If you want to skip directly to my concussion symptoms and treatment, go here. Otherwise you can start at the beginning and read how I gave myself a concussion.
How I Gave Myself A Concussion
On Saturday, February 16, 2019, I woke up from an afternoon nap. I had to go to the bathroom. I got up fast and felt lightheaded. This lightheadedness feeling was nothing new – I’m used to feeling lightheaded when I get up too fast. Sometimes, I even go a little black and have to brace myself for a few seconds until the feeling passes.
I’ve been dealing with this lightheaded/black feeling for many years, so when I first felt it after rising from my nap, I played through and took a step toward the bathroom. It was around 6pm, so it was dark and there were no lights on.
I took a second step into the bathroom and slipped. I fell straight down to the ground – hard. I was in immediate pain and felt a small chip fragment in my mouth. My lip was bleeding badly.
I got up and turned on the bathroom light and looked at myself in the mirror. My lip was gushing and swollen. I’d fallen so hard that I drove my upper teeth into my bottom lip, chipping three teeth.
My first thought was, “What the hell is going on here?”
Only six weeks earlier I’d taken a direct hit to my eye while playing racquetball. On that day, my left eye was bloody and blistered and I drove myself to urgent care.
I was diagnosed with a scratched cornea and advised to see an eye specialist the next day. So, that’s what I did.
After an initial inspection, the eye doctor told me, “If I’d have seen you last night after this happened, I would have sent you straight to surgery.”
He had a second specialist come in and take a look at my eye and it was confirmed that nothing was “detached” and that I would not need surgery.
I was lucky, but scared. Just processing the mix of words: detached, eye, surgery in the same sentence made me nautious.
Aftermath Of My Fall
So here I was studying my latest injury in the bathroom mirror wondering if my body was falling apart.
I began to take inventory of the seriousness of my wounds:
- I knew I’d need to go to the dentist.
- I thought I might need to get stitches ASAP.
But one silver lining occurred to me, “Now I can close up the gap between my two front teeth!”
But cosmetics would come later. I needed to decide what to do right now.
My lip hurt so bad. I felt a tiny “clank” when I closed my mouth: A tooth fragment was embedded in my lower lip.
I grabbed my tweezers and tried to get it out, but I couldn’t see it well enough. Besides, it hurt like hell. I couldn’t pull off the self-surgery.
I made an emergency call to my dentist who advised that if I went to the emergency room, they would likely have an oral surgeon on staff who could take care of me.
I was pretty shaken up, maybe in partial shock, but I drove myself to the ER.
They took X-rays to make sure I hadn’t broken my jaw. Then they numbed my lower jaw and lip. They extracted three tooth fragments from my lower lip and sewed it up, using six stitches.
At the hospital, I tried to piece together what had happened. I’d stripped off part of the fingernail on the middle finger of my right. The finger ached as if I’d jammed it. I had a cut on my knuckle as if I’d punched something.
On my left hand, the third finger was cut between my first and second knuckle. It wasn’t serious, but there was some blood.
My throat was sore and my lower left chin hurt. When I fell, I must’ve brought my hands together and/or punched myself in the chin, like an upper cut.
Later I felt discomfort on the left side of my body, below my ribs.
A friend arrived at the hospital as the doctors were finishing up with me. I was still pretty shaken up and she followed me home and checked to see if I needed anything. I took some ibuprofen and went to bed.
I didn’t have a headache and thought the main damage I had was my lip and my chipped teeth.
“You Could Have Died”
On Monday, the 18th, I went to the dentist.
After explaining what happened, he told me, “Man, you are really lucky. Someone could have found you dead in your bathroom six weeks later .”
That was the first time I realized how hard I had crashed to the ground.
I was lucky: I didn’t knock myself out. I didn’t hit my head directly as I fell. I didn’t fall forward into the bathroom counter.
As for my teeth, I would receive a temporary crown three days later and permanent crowns in a few weeks.
Within the first 24-36 hours after the fall, I began to have a dull headache, mainly on the left side of my head. I took ibuprofen for it, but it didn’t do much for the pain.
I also was feeling like I did not want to make any sudden, quick movements with my head toward the left or the right. I felt that would make me dizzy and unstable.
I felt a reluctance to make any bodily movements quickly. I was careful with my steps, I was concerned I might lose my balance and fall again. I was careful to use my handrail when walking up and down the stairs in my house.
It felt like my introvertedness was on overdrive. I didn’t want to leave the house or socialize. I wanted to stay quiet, still, and close to home.
In the first ten days after the accident, I continued to have these dull aching headaches. My vision was fine and my thoughts were sharp, but I felt off.
If I tilted my head forward, I felt the rush of blood and my head pounded. When I sneezed, I felt a sudden pounding in my head, primarily in the front and upper left side area. It felt like pressure and I worried something serious was wrong.
I had a trip coming up on March 9 to meet a friend for spring training in Phoenix, but I told him I didn’t know if I’d be able to go. The thought of flying and being away from home felt unsettling.
