Struggling with a Setback

toni.miil69 Blog

After a year and six months with a concussion, I know what setbacks feel like. They come from staying up too late, concentrating for too long, going to too many stores in one day, and watching too much TV. I have had small setbacks over the course of eighteen months, mostly because I wasn’t listening to my body. At the end of April 2013, I suffered from yet another setback, but this time it was caused by my physical therapist.

         I had started going to physical therapy a few months prior to the setback in order to relieve some of the pain in my neck, since I suffered from a whiplash injury when I originally fell during my soccer game. During one of my appointments in mid-April, my physical therapist stretched and massaged my neck, just as he had at all of my other appointments. I did not feel anything different in my neck, nor was it more painful than any other time. However, when I was told to sit up at the end of the appointment, I struggled. I was extremely dizzy, disoriented, and when I tried to walk around, I walked into the table. My headaches drastically increased, as well as my light sensitivity in the brightly lit room. I got back on the table and drank a glass of water, then laid still on the table for an extra forty-five minutes until I was able to support myself well enough to walk to the car to go home.

         I was frustrated. Someone who intended to help me had hurt me. How could I trust another person to treat me again? I figured this small setback would last only a few hours, and I would be able to attend school the next day. I am a conscientious and hard working student, so I was nervous about possibly missing review sessions for my four tests that week. I was also really hoping to attend the school talent show that week, which I had to miss the previous year, due to my concussion. As the evening wore on, this began to feel like the beginning of my injury all over again. My mom had to email my teachers and explain to them that I was having a setback, and that we did not know when I would be back in school. I could not tolerate any light, so I could not look at the computer screen to type the email myself. Thankfully, we discovered that night, after an emergency visit to my chiropractic neurologist, that my cognitive function had not been disturbed. I was thinking clearly, my memory was fine, and I could concentrate. However, I was fatigued, light/noise sensitive, and had so many more headaches. I was definitely having a severe setback.

         We were nervous as to how I would come out of this. We went to my chiropractor six times that week to have different tests and adjustments done, all of which helped. I rested, had a few visitors, and by the end of the two week time frame that I was out of school, I was able to read, write a paper, and do some other homework so that I was not too far behind when I returned. This was a difficult time because I had made so much progress in over a year and a half of recovering, yet the progress was disturbed. My symptoms were more painful and extreme during these two weeks and we did not know if they were going to improve again and be back to the way  they were. It was very discouraging, not to mention, scary. Thankfully, my chiropractor was able to fix my neck back to the state that it was in before the setback, and my headaches returned back to the way they were before I went to the physical therapist that fateful day in April.

         This setback has taught me that not every treatment works for everyone, and the treatments themselves can have a lifespan. It was also a test of my patience, my attitude, and my perseverance. All of these things have played a major part in my recovery over the past twenty months, and were clearly evident during this setback. I had been working hard during the school year, I put myself on a specific study schedule, and this setback brought all of that to a screeching halt. However, I went back to school after the setback, ready to make up all of my work slowly, so that I was not overwhelmed. One of my teachers had called me while I was at home recovering to see how I was feeling, and told me that if anyone could get through this and make up all of their work, that I could. This gave me confidence and reassurance that I needed to know that I would be able to get it all done. Upon my return, all of my teachers helped me balance my work so that I did not take too many tests or do too much at once.

I overcame this setback, and I am now more prepared to handle another one if it were to come my way. In the meantime, I am still going to treatments and appointments to help in my recovery process. It will be two years in October, and I am so grateful for all of the people that have helped me along the way, and for all of the progress that I have made thus far.




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3 Responses to “Struggling with a Setback”

  1. robin says:

    Madeline, I am so proud of you. You handle these situations with such strength and honesty. You are truly an amazing woman (yes, I said woman!).

  2. Patrice Soucy says:

    Hi Madeleine,
    This has been an amazing journey for you. I feel blessed to know you and watching you grow has been a privilege. You have enriched my life and keep doing the same for others.

    Ms Soucy

    • Healing Heads says:

      Thank you Ms. Soucy! I am so lucky to know such an amazing woman like you and I am so thankful that you were my teacher and first tutor throughout my recovery.

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