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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three Months

It has been three months now since I concussed myself on the handrail when standing up after picking up 500 beads that I'd accidentally dropped on the stairs. There has been a great deal of progress, but I'm still shy of a full recovery.

Noise sensitivity remains an issue. Music in particular bothers me more than it used to. I'd already pretty much stopped listening to music over the last year or so because it had become too much for my migraine brain to process, but now it's gone from overwhelming to excruciating. I'm constantly having to change the volume when watching movies because the moment the music swells, I have to duck and cover. I find myself grumpily wondering why people feel like they have to put music in TV shows or play it on radios or in offices. Times sure have changed since the days when working without music was nearly impossible!

My eyes are more light sensitive still, too. It's not something I notice so much on a day-to-day basis, but as the light has changed with the seasons, I've noticed, as I mentioned in this post, that my eyes are as sensitive with my light sensitivity glasses on as they were without them last year. It's a serious enough problem that I'm going to look into getting a darker tint for my light sensitivity lenses. I suppose I also have less cushion for the amount of visual work I do, but that's something I've adapted to.

And while I have been able to get some great work done over the last month or so, like opening my macro photography shop, I'm nowhere near ready to getting back to work on my ABC book. Before the accident, I was thinking I might be just a few weeks away from starting to take the photos. Now, when I look at the boxes holding the props, I just feel tired. There are definitely limits to my energy and enthusiasm. I have been able to leave the house now and then for reasons other than medical appointments, though, and I even drove once a few weeks ago. That was a matter of necessity: if I didn't drive, Abbey wasn't going to get to go swimming this summer! I'm in no hurry to get back behind the wheel for less essential errands, however. Pre-concussion, it wasn't unusual for me to go weeks or months without driving, so it's more like I'm mired in one of my not-feeling-as-well periods.

I worry, too, that I'm more susceptible to feeling lousy because of weather changes, but truth be told, I have no evidence. I felt lousy all last spring because of the weather, so feeling crummy when the wind blows or the pressure drops isn't a new phenomenon. I had a respite during August and September from weather-related illness thanks to relentlessly fine weather, so the latest days of feeling wiped out are signs of changing seasons and may or may not have anything to do with the head injury or may have happened anyway, but it just seems like exactly what my brain would do.

One of the biggest lingering differences, though, supported by plenty of evidence, is that the migraines are worse. The entry-level pain, so to speak, is always higher now. Previously, the migraines would start out at a 4 out of 10 on the pain scale (my version, at any rate) and build from there. I would say that the starting point for pain is much closer to 6 out of ten. There have only been a few days since the concussion when I haven't taken acute prescription medication for headaches. By being smart (usually) about my limitations, I used to only need acute prescription meds three or four times a week. The headache threshold is so low now that getting migraines that require treatment on a daily basis is essentially unavoidable. Again, this is something that I've gotten used to, but it's a change.

It's possible that all of these things could improve over the next months or years. I have to say, though, that I no longer feel like I'm actively dealing with the concussion the way I was six weeks ago. Things have been static long enough that it just feels like the new normal. My migraines tend to change over time, so while it was a blow to the head and not some unexplained shift in internal chemistry that brought on the latest developments, this feels like just another chapter in my life as a migraineur, not the ongoing trials of a head injury patient. And it can't be undone. So, three months post-concussion, while my brain may still be healing, it's the usual stuff--art, dogs, family, the day-to-day state of my health--that's on my mind.

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