October passed in a haze. Then November. At the Thanksgiving table the one thing I said I was thankful for was functional neurology. Then December happened. I started acupuncture. Which didn’t really help with the dizziness, but did help with my neck and back pain. Christmas. Progress was so, so slow. Then in January, I finally asked Dr Z (the functional neurologist) “if cost didn’t matter, what would you suggest I do?” And he said “An intensive”. And I said “Let’s do it.” So we found a week in February that would work, and I got put down to come in for 5 days in one week, 8 hours a day and they would work with me about 5 times each day.
Near the end of January, during an appointment with Dr Z, we decided to do a low sodium test to see if I could possibly have hydrops. For three days, I cut down to 1,000 mg of salt each day. By the end of the three days, my dizziness had decreased dramatically! It was such a great feeling. I then ended up getting a trial subscription of a diuretic from the nautrapath and was able to up my salt level to 1200-1500mg a day. I was told it could take up to a couple of weeks for my ear lymph fluid levels to go down and that it would need to finish “draining” before we could do an intensive. Since I started the medication just shy of two weeks before my intensive, we started praying! And my ear did drain. Well, somewhat. But enough that it was stable and I could start the intensive on time.
Over the next week, after several visits to the functional neurologist it became apparent that something was wrong. I laugh now as I think that, I think I naively hoped that after a few visits I would be back to my regular visits. But no, I was miserable. With dizziness. Vertigo. Land sickness. I never knew there could be so many varieties of dizziness. I’m pretty sure I explored them all. The only way I would feel stable is if I laid down flat on my bed and then propped my head up at a 90 degree angle for a while. Usually I would then feel stable enough to position my pillows in more of a reclining position that was more comfortable. I would spend my days alternating between slowly getting stuff done around the house (hardly anything), homeschooling my brother Jacob (13 yrs) and laying down. To make it worse, the reading capabilities I had slowly re-cultivated from my first concussion had gone backwards. I could read, but only for little increments. Which meant I had a lot of time for thinking, praying and every once in awhile, I would have energy to listen to an audiobook.
I also began visiting the functional neurologist two, if not three times a week.At first I would feel better for just an hour, then eventually I would feel better for two hours, then three… I lived for my appointments. They were a reminder of what was normal.
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
My second concussions happened suddenly, as concussions are wont to do. At times, you may have a warning such as watching a ball come towards you and realizing you don’t have time to duck or perhaps you can see yourself falling, but in most cases they tend to sneak up on you. With the element of surprise in their favor. Often, for the average person, a concussion isn’t such a big deal, but when the combination of existing elements plus the force and direction are just right. They can be life changing, if not devastating.
This concussion happened on a Saturday afternoon. My family was having a Lord of the Rings marathon. And I had joined them in the fun. I sat down on the couch with another brother on it. I have noticed a tendency with long movies, at least in our family, is that no one ends up in the same position then when they started. At some point over the course of an hour at some point, my brother and I had both some how managed to semi-lie down on the couch and at an extremely inopportune moment, he chose to stretch out his leg. He popped it up and brought his knee toward him and WHAM it hit me in the side of the head, on my left ear. I still don’t think we can quite figure out how it happened and what exact positions we were in, but as odd as it is, it did. Now the other two factors that I haven’t mentioned yet but are important are the following: First, my brain still wasn’t fully recovered from a previous concussion 2 1/2 years ago. It was close, but not perfect. And, when you get one concussion on top of another, it’s bad. People die from it. Secondly, my brother is strong. Not just average teenager-ish strong. But really strong. He does gymnast/parkour/banquine as a hobby. In fact, he and two of my other brothers won the county and state fair last year for their performances.
So the combination of a brothers really strong knee-punch to the head and my already semi-fragile state was not a good combination. Let’s just say I burst into tears.