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Nevertheless She Persisted: My Concussion Recovery Journey



Frontal Lobe Concussion - something I had never heard of before July 3, 2023. I had been out walking and a freak accident during a windstorm that evening, whipped me around and took my legs out from under me. I fell forward hard, hit my head (forehead), chest, face and knees and took the wind right out of me. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe and the pain was excruciating. I tried to push myself up but my wrists were so sore and I lost my wind trying to move. I had blood pouring out of my nose so I was certain I had broke it. It took me a few minutes but was able to get up and get to my vehicle. I drove myself with the use of one hand to the ER where I had many tests and learned I had suffered a 'frontal lobe concussion.' I was given a pamphlet and told to go home, rest and be in the darkness for 48 hours. No phone, no computer, no reading, no moving and no TV. What was I to do? It was summer and so hot out. I felt ok except for the pain but was taking Tylenol and Advil. I had seen many rally after a concussion so I thought this is ridiculous and I pushed myself 'past it.' Well - I didn't push past it and that slowed down my healing and I began a brutal long road to recovery.




Back during covid I had had a stroke, which had been my second one. My first one was when I was in my 20's. Going into this concussion I was still recovering from that recent stroke so I was told it slowed down my healing massively. I began to experience extreme symptoms that lasted weeks and months after which included: seeing iridescent colours, bright lights hurting my eyes and making them water, blurry vision, headaches, sharp pain behind my eyes, intolerance to intense hot or cold, slurred speech, bad vertigo, short term memory loss and struggle to hold short term memory, intolerance to noise or crowds, couldn't sleep, had weakness on my one side, would fall down when walking for no reason, felt depressed, intense anxiety, my ears would ring - sometimes the ringing was really loud and had nausea. Sometimes even my clothes touching my skin set my nerves off in pain and/or feelings of fever. I would be found standing staring blankly at things, lose little snippets of time, be walking to do something and would stop and forget what I was doing or where I was going. My kids took my car keys and wouldn't let me drive for a time. My daughter would have to go to the store with me as I couldn't punch in my pin or even get organized to find my debit card to pay. She'd do it for me. I would go to speak and sometimes words would not come out. I would repeat the same task over and over again and look at it confused and wonder how it got done. My kids would say, 'you already did it twice mom.' I'd tell them or a friend the same thing over and over and they would say, you already told me that a few times. They grew genuinely concerned and the emotions that came with it was overwhelming. I wondered is this what memory loss disease feels like. I had to quit classes and work and I felt utterly useless. I would find that I'd reach my limit in being around people and would abruptly leave or just say I need to go. It was as though some sort of fright or flight adrenaline had been cranked up in me.





I healed from this alone except for my kids and a couple of close friends. Prior to this time, I had been asked by my then long term boyfriend to be 100% committed. When he found out, he went MIA and wasn't with me in any of this journey. He told me when I got hurt to heal as he had to deal with his ex- father in law for the summer. He kept asking me how my broken nose was healing and I'd tell him I never broke it, it was a concussion. One morning when we were to have lunch together and discuss our future, plans etc, he showed up at 6am. I had just successfully fallen asleep and my bedroom was right near the main door. I could hear him knocking loudly and ringing the doorbell over and over. I struggled to get out of bed, was grabbing the wall to balance myself to get to the door, my ears were ringing so bad from the knocking and doorbell, I couldn't get my eyes to focus so grabbed out old clothes from my 'cleaning house drawer' just to stumble to the door. He opened it and came in and I couldn't find a way to get past the moving and spinning room, swirling colours in my vision, couldn't focus and struggled to stay standing up. I was grumpy and annoyed wondering why it was so early. He had decided to change his entire day on a whim and without notice, showed up. I was a mess and said I was sorry but I needed to pull myself together as I hadn't slept and could we meet still at lunch as planned. I needed that time. He just got very frustrated with me and looked at me as though I was the most unattractive person he'd ever seen. Which in his defense, I probably was. He didn't show up at lunch and I found out weeks later he had been entertaining other women. That is a separate journey but has always made me wonder as him leaving was definitely not because he walked that unpleasant journey with me. He had left me to go it alone.





