My Medications

One thing that I tried my best to avoid during my entire recovery was medications. I rarely took pain killers when I developed post-concussion syndrome, because I wanted to know exactly when and where my headaches were located, as well as how intense they were; however, after I went into my second month with a concussion, my doctor prescribed me Nortriptyline.

Nortriptyline (Pamelor)

Nortriptyline is an anti-depressant drug that is used to help those with depression, but my doctor prescribed it in order to treat my headaches. Nortriptyline works by restoring the natural chemical balance within the brain. This medication worked the best for me and over time my headaches significantly reduced. But, it seemed to only mask my headaches instead of treating and healing them for good. I took Nortriptyline for a period of three weeks and then stopped the week before my next appointment with my doctor. After I had taken my last dose and the days went on without it, I could literally feel the medication wearing off. The headaches began to return with increasing severity as each day passed without it. For this reason, I did not like this medication. Though it does a great job in reducing head pain temporarily, it does not solve the root issue for good.

Gabapentin (Neurontin)

The second and last medication that I tried was Gabapentin or Neurontin. Gabapentin is a nerve pain medication and is a anticonvulsant and antiepiletic drug. Once again, my doctor prescribed this to me in order to relieve my chronic headaches. This drug did more harm than it did good. I took the medication right before I went to bed as I was instructed and as soon as I woke up the next morning I knew something was wrong. As I got ready for school I felt more dizzy and weak than usual. Thinking that it possibly had something to do with dehydration and hunger, I ate the huge breakfast my mother had prepared for me–pancakes, bacon, eggs, and grits. I shook it off and went to school. As I waited for my first period class to begin, I remember thinking that the lights in the hallway were more bright than usual, feeling that I might faint I sat down. I decided to look up some reviews on Gabapentin and they were awful. People complained about having intense, nausea, trembling, headaches, difficulty in concentrating, and much more.

This couldn’t have come on a worser day. I was supposed to complete an Algebra test during my first period, but I felt like a complete zombie. I persisted and went to class and hoped that it wouldn’t get any worse. But.. it did. Once the tests were distributed and I took a peak at the problems, everything seemed to come over me–the awful headaches, nausea, dizziness, and trembling. My head began to pound with increasing pain and I was unable to concentrate at all on the test. It took me a significant amount of time to finish it. In the midst of my tears and trembling, I am really amazed that I was able to finish it at all. After class, I remember unable to see clearly, everything was so foggy and I became unbelievably weak. If anyone had touched me, I surely would have fallen.

So, what is my review of this medication? 0 stars. But once again, everyone’s body is different. Mine happened to not take to this medication well at all.

My Overall Feelings

My overall feelings of medication are also somewhat negative. I hoped that by taking medication it would help in the healing process, but it only seemed to discourage me even more. The medications only masked my symptoms without improving them once I was taken off them. I personally wanted to become fully functioning without becoming dependent on a medication. However, if you are looking for something to relieve your headaches temporarily then ask your doctor about Nortriptyline, it relieved my headaches with very minimal side affects.

I hope this helps!

Happy Healing Everybody(:

Exercise to Recovery

After four months of battling with a concussion, I quickly became desperate for solutions. I was having chronic headaches every single day and though I had taken a lot of time out of my day to rest and “heal”, I still saw no improvements. Every day began to look the same, I would go to school for half a day, come home with a headache and immediately go to bed, where I would sleep for at least three hours. The increasing amount of time that I spent in my house and shut off from the world began to depress me. So with the extra time on my hands, I began to do extensive research on post-concussion syndrome, as well as people who had and had yet to overcome the condition. I soon came across a particular blog about a man who had recovered from a brain injury caused by a car accident. It took him thirteen months to recover. (Here is the link to his story). It is a really good read and his story is super inspiring! It was here that I learned about the “Expose & Recovery” theory, as well as how he utilized exercise to recover. The idea behind expose and recovery treatment is that you expose yourself to whatever makes you irritated, rest, and then try it again. Over time your brain will adjust and familiarize itself with the stimuli.

It was with this advice that I decided to give this theory a shot, I had nothing to lose. Plus, the workout plan that he completed gave me some form of structure and control that I did not have before. I created a five day workout schedule very similar to that of the man on the blog, but modified it to my liking.

Before we get into what this daily workout routine looked like, I must note:

For this workout routine I utilized little to no workout gear. The only items I used are listed below!

Weights: https://amzn.to/2AQRTin

Yoga Mats: https://amzn.to/2MjpVjS

Half Balance Ball: https://amzn.to/2T4KLG

*I am not a doctor, this is all based off of my own personal experience. Please be sure to always talk with your doctor.*

I always started my workouts by taking a walk/jog outside. I think this is the most important part. Why? Well, like I said before the goal is to expose yourself to stimuli that you would be in contact with on a normal day. The outdoors are full of various smells, sights, temperatures, and more. In order to heal, you must let go of the idea that you must stay shut up in your house and away from anything and everything that makes you uncomfortable. The truth is you need to be out in the world to retrain your brain to normalcy. Again, this is for those who have had a concussion for at least 3 months and are battling with post-concussion syndrome.

After I completed my jog, I would come indoors for the remainder of the workout, which included high knee steps, Russian twists, left/right side planks, lunges, squats, and more. (Full workout plan at the bottom) When I first started the workout plan, I felt like absolute crap. I remember during the first week I could barely make it through the workout, my head would pound and I would become dizzy. I questioned if I was truly doing the right thing, but as the blog that I read stated, the first two weeks would be super difficult, but you have to continue. Sure enough, this was true and after about a week and a half I felt significantly better. I was able to complete the full exercise and my headaches began to decrease in severity, it was extremely encouraging.

I began the workout routines in April 2018 and did them consistently for about a month and half, as I started to get better I cut down the number of workouts that I completed to about 2 or 3 a week. Even though I had started the exercise routine, I would still have setbacks and bad days. But the difference was that when I did have a setback or bad day, it would not last as long nor would be as severe. For example, instead of having a super intense setback with booming headaches, nausea, and dizziness, a setback would be more mild and I would get a headache in one area of my head instead of all three. The “new” setbacks that I had also did not last as long, so instead of my setbacks lasting two weeks they would last for day or two and I’d be back to normal the next. I was really amazed with my improvement. The improvements were not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Exercising really helped boost my energy levels and helped combat my feelings of isolation, depression, and anxiety. For the first time, I found something that I could actually do. For the first time, I had some control back in my life.

Exercising was not the only thing that I started, I also implemented daily vestibular exercises and diet changes; which also played a huge role in my full recovery.

Here is the exercise routine that I completed daily. I completed the workouts similarly to how you would complete a circuit, doing each one (except the running/walk outside, of course) a total of three times.

Remember, you will feel like absolute crap the first week or two that is normal. Persevere it will get better!!