31 Concussion Survivor Story with Dr. Amanda Zeine

December 9, 2022
The TBI Therapist Podcast with Dr. Jen Blanchette and Dr. Amanda Zeine

Concussion Survivor Story:

Dr. Zeine is a retired Army flight surgeon. She offers her unique experience as a veteran and accomplished individual who discusses her concussion journey. Dr. Zeine discusses her key takeaways from her return to health and life post head injury.

About Dr. Amanda Zeine

Amanda Zeine, DO, FAAP is a retired Army pediatrician who received medical retirement after a Traumatic Brain Injury in 2018. After her injury, she had severe sequelae causing a loss of identity, worsening depression, and weight gain. Now, after treatment, she has a new vision of herself and has begun a journey From Hot Mess to Wellness which is the title of her book. Listen in to learn more about her specific recommendations for headaches, it’s SO good!

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Speaker A: Hey, Survivor, welcome back to the podcast. This week I am talking with an amazing guest. So Dr. Amanda Zen is a concussion survivor as well as a retired army flight surgeon. Dr. Zine had deep knowledge of TBI and concussion after working in military populations. However, as she stated eight, she was stubborn and thought that she could push through. She was in charge and had a huge role and felt that she knew what she needed to do to recover. She gives us top recommendations on headaches.

Speaker B: Which I really would love for you to hear.

Speaker A: So certainly listen up for that. Also, she talks a little bit about her journey in army retirement and what that’s meant to her. She’s an energetic and really fun guest. She’s written a book called Hot Mess to Wellness which documents her journey back to health after a concussion. If you like this podcast, could you leave us a five star review on Apple podcasts? Also, you can read us on Spotify if that’s where you’re listening to us from. As always, share this with a friend. That’s how the podcast grows. That’s how we reach more people real quick. Before we start the episode, I wanted to let you know that I am.

Speaker B: Accepting folks into my practice for couples.

Speaker A: Work, for individual work, and as well as my concussion program that incorporates customized support and group programming for folks after concussion. I’d love to have you join me in the new year, so check me out@www.tbitherapist.com.

Speaker C: Let’s get to the episode.

Speaker B: Hi everyone.

Speaker C: Welcome to the TBI therapist podcast.

Speaker B: I’m your host, Dr. JeM Blynchat, where.

Speaker C: We explore the heart of brain injury.

Speaker B: Hi Dr. Zine. Welcome to the TBI therapist podcast. It’s so great to have you.

Speaker C: Thank you so much. I’m glad to be here.

Speaker B: Awesome. So I’m going to kick it off and ask you what is the story of your brain injury?

Speaker C: So a little background first. I am a pediatrician. I always wanted to be a doctor. Grew up in a small town and kind of a precursor to my brain injury. Was a bad car accident when I was 16. Life flighted to the hospital, two chest tubes, pretty bad head injury that was completely overlooked because of all of my other injuries and never really given much thought until I tried to get into the army and had to have multiple letters even to get in. And then when I went to be on flight status, I had to have a waiver and see a neuroscience and have testing and MRIs and whatnot just to be able to be a flight surgeon and work in the helicopters. So that unfortunately, I think set me up for the issues that I’m having now post TBI three years ago. So my current injury, it was December 26, 2019, and I went ice skating with my family. So no Cool Army stories?

Speaker B: So common though, fell, right?

