Incompetent Doctors

Depression. My general family doctor said that my problem is depression. She said that during that day in the concert, I was very sensitive and my memory problem is psychological. Needless to say, for someone who has had depression before, and the memory problem I have now has nothing to do with what you get during depression, I argued with her. And I lost, because she said that she would not help me unless I get this “concussion story” away and gone.

It has been 1 year and 4 months since I got elbowed in the head and head-banged. I have been going from doctor to doctor who has sent me home and saying that my complains will vanish eventually – and they haven’t. Earlier this year I met a neuropsychologist that evaluated me and concluded that 1) I do have problem with my working memory and 2) I have a burnout. This general family doctor ignored this diagnosis, and determined instead that it is depression. She then prescribed me anti-depressants, which, funny enough, causes memory loss as a side effect. FYI, when I got hit in the head, I was taking that same anti-depressants and got off it in September 2014. It did not help with my memory then, it will not help now.

When I got home I got this range I think I have never experienced before. Anger above anger due to the incompetence of this doctor that threatened and undermined me, diagnosed me based on three symptoms and not on the history of symptoms I had back then. Furthermore, treating me like a liar, and diagnosing me on the spot when she has no experience in psychology, assuming – not asking – what I am feeling or felt and what I do on my days. There is no way in medicine that you go to a concert, have extreme emotion of happiness and wake up the next day with a major headache, trouble speaking, memory loss, and concentration problems. Neither would it cause change in personality, tastes, and ideals. After those exhausting 30 minutes to 1 hours of shouting, swearing and leading me to have range induced anxiety attack, I went to bed.

The advantage of memory loss is that the incidents of the past are blurry. The conversation with my doctor is blurry, I don’t remember what exactly has been said, as well as my shouting and swearing at home with my wife. I don’t remember her face, but thinking “she is not happy to see me, and she looks like she has not slept”. I, however, felt a sense of calm and feeling free. Weird, I know. I have worked my ass off through doctors to doctors, just to realise today, that in the end I am better off by myself. I might not get financial help from the state, but my wife works, so that helps to pay the bills. The brain is a muscle, or rather, a very complex network of neurons. To rehabilitate your brain, may it be from whatever (I don’t care about my diagnosis anymore), it is about:

  • Nutrition, healthy food, no sugar, no alcohol, no smoking;
  • Exercise to bring oxygen and blood circulating around the body, and creating a good environment for new neuron connection;
  • Re-evaluation of your energy levels. As I get tired faster with activities I assume (I don’t remember) I used to have more energy doing. Thus determine what activities take up more energy and how to reload the energy between the activities. Basically, understanding your new limits. For instance, late night partying does not work for me anymore. Socialising with a huge group of overly enthusiastic talkers can be a bit hard for me.
  • Accepting the new reality of the situation.
  • Adapting to the current situation: how to live with a blurry memory?

I feel like I have been cheated, and yet I feel empowered. All this time I felt I need experts to tell me what to do. Don’t get me wrong, I got some great advice from those specialists that have evaluated my current condition, and I’ve got basic knowledge of human biology. In the end, all recovery success stories sound similar as my points of focus. Of course yoga, meditation, compassion and Nature should go into the mix. Nothing like trees swigging to the wind and birds singing to make your stress levels down.

And before I forget (I don’t think I have mentioned it before) I have been accepted to a head trauma rehabilitation program, but due to queues, I will only be able to start after the summer.

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“Life Happened”

“Life happened”.

Someone told me this at last month’s annual meeting of the board we were both in for an NGO. Her husband wanted a divorce, a few months after their second child was born. She, like me, was not going to re-candidate for the new board, and take care of her self and her life

That stuck with me. “Life happened”. You have plans, you are active in the community, you work, have a career, and then something huge happens. Death, accident, divorce, you name it… “life” – uncontrollable events that happens no matter how you live and what you do. And when such things happen, you stop and reorganise, restart. You can’t continue the way you lived because the basis of your life has changed. But you try, and you hit the wall. You understand that it doesn’t work to live like you did before, something is different.

