head in arms in front of window

It wasn’t until 7 p.m. last Friday that I remembered it was the one-year anniversary of my concussion. This is creepy, because my concussion occurred at 7 p.m.

I was very much aware, all last Friday, that it was the anniversary of the infamous terrorist attack on the U.S. By now, 19 years later, we are all used to seeing mournful and patriotic images in the media on this day, every year. But I don’t associate this day with my concussion, because on the day of my concussion, I was at a peppy work retreat and missed all the usual theatrics of remembrance.

In future years, I suppose I will start associating the two events.

The day after my concussion, September 12, 2019, I started experiencing symptoms. I went to the emergency room, where I was told that I had a mild concussion (CAT scan: normal) and my symptoms would likely last one week. A few days later, I visited my primary care clinic, where I was told that my symptoms would likely last two to three weeks. A few days later, I visited a concussion clinic, where I was told that my symptoms could last anywhere from one day to two years; it was impossible to predict what would happen.

Well. I feel like I’m on the two-year track. Fine.

Something I’m grateful for and need to remember more often: my symptoms have been confined to physical issues like dizziness, headaches, and light and noise sensitivity and mental issues like anxiety, depression, and irritability . . . but NOT memory loss or confusion. My concussion doctor sent me to a psychologist for a cognitive test a couple months after the incident. The psychologist said I got one of the highest scores she had ever seen! Of course, bragging about this would be as ridiculous as Trump bragging about passing “a basic cognition test that any reasonable adult should be able to pass.” So I hereby declare that this is not a brag (though I will boast—er, humbly say, that I employed all of the test-taking and mnemonic stills I learned as a student and as a high school teacher, long ago), but a note of gratefulness.

Anyway, back to last Friday, the 11th of September, 2020: I had a driving win! I successfully drove to the corner strip mall and back . . . which I haven’t done since January. Woot, woot! And, unlike in January, I had zero trouble going into a store and buying something. That’s because, about a month ago, my light and noise sensitivity suddenly went away. (Florescent lights, which are often used in stores—and, ironically, medical clinics—were especially hard for me to handle.)

I am still having setbacks here and there. (My concussion doctor says these are not “setbacks,” but “symptom increases.” He is trying, through this language, to emphasize that these incidents are not damaging my brain in any way. They are just annoying symptoms. But for all practical purposes, they are setting me back from being able to do stuff in my life, and for this reason I call them “setbacks.”) Setbacks are normal in concussion recovery. So I try not to worry, and I try not to push myself too hard. I do try to push myself just enough. Progress is important, too.

Oh, and my arms? They’re cool. They’re a bit atrophied from not being used during my concussion and mental health fiasco a couple months ago. So I need to slowly work up to being able to use the computer full time again. But I can pretty much do everything else: cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc.

And my mental health? Dude. I can’t believe the difference one tiny pill can make. Dude, this pill is like one-quarter the size of an M&M. And it’s literally saving my life, every day. (The pill I’m talking about is the antidepressant Lexapro, aka escitalopram. I combat its side effect of sleepiness with Trintellix. This seems to be a magical combination for me. But remember: everyone’s body is different, so if you’re struggling with mental health issues, it’s important to experiment to find out what works for you.)

So that’s my update. How are you doing?

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