November 3, 2018
It is three weeks post-concussion. At this point I am miserable and just want to feel normal again. I’ve been waking up with pounding headaches that last all day. My neck is so stiff it’s almost like it has a death grip around my head. If there is ever a point in the day where the pain improves a little, it’s always in the background, lingering. Something small triggers it to come back full blast – I move my head too quickly, I see the glare of the sun, I focus on reading something for a minute too long. I’m starting to feel crazy because of the ringing in my ears.
Despite the symptoms, I try to push through the best I can and still attempt to carry out some of the normal things I did before. It’s my best friend’s birthday and I am supposed to go out to dinner with a whole bunch of people to celebrate. Despite the fact that my friend would understand if I decide I can’t tolerate it, I feel like I need to no matter how I’m feeling. My guilt starts to kick in even thinking about bailing.
I made it to dinner. It is such a busy environment. There are bright lights, TVs lining the walls every few feet, loud music blasting among the muffled crowd noise from a hundred different conversations occurring in the space. It’s not long before I feel myself breaking. It’s like my brain is a computer trying to re-boot itself but is frozen on the re-boot screen in the process. I want to be able to tolerate this so badly. I tell myself I can push through.
I can feel my eyes giving up. I feel disconnected. I can’t focus and I can feel them jumping back and forth like little earthquakes. The glare of the TVs, people moving, all the sounds and noises – it’s sensory overload. I feel very hot and start profusely sweating.
I am trying to maintain conversations with various people at the table but suddenly it’s hard to make out their faces and I begin to see double. I start freaking out internally because I am having a hard time even making out what they are saying. Their lips are moving and all I can hear is the ringing in my ears mixed with the music and muffled crowd noise. I can feel my heartbeat pulsating through my eyes and head.
My ears are now ringing full blast. Please make it stop. I feel like I’m fighting my body because it wants to turn off and pass out. I go to the bathroom where I sit in a stall for a few minutes and just hold my hands over my ears and start crying.
I need to pull myself together. I don’t want to bring attention to myself or ruin anyone’s night, certainly not my friend who we are celebrating. I’ve made it this far; I can do this. I wipe the tears from my eyes, put a smile on my face and go back out to face the storm of the restaurant.
I look out at everyone talking, laughing and having a good time and I feel isolated. In an environment of 200 plus people, I feel alone.
I manage to make it through the rest of the dinner. I think I did a pretty good job of playing along and don’t think anyone could really tell what I was experiencing. I make it home and find myself sitting on my bathroom floor, squeezing my head with my hands as the tears pour. I scream in desperation, “Why is this happening?”