp. This was very bad. For the first time I was taking this seriously. How will I work? How can I not get in the water for that long? I was not happy. Now I had these negative feelings on top of this infernal ringing in my ears which was becoming a real problem
I had to get to the specialist, an orthopaedic surgeon, or, orthopod. Next day booked. I arrived, great doctor. He looked at my x-rays and said, “these are rubbish, how can anyone see anything here. Go get some proper ones next door”
Did that just happen? The medical world just failed and cost me money. I saw his point though. No idea how the previous diagnosis was made. Is there hope here of something less serious. I was so confused and trippy at the time, I really wasn’t processing anything well
New X-rays done. Done. Specialist confirmed and gave me some information. Very informative. I needed to armour up. Aircast acquired as well as crutch number 2. No plaster cast for now. Preparing for 6 weeks of the Aircast and crutches though. Ouch. At home I stuck an ear bud in my ear. Maybe there’s a foreign object in there. Sand or seaweed, I have no idea but something needs to change. It was so loud
2 days later. I have to figure out what’s causing this ringing. Also I’m still so confused and bewildered. Like that feeling when you get up too fast and you have stand still for a minute, but it’s permanent. “I’m going back to the doc next week”
Sunday afternoon. Dusk. The bomb drops. I will never forget that moment. I was perched on the edge of the couch feeling sorry for myself, (this was my weekend basketball slot), staring out the window. It was dusk. Approx 1 week after the accident.
As I gazed out of the window my vision got more fuzzy, a darkness came over me and the world around me zoomed out and shrank. A heat crawled up the sides of my face, my hands started sweating, my heart pounded. I was panicking like that time on the plane. I lost it. Completely .This was to be the beginning of months of anguish. I was about to have many panic attacks. The confusion severely heightened. Am I dreaming? I was lost
Maybe it was the pain meds. I stopped taking them immediately. I would rather have had the pain. I took a tranquilizer that was in the medicine cabinet from back in the day. It was a bit better but everything was very weird. I didn’t recognise myself in the mirror. When I looked down at my hands it was as if I was watching a point of view movie of someone else doing things or as if I was watching a youtube tutorial. Eating was the worst, watching my hands cut through items on my plate and raising them to the my mouth. Who’s body was a I trapped in? What was going on?
I better get to the doc. Something very strange was happening
The rest of Sunday night was rough. I was constantly on edge. A darkness hung over me. This was the height of the confusion so far. I was convinced I would be fine in the morning
During the night I woke up many times. Sleeping with an aircast on was tricky. Each time I woke up I checked on my mental state. It was bad. I took more tranquilizers
Monday morning I woke up. Am I OK? No. I would have been less surprised if I had woken up as a Vietnamese teenage school girl. Who’s life was this that I had been dropped into? Waking up was not waking up. It felt more real when I was dreaming. I was sweating, things didn’t look the same anymore, I was questioning every little detail of things I saw every day. Were they real? Also, ears ringing at all-time loudest
Fortunately there was an open slot at the doc early Monday. She looked in my ear. There’s bad news and there’s other bad news. Firstly, I have exostosis aka, surfers Ear or swimmers ear. That means bone and tissue have grown to close the ear to stop cold water going in and damaging the ear drum. She manages to see the important stuff through the tiny opening. Probably due to my prodding, but there was also an infection. That can cause ringing, dizziness, confusion. The whole ambit. I was given anti-biotic drops to put in. I’d start right away. Also there’s a chance that the ear drum is perforated from the force of the wave. That too can cause the symptoms but she can’t see properly due to the condition of the ear. We needed to clear the infection to be sure
