Later that day at dinner I remember sitting in a chair, and it hit me like a wall. It was this feeling like I was on a boat, my balance point seemed to sway back and forth while my stomach began to churn, I stood up to see if that changed anything and almost fell over with the loss of balance. Then came a headache, it was dull but consumed my entire head, it felt like someone was pumping air in through my ear and it was just pushing against the inside of my skull, on the limit of popping. Here it was, 3 weeks later those concussion symptoms that most people get within hours I was just getting now. That night I remember laying flat in bed not being able to sleep because the whole world was spinning, my head was pounding and my stomach was in knots.
After that things just progressively got worse over time. The headaches would go from dull and sort of spread out over my head, to extremely sharp and specified to just one small point. The first 15 minutes after waking up was the only time that I didn't have a headache for the rest of the time I was awake. The other thing was what people describe as fogginess, for me it was the feeling I described as being "off". That was now constant as well, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went asleep. All my other symptoms would come and go, sometimes id just taste metal in my mouth, I'm not sure what that's all about, upon research it seems to happen to people with concussions. I spent the next 3 weeks in Europe in constant discomfort, I didn't completely shut down and live in a dark room, but I pretty much wore sunglasses 24/7, loud noises were horrible, and anything with a screen turned into an instant fierce headache maker. Days became very long and filled up with Advil.
Eventually, the trip ended, and I returned home to Calgary. I had this idea that after a visit to the doctor, and a few weeks of sleeping and staying in a dark room with no screens what so ever I would be back to normal. After all, that is standard concussion protocol. At that time I was still under the impression that to treat a concussion that's all you do. What I soon learned though is we still don't know much about concussions, and more importantly how to treat them. We can diagnose them, we've gotten really good at that but treatment and diagnosis are very different things. The way I like to think about it is by this analogy. Say they're four people, all four have fallen and landed on their arm weird, it hurts a lot and so they each go to the hospital. They're each diagnosed with broken arms. Then imagine that the doctor who saw them just said we're gonna put this cast on, and after 3 weeks it should be good to go. Sure that might work for 1 or 2 of them, but I highly doubt it will work for all of them. One may need surgery to realign the bone or put a rod in. Maybe one needs to get a couple screws tossed in there to hold everything together. Heck one may have just gotten a hairline fracture so they can just throw on a sling and lay low for a bit. 4 broken arms could all be treated in 4 different ways and take 4 different recovery times. My point is we don't treat an injury the same for every person, but yet we do for something as complex, and sophisticated as the human brain! 1 in 4 diagnosed concussions results in lasting effects that for many, could spand the rest of their lives. And as it turns out I may be one of those people in that 25%
Anyways let's get back to the story, needless to say after seeing the doctor and spending 2 weeks in the dark I was not back to normal. Somethings had improved though, I stopped tasting metal as much, and I could maybe have an hour in the morning of a headache free goodness. The dizziness was a lot better and as long as my heart rate didn't go up it was usually not a problem. My Balance was good as well, I mean I couldn't walk a slack line but I could stand on one foot with my eyes open with relative ease. I would see the doctor every week, and a physiotherapist 2 times a week. I went on like this for about 2 months and eventually everything just plateaued. I sort of was just stuck at this stage of being able to do things like being outside or visit with friends, listen to soft music or on a good day, be able to work at my part-time job as a sport check technician but id still have the fogyness and headache. Not every day was a good day, some days I couldn't do any of it, the headache would just be too bad and id need to go to a dark room. I was essentially just living life at the bare minimum, just surviving every day and going through the motions. It honestly all still feels like a dream looking back at it, I'm not sure if that's because I was in a constant foggy daze while going through it or if because somehow my subconscious has tried to delete it from my memory.
I'm now about 4 months into the concussion, I'm frustrated, confused, and looking for answers as to why I'm in that 25% of people. Looking for some sort of reason or explanation to why my brain isn't getting better while most people are good to go after 2 weeks. My emotions are starting to take a hold of me and my friends are starting to slowly fade away, and I don't blame them, sitting in a dark room or going for a slow walk for 30 minutes isn't exactly the definition of fun. It wasn't until about 14 months in that I did find my answer, but we will talk about that later!