Dear Old Brain,
You are powerful.
You are amazing.
Do not underestimate yourself.
Remember to believe in three things
1.The power of Neuroplasticity
2.The power of Sleep
3. The power of Gratitude
What you focus on, is what grows more. “Nerves that fire together, wire together.” Use this to your advantage: Work to wire pathways that highlight the good, your strengths, your ingenuity, your beauty. There will be days you feel so many limitations and blocks; don’t dwell here. Notice them with compassion, and rest. Work to change your focus from frustration and pain, to gratitude. Some days, you may feel like there is nothing to be grateful for - but push through. Even if the only thing you can say to yourself is, “I am grateful that there is air to breathe” or “I am grateful that I have access to clean water” - these are big things. Take in the small things - a sunset, the feeling of the sun on your face. Focus on what you are grateful for, or could be grateful for, and relish in the simple things; evermore learning to appreciate the things about you (a brain!), and the world around you, that are all too easy to take for granted.
One day, you will learn about the Carrick Institute and Dr. Amy Ayla Wolf, and forever be changed in amazing ways. Everything in it’s own time.
Take time to rest, to sit and breathe intentionally, but work intentionally to continue to push the edges of limitation you feel. There will be many times you will find the line by crossing it - this can be painful. In these times, work simply to take notice, find compassion for yourself, and make different choices next time. In time your strength, your endurance, your power, will grow. The power that lies within you is profound. Like a seed, it will continue to grow. Feed it and water it well, and you will bloom again. I will be with you the whole time.
I love you.
1. What is your role at Norb Wellness Lighting?
My name is Amber, and I’m the Business Development Manager for Norb Lighting. Like many office workers, my typical day is spent largely indoors, in front of screens and on calls. I use Norb products at my desk in the office and throughout my home to enhance my productivity and support healthy sleep habits.
I also suffer from migraines, and my known triggers are light and food additives like MSG. When my colleague mentioned research finding that pure green light may relieve migraine pain and reduce the frequency of migraines, I was very intrigued. If certain kinds of light could induce migraines, it made sense to me that a different light could treat or prevent them.
I called dibs on a prototype bulb and have used it through several migraines. I find that it reduces my pain and allows me to read or have a conversation comfortably —two things that I would never do before with a migraine. I used to shut out the world and try to sleep through the migraine, with a horrible hangover feeling the next day. NorbRELIEF enables me to be awake and present with work or family during a migraine.
2. What is Norb Lighting?
Norb is a “Wellness Lighting” provider. Our lighting products are developed with the purpose of creating a “healthy lighting environment” or the right “light diet”. Traditional lights “illuminate”, but often cause health or performance problems. For example, they may disrupt sleep patterns, cause fatigue, cause agitation and distraction, and even trigger migraines.
Norb Lights are unique because they more closely mimic light from nature, creating a healthy indoor environment and regulating your body’s circadian rhythm. We have a light that can help you “SLEEP”, help you “SMILE” when you do not receive enough sunlight, boost “FOCUS”, or even find “RELIEF” from migraines. It’s light changing!
3. How does green light help people with migraines?
People who suffer “light induced” migraines can be triggered by the interaction of light with the retinal ganglion cells in our eyes. Researchers have found that these cells do not respond the same way to pure green light, as they do to other colors of light. So, while white, blue and red light may excite these receptors and trigger or exacerbate migraines, pure green light may avoid triggering migraines, and it may soothe and reduce the impact of migraines after they have been triggered. It can also help relieve fibromyalgia, neuropathy and other pain.
4. What is the scientific basis/developmental history of Norb Lighting/green light therapy?
Norb Lighting did not originally discover the green light phenomenon; it was discovered by Rami Burstein and others of Harvard University. But, Norb Lighting did use this research to develop a practical, affordable option for a pure green light source, and coupled it with flicker free technology…. as light flicker can also agitate people with light induced migraines.
5. Who can green light therapy help?
The research at Harvard University showed that green light therapy can help people who suffer light induced migraines. Additional research at University of Arizona (by Dr. Mohab Ibrahim) not only confirmed this, but led to the discovery that green light therapy can also reduce pain for those that suffer fibromyalgia, neuropathy and other pain. The possibilities of green light therapy are very exciting!
