Step right up. Spin the wheel of diagnoses. What will this doctor diagnose you with today?
Getting a definitive diagnosis may be extremely difficult when dealing with a brain injury. It took me almost 3 years before a doctor used the term Post Concussion Syndrome or brain injury. To diagnose the initial concussion may come swiftly. But if you have lingering symptoms, they may be vague. They may come and go. You might have trouble describing them. They take on a life of their own, like ghostly fingers reaching out to touch different parts of your being.
For instance, if you go to a doctor’s office and tell them that you had a concussion months ago and continue to have periods of dizziness, nausea, headaches that feel more like central head pressure, noise and light sensitivity, word-finding difficulties, a general “off” feeling. Also you had a second hit in the past two weeks when you collided heads with your son. Could all of this be related to my first concussion and could I have suffered a second? The first thing this doctor may ask you is if you feel anxious.
Of course! Wouldn’t you if you were still having concussion-like symptoms months later?
The doctor proudly announces that you have anxiety and that this is the cause of all your vague and crazy symptoms. That’s my first spin on the wheel.
The second spin is with the neurologist. After 5 months of continuing symptoms and my primary care doctor sticking with the theory of “just rest, it will probably go away in a week or so,” I sought another opinion. The neurologist took a spin and diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Migraines. Okay, that kind of made sense. I had head pain (although not traditionally one-sided), nausea, light and noise sensitivity (although this was all the time and not just during episodes). What about my never-ending fatigue? And word-finding difficulty? Never mind those, take the meds and everything will be okay. When the meds didn’t work and increasing the dose and trying nerve blocks didn’t work he didn’t offer anything else.
Third spin is with another neurologist who specialized in concussions. Finally, after close to three years, a doctor understood every symptom that I was explaining and brought it all together under the one diagnosis: Post Concussion Syndrome.
Why is getting to that diagnosis so hard? Why did it take so long?
Sometimes the wheel may land on the correct diagnosis on your first spin. Sometimes it takes years. But keep reaching and spinning until you find your answers.
Peace and Love.