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LocoTex

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  1. Hi Diane, firstly well done, asking for help is the first and possibly the hardest step. And as others have said, follow that first step with a conversation with your GP. I had my NASAH in May 2019. The first 4 weeks I was just focused on surviving. The following 3 months I was gradually working on getting my basic strength and confidence back, short walks etc. Everything seemed foreign and as if I was doing everything for the first time. Walking into a supermarket to help my wife with the shopping was difficult and took courage. I relied a lot on my wife's company for confidence. I felt a bit like a small child being led around unfamiliar and scary places. With more exposure and practice my confidence slowly increased. My wife had taken leave from her work for the first couple of months after my NASAH to help me in my recovery. When she returned to work I noticed myself feeling isolated and becoming depressed. I was and am still unable to return to work. I was missing the social interaction that my work had provided. I was starting to have the odd drink or two, but it was not excessive. I have found that it is difficult to give up a negative or addictive behaviour without finding something beneficial to replace it. I decided I needed to to something about it. As others have mentioned, different things work for different people. Firstly I reconnected with a psychologist that I had seen a few times before my NASAH. I was fortunate to already be familiar with him and knew that I could talk comfortably with him. It often takes time to find the right person for you that you feel comfortable with. After several visits I found myself repeating talking about events following my NASAH. I was still coming to terms with what had happened, still processing. I asked in tears, How many times will I need to talk about this? He answered, as many times as it takes, there is no timeline. Second, I realised I needed social interaction. I found a local bicycle riding group. There are several bike groups in the small town in which I live. The bike groups range from the elite younger riders who do high speed long rides to a group of older riders who do a gentle ride around town. I joined a group of retired people, men and women in their 60's, 70's and 80's. I am 58 and the youngest in the group. It is a very welcoming social group, they are mostly very fit but always stop and wait at regular intervals for the slower ones to catch up. We ride three times a week and go to a cafe after the ride. I have found joining this group to be very motivational and inspirational. Before joining the group I found it very difficult to get out of bed and go for a ride by myself. Now, knowing that there are some new friends waiting for me to join them motivates me to get going. The benefits to me have been enormous, I have found new friends, I am inspired and encouraged by these older people. I have become physically fitter and stronger and subsequently mentally stronger. And an activity which I had become bored with was now very interesting because I had a new group of people to interact with and who shared new and varied stories. Third, I joined "Park Run" for the same reasons. Park Run is an event which is held in cities and towns all around the world. It is a 5km run or walk, held on a Saturday morning. It is a no pressure social event that gets you out and walking or running and meeting new people. You would probably be able to find a Park Run event near you. Getting started on exercising can be very hard and may not be something that you feel you want to do. What I always say to myself is, I may not enjoy the ride or the run, it may be physically difficult, I may just not want to do it, but the benefits after the event are worth it. I feel good about myself that I actually achieved it, I notice myself getting physically stronger, and I definitely notice my depression fading away. Other practical things that I have done in the past to avoid self medicating and to stop ruminating and to still my wandering brain; I taught myself to juggle. I found juggling a bit like meditation. Juggling caused me to be very focused on one objective, or three in my case, three juggling balls. This emptied my mind of wandering negative thoughts and helped me get to sleep. Walking in nature or just down the street has been extremely beneficial. Other suggestions when you are home, Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, reading, writing your own memoir. For me, it was a matter of realising I did not like the way things were for me and things could go from bleak to bleaker and that I needed to instigate the change, to be brave and do something different. I did some online research to see what was available. I was very nervous to meet the bike group for the first time. I have been riding with them 2 - 3 mornings per week now for 3 months. I miss it on the occasions that I can not make it and will usually do a ride by myself to make up for it. So, my suggestion would be, follow up with your GP and someone to talk to. Find an activity that may interest you. If you are not used to physical exercise talk to your GP before commencing any physical exercise activities. In my experience, exercise is a good replacement for behaviours that are not good for me. Exercise makes me feel better physically and mentally. Doing this with a group of people who's main focus is social interaction while supporting and encouraging others and subsequently getting exercise has been very beneficial. I hope I haven't sounded like I have lectured or talked "at" you. Also, I do not make assumptions of your capabilities, abilities or disabilities, but most activities can be modified to allow everyone's participation. I just wanted to share what worked for me and maybe some of my thoughts will give you ideas to follow. However, in the end it is up to you. You have done the hard part in acknowledging that you have been drinking too much. It is the beginning of a new journey. All the best. Terry.
