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New Member Seeking Recovery from 4-month Post concussion symptoms

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Unread 01-15-2013, 04:56 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Default New Member Seeking Recovery from 4-month Post concussion symptoms

Hello all,

I have just stumbled upon this site and am glad to have done so. I have read various forums and already gained a lot of valuable insight on brain injuries that I did not know. Anyway, here's my story.

I am a 20-year-old college student-athlete, I play ice hockey. In addition to ice hockey, I am a gym rat, exercise guru, etc. I love competition and love working on myself both physically and mentally to be the best I can be.

Through my early years BEFORE my college playing career began I suffered 2 or 3 concussions, all spread out over years, no injuries close to each other. In my freshman season, about midway through, I suffered a rather severe concussion after a hit which impacted my chin directly. After a little over one month recovery time, I was back on the ice and back to normal.

My sophomore season I enjoyed a healthy season right up until the final week of practice for the season just before the national tournament began where I collided with a teammate and suffered another concussion. That ended my season. I got over that concussion without much of a problem as well.

My offseason this time I took a bit more seriously and coming into this season I was in the best shape of my life and raring to go for my junior season. I am a hard-hitting forward and for any of you who know hockey I am a bonafide "grinder." I LOVE the corners, LOVE making the big hit to sway the momentum in the game and play a very physical, high energy style.

After a successful training camp I was back in the gym the week before the season officially began this past september (2012) when I smacked the back of my head on a barbell that was racked on a bench press. I finished my workout and even finished that week exercising regularly before I began to notice the all-too-familiar concussion symptoms.

Anyway, sorry for making this so long but fast-forwarding four months down the road, it is now January and I have redshirted for this season. I took my recovery seriously in the beginning while being aided by our team trainers and university doctors. I was granted a 2-week leave of absence from school in November for neurological rest where I went home and laid around in a dark room. It did help me. However, I was over zealous and attempted to make a return to hockey and the exertion, body checking, physicality was too much to handle so I again pulled myself out of competition.

After this, I started getting really depressed. I had lost so much muscle mass and definition because of my absence from the gym, was aware that I would probably have to scratch this season, and was having a tough time concentrating in school. On top of that, my university is a co-op school where you basically are in classes for six months and then you intern and gain job experience from real employers in your field of study for the succeeding six months. The co-op process is stressful and competitive and I have been dealing with the stress of interviews and classes at the same time. I've had good days and positive progress and told myself I'm fine and have gone out and partied and drank and smoked marijuana on many occasions.

Before you bash me for this, I am aware of the detrimental effects this behavior causes me and since have completely stopped any intake of alcohol or caffeine. At the turn of the new year I have been on top of my recovery like a mad man, sleeping or laying around in dark rooms given every opportunity, avoiding loud music, bright lights, driving, exertion. However, I cannot avoid going to class and the workload that results or attending team functions. Although I am no longer participating in hockey I still attend games and practice as a member of the team.

Anyway, I'm having serious doubts about getting my life back. I'm well aware my hockey career may be over. I'm pretty depressed because of it. What depresses me more is that I can't get in the gym, look and feel like crap, can't push myself in school or for interviews for jobs the way I want to and I'm concerned at how life-altering this has already been for me and how much it can continue to mess up my promising future.

I'm really sorry for making this post so long I just really needed a place to vent. My friends and family support me, however, they have no idea what I am going through and it gets old for them after four months asking me how they can help. I am young and feel like I am meant for a great future but I have lost much of my former self. The hard-working, motivated, smiling, happy self that was me four months ago has been replaced by a depressed, desperate, hopeless kid with a serious brain injury. I know it is depressing for many of those around me like my friends and younger brothers who once counted on me for inspiration and advice. Thanks for reading and bearing with me through this extremely long post, I look forward to hearing some responses.

Thanks so much, wishing this new community all the best.

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Unread 01-15-2013, 08:12 AM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2011
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I totally understand what you are going through. Prior to my accident, I was working full time and then going to grad school full time in the evenings. I was also very invovled with coaching high school kids. I was constantly on the go. At 24, I was coming home from work at a merge point completely stopped. Someone hit me doing 45mph and then I hit the car in front of me from the impact. I had two previous concussions in the two years prior from my job. (I worked with students with special needs who could be very aggressive at times).

After my accident, I spent 18 months doing nothing but therapies. I know the depression you feel, as I still deal with it. Last fall, I started back to class part time. However I am still unable to return to work.

I can tell you from what you've told me, you have not given your brain enough time to truly rest. Can you take a medical leave from college? If you want to move forward, you really need to allow your brain to stop and rest. This is the only way you can heal. I took an 18 month medical leave from graduate school and when I started back, it was still only for 2 classes with a great deal of accomodations from my schools disability program.

