Ghosts of Marches Past

Here we are in April. Last week, I had some melancholy thoughts of end-of-Marches-past.

Concussion update, March 2024:

During the last week of March, the quality of light changes in my house. Because I live on the first floor in an urban neighborhood, the angle of the light matters. It starts to be significantly brighter indoors around the equinox. On March 31, 2024, it was bright and beautiful in my kitchen when I woke up. My first thought was, wow, it is bright in here!

Then I remembered when that same change of light was a problem for me. In January 2019, I slipped on some ice, fell backwards and sustained a concussion. Standard care for concussions, then and probably now, is to avoid screens, don’t try to read, and stay in dark and quiet environments as much as possible. This is what most primary care offices would recommend, but it is ineffective advice. Six weeks of letting my brain rest left me more light and sound sensitive. I was less able to read, or even understand graphic images.

By the middle of March 2019, I needed to wear sunglasses indoors as the light started to pour in. I didn’t see a neurologist until March 15. That was six weeks after the injury. That is also standard care. Thinking about this last week made me grumpy.

Here I am, five years later. I am about as recovered as I am going to be. But the memory of light feeling like an assault is still with me. For the most part, I am back to my baseline. But I am still more light and noise sensitive than the average person. I still get dizzy and headache-y if I am in a noisy environment for too long. “Too long is a moving target; sometimes I am OK at the party and sometimes I have to leave early. Thinking about this continues to make me grumpy.

Fast forward one more March:

The other thing that is making me grumpy this week is that little things are reminding me of March 2020. It was around the end of March 2020 that it was beginning to sink in. No one knew what was going to happen next with the Covid-19 virus.

When the Covid lockdown started in the middle of March, no one knew how long we’d be asked to stay home. No one knew if our hospital capacity would be enough for the people who were getting sick. Stories were being published about hospitals that were overrun. Stories were being told about cancellations of other medical services until the crisis was over. No one knew when the crisis would end.

I was out of work for the foreseeable future. The bills for running my business were still coming in. It didn’t feel good. But we were safe. For the most part, there was nothing important that we needed that we could not get. We didn’t run out of prescription medications, we had food, heat, and toilet paper. (Toilet paper! What was all that hysteria about?) We had entertainment. We had safe places to walk outdoors. For us, it wasn’t too bad.

Now, here we are, four years later. I see the scars on the lives of children and adolescents who had their school years interrupted. Academic learning suffered, but more importantly, mental health suffered. Virtual learning leaves little room for the social learning that happens in school.

Teen in black hoodie

During the pandemic, there was a mental health crisis. There were not enough therapists to meet the need of isolated children. Since then, there remains lingering after-effect on everyone, but the children are the ones who concern me.

Like me and my lingering after-effects of concussion, children who lived through the Covid years will have unmanageable stress, randomly. What becomes unmanageable is a moving target. I can only hope that mental health services, and family and friends are up to the task of guiding these young people into adulthood.

It makes me grumpy to think about it.


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