  2. Thank you Macca, Bri and Louise, I haven't got much to say at the moment. Just tired and very happy to be here. If I didn't improve any further I would be happy with that but I still notice a little improvement from day to day. And as everyone acknowledges, doing too much increases the headaches and fatigue. I have my workplace medical at the end of November to get assessed for my return to work. I am hoping to negotiate a slow and steady part time transition to work without having to commit to full time hours at any stage. One step at a time. Cheers, Terry.
  3. Thank you Chris, I am learning my limits but also learning that my limits are gradually expanding as I continue to slowly improve. I find that if I "overdo it" I don't necessarily feel the effect during the activity e.g. when driving, but later that evening or night when I notice my headaches worse and then fatigue for the next 2-3 days. So being aware of that now I am able to gauge how much I can do to avoid the effects. I had been feeling a bit isolated without having regular contact with my workmates so I joined a bushwalking and bike riding group this week. I went for my first ride with them 2 days ago. We rode a relatively short distance, 35km along undulating country roads. I was the youngest in the group, (57), most were in their 60's and 70's. I was also the slowest but they stopped regularly to let the slower ones catch up. We met for coffee and chat afterwards. This was really good for my confidence and wonderful to create new friendships. I will ride with them twice per week. Also , I was surprised to find I had no adverse effect following the ride. The things that do make my head and fatigue worse are intense concentration whether that be driving or other activity and also heavy physical work e.g. digging in the garden. Also anything that involves a lot of bending over increases head pain. I feel now that I am managing all these things quite well. I still have a constant dull headache which gives me increased pain when I bend over but that is bearable and manageable. I feel incredibly lucky to be doing so well considering how terribly unwell I was. I still am very doubtful that I will get back to work in my normal duties but I am not stressed about that. I am alive and other opportunities will arise. Thanks again and to anyone new reading this I will repeat and reinforce what everyone has said in their messages to me and my wife who initially communicated for me on this site, drink lots of water, rest, listen to your body and be patient. All the best. Terry.
  4. Thank you Daffodil. I appreciate getting advice and gaining insight from other peoples experience through BTG. You and others who have had a SAH understand what has happened and what is happening for me. My local GP's have very little knowledge or understanding of SAH or of the after effects. I think I have been in a bit of denial of the reality of the ongoing effects. And maybe some guilt from not being able to do what I would normally be able to. I think that has not been helped by my very lovely friends who greet me warmly with "wow, you look great" and other similar comments. I feel that I then need to behave great when I actually might feel very wobbly. I know I don't want to bore them with complaining. So, I guess I can use BTG as a bit of a sounding board when I feel alone. Because it is a lonely experience if you know what I mean... I know I overdid it with my recent long drive but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and pushed myself. That was a mistake and probably a dangerous thing to do also. It is the 7th day now since returning from the holiday drive and I still haven't got back to feeling as well as I was before the drive. It has also shaken my confidence so I feel a bit wonky and vulnerable today and have a buzzing vibrating feeling in my head and still have the persistent headache. I am also a little nervous that the hydrocephalus is slowly building as my neurosurgeon told me that was possible but probably not likely. His comment was not completely reassuring. So I acknowledge the lesson I have learnt. I will take it easy. Build up slowly and try to recognise my limits before I reach them. Thanks again. I am sure I will be on here again for more chats and reassurance. Hopefully I can offer reassurance to others in time. Cheers, Terry.