I’m one for second opinions and I much prefer natural over medical. So I went to a naturopath also. She was very thorough. She fiddled with my ears. She adjusted my back. She massaged my jaw bone from inside my mouth, weird. 2 hours later, sitting at a sushi bar with Melissa, the ringing peaks. My vision jacks up again, I ask her, am I dreaming this? Obviously she didn’t know what to say
The problem with psychological illness is that you can’t see it. You break a leg, you have a tumor, you get disease, these things all can be seen via xrays, blood tests, microscopes, whatever. Things inside the head, well, they can’t be seen. You have to explain them. Describe them. And unless the other person has had similar symptoms themself, it’s really quite pointless. I guess that’s what support groups are for
At home I put the ear drops in. Only 1 problem. The exostosis and the swelling from the infection means the drops go in but can’t come out. My ear closes completely. Now I’m deaf, I can’t hear any outside noise, only the very loud ringing from inside which is now intensified. This must be a joke. I was trying to get out of my head. Now I was in deeper. I had no control, I couldn’t unblock it as hard as I tried. This made me so much more anxious
I head back to the doctor yet again. I tell her about the panic. She asks me some questions. She decides that it’s most likely that I have anxiety issues in my family and that this accident has just surfaced something that was bound to happen some years later. She gave me drugs for panic disorder and tells me that I will need to be on drugs the rest of my life
I head out. My mind has not stopped racing since the first panic event. I don’t want to admit that I am having panic attacks. That phrase is used so loosely. Besides that my mind is so strong. So very strong. I start taking the meds and the painkillers again for my leg
Now I was wondering… Maybe I flipped out because I had burned-out earlier, and now I just coudn’t handle the reality of being immobile. Melissa speculates I have had a nervous breakdown. I look that up on deadly old google doctor. Symptoms were not the same but it could be that! If I can figure out what it is it can be treated and this nightmare can end. I say nightmare, but this was far worse than that.
I hate to make this comparison, but the only thing I could liken it to is being stuck in a bad trip caused by hallucinogens that you just wanted to be over. (I had 2 of those in my life, once from a sleeping pill containing cannabis oil and once when someone laced the chocolate cake at a farewell). Except that would only last a few hours. This was days, weeks, months
There was no stopping my head. I was also now suddenly car sick and I couldn’t drive at night at all without completely losing it. My whole world was just singing, a maelstrom. I could take nothing for granted, I didn’t understand most things around me although I knew in reality how they worked and I could still use. I just didn’t understand anything
I finished the very stressful course of ear drops. Every time I needed to put them in I dreaded it, I could hear the drop running into my ear, past all these things in the way and right down into what felt like the back of my head. I was deaf once more. Finally and after a few days my ears opened again. I could hear again! I was still convinced the ringing and the lack of control over it was the cause of my woes. I couldn’t switch it off, cut it out, take a pill to ease it, nothing. Since tinnitus is a mixed up signal from the brain telling you that there is a noise where really there is nothing, you can’t even choose to remove the nerves in the ear and choose to be deaf instead. You are helpless. Maybe now that the infection was clear the doc could do something
I went back to her. She checked the ears. No damage to the ear drum, phew. The infection is clearing. I tell her about the panic attacks continuing. I may have suggested that the situation is impossible to deal with. I can’t remember exactly. She told me that people with adhd (which I have had since youth) are prone to anxiety and this accident has manifested itself in this way. I asked her if the meds could make the ringing and anxiety worse. Keep using the tranquilizers she says, don’t stop now. Arg
I keep taking the pills. They undoubtedly have a soothing effect. I don’t stop panicking, but they made things somewhat easier to deal with. I still didn’t feel like all of this was reality. I was convinced I was going to soon wake up from the coma that I was in since the impact of the wave.
