Hi, I'm Trevor. My head was hit really hard. I was a different person for a few years. But then I got better.
What do a car window, a knee, a ball, and shelving parts all have in common? Each has hit my head and hurt my brain. The hits damaged my brain to the point that it no longer functioned properly. My head hurt, I struggled to remember things, loud noises and lights put my brain into a frenzy, I had a short temper, I lost my balance, and my brain would shut down if I worked too hard mentally or physically. These symptoms persisted for about two years before I found a treatment that restored my brain to normal.
I created this web site for two reasons. Reason number one is that I want to provide a glimpse into what it is like to have a brain injury and deal with post concussion syndrome. Reason number two is that I want people with similar symptoms to know that there is a treatment, it works for the majority of people, and you are most likely not the exception. You deserve to be symptom free and you can be. I only found the treatment because a friend recommended it to me. I'm passing along the favor and recommending it to you.
It isn't easy to live with a brain that doesn't work. While the injuries are distinct moments in time, the realization that your brain is no longer working as it used to is gradual. First you notice the headaches. You can't bring yourself to get out of bed in the morning but you can't figure out why. Then you realize you can't remember why you walked up the stairs. You find that words are on the tip of your tongue but they just won't come out. Why are you stuttering? You start seeking out dark places because lights are irritating. You don't spend as much time around your noisy kids because they make your brain feel like it's in a frenzy. You hope that if you rest for a few weeks then everything will get better. Maybe after 3 months? How about 9? Surely after a year everything will be all right. Well, maybe not. Maybe this is it. Maybe this is your new normal. That's a scary thought.
It really isn't easy to be around a person whose brain doesn't work either. There is no visual indicator that he is broken. He has no stitches, cast, or wheel chair that elicit sympathy from you. You definitely don't feel any empathy for him. He seems kind of lazy and irritable. He isn't very reliable. He keeps complaining that his brain doesn't feel right and that he has headaches. How can he forget so many things? Why is he crying all of a sudden? How long is this going to go on? It's been two years.
If you are living with a brain injury I hope my story helps you better understand your story. If you are close to someone who injured their brain then I hope that you leave here with a better understanding of what they are going through.
With that introduction, let's begin.
My first brain injury
I don't remember anything about the last few blocks I drove before the accident, just that it was a cold night in the fall of 1992. I remember hearing the sound of the impact playing in slow motion in my head and thinking, "I was just in a car accident. I never wanted to be in a car accident." When I woke up I was staring up at the street light. I had collided with another car, spun around, and the back of the car struck the street light pole. I could see the street lights swaying back and forth. The driver's side window was broken and my knee was cut. I assume it was my head that broke the window.
I was taken to the ER to get a CT scan. When nothing concerning showed up on the scan I was released and that was that. Back in 1992 there was no common concussion protocol. I slept in the next day and went to school late. I remember sitting in my graphics class feeling dazed.
I don't recall all of the effects of this first injury, but I know my short term memory was affected. I remember sitting at my desk reading through the questions on a chemistry test. It was as if I had never seen the material before in my life. I struggled in school for the entire quarter.
Will I get better? Might could.
Over time my brain recovered from the car accident injury. I don't know how long it took or if there were any permanent effects, but life seemed to return to normal. That is what usually happens with brain injuries. I didn't do any special treatment protocol or take any medication. I immediately returned to playing basketball and participated in winter sports in the mountains around Salt Lake City, Utah.
After that car accident I took a break from brain injuries for about 20 years. The next time around I wouldn't be so lucky.
Close your eyes for a moment. What does your brain feel like? Are you even aware that it is there? Before the spring of 2012 I would have said no. Sure it's in there, but you don't "feel" it. Starting in 2012 my brain felt like there was some sort of frenzy going on inside that I couldn't control. A friend who also suffered multiple brain injuries describes it as "buzzing bees".
The buzzing bees drove me crazy. My brain often felt like a chaotic, jumbled mess. Often the routine activities of life were too much for me to cope with. I just wanted the buzzing to stop.
Let's go to the ER
My wife is an ER physician and injuries don't concern her very much ("You don't have a knife sticking out of you? Stop complaining.") In the spring of 2012 a friend had driven me home from a basketball game after a teammate and I had collided on the basketball court. His knee met my eye socket (Hello knee! Nice to meet you.) and knocked me down. I never lost consciousness and I knew where I was, who I was, and what time it was. But I was dazed and knew I needed to sit down. I came out of the game for a bit but then returned at the end and made the game winning free throws. (Note to self: Turn your brain off for optimal sports performance.)
