Ellison is a TBI patient, working hard and hoping for a full recovery while hoping to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury and PCS.
Aside from blogging every day, I have a journal where I keep track of the foods I eat, the workouts and exercises that I did that day, as well as the recap of my symptoms for the day.
Keeping track of what I eat helps me make sure that I'm eating as healthily as possible. Keeping track of my workouts is good for me because I can look back and see how much progress I have made over time. Since decreased mobility and balance are two of the main symptoms I'm still working very hard to overcome, I even note activities like walking my dog or simply walking around in a store—that's all exercise to me since I'm practice walking and keeping my balance.
In addition to tracking my progress, journaling helps me figure out what my limitations are. If I maybe overdid something and worsened my symptoms, I can look back on paper and see why. I most certainly wouldn't remember these things, so it is helpful that I write it down. When I'm having a bad day, I can look back a few months ago and read what I did and how I felt. It helps me keep things in perspective.
I use the SELF journal by BestSelf. It's unique in that it helps you set goals and breaks them down into smaller, more achievable tasks. This helped me be more aware of what areas I was doing well in and what areas I could improve on. It also has a section at the start and end of each day to write down things you're grateful for. This helps you stay positive during your rehabilitation. It's certainly helped me.
Keep a Calendar for Appointments
Keeping a calendar exclusively for doctors appointments is a big help. If you are like me, you have a team of doctors and lots of appointments. It is easier for me to keep track of them on a calendar that doesn't have anything else on it. To me, it's less confusing, and when you are recovering from TBI, anything that helps simplify life is a good thing!
Speaking of Doctors Appointments
I could write a whole separate article about how to get the most out of your appointments, but to touch on it quickly, before my appointments, I always write down my current medications. I also jot down any questions that I want to get answered by the doctor. Oftentimes, I can't remember everything I want addressed when I'm put on the spot, so having it written down helps my doctors appointments be more productive.
Getting Out of My Pajamas Everyday
I know this sounds ridiculous to some. If you are rehabilitating from TBI or going through PCS, you know how bad you feel some days. On those days, it's really easy to just stay in my pajamas all day. But even if I don't have any doctors appointments or physical therapy sessions that day, after breakfast, I get dressed. It just makes me feel like a "normal" person. Even though I'm still struggling in a lot of ways, it is a form of personal victory to get up and dressed every day—to be prepared to go out and brave the outside world, even if I don't have plans to go anywhere.
Focus on Just a Few Things Each Day
Part of my personal struggles with TBI is that I have not yet conquered the headache and migraines. I also still get tired and run out of energy really easily. To keep from being overwhelmed, I try and pick a few specific things that I'm going to be determined to do that day. I write them down, then scratch them off when they're done. Anything else that I do that day, I also write down. It makes me feel good to see I have accomplished what I had wanted to and maybe even a little extra.
Giving myself small tasks to do each day is another thing that makes me feel better because I feel like I'm accomplishing something besides focusing on my recovery, which it seems like I'm always doing. I'm helping my recovery by doing small things that help me feel like I'm participating in my "normal" everyday life, not just sitting around being a patient all the time.
When I had my accident on March 13, I was in such bad shape that I only went outside to go to the doctors and physical therapy. Now that I can be mobile with my walker, getting outside in the fresh air everyday is another thing that makes me feel like I'm participating in "normal" everyday life.
I recently added a little tiny dog to my dog family, and she has become my motivation to get out and walk around a bit. She is very mannerly on the leash, and by committing to her daily walks, I'm also committing to building my endurance.
Fresh air and sunshine always make you feel better—if not physically, then mentally or spiritually. I would recommend spending some time out on the front porch or in the yard. If you aren't an outdoor person, you don't have to stay out for hours or anything; just a little while should help.
Don't Isolate Yourself
It is easy when you don't feel well and are struggling mentally and physically to just want to isolate yourself. Sometimes, it feels easier just to stay in than to venture out in public, where people don't understand what you are going through.
In small doses, try and push yourself not to isolate yourself. You aren't going to be able to get family and friends to understand what you are going through. That doesn't mean they don't care and don't want to spend time with you. Try to have a friend over, or visit family every so often. Even just calling and talking to a friend on the phone will make you feel less isolated.
I learned the hard way that the longer you isolate yourself when you are rehabilitating, the harder it is going to be to get back out there interacting with people. I'm not super social, to begin with, so I learned this lesson the hard way.
Set Aside Some Time for Yourself
Each day, make sure you set aside time for self-care, and I don't mean just showering and brushing your hair. I mean set out time to do something that you love and that will make you feel good, whatever that may be. Crafts, writing, watching TV, meditating, listening to music, reading a book, anything you love is fine!
We spend so much time struggling through our recovery that we need to remember that we still need to live life and set aside time for ourselves. It will help you "recharge your batteries," and if you are anything like me, your batteries run out fast!
What Do You Do to Help Your Rehab?
I'm sure we all are getting through our TBIs differently. Everyone's injury is different and everyone's symptoms are different. These are just a few things that helped me and hopefully can help someone else. I would also love to hear anyone else's ideas!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.