I feared something was wrong inside my brain. I researched concussion symptoms, thinking maybe a concussion was what was causing my headaches and general unsteadiness.
Nonetheless, on Monday the 26th, I went to play racquetball. I wanted to give it a try. I made it through one game of cutthroat, but I was afraid to turn my body left or right too quickly.
Trying to follow the angles of the ball bouncing off the walls was challenging – it made me feel slightly dizzy and disoriented. It was too soon to be playing racquetball again. I completed one game, then quit.
Friends were urging me to go see a doctor. The problem was I didn’t have health insurance and I wasn’t sure how to see a doctor and get whatever scan I might need. I certainly didn’t want to go and just talk about my symptoms; I wanted to get an MRI or CT scan to find out if something was wrong with my brain.
I did some research and found an urgent care solution, so on Wednesday the 28th, I finally went to the doctor. After describing my symptoms, a CT scan was ordered. I was thrilled to find out I could get the scan done – and get the results – during my visit.
The image showed no damage to my brain, thank God, and the doctor said he felt confident I’d given myself a concussion. I was relieved to know I didn’t have any further serious damage.
“It’s like a bruise on your brain,” he said. “You need to rest. Your ideal resting situation is a quiet, dark room. Even music stimulates your brain, so try to avoid that.”
Well, that explains why I didn’t want to go out or talk to anyone for too long.
He told me the headaches usually last between 2-4 weeks and that I would eventually heal and be fine. He gave me the name and number of a specialist in case things got worse.
Rest For My Concussion
I decided to fully heed the doctor’s advice – I didn’t really have a choice – because I wasn’t interested in doing too much or interacting with anyone for a long period of time. I kept quiet. I slept longer. I took things slowly.
In short, I treated myself with the utmost care and love.
I had emailed my astrologer to ask, “Mark, what is going on here? I’ve had two serious accidents in a six week span.”
He gave me his astrological interpretation of what was going on in my chart and then he summed it up with three words: “Take it easy.”
I took those words to heart.
Lessons Learned From My Concussion
After learning I had a concussion, I chose not to play racquetball for another couple of weeks. I decided to take it as easy as I could.
I wondered, “What is the universe trying to teach me?”
An interesting thing that happened during the first two weeks after my fall was that I became somewhat blissfully content and happy.
Ordinarily, I am looking at my life as if something is missing or lacking. I find problems and dwell on them. I think I’m not having enough fun. Since I don’t go out and do all the things other people do, I felt I was strange or not good enough. Maybe I was a boring person.
During my recovery, I let these judgements go. And what filled the space was peace. I realized I am pretty happy right where I am. I don’t need to go out and try to have more “fun” as other people define it – traveling, social events, plans, etc.
I enjoy my work. It’s usually fun for me to work. I like making money and creating systems to make my work easier.
I love my business relationships. I love creating new ways to make money and I love building more relationships with colleagues who are honest and who have their own niche in digital marketing. I learn from them. We help each other.
The biggest thing I let go of was this desire to have a woman in my life. The thought of having a long relationship with a woman or even a wife has occupied my thoughts my entire adult life. I’ve always wanted it.
As I downshifted and simplified to a mode of taking really good care of myself after my fall, I felt that strong “want to have a woman” desire begin to take a back seat to other priorities.
I mean, I’d still like to have a woman in my life, but suddenly it’s not the every day thought dominating my frontal lobe. I realized how many of my decisions in life were driven by the possibility of meeting her.
It feels good to not be putting so much pressure on the notion of “wanting a mate.”
It also feels spectacular to not be judging myself so harshly. I’m getting older, maybe I do need to slow it down a bit.
I feel a bit less angry. I don’t want to fuss and worry over the little things. It just doesn’t feel worth it.
I’m not in such a rush. I’m not as worried about being perfect or ultra-efficient at everything I do.
I’ve replayed “the fall” in my head multiple times, even re-tracing my steps. I don’t know if I slipped or blacked out or maybe a little of both.
One thing’s for sure – now before I get up from a lying position, I sit for a few seconds. Then when I get up, there’s no lightheadedness or “going black” feeling.
It’s interesting now to look back and recall my first thought immediately following my fall, “What the hell is going on here?”
And later, “What is the universe trying to teach me?”
I think the universe is trying to teach me to slow down and go easy on myself.
My whole life, I’ve been trying to be perfect. While I’d been practicing letting go of that “pursuit of perfection” belief for the last few years, I was still beating myself up on a regular basis.
I now see “the fall” and subsequent concussion as a blessing. I’m not as hard on myself. I like and accept who I am a bit more. And I think that translates to how I treat others.
It is a huge relief to let some of these self-judgments go. I feel more content with who I am and what I do.
It’s still practice to stay with these “healthier” thoughts and I hope I’m able to sustain the lessons learned through this experience.
I’m actively practicing the three words of advice my astrologer gave me: Take it easy.