Speaker C: Well, especially when you’ve never worn hofty skates and you have only ever worn figure skates and didn’t realize they were different. And just take off like you’re skating normally. And my first lap around, I fell three times, and the first time I just fell on my knee. No big deal. The second time, I don’t remember even falling because I immediately fell third time. And for my husband, who witnessed it all, I hit my head pretty hard. The second time, I fell backwards and hit my head on the ice and then got up and immediately fell a second time, again falling back and hitting my head so hard that my glasses flew off my face. But I was so disoriented, I didn’t even realize it until someone put them in my hand and I was like, oh. Being a doctor, I refused to go to the Er because we’re the worst patients. My husband is also a doctor. He’s also in the military pediatrician. He tried to get me to go, but I wouldn’t, so he just watched me closely. Apparently, I was very out of it. And the next day the kids were laughing and joking about all the funny things I did, which clearly I had a head injury. But our kids live with our exes, we’re both second marriages, and it was holiday time. All the kids were here, and my husband was deploying in five days, so I didn’t want to go spend the night in the Er because I already knew that they were just going to tell me, you’re fine, brain rest, take meds, you’ll be fine. And honestly, I thought, no big deal. I’ve fallen, I’ve hit my head before, everything’s going to be fine, not realizing how bad this head injury actually was, don’t do what I did. If you fall, go get checked out. I mean, that’s probably one of the biggest things that I did wrong. I also returned to work and tried to continue working. Luckily, I had a resident that was doing all of the major work, so I didn’t even notice other than I was self medicating with etc. Migraine for a constant headache for a good week, until finally I made a doctor’s appointment because my husband was nagging me for my rack at this point, and I went to see the dock. I ended up once I stopped taking the accenture in, migraine, once I actually got up and started walking around and trying to do things for myself, realized how bad I was. So I stopped working, partially because my boss told me I had to. But I was the chief of pediatrics at the time, and I didn’t want my work to fall on others, which, again, goes to the type A personality. And so I ended up seeing a neurologist who explained to me that likely within a month I’d be back to normal. Most people are. A month comes at this point I’m no longer driving because the dizziness had set in and I was unstable on just level ground. I was having migraines daily. I basically sat in a dark room alone at the house. Then the depression came and on and on and on. My husband’s family is local, so I luckily had his family to take care of me while he was gone. And I spent a lot of time at his sister’s house babysitting me because she would realize that I wasn’t doing well just by a text or even talking to me. And she works from home. She’s a nurse who does coding from home health coding from home. So I just go and basically sleep on her futon because all I did was sleep. I slept most of the day and all night I was exhausted and constantly having a headache. So, oh gosh, three months comes because once one month came along, they said, oh, you’ll be better. 97% of people are better at three months. And three months comes along and my boss said, okay, it’s time to send you to at that time, it was the Warrior Transition Unit, warrior Transition Battalion. So I went to the WTV where basically soldiers go so that they can be pulled off the books of their current unit and someone can come in who can actually do the work. And then their sole job is to get better. And you have a case manager. And at that point, I was being seen in the TBI clinic and so I was seeing OT and PT and there was art therapy and I had my primary care manager there. I was seeing a neurologist, I was seeing a neuro optometrist. So I had just everything.

Speaker B: We got a great team.

Speaker C: It is it really was nice to be able to just kind of do it all in one place. And then they had disciplinary multidisciplinary meetings where they would all discuss. And you had a case manager there as well as your case manager at the WTV. And the neuro optometrist is probably who helped me the most with my balance. She did a lot of therapy with me with my glasses and the prism of my glasses and recentering my balance. And now I’m much better. I still have my days, especially if I feel like the ground underneath me is moving or I take a step and I wasn’t realizing I will have issues.

Speaker B: Sorry, we just had a couple of technical difficulties there. Okay, maybe just start back with talking about, I think from prisms and then you’re setting you’re pretty much like doing better now. Okay, yeah.

Speaker C: So I’m pretty much better now as far as the balance goes. I will occasionally have an issue if I step off of something and it’s a further drop or a smaller drop and I get very dizzy. I cannot spin in a circle. I tried to show my husband a new dress one day. That did not go well. And so there are still some issues that I have but I am nowhere near what I was it was three and a half years ago. 19. So 20 no, two and a half. Wait a minute. No, it was December it actually was 18. It was December 26, 2018. I think I said 2019, but it was actually 2018 because my husband was deployed in 19 C. Memory has been a little bit of an issue.

Speaker B: We’re just going to normalize that. The memory, the word finding, I think the bully stuff I’m used to talking about, that’s normal for me.

Speaker C: Yeah, absolutely. So my main issues are migraine at this point, migraine and exhaustion. It does not take much and overheating. It does not take much for me to just get incredibly exhausted. And the reason the military finally medically retired me is after three years, my last day in the military was last month, July 23. So I am officially medically retired and now navigating those waters. But I I could see about four patients over the span of a morning, which I should see like, eight or ten patients, and then I’d have to come home and take a nap. I’d just be so exhausted and likely end up having a migraine the next day. I would have exhaustion. And it happens with everything. If I’m outside trying to help my husband with yard work, I have to come in and just lay on the couch under the ceiling fan. I get overheated and vacation. It takes me three days to recover after a four day vacation. Right now, I’m not practicing. I can I have all of the knowledge, but I can’t keep up with what’s expected, both military and civilian wise.