6. How do you use Norb RELIEF?
For best results, turn off all other lights and block sunlight from the room. Use the NorbRELIEF bulb in an open luminary such as a desk lamp, floor lamp or ceiling fixture. We often suggest using a lamp with a shade for a softer lighting. The light works with LED dimmer switches, and the intensity should be set at the level comfortable for the migraine sufferer to perform desired activities. Do not look directly at the light bulb!
7. What is the cost of the product?
NorbRELIEF sells for $20 dollars. You can find it on our website norblighting.com or on Amazon.
8. What would you tell someone who is hesitant to try the product, or believes it is a placebo?
First, I’d assure them that the benefits have been quantified through University Research and Product Testing. This doesn’t guarantee that it will work for everyone (because no two people or migraines are alike), but for $20 dollars, it is certainly worth a shot at finding relief! Migraines, Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia, are conditions that decrease quality of life. NorbRELIEF is intended to reduce pain and increase quality of life.
9. Anything else you would like to add?
Often nature gives us a clue as to what is healthy and what isn’t healthy. People have been sitting under trees to ease migraines and other pain for years. NorbRELIEF is a way of bringing this natural phenomenon indoors.
With our lighting products, we’re providing a more natural way of lighting. For example, our NorbSMILE product mimics full spectrum daytime sun (for energy and mood) and our NorbSLEEP is crafted to deliver the same spectrum as the setting sun. Our bodies are tied to the changing spectrum of daylight (it changes throughout the day). Our eyes have receptors that respond to these changes, and trigger the secretion or cessation of secretion of various hormones, and also regulate our circadian rhythms. Wellness lighting, including NorbRELIEF, seeks to mimic nature. It’s light changing, and life changing!
Follow exciting news and new products on our website, norblighting.com, or our Instagram, @norblighting.
Thank you Faces of TBI for having me on this week's episode. I absolutely loved speaking with Amy this morning, and hope our conversation will help others with TBI and their loved ones feel less alone in their experience.
Dear TBI Survivor,
You will be OK.
Along this journey you will discover how strong you really are.
There will be ups and downs, there will be times you won't know how you will get through because you can't see the other side.
Well I'm not sure if it will be 1 year from now, 5 years from now, or when the exact time frame will be, but I promise you if you have faith you will get to that place.
A place you are content with.
You will see the pieces finally fit together and realize that your injury was no fault of your own.
Please keep going.
Please be kind to yourself.
As time goes on you will keep becoming stronger, and more courageous as you discover new compensation tools to navigate your brain injury.
Promise me during this post injury journey you will not be too hard on yourself despite everything you been through. You will realize you can and will still succeed.
Get your education pursue your dreams, fall in love, travel, do not be afraid to take chances, and most importantly live your best life.
Know that in the end everything will be OK once you accept who you are now.
When you have learned this lesson, you will be able to help others succeed so they too will know they are not defined by their injury.
You are and always will be enough.
Love Natalie, TBI Community Hub.
I have been working with Danielle since I began developing migraines and balance issues. At first, when my neurologist recommended that I try yoga and meditation, I was reluctant. I did not understand the power of deep breathing, and a simple yoga pose. However, through her thoughtful approach, and support I improved each week. I learned how to be mindful, take a real deep breath, regain my balance, strength and confidence. In this interview, Danielle explains how she modifies her approach to support people with chronic pain and disabilities so they can live better lives.
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Danielle Ayer. I am a licensed physical therapist and a licensed yoga instructor. I started doing physical therapy in an early intervention setting before working in an outpatient hospital. I now work in the school system by combining my physical therapy practice with my yoga education.
I began teaching yoga in 2007 with a primary focus on adults, until four years ago when I completed a yoga training for children with special needs. Following this training, I started incorporating yoga with my physical therapy background to help both children and adults.
How do you help people with chronic pain and disabilities heal?
I think it is essential to build the mind and body connection, whether it be through meditation or yoga. My methods help my patients to mentally and emotionally focus on their breath to calm their autonomic nervous system and slow down their heart rate. I assist them in building a Mind-Body Connection which they may not have recognized or experienced before. To calm their racing mind and thoughts, I have them focus on their breath and recite a simple mantra or a word that they resonate with. These techniques help slow down the mind, relax the whole nervous systems, and help build a stronger mind-body connection. This enables people to be more mindful of their thoughts, physical actions, and physical abilities. Ultimately, they become more in tune with their body.
How can someone with Post Concussion Syndrome or a concussion make modifications when doing yoga?
