by Amy Zellmer, Editor-in-chief
Spring is such a beautiful time of year, and a reminder that what once was dormant and ugly is now blooming and bright!
Recovery from brain injury can feel a bit like the changing of the seasons . . . one minute you feel like you’re in the darkness of winter, and the next you feel like a bright, sunny summer day There isn’t always a rhyme or reason for this drastic change of season; it’s just how life is with a brain injury.
This issue is particularly important to me. Dizziness is one of the most common symptoms I hear from survivors in my group . . . as well as individuals who aren’t sure they’ve ever had a brain injury, but struggle with bouts of dizziness.
Dizziness can be completely debilitating. After my injury, I constantly felt like the world was moving and swaying around me. I never felt stable on my feet, and I didn’t trust my depth perception — I constantly ran into doorjambs or corners of tables (I still have the bruises to prove it).
I told every doctor I saw that I felt my dizziness was coming from my eyes. As a lifelong photographer I was unusually tuned-in to my vision and knew something was “off” with my eyes, but couldn’t quite put it into words. Doctors would listen and quickly dismiss me, saying, “Oh, that isn’t really possible.”
Little did I know that I was actually on the right track and that traditional doctors genuinely don’t have a firm grasp on all that a brain injury entails. When your vestibular system isn’t working properly, and your eyes aren’t tracking together, your body is constantly trying to figure out where it is in space — is it upright or falling over!?!?
I was fortunate to stumble upon Functional Neurology, after two-and-a-half years of struggling with trying to get traditional doctors to listen to me — and believe me. Rather than take anti-depressants, I wanted to get to the root cause of my dizziness.
Functional Neurology truly saved my life; I was at the end of my rope. I didn’t know how much longer I could tolerate feeling the way I had been, especially since no doctor seemed to understand or believe me. Dr. Jeremy Schmoe took one look at me and validated everything I had been saying . . . my eyes weren’t tracking together and that was exactly what was causing my constant dizziness.
Through a course of exercises over a period of two or three weeks, I was finally catching a glimpse of the old me — the me that had been withering away for two-and-a-half years, the me that had given up hope on ever feeling normal again, the me that knew the medical system needed to take note and listen . . . not just hear, but listen. I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel, and knew that I was in good hands.
It’s important that we listen to our bodies — they will tell us everything we need to know. It’s also important to understand that traditional doctors don’t necessarily know everything about everything. Many receive less than an hour of training on brain injury, so can we really fault them for not understanding such a complicated condition? It’s critical that you look outside the traditional box and seek out alternative healthcare providers who truly do understand brain injuries and how to help you get better. There is always hope . . . no matter how far out from your injury you may be.
Amy Zellmer is an award winning author, keynote speaker, and TBI survivor and advocate. She is Editor-in-chief of The Brain Health Magazine, and hosts the Faces of TBI podcast series, as well as TBI TV on YouTube.