The panic attacks are the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. They happen at random. Every day I woke up, I opened my eyes and believed that today would be different, but every day a moment after I opened my eyes and dark fog fell over me and I was stuck in this other place again. It’s a cold, dark, wanton place. There is no joy. I can’t think of anywhere I want to be or anything I would rather be doing at that point
I tried carrying on with life. I was so depressed, I was always sweating. I was medicated all the time. I was still working. That was a bit of a distraction. However, I had really bad sensitivity to light so I worked with my sunglasses on all day. I never looked forward to dusk, the change of the light brought the panic attacks on more severely
I also started losing more weight, fast. Could it be the crutches? I’m going for “walks” every day to try ease the weirdness in my head. I start forming little habits to cope. I showered twice a day. I stood in the sun. I rubbed my neck. I took the pills. I held my eyelids tightly closed with my hand. Temperature seemed to affect me. I remember on a few occasions being out in the sun on very hot days, moments later my head felt hot, my ears felt flush with blood and my brain felt like it was swelling. I felt an incredible pressure in my head. Again my vision would blur, my confusion increased and I would flip out. When it subsided the headache came on and my eyes felt scratchy life after you’ve cried
Also now I was having violent nightmares every night. Gory. Very disturbing. I am not prone to violence or even enjoy watching violence. I had never been in a fight other than a few playground scuffles when I was at school. I couldn’t sleep more than a few hours without waking up. I had the tranqs next to my bed. I used them often. What’s wrong with me? This isn’t real. I’m panicking about every little thing. It felt like a physical problem to me. I could feel a physical thing in my head, it wasn’t chemical or phycological or emotional. There was pressure in my head like it wanted to pop. And while that pressure was there all these dream-like symptoms would happen, and this brought on panic episodes
If you’ve never had a panic attack then don’t read this…
If you have had a panic attack then you’ll know that you can feel it coming. It’s like standing in the road and seeing a bus coming straight for you but you can’t move out the way. It’s pure chemicals I believe. No amount of thought can stop it. Heat flushes up the sides of your face. You can’t make sense of things. Chemicals flood your brain and your entire body wretches. You don’t want to be anywhere. You want it to end. You want life to end. You just want it to be over. Even after the event is behind you, you don’t recover right away. The chemicals remain in your brain. You’re wiped out for ages afterwards
I was now in this state permanently. Nothing was making sense. My vision was blurry. I couldn’t look into the distance without freaking out. I worried I’d wake up blind. I worried I was trapped in this netherworld forever. After just a few minutes of being awake my eyes would start burning, all day. I worried that my leg didn’t heal and I’dd have to get pins put in and that I have to be down for even longer. Poor Melissa
I once had a panic attack because I couldn’t control the sun or the seasons. (This may sound more crazy than it is. I realised later that being in the sun made me feel comforted and because I couldn’t control when I could do that it affected me. Also, at dusk and ant night my vision issues meant that I couldn’t see well after sunset). I also panicked because I couldn’t understand in my head how people could fly to other Countries. What if they got trapped far from home. Things like this. Ridiculous paranoia for hours and hours on end. Nothing I knew before made sense now
And now I was struggling with heavy depression. Heavy. I got back to the doc. She was away. Her locum was there. I tell he my story in under 5 minutes. We’ve just met, she puts me on Prozac. Prozac??? Oh yes, she also tells me I may have permanent brain damage. Charming. Things to tell someone who is in a constant state of panic
Things were not adding up. My symptoms. The explanations. The medication. I didn’t feel like anyone had yet hit the hammer on the nail. I needed to speak to the doctor again. Not sure I will ever trust someone who can put you something like Prozac in 5 minutes of meeting
So, Again, baaaack to the doc. We needed to talk. Something else was wrong and she needed to help me figure it out. If only Dr House was real. He could understand this complex set of circumstances that was affecting me
The doc was spit balling now. I was convinced that the ringing in my ears was the cause of my panic attacks. So she tells me about these crystals in your ear that control balance and can cause ringing. Strange that it’s both eats now though. Anyway, onwards. They can become misaligned as it were. They sometimes in rare cases needed to be adjusted. There was a solution for this. A complicated process of rolls and twists that I can try at home.
I must go to the ophthalmologist. Maybe I have retina damage causing the blurry vision. Doesn’t explain the ringing of course but let’s just do it
I’ll try anything. I’m in all sorts of agony. My wife wants to take me to a mental home. That makes me panic more.
