Monthly Archives: December 2010


Guest post I did for the site (

As a result of my brain injury I have an extremely hard time on deciding things. Whether that be deciding where I want to go eat, trying to decide the between things or what to write about in my blog. It drives me insane and sometimes I stand in the same space for minutes trying to decide what it was that I am trying to do.

I’ll get up off the couch, go to the cabinet, open the doors and just stare at the food, for minutes. I know I want something to eat but I just don’t know what it should be. Chips or a candy bar? It’s almost like whatever I choose could mean life or death and it has to be the right or else.

I don’t get why I feel this way. I know it’s not life or death but I still treat it as though it is. I think I do this (unintentionally) because I want to make it a great experience. I know, you’re probably saying “easy Zach, it’s only food” but to me I think it’s subconsciously more.

I believe that it is subconsciously something more because after going through what I have been through (a near death experience) I want to make sure every last thing counts.  So, I want it to be great and I want it to be amazing because I feel like life could be over in a blink of an eye.

It is a burden to carry because I know that I could just get something else or that it really doesn’t matter what I choose because they all go to the same spot (my stomach) and they all satisfy my hunger. But still I stare at the array of snacks in my cabinet not able to decide.

So, I tell myself “what’s going to happen if I choose this one?” to allow myself to get over the hump and actually pick something. This helps me hurry up and make a decision with whatever it is that I am choosing.

It helps me choose because I can’t think of anything bad that will happen if I choose whatever item that I have selected. “I’m not going to die, No one will be hurt, and so what’s the big deal if I choose this one?”



Headaches/ Migraines

It’s something that we, as brain injury survivors, must live with. Excruciating headaches or migraines that just won’t go away. The pain is unlike anything that we have ever felt. These headaches occur when ever I concentrate too hard on anything, whenever I get excited or even when I get confused.

These headaches are annoying and a nuisance but it’s something that we must live with. The way I try to prevent these from occurring is I like to take naps to try and prevent my brain from working to hard. When I start to think to much is when I usually get headaches.

I like to think of it this way, my brain is at normal size before I start to think about things. As I start to think about things or begin to stress from things I picture my brain swelling and it gets so big that it begins to push up against my skull. This produces my pain/ headache/ migraine.

I do not know if this is true or not but this is what I in vision happening to my brain. I say again this is just what I picture happening inside my head. This allows me to believe that if I can make my brain swelling go down, before it reaches my cranium, I will avoid having a headache.

When I can feel my head getting what I like to call “full”. I try to stop thinking about whatever it is that is getting me excited. The only way I feel I truly can stop thinking is by going to bed. I try to sleep, even for a little, I usually am able to avoid having a headache/ migraine.

Sometimes they are unavoidable and you can’t fight it. No matter what you do, it just grows stronger and stronger. In these cases I have a solution that works great for me. RELPAX. Talk to your doctor and have him prescribe the prescription drug Relpax.

This makes headaches disappear for me. You take it the moment you start feeling a headache coming on. Right when you feel that first twinge of a headache you take the first pill. It’s almost as if it kills the headache from even maturing into a headache.

If you have a problem with headaches, please take my advice…get relpax!

ADHD Issues

For many of us it is hard to focus once one receives a brain injury. It seems like you have no concentration any more. The slightest thing could immediately move your attention to one thing to another. There are tips that Dr.’s recommend but none of them work, well at least in my case.

I could never, no matter how hard I tried, pay attention in my lecture hall classes at UMass. Granted, this was only two years from the date of my injury. None the less I could not focus on anything. It seem like the teacher/ professor would be up on stage talking about nothing.

No, instead of actually paying attention my brain would start to think about other things. Such as playing baseball again, writing my book, and creating this blog to help other victims with brain injuries. I always felt like I had better things to do then to sit in class and learn about something I did not care about. I would also begin to get tired from attempting to concentrate so hard. I needed to nap after every class!

I went to my doctor with this problem. I told her that I was having a hard time focusing/ concentrating in class. So, she prescribed me Ritalin, like most brain injury victims. She started me off on a small dose because of the addictive nature of the drug and the strong potency of it.