Speaker B: Yeah, I’d love to go back and talk about you and your husband are both doctors.

Speaker C: Yes.

Speaker B: And you both had a hard time figuring this out? I had a hard time seeing like, I needed help sooner. And I think that’s both empowering in a way that everybody needs to learn more. So it’s empowering in that way that we all need to continue to educate ourselves on this issue. At the same time, it’s also really scary in a way that someone like myself, who before my training in Nora rehab, I didn’t have any knowledge of TBIs. Really? And it sounds like either like you were too far in it or it was hard for you to recognize what you needed.

Speaker C: I was stubborn, I think was the biggest thing. And being in the military, we have even more training and knowledge about TBI than a general pediatrician would have on the outside. Because as a pediatrician, I’ve deployed twice and taken care of soldiers. My husband’s deployed twice, and he’s actually taking care of more soldiers than I have because he’s switched back and forth between the hospital and being the brigade surgeon, which is basically the doctor for the brigade of one of the line infantry brigades. So we have a lot of training, and it’s easy to see in someone else. And he saw it in me. But I was stubborn and said, no, this is no big deal. I know what they’re going to tell me, no big deal. But when I got to the doctor that following week, the doctor said, okay, well, we’re going to send you to CT. And I said, oh, no, I can’t have a CT, I’m on duty. He said, you better find somebody to replace you because you’re going to have a CT right now. And then he wanted me to brain rest, and I said, oh, no, I can’t brain rest. I have to work Sunday. He said, no, you’re not working Sunday. But I didn’t want my I was the Chief of Pediatrics. I didn’t want my colleagues to have to COVID for me. It was right at the beginning of the new year and I had already had someone cover for me because my husband’s deployment date had changed, because that’s a constant changing thing. So I was like, no, I have to COVID for this person. It was just me trying to do too much, which is pretty common in the profession. It’s just how we are. One thing this injury did teach me, though, was that I need to look more at caring for myself and self care and less at being a people pleaser and doing everything for everyone else. I was constantly I’m the mother hen. I take care of everyone around me and I needed to take care of myself. My plan for this deployment of my husband, I’m the chief. I’m going to just work my way through it. I’m going to be at work all the time. And looking back, I would have been so burnt out had that happened. Is this injury a blessing in disguise? Well, in that way, yes. But in so many other ways, no. Just because here we are, three and a half years later, and I’m still having a handful of migraines a month. Sometimes it takes me two days to finally get through them. Every time there’s a storm, I’m having either a headache or a migraine. I am very sensitive to the atmospheric pressure.

Speaker A: Yeah.

Speaker B: I’m kind of curious a little bit about that tension between and I think there’s a lot of dualities in TBI recovery from just talking with people over the past ten years I’ve worked with about this tension of the gift of a TBI sometimes is that pacing, it’s the acknowledgment that I can’t push through anymore. So what does that mean? For me, self care is a necessity. I cannot delay it. I cannot put it off because my brain shuts down on me. So that’s that blessing or that gift that the TBI can give. Of course, there’s also on the other side the duality of the tragedy and the grief and the turmoil and the trauma that it’s caused. But I think both things can coexist. It’s just knowing that this thing has been one of the hardest things. I mean, most people tell me it’s been the hardest or one of the hardest things in their life. At the same time, it’s also something they have derived a lot of growth from.

Speaker C: Absolutely. Well, and interestingly enough, I had changed and gone through all of this for the nine months without my husband. So when he came home, he as many people, I’m sure, also talk with you about everyone looks at you and thinks you’re okay. Yeah, you are fine. People I worked with thought I was faking it because they.

Speaker B: Just get worked up for my clients in there.

Speaker C: It is, and it’s frustrating. It’s like, gosh, it would have been easier if I would have broken my leg because then people would have seen me having to heal. But when you have this, like I said, my main issue is the migraines, the balance. But I also have the word finding issues. I also have ADHD symptoms. Now, they treated me for ADHD, but it didn’t work. And I know for a fact I didn’t have ADHD prior to this because I had to have the neuropsych testing for the military prior to this. And it was all normal. Well, I don’t know if it was 100% normal, but you have a basis.

Speaker B: After and you can see absolutely likely this was due to your TBI, right?

