Editorial Note* the following is meant to provide some helpful advice to those whom parent or caretake a child who is likely- or slightly likely- at risk for incidents or collisions involving contact to the head. This might include soccer; hockey; martial arts, football, BMX, etc. It is not by any means a replacement for emergency medical services- especially in cases with a) an open head wound or skull fracture b) differing sized pupils c) leakage from the eyes or ears or d) extended period of unconsciousness or altered state spanning more than ten seconds or so. Even then, some of these items would be good to keep at home and I highly recommend using them post emergency room visit. Western medicine is rarely apt to endorse functional medicine or its precepts. That said, these are proven in strength as a methodology that makes a world of difference in the critical post-concussion.
Biology is fascinating. I can think of a number of biological responses our body carries out that happen autonomically out of our control that appear to be trying to help, methodically, but aren’t doing so. Going into ‘shock’ would be one example- inflammation, another. When I was a kid and I was bitten by a mosquito or an ant, I always thought the ensuing large red bump was the venom itself. Untrue, of course. What I did not know is the swelling I was seeing is the body ganging up on itself- almost “over-responding” if you will.
Inflammation in the immediate aftermath of a head injury is the enemy; and in this case, time is not on your side.
In this case though, we aren’t talking about a rolled ankle or tender shoulder; we are talking a ‘boil over’ in epicenter of our of the very organ that makes life as we know it, possible. Damaged blood vessels, a reduction in cellular energy, oxidization (‘rust’) and inflammation begin almost immediately: killing millions of neurons and brain cells from the moment of impact, becoming the basis from which symptoms will form later. Think brain fog, emotional issues, memory problems, headaches. dissociation. Here are some aides to keep on hand to help prevent that, or to follow through with should this occur. Most are available through higher end health related grocers, or online suppliers. Ask around to ensure quality, all nutraceuticals those who manufacture them are not the same.
If I saw someone took what appeared to be a mild to moderate hit to the head where neck injury was not suspected, I’d want to ask them a few questions: Do they know who they are? Where they are? What day is it? Provided they are not needing ambulatory care, I would next do the following:
I would draw an imaginary line from bridge of their nose, extending about two feet out. I would hold one index finger eight inches from their face. Again, following that exact same imaginary line, I’d hold the other finger about twenty inches from their face. I would then ask them to focus on the fist finger tip (eight inches away) and stare at it for five seconds without going into blurred or double vision; then focus on the second finger tip (twenty inches away) same thing. Do not let the vision ‘split’ or blur. Then switch back. Try this on yourself, it is a bit like operating a camera zoom: focus near, then further, then near, then further, remaining in focus. IF they have a concussion, this will be intolerable almost immediately due to the effect on ocular motor systems affected after a head injury. If they wince or squint or show any discomfort, it is safe to assume they have been concussed or sustained an mTBI (mild brain injury)
Glutathione cream in a non-prescription cream to reduce oxidative stress- normally used for clear skin. In a published study, rats and mice with induced head injury were found to have a 67% decrease in a what has been called a ‘cascading cell death’ immediately following injury. Even hours later, it is still fifty percent more effective than using nothing at all. This should be applied right away (ie. on the field of play) to the temples and neck area, and this will reduce oxidative stress.
Also, to be kept on hand:
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) roughly eight 500 mg cap or soft gels. Estimated for a 175 pound person. For a smaller child, reduce by half.
2 Vitamin C (1000 mg)
2 Vitamin D (5000 mg)
1 Tablespoon MCT Oil/1 Tablespoon BCAA powder.
All of these, interwoven and taken daily and immediately following the aftermath of the collision should reduce inflammation and the harmful effects in significant fashion. If Irlen Syndrome begins to occur (sensitivity to light, floating letters and numbers on book pages…often coupled with nausea) some colored glasses often do wonders. Think those old John Lennon style- they may be pink, blue or green. Different colors work better for different people.
To aid and assist with reduction in inflammation, something closely resembling keto if not keto itself is highly recommended: no processed food, no sugar, no white bread, high starches or sodas. Think lean meats: turkey, chicken and non-friend fish, and above ground vegetables. If you have children that hate greens, maybe try this: take two fistfuls of spinach and half an avocado, place in a blender with some Mio water enhancer- I use grape. The result will be a sweet, tangy green smoothie with nutrients in abundance. Blackberries, blueberries and lots of differing nuts (sans peanuts or anything coated) will also prove to be beneficial. Remember: we are in a time sensitive battle to prevent things from getting worse. This could save your loved one years of long-suffering.
Lastly, rest, and quiet are good mechanisms for any recovery- this is no exception. Classical music has been shown in Scandinavian countries to be a tremendous aid (NMT) in the aftermath of auto accidents, maybe some played through headphones or in the background would not hurt.
Thanks for reading!
Alcoholism can be a strange thing to try to define. And not for lack of trying to put it in boxes: we have pamphlets and brochures galore in doctors offices that offer a quick five minute diagnosis. Many start with the simple question “Have you ever…?” and go on from there- illuminating the simple idea that what someone may see as normal in regards to their own behavior might actually be the markings of a life unraveled. And of course in our Psychiatric world and correlating DSM- we love labels. Anymore we love re-labeling things when we decided that the original phrasing was too biting.
And yet, there are features to a life dependent on alcohol or chemical assistance that elude us. This short blog is an attempt to capture just one of them.
