Regaining Consciousness

Guest Post by Deb Angus

DEB-2014I sustained a diffuse mild traumatic brain injury in 2001 at the hands of a distracted driver. My husband and I were hit from behind while stopped at a red light. Although the airbags did not deploy, and there was little damage to our vehicle, my whole world turned upside down.

The collision caused me to have constant excruciating head pain, light sensitivity, tinnitus, poor balance, dizziness, coordination issues, as well as concentration, attention and memory problems. My speech was garbled and I began to stutter and stammer. I also experienced left side weakness of my arm and leg, and numbness across the left side of my face. I was not able to turn my head to the right without agonizing pain. Debilitating fatigue began to set in.

I went to see a doctor because of the pain. Was sent for neck x-rays and given prescriptions for pain killers and muscle relaxants. I took the pills as soon as I returned home and laid down waiting for them to take effect. Nothing happened. Nothing could touch the head pain I was experiencing.

Even though the symptoms were real to me, there was no physical sign that I was injured. I returned to work the following week because I felt I had no other option. I sat at my desk in tears most morning by 10:30 a.m. I was probably operating at about 25% of my usual capacity at this point. My husband drove me back and forth to work every day for several months.

I was referred for an MRI, but had to wait 5 ½ months, which is typical in Canada. After the MRI showed no structural damage to the brain, I was cleared for physical therapy, followed by vestibular therapy. I was now operating at about 70% of my usual capacity.

Even though my recovery was progressing, it was progressing a little too slowly for me. I was not happy with the level of functioning I managed to gain one year post-injury, so I spent more time searching for answers and solutions.

An article about mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) caught my attention. I read the list of MTBI symptoms and recognized that I had all of the symptoms except seizures and nausea. I wondered if this might be my problem. Then read on to discover the only way to accurately diagnose MTBI was a neuropsychological assessment.

The testing proved I had MTBI and I was then referred to occupational therapy, counselling, and speech therapy. I continued working every day while learning compensatory strategies – how to control my work environment, and recognise the signs of overload at any time during a busy work day.

I started writing about my experiences in 2004 (three years post injury) as a two-page leaflet for my co-workers who wanted to better understand what was happening and why I wasn’t getting better after so many years. In 2007 (six years post injury), I felt the brain fog lifted and I began to understand the nature of my injury.

In 2014 (13 years post injury), after many setbacks and relapses I self-published my book, Regaining Consciousness: My Encounter with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury – The Silent Epidemic. The book summarizes my research and describes the strategies I devised during my healing journey.

For further information about MTBI or to order your copy of Deb’s book, please click the following link —

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