I didn’t feel much of an effect so the doctor prescribed me a higher dose. As time went on, I still was struggling to feel the “great” effects of this wonder drug like everyone had proclaimed it to be. She kept uping the dosage but still no effect.

I just stopped taking it all together. The only thing it would do was not allow me to sleep. My mind still wondered off and thought about other things but my body was wired and jittery, I could not fall asleep. I know this because I had to study for a final so I took some the night before it thinking it would help me stay focus, instead all it did was prevent me from falling asleep!

After I stopped taking it, the only way I could concentrate is by reminding myself why I was sitting in that lecture, to learn! I had to keep telling myself to focus. This was the only way that I could retain any information. I would constantly catch myself thinking of other things and I would remember that I was not in this class to think about girls, I was in this class to learn about sociology or whatever the subject was!

Happy to See That I am Helping

I just wanted to take time out and say that I am happy to see that I am helping the readers of this blog. It feels me with great joy to know that I am providing a service for people, a service that I did not have when I went through my recovery. When I went through my recovery I was absolutely lost, my head filled with confusion, I had no one to turn to. No one knew anything about brain injuries. I guess you can’t know unless you have lived through it and this is what I hope to provide for my readers. I hope to give them a luxury I never had, the luxury of knowing what to expect and knowing what to do/ how to handle a situation. It makes me very happy to know that my readers are benefiting from my posts.

It is also greatly appreciated when a reader takes time to comment on a post of mine, letting me know what they find helpful and any questions about recovering they may have. Please comment, I read every comment, help me help you. Post questions, problems, anything and I will do my best to answer them.

Heres a comment I have just received commending my blog and my posts by Josh:

There are so many information online about brain supplements but for me this one is the most reliable. It gives specific information about the subject which is very important to us ( readers). I really appreciate it and I hope you will post more. Thanks.

Feelings of Extremes (extreme hot/ extreme cold)

I have this problem. Often, my left hand is absolutely freezing. It is truly amazing how it is almost like it has a mind of its own. I’ll be at the gym sweating from my workout and I can’t touch any one because my left hand is freezing and they will freak out by how cold my hand is.

It is my left hand because I injured my right side of the brain and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body. It gets so cold that I can barely move my fingers. As I am typing to you, I am struggling making my fingers move because my hand is cold.

This has something to do with my injury but mostly the weather. My hand gets freezing cold when it is freezing cold out. A lot better than when it used to get freezing cold for no reason. Don’t get me wrong, it still gets colder than my right at times. Nothing like it used too.

It has something to do with the nerves. When you have a brain injury nerves are damaged that make the connections in your body. That is why when you concentrate on attempting to get those nerves back (occupational therapy or physical therapy) there is a burning sensation.

When I used to have occupational rehab immediately after my accident the therapist would put little, tiny Christmas bulbs in a hard thick putty. She would make me pick out each one, about 15 bulbs. Think about how long this took considering I had no control of my left arm.

Mid-way through the exercise, my arm would be on fire (not literally). The therapist told me that it was the nerves establishing a new connection. So I kept on doing my best to use my left hand for things no matter how hard or how much it “burned”.

I believe after all my hard work and forcing myself to use my left hand for things, my arm has healed. It is not 100% but I can use it for everything. I can catch a ball, I can punch, I can even do one handed push ups with it. I just can do it better with my right hand (faster for example).

I also believe that after all my hard work the nerves were able to establish those connections, thus helping with the extreme feelings of cold that I used to be stuck with constantly. The time that I can’t move my hand because it’s too cold is when it is in fact too cold out haha.

This will take time and a lot of hard work to achieve so some things that I used to do during my recovery was sit on your hand, stick your had in between your legs, blow hot air through your fist. Do what you must to keep it warm, just remember to be patient…it will come.

Have a Little Fun with It

This post is about the way I went about my rehab. I laughed all the time during my stint in rehab. I looked at rehab as something that was a minor speed bump in my life. I almost (for lack of a better word) treated rehab as a Joke.

The truth was, reality was just too hard to deal with and I didn’t want to deal with it, didn’t want to come to the realization that I may never regain full use of my hand again or never be able to play baseball again.