Hang on though the doc says. I wonder if you don’t have a concussion! Ok let’s explore that as well. It explains most things including panic attacks and ringing ears. The eye doc in fact can see the brain to a degree via the eyes. After him, I must go to a neurologist to check for a bleed on the brain
Progress, after 3 weeks!
I start to ask more from doctor Google which is never a good idea and I had managed to avoid it largely. I just used to use it to try and figure out timing of recovery so I could get my life going again and plan my next surf. However, Google is filled with stories of people that got stuck in a problem and never got out. It breeds negativity. Be careful of that!
Except this time google was useful. I discovered that concussion included all my symptoms. Almost exactly. I thought concussion was just an overnight thing. Stay awake and you’ll feel better in the morning. I was very wrong! There are varying degrees apparently to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBA)
But also, surely the doc would have thought of that? Well she didn’t. What is more, you have only 2 weeks to treat a concussion or you get post Concussion syndrome which in every way is far worse that the concussion itself. I was close to week 4 already. Too late for treatment
What now? When you have a concussion you’re supposed to cut yourself off from the world. Don’t open your eyes, don’t even think, basically. Instead of avoiding all stimulus, I’d been working every day on my computer, albeit with my sunnies on. No-one told me. How did the doc not recognize these symptoms earlier? I have no idea
The opthomolgist finds no damage to the eye. Nerves, retina, all ok. He looks beyond the eye but sees no damage to the brain. He can do that. Yes, but based on my story he thinks perhaps there is damage he can’t see. He says I need an MRI scan.
It so happens that I’m due for a check up on my leg. Maybe it’s already better. That could cheer me up. I go have the x-ray. Bad news. The Xrays are crap, go get better one. Arg again. Re-X-rayed. There is other bad news. The leg has not yet started to heal. Please just let me die.
Nothing my doc has suggested has helped me yet. I’m still in this dark dream world. Struggling to carry on with life. Often I would lay on the couch with my eyes closed just trying to fight all the hundreds of physical and mental sensations I was experiencing. How did other people survive this? I read about. Many people did not survive this. Suicide among post-concussion sufferers was high. What’s more odd is while all this was going I apparently seemed perfectly normal to people around me
This was when I hit the first point of seriously thinking it would be better to leave this life
I had been doing part-time preaching work for about 4 years before the time of the accident. I was and still am someone with great faith in a creator that responds if you call on him. I had been praying but now I was praying harder. I cried many times, only when no-one was around, of course.
Exploring this new diagnosis of concussion and post concussion was that it usually lasted 6 weeks. It could however last up to 2 years. And then ,, many people had it for the rest of their lives. Yes, I would prefer death over that hell. It wasn’t like I was alive anyway. I wanted the anguish to end. That is in no-way like anything I would ever say or think. I was always zestful for life
I started looking for alternatives for everything. These medical doctors were letting me down. How did they not think to Check for Concussion? The result is now its too late to treat and I am having a life changing experience that I didn’t know of I will ever recover from. All they offered me were drugs. How could I live like this? I couldn’t. I’m was now thinking of dying all the time and being at peace
Through all this I continued to work and get around to see friends but I was completely dependent on the tranqs. Melissa is buying bags of supplements to treat all these symptoms. It seemed clear now that I was in for the long haul. I eventually went for the MRI scan and met with a neurologist. His prognosis. I had no damage to my brain, but I would have to deal with the post concussion for as long as it lasted
The MRI is not for the claustrophobic. 45 minutes of no movement while the machine makes bad 80’s sci-fi noises in your ears. At first I felt the usual new anxiety ensue, the hot flush and instant sweats. I should have had a pill before this. I breathed deep and closed my eyes and forced myself to think of better days ahead
I decided to stop taking the Prozac. I carried on with the tranquilizers. Now that I knew what the problem was I didn’t anti-depsressants. Bad diagnosis! Bad.
