How health scares motivate me to change

health scare brain injury

Nothing is as motivating as a harsh dose of reality. Or maybe that’s just me. Apparently I need a reality check, in order to change my behaviour. I have to hit a (luckily figurative) wall, before I can admit to myself that something has to change. Really frustrating, but effective.

This isn’t anything new. But what has changed, is that these reality checks nowadays almost always relate to my brain injury. These reality checks, go from getting a migraine all the way to fearing that something is really wrong. The latter ones are the most scary and therefore the most effective in changing my behaviour.

Emergency stop

I now think of those moments, when I’m convinced that something is seriously wrong, as an emergency stop of my body. Clearly I’ve reached some kind of limit and need to make a change. Well, first I go to my family doctor to make sure that nothing is actually wrong. After getting that reassurance, I know that it has to do with my brain injury.

Apparently I was doing something harmful, which caused a physical emergency stop. The body part responsible for these emergency stops, seems to rotate yearly. I guess to keep things exciting. So far I can cross of my heart, lungs and brain. Feeling pain, discomfort or fear turns out to be quite a good motivator to make a change. As I now take more breaks, get less worked up and allow myself to have a bad day.

Nevertheless, my body still thought that improvements should be made. It’s almost like clockwork, every November a new body part gets to act up. This year my neck was taking centre stage.

The incident

I was reading in bed when I suddenly felt a shooting pain going through my neck and back. I could barely move and every movement seemed to increase the pain. Which triggered a panic attack. I was convinced that I was going to die or would end up being paralysed. It has been awhile since I experienced such a severe panic attack. And it took some time for those feelings of panic and fear to subside.

Thankfully, I could see a physical therapist that same day. Once again the cause was related to my brain injury. As my physical therapist wasn’t impressed with my regular exercise activities and advised me to exercise more. Now I would love to exercise more, but how and where? I thought that I had finished that particular pursuit when I’d started swimming. Even if I could find a quiet and dark gym, I would still need to go there. But where would I find the energy necessary for all of that?

The solution

Coincidentally, I attended a support group meeting the following weekend where the subject of exercising came up. There I discovered that some people had purchased a home trainer after their brain injury, in order to exercise. That idea hadn’t even crossed my mind.

It was one of those lightbulb moment. I could get a home trainer too! The internet must be filled with second hand home trainers.

It might be hard to phantom, but I felt liberated by the thought of having a home trainer. To be able to work out in the comforts of my own living room. To build stamina whilst being in control of the sounds and light. Why hadn’t I thought of this earlier?

The experience

Now, one week later, I am now the proud owner of a home trainer. I’ve already been on it three times. And I’ve realised that my stamina isn’t as good as I thought. But I can work on that! I never thought that being drenched in sweat from cycling twenty minutes, could make me feel so happy and proud.

I hope that one day I don’t need these emergency stops. That I don’t need a health scare to change my life for the better. Until then, I’ll focus on the positive. I’m one step further in learning the rules of my new normal.

Also it served as a reminder that I can’t do it by myself. I need people to help me think whilst I’m in the midst of a panic attack. People who help me to think in possibilities and solutions. People who share their experiences, so I can learn. Together we are stronger.

Health scare brain injury

Do you also have these health scares, which turn out to be brain injury related? How and where do you exercise?

5 Replies to “How health scares motivate me to change”

  1. Thanks for your post Evie, it was timely for me as I’ve been in exactly the same position recently.
    Daily headaches have been giving me much discomfort for the last few months.
    I panicked; bumped my head in May & got CT scan only.
    I remembered that when I was working I used to get a physical ‘warning’ from my body that I was doing too much (colitis with no know cause, appendicitis a little later, worn teeth, depression, insomnia & finally a seizure).
    Anyhow I’ve seen the neurologist & there’s no damage to my brain thanks to an fMRI.
    Once again, I’ve been doing too much!
    Thank you brain & body from slowing me down !

    1. I can completely understand the panic, especially as you suffered from daily headaches. That must have been scary! Good on you, that you went to a neurologist and I’m glad that the fMRI had a reassuring result!

      Yup that warning system definitely works. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing that your experience! I hope your headaches will lessen and that you can find a bit more peace and quiet to recharge your battery!

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