Speaker C: And so we tried treating it in different ways. And unfortunately, I can’t take a medication that makes it better because there is no medication that makes it better because it’s not true ADHD, and it drives my husband crazy. There are days when he says, I’m going to go outside. I need you to stay in the house because I’m driving him nuts. I’m all over the place. I’m getting better. I have some coping mechanisms now, but I would leave lights on and doors open and cabinet doors open, and he’d come home and be like, what in the world? It looks like a tornado went through this house. And I have done have done multiple different things throughout the day, and there’s dishes soaking in the sink, and he’s like and I’m in another room, and he’s like, what are you doing? And I said, oh, I’m just doing this. He’s like, what’s going on in the kitchen? That in and of itself is a problem. But then when I have a migraine, part of the aura of my migraine is also that I feel horrible and I’m just foggy. And the best way to explain it is like the Claritin claire commercial. I mean, if you’ve never felt this way, it’s very hard to explain it to people. But when my husband first came home, he was having a hard time understanding why I wasn’t working because I looked fine until he was home with me during my first migraine. Since he had gotten home and he was in the kitchen trying to fix something for dinner and I was in his way, apparently. He literally grabbed me by the shoulders and said, okay, let’s take you in the living room and sit you on the couch. Stay here. You’re worthless right now. You just need to stay. It sounds horrible that he said that, but it was so true. And because I was just wandering around the kitchen just aimlessly, unable to really help in any way, I’m completely worthless. Which is totally different than the migraines I’d had prior to the injury. I’ve had migraines since my fourth year of medical school. But those migraines were your left sided photophobia phonophobia. So I couldn’t be in the light, I couldn’t deal with sounds. I still have that with this one, but that one I could go to work and get an IV, some Zopharan and be seeing patients within a half an hour and be fine for the rest of the day. This one, I’m on injectable medication monthly to keep me from having them. I get acupuncture. I also have home acupuncture needles because I’m a doc and know how to do it because I’m a doc and.

Speaker B: I’ve heard that doctors are like, well, yeah, we just kind of called something in.

Speaker C: Yeah, well, I know the headache point. I don’t do full body acupuncture, but I do know some of the and I know the headache point and the guy who taught me acupuncture, I have some needles and so I can get rid of the pain. I also have the cephali that goes on your forehead, the little Tens unit that I have, an alpha stem to help relax me. I have the headache cooling helmet. I have every modality possible to get rid of a migraine and I can use them and get rid of the pain. But the migraine aura is still there and sometimes it’s there for 24 to 48 hours and I literally can just sleep. And then I’ll wake up and be fine. And maybe once every three to six months I’ll have a bad migraine and end up in the Er needing Er help breaking it. But other than that, it’s not the pain that’s the problem. So weird.

Speaker B: Yeah. I’d love for you to share any of the products with people that could be helpful because I know absolutely that’s one of the lasting symptoms after TBI is a headache.

Speaker C: Absolutely.

Speaker B: Headaches, vestibular issues, and so any of.

Speaker C: Those that you find really helpful as far as the vestibular issues and the balance, it’s funny. Today I was working on getting my insurance all figured out and I was talking to a representative on the phone and we started commiserating because she’d had a head injury. And I was actually giving her advice to ask her neurologist about a neuro optometrist. A lot of people docs don’t necessarily believe what they’re doing. I at first was like, this is voodoo magic. There’s no way this is going to help. But she did the tape on my glasses. Of course, my kids were before the kids loved it, they were making fun of me constantly. But it basically changes the prism of your glasses and refocuses that center of balance. And it helped me immensely. So if someone is having a lot of the vestibular issues and balance issues, I recommend searching and finding a narrow optometrist because she was amazing.

Speaker B: People, especially with the vestibular stuff, it’s been the missing link. And especially for me, I’m in Maine, which is a really small state. So the providers there’s like two. One is out of the state, one is in the state but doesn’t take insurance. And people don’t know about this individual.

Speaker C: I’ve never heard of one until I started seeing one. It’s just not something that is known and well broadcast.

Speaker B: So I need to have one on the program though.

Speaker C: Absolutely. And like I said, I think there’s one in Nashville. Like I’m in Clarksville, Tennessee. I think there’s one in Nashville that’s about an hour away and the one that was here is gone now. She moved to another program. So we don’t have one here anymore. But yes, I definitely think it’s helpful. And as far as the different treatments for the migraines, the acupuncture and chiropractic were the two that I think helped me the most when I just needed to get to the point where I wasn’t having them every day. I don’t need treated as often as I did. As a matter of fact, I think it’s been six months since I’ve had either chiropractic or acupuncture. I probably need to get back in. I start seeing my migraines increase again. I probably should do it more regularly. And now that I’m retired, maybe I can. But in the army they’re not things that are easy to get to. So now that I’m not in the TBI program, acupuncture and chiropractic are great, almost preventative type and what.