The weeks that followed, I healed around my kids and a good friend. She was very encouraging and would patiently repeat to me what I had just said or done. I would jump in her truck with her and we'd go see her horses and we'd go see other ones, to make sure I was safe. I walked around with dark sunglasses even on cloudy days or dusk and dawn, as often it was that lighting that was the worst. I had long term memory, just struggled to remember immediately learned or memorized tasks. This made studying impossible and my eyes were so sensitive I could not read as it would all go blurry. To cope I had to eat really clean, learn to fast, eat smaller portions, and I could only handle foods for a 6-8 hour stretch (unknown to me at the time, this is intermittent fasting), take shorter walks and drink lots of water and tea. I spent much of the summer at a ranch and walked and walked the property as it had ponds, bridges, flower gardens, a church to pray in and many horses to pet and love on. The people there were amazing and it was such a healing atmosphere. They knew what had happened, and although they weren't a medical active part of my healing, unknown to them, the patience they had and the efficient way they run things, they were pivotal in my healing. I walked daily in Fish Creek and often I'd need to sit and gather my balance. There was a wonderful older woman who walked daily as well and she'd keep an eye out for me and ask 'is this a good day or "push" day.' I'd tell her which one and she'd walk with me if it was a "push" day. Part of what got me through was my faith, my kids, my close friends, but also my then partner plans we had made. I focused to heal for that. Up until my concussion, I had done many difficult hikes and that summer I was excited to show him so we could move on together to our advanced hikes level. This lady that would meet me in Fish Creek would join me in hill drills and we'd walk, run and repeat over and over at very rigid speeds, terrain to retrain me and get me back up and at it. We would pack snacks and I'd literally push myself until I dropped. I'd break, hydrate and back up and at it. Then I got back out and hiked. Turned out this woman was part of a 50+ hiking group so she was a huge help to me. We will hike in her group this summer as well as another that offers all levels of hikes, which I will do all just to get out often in the week.




I'd drive out to Forgetmenot Pond and walk the path after a hike. It is always so stunning. The reflection in the water is breathtaking. I've gone there for years and often photograph it. This will be a key destination for me this summer as I practice my photography again. My partner and I were to go here when lockdown for Covid was first lifted, May 2020. But it didn't work out. We decided it would be our destination when we were ready to move forward formally with firm plans and living situation, and I spent many a day here in the summer while he was 'tending to his father in law' and would make Pinterest boards on hikes we would take, the picnics we would pack, healthy foods to make sure were packed, I'd send photos I'd taken, practice the photography tips I'd learnt from a photographer friend and I focused on healing and our future. That moment did not come. He went with another woman on a long weekend in the fall instead of us. I at that time - still had no idea this was going on. I was still being told he was busy with his father in law, lots of work and hiking with his work buds. When I found out the truth on Oct 13, 2024, I regressed in my healing and went into a deep depression. My anxiety was through the roof and I couldn't stop crying. This impacted my vision yet again, my sleep patterns, my mental health, my family, and every step forward in my healing was as if there hadn't been any progress. I felt so unattractive, so foolish and so undesirable. I struggled to get out of bed and was physically ill trying to cope. It was a difficult time, and this woman didn't post once or twice, she posted every few days and sometimes almost daily, and I'd have to relive the betrayal each time and try to maintain my healing over again.





There's a saying that my dad use to refer to: 'I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.' I can say after this journey, and my relationship journey, that those who knew or know of your situation and still choose to hurt you privately and publicly, had the intention to do so. Therefore there is no flaw of good intentions - only intentional intent. Since this happened, I have had those closest to what hurt me use this to justify their intentional intent. I have learnt so much on this journey and I did alot of thinking because I had alot of time to think, and I realized that in my own life, there were really good people who were there for me and I treated them badly. I need to be more intentional with reciprocity. I also saw and realized those who used me or got greedy in a situation they heard about, and I let them walk all over me and my family. In these moments I realized why did I let them? And I decided it was time to stand and I am. This accident saved my life in every area and woke me up as to the path I was on. IT motivated me and gave me a sharp focus and discipline I've never known. I am a very different woman now on the other side of this. A better woman, a softer woman, a stronger woman, a fierce woman, my empathy and intuition has greatly increased and I can feel any and all intention oozing off of people and am no longer blind to their ways. I look back at good decisions and see how to make more in the future, and I look back at bad decisions and wonder how was I so broken that I chose that or felt that was the only option and why did I allow people to manipulate me for their own gain. I saw the path through my mountain and wondered why it took so many years to see it. The fog lifted and I was me again. The girl inside the woman I hadn't seen in decades.




How I healed: I was determined not to face this with any sort of denial or negative space and I hiked 2x daily to work on my concussion re-healing, I gave up alcohol, ate green and clean, changed my diet and really dug deep into nutrition and exercise. I had to find a way to push through this and wasn't going to allow myself to spiral. I had amazing friends on this journey and they never gave up on me. I found my voice and my faith in God again. I had immense empathy for people I had hurt and intense justice focus on those who had hurt my family. My focus shifted and I went back to my school and said I need to do this to catch up and move forward. They were pivotal in my bouncing back. I went back to the drawing board of my business and created plans for my debts to implement in 2024 after I relaunched my business to be stable enough to carry the load. I got up early and prayed upon waking, prayed during the day and when I went to sleep. I cried, vented to God and let myself be present in all of the emotions so I could find a way through them to the other side. I got talking at church and school to other women who had had concussions and learnt that I was not alone. I re-invented my look, my image as I had lost over 30 lbs. My thinking was clear and my ability to create and problem solve was returning. My short term memory was strengthening and I was healing. I scheduled a photo shoot for business and pleasure and family and will have my business and family shoots done in April. I wrote a book on my journey and have expanded my business.




