On a chilly day in October I decided to make a little more space around my shed. This involved cutting down some trees and moving some dirt. In the course of this little home improvement project, I lost control of one end of the shovel while my foot pressed firmly on the shovel blade. This propelled the handle into the side of my chin.
In the moment after, I wondered if I had given myself a concussion. I seemed okay so I just kept working for a little longer. Later that night, my tooth broke. Damn it! The next morning, I moved through my day... the busiest and longest day for me. Setting and coaching. The next morning when I tried moving around, it seemed like the room was moving. I hadn't slept very well either. Hmmmm.... maybe I do have a concussion.
In the days that followed, I did all the things I shouldn't do. I tried exercising. That was nauseating. I drove for twelve hours. I spent the day chatting with people. I climbed with my son. I drove another nine hours. That's when the pressure headaches started. I then drove for another four hours. When I awoke the next day with the plan to go and teach, my head was saying "oh no."
STEP ONE: 48 hours of no screens; no reading; no alcohol. No noise. Early to bed. Limit exercise to easy walking.
STEP TWO: Accept that you are not the same. Let go of thinking you SHOULD be doing anything. Or you will go crazy.
STEP THREE: When there are no symptoms, SLOWLY reintegrate things. Do not go back to thinking everything is normal.
After the 48 hours, I felt better. I limited screen time. I went to physiotherapy. I was pretty good. But I notices when I climbed, my heart rate would still go up pretty quick on things that I thought I should be able to do and then I would feel nauseous.
This continued for months. I had no other symptoms, just this feeling of being really fatigued and like I had exercised too hard when I first started climbing. A day of exercise and a night without sleep. And the wobbly feeling returned. Agh!!!
STEP FOUR: Back to STEP ONE, TWO, and THREE.
STEP FIVE: When you get back to play, to screens, back to noise, to all the things you could easily do before without fear of headaches or wobbliness, BE CAREFUL.
Be aware of how you are feeling in every moment moving forward. If you have a party and drink some alcohol, plan to be low key the next day. Plan for self care. Plan to make space for the healing to continue. Healing from a concussion can take YEARS. Play it safe.
Lastly, be kind to yourself. Last night when I went to the gym to climb, I was starting slow. Letting my heart rate come down before trying the next route. I didn't do the last move if I thought it would mean I may fall and land on the ground. Jarring my head like that would not be worth it. I was afraid of what people would think of me. BUT I had to keep going back to ACCEPTING THAT I AM INJURED. Accepting that I need to let go of the idea that I SHOULD be able to climb harder. And when the pressure headaches were returning, I had to leave and go Back to STEP ONE.