Dear Lana at Living with Post Concussion Syndrome,
The fact that your neurologist keeps emphasizing time is the most frustrating thing a patient like me or you wants to hear. We want to hear that everything is ok. That we will be back to “normal” in no time. Sadly, with traumatic brain injuries and concussions that is the only thing to hang on to. Time.
Let me flashback to a time, now almost 4 years ago, after my traumatic brain injury. I recall after being released from the hospital, the weird dreams I had when I slept. My brain wanted to make sense of it all and would constantly ask why. I was not on any medications at this point but my brain was all jumbled. I would recognize people but not remember their name. That drove me nuts. But over time I have developed strategies to try and remember people’s names better. I am still not the best, but hey, it’s a work in progress. I also remember just how quiet I was. I did not want to speak up nor would I initiate conversation which is odd for me since before the injury I was a super loud extrovert and to some degree, I am that way again. Yet, its different, because when I am in new settings I can tend to be more shy and back away. I also remember just how awkward I felt. Wherever I went I felt like people knew something was wrong with me and that they could tell my brain was messed up. Which although this was true, most people struggled with “seeing” my injury considering its “invisible”. For me, you can see my injury by listening to me talk. I may change tenses along the way or forget words and use the wrong replacement word. (In example using farm instead of garden, which can mean a world of difference). I also forgot all my math and had to work a lot at trying to relearn it. So to answer your question, I experienced and still do experience many different cognitive issues. In terms of cognitive delay, I do experience that as well. I take longer to think about a situation or a problem and so it helps that I have disability accommodations at my university which allow me to take longer on my tests so that my cognitive issues do not slow down my progress towards my degree. In terms of executive disruption, I think my brain was actually turn on for that more so. In some ways, I have excelled further in my executive functions and my personal relations when it comes to business. On the flip side, my social skills and my interpreting of social settings tends to vary. Maybe it was weaker to begin with. With all that being said, I still have good friends that support me along the way and challenge me in other ways. However for the first six months after my accident I was in therapy for many hours every week. It was split between speech and cognitive therapy, physical therapy and vestibular therapy (for dizziness). I felt extremely fatigued all the time and lacked most motivation. I slept odd hours and slept for as long as I could. Sleep works wonders for your brain.
In terms of headaches I do not recall how long it took for the daily headaches to subside but it felt like forever. Learn a pain scale such as the one which this link leads you to. http://pain.about.com/od/testingdiagnosis/ig/pain-scales/Wong-Baker.htm
I took Tylenol and advil until I finally saw a neurologist, so that fact that you are already seeing one is a step in the right direction. I would also suggest, finding a physiatrist who deals with pain and rehab. My physiatrist worked wonders for me. The vitamins I take now definitely help to prevent headaches and I using lavender and peppermint topically (I rub them on my neck or on my forehead). That is just what works for me.
Now, back to today. It has been a long journey to get to where I am at today. When the barometric pressure changes I know, often because it leads to a headache. When its hot, I lack energy and focus and sometimes feel sick. When its cold, I felt pain around my skull. I still get headaches, but a whole lot less. Medication did help along the way but it felt like it screwed me up in others at the time. Like your neurologist said, time. Just give it some time. Be patient. And keep learning and trying new techniques until you find the ones that work for you. Let me know. I am here for you and for everyone else who is also like us and part of our brain injury club. We can get through this change and move forward, embracing it together.