This is another photo I took last summer at Forgetmenot Pond. I love it because it has a message: sometimes in life, all we see is what is right in front of us, and we cannot focus on the final result so we stay problem focused. Instead, we need to appreciate the beauty of what is right in front of us, while forging ahead to get to the other side so we can bask in the beauty of reaching our destination. Along the way, will be other beautiful spots where we can rest, take a break and regather our strength. This will always hold a special place in my heart.





I started the 75 hard, and this is the intro into a big task spring, summer, fall and winter for me. I will be doing 24 hard summits for 2024, and completing 52 hikes. I will do additional easy and moderate hikes as cardio, or warm up for the big ones. I will be out in nature practicing photography, around horses to practice staying grounded and photograph them, as this is necessary for me to move the mountains in my own life and build the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual discipline I need to walk the path I now plainly see. I have very big commitments to keep and have re-built my business to achieve these and other goals. I have a one month plan, a 3 month plan, a 6 month plan, a one year plan, a 2 year plan, a 5 year plan and a 10 year plan. As humans we need to live with intention as we are not guaranteed another day. Live life to the full and be spontaneous and adventurous, but also able to sit and enjoy the quiet moments. Not every activity nor every interaction has to be only adrenaline and single task focused. That leads to addiction and inconsistency. Balance is the key to life. When you can find someone who can sit with you in your quiet and be happy, doing nothing, that is a gift and that is love. Someone who chooses you even in the chaos and the mundane, is the right one.





Here are 15 habits I formed and do every single day as part of my healing:


  1. FAITH: Upon waking I read my morning devotions and pray. Only a higher power could get me through this and show me how to heal the best for me.

  2. FAMILY: my family was my rock. I value my close relationship to my kids. My daughter would come help me and my sons would check in and do heavy tasks for me. They'd drive me to appointments and help where needed.

  3. FRIENDS: they were patient and were so understanding when I'd have had enough and needed to go home. They were my tribe and I leaned on them.

  4. HYDRATE & NOURISH: I gave up alcohol completely and drank a gallon of water a day. I would add a pinch of grey salt and trace mineral drops. This added daily nutrients. I would take supplements, vitamins and started intermittent fasting.

  5. GET ORGANIZED: I planned out my meals and would meal prep. I followed the Mediterranean diet and cooked lots of fish and chicken. I eat as organic as I can and have a balanced plate. I would pre-plan my next day outfit and prepare a to do list every night before bed.

  6. GET OUTSIDE: I got outside in nature and replaced any form of TV with walking and hiking. I'd pet horses, halter them and walk them as part of my therapy.

  7. EXERCISE: I did 20,000 walking steps daily and hiked to achieve this. I often doubled that with two hikes a day. I went to the gym daily and lifted weights in addition to increased cardio training.

  8. MENTAL HEALTH: I started counselling and would read 10 pages a day of a self help book and would create memory cards from my school classes to retrain my brain for studying. Counselling allowed me to get my emotions out and process my thoughts and feelings around what I was dealing with. Looking after our mental health is as necessary as eating a healthy diet.

  9. ASMR: I listened to asmr daily as it clamed down my nervous system and I was able to go to sleep which my body really needed. It served to relax me and reset my Parasympathetic nervous system. I knew how important this was from my Psychology courses. It is also cheaper than massage and other relaxation treatments and convenient as you simply sit or lay down at home while you listen.

  10. DETOX / RELAX BATHS: I would sit in a detox bath and let listen to music while my body released all stored toxins. I would add essential oils and would speak life and healing over my mind, body and spirit. The skin is the largest organ of the body and needs our love.

  11. HOME ORGANIZATION: I organized my home and life so everything was ready within seconds. It streamlined my time management very effectively and I felt put together.

  12. JOURNAL: Journaling was key for me. I'd make spreadsheets for everything and log so my family would know exactly where everything was at and I wouldn't forget anything.

  13. SAFE SPACE: my safe space was my family, friends and animals. It is so healing and therapeutic to be around animals as they are programmed to be in the present moment.

  14. GRATITUDE: Be grateful for what you have. Practice gratitude everyday. It will reboot your daily mindset and assist you in attracting good things to you.

  15. 4AM CLUB: Get up early and get it done. I get up at 4am so I have time to breathe, be alone to start my day and I am more productive and can get an early start on my day. I sleep better and am in bed after a wonderful cup of Chamomile tea.


If you have experienced or are on a post concussion journey, go to www.jgroupofcompanies.com and keep an eye out for an upcoming launch that will host videos, podcasts, recipes and tips from experts on how to survive and thrive after concussion or trauma.


Go have an amazing day and Be Blessed!



Junella




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