As for the depression you feel, yes your situation sucks. I can say that, because I've been there However, if you allow yourself to heal, you can slowly work back to the things you love. Perhaps not hockey, due to the risk of reinjury. But could you coach hockey? Help out the team in another type of way? etc

I would see if there is a sports rehab doctor in your area. They might be able to help you find a cognitive therapist. I found one who has experience with brain injury and she's been really helpful in helping me to accept that this is where my life is right now, but that it won't be this way forever. That has allowed me to permit myself to take it slow, so I can heal and move forward.

This was very hard for me at first as I am very competitive as well, and did not like that I couldn't be my old, fast paced, hard working self. I know how much this hurts and how depressing it is.

But if you allow yourself to focus solely on healing, you can start to feel better physically and emotionally.

My best to you ((hugs))
What Happened: On 3/8/11 I was stopped waiting to merge into traffic when I was rear ended by someone doing 45 mph. I walked away from the accident, to fall into the pit of PCS 5 days later... (I have had 2 previous concussions, but neither developed into PCS.)

Symptoms 3 Years Post: Physical: migraines, infrequent vertigo, neck and back pain (from accident), tinnitus, visual field deficits in left eye, problematic light sensitivity, (including visual seizure activity), noise sensitivity, EXTREME fatigue, semi-frequent disrupted sleep cycles,
Cognitive: semi-frequent Brain fog after cognitive strain, limited bouts of impulsivity, unable to concentrate for more than short periods of time without fatigue, word finding problems, slowed processing speeds, impaired visual memory;
Emotional: easily overstimulated, depression, anxiety;

Treatment so far: Vestibular therapy; Physical Therapy; Vision Therapy; Vitamin Schedule; Limited caffeine; Medications; attempting to limit stress and overstimulation; Yoga; Cognitive Therapy
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Eowyn (01-15-2013), MsRriO (01-28-2013), pswift02 (01-15-2013)
Unread 01-15-2013, 07:24 PM   #3
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: canada
Posts: 547

I completely agree with the sense of a 'loss of self'. I think deep down we are still ourselves, but not who we defined ourselves as before the injury. Lots of grieving to do.

It does feel good to know people understand your suffering. Hang in there!

Last edited by Mokey; 01-15-2013 at 07:25 PM. Reason: Typo
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Unread 01-15-2013, 10:01 PM   #4
Mark in Idaho
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Welcome to NeuroTalk. We have heard stories like yours many times. You have already started to allow the future to be less than you intended. This is good because it lowers anxiety factors. You likely have suffered far more than 3 or 4 total concussion. Most of your concussions you just shook off and got back in the next line change. This can be why you are struggling so much this time. My doctor believes we use up our ability to recovery to the max. I know I have no more ability to recover.

I suggest you start by reading my thread, "Vitamin and Supplement...." It lists some good online resources for you and your family/friends to watch and read. Plus, you should get going on brain nutrition to maximize your brain's ability to heal and tolerate stress.

My brain is too fried tonight to read you whole post so I can comment more later. Others will to. Lots of good people here.

As Smilin said, You need quiet rest. No observing games or practices. Minimal cognitive load.

We are here for you.

My best to you.
Mark in Idaho

"Be still and know that I am God" Psalm 46:10
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pswift02 (01-15-2013)
Unread 01-15-2013, 11:56 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 4

Thanks so much to you guys who have already responded. It feels good to know there are those who have been in the same situation as me and I am looking forward to gaining everything I can from this community.

Mark, I plan on following your vitamin and nutrition plan and will definitely be letting you know if I have questions or concerns.

Also, I am visiting a concussion rehabilitation center nearby my school this week and will post on what advice/help I can gather there.

Thanks again,
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Unread 01-28-2013, 03:40 AM   #6
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Default Update on condition

All of the rest I have been getting is helping, I feel much better than I did at the time of my original post. I saw a neurologist at a concussion rehab center who has prescribed me gabapentin, also commonly referred to as neurontin to help with my recovery. I am also taking fish oil, magnesium, and multivitamins as this doctor approved of those to take with my medication.

Overall, I am a lot happier as I have noticed improvement in my status. The doctor I saw also cleared me to do light workouts to get my body back into better shape again, so long as I do not have any problems with headaches. He has a theory that some of the lingering headaches and problems that are remaining is a result of my brain getting used to this new down-trodden, out of shape version of myself and in order to combat that, he thinks I should start breaking a sweat again. Anyway, just wanted to share some of this information. Hope everyone else is getting some good luck too.
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Unread 01-28-2013, 06:00 AM   #7
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That is great, that you are seeing improvements.

Just a reminder though, to space your gabapentin around the
magnesium and the multivitamins. Both can complex the gabapentin and reduce its absorption.