Speaker B: Can you speak a little? I mean, I have a concept of I’ve had a lot of clients go to Acupuncture, but for Cairo because a lot of chiropractors can practice differently. Did you go to one that had a specialty with TBI? No, there’s one here in my area that’s a chiropractic functional neurology kind of practice. And a lot of people have really done well going to this local practice here in Maine. I’ll give them.

Speaker C: I actually went to the one on post. We’re lucky enough on our post that we had two chiropractors. Problem is you’re only allowed to go so many times because there are so many soldiers that need them and then it’s kind of like, okay, you’re on your own. So unfortunately, chiropractic is not something that TRICARE, which is the insurance that we have covers. Now, as far as I’m a do, I have lost most of my practice as far as manipulation goes because one, we don’t do it very often in kids, unless you’ve had specialty training and continued to stay up on that. And two, I didn’t go through an Osteopathic residency and being in the military, and it’s just I don’t have the chance to use it. And when you don’t use it, you lose it.

Speaker B: I’ve always wondered that about Dos, that some will do manipulation. Like, my doctor is a do, and he’s done some, but not a ton. And I guess you’re speaking to some of that.

Speaker C: Absolutely. But then there are people who one of my good friends who was in medical school with me, she practices it constantly. She’s amazing manipulation. And so some people could find a do who can be their doctor and manipulate.

Speaker B: Right. Did you have anyone do anything on your head? Because I’m learning more about I didn’t because Kathy and kind of just yeah, go ahead.

Speaker C: I have to see things to really believe them. Even as a do, I had a hard time seeing the craniosacral. And as a pediatrician, being able to do cranial would have been amazing because it really helps babies who have a lot of, like, colic and GI issues because of the vagus nerve and how their heads are scrunched in the delivery process. The only reason I believe it works is because my friend showed me it worked by doing it on me. Whenever she would do cranial on me when I was pregnant, my baby would kick well every time. And so I was like, all right, fine. I believe that it’s a thing, but I’ve never been able to do it myself. And there’s only, I think, one person in Nashville that practices it around here, and I would have to self pay. And I still am afraid to drive to Nashville because ever since my head injury, I am very easily stressed out and I get very anxious, and so I can’t deal with that traffic when my husband’s driving in and I have to close my eyes. So I’m afraid to drive to Nashville. I did not have any of that done.

Speaker B: I’m just curious because I know your deal.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker B: I’m just mindful of our time, and I wanted to get to a little bit about your book, hot Mess to Wellness. So can you talk a little bit about what that project is?

Speaker C: So the book actually, after the injury, I had, like I said, significant depression. I sat on the couch, I had all the apps on my phone. I was constantly having food delivered. I gained £30. I got more depressed. I wasn’t moving. I wasn’t doing anything I should have been doing. Part of it with the loss of identity, just being upset that here I was this high functioning. I’m a doctor, I’m the chief. I’m working mother baby unit. I’m working in the clinic. I could do crazy things. Yeah, that’s intense. So for the listeners, just so they know, flight surgeon does not mean I’m doing surgery in the back of a helicopter, which is what my mother told people when I told her I was a flight surgeon, she would kill me for saying that. But I was like, no.

Speaker B: Mom image I have in my mind. So I have no idea.

Speaker C: A six week course cannot teach me how to do that. No. Flight surgeon, just like we call them brigade surgeons, battalion surgeons, flight surgeons, basically, it’s kind of like the surgeon General. The surgeon General, the last one or two ago, was a nurse, so it doesn’t have to be a surgeon. So the flight surgeon is basically a doc who takes care of everyone in that battalion or brigade, as well as all of the personnel on flight status. And when they’re on flight status, they have so many more restrictions, and you have to know what those are, so you have to take a look.

Speaker B: I do a little bit of that from veterans I’ve worked with. Yeah, it sounds super intense to be on flight status.

