March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

This month’s awareness, Brain Injury, is personal to me. You just might find that you never thought about it affecting you. Here is my story:

It took a year and a half after falling down a flight of stairs and suffering a bad concussion to learn that I actually injured my brain. For months after my fall, I complained about headaches and was told that it was normal after such a fall, and I should feel “happy that you didn’t die in that fall.” It was pretty bad: I broke bones, twisted my neck 23 degrees out of place, and felt sick for a week. The pain was excruciating… and 10 years later, I still have pain.

I had been complaining about memory loss, lack of ability to remember new information, in ability to do some of the things that I always found simple. Since I used to have a fantastic memory and one of those great trouble-shooting brains, not being able to do the things I had done in the past was frustrating. Most of my complaints looked a lot like the complaints that women going through the menopausal change complain about, but my issues seemed to be getting worse. I would have never imagined that some of my every day complaints could be linked to a brain injury.

About two years after my tumble down the stairs, I passed out and fell, again, hitting my head on some concrete stairs. It was at that time that I learned that a second and any future head injuries make matters worse. It seems to magnify the issues, and while most head brains heal in less than 6 months, each additional head injury adds to that time frame. Few people continue to have problems after 6 months, but there are some who do.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is most often seen in military personnel and some athletes, so we don’t hear much about it, but I think it is a topic which would be beneficial to know about. Most people who suffer from head injuries are not diagnosed, right away, if at all. The frustration and inability to function at the same levels as before are often felt. We forget what we are talking about… sometimes mid-sentence… Our emotions seem erratic… and for some, it takes a while before we can remember anything that we want to remember. TBI… I think this is another conversation we should start having. Maybe we can start here.