by Amy Zellmer, Editor-in-chief
March is my favorite month of the year. Not only is it Brain Injury Awareness Month, it is also my birthday month.
When I fell in February 2014, my 40th birthday was just a few weeks away. I had to cancel my birthday party due to my injuries and, as crazy as it sounds, I still don’t feel like I’m in my 40s. The entire first year of my recovery is a bit of a blur, with a lot of missing information that I still haven’t recovered, so when I actually turned 40 it’s like my brain didn’t even register it.
Don’t confuse this with not wanting to admit I’m 40, it’s literally like that year was erased from my consciousness and never returned . . . I’m sure many of you reading this will understand.
Fortunately, my memory and cognition, as well as my dizziness and headaches, have greatly improved over the years with the right treatment. However, I fell down the stairs a few months ago and jarred my neck and my headaches flared again. While I didn’t hit my head (and we all know you don’t have to hit your head to sustain a concussion) I did notice my aphasia and cognitive delay creep back in on top of the headaches.
Headaches can often be debilitating. Mine will last an entire day or two if I am not able to get on top of them before they flare. Mine typically come from an incredibly tight neck, so I usually have warning when it is starting to tighten up. I am lucky that I now have the tools I need and can pull them out when I have a recurrence. I try to pull out my yoga poses to release the neck, and follow that with ice (ice is your friend, people!) and peppermint essential oils. I also use a topical gel, ProloGel that penetrates deep to relieve nerve pain, and OptiMag Neuro, a fantastic magnesium supplement. Magnesium is known to help with headaches as well as muscle tension.
This issue of the magazine on headaches is deeply personal. I have struggled with headaches my entire life, which were compounded after my brain injury. As I said earlier, they can be completely debilitating. Fortunately, there are doctors who understand the root causes of most headaches and how to treat them more holistically, non-invasively, and without pharmaceuticals.
Medications can work for some patients but trying a more natural route that doesn’t involve pumping chemicals into my still-healing brain is always going to be my first choice. A neurologist originally suggested Botox injections for my neck to relieve the tightness but I wanted to solve the root issue, not just put a Band-Aid on it.
I am fortunate to have found Functional Neurology. After struggling with headaches, Dr. Schmoe was able to help relieve them, as well as decrease their frequency. Through the use of ArpWave, laser therapy, manual muscle work, clavicle adjustments, vestibular rehab, and eye exercises, my headaches lessened significantly.
I truly hope you are enjoying the magazine, and wish you all a fabulous Brain Injury Awareness Month!
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.