Speaker C: Yeah. It really keeps soldiers from coming to us when they should. You spend most of your time out on the flight line, like, getting to know your soldiers, getting to know your pilots, getting trust built up, letting them know that you’re not just there to down them. You’re there to make sure, like, I will work with you, kind of thing. But, yes, I took care of Apache pilots and crew and the units basically four years of the 15 years in the army.

Speaker B: Thank you so much for your service.

Speaker C: You’re welcome. I loved it. I absolutely loved every bit of it. Coming out of pediatric residency, I went straight up operational, which basically means I was not in the hospital. I went straight in as a flight surgeon. After my six week course, I went kicking and screaming. I didn’t want to go. It was the worst thing in the world. I was going to have to deploy. It was horrible, and it was the best experience I ever could have had. It taught me so much about the military and the parents of the kids that I take care of the soldiers and gave me just so much more of a respect for just the overall picture. And I think it also helped me to understand more and be a better provider to take care of their kids. You know what I mean? It was a great experience. I would not do anything different other than go ice skating on December 26, 2018, because I would love to still be I miss taking care of my kiddos and my babies. But anyway, again, I jump all over the place.

Speaker B: That’s the book.

Speaker C: The book. Okay. So at one point, I stepped on the scale, and I weighed as much as I did when I gave birth to my daughter, and I was like, Holy cow, I cannot do this. I’ve got to do something. So I started trying to write a plan for myself, and then I was like, I. Feel horrible. I’m not going to be able to do all these things. And so I was like, I’m going to Google and figure out find a book or find something that can help me with. And there was nothing. I couldn’t find anything out there. So I started making my own plan. And after writing four notebook paper pages out, I was like, I’m going to write a book. And so I Googled, how do you write a book? And I came across SPS.

Speaker B: When I started the podcast, I was like, how do you start a podcast?

Speaker C: Yeah, google is great.

Speaker B: Thank you for Google.

Speaker C: But I came across SPS, which is a self publishing school. And actually I have a bunch of their stuff here. shaveless plug. I just did Author Advantage Live, which is a three day conference. It was on Zoom this year and last year. It’s basically a school that holds your hand and takes you through the whole process. And so I started writing my book, hot Mess to Wellness. It’s available on Amazon, an ebook or Softback. And I’m thinking about doing an audio book. Maybe we’re dabbling in that. I started writing it in April and published the following November. And that was because of this SPS. They have coaches and whatnot. So as I was going through it, I decided, okay, these are the things I need to improve. And that’s where I got, when you read the book, my Seven Pillars of Wellness, which are mindfulness, relaxation, sleep, hydration, healthy eating, movement, and support. And the reason I put them in that order is because until you get the right mindset, you can buy a book today. But that doesn’t mean that you’re going to do anything with it. So until you get the right paperwork right, until you get the right mindset and get that mindfulness and slow down and think about the here and now, whether that be having some kind of mindfulness routine in the morning. Like yoga or meditation, but also is just being mindful throughout the day and slowing down and thinking about what you’re doing when you’re doing it. And then the relaxation and hobbies, having a hobby. I’ve had people ask me what my hobbies were after my head injury to help me kind of do something to get my mind off everything. And I said, Well, I don’t have any hobbies. I work and I spend time with my family. And so I had to think about it. And now I crochet. And I actually do some vendor events crocheting because I started doing it so much as part of my recovery and helping me with building my brain back. They told me, you need to do things that are creative. And it was like, okay. And so I had to go find something creative. And then just going through all the other ones. I do talk a lot about hydration and healthy eating and how diets are a no go there’s no reason to ever completely restrict carbs, completely restrict whatever. Unless you’re a vegetarian and for reasons for you, you want to restrict it. But there are things in all of the foods we eat that we need ourselves, need energy.

Speaker B: I think the whole carb argument, carbs are not bad. They’re not the enemy.

Speaker C: They’re not your brain.

Speaker B: They are them too.

Speaker C: They’re the enemy when I want to eat the whole thing. True. But no, there are good carbs and bad carbs, and even bad carbs are okay in moderation. Sugar is probably more of an enemy than carbs are. As I sit here drinking a Dr. Pepper and I say in my book not to drink soda or anything with sugar in it, everything is okay in moderation. This is probably the first soda I’ve had this week. Everything is good in moderation. And we all fall off the wagon. We all have a bad day. The problem is we continue to stay off the wagon because we had a bad day and we shame ourselves and oh, I screwed up, I’m just not going to do it anymore.

