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Adrenaline and Friends

It was only a few years ago, around 2010 or so, after living with brain injury for eight years, that I began to understand more fully the extent of harm to my capacity adrenaline causes and just how long it takes to leave my system. I suspect most of us with bludgeoned brains feel the effects of adrenaline and friends (there is a slew of neurochemical stuff released that no one is really sure what all it does) without even realizing it for the simple reason that we are under constant bombardment from stimulation.

Brain injury is the invisible injury and, while every brain injury is different, one very common symptom is the loss of the ability to filter out stimulation, so it hits our brains hard and full like an explosion. For me, very few things in nature overstimulate me (though I do not hang out around loud water falls often). A field of wild flowers in morning dew at 10,000 feet the summer? Amazing scents! The vanilla-rum scent of a water hole from several miles away alluring me in to the shaded niche in the scorching desert till it was a veritable symphony of scents as I ran through the surrounding horsetails with various subtle changes? Delicious.

No, it is the mechanized sounds and manufactured scents stimulations that impact my brain as weapons bento on destroying my capacity. And it works. But it does so, in part, by releasing adrenaline and friends.

Adrenaline is deceptive. At the rush of it we suddenly feel capable and able to handle the situation that triggered our fight or flight response. Do not be deceived! Get out, get away! To sanctuary!

This is, of course, the very purpose of adrenaline and friends. Fight or flight. Give us a short term boost of super power to handle the life-threatening situation at hand. But that boost is a debt against future capacity. Worth it so we can live rather than die, but when we are constantly accruing debt because of overstimulation, our functional capacity is diminished and may well be hard to recover.

In yesterday’s encounter with my doctor’s office (30 minutes, ending in a burst of TBI rage, aka adrenaline, out the office), the adrenaline gave me the capacity to overcome the deficits I’d incurred from the over stimulation (sound, scent, tactile). I was able to escape without having to be wheeled out. (Note, this gives the false impression to the ignorant observer, doctors often included, that I was making a bigger deal of the stimulation, and I really have a anger issue and need psychological help not brain injury help.). Education is essential!

Getting home at 9am-ish, I spent the rest of the day in my Hobbit Hole sanctuary, barely able to walk using the walls. Fortunately, I can often write in such a state, given a quiet enough environment, and my Hobbit Hole is newly fortified against more of the outside invasion of increased town noise, so I wrote about the experience as adrenaline coursed through me, giving me shakes, a racing pounding in my head, skull bones collapsing inward and exploding outward simultaneously, and a mind that is like a hamster on speed that can’t run fast enough on it’s little wheel.

I took my Adrenaline and friends protocol:

Immediately after Bonk: Take 1 round of above
2 hours, 4–6 hours, 12 hours post Bonk: repeat.

Following day or two: take 4–6 rounds of arnica, chamomile, and B12 Methyl.

Return to aerobic, non-jarring exercise as soon as possible, even for brief periods. Aerobic = able to easily talk to someone next to you.

That protocol has cut the effects I feel from adrenaline dramatically. It still takes 2–4 days to recover from the small exposure I received yesterday. When we’ve made the mistake of continuing to car camp despite the fact that I was not doing well then was doing “magically” better (due to adrenaline), I’ve taken weeks or months to recover (generally 1–2 times the length of the trip).

At some point n the day or two after the adrenaline trigger has abated comes the adrenaline crash: I stop generating heat and can be cold no matter the temperature. I have no energy and no brain energy. I may sleep for much of the day or at least several hours (under heavy down comforters).

Then, in the days it takes to flush out adrenaline and friends, I always have a much shorter fuse to triggering my adrenaline again. So I have to lay extra low lest I dig myself into an adrenaline debt pit I need weeks or months to climb out of. That’s happened before. One big thing happens, then multiple little things kick me into the pit while I’m still recovering. The snowball effect, but with adrenaline rather than multiple concussions.

The silent price we pay for seeing doctors and being tested in environments that harm us is invisible, including to many of us because we are always paying it. To see the price, you have to escape out of overstimulation recover to whatever your actual capacity is, and then experience the sudden drop in capacity when again exposed to over stimulation. It is certainly invisible to the doctors.

I’ve found the best thing for adrenaline recovery is to use the above protocol, law low and quiet in my Hobbit Hole for several days, then emerge and begin doing aerobic activity in a quiet, natural setting.


It’s taken three days to reach the point that my head is no longer imploding and exploding simultaneously. It’s now in the “cottony” vacuous feeling stage. Experience says it’s another 2–4 days to recover fully, presuming my heightened adrenaline trigger doesn’t get triggered in the meantime, in which case I fall back into a deeper pit to crawl out of. Seven days of lost capacity is a ridiculously high price to pay for spending 30 minutes in a doctor’s office (and not even getting to see him) but instead be berated and belittled by him. The. System. Is. Broken.

Update 2

Day four. Still feeling cottony and vacuous in the head and now unable to generate heat, so I am quite cold.

Update 3:

Day 13. Och! I got sucked into the quicksand pit of hair-trigger adrenaline rushes. It goes something like this. Had I been able to go two more days after day 4 without adrenaline, I would have recovered to the point that adrenaline would not be triggered by the smaller things. Unfortunately, I had to leave town and go winter camping on day 6, but a minor event in that triggered my adrenaline, causing me to come out early (fortunately, we’ve been blessed with a newly fortified sanctuary, and so the construction noise does not incapacity me as it would have otherwise). So, I am home now, and the whole family being stressed by the construction noise and debacle with my doctors has everyone on edge and little things keep happening before I recover, triggering my adrenaline rush anew and deepening the pit from which I must crawl. It is very challenging to break this cycle, and that is with understanding it.

Update 4

Day 20. I’ve managed to get out on a few aerobic activities, and they are helping flush the residual adrenaline and friends out of my system. Of course, as that happens, I get the chills and crashes all over again, along with sinus activity (stuffy/runny nose). I’ve managed to not trigger my adrenaline for about a week now, so am hopeful that a few more days will see me through.

Update 5

It’s is now Mach 26, 2014, and I am finally out of the adrenaline pit and I have a bit of brain cushion building up again, so I am roughly where I was when I when to the failed doctor visit 36 days ago. It took 36 days to completely recover from an attempted 30 minute doctor visit. I’ve heard narry a peep from the doctor I fired and am searching for a doctor who will see me. (found one, a great General Practioner)

What is your experience with adrenaline and friends?

#TBI #howto #caregiving