This past August, deep in the woods of Algonquin Park, my son challenged me to a race. After lounging most of the day and achieving my relaxed holiday mode I felt like this was a good way to get the blood pumping, so I accepted his challenge – and ran, at top speed, straight into a black tarp line on our campsite.
The next thing I remember, I came to wondering ‘what happened?’, as my husband looked down at me with deep concern. The answer to my question is that I effectively ‘clothes-lined’ myself and fell straight backwards to the ground– which caused me to black out, and suffer both a hyperextended neck (essentially whiplash) and a pretty nasty concussion.
Of course our main concern was that my injury was more serious than a concussion – like sub-cranial bleeding – that would require immediate medical care. My husband pulled out the first aid book, played doctor and would not let me close my eyes!!
Initially my speech was slurred but quickly went back to normal. After about half an hour, my eyes which were fully dilated when I came to started to constrict as they should, which gave us reassurance that we were, in fact, dealing with a concussion and not something more serious.
After contemplating leaving the park, we decided to stick it out, and that I’d heal myself in the woods, surrounded by our best healer, nature, while the rest of the family made the most of our much-anticipated vacation.
For about six days, I had a headache off and on and was unable to exert myself in any way. The thought of lifting a backpack felt like it would bring on a headache. About day 4 when I was feeling better, I tried blowing up my son’s beach ball and it threw me right back into a headache. Let me tell you, I did NOT like the feeling of being forced to rest, not be able to support the camp and help during the portages. I actually like feeling like a pack horse, lugging heavy packs!
So I listened to my body and stayed still and quiet. I slept a lot. Did a lot of grounding. Used my acupuncture needles. Avoided drinking wine (which I didn’t even feel like – a sure sign that I wasn’t well). My children sat with me and held my head, sending their positive, healing vibes my way.
We returned to the city seven days later and, since I understand the importance of being treated following a neurological injury, I immediately began a treatment regime that included:
- Adjustments three times per week
- Massage once per week
- Found an Osteopath
- A nutritional regime as prescribed by Oma’s own naturopathic doctor, Dr. Lisa – which included extra omega 3s, resveratrol, and zinc to promote neurological healing (Take a look at the detailed recommendations directly from Dr. Lisa HERE )
Within a few weeks, I slowly began to feel – and function – more like myself, which was a great relief. But my healing journey was (and is) still far from over – because I know that there’s much more to concussion recovery than feeling symptomatically better. Fully healing the brain can take six months to a full year. I know the stakes are high if you don’t allow it to heal fully – you’re at a greater risk of future concussion, for one thing, and also more likely to be affected by certain diseases later in life, including Alzheimer’s and depression.
So I will continue to seek treatments, and follow the advice I’ve been given for many months to come. Although the goal of this post was to share my story, I wanted to close out by passing on some words of advice based on my experience, in the event you – or a loved one – ever find yourself dealing with a concussion.
Dr. Adrienne’s concussion-recovery advice:
- Seek medical attention. While I don’t feel the traditional medical approach to treating concussions is enough (it focuses heavily on short-term symptoms without adequate regard for the long-term), I suggest you see your doctor so that the concussion is on record, and they can establish a baseline against which you can measure your progress and healing.
- Understand that the brain is incredibly complex, and that healing for the long-term is as important as in the short-term.
- Rest, rest, rest. This can be hard if, like me, you’re used to being busy and you have people counting on you. But you have to find a way. It’s one of the most important things you can do for yourself – your brain desperately needs it. I thankfully had the perfect backdrop for rest and was more likely to have rested more camping than I would have at home.
- Prepare for unexpected triggers. Several weeks after my concussion, when I thought I was feeling better, I sat down to play a card game – Dutch Blitz – with a friend. It was fast moving and with a patterned tablecloth under the colourful cards, it was simply TOO much for my brain to process, even though I felt it was functioning mostly normally at that point.
- Give yourself a break. I had trouble doing really simple things – like basic math – in the weeks following my concussion. It was as though the “tools” to calculate completely disappeared, but a sign that my brain was still healing.
If you’d like to discuss how chiropractic, massage, or naturopathy can support your concussion recovery, please reach out. We’d be delighted to meet with you and support you on your journey towards long-term healing.