It all depends on the person who is trying to do yoga and their instructor. It is important to find an instructor who understands what their client is going through physically, mentally, and medically so they can make the correct recommendations. Modifications using props are a great idea, whether it's pillows, blocks, yoga belts, a chair, or changing the environment, they all can be helpful. Another way to meet your client’s needs is by dimming the lights, or subtly playing relaxing music.
What would you tell somebody who is hesitant about trying yoga?
It's always worth giving it a try. There are many types of yoga teachers out there. It is worth exploring and experimenting to find the best one for you. When in class, be open to the different variations and modifications they give you. It doesn't hurt to try it. If yoga poses are too difficult, simply focus on your breath, even simply lying there and deep breathing can calm the mind.
What meditation technique would you recommend to someone who just began to meditate?
Focusing on the breath. There is a simple meditation technique that allows you to focus on your belly breathing by feeling your breath as it travels through your belly, expands with your inhales, and draws down with your exhales.
There are some great meditation apps to help you focus on relaxing one part of your body at a time while keeping your attention focused. You can achieve that mind-body connection by relaxing each part of your body piece by piece.
There are also meditations that focus on a simple phrase or saying that you resonate with. This helps you to feel that sense of calm within yourself. It’s good to start off slowly because it is hard. It’s hard not to fidget, or stop your mind from wandering. It takes practice and time to build up your practice and become comfortable with meditating.
Why are yoga and mediation helpful to people with a long term illness?
Yoga helps them build a mind-body connection. This will help them become more in tune with and mindful of their body, as well as being mindful of what they can do with their bodies. Recognizing how this condition affects you is key. Through your yoga instructor, you can find someone to focus on your individual symptoms and goals, because not everyone with your illness has the same experience as you. It's a process and it's a journey. Our body stores a lot of memories, emotions, tensions, and stresses without realizing it. The more you practice and the more you allow yourself to breathe through that tension, the more you can break down and release any stress that is not serving you.
Dear 2017 and before.
It’s me, you. I want you to hear this and listen closely. It will be okay. It will not feel like it for a very long time, you are going to lose friends and miss out on experiences. You will be in so much pain, and I will not say it’s worth it, but I will say that it will be okay.
Sure it’s hard missing out on high school but you will graduate on time. You will even speak about your experiences! It will be hard, harder than anything you’ve ever done, and hopefully will do, but you can do it. You will find things to get you through like forensic science podcasts, your best friend, your mom and dad, brother and extended family. You will learn that there are so many people who love you and are ready to help you, and they may not be who you thought but they are there. You will learn not take things for granted, school is a blessing that is something you will miss so much. Even homework. It will break your heart not to dance but you will find your passion in forensics. It will be okay. You will get back to it all, dancing, color guard, marching band, school, just in a different way. Your view and life will never be the same after 11/1/2017, but you will be okay. You will find a community of people like you, and answers for why you are always in pain (you don’t just complain a lot, you aren’t dramatic). You will be okay. I keep saying this because you need to hear it whether you know it yet or not. You will be traumatized, but don’t be ashamed. Remember, “owning your story is the bravest thing you can ever do” Brené Brown. Be strong, be kind to yourself.
In Omnia Paratus.
Dear old me,
I miss you.
I cannot count the number of times people have thrown deterrence my way.
"You should learn to accept it."
"Don't you think you should be better by now?"
"Don't you think it's all just stress-induced?"
These statements all have an underlying message: get over it and move on already. How I wish I could scream until others understood that it is not that simple.
Experiencing a loss of identity, as many people with Post-Concussion syndrome do, is incredibly hard to confront. You cannot live as someone for 20 years and then suddenly forgo that person for a new one that you do not recognize. It's as if the moment I fell down that flight of stairs, my life, and my entire being split in two: pre-accident and post-accident. Both versions are entirely different from one another and near impossible to amalgamate.
Yet, these two competing versions of myself are well aware of one another. It would be one thing to wake up as a new person or with a new personality with no recollection of your prior self. But, the problem is, I remember you.
I remember a time where we were more sociable. We loved to study with friends in coffee shops, laugh and catch up over a good meal, and text our friends 24/7. Our best friend was practically attached at the hip at one point in time.
I miss the lattes, the patio season drinks, and that feeling of closeness that once made us whole. We detested being alone and now it seems that solace is all I can tolerate.
