Mom and I went up to OHSU today to meet with the specialist. It was actually a very good appointment. The doctor, who is an orthopedist by specialty, works mostly with sports medicine and has received a lot of special training in concussion management. He's a very nice guy and was very thorough and I really like him. He takes the time to explain things and he actually cares!
So, he said that all-in-all, my progress is pretty good for four weeks post-injury. But he also said that there are still some major things that we are dealing with...He said if if was up to him, I would be spending all my time in bed in a dark, cold room with no stimulation. So since we can't realistically do that, we have to limit the mental stimulation as much as we can. He was concerned that I dropped so many credits my senior year and that he was going to help me as much as he can with access to disability services. He also referred me out for cognitive rehab.
I also spoke with one of the psychologists at Counseling and Psychological Services on campus and he is equally fantastic - very knowledgeable about TBI and also wants me to work with disability services and will help me in general therapy to cope with the changes and the difficulties associated with my life now.
And because this doctor is an orthopedist, he can also fix the severe, excruciating, interfering-with-my-life back pain. Although he's not so worried about that right now, seeing as I'm banned from physical activity, so since the pain can be controlled for the most part with narcotics and NSAIDs, we'll focus on the head and give the back time to heal and treat it more aggressively if it poses issues down the road.
AAANNNDDD I got bona fide clearance to sit on my pony! He said that as long as I am very careful and deliberate and use my good judgement, that I can walk around gently, as long as it is a relaxing activity and not strenuous in any way! So of course my Saint of a horse and I went for a little walk today. It felt SO good! It's like a part of me is now complete. But now my hips are killing me. Go figure.
So that was all good: a great doctor who referred me to cognitive rehab and is willing to work with my school and back problems, a counselor at school, and pony walking privileges . So now the bad news.
We did the basic assessment test to evaluate neuropsych functioning. My highest score, for verbal memory, put me in the 50th percentile. Visual memory was 7th percentile, and both visual motor speed and reaction time were less than the first percentile. The doctor said that a person like me should normally be in the 95th or higher percentile in everything. I'm glad I did the evaluation, but it was kind of hard to see the scores because it really just showed how bad this whole thing is. And my poor mother was almost in tears the entire time - I really don't think she had any idea how serious and protracted this recovery will be.
I guess I haven't been a very good patient (Ok, so maybe he said "I have a feeling you're going to be a nightmare of a patient"...something about a type A personality pre-vet athlete makes for a bad patient ). I started running again not too long ago (distance running is my other passion) and it's been very painful with the back and hip issues, but very good for me mentally and it's helping me build my fitness again. My mother is appalled by this and her opinion was supported by medical advice today when she mentioned that I've been running and he said that I should definitely not be doing that or any other sort of remotely physically strenuous activity. He said it would probably be another one to two months before I can resume physical activity.
Ugh. I just don't know how much longer I can take this sedentary lifestyle. I know I should't complain, because it could be so much worse, and I can at least go outside and enjoy the weather and now I can go for walks on my pony, but it just kills me to see other people out running or watching my friends ride and jump. To top it all off, my parents have been discussing my medical information with people I've specifically asked them to keep in the dark, and then I found out last night that our dog was killed by a car last night - he was only 3 and the best dog we've ever had
There's just so much that's been piled on - my life being turned upside down by injury and not even being able to vent through running or riding, retiring my horse this spring, and now losing my dog. It just seems like one more thing is the straw that will break my back. I try to keep up by spending time with the horses and focusing on school and it helps, but I think time is going to be the biggest key here for everything. Again, patience is not my strong point.
But you are all awesome and I thank you for that! Now, off to bed for some serious sleep and more work tomorrow!
"The FEI is often in error, but never in doubt." - Jim Wofford
"You do not find the happy life. You make it." - Camilla Eyring Kimball
Congratulations on getting a good "vet" for yourself! And for getting the test scores. As horrific as they may seem, now you have a dose of reality for the present, and a good benchmark as you improve. And you will improve.
But here's the deal. You over-drew your health account in a huge way. And now you have to pay it back. So as much as you hate being patient and taking it easy now, doing these things NOW pays greater dividends over the long run.
Think of it this way: you buy something on credit you don't have cash for. Goes on credit card. You can choose to make the minimum payments for 1,000 years, oh and be late a few times too. This delays the inevitable. (This is you out running and not being patient about your recovery process.) But you are going to have to pay the bill PLUS the interest and late charges.
OR you can cut other expenses to the bone and pay off as much as you can, as quickly as you can. (This is you doing what your vet has ordered, to the extent humanly possible.) Your freedom day comes sooner!
I'm older now and have learned some truths along the way. One of them is this: the health bill always comes due. Some things are cumulative, and their effects may not be realized immediately, but the bill always comes due.
Good for you on getting in to see a specialist! I have never had a TBI but just a very painful back injury that kept me sidelined and not able to do much of anything for a while. I, too was very frustrated and depressed because I just wanted to get better and be able to ride and do everything I did before. It will take a while to get back to exactly where you want to be, but with patience, you will get there.
I know the feeling you are going through and it is hard to be patient. Just remember don't be too hard on yourself if you find you can't immediately do all the things you did before. I know I would get mad at myself, and it only makes things worse. Also, take time and relax and let your body heal. You will be thankful you did after a while. Don't stress yourself out too much, even if you have to add an extra semester to your studies, you will still graduate. Your body needs time to heal and recoup so don't push yourself to do things you should not be doing. I didn't ride for a good 6 months after my back injury/surgery and now I am back to riding full time again and feel I am riding even better then I did before. Just remember you will never forget how to ride and it just takes a little muscle conditioning to get back to where you were. Best of luck to you!! Keep us updated!
I'm glad you went to see someone. I think you will be surprised at how quickly your mental capacities come back. Right after the fall, you were probably too head injured to realize how much you had lost. Just be very careful with the narcotics for back pain. A lot of people get very foggy when they take pain meds. You need to do well with your remaining classes this semester. Getting the brain back to full function is a priority. Narcotic pain meds can keep you from making the progress that you want to make.
I saw a teenager today who had a "minor" head injury in football 4 days ago. He told me he was fine and wanted to go back to football. His mother told me that yesterday, he couldn't remember the name of the current President. Today, he couldn't remember his home address. He told me he was doing well with his school work. His mother told me he was on a field trip Friday so has done no school work since the head injury. He couldn't tell me what month it is. Mom said he is much better today than he has been.