Speaker B: Right? What I see too, with nutrition around TBI is that people, they’ve been giving all this conflicting advice like, okay, no carbs or you can’t eat this and can’t eat that, that’s going to hurt your brain. And then they’re like freaking out because they can’t even prepare a simple meal because they can’t figure out the recipe, so it’s too hard. And so they think they just give up and so they forget that, okay, can we add nutrition? Can we add the blueberries? Can we add some omega three, some things that we know are really helpful for healing, for our brains. So I think to really think about adding versus subtracting right, well, and I.

Speaker C: Talk in the book about omega three S versus omega six is and what that ratio should be. That would be great to look at and things that are higher in one versus the other and the different nuts, because nuts have so much in them that we should eat. But a lot of people see, oh my gosh, they have so much fat in them. And I talk about this in the book as well. The fat argument was wrong. It was completely wrong. We shied away from fat and oh my gosh, eggs are bad and cholesterol. And a lot of the things we did pushed us towards the processed foods and unhealthy carbs, which then made people say, oh, carbs are bad. But instead of kind of just saying, okay, processed foods are bad, certain carbs are bad, we went completely to the other end of the spectrum, and we’re going to cut them all out and we need to stay in the middle. Eating red meat every single day of your life is probably not the best thing for you. Adding in some chicken and fish eggs is probably the better choice. Eating a loaf of bread in a day is also not a good thing, although my husband could probably do it with his bologna and cheese sandwiches. Yes, he’s a doctor, but he drives me crazy. All or none. And we have to get out of that mindset where every day is a new day. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of fluids. Water is preferable. Or I do a lot of unsweet tea. I live in the south, and everybody gets on me because I’m supposed to be drinking sweet tea, but I’m originally from the north, so I do a lot of unsweet tea. But when I make my tea, I end up watering it down a lot because I don’t like it strong. And if you do a green tea or a decaffeinated tea, we do a lot of decaffeinated tea in the house here so that we can decrease the amount of caffeine since we drink a lot of coffee in the morning. Like, coffee in the morning, tea all day. Right.

Speaker B: I could talk with you all day, but our time is wrapping up.

Speaker C: Oh, no. Okay, I know.

Speaker B: So I’m just wondering if you can tell me your favorite holiday or holiday food and why.

Speaker C: Oh, gosh. My favorite holiday is probably Christmas. I love decorating for it, and I love the family getting together, and I love shopping for Christmas presents. I have more fun shopping for Christmas presents than I do getting them, because I just want to get the perfect present. You see something and, oh, my gosh, I shop year round. Oh, my gosh, that’s perfect. I end up coming home from vacation with Christmas presents more than anything. I love Christmas. I love it, love it, love it.

Speaker B: Cool. Well, what’s one thing that you would tell a TBI survivor?

Speaker C: I think it’s really easy after you have an injury, whether it be a TBI or even just any other traumatic event, PTSD or even a horrible injury back or leg or anything, it’s really easy to let that define you, wallow in your sorrows, and, as my husband puts it, have a pity party. But you have to realize that you can’t let that injury define you. You’re not who you once were, but that doesn’t mean that you’re less of a person and that you can let that injury define you. It took me a long time to get over the fact that I am not the doctor that I was the person that I was because my identity was very wrapped up in my profession, and I finally am okay with who I am. I’m a pediatrician, a non practicing pediatrician who hopes in the future to be practicing again. But you can’t let that injury define who you are and be stuck on the fact that you’re not the person that you were. So I think that’s probably my biggest advice and one of the biggest things I’ve learned.

Speaker B: Awesome. I love that. Well, how can people reach out to you. I’m sure people might want to reach out to you more about the book.

Speaker C: So my book is on Amazon, and I currently have a website that is very poorly maintained because I am not a tech person, but it’s there and if they wanted to message me, I would get an email from it. I think that’s it.

Speaker B: Okay. Yeah, we can link that up.

Speaker C: Yeah.

Speaker B: Well, thank you so much for having a program today. We’ll talk soon.

Speaker C: Okay, thanks.

Speaker D: Thank you for joining us today on the TBI Therapist podcast. Please visit TBI Therapist.com for more information on brain injury, concussion and mental health. The information shared on today’s podcast is intended to provide information, awareness and discussion on the topic. It is not clinical or medical advice. If you need mental health or medical advice, please seek a professional.


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