head injury

Why I took the SAT's Concussed, and why you shouldn't.

First, A Bit Of Background

Growing up on the coast of Maine I was surrounded by the sailing community. Its culture of perseverance had engrained itself in me since I was young. I pushed through the freezing weather and battled heavy winds just to compete in the sport that I grew to love so much. I was uneducated on the subject of concussions, I knew they could have a strong effect, seeing some of my closest friends take a hit by the boom. I remember thinking, what my friends went through would never happen to me. (My Naive 16 year old self)

How I Got The Concussion 

 During the spring of my junior year, I was ending practice, and sailing into the dock with my best friend. As I approached an average upwind landing, I prepared  for the glide zone(an area where you have enough momentum to let your sails out and "glide" into the dock). I had done a less than stellar landing, but I expected my crew to hop off the boat and catch us on the dock. It was certainly my fault,  I hadn't gotten us close enough. We had missed the opportunity and our boat was swiftly drifting away from the dock. I stood up, and out of frustration pushed the tiller hard to port...  the boom whipped over and smashed my brain's left hemisphere with 15 kts of power. Imagine a baseball bat hitting you in the head at 17.4 miles per hour. I fell to the bottom of the boat, staying conscious, and instantly knew I had sustained a concussion. Feeling really drunk without the buzz, topped off with a splitting headache, I went to lie down on the ground. I rested while everyone else was de-rigging. Honestly I had know idea what I was in for on, I just pushed through the practice debrief in the spirit of no pain no game.

TAKING THE SAT'S THE NEXT DAY 

Somehow I was able to drive myself home without getting in a crash, something I strongly urge against. I told my parents what happened, and they were pretty much just as in the dark on concussions as I was. They told me to get some rest, as I had a big day ahead of me. I told them I could go through with it. I took the SAT's with a full blown concussion. I suffered through 6 hours of testing with a throbbing headache, and a huge feeling of what the hell am I doing here.. As each hour passed, my headache grew stronger and stronger. Of course, If I had a time machine I would not go through with taking this test with a concussion. It really set my recovery back. The weekend passed and I was still in throbbing pain. I went to school on monday just to take the famous concussion test. No surprise here, it was very clear I had a concussion. The school nurse, who actually ended up being a huge savior of mine, told me to go home and shut off all stimuli. When she found out I had taken the SAT's on Saturday, she FREAKED out. What the hell was I thinking... I missed 3 weeks of school immediately after the test because I was in such severe pain and disorientation.  Words of advice, If you ever get a concussion make sure you don't take the SAT's the day after.  

You're Probably wondering what my score was??

I got a 1580 out of 2400... not the best score by any means, but hey... I had a concussion 

Let me know what you think... 

 

Disclaimer:

This article is purely informational. I am not a doctor, though I am a patient. This is not advise. 

 

 

Saunas, Ice Baths, and Post Concussion Syndrome.

I come from a strongly Finish and Italian family. I have 3 middle names Toivo Olavi Maki, all of which are Finish. I traveled to Finland when I was 13 to spend time with family and experience my homeland. What I found very interesting about Finnish culture is how integrated Saunas are in society. 99% of Finns sauna at least once a week. There are 3 million saunas for a country with only 5.3 million people. Finns believe that saunas are a key part of staying healthy and removing toxins from the body. Using a sauna for 15 minutes can increase your white blood cell count; which can boost your immune system, alleviate chronic pain, and increase joint mobility. A traditional Finnish sauna routine consists of getting in the sauna for 15-20 minutes then jumping into a ice cold body of water for 2 minutes. Ultimately, this fluctuation of hot and cold temperatures has a great neurological effect on the body. Ice cold temperature on injuries have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect allowing for faster recovery times and pain reduction. Getting back to my roots was especially helpful after sustaining a massive concussion and neck injury when I was 17.

1 Sauna for every 1.76 people in Finland

 
Shroom TECH Sport by Onnit
 

Months after the initial injury I was still facing severe nerve pain on an hourly basis. I had hit my head more than 5 times and suffered a compression fracture to my neck. I developed something called allodynia (hypersensitivity of the nerves). This is a terrible condition to have especially when it's associated with a head injury. Imagine a simple pat on the back feeling like nails exploding in your brain. It's something that is very hard to explain to people because unless you are going through it, it seems as if you are exaggerating.

After many failed prescriptions and medications, one of my doctors recommended treating my pain with hot and cold therapy. I used this fluctuation between hot and cold just like the Finns do, but to treat my allodynia and nerve pain from my post concussion syndrome. The effects were incredible, giving me relief from my headaches and toned down my allodynia. I used this treatment of about twice a day for six months with great success. Not only was I reducing my pain levels, but I was becoming much more energized. In addition to this hot and cold therapy, I take daily cold showers.  I find many of the same benefits come from this, and it's much easier to integrate into your daily routine. Cold showers have shown to Increase your bodies circulation, immune system, mood, and alertness.

If you don't have access to a sauna dont worry. You can get similar results from a hot shower and an ice bath. For me I would put my head and or body into a tub of water and ice. Sometimes I will just use a sink, submerging my head for headache relief.  Generally I will hold myself under for 30 seconds - 2 minutes (you may get a brain freeze, but trust me its worth it) and jump into a hot shower. I would repeat this process until my pain resided.