Update: It was Definitely a Concussion

…which has made this a very weird week in Grace-land. (See Friday’s Post for context.) Of course I tried going to work on Saturday, the very next day, with a warning to manager and supervisor (both friends) that I was on concussion-watch but I thought I was okay. And I was okay! Until suddenly I wasn’t. The first warning sign is nausea in the back of the throat, at which point I can make it through a few more customers before I get real dizzy and have to go sit down. The first time it settled after a few minutes, and I was able to work a few more hours (a fixed heater and the sudden addition of WARM AIR blasting over the previously-freezing cashier area helped immensely) but then the same thing happened a little over an hour before I was due to leave. I clocked out immediately, but this time it took a while to settle. I had planned to take the bus home, slowly realized that wouldn’t be happening, and then I couldn’t even cope with the concept of ubering for about half an hour. Finally one of the upper managers was leaving and had a car nearby, and offered to swing back by the shop and give me a ride home. Where, thanks to pushing it all day, it took a while for me to feel better. This was probably my lowest moment all week. I had a pretty bad pressure headache, and I was very hungry, and another thing about concussions is you tend to get over emotional (that morning, while nursing a headache on a milk-crate in the hallway leading to the walk-in cooler, my manager asked if I was okay and I gave him a big thumbs-up but also started crying). So I was in my apartment trying to stand up to make some french fries, realized as I was getting the package out of the freezer that I couldn’t stand up to make the french fries, and then started crying because I was really sad and frustrated that I couldn’t stand up to make the french fries.

This is the type of moment where it feels especially hard to be single. It’s embarrassing to be a grown adult who can’t stand up to make french fries, and I wished I had a designated person, someone with a vested interest in my well-being and someone who has seen me in embarrassing situations before, who could make the french fries and assure my rattled brain it was going to be okay. I was seeing someone last spring while under strict orders from my physical therapist to ice my knee after every run, and one night after running and hitting the grocery store we were in the kitchen and suddenly that person was chopping and frying everything for dinner and just handling it, without me having to ask, and it was such a relief to realize I could sit down and ice my knee and not have to worry about it thanks to that other person.

What I did Saturday, though, was swallow my pride and text some nearby friends who had checked in with me after reading my blog post on Friday, one of whom is an EMT. Within an hour they were at my house with tylenol and a few slices of Otto’s (the local gourmet pizza). By then the worst of the headache was clearing up and I felt a lot less alone, but followed my friends’ urging to call out of work the following day. And I hate that, I hate calling out of work, but there are times when you just can’t tough it out despite your best intentions. I still wanted to get home (1 1/4 hrs away) for my mom’s birthday party on Sunday, and was considering driving despite my friends’ instructions not to, but it turned out two other friends were also going to my mom’s party and were able to give me a ride! I though getting a ride was mostly a precaution, but just getting my stuff together to be away for the evening pushed me into the headache zone, and when my friends arrived I had to ask them to come upstairs to help me carry my things and take the compost out. It sucks to already be carsick before getting in the car. But then it was so lovely to be home with family, cake, and home-cooked meals. The next day there was macaroni and cheese, and nothing beats home-cooked macaroni and cheese for comfort food. Of course I am a little nervous about how much I am eating without any of my usual physical activity—but there will be plenty of time when I am feeling better to get back on the road and back to the gym.

My parents gave me a ride home to Portland yesterday (Tuesday). On the way we made a grocery list (my mom wrote it down because once again I was carsick way before actually getting in the car), and…well, it doesn’t feel great to be a grown adult waiting in the car with a headache while your parents do your grocery shopping. But it did feel amazing to get home to my apartment as the headache was lifting and know that I had a bunch of yummy easy-to-make meal options. And my apartment was certainly a bit of a mess, but thanks to all the work I’ve been doing lately to keep on top of things it wasn’t the worst mess it could possibly be, and I felt really peaceful to be back and cozy in my nice space that I like.

Concussions suck! Don’t get one! I’m missing things this week that I don’t want to miss, and I’m getting behind in my training when I’d rather be getting stronger. But having to rely on your village makes you realize how strong your village is, and I am VERY GRATEFUL for friends who looked out for me at work, and brought me food when I needed food, gave me rides and helped me carry things while I was at my most pathetic, for parents looking after me and feeding me, and for everyone else who texted or messaged or commented to wish me well or ask how I was doing. Y’all are the best and I’m very very lucky to have you in my life. I am definitely improving and hope to resume some of my normal activities within the next day or two or three, so see you soon. 🙂

Ice, Or, The Story of Why I Didn’t Run Today

As it became clear today that I would not be completing a long run this afternoon, I told myself I would do a blog update as a consolation prize. Why did I not complete a long run this afternoon? WELL LET ME TELL YOU!