Every time I would fail in any aspect of my recovery I would simply laugh it off. That’s right I would literally think that I couldn’t walk was funny.

This one time my mother left the room when I was in rehab and I tried to get out of the bed and go to the bathroom on my own. I fell and my feeding tube got disconnected from my stomach and leaked all over myself and the floor. My mother came back to the room, only to find me laughing hysterically on the floor.

This was the best way, the only way for me to cope with how sad this situation really was for me. This how I still cope with everything.

The littlest things piss me off and I’ll swear and get angry but the big things I just laugh off it’s almost like because I expect the big bad things to happen so I don’t get as mad but when something little or something that isn’t suppose to go wrong does then I get heated.

People say that now I am a very happy, go lucky individual. Everyone loves my outlook in life and I believe it’s all due to this.

I have seen the worse, I have dealt with it and I laughed my way through it.

Being a Burden to Those You Love Most

I faced this problem after my accident. When I came home from in-patient rehab, the last thing that I wanted to do was now burden my parents/ my girlfriend with having to take care of me. I had already put them through enough, worrying about me while I laid in a hospital bed for a month in a coma.

When I got home everyone was eager to help me/ be with me and in time that began to fade. I ended up only having those closest to me to rely on. They were always there for me and wanted to help me out but I still felt like I was in the way, I was a “burden”.

Because I felt this way, I did everything I could to not be a burden. Everything I would others help me do I would do myself. I didn’t need any one, I had gotten into this mess myself I had to get out of it myself. I believe that is how you have to look at it to be the least of a burden to your loved one’s as you can.

In return this mentality, I believe, helped my recovery. Instead of being babied and having people do things for me, I would do it myself and I would make my brain work even harder. I would force my brain to establish the connections that I had lost when my 2002 Chevy Blazer veered off the highway.

This was the only way I could see to not be a burden on those who I loved the most. In the end I believe that this mentality furthered my recovery. It took some time, much longer than I had expected but I was soon able to do everything on my own. I didn’t need help from others. I believe if you have this mentality of “I can do it myself”, you will be able to stay out of the way of your loved ones and not be a burden.

There are, obviously, somethings that you cannot do yourself if you are in the early stages of rehab. For example: walk while carrying something really heavy. It’s okay to ask for help. But the little things, for example: carrying a tray of food. You can do this, just because your arm is weak and uncoordinated doesn’t mean you can’t do this.

Just walk slow and I know it’s hard but focus/ concentrate. In time you won’t even need to focus on doing this correctly and you will not need to burden any one in asking them for help. It’s a win-win!!

Who Cares???

If people are going to stare at you who cares? If people don’t want to hangout with you, who cares? Developing this mind set help me heal. YOU NEED TO DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO. Remember this and you will heal a lot more and faster.

Nobody knows what it’s like for us, people can think what they want. They can think that we are drunk they can think that we walk weird or that run funny. Who Cares??

When I was in rehab I used to tell my mom that I had “no dignity left.” I would say it as a joke because that for me was the best way to treat my whole stint in rehab. It was the only way I could cope with the sadness of the situation. I didn’t have dignity, I couldn’t have any. Having dignity meant I cared what people though of me.

You can’t care about what people think because you become more worried about what people think of you then the task at hand. For example: you are practicing walking but then you start thinking about how you look when you walk and this leads you to lose focus and fall.

After having a brain injury I know about how hard it is to focus/ concentrate. Heck, multi-tasking is completely out of the question. 5 years removed from my accident and I am just beginning to be able to multi-task.

So when you are practicing the correct form when you walk and you begin to think about what other people may think about your walking. Your brain cannot be in two places at once. I would often lose my balance and fall.

Caring about what other people think can also lead to you being stressed out or worse even depressed. Caring about what other people think leads to expectations and if you do not reach those expectations you may feel down on yourself, no matter what you have accomplished.

You need to just forget about other people for a while and concentrate on you. WHO CARES WHAT OTHERS THINK ABOUT YOU, they do not know what you are going through or how far you have came!!