The multivit probably has an insoluble form of magnesium called magnesium stearate in it.

The pamphlet from the pharmacy and/or a sticker on your bottle should have provided this information.
All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.-- Galileo Galilei


This raccoon has come out yesterday since the snow recently melted and can't decide which cherry tomato to eat first. Hubby put them on the feeding bench yesterday morning. (he doesn't like them). They were all gone by this morning.
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Unread 01-28-2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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Wow, what an incredibly articulate poster you are Pat and welcome to the community!

I'm a huge hockey fan! My son is in hockey, just got his first concussion at age 9, just 10 days ago. He is on the mend now but it was frightening. I always wanted to be a hockey mom and I loved it when he started to love the sport at only 5 years old! But because I'm now more informed going through my own injury and subsequent PCS, I would not be too sad if he decides to opt out of the sport in a few years. Scary stuff. He plays wing and would be a grinder.... Lol

I am glad you are getting the help you need. A concussion rehabilitation centre sounds like heaven to me right about now! No such resources up where I live!

You sound very level headed and logical in your approach to life and that will go a long way. I think we all struggle with acceptance of a new normal, at least I certainly have. It's that ability to accept and work around limitations that will serve you best in the long run.

It's interesting to me how different doctors prescribe exercise... Keep us posted with how it goes. I'm an old lady compared to you but I really miss working out too, it gave me such good health.

I'm 3mo post injury and have not been able to exercise yet. I've been resting, supplementing, icing my neck, and receiving acupuncture. (No improvements yet)

Hope to see you around the forums.
About it: October 26, 2012 I fell backward on an icy parking lot at work. I was on Workers Comp for 9 months. My PCS : everyday headaches became once in a while headaches, and neck pain became manageable. Still have occasional mild dizziness, sometimes fullness in the ears, convergence insufficiency, sequencing struggles, short term memory struggles, verbal processing delays. CT neg, MRI neg. Therapies: prism glasses, acupuncture, icing neck, resting, supplementing, Elavil 20mg at bedtime.

NEW: Completed 12 weeks of physical therapy and returned to work full time.

About me: I'm a marketing manager, a mom with a blended family and wife to a heart attack survivor. I believe my brain injury taught me more than it cost me. I'm grateful to still be me!
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Unread 01-28-2013, 06:02 PM   #9
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Good to know there are some hockey community members on the forum! As far as your son goes, I understand your concern with the risk of injury, however, just to give my two cents, despite my concussion turmoil currently, I would never have changed my past or stopped playing hockey when I was younger even though I know the sport has contributed to the problems I face now. The sport has taught me so many valuable lessons in life, is responsible for some of the best times of my life and lifelong friends that I currently have, and is a direct cause of the life I currently lead. In other words, hockey has gotten me to where I am today and has shaped me into the young man that I am.

Obviously if he grows out of his love for the sport, that's all and well, but I wouldn't try and turn him away from it. Not that you said anything like that haha and I'm sure you're well aware of that, I just thought I would give you my thoughts on it.

It's a shame that you don't have some more resources up where you live, I can tell you that the gabapentin has certainly helped with my headaches, as well as a healthy diet and plenty of rest. I would recommend trying to acquire a prescription to help with your own recovery. You said it best: our ability to adapt to change and limitations is a huge part of coping with PCS.

I have only worked out twice since my doctor's recommendations and both have been successful, though I have been very cautious. Thirty minutes on the bike at a fairly slow pace and then a very light arm and shoulder workout is what I have gotten to so far and I have not noticed any resulting headaches. I will continue to update on them.

I hope you start feeling better soon, I know how frustrating it gets as I am still not back to normal.
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Unread 01-28-2013, 09:39 PM   #10
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: virginia
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pswift your attitude is good and that is a great asset for recovery. No you will not be like this forever. Mark is a long time member here and has dealt with pcs for many years. IMO be careful because you already know you are becoming sensitive to concussion. Sometimes people find out too late and the last concussion they get is the straw that broke the camels back.

I myself am at 8 months recovery and one of my Drs told me I have another 12 to 18 months to go. Even then I could plateau anywhere from today to the end. I understand the frustration with your desire to maintain your physical conditioning. I also love working out but since my injury most of that went on hold. I had an extended period of sedation that really hurt me. It has taken six weeks of PT to even begin to feel OK and address back and neck pain.

Ask any questions you may have and explore the forms. Lots of good people and advice here. Vent anytime you need. I learned more here than in any Drs office and I have learned what to look for in myself and ask for from my Drs.
49, Male Married, PCS since June 2012, headaches, Back pain, neck pain, attention deficit, concentration deficit, processing speed deficit, verbal memory deficit, PTSD, fatigue, tinutitus, tremors.

To see the divine in the moment.
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