The First 3 Months as a Teenager with TBI

Brain Injury Blog by Madeline Uretsky

September 26, 2012

The First 3 Months as a Teenager with TBI

I spent the first 3 months of my concussion lying in bed at home, in a dark room, and on complete brain rest. This brain rest meant that I could not watch TV, use a computer, phone, text, read anything, do any sort of homework or exercise. In other words, I could just sleep and lie in bed.

My symptoms

At this time, my symptoms were numerous and very high on the symptoms scale at the doctor. I had excruciating headaches as well as very sharp pains all over my head, severe whiplash, disorientation, memory loss, extreme fatigue, dizziness, ringing in my ears, and I could not tolerate any bright colors, light, or noise of any kind. My sleep at night was erratic and filled with nightmares.

I followed a protocol those first 3 months where I went to my pediatrician weekly, and my neurosurgeon monthly, for a symptom evaluation. On a scale of 0-6, I had almost all 5’s and 6’s during those three months of brain rest; I could not believe how awful I felt. I started going to a massage therapist who practices jin shin do, a type of acupressure that helps brain injured patients. I liked going to this every week because it was a way to relax myself, even though it was painful. This trip to the massage therapist lasted for nine months on a weekly basis, and continues to this day, on a monthly basis.

As these weeks turned into months, however, it became apparent that there was no end in sight for me. I was isolated from my friends and my school, yet I felt so awful that I accepted that there was just nothing I could do about it, except rest, and wait it out. I had visitors, on a limited basis, but I did not even feel well enough to enjoy myself. I was unable to engage in any kind of conversation, and I would just randomly fall asleep. In fact, there were times that I could not even remember I had had visitors.

Where could I go?

On occasion, my mom would take me out to places like furniture stores, where it wouldn’t be crowded, just to get me out of the house. It was difficult for me to travel in the car, because the bumps in the road bothered me, the colors of the other cars on the road bothered me, and the general commotion of having to go outside, get in the car, shut the door, look at the sunlight, and go for the ride were all things that made my symptoms go up. The places I was able to go to were few…there could be no shopping carts, no colors, no crowds, no bright lights, no noise – all things I had never noticed before, but now were intolerable to me. All of this made living any kind of a normal life virtually impossible. As a sophomore in high school, I needed round the clock care, I could not attend school, I could not go out, I could not do ANYTHING, and I was in terrible pain, 24/7…what was I going to do?

To read Madeline’s initial blog, click here!

7 responses to “The First 3 Months as a Teenager with TBI”

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  3. Robin Kesslen says:

    Madeline, you are an amazing person who is handling this tragedy with such grace and strength. I am proud of you, as many are, for bringing this issue to the forefront so that less children will have to suffer as you have. You will persevere and you will come through this stronger and better. And you will make a difference in this world!

  4. Marilyn Lash says:

    Dear Madeline,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. Too many people still think that a concussion is no big deal and you struggle will educate many on the risks and complications that may follow a concussion.

  5. Mr. G. says:

    It is painful for me just to travel this journey with you through your written word. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to have lived it. Good thing you have “strong-willed” and “positively persistent” as integral parts of your character. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and for raising awareness through your well-written primary source pieces. Look forward to reading more posts from you…maybe next one will be in Spanish (j/k). 😉

  6. Joyce Tracksler says:

    Gee Whiz, Mad……my heart goes out to you. We all love you, darling and know you are going to beat this nightmare. Your persistence, care, determination and the love of your family shines through. The sun WILL shine for you…love, Joyce

  7. Janet Cromer says:

    Hi Madeline,
    No one who reads your post will ever say, “It’s only a concussion” again. Your description of the brain rest critical to healing, and the assault of stimulation present everywhere bring the reader right into your experience. Thank you!

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