I’m back. Well kinda… I’m not 100% but I’m able to go back to work after a month off and I’m able to do some very low impact movement. For those who don’t know I suffered a concussion and a Medial Collateral Ligament Injury of the knee (MCL tear) in a white water rafting accident in Argentina. I only found out about these injuries after I got back from my trip.
Throughout these few weeks, I experienced moments of sadness and anger especially after learning about my torn MCL and realizing my recovery time will be prolonged. My heart sank. I had so many fitness goals for 2018 which right now cannot be met. I can’t squat, lunge or bear a lot of weight on my right knee. I had to shake off these negative and counterproductive feelings quickly. Feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to improve my recovery time.
Now that I look back, there were signs of a concussion. I was extremely fatigued the days following the accident and I had a constant headache. I also forgot several things. For example, an American couple needed some help translating at a store. Knowing Spanish, I offered to help. I walked up to the cashier and my mind went blank. It wasn’t that going blank feeling you get when you’re nervous. Literally my mind went lights out, pitch dark blank. I completely forgot how to speak Spanish. It startled me but I stumbled my way through the situation. On another occasion, I also completely misplaced my debit card in Argentina and I have no idea what happened to it.
My doctor said adults suffering from a concussion take 4 – 8 weeks to fully recover. I’m 4 weeks in and I’m feeling good. My symptoms have subsided but I still have to be mindful of any strenuous activity, take plenty of rest and pay attention to any symptoms. I’ve kept a concussion diary to track my symptoms, mood, and progress.
I always try to stay positive regardless of what life throws at me. So in that spirit, this experience has gifted me three things:
A Harvard study found, “mindfulness meditation can… change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory”. I’ve always resisted meditation and found it very difficult. But taking my recovery seriously, I took the plunge and gave it a try. I downloaded Headspace which is a guided meditation app highly recommended by Tim Ferriss. I’ve meditated over 150 minutes so far and I’m finding value in the practice.
- Eating clean(er)
I contacted my nutritionist Nathalie Niddam right away. She recommended some supplements to help with brain cognition and function including MCT Oil, Lion’s Mane, and Magnesium. I’ve also incorporated macadamia and Brazil nuts which are both good for brain health. Lastly, I took a closer look at my diet and reduced my caffeine intake significantly (caffeine is not good for concussions), removed junk food (love gummy bears and sour keys) and focused on eating whole foods.
- Social media detox
Since I couldn’t look at screens for the past few weeks I was forced into a social media detox- cold turkey! Someone who loves social media, the first few days were difficult. I was constantly experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out). But eventually I got used to it and I’m grateful for the time off. I realized how much time I was spending and I have made a few tweaks to my routine as a result.
These types of life experiences force you to take a closer look at your habits and prioritize your goals. My goal for 2018 is to regain my strength and health.
If you’d like to learn more about concussions here are some useful resources:
- Facts about concussions, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Concussions symptoms and causes, Mayo Clinic
- Concussion diagnosis and treatment, Mayo Clinic
- Concussions: The Untold Story, Macleans