I remember our passion for school that would drive us to study all day long. We were so determined to achieve our dreams of going to law school. Every minute of studying was one minute closer to making that dream a reality.
Now that dream feels father then it ever has. Studying does not bring the joy and drive it once did. I struggle to motivate myself without you by my side. What if I am not meant to go down the path we had planned together alone?
I am not sure of who I am or how to define myself without you. Do I let go of the qualities that I prized in you in lieu of a new, undefined me? Is it even possible to incorporate some of you into this new version of me? Would you even want that? Or would that be a betrayal of the 20 years we spent together?
There are many aspects of you that I yearn for daily. However, I admit, there are some things about the new me that I like I think you would like them as well.
I have never appreciated the little moments and accomplishments more than I do now. Waking up to a blue sky out my window is enough to make me smile for a great deal of the day. One of my dad's jokes at the breakfast table fills the room with joy and laughter like it never had before. Even ten minutes without a headache is something to be thankful for. I promise to continue this new outlook on life, no matter where this journey takes me.
I am stronger than I ever knew I could be. Each day in recovery has been a battle in one way or another. Every day I fight to learn about my condition, advocate for answers, and persevere through the pain I experience. Each day I prove that
I am a fighter, and for that, I am proud.
The uncertain nature of PCS treatment has made me more determined than ever before. I think you may have some of this fire too, but now I use it to advocate for myself. I will not give up until I find the answers. I have the new me to thank for this redirected flame.
These alterations do not mean that I have forgotten you. On the contrary, I remember you each day. I see your absence in my phone's empty message app that I cannot will myself to use anymore. I see the ghost of you when I must take breaks during my daily activities. I see you, in your full and unrestricted essence, in my dreams at night. Or rather, my nightmarish reminders of what used to be. I see you. I have not forgotten you. How could I?
Deep down in my heat, I know that we can never truly be fully reunited again. Even when the symptoms finally fade, and I have faith that they will one day, you will not be present. And, it is because of this realization that I grieve. I mourn for the person that does not exist anymore and will never truly exist again. For I did not only lose time, innocence, and friends in that one instant I slipped; I lost you as well.
I have hope that I will not lose every aspect of your being, however. I believe that I can and will fight to incorporate some pieces of you into the new me. Maybe it would be more of a loss to forget you entirely and leave all your beautiful qualities behind. Now, I can promise to live to make you proud.
So, we just have to take a vacation from one another for a while. For how long, I do not know. I have hope that my daily glimpses of you will fuel me. I have hope that perhaps one day I may crave friendship and company again. If I do not, I know that there are so many other beautiful parts of me that do and will demand to be heard.
Rest well, my old friend. May we meet again someday.
In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, we want to spread awareness and educate the public about this invisible illness. In order to accomplish our goal, we asked fellow advocates: What do you wish people without Migraines could understand about this illness? Click the link in the bio to view the full video!
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed!
Clare Simmons (Migraine Again)
When I suffered from a concussion, I stayed home for four months. My symptoms hindered my ability to go to school, exercise, play sports, go in the car, and read. However, throughout my concussion, I was able to and enjoyed doing the things below. Every concussion is different, but I hope that some of the things on this list will help relieve your boredom or inspire other ideas for how to spend your time. I would like to thank all of my family and friends who introduced me to these different ideas that allowed me to improve my health and grow as a person. I would also like to especially thank my family for putting up with the hours of UNO, Texas Hold'em, and complaining.
1. Audiobooks: During the first month of my concussion, I was unable to do much of anything. Since reading books strained my eyes and head, I listened to the Harry Potter books. This was a good choice for me because I had already read them numerous times, so I could easily comprehend them.
2. Magic Sand: For the first month of my concussion, I had severe light and sound sensitivities, along with nausea, balance difficulties, and debilitating headaches. I slept for most of the day, listened to audiobooks, and played with kinetic sand (a lot). Playing with the magic sand was calming, and the texture was very stimulating to my concussed brain. I played with the sand throughout my recovery, whenever I needed to rest my brain and relax. I would highly recommend it!! Link for magic sand
3. Listening to music: I would listen to what my family would refer to my “chill playlist,” which consisted of calm and quiet songs at a low volume. This helped calm me especially when I was having a bad headache.
4. Silly Puddy: This was good for rebuilding my strength, and also proved to be soothing.
5. Podcasts: Following my concussion, my convergence insