A message from my girlfriend Jolanda.
“Hi An, look at this newspaper article. It is exactly your story! ”
Attached was an article about a Rianne Schorel and a link to the TV program Nieuwsuur. Subject: the aftermath of her concussion.
I read the article from the A.D., then immediately watched the TV broadcast and in that moment I was overcome with from a cry of recognition over and over again. The symptoms Rianne had, how it affected her daily routine, it all seemed so similar to what I was going through.
Rianne appeared to have contracted a concussion about ten years ago while playing soccer. Her search for recovery had lasted ten years.
And the good news was that her search had yielded results after ten long difficult years.
Eighteen years ago I was kicked in the head by a horse. I wasn’t wearing a helmet, so I must have had many guardian angels watching over me that day, because I “only” had a head wound from the front to the back of my skull. I needed a lot of stitches but I was told there was nothing to worry about at the hospital, that I would only have a slight concussion. Take it easy and then slowly get back into it, was the advice. But there were symptoms that did not disappear. I had headaches, neck pain, irritability, problems with concentration, dizziness, just to name a few. New symptoms started to appear. After a year I started to suffer from anxiety attacks and depression.
I found Nanja and Rianne Schorel’s site and asked them for advice. Nanja and I started to exchange messages quite frequently. This is when I first heard about the term Post-Concussion Syndrome. I had never heard of this syndrome, but my symptoms met the description of the residual symptoms associated with P.C.S.
Nanja was inspired by the treatment that was so beneficial to Rianne in America, and built a fantastic team of trainers similar to the American program. I felt privileged when I learned that I was allowed to participate in a pilot program.
A Q.E.E.G. was performed on me and it was found that there was an extensive overactivity in my brain. The good news was that they could help me. And in June I was able to sign up for an intensive 3-week treatment in the Zwolle area.
I had been searching for eighteen years. I tried all the physical and mental treatments available, both in traditional medicine and alternatives treatments as well. And of course that would bring me small successes, but never enough. After all these years, I still had no grasp on why I still had those symptoms and felt I had a low quality of life. But then I would just repress my thoughts. I actually felt completely worthless for much of the time. I kept researching and looking for the right treatment, the one that would actually work. And now? Now the researching was suddenly done for me. I no longer had to come up with new therapies. I no longer had to think: should I look for a new physiotherapist again, or should I talk to a psychologist again? They started helped me through intense, multidisciplinary treatments, utilizing a lot of different types of therapy at the same time. But most of all: they gave me hope.
On a Monday morning, I reported with eight fellow sufferers at a training center near Zwolle. It turned out to be what would be three tough but beautiful weeks. The program was quite varied and was interspersed with sufficient breaks. We definitely needed those breaks the first week.
Treatments included individual coaching discussions, massage, a personalized sport program, individual relaxation therapy, not to mention the neurofeedback, or neuro training. The latter was a big part of the program.
We were pampered with a complete, healthy yet exceptional, nutrition program every day, which was an integral part of the program. I learned a lot about how nutrition affects your neurotransmitters. I learned what the best relaxation exercises are for me, and what the best exercise routine is for me. I also learned that massage, in addition to being wonderfully relaxing, also helps your body drain waste. I learned how to look to the future; how to set goals in a responsible manner and what my pitfalls are. I learned skills to deal with stimulation better and how to keep focused.
Moreover, every day my brain was trained with the help of advanced software. New better paths (waves) were made in my brain. I’ll omit the technical details here, because frankly I can’t relay them. What I can tell you is that after three weeks I my thoughts were drastically calmer. The Q.E.E.G showed that the overactivity had fallen considerably.
And then the team … what a great bunch of people. They were so deeply committed to us and sympathetic to what we were going through. All strong and wonderful professionals. They patiently and professionally taught us techniques to deal. And in between all the sessions, someone was constantly on hand to dry any tears, give feedback, and encourage us.
The change amongst the group was striking. For example, in the first week several people still walked around with earplugs in and often had to rest in between sessions. Moreover, everyone went to bed well before dark. In week three we suddenly found that we felt we could handle the program despite how intense it was at first. Everyone seemed to have more peace of mind and complained less about irritability, pains, and fatigue. Evening activities were organized by the us, and everyone participated. We got to know each other better while we pushed each other to keep pressing on, we had all had a great time and everyone was extremely hopeful. Habits were slowly picked up again and plans were made for the future.
On the last day and after the last scan, I left with the amazing message that my brain had made enormous progress. I felt calmer and went home feeling courageous and full of ideas for the future.
Of course things weren’t perfect when I left the center. It was a big step down a new road for me though. And luckily there is aftercare. I am still in contact with my coach and occasionally go back to Zwolle for a neuro training session for maintenance.
And of course I occasionally have a bad day, or maybe even a few. But I now have people to fall back on. And I have received a lot of tools to deal with my bad days differently. It is hard work, but it’s all for my future.
Before I left for my 3-week stay, a friend gave me a nice card with a poem by Judith Herzberg. I decided to get a tattoo of the last four lines, since after a hard search of 18 years, I had finally found a solution;
Now that everything is as it has become,
Now everything is as it is
Is it, though, maybe though,