My wife decided I should go to the ER when I walked out of the bathroom and said, "If I plug my nose and blow, my eye pops out of the socket." Her response was something like, "Oh fine, we'll go the ER."
The CT scan showed that I had an orbital blowout fracture in two places but there was no bleeding on the brain. Peripheral vision in my right eye was limited as well (it would eventually return after a few months). I was sent home and went to bed.
Just one more minute and then I promise I'll get up
The weeks following the injury were really rough. For the last two school years I had been waking up at 5 AM to teach an early morning religion class to high school students. I expected to be tired during the day. After the head injury it wasn't just fatigue that I felt each day, although that became worse. Now I had severe headaches and it felt like my brain had trouble processing information. I realized I wasn't going to be able to continue teaching and a substitute helped me finish up the year. It wasn't the last thing I would have to give up because my mind and body were no longer as capable as they once were.
For the next two years I would deal with post-concussion syndrome. My brain would fatigue very quickly, I never felt well rested, light and sound would torture my brain, my memory was terrible, I was irritable, I would get headaches if I exercised too much, and slight knocks to the head would trigger the "buzzing bees". On two occasions I cried uncontrollably for 45 minutes and couldn't walk without falling over.
I'll just sit here in this recliner for a while...
My first crying/I can't walk without falling over episode happened at my sister-in-law's graduation about a month or two after the basketball injury. I was sitting in a recliner in her home and my wife and youngest son were playing catch with a light weight ball. One of the throws was off target and hit me in the chin. The ball didn't hit me very hard, and it certainly didn't hurt, but something inside of my head changed. I didn't feel like I had control over what was going on and I started feeling the need to cry even though I felt no pain. It was like I was having an argument with myself. The rational part of me was saying, "Hey, that didn't hurt." Some other part of me was saying, "I don't care. I need to cry!" So I started crying. I cried on and off for about 45 minutes while trying to explain to my wife and the others present what was going on. If I tried to get up and walk I would fall over. This is the only time in my life that I have seen my wife concerned about a medical situation.
After about 45 minutes of this we were about to get in the car to go to the hospital. Then, all of a sudden, the crying stopped and I could walk again. It was as if someone had flipped the reset switch. I went to the graduation ceremonies as if nothing had happened.
Flipping is hard
When I first realized my sense of balance wasn't what is used to be I was on a trampoline. My kids and I spent a lot of time jumping together. We were at a trampoline park and I tried to do a routine flip. Halfway through the rotation I became disoriented and couldn't finish rotating the full 360°. I landed on my neck and shoulder. I tried again, not realizing yet what had happened. Once again I became disoriented part way through the flip and I was unable to finish the full 360° rotation. I stopped trying flips after that.
How to be a lousy dad
I imagine most parents have a vision of the type of parent they want to be. I'm pretty sure that vision doesn't involve them lying on the couch, grasping their head, and pleading with their children to put themselves to bed because "I just can't deal with you tonight." Let it be known that raising children requires a healthy brain.
Did I mention my son plays the tuba?
My son plays the tuba in the school band. That's right. The tuba. Deep sustained booming sounds.
Who can forget the time I attended the end of the year concert? I felt my brain start to go about halfway through the performance. As everyone filed out of the auditorium I froze just outside of the auditorium doors. I just couldn't bring myself to walk through the sea of people. I hid in the corner by the door for a few minutes before I mustered up the courage to walk over to my family waiting by the exit to the building on the other side. I forced myself to start walking. The act of walking through the crowd had been so overwhelming that once I reached the other side and met up with my family I started crying.
It's me, not you
Almost two years after my concussion I was asked to conduct music for the primary children (ages 3-11) at my church. I was used to playing the piano for the children but I had never had to be up in front of them teaching and entertaining for 40 minutes each Sunday.
For the first few months this is how a typical Sunday played out:
Arrive at church for the first meeting with the congregation. After about 20 minutes get up to leave because the lights would get my brain worked up. Rest for a little bit before singing time started.
Lead music for the first group of kids.
Step outside of the building to be alone and try to calm my brain down before the next group arrived.
Lead music for the second group of kids.
Go home and crash on the couch until my brain recovered.
I loved working with the kids but it was really hard going through that each week for the first few months.
So there I am at the beginning of 2014 in a rather depressing state. I think it is about time I catch a break, don't you? No such luck.
