Category Archives: What Helps Me

Migraines

So for 3 years now, ever since I moved to Florida I have been getting extremely bad headaches/ migraines.

Everyday I would get these massive migraines and it would change my attitude, I would be in pain and miserable all day long!

I could not figure out the cause of them. I thought:
1. Dehydration
2. Because I had a brain injury
3. Stress
4. Lack or too much caffeine
5. Allergies

Never in a million years would I have guessed what actually led to my head aches.

Two weeks ago I noticed that my migraine would often be behind my eye. Of course, it was the one I had eye surgery on.

I thought maybe I need to wear Sun glasses. I work outside all day and I’m in Florida ( I never used to wear Sun glasses up north).

That helped immediately detenseify my migraine.

I went home and thought to my self “maybe I need to be careful on what my eyes are always doing.” I then changed the way I watched tv at night.

Haven’t got a migraine since I have made the change. If you find yourself with discomfort, don’t be afraid to make changes!

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Food for Thought

I thought on this post I would do something a little different. I have a couple of points I want to make that I have notice help me or is something I have been thinking a lot about but don’t necessarily have enough to make it its own post. I will number them in this post. Hope you find them helpful!

1.) I OFTEN WORRY THAT MY BRAIN WILL STOP WORKING IF I STOP USING IT: Not a day goes by that I don’t worry that my condition will worsen. I pray this day does not come but I have notice if I haven’t exercised my brain in a couple weeks that I have a hard time with memory. My recall is not as good as it is on days after I have read, practiced Spanish, write some paragraphs in my book or even worked out at the gym. I worry that I may lose everything that I have gained if I don’t keep on my neurological activities.

2.) NAM NAPS- I work a very physical job, constantly moving. I walk up around 15 mi a day. For a brain injury survivor, THAT IS A LOT! So it is no wonder why I have learned to take Nam Naps. on days I am really tired I find somewhere to sit, close my eyes, and mentally go somewhere else. This place is usually quiet, no where in particular. I honestly might be starring at the darkness of my eyelids or I could be imagining my self on the baseball diamond. Where ever brings me peace. I got the name Nam Naps because one of my Co-workers saw me doing this and I told him what I was doing and he told me that’s how soldiers got sleep during the Vietnam war. I thought what a perfect name.

3.) ONE LINERS- Does any one here feel awkward in social situations? If you do try one liner jokes. Instead of trying to keep up with the conversation, then process what is said, thinking of what to say, then say it. Just sit back comprehend what the topic of conversation is and throw in a one liner every now and then. Instead of being completely lost in the conversation, now you are an active participant, and your the funny guy on top of that!

4.) HARD TO CONTROL EMOTIONS-Does any one else find it hard to control their emotions?  I know I do! For an example: When me and my wife go to church and they start to play music. I want to cry. Why? I am not sure. Everything in my life is great, I just have a lot going on and I want to be the best I can be at it. I guess me crying is me asking God for help, asking God not to let me fail. Well that’s what I think any way. The only way I can stop it is if I take a step back and try to clear my head. Maybe this will work for you.

Social Situation difficulty?

Do any other brain injury victims out there find social situations difficult?

Trying to listen to what is said during a conversation, process it, figure out what was said actually means, think of something relevant to say back, and then say it is extremely taxing on me. I get tired just thinking about it!

But it’s not how much it tires me out that I find the most difficult. No, it’s the finding something relevant to say.

Often times I understand what was said incorrectly then I say something completely irrelevant to the conversation.

People usually just ignore my outburst any move on with the conversation. But it leaves me standing there wondering, “why did I just say that.”

I have learned to sit back and listen to the conversation, make sure I fully understand what the subject of the conversation is, think about something to say, repeat it in my head to myself, then contribute to the conversation by exclaiming my answer.

This has seemed to work well for me and I suggest it  to any one whom struggles  with the same problem as I. Continue reading

Try new things/ force your self

A lot of times I am hesitant to do certain things. I know that I am capable of doing them but because I had tried the task when I wasn’t ready and failed to complete the task I am scared that it will happen again.

A good example of this is when I am at the gym. Before my car accident I used to do box jumps holding dumbbells. When I got into my accident and had received my TBI my strength wasn’t there, I was very uncoordinated and every time I would land on the box my left foot would extend to the left of me. So essentially I would land on only one foot (my right foot).

So I stopped doing this exercise because of the fear the I might fall off. Now, 5 years removed from my accident. I know that I am able to do this exercise but subconsciously I am nervous that my left foot might not land where I want it too.

I was training with a fellow personal trainer and he wanted to do box jumps. When he told me what he wanted to do I was skeptical to try. Thinking that I was going to make a fool out of my self. But when I did it the first time I almost cleared the box. I had to concentrate on landing my foot on the top of the box. But in time this became routine and needed less concentration.

The Key: You must force yourself to do these things! Do not be afraid. You will be surprised what you can do and do well. Do not settle for “the last time I tried it it didn’t work out” keep testing yourself!

Espresso…

For the longest time, I have had difficulty staying awake enough to accomplish a task. What I mean by this is that I do not fall asleep standing up but I have trouble maintaining focus.

Initial, when I first sustained my injury, I could not find anything that worked. I tried coffee, supplements, everything! Nothing would it was like I was tired no matter what, like I had my mind already  made up that I was going to be tired the rest of the day and there was nothing that I could give my body to attain my focus or energy.

I used to take naps, often….

Now, I am 5 years removed from my accident. I can no longer take a nap when ever I get tired because I am busy (internship, personal training cert, gym, work, etc.).  I needed to find away to stay awake as I was on the go.

There is a coffee machine at my internship. I would attempt to drink a couple of capuchinos throughout the day to help me keep my day running smoothly.

But after away the effect wore off and I stopped being able to fuel my day via a capuchino. I sought something with more strength.

There was a button for espresso. At first I thought it maybe too strong because of the amount of caffeine that were in them. But when I feel myself growing tired I reach for some espresso. IT WORKS FOR ME, EXTREMELY WELL.

I suggest it, give it a try!

Indecision

Guest post I did for the site (http://fractured-myheadinjuryjournal.blogspot.com/):

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!

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.