Falling on ice is a pretty common occurrence during a Maine Winter, but it all felt fairly dramatic while it was happening. (Mom you can stop reading now I’m fine!) I got a nice early start to the day, did some laundry and tidying up, had all my things together to leave the house and run some errands, was feeling really great. I went down the rear interior staircase from my 2nd floor apartment, opened the outside door, stepped out onto the three exterior steps leading from the door to the driveway…and immediately went down. There had been a drip of water from the roof onto the steps; the ice was wet and perfectly smooth. Zero traction. I’ve never had problems on these steps before and it wasn’t sleeting or anything, so I didn’t think to be careful. Just step and gone, keys and purse and my new vacuum-insulated tumbler flying out of my hands. I landed HARD on my right hip/buttock and my right elbow, and it HURT. I had to lie there on the steps a minute, whimpering slightly, in enough pain to wonder who I could call for help who wasn’t at work at 10:30 am on a Friday. I don’t remember hitting my head; it all happened very quickly and the largest amounts of pain were focused in the hip and elbow areas. When I eventually stood up, however, I found that I needed to crouch back down almost immediately and put my head between my knees like you’re supposed to do if you’re worried you might faint. It felt PRETTY SILLY to be crouched in pain at the bottom of the side steps next to the driveway, though, so with EXTREME CAUTION I eventually made it back up the three outside steps and through the door to the carpeted entry way. Where I felt very nauseous and once again had to sit down, low to the floor, and keep my head very still. In addition to the nausea, some of the arm muscles I was using to support myself were acting all shaky and not behaving precisely as told. But sitting in the shared entryway still felt silly, so after gathering my resolve I got up, shook the container of ice melt LIBERALLY over the offending outdoor steps, and made my way back up the indoor flight of stairs to my second floor apartment. I headed straight to the couch, and balance/walking was pretty tricky for a minute there. I saw the proverbial stars, which in actuality appeared as kind of a moving diamond pattern overlaying my vision. I was also overheating at this point, and struggled to remove hat/scarf/jacket while also lying down and ceasing movement as quickly possible.

And… within a very short amount of time the room stopped spinning and I was able to sit up, and felt fairly normal aside from general shakiness and bruises.

I figure I must have hit my head, although there still isn’t a bruise or specific place on my head that hurts. Once walking felt okay again I went to the bathroom mirror and checked for dilated pupils, and they looked fine. I also never lost consciousness, and I think those two things are some of the signs of a really bad concussion. After giving myself a good few minutes to make sure I stayed feeling fine, I decided to go about my day but take it with a grain of salt. When I stopped by the donut shop to pick up my tips I went for a mocha with whipped cream instead of my usual plain coffee—icy falls call for treat drinks! And I went to the bank and did all the out-and-about things I’d been planning on, feeling fine and capable but just a little sluggish and off. I decided my body would probably be better served if I replaced “doing a long run” with “resting on the couch” this afternoon/evening, and by the last errand on my list I was starting to get a tinge of a back-of-the-head, nauseous kind of headache. So I went home. And I feel okay, but also like “resting on the couch” is a good thing to be doing. And that’s my story!

I’m mad about the miles I’m missing. Due to scheduling conflicts I won’t be able to get a long run in on Sunday, and I’m not going to run tomorrow unless I really feel up to it. I don’t want to mess around with a possible concussion, even a mild one, and getting through work may be quite enough for the day. This might leave me with as few as 10 miles for the week , which is frustrating when I’m shooting for 20 at a minimum and would rather be in the 27-30 range (somehow I couldn’t fit in any extra mileage on top of the pub runs this Wednesday and Thursday either). But one thing I learned after an injury last spring is that sometimes rest is just what you need, so I’m trying not to stress about it. I’ll just try not to look at my Strava mileage for the week (Strava is the run app I use) and hopefully I can make up for it next week. I did a pretty hard workout at my circuit class yesterday and I’ve been leveling up on some of the weights, so it hasn’t exactly been an easy week and it might be an okay time to take a break. Either way it can’t be helped. And at least I hurt myself while walking, in winter boots and street clothes, and can still claim to be pretty darn good at running on ice.

Stay safe out there, and be careful on steps!