While helping my sister-in-law install some new shelving one of the large metal support bars fell over and hit me in the head. I fell to the bed and lay there holding the small cut. What followed was reminiscent of what had happened when I was hit in the chin by the ball. For the next 45 minutes I cried uncontrollably. I tried to get up and walk to the living room but I ran into the hallway walls and fell to the ground. I eventually made it to the living room floor where I stayed until the episode was over and I could walk again.
Recalibrating the brain
In the spring of 2014 I was really struggling. I had been through concussion rehab but my symptoms still persisted, I had suffered another major blow to the head, and my wife and I worried that I was never going to return to normal. Then I learned about Dr. Mary Lee Esty and the staff at the Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Each year the neighbors around the cul-de-sac where I lived at the time would get together for a May Day party. Neighbors past and present would gather to eat and talk while the kids tired themselves out in a bounce house. I didn't attend this year as I was in California visiting my NUCCA chiropractor. He helped with a number of physical issues that I started having after my accidents. While talking with a neighbor who used to live next door to us, my wife learned that his son had really struggled in school after experiencing a head injury. He was about to be pulled out of school when someone had recommended that they take him to the Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center. He went there for treatment and recovered.
When I returned from my trip my wife told me about the center and recommended that I schedule a visit. At that point I was willing to try anything that might help. I had no idea what types of treatments the center offered or how it worked. Neurofeedback was completely foreign to me.
I arrived for my first appointment on a Thursday. I met with Emily who interviewed me. Next a brain map was created by reading the electrical activity at 21 different locations on my brain. The map showed the areas of hypo and hyper electrical activity. In other words, the areas of my brain that were malfunctioning due to the injuries.
After the staff reviewed the map the various options were explained to me. Because of my head injuries the center suggested a passive neurofeedback treatment that would help recalibrate my brain's electrical activity. Based on the map findings a treatment protocol was generated and I received my first treatment.
For the first treatment I sat down in a lazy boy chair and Diane placed some sensors on my head and the back of my neck. I closed my eyes and in less than a minute the treatment was done. I didn't feel anything and had no idea what had happened. I got up, scheduled some more appointments, and left. While it was interesting to see the brain map and have my brain injury explained to me, the day was otherwise uneventful.
That weekend my wife and I took the kids on a road trip from Virginia to Michigan to visit my sister-in-law and her family. My other sister-in-law came along with her husband and kids. For the next few nights we stayed in a house full of small children and did all sorts of activities. At the end we packed up and drove through the night to get home.
It was during this drive home that my wife and I realized something was different. I hadn't experienced any brain issues the entire trip. There I was, awake in the middle of the night, having had little sleep over a busy weekend, and I was just fine. I didn't know what happened during the treatment I had received but I was definitely going back for more.
Over the next few weeks I returned for more visits, ~15 in all. My memory returned, I could sleep, I could exercise, I was less irritable, and the buzzing bees were put to rest. I was even able to continue conducting music for the primary children without any issues. I had my brain back and I was in full control!
A unique treatment
After I was healed I came across others who had brain injuries and suffered from symptoms similar to mine. If they lived in the area around Bethesda I would recommend them to the Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center. Every person that went in for all of the treatments got better.
When I met people who lived out of the area I started looking around for centers near them that offered the same treatment. It was then that I learned that the treatment I received was pioneered by Dr. Mary Lee Esty and not available elsewhere. People come from all over the country to be treated by her and her staff because she heals the people that nobody else can. The treatment recalibrates the injured brain during treatment sessions that last no longer than 4 minutes. Recalibration is done using a very low power electrical signal delivered in just the right way.
Members of the military, school teachers, children, athletes, you name it – if someone is suffering from the effects of traumatic brain injury, mild traumatic brain injury (concussion), or PTSD their treatments will more than likely help that person get better.
Meet Dr. Esty
My brother and I made a video about Dr. Esty and two other people she has treated. They are veterans that suffered from symptoms related to brain injury for years. Dr. Esty and her treatment helped them when other treatments could not and their stories are not out of the ordinary. Please take a moment to watch.
That's All Folks!
If you made it this far you are a dedicated reader. I salute you. I hope you found something here that has helped you in some way. If you are someone who is dealing with issues related to a brain injury then I recommend that you get in touch with the Brain Wellness and Biofeedback Center. You don't have to live with the symptoms!
If you have questions or want to discuss anything just drop me a line at email@example.com.