“Perhaps your husband has been living in that strange world of alcoholism where everything is distorted and exaggerated.” Big Book pg. 108
One of the punctuating features of my early adulthood well into adult hood is things that happened to me, or inside me often fell wildly out of context in the world I lived in. I made extraordinarily big deals out of any slight, minor disappointment, or inconvenience. Often, of course, followed by a medicinal bout of self destructive drug abuse… coupled with distilled spirits and all the trouble that used to bring. Often this was the beginning of a spree that left the original causality of it in an old dust cloud of new problems- legal, emotional and otherwise. I’d get a bee in my bonnet sometimes and have myself a rough ride, taking the family along with. Oh how they worried back then. One thing I remember- just barely- is marching down the court house convinced I was going to change my last name to take revenge on a family that had done nothing but try to love and support me. But I was like that: overly emotional with a hair trigger that led to nothing but grief.
And that is just how it was. Except for the other times when a tidal wave of catastrophe was met with a nonchalance more befitting of a lost button on a coat, perhaps.
“How can such a lack of proportion or the ability to think straight be called anything else?” pg. 37 Big Book
When I was twenty five, I shared a home with several other alcoholics. The lease had been transferred into my name as it were, with the previous lease holder having moved on to other findings.
We hadn’t paid rent in three months, the landlord was furious.
When one of the roommates asked me about, I shrugged it off: Yeah. It’s fine, I think…not that big of a deal. I’m not going to worry about it.
Which was met with a challenging rebuke on his part: Maybe you should worry about it. And he was right. The landlord had kept his promise: changing the locks in the middle of a workday and posting an eviction notice neatly on the front door. I lost a lot, that day. Music equipment. Expensive scuba diving equipment my parents had bought me for a career plan to become a diving guide that would never materialize. Thousand of dollars, down the drain. And not for the first time, nor would it be the last.
Most of the families I work with- they just don’t know what to make of it, much like my own mother didn’t. When I finally got honest about my drinking and drug abuse at nineteen, she had seemed relieved: she had begun to conclude something was terribly wrong with me. Turns out, we both were right.
The gift of recovery- well, one of them, has been to see the world as it actually is. Most of the time. And often, to see the world through an empathic lens of the way others had seen it- especially as pertains to the past. Sometimes we can change more in a few months that decades of trying to work it out ourselves. But it always starts with getting help, and having an honest conversation around that help.
If you or someone you love suffers from addiction or is in mental health crisis, please reach out to Labor of Love. #alcoholusedisorder #addiction #intervention #familysystems #alcoholism
I am thirty-six years separated from my last head injury, so as a matter of technically speaking, I am under nobody’s “care”.
Except my Own. And that, reader, is a great deal of responsibility. On the days when I don’t want “it” enough for me, I hope and strive to want it enough for you, because working with TBI is my gig, and if I am to ask you to push yourself, it seems reasonable that I am willing to do the same.
Backing up though, I didn’t start on this path motivated, I did not start out on a path of wellness, well. Quite the opposite. To quote a friend,
“I didn’t come here walking towards the light, I came here running from the fire..”
And by that, I mean the active state of addiction from which the symptoms of my TBI were both hopelessly masked and intertwined.
And so, (nineteen years ago) as desperate as the dying can be, I asked whatever Power was out there for the gift of a fresh start; soon, I was presented with a wonderful teacher and a set of instructions to follow. Those instructions came in the form of a blue book, one-hundred-and-sixty-four pages in length, which I studied and applied for a number of months until the change I sought came out.. It is a program I still follow today. A line I read very early on in that book, had this to say:
‘They are (over remorseful) and make many resolutions, but never a decision”
Like almost every other salient point in the program of recovery, I was given a thorough probing on what that meant, what it meant to me, how it spoke to me. You could probably guess (if you know many people who are just clearing out from under twenty years worth of chemical fog) none of it really meant anything. But that is why I needed help. Those first few months in the “big book” were akin to learning to read braille, but in this case is it was looking for personal context- giving flesh and bones to the narrative of recovery. Taking the story of the founding members and working through their shared experience until their experience was to become my own.
I remember that line, specifically though, and how it spoke to me. We alcoholics make many resolutions, but never a decision. Resolutions are typically very one dimensional: I will not to that. That being the one thing, the only thing with a dimension in that equation. But decisions are different. Decisions involves two things or more- that is what makes them a decision; like a Kia or a Toyota- that is a decision. But more to the point, a decision involves a second principle, I dare say.. a higher principle. A dear friend of mine sometimes says to be for something holds more water than to be against something– and that is what this is about. Growing is not about what you wish you wouldn’t do anymore, it is about your intentions to do different starting tomorrow, or better yet: starting today.
My passion these days is recovery, but also education. On everything from sunlight to the microbiome, how certain actions affect human beings on a neurological level, and helping people make small changes that over a period of time culminate in huge shifts. I write my own treatment plan these days: things that I know to be good for me, that would recommend the people I work work strive to do. Something that binds me to a principle called wellness, that hell or highwater, I commit to.
So, in the spirit of walking alongside those I coach, here are my commitments to you, to them, but also mostly to myself. These are my current commitments though winter and spring, as part of my continued cognitive healing process:
Milligrams of Aricept for memory loss.
1 teaspoon of Alaskan Cod Liver Oil
750 milligrams of GABA Supplement for Anxiety
2 Capsules of Theanine/Bacopa “Brain Awake” supplement daily
Ten minutes of Wordle a day (fantastic cognitive intervention)
150 flashcards of phrases in French by June (linguistics- also great for TBI repair)
15 Minutes of natural sunlight a day. (I work indoors, so a needed commitment)
3 liters of H20 everyday
Ten servings of fish per week, fifteen fruits and vegetables in any amount per day.
Reduce wheat/sugar/processed foods to zero by March (all inflammatory foods, all create brainfog and memory loss in me)
Continue with alternating Neurofeedback and C-Rod 3 times per week.
Get my Heartrate (Heartbeats per minute) up to 170 BPM x 2 each week, holding for one minute each time.
Anyway, this is published (and now public) commitment to good health.