I had a great visit with a new doctor this week.
We have been in Austin now for almost 2 and 1/2 years, and I am still working to put together the full medical team of people that can help me with my recovery after Mild TBI/concussion.
The new Doctor whom I saw this week is trained as a neurologist and specializes in promoting quality sleep.
Many people do not know that quality sleep is very important for brain injury recovery.
In fact, what I have learned is that many of the symptoms of poor sleep are similiar to those of brain injury.
I was first diagnosed with a sleep disorder about 5 years ago after I had experienced another concussion when I fell on my butt and hit my head.
From my advocacy work, I knew that sleep disorders are highly correlated with mild TBI so it made sense to me to do the tests to see if I had a sleep disorder.
Even though I thought it made sense to do the tests, I was pretty sure that the sleep tests would rule sleep issues out (as opposed to tell me that I had an issue).
So it was a big surprise to me to hear that the sleep tests revealed that I had sleep apnea.
I was glad to hear that I had sleep issues though when my neurologist framed it in the way that he did. He said “we don’t know how much of your brain injury is the brain injury and how much is the result of chronic sleep issues”. The good news here is that improving your sleep is something we can do something about easily and hopefully it will help you.
So I started paying attention to my sleep health. Mind you, this all was happening at the time that my son was about 6 months old. Most moms and dads get less sleep, and having a child meant we were not getting the same amount of sleep that we had gotten before our son was born.
And my sleep got better and my energy got better and it was a total upward spiral at a time that it was tremendously helpful to be getting a push upward from better sleep.
And the improved sleep led to this very exciting upward cycle. I had more energy during the day, which meant I could take on more exercise and then, in turn, the increased exercise meant that I had more energy and got more sleep because I was tired in the right kind of way. Not to mention that exercise is good for brain functioning.
When we moved to Austin, I also began to loose weight and have maintained a 10 pound weight loss. And while I wasn’t heavy before, the weight loss helped me feel better and helped me want to exercise more.
So this week, I was able to go in to see the new doctor to continue the care around sleep that I was getting in the DC area.
I felt inspired about the next steps in talking with the new doctor.
I heard him say that sleep issues after mild traumatic brain injury can be sleep apnea or they can be caused by the area inside the brain not working properly after the injury and thus not regulating sleep properly. He said we would try to figure out which it was.
I have seen alot of doctors following my injury, and many of my experiences with new doctors haven’t been so inspiring, to say the least. So I am happy to report how exciting finding a good new doctor is for me!