Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I'm Trying!

It has recently occurred to me what a peculiar phrase "Get Well" is. I'd never given it much thought until these past couple of weeks while I've been recovering from a roller derby injury, but when I think about it, it seems more of a command than an endearment.

A couple weekends ago, I whacked my face hard during a game (and then not realizing I had a concussion, I made some poor choices for activities and beverage consumption immediately following the incident) and I'm currently dealing with Post Concussion Syndrome. I've been reading everything I can on the subject of concussions (because that's what I do when I'm upset about something-I read about it-I'm a nerd like that) and while it makes me feel better to know that everything I'm experiencing is to be expected with this type of injury, it's frustrating to know that there's nothing I can do but rest and wait for my brain to heal.

"Rest your brain",  said the doctors and the handouts on Traumatic Brain Injuries. How in the hell do I do that? I wondered. I still haven't figured it out. Okay, no TV or video games or music, no loud noise or bright lights. Minimal stimulation, I get that. But I tried lying alone in a quiet room, and I think my brain rested for about ten seconds, until it started spiraling out of control thinking about what I did to get into this situation and will I ever get better or will I ever play derby again and if I don't then what about this and what about that?  I reached for my book on the nightstand to distract myself from my thoughts. The doctor said I could do anything that didn't aggravate my symptoms and I tentatively checked in with my body after a few minutes of reading to discover that I felt fairly calm so I kept reading. I read four books in a week, much to the dismay of my boyfriend, with whom I have a friendly competition each year to see who reads the most books (See? Nerds). "That was number thirty", I announced smugly one evening as I slapped closed a hard cover novel. "That's not fair", he pouted, but my raised eyebrows must have let him know it was probably a more than fair trade.

"Get better soon" say my teammates and my friends when they post on my Facebook wall and my mom on the cheerful card she mailed me. I know their well wishes are genuine and I truly appreciate knowing I'm being thought of but I just want to scream I CAN'T GET BETTER RIGHT NOW SO STOP SAYING THAT!

What else do I expect them to say? I don't know. There's not much else to say to someone who gave themselves a serious injury playing a contact sport. And it's not like it's their fault I'm frustrated. But there's only so many times I can hear "I hope you're healing up quick" without feeling like I'm somehow doing something wrong. I'm not healing quick and there's nothing I can do about it. All the literature says symptoms can last "weeks to months" and some may never go away completely. That's overwhelming.

For the first ten days, I could barely move. I lived in a constant state of motion sickness. I was physically and mentally slow. I couldn't work or drive. Then last week, at about 14 days in, I started to feel my personality peeking through the fog. I wrote in my journal, I sent some funny Tweets. Oh, what a relief!

All my pets in bed with me on a recent sick day. 

Just when I started to be able to leave the house with minimal side effects, I got food poisoning. That set me back about three steps in my recovery. Talk about frustrating. My mother asked "Well, what did you eat that would have caused that?" insinuating that once again my less than stellar decision making brought about my misfortune.

I do realize that I am fortunate in my situation. My injury could have been much worse. Initially I thought my nose was broken but it wasn't, thank goodness. I am extremely grateful for my family, friends and teammates who have checked in on me, sent flowers, driven me to and from doctors appointments and cooked me meals, among other acts of kindness.

Get Well flowers from my team mates
Outwardly I appear to be in decent shape. I've returned to work, I've started driving short distances and my headache is no longer constant, but I still don't feel like myself and that's the worst part. I worry that I never will, but thankfully I know that this anxiety is also common in concussion patients. The fact that I have the capacity to work on this post is solid proof that I'm returning to myself.

The subject of roller derby hangs over me like a dark cloud. I know that's cliche but it's the best I can do right now! My doctors, my family, my co-workers, they all want to know if I plan return to the sport. The only people who aren't asking me this are my team mates and I think it's because they understand the need for a break and reassessment after an injury. When it comes to big issues, I'm a decisive person. I like to know what's going to happen and when. Am I going to play again or not? Yes or no, make a decision and move on. Right now, that's impossible for me. Roller derby is a part of my identity. There's a part of me that can't imagine my life without it. However, as much as I love playing derby there are other things I love more like reading, writing and my work as a veterinary technician. If I were to injure myself to the point where I couldn't recover to do these other things, well, I can't even think about that.

This series of events has been a clear message to me from The Universe that I need to slow down an bit and take some things off my plate for a while. I need a lot of sleep, I can't multi-task, I can't drink alcohol. Those aren't necessarily bad things. Once my new helmet arrives that I ordered from Amazon, I'll be able to start riding my bike to work again! In the mean time, you'll find me lying down reading a book!


  1. So sorry to hear of your struggles. My cousin while on a full ride football scholarship received his 2nd and 3rd concussion in a 12 month span about two weeks into school...he never even played a minute in college...all of a sudden he's 10 hours from home and a former honor student who couldn't read! Thankfully a year in, he is back home and in school, but will never play competitive sports again, which was a hard lesson for an 18 yr old to learn. Concussions are definitely an individual thing, and I am happy you are finding yourself again.

  2. Remember you can be a ref if you can't play bouts anymore. Do cross out your love. If you do need to move on, something better with come into your life.

    Everything happens for a reason!
    PS I secretly hope you win the book reading competition!

  3. Thank you for sharing that. It helps me to hear about others because I'm easily frustrated by the fact that I'm not "better" yet.

  4. Thank you. I know I have other options with the team, I'm just not sure yet that I want to pursue them. I think I need to heal before I'm ready to make a choice.