A bank of echinacea supporting each other, as well as a butterfly.
I was pole walking back home from Roncesvalles Avenue the other day when a woman stopped me. She wanted to know about my Nordic Walking Poles– why did I use them? Did they help my balance? Where did I get them? Did they really help?
Her husband had been in an accident and suffered a TBI. One of his rehab therapists had recently suggested using poles for therapy but his wife, S, wasn’t sure how it would differ from the cane he had started using. He was an athletic man before his accident but had suffered very serious injuries. He was frustrated with his current limitations. His family was worried about all the unknowns in the rehab process.
Someone had told S that a survivor often ‘plateaus’ in recovery about a year after the TBI. My rehab story disproves this; once I got into rehab I have been recovering (not always in a straight line) for the last eight and a half years! And I told her about that! I am still having small improvements although my life is not like it was before.
I have lived in my neighbourhood since 2005. This couple has lived here much longer. I had never met them before, but we were able to share the names of specialists, therapies that had worked for me, and other local resources in Toronto.
Concussion Buddies are essential for survivors and families–you need friends that understand a TBI. They could be friends that have also had a concussion. They could be a relative or partner that has read about or helped with your post-Concussion issues, that you can speak freely with. They could be a medical professional that you confide in, or members of a therapy group that help you through the challenges that they have survived.
I have a couple of Concussion Buddies in the neighbourhood already. It is always good to have coffee with them, to run into them on the street (not literally) and chat about life. We talk about our balance, our fatigue, and how to improve our reading and sleeping.
I consider my ski-friend R a Concussion Buddy because he lent me his Nordic poles when I was too sceptical to try them. He had suffered a concussion while roller blading a few years before that and he knew this was worth a try.
My friend D helped me sort through 5 years of work and medical paperwork and forms that I was completely unable to deal with. She would read the document to me and I would tell her whether it should be trashed or filed: she would sort it into the right pile.
My neighbours who put out my garbage bins when I cannot do it are my Concussion Buddies.
My Concussion Buddies are those friends that don’t give up on me if I’ve had to cancel a coffee or dinner date twice in a row because of vertigo, migraines or other symptoms.
My boyfriend and my brothers and sisters have become my Concussion Buddies. I have shared all the information that I have learned with them, and they understand my limitations and my strengths. I can call them at any time if I need help.
I started this blog because I wanted to explore my post-TBI experiences in a creative platform. Along the way I have heard from other post-TBI survivors, and learned from them. I have always said that I hoped I could help at least one person by sharing my experience, it would be worthwhile. These people are my Concussion Buddies too!
In person, online or on the phone, it is just good to talk, to share, to nod and understand the frustration and uncertainty of a TBI. We can share the gains, but also the blue times, and make those easier.
I hope I am able to help S and her husband and that we become Concussion Buddies. And I look forward to a time when the resources out there meet the needs of all thepeople and their families dealing with Traumatic Brain Injuries, from any cause.
Thanks, and have a good weekend,
Coming up: Soup=Vertigo, Surviving and enjoying street festivals, and Update: Contractor Noise