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In Site of Deimos:
(TBI related information)

I've had two concussions in the past 6 years. I "woke up" in the ER both times. I lost about 2 hours the first concussion and 4 hours the second. I was bicycling after dark and both times I cushioned my fall to the asphalt using my head. It took me months after the second concussion to recognize that my mind was so different. My memory, sense of time, concentration, emotions, and thinking had changed.

I now recognize that I was depressed in months 4-7 after the second concussion, and that my time horizon was quite limited--as if I were living in a bubble of 2 days diameter. I started recognizing my constellation of quirks after searching for 'trauma' and finding TBI-SPRT in September 1996, about 2 years after second concussion.

When I meet people now, I tend to remember their names and often recall the context of my association; I no longer feel embarrassed to meet and talk with them. I don't hesitate to guess or ask their name. It's led to some pleasant brief chats, catching up on current doings.

People don't understand TBI==Traumatic Brain Injury until they've been bonked.

Email Deimos
1/5/98 Deimos © 1998


Linking to "In Site of Deimos"

Please feel free to link to any of these pages. My focus here is on leading a full and satisfying life after mild TBI or concussion or bonk. As of 1/9/98, the homepage and the direct links from it will remain. As I continue to become aware of what I think, and as I clarify and articulate my development, I'll update the content.


Concussion == mild TBI?

My diagnosis, I think. I haven't asked for my medical records from the local hospital. Maybe it's time. I dislike MDs. I live alone. It hasn't been a priority. Most of the time I enjoy what I'm doing.

Yaron's story is one I identify with. But I don't have medical, legal, insurance, or work hassles.

The webpage at VMMC points to 4 different realms that require attention in recovering from a concussion:


Identity

Erving Goffman wrote Stigma: Notes on the Management of a Spoiled Identity and The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life . He writes from the perspective of a Martian. Normal human social life is strange, after all. It's about time for me to reread them to appreciate the processes of relating to people. It may not make it easier for me to meet and interact with people, but it will give me a vocabulary for talking about it.

For me, when it was no longer possible to recall details of events that used to be immediately accessible, it raised a host of problems about how to relate to people. It's embarrassing not to remember people's names. I was ashamed at not recalling how I had been associated with people whose faces were familiar to me.

Not remembering activities from day to day reveals the illusion of a constant self. It can be quite distressing to realize over and over in a myriad of different ways, that one's self is not the same.

It opens the world for doing what I can with current (unknown) abilities. I can awaken to the present ... even while grieving the loss of a former self.


Lost Time 1/23/98

The extent of "lost time" is an indication of the severity of damage to brain tissue.

The first concussion (November 1, 1992)
I remember starting home in the dark and getting to the place where I hit the curb 75-100 yards down the driveway. I remember taking my bicycle to the bicycle rack, locking it, and then going back into the building and looking at myself in the mirror. There was abrasion where my forehead hit the asphalt sidewalk. When I went back to class after a day of rest, I found out from one of the security guards that they asked me what had happened, as I was walking from the men's room toward the exit. I passed out. I don't remember the ambulance. I remember the woman MD who was proud of the little stitches.

The stitches over my eye were very fine. They itched. I went to an opthamologist for a followup appointment.

I confuse "loss of consciousness" with "loss of memory" or "loss of time". Clearly I was conscious enough to give my name and DOB when I was admitted because it was on the bracelet I had on my wrist after leaving the hospital.

The second concussion (September 26, 1994)
On my way back from the laundromat, there is some retrograde amnesia for the incident. I have memory to about 1/2 mile from the site of the accident where apparently I had a collision with another bicyclist riding in the dark (he on the wrong side of the road.) I found that out by asking the police at the station the next day when I was getting my bicycle. The front wheel was warped.

I have a vague memory of MRI and an uncertain memory of X-rays (being wheeled through the halls to the X-ray room) to see what was going on with left shoulder separation. I remember clearly talking with a very concerned looking MD. The nurse was cheerful. They told me that I'd asked several times where my bicycle was. I remember looking at the clock. I was alone. I got off the stretcher and put on my clothes. It was maybe 1pm when I finally got out of there. Since the taxi services close at midnight, I walked home. I missed a day of classes. I continued cycling daily to classes and the computer lab.


Memory help

In 1994 I read Brain Boosters by Beverly Potter and Sebastian Orfali, published in 1993. I found it clear and concise. It started me thinking about brain nutrition.

In TBI-SPRT I saw a note recommending Dharma Khalsa's book Brain Longevity. I've read the two introductory chapters and scanned the rest. I'm thinking about buying it, and considering how much it could add to my current program. (The comments I found on stress management and physical and mental exercise and on supplements have got me wondering how fast I can learn if I just get out of my own way.) These days I spend most of my reading time with my nose in books on learning and programming perl. It's a challenge.


