by Linda W. Arms
After a brain injury there are many strange sensations in our head and body. For me, the sensations began a few hours after my injury and have slowly decreased in intensity and frequency over the last years. Sometimes, lying awake at night, I would notice these and be afraid because I felt that no one really knew what was going on up there in my brain. Science still refers to the brain as the “last frontier”. I felt I was in a strange, mystifying state where that “brain fairy” was doing its work that others did not understand.
I expect everyone with a brain injury has different sensations. I’ve noticed from reading others’ experiences there seem to be some similarities. How many of you felt the same things I did?
- Flip-flops or butterflies in my head – it actually felt like there was a movement up there, sort of like waves, very strange. It was not pleasant. Sometimes very intense. I couldn’t do much of anything when this was going on. The first hours after I got up in the morning were especially bad. Sometimes I would just sit in a comfortable chair with my head back and let the “brain fairy” do her dance. I could not stop it. Nothing would stop it.
- Bursts of light – during the many hours each day where I would be sleeping – before falling asleep or waking, there would be little bursts of light when my eyes were closed. I’m not really sure if I saw these with my eyes or if it was just a sensation in my brain. Again, very strange, very mysterious. Almost like shooting stars.
- Pains in my head – obviously my head hurt from the physical trauma but there were odd shots of pain in different places in my head. Very quick.
- Tingling, prickling and numbness – this was a rather obnoxious sensation I had in different parts of my body. I would feel it in my face, my head, my hands and feet.
- Slideshow at super speed – this is strange, I know. As I woke, with my eyes still closed, I would see a bunch of unrelated pictures that would speed through my head. It was like someone was running a slideshow in my brain but very fast. I could not really focus on the picture but I could tell it was a person, or a scene or something. I mentioned this to many of my medical providers. Finally, one doctor said it was something called hypnagogic hallucinations.
- Creepy crawlies – when I was very tired, usually in the evening, my entire being felt totally discombobulated, everything throughout my body felt unsynchronized. It was a physical and mental sensation. It was a disturbing sensation that was made worse by sounds and light. There would be a throbbing in different parts of my body that was not in the same rhythm as the throbbing in another part of my body at the same time. I wanted to curl up into a tight little ball and be thrown down a dark hole were nothing could disturb me.
Thank goodness these things have faded. They still come back sometimes but not to the degree they where in the early years. Does any of this sound familiar to you?