How long would these unmanageable symptoms last now? No-one could say. Melissa and I decide to take some R&R. We headed out to some natural hot springs for a weekend of jacuzzi and chill. One of the hardest days of my experience. I know realise retrospectively that my dream state was exacerbated by long distance driving, obviously the peripheral high speed movement was bad for my bruised brain. Also heat that caused increased blood to my brain didn’t help at all. Again, not something anyone explained to me. I was alone here despite spending thousands on some very highly praised docs, people at the top of their game. This community let me down. My docs appointments were never more than 15 minutes except for the naturopath! But I was nervous of her because on my lst visit my rining peaked and I couldn’t chew for a few days after the jaw bone massge. That was my bad judegment, she was on the right track. Once again I had affirmation that natural was better than medical
Once we got home from our trip Melissa went to do some work. I was alone at home, and my brain was exploding again. I cried again. Real men cry
I decided that everyone was wrong, this was my lowest point yet. I went to the local hospital to check myself in and accept my fate as a mental patient. I was very evidentially absolutely nuts. It was obviously bound to happen, the accident just drove me off the edge sooner than it should have
I arrived at the hospital. I waited hour upon hour. 3 hours to be exact. Eventually a nurse at the end of her 12 hour shift called me into a small disorganised room. (This was a government hospital hundreds if years old in the city and mostly visited by drunk homeless people with axes in their heads or similar)
She asked me very eloquently “What you feelin’?”. Clearly not interested really
I explained my complex list of symptoms. She didn’t seem to really be getting it. She wrote it all down and told me to wait for the doc. My options were jumping off the tallest building in the area or checking into this hospital. It’s 4 hours later. Jumping would have been much faster. I could have saved so much time. While I was waiting I checked the book to see where I was in the stream of things. I was next, I also spotted in my symptoms was written by the nurse : “Ringing eyes, Burning ears”
The medical system had let me down so much by now I was not surprised. Plus, how hard do they work these poor people?
By then I was somehow feeling better anyway
The doc calls me in. He was Croatian maybe. He knew his stuff. I liked him. He was the first person to say, Dale you’ve gone crazy. Suspicions confirmed. Well he didn’t say that .H e said, I believe this is not physical I think. I think it is psychological, most likely PTSD. Go see a shrink.
Not a chance bro
That was that
Deciding that there was no fixing this I had to just learn to deal with not being really alive. I undertstood how people could become alcoholics or drug addicts because of these effects
We also watched the movie “Concussion” on Netflix (no chill) with Will Smith. That was a terrible idea. Paranoia through the roof. Could I end up like one of these men that became violent and didn’t recognise who people in their lives were?
It was time for my next check up on my leg. At first glance the doc doesn’t look happy. Now I needed a CT Scan to see if were on our way or if there is bone or scar tissue stopping the mending process. He was correct. Still no healing. Well this is bad. All the hopes that a good surf or bball game would start bringing me back to normal are out the window again. Plus, now I have to go for an op on the leg to put pins in. This did not go along with my paranoid schizophrenia or whatever this new mental condition was. I was so depressed. So despressed. So tired of the nightmares, gory violent nightmares, the pounding heart, the ringing. I was low, as low as I had ever been. Also, I had started hearing voices in at night. And my own thoughts were starting to sound like my own voice talking to me as a separate person. Should things not be getting better slowly? Why were they getting worse?
The doc can’t explain the mending not starting. However I’m ordered to stop all activity completely. Good by to my daily walks in the sun. I was to lay flat for one month or, go for the opp now, which I got a quote for. R100K or so. Or get in line at a government hospital. Neither good options and both meant another 6 to 8 weeks of down time. I had a feeling that the lack of dopamine from exercise was also to blame for certain things so I was very bleak about my options
In order to get my leg to heal without the dreaded operation, I searched for options and I discovered lazer treatment. My old chiro who was also a surfer and his practice offered this service. I also have a friend who does ozone treatment. I would try anything at that point. If I couldn’t fix me head perhaps I could try fix my leg. Maybe fixing my leg would improve my mental state. At least I could surf. Terrible to be so dependent on something
At the first lazer session I see acupuncture on offer. Still convinced my ringing ears are causing the disassociation I wondered if accupuncture could relieve the ringing.