Emotional lability

Emotions on the surface, fleeting, shifting, inconstant. Moody.

If you have no problems crying in the presence of people, then emotional lability won't be a problem or an issue. Since I live alone, my tears of grieving and of anger weren't something other people saw. Sometimes as I was listening to classical music, tears would start streaming down my cheeks.

Others don't experience intense irritability and reactions that are out of proportion to the stimulus. After brain injury, one's rapid shifts of mood from one extreme to another without any awareness of how it appears may make social interactions extremely stressful. When I became aware of the differences I was both depressed and embarrassed. I avoided people.

Quite a variety of stimuli that aren't a problem to others may prove stressful after a brain injury. It includes any sudden changes--noises, light, etc, or changes in stimuli that are out of one's direct control. Visual clutter may be stressful. Fluorescent lights may be a problem.

keywords for search at DejaNews == tbi + any of the following: visual environment, fluorescent, full spectrum, daylight, Moeller, strategy noise, sound, flashing, sunglasses, touch

I avoid dealing with bureaucrats, lawyers, medical personnel, insurance agents. When I was subscribed to TBI-SPRT mailing list, it was surprising to me to see how many of the messages revolved around the hassles of coping with people whose purpose is to be helpful!

Dealing with those "helpers" after brain injury may be intensely stressful. Please find support in chat or mailing lists for TBI survivors or caregivers. There are people who can provide specific support. There are many who have been in similar circumstances. There is much basic information available.

Most people will not understand.


Clutter!

Clutter is an ongoing problem. I get distracted cleaning, sorting, organizing, putting things in place. I live with stacks of floppy disks, books, clothes, books, music, photocopies, newspapers, books, cases of computer disks, books, etc.

The clutter is in my way.
I should do something about it.

Maybe tomorrow. Or day after tomorrow.


Depression

This is a depressing topic for me. I know that there is a newsgroup alt.support.depression. I have some of the symptoms of depression from time to time. For SAD==Seasonal Affective Disorder, I take 500mg or 1000mg caps of niacin (vitamin B3) while Daylight Savings Time is off. I enjoy the rush (my body and face flush with increased blood flow.)

There are some fascinating comments at some NLP sites about how people can move from their depressive states of mind back to competent and playful and alert and enthusiastic frames and putting those in the present. Perhaps at Carmine Baffa's site. Search for "depression", learning, healing, memory, time, etc. I started chatting on the Net shortly after reading his writings on the Web. As a result of reading on "genius" and "attitude" I had done some work remembering my experiences of making clear and workable decisions and times when I was in a "flow" state or "play" state. Recovery from depression is serious business!

How about St. John's Wort for mild depression?
There have been many comments on medication and depression in TBI-SPRT mailing list. As an experiment, I have been mixing a bit of St. John's Wort into peppermint or licorice tea (with cinnamon stick) but I haven't noticed changes. However, I've put up this website since starting to use it. And I'm looking at the problems that I've been avoiding.

As with all information that you read about herbs and supplements on the Net, please do your own research and find out possible side-effects and interactions before using.


TBI Keywords

Sometimes it's hard to know what to search for when you're looking for information on the web using search engines. Pick good keywords and you will go straight to the information you want. I like inference.com/ifind/. It is forgiving of vague keywords because it sorts the hitlist in a way that I can usually go straight to the information I seek.

TBI:  Traumatic Brain Injury
MTBI: Mild TBI
PCS Post concussive Syndrome

My keywords for search at AltaVista:
concussion, "mild TBI", "accelerated learning", "executive function", motivation memory, NLP, creativity, concentration, attention, focus

A Glossary of TBI Terms at waiting.com


MDs

Most people do not understand TBI. This includes MDs and a few neurologists. You can verify this by reading the TBI-SPRT archives at DejaNews where they're stored as newsgroup bit.listserv.tbi-support. (TBI-SPRT archives are also available at http://www.sasquatch.com/tbi but it takes a long time to load the 200K+ index file.)


DejaNews matches the exact word, but its searches are not case sensitive. The tbi in the searches above tends to select articles from newsgroup bit.listserv.tbi-support. Also select the "old" database for posts more than 2 months ago.


URLs for TBI==Traumatic Brain Injury

Solitude's site
XAV8R's site
Tbilaw site
personal stories
BI guides
Trauma - What is Brain Injury
TBI-SPRT listserv
BRAIN-EDU listserv
Humor mailing lists!
Concussion & the year after

Favorite links

Inference.com: Quick, reliable multi-search engine
DejaNews: great archive of usenet messages (de-spammed)
MGH Neuro chat: a bright, funny, intense online community
Joe Barta: Fun HTML Tutorials


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