January 11 marks the anniversary of my epic fall off a ladder and my journey into the land of post-concussion syndrome. If you don’t know the story, my kitty, Cleo, bolted into the garage one morning as I was getting ready for work. As quick as lightning she managed to scurry up to the loft and hop over to the air conditioning drip pan. Once there, she stared at me, daring me to get her. I never could pass up a dare.
I climbed that 6-foot tall ladder determined to get her back in the house before I had to leave. It was a cold day and I didn’t want her out there turning into a popsicat. I climbed…I thought about stepping on the last rung, and no sooner did I shift my weight, that ladder started swaying. It’s a very strange sensation, swaying on a ladder. I remember thinking, “You’re gonna fall. Don’t hit your head on the cement.” I don’t remember anything after that until I opened my eyes.
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Just a Little Fall Off a Ladder
I have no idea how long I laid on the garage floor. I don’t think it was long, as it didn’t seem like much time had passed. Maybe a few minutes. I opened my eyes and saw Cleo, staring down at me, with a “nice try” look on her face. I felt my ribs and arms. They seemed fine. My legs were tangled in the ladder. I sat up and freed myself, and sat there thinking, how does nothing hurt? Did I really fall? Yup, I sure did. It was…epic!
Later that day I would realize that I had fallen, bounced off some metal shelving, and landed on the cement floor, on my back. My head literally fell 11 feet. ELEVEN. FEET. Miraculously, I was able to get up off the floor and seek help. It’s frightening to fall off a ladder and see the aftermath. I look at the mangled ladder and the shelves every day as a reminder to be more careful. I mean, I AM a total clutz.
I called my boss and told her I’d be late. I explained I had taken a fall off a ladder and needed to get my wits about me. She suggested I go to the doctor. My boss is a smart lady and I thought, “OK, maybe I should do that.”
I called one of my besties who lives close by and she took me to the doctor. The doctor wasn’t in and the front office told me to go to the ER or urgent care. Not having the cash for the ER, I went to the urgent care. Was that a good decision? Not really. My friend told me much later that she didn’t argue with me because I seemed so…together.
It was at the Urgent Care that I learned my arms and legs were covered in scratches and scrapes and that I was bleeding. I had no idea until I took off my jacket. It was also there that the doctor told me I had a lump on my head, no concussion, and I would probably be sore the next day. He said I was lucky all things considered. Oh, if I had only known what was to come! I was sent home with instructions to stay home from work the next day if I was too sore and to take Tylenol if needed.
It’s ok to feel horrified at this point in the story. I still do.
Funny side-note, a few years later I went to urgent care because I feared I had appendicitis or something going on. I got the SAME DOCTOR! He told me, “If you think it bursts, go to the hospital.” I did not smack him upside the head, even though I really wanted to. (It turned out to be a pinched nerve.)
A month later I went to see my doctor for a cold. While there I casually mentioned the fall off a ladder and that I still had a big lump on my head. I was experiencing odd issues with speech and memory. Boy was he one angry doctor. On that day I showed signs of a significant concussion, I had a skull fracture and that little lump? It pretty much took up one-fourth of the back of my head.
I spent a good two years recovering from that little fall. Learning a new normal was frustrating. Two years later my doc said I was still recovering, which I still can’t wrap my head around. No pun intended. He said I was experiencing Post-Concussion Syndrome.
Fun fact, long-term complications of a concussion include many symptoms that I experienced. Below is a condensed list of what happened to me from the Cleveland Clinic:
- Post-concussion syndrome. This is a condition in which you experience concussion symptoms for weeks or even months (instead of days) after experiencing a concussion. Such symptoms may include ongoing dizziness/spinning, headache, memory and concentration problems, mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, personality changes, insomnia (can’t sleep) and excessive drowsiness.
- Higher risk of anxiety and depression.
- Problems with memory, naming and word-finding.
You can read the full article here. That Post-concussion syndrome is fascinating!
Would you like to know how I recovered, my love affair with spicy food, and what happened to the cat? Click here for Part 2. It’s super exciting!
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