It’s early Thursday morning, three days before my husband and I leave on an adventure to road trip Portugal, and I’m getting my head scanned for a “slow bleed” in my brain. Everyone is in on the rush job since I injured myself only two days prior, from my naturopathic doctor to the tech performing the scan. Upon leaving each appointment, they tell me “you’re going to have a wonderful time on your trip.”
Aside from the obvious genuine intention, I can’t help but search for an alternative meaning in the statement. Is it just positive reinforcement in case I do have a slow bleed? I certainly wouldn’t be going to Portugal if that were the case. The tech tells me they’ll take a look at the film and if they see something will call my doctor immediately. It’s her day off, I worry, I doubt I’ll hear anything today.
As soon as I get to work, shaken and worried, I shoot off an e-mail to my doctor – letting her know my scan is all done. I try to prepare myself not to hear anything until the next day and go about my doing my job. This is considerably easier said than done.
At lunch time, I check my e-mail on my phone – I have a new message waiting for me on the healthcare management website. Everything goes silent as I log in on my work computer and open the message.
“Everything looks great”, my doctor writes, “however it does seem as though you have some post-concussive syndrome going on”. “Just make sure to take it easy and have a great time in Portugal.”
This is not the first time I’ve injured myself in advance of (or during) a big trip. As I’ve previously mentioned in my Living a Life of Travel with a Sensitive Body post, I have a penchant for soft tissue injuries. The worst part is that all these injuries seem to happen under the most mundane circumstances. When I sprained my ankle prior to a road trip adventure across Northern Spain, it happened going down the two stairs from my front door to let the dog out. In Lake Tahoe, after a couple of icy hikes the days before, I slipped on ice in a city parking lot possibly fracturing my elbow.
This latest injury happened in my bathroom at home. Just before going to bed, I was placing something in the trash (opposite the sink) and twisted around to get to a cabinet underneath the sink. Somehow, don’t ask my how because I still can’t fathom how this is possible, I whacked the top center of my forehead on the edge of the bathroom sink. While I crumbled to the ground immediately, I didn’t think all that much about it until the next day – when all the symptoms of a concussion became very apparent and I eventually decided it was prudent to visit a medical professional.
I’ve dealt with my fair share of limitations due to injury while traveling, but post-concussive syndrome, at least in my case, was a bit of a different monster. I could deal with the wild nausea induced by motion sickness and the point mid-day where my body would just shut down and insist upon a nap. What I wasn’t prepared for was my inability to focus on more than one thing at a time. Part of post-concussive syndrome for me was head pressure, while completely different from a migraine, it was just as incapacitating – if not more so. Whenever I tried to multi-task or plan activities in advance, something I’ve always done, the pressure would build.
This inability to focus on more than one thing at a time and plan in advance placed an unfortunate choice in my path; do I focus on filming the multi-episode trip video series we had planned for this trip or do I focus on enjoying and experiencing Portugal. For a creative with big filming dreams, it was a rough but obvious choice to focus on the later. Especially considering this series was to be purely produced for ourselves, we weren’t filming for any clients on this trip. While we still shot over 171 clips of video, I’m not sure what form it will take yet – the storyboarded ideas I had dreamed up for each location had to be pushed aside in favor of enjoying our time in this new place.
I won’t pretend to say it was easy to deal with being injured on the road, this time or ever. It’s incredibly frustrating and I’m particularly not great at dealing with my own limitations. Over the course of this most recent adventure and others, I’ve developed a couple of mantra’s to remind myself of while dealing with the times that injury and travel plans collide.
- Your health is your first priority. If you’re not healthy, you can’t be of much use to yourself or anyone else.
- In the end, you’ll never regret experiencing an amazing moment and creating a memory – even if wasn’t captured on film.
- Remember to listen to your body. If it’s time to sleep, find a place to lie down immediately, roll up a sweater as a pillow, and close your eyes.
- Focusing on just one thing at a time makes the journey far more enjoyable.
- Take it slow and appreciate the change in pace.
- Changing plans will only result in new and unexpected experiences.
- It’s okay to push your limits here and there, as long as you’re willing to accept any trade offs that come from doing so.