Sunday, June 12, 2011

6 Months On

Looking back it seems like a long time ago since my accident and 6 months has flown, though at the time the month I spent in rehab felt like a month! Don’t get me wrong the time didn’t drag but I had a lot of time to think and I guess being so focused on getting better and what needed improving made the time move slower.  My memory has conveniently forgotten the hard times, but I still remember thinking I never want to feel like this again and have to go through a similar situation.

I’ve come along way since feeling constantly tired, grumpy and the sensation of having a permanent haze slowing my brain from digesting and acting upon any information. At this moment, I feel fantastic. I’m definitely recapturing the old me and my previous personality. I’m surprised that my personality has taken the longest to heal and I still think I have a way to go. Every time I’ve made big improvements I remember thinking, I’m nearly there. Funnily enough 6 months on and I’m still thinking the same, all I say is long may the improvements keep coming.

It didn’t take me long to until I was living what I would call a ‘normal life’. With in 3 months of the accident I was back to full time work, regularly working out at the gym and being able to comfortably fit things in like food shopping. After about 5 months I finally let go of my afternoon rest. To start with it was hard work but I knew I didn’t really need it and my body was getting addicted to the rests. I could have stopped the whole rest saga after 4 months but I stupidly reintroduced it as I was having a bad week. Never mind, we live and learn.

Since leaving New Zealand and returning home to my family, I’ve made huge improvements. I think it’s because I’ve been able to relax and not worry about commitments like work or fitting things in. My fatigue has totally cleared up and I can now stay out clubbing until the early hours of the morning. It is a little weird not drinking but I’m getting used to it and actually quite enjoy it. You pick up on a whole lot more being sober, especially female attention :) Initially I used to feel a little self conscious when dancing and struggled to let my self go but to be honest dancing was never my strong point. Fortunately, each time I go out, letting go and relaxing gets easier and easier and it won’t be long until I even notice a difference.

I’ve also decided to take up mountain biking again. Initially I wouldn’t entertain the idea as like I’ve said I never want to go through the situation again and wasn’t prepared to do anything that increased the chances of me having another brain injury in the 2 year recovery period. Riding again has been a bonus and it’s forced my brain to improve how it deals with processing at speed. I no longer ride like the maniac I used to, racing everyone and pulling out all the stops to win or doing things that people said I couldn’t. Now I just ride for the social side and plod along with in my limits. I am getting quicker down hill but I’m well within my comfort zone.  One day riding home from my mates on the path I fell off and it shock me up big time. I wasn’t confident bumping up an angled curb so slammed my brakes on, but hit the curb before I stopped, washing out my front wheel. Initially my pride was all that was hurt; I felt an idiot and quickly got back on my bike. Shortly after picking myself up the adrenaline wore off, my arms and legs turned to jelly and the crash started playing on my mind. I did however get to see how your body does a great job of protecting the head.

Another thing I’ve done that may not seem the most sensible thing, is occasional labouring for my Dad. He owns a felt roofing company so I’m up and down the ladder with 40kg rolls of felt on my shoulder or hot cans of bitumen in my hand. At first my footing was a little shaky but each trip up the ladder and every day I worked the job got easier and my balance steadier. The work hit me hard though, and after the first two days I was in bed by 8:30. I honestly can’t remember ever feeling so tired after a day of doing something, I was wiped out.  The one thing I’ve learnt from this recovery process is you have to keep pushing yourself and it’s surprising how quickly the body improves. If I didn’t work with Dad or ride my bike again my brain wouldn’t have been forced to deal with the new situations and the improvements wouldn’t have been made.

Well that’s all my news and the last I will write on the subject. Hopefully my recovery will keep going from strength to strength and the plan is to return stronger than I was before my accident. I’ve got no doubt that will happen.

If anyone is reading this blog after a recent brain injury or knows someone who’s had one, you do improve and things do get better. You may not believe me when everything is a struggle and the recovery seems like a long rocky road but it’ll happen. The advice I would give is stay positive, know you will recover and constantly push yourself. You’re the only one who knows how you’re feeling so trust your judgement, if you’re happy you can move to the next level do it.    


  1. Glad you're doing so well Matt! It is great reading your blog and if you don't mind I will pass it on to a client I have at the moment who is struggling to come to terms with the change in their life! It is good to see that the fog clears one day and that life does get back to normal...albeit with a little twist! Stay in touch ....Ann ( your old physio) PS: glad you stayed of the good old alco...and glad it has a positive side to it too... I may use that as an incentive with the clients.

  2. Hey Ann, of course I don't mind if you pass it on and I will stay in touch.