I want to say that if I could, I would go back in time and not accept my friend’s free ticket to the metal concert in the end of 2013. If I didn’t go, I wouldn’t get this concussion. But I won’t, because it forced me to reorganise my life… even though now it sucks, but I know it will get better.

Things are not good, and that is because I didn’t get the health care when I needed. I am fighting to get specialists on my case, to get the support and tools to live my life, accept my handicap. While my friends spent new years in celebration, I spent mine in a pure anxiety attack and sadness. I promised myself that in 2015 I would focus on getting myself together, and getting medical support (even when they kept sending me home). It is now nearly the end of April, and I have signed myself off from work and university, I spend my days mostly at home and at the gym, waiting… waiting for that damn doctors appointment where they will say “yes, you complains are real and this is what we are going to do about it”. Next week is when I will meet the specialist, and I am afraid. I learned to distrust doctors, because when I most needed after my concussion, they didn’t take me seriously. But I am proud – as much as I am afraid for not being heard again, I will go, and I will talk, and I will fight, and shout to get the medical support that I need.

Life got in my way. However, before my concussion I wasn’t living. The past four months have been of such personal growth. I have had time to determine what is really important and what is not. I am starting to be okay with my working memory malfunction and living my day to day life with it. But I removed all my stressors. How will it be to get back to work? Should I change career? How can I study or work for it? I still do need the cognitive behavioural tools to get back out there. I can’t wait though – I can’t wait for the day when I can go to work and come back home to my loving wife, change lives, see people, see change. Start a new adventure. I want to do so much, I want to live, I want to be out there, I want to do something.

Soon. I am ready. Just lead me the way.

An Invisible Illness

Inactivity due to soul searching. I have done a neuropsychological examination, and got the results that my working memory is significantly worse compared with the rest of my intellectual capacity. I also have a burnout. Her recommendation is get into a post-concussion rehabilitation program and meet a neuropsychologist to help me deal with stress with cognitive behavioural therapy and learning to accept my situation. She highly recommended me to stop working and studying due to my inability to deal with stressors which has lead me to suffer chronic pain around my body.

The past three months have been spent with learning to accept my situation – by myself. I have been going to the gym 4-times a week, trying to eat well, getting my sleep pattern back in order, reading a lot of books like I have never before and watching a whole load of series. I do have a tendency to avoiding facing the truth, and the truth seems to be that I am screwed.

I have proof that I have a burnout and crappy working memory due to my concussion – yet, as I call my family doctor to explain the recommendations, she didn’t take it seriously. The unprofessionalism of these Swedish doctors is frustrating, and I do understand why Sweden has a high rate of suicide. Since my concussion I lost my job because I had excessive headaches, I therefore came back to studies but left it after months of physical pain due to stress, and in the end of the year, I have contemplated suicide because I had no help and no one took me seriously.

The problem with “invisible” illnesses like mine is that there is no proof. There is nothing to show in the MRI or x-ray, and therefore, it is not there. Only one doctor took me seriously but I had to pay 1000€ to get it, and that is the doctor that did my neuropsychological evaluation, the same that recommended me to stop working and studying and instead start focusing on myself, change my habits, and rehabilitate my working memory. And the problem with burnouts it that “stress” is not taken seriously either, because it has become the norm to feel stress, be stressed and have a stressful life.

Even though I have no official paper saying that I should not work or study, I stopped working and studying. I have no income. If I didn’t have a loving working wife and a father who at times offers a generous allowance, I would be like any other homeless person in the streets. This is because doctors have not taken me seriously, and therefore I cannot get the social funding to buy food and pay the rent. The system doesn’t work. The “progressive” Sweden does not exist anymore.

People with post-concussion syndromes are not taken seriously, especially those that got a mild head trauma, not bloody enough to be medically relevant. They are not taken care of, and they end up living their life like any other, ending up damaging themselves more. That is a problem and the medical community has to do something about it.