  5. Thanks ClareM. Like you, my first drive was 30km to a neighbouring town and I was too exhausted to drive back. Fortunately Veronica was with me and she drove back. And yes the recent long distance driving did floor me for several days and I still have not fully recovered from that. Yes I understand I need to take heed of your advice and stop expecting so much of myself and not push too hard. That is the difficult part for me. I have always been very active, worked hard and strived to be my best at whatever I do. I find it difficult to not be productive. Also, I have a renewed appreciation of life and do not want to waste a day which again makes it difficult for me to just do nothing and rest. I have found though that it gets to the point where I have no choice because I become so tired, headachy, generally feeling wonky, so I have to rest. So I guess I am learning my limits through my mistakes. I am in Australia and was not allowed to drive a private vehicle until 3 months after SAH and not allowed to drive a commercial vehicle for 6 months. Driving long distance over an eleven hour shift night or day is an everyday part of my work, driving a train and motor vehicle. My workplace has been very supportive and are keen to have me back on board and willing to allow me whatever I need to do to have the best chance of making a successful transition back to work. My driving stamina certainly has improved over the past 2 months. I am not yet confident that it will improve enough to make a complete return to my normal duties. What I am trying to work out is will pushing myself and trying to extend my capabilities i.e. trying to condition my brain to doing more, will that help or will it slow my recovery? I guess the answer is that pushing myself so much that I am floored for several days is not helpful. Finding the balance where I am keeping myself active and interested and still able to function the next day is what I need to do. Oh and I need to get back on my bike and ride regularly and go for regular bush walks to regain my physical and mental fitness. When I was in hospital I lost 5kg and since I have been home I have gained 9kg, not a lot to worry about but having trouble doing my button up on my trousers! Anyway thank you for your response and thank you to all those who responded to Veronica. Hearing those responses was very comforting, knowing that I was not alone and that what I was experiencing was very similar to the experiences of others. Having some idea from others on what to expect in regards to the path to recovery was very helpful and helped relieve me of fears. The first couple of months for me was a time of great vulnerability, feeling very frail, feeling many years older than I am, lots of pain and afraid it could happen again. I am feeling much more confident now thanks to love and support from family and friends and thanks to the information, support and encouragement from "Behind the Gray". Cheers, Terry. (LocoTex)
  6. Hello, I had a non-aneurysm SAH almost 5 months ago on 20th May 2019. I spent 16 days in ICU plus another week in the ward before returning home to continue my recovery. On the third day after my bleed I developed Hydrocephalus and had surgery to insert a temporary "brain drain" which stayed in place for 13 days draining excess fluid from my brain. There were a few other little complications (vasospasm, collapsed lungs etc) along the way but I won't go into all that now. My wife joined this forum shortly after I returned home. She shared her experience on the forum of what had happened to me and shared with me the responses she got from others on this site. I have found the information and experiences that people have shared with my wife to be very helpful and encouraging so thank you. Three months after the bleed I returned to the hospital for an MRI and a review with the neurosurgeon team. They were happy with my recovery and were reassuring but did tell me that the MRI showed I had enlarged ventricles or larger than normal ventricles. They were not particularly concerned about this as they said they could be normal size for me but if I showed signs of altered cognitive functioning then I should seek urgent medical attention for Hydrocephalus. I have a question which I am sure has been asked many times on this forum but I will ask again specific to my concern. I had bad headaches for several weeks after the SAH which I took paracetamol for. Over time the headaches reduced rarely requiring pain relief. Five months later I still constantly have a very dull headache, I describe it as feeling thick. If I bend over or squat I get pain in the head especially if I have been active and tired. I spent several weeks after my SAH just convalescing, walking to the back yard to pat the dogs was my first big outing. I have gradually increased my activity over time. Now I physically feel as if I can do anything as normal but if I do exert myself physically I get increased headaches and fatigue which last for several days. For example, three weeks ago I did a couple of days gardening which involved mowing lawns, trimming hedges. This resulted in bad headaches and fatigue and I needed to rest up to recover. More recently I shared the driving with my wife on a long distance holiday. Prior to SAH I could drive long distance i.e. 500-800 kms in a day with normal fatigue safety breaks without any ill effect. However, after 2 days of driving about 500 km each day I have had bad headache and fatigue which has taken three days to ease with help from paracetamol and daily sleeps. I am finding difficulty in working out the balance of what I can do or how much I can do. My concern is that if I overdo it I will delay my full recovery. So my question is; if I work, drive or do activity which causes me to be fatigued and have increased headaches is this likely to delay my full recovery if there is such a thing? This question is important to me because I am a locomotive driver. I am currently not allowed to drive a locomotive until at least 6 months after the SAH and not until assessed as fit for work by my employer's medical advisers. I want to make a successful transition back to work so I want to get the balance right in regards to how much I can push myself. How do I figure out what my limits are? Sorry about the long story, but hard to give context and make brief. Any suggestions, advice, opinions are welcome. Thanks again to those who supported and encouraged my wife Veronica. When I was in ICU and very unwell Veronica was amazing and kept a vigil by my side keeping me connected to the earth when at times in seemed so easy to just slip away. I wake up every morning and think "it is great to be alive". Wishing you all the best in your journeys of recovery...
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