‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.
This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’
‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. ‘Explain yourself!’
‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.’
‘I don’t see,’ said the Caterpillar.
‘I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,’ Alice replied very politely, ‘for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.’
I slipped in the bathroom some time on Thursday night, fell and hit my head harder than usual. I fall over a lot and I’ve hit my head more often than is good for me and usually it’s just not that big a deal. I vaguely recall what happened, I feel a little dizzy, dazed and confused for a while, sleep sixteen hours a day for three days and over a couple of weeks, maybe a little more, my concentration, balance and coordination slowly return to what’s normal for me.
This time was a little different. Not new, but not the run of the mill. I don’t remember hitting my head. The last thing I remember happened around 9:30 p.m. and then there’s this big black hole where the next sixteen or so hours were suppose to be. Usually, I can keep my head enough to realize that my brain just got jumbled and so won’t work all that well. I take action accordingly. Occassionally, the net just isn’t there. If I don’t remember hitting my head, it’s a little difficult to take it into account. It’s something that freaks me out to no end and as the dazed and confused phase now wears off, it scares me even more. I dislike that no amount of willpower in the world can give me control back when my neurochemistry goes haywire after a knock. And no amount of preparation can prevent all falls. My balance is awful, my joints unreliable and every now and again I’m going to miss a step and bad things will happen.
Neck instability doesn’t help and add an atlantoaxial subluxations and symptoms of vertebrobasilar insufficiency to the mix and it gets a little scarier. Chris fixed my neck up when I apparently woke him up a second time around 3 a.m., by this point semi-hysterical and very confused. Twenty minutes later I was calm, seemed quite rational and fell asleep. He figured that he’d fixed the problem and this concussion will go the same route as the usual mild ones. It didn’t quite.
The symptoms were worse this time round and were still very persistent by late Friday afternoon. I was dizzy and clumsy enough to fall over again and my neck was a little wobbly, aggravating symptoms whenever I moved my head without thinking. Being still rather confused, I wasn’t thinking all that much and so moved more than I should. By early evening, things weren’t looking up, Chris had enough of checking on nonsensical me all day and we were both concerned enough to drive over to our local A&E straight away.
It was a better experience than the one I had dreaded. The receptionist was neutral, admissions nurse were concerned, we didn’t spent long in the waiting room even though it was a busy Friday night and once ferried into the back and changed into a hospital gown, the nurse doing the initial assessments were nice, reassuring and brought me not one but two blankets because it looked like I needed them. I got checked out, all seemed okay-for-me, but they were a bit concerned. I slept. Chris sat next to me and stroked my cheek, happy that he was allowed to use his Android phone to browse the internet and sent emails. I stayed for a few hours, got checked over a few times and by the time we reached 24 hours after the concussion, the doctor did a full neuro exam and after a big lesson on what EDS is and why cervical instability is not a problem, orthostatic hypotension isn’t a problem, an irregular resting pulse of 110 is normal, she seemed happy enough that I could go home as long as someone’s there to keep an eye on me for at least 48-72 hours.
It’ll take three weeks or so to get my balance and coordination back. I dislike thinking about what this will do to my gaming hobby or my ability to hold cutlery or a cup of tea. I was just starting to get the hang of things again. On the one hand, I’ll most definitely have quite a bit more free time to spend on books, my hands are shaking and tired and spasming and fine motor control will require work to get back and whilst the neurological issues persist, my muscles will weaken, joints will destabilize and complicate the process that little bit more. Let’s hope I won’t need physio too. It’s going to be three weeks of pretty bad headaches, bouts of vertigo and fatigue is a big concern for me. I tire easily and after I’ve hit my head, I’ll think of my previous self as an energizer bunny. It makes me a little sad, but I’m not concerned. A normal neuro exam is a good thing. I’ve lost a few more brain cells but I’m okay coping with the inevitable and this is one of those inevitable things. More difficult to cope with is having lost my sense of self a little bit. I feel a little like Alice again. Ans it’s a lonely place to be, that moment where you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try to put the pieces back together again.