Last Summer I was Still Pretty Much Stuck Inside All The Time
This time last year I was still in pretty rough shape. Only getting out of the house for doctors appointments and physical therapy appointments. I did feel the heat quite a bit when going from the car to air-conditioned doctors offices. I just did not realize how much of an effect it really has on my bruised brain and body.
I started teaching riding lessons a few days a week in the fall of 2018. It was pleasant enough weather in the fall. When winter rolled around that was a whole different story.
I usually had walked around a lot in the ring with my students. It helped me to keep from losing my voice from hollering at them across the arena. What I never considered was how much this had helped keep me warm working in the winter. I don’t think I have ever felt as cold in my life as I did teaching this winter. Even with a heated blanket and a horse blanket over me, it was miserable.
Spring was pretty okay. The temperatures fluctuated, but not to extremes and it was easy enough for me to put layers on or take them off if I got uncomfortable.
Then Came Summer
Let’s just say summer has come as a shock to my system this year. Prior to my injury in the summer I taught lessons morning and evening. Then spent most of the middle of the day floating on the river at my parent’s house.
There were obviously extreme heat days that I couldn’t deal with outside before I got hurt, they seem to be basically all the time now though.
I track the barometer in my bullet journal. It seems that in the summer( I guess because of thunderstorms?) that the barometer is all over the place. It makes drastic changes rather than going up or down by just a few points.
For those of you have been with me throughout this journey, you know that I have had a headache constantly since my accident. It is not always terrible or debilitating, but it’s there.
Barometric Pressure And My Headaches
My doctors have prescribed me a cocktail of medications, as well as botox injections. In hopes of lowering my baseline headache. My headache specialist said there is no promise that they will get it to go away. He seems pretty confident though that we can lower my baseline headache pain which will make a big difference to me!
Having a constant headache all the time is no fun. The barometric pressure most definitely makes my headaches way worse. I have had more full-blown migraines lately than I have had in a long while.
Luckily I have two headache medications. One that I take when I first feel the headache getting worse. Then what my doctor calls my “rescue” medication. It is an awful tasting tablet that dissolves in your mouth? Not only is it awful tasting as it dissolves, but the taste lingers for a long time. I will still be tasting that awful stuff two or three days later. Which is why you will never see me without a bag of Werther’s Original caramel candy. It is literally the only thing that helps with the taste. We have been buying it by the case on Amazon since I started this medication.
I have never been one to drink much water. It has just never been my thing. Since summer has rolled around it seems that I feel like I’m in a constant state of dehydrated. I drink constantly. I have a water bottle that I drink from all day.
I used to say that water never made me feel better when I felt dehydrated just because I didn’t like it. Now I wake up in the morning drinking water. Carry my bottle with me all day, and even drink throughout the night. It’s like I can’t stop feeling thirsty.
Luckily, since I feel this way, I have grown accustomed to having a water bottle with me at all times. At first, it seemed annoying. When I realized how much better it made me feel drinking water, I totally don’t mind carrying it around.
Since my accident, my energy level always varies. Never does it get even close to what it was before I got hurt. Neuro-fatigue is something that comes along with brain injury that is made way worse in the summer.
When I have passed my “point of no return”( in other words, exceeded my tolerance level) I will go from feeling pretty okay to totally zapped of energy in no time at all.
When experiencing neuro-fatigue I have trouble thinking straight. I feel like I can’t have a conversation because I cannot process what noises are coming from where.
I don’t know if you have ever experienced this but sometimes I’m so tired, mentally and physically I feel like I’m so out of it that is practically like an out of body experience. It is awful, and once I get to that point, I have to rest. There is no coming back from it without laying down and closing my eyes.
I have experienced neuro-fatigue at a whole new level being outside in the summer heat. When I get back in the air conditioning it still takes some time for me to start to feel human again.
Light sensitivity is a common TBI symptom. It is the one symptom though for me that up until this point wasn’t a huge problem. Something about being out in the summer sun makes my eyes extra sensitive. Which is why you will always see me with a hat and or sunglasses.
Light sensitivity probably doesn’t sound like the end of the world, but for me, it leads to eye strain and double vision. I have had a double vision on and off since I got hurt. The strain of my eyes in the hot summer sun is causing me to have a problem with double vision more frequently.
It’s All Just A Spiral
All the symptoms are connected. The dehydration makes the headaches worse, along with changes in barometric pressure. The heat and humidity zap my energy much faster than before the summer heat set in. This has caused me to experience neuro-fatigue more frequently. My eyes being sensitive and getting double vision leads to me being nauseous and dizzy.
I’m normally on some level of dizzy all the time. I’m talking about being so dizzy that I can’t keep up with what I was doing. I have to go lay down. All the TBI symptoms seem to go hand and hand, almost like it is hard to have one and not have the other.
Don’t Expect The Same Tolerance Levels
Rehabilitating from TBI is all about increasing your tolerance levels for all the normal little things we never thought about before we got hurt. I came to realize very quickly that my tolerance levels in the summer heat are way lower than they were before the hot humid weather kicked in. Every day is a new day with TBI. We just have to live with what we have got on any given day and do our best. That being said, don’t be hard on yourself if you realize that some of the things you were able to handle before summer came you aren’t able to handle now.
Start New Each Day
Even though now that it is summer and basically hot all the time, we wake up every day feeling different. Some days get off to better starts than others. In order to keep ourselves feeling as good as we possibly can throughout our rehab, we have to give ourselves a break. If your tolerance level is lower today than it was yesterday. Take care of yourself! Rest!
You Have Nothing To Prove To Anyone
I have this problem that sometimes I feel like I need to push myself harder than I’m capable of handling? Why is that? It is because in my mind I feel like I’m not living up to others expectations for what I can and cannot do. People who have not walked a mile in our TBI shoes don’t understand what it is like. It is something that we will never be able to make people understand if they don’t want to hear it.
Taking care of ourselves should be our biggest priority. Our bodies give us signals of what we can and cannot handle. We need to listen to those signals and that will hopefully help keep our symptoms from escalating.
Your best on any given day is good enough. We can never do any better than our very best. We can never try harder than our very hardest. Find peace in knowing that you will take each day as it comes and tomorrow is always another day. A chance to feel better or make progress on something you have been working on.
Stay Positive/Look For Small Improvements
Progress is progress no matter how big or how small. Relish small victories and don’t get discouraged. Dealing with TBI symptoms and learning how to handle them in the hot humid summer months is just a bump in the road. I don’t know about you, but I have had a lot of bumps in my road, but I always get through them one way or another.
As I always say when it comes to TBI rehab and progress, we just have to keep on keepin’ on. Be grateful for how far we have come and enjoyed the little things in life.
Remember that one thing you never thought you would be able to do again but now you can? In the words of our childhood friend Winnie The Pooh “Just remember you are BRAVER than you believe, STRONGER than you seem and SMARTER than you think”.
Hot, humid, summer weather, whatever other obstacles are put in your path. You got this!