I start courses of both
After my first acupuncture session my head becomes a war zone. Everything in there was chaos. I just layed dead still trying to think of just one thing. This lasted a few hours after the treatment. That was a bad idea. Was it? The next day I see light for the first time. The darkness, the yellow filter, they were a little lighter.
I went for another asap. I got some natural meds from her called “Open Orifices”. Like I said, I’d try anything at that point
She also tells me based on my story that I am likely to have whiplash. Again, why did the medical fraternity not explain this? I’ll tell you why. The natural docs all spent about an hour listening and reasoning on my symptoms. In the medical world you get 15 minutes max. Even with the best, most expensive people
I had two more acupuncture session, each time a brief maelstrom and then a release. But my new doc is going overseas for a month. Doh. She was the first person to help me. I explain the situation to the chiro that she shared office with
He has other opinions. He believed that since the acupuncture hepled maybe it’s related to blood flow. If only I had explored this further. More opinions though. I had endured months of this already. I was getting better at not wanting to die but still there were moments. The syomtims were not better, I was better at the symptoms. Every day waking up hoping, only to be dumped into the dark heavy world again moments later. More opinions, pssshhhh
Anyway, I let my chiro try a few things. Melissa nearly had heart failure when she heard the pop from the first neck adjustment. I had to admit there was a reaction. Good or bad at that stage I didn’t care. If it had an effect it meant that it was touching the cause and that could lead to clues surfacing. He was in fact on the right track
In the mean I wanted to try Ozone therapy. I had heard it could also help my leg. I wanted to hit this thing with a sledge hammer. I was also taking all the supplements. ALL OF THEM. Interestingly after my first few session I had the same reaction that I had after the acupuncture. It was as hard as hell right after but then the day after there was relief albeit brief. I had many ozone sessions after that. To this day I still want to buy an ozone machine. I am a great believer After my 10th session of lazer I was due another check up with the specialist. I had for the first time felt progress in my leg. I was running out of money. I didn’t go for the check up! Naughty. Bottom line was, the ozone / lazer had started the healing process and I could feel it. At last. The advice from the specialist from earlier on and the chiro at that point was, switch to one crutch, then no crutch but keep the boot for a further month. I was on track. Finally something good
In the process we had to make a major move from one city to another. Which we did. In the new city I found a new chiro. I started to walk without the boot at last. 5 months on crutches! My leg was going to take a long time to be 100% again. I never explored the chiro’s theory about blood flow any more after that. I didn’t know how to be frank. It was just a theory with no advice on treatment attached
Now I could start exercising again. Why was this so important to me? I don’t know but I was convinced it would start presenting the cure. It was 6 months later now. Some of the panic had eased up. I was taking less drugs but still carried my pill bottle everywhere I went. 3 months later I was surfing again. After about a year I finally started feeling notably better. Again, was it me getting better at dealing? Possibly. My vision was still very weird, and more often than not I still felt like I was in a dream. But the panic was the hardest, and there was less panic now. Thankful. But still I would trip out after long drives, or heavy exercise. Then my eyes would burn and I would hold my hand on them for minutes until the flashes and patterns disappeared. I hadn’t spoken to doctor google in some time. I was just happy to be on my feet again. I was grateful. My friend had the same leg injury exactly, his took 6 weeks. Mine had taken 5 long, gruelling months. Of course I was grateful
The ringing in my ears was now doing something different. Changing tones, making pops and crackles. I discovered that the changing frequencies and pitches was far better than the same high pitched drone all day every day, and night
But it was time to understands this disassociation. It had been longer than predicted if it was due to the concussion itself and if the ringing from the concusision was starting to change why had the disaccosaitan not changed?
So doctor google, what is this dreamlike state that is robbing me of my joy and causing me to flip out. Doctor google taught of a whole new thing that I never knew existed. DP/DR. Or depersonalisation / derealisation.
DP – When you feel that you are not real. Like you are in someone elses body. Like you’re stuck in a dream
DR – When the world around you feels unreal. This one is a lot harder to stomach than the it’s friend DP
DP/DR – Both of the above at the same time. In other words, jump off a building now because what is this even that you call your life?
And it seems this also leads to many suicides
At last I wasn’t alone. This thing that could not be explained or understood by any doctor, was not unique to me. I’m not just in the early stages of being full-on crazy. Well maybe I am but at least now I know the reason
Now that I knew that it existed. What was the cure? There was no cure listed anywhere
So where was I then. Here:
the list of symptoms from the Post Concussion Syndrome:
Neck ache, I rubbed my neck incessantly
Thoughts of death
These symptoms would intensify or ease off randomly but at least there was movement. I figured out that computer posture didn’t help either. Often on a Thursday or Friday I would lose it and have to take a tranq but on Monday I was fine again after resting from the pc for 2 days. Often I would have to hold my eyes closed to relieve the burning and daily I would rub my neck to loosen the muscles from presumably from peering at the screen
The ringing persisted, some times louder than others. Sometimes a pop in the one ear or the other. Sometimes crickets, sometimes a hum, a hiss and sometimes a high-pitched ring. The same ring in the movies when a serial killer is hunting his next victim.
Exactly (almost) a year after my first accident and I was feeling some good days I fell down the stairs at home – facepalm. A little while later I went to my new chiro because since the fall I had started having back pain. She discovered I was way outta line 😊She also discovered that I had serious whiplash in recent years that wasn’t treated and she started repairing the muscles in my neck
Yes. She adjusted me
I felt better for sure. Better than before the fall even. I carried on with the DPDR being my main complaint now. I needed to find the cause of this. Perhaps my brain was just broken from everything and.
I kept going to my new chiro. She listened, she explained, she was fantastic.
A few months later I was having more good days now than before. 18 months or so later. I was learning how to ignore some things and the pure concussion symptoms were easing up. Lighter ringing, what relief. Less panic. Just the DPRP still detracting very much from my quality of life
We went on a surf trip. I hit the reef really hard on my left hip. Same hip that was out when from the fall down the stairs. What an idiot
My magic chiro would fix me. She did
A few days after that adjustment ay my new chiro I was desperate to get in the water. Only massive swell around and closing out. I decided to take a paddle board into a bay where the waves held up in these conditions but were only surfable with the kind of board I did not own. I had a major wipe-out. I hit the water at great force. Served me right for paddle boarding
A day or two later I had a major relapse in DP/DR, panic, the whole trip. This was a bad space for me. I thought I was on the up. Slow yes, but tiny improvement were all I needed. Even the ringing in my ears was a little lighter. Why now?
I perceived this to be a bad thing but in reality this was the event that changed my life for the better. And yes, I had a bad run didn’t i?
Co-incidentally I had recently started talking to an old friend in Germany after many years. He was my closest friend for a long time but we had sadly lost touch. He asked me how I was. I told him, the abbreviated version. He says to me, you should have your atlas aligned. What was this voodoo he spoke of?
I googled. Yes, this made sense
I contacted my chiro. She knew exactly what I meant. I scheduled a treatment. I got some more x-rays (yes I am dead inside from all the rays) and waited anxiously for to see her
My first treatment, I was expecting something massive. She got me in a head lock as chiro’s do. With a flick of her wrists there was a loud pop. She was surprised at how much it moved. Apparently atlas adjustments are usually small movements. This according to her was surpringly huge
I felt a tingle! …
I got home and I felt the same weirdness that I had at my first acupuncture. I can only describe it like this…
You know when you’ve been sitting in an odd position and your leg goes to sleep but you don’t know it. Then you stand up and it feels dead but it then get pins and needles and the feeling starts coming back and it feels really awkward and uncomfortable? That’s exactly what my brain felt like for the first few weeks after my accident and exactly what it felt like now. Exactly
After a very strange day I woke up an felt different. My vision was better, I was connected. I was me again. Not completely, but enough to get excited about. I had a few more atlas adjustments and with each one I was finally getting better. Each adjustment was much smaller. This was the thing that I needed on day 1. The medical community let me down. I could have easily been dead 100 times over. In 18 months I was on the edge constantly. I can only imagine how many people ended their lives from these symptoms.
My new chiro, what a legend. She actually took the time to sit and explain and listen. Not like these pump and dump medical doctors who churn patients out faster a sausage machine and just refer you around to all their friends. She got me on to heat therapy. I use heated bean bags every day and my road to recovery went from the slow lane to the autobahn
With the blood flow around my neck and head dramatically improved all my symptoms started clearing up. I still have to go for quick atlas adjustments now and then. I can tell straight away when it’s time. My vision blurs up, I fell confused and dizzy. All those things I reported on my first docs appointment almost 2 years ago. I understand that you don’t just adjust something once and its better, especially when it has been out for so long and the muscles around it have been trained a certain way. I also realise that my work creates issues for me and that sometimes I wipe out on a wave and land a certain way and I know that I’ve done a whiplash type inury again and I’ll go get more treatment. It doesn’t matter to me. I know it works now and I know the cause.
There is no price to great to not suffer with DPRP. I believe everyone who has this can get better
I call myself a survivor. Others who have endured this have not been so fortunate. I am so happy to be experiencing 80% less symptoms. Things still get weird some days and I don’t feel completely real all the time i.e. I still experience DPDR sometimes but I believe that once you have opened this door in your mind it never closes.
I hope that through this blog I can convince people who are suffering through this that there is hope. It will get better. It may take a long time and every moment that you feel these things may feel like a moment you won’t survive but you are not alone. Find others like you and share your story. I hope that this site becomes that place for you. Don’t give up, keep searching for answer for your causes and help others here too!
My first chiro was onto something. He speculated that my head was filling with blood that was not able to leave again efficiently. That blood was then getting spent of all oxygen leaving my head full of useless blood. In other words blood flow was inhibited. This would explain the physical sensation I felt in my head. It also explains why heat and exercise made things worse as blood was pumping at a greater rate to my head with a very restricted flow out
This also was the reason that I was constantly rubbing my neck. I would push and prod every little tight knot until it was relaxed. But it was always tight again the next day. With a severely displaced Atlas bone, this was no surprise.
There is no doubt that I had a concussion. There is no doubt that I had whiplash. Did I have an emotional breakdown? Perhaps. Time will tell on that front
It took about a year for my ringing to start mellowing, a long time, but it happened. If you have tinnitus, hang in there. It really gets easier over time. Was the tinnitus the culprit of the panic attacks? Maybe, but more likely it was the untreated concussion
What did I do wrong? I waited too long to go to a doctor. I also never had a doctor that I had known and come to trust. This backfired me on me dramatically. If you ever have any kind of bad jolt or jerk, don’t wait to check for concussion and whiplash. You don’t have to be knocked out to sustain a concussion
I also should have got more opinions when the ones I was given didn’t make sense to me. There are clinics that specialise in concussion. They are where the sports pro’s go. They’re costly! I am sure pro’s get control of these conditions before they become a problem. Although hearing Pat Lambie of the Springbok Rugby team relate his symptoms in a TV interview, along with his retirement from Rugby because of this, I wonder if this is the case
All these things together with the stress and depression of not being able to work or play drove me crazy. But I am glad that in the 18 months that I struggled I never stopped asking questions, I need gave in and accepted the new reality and I hope that this motivates you if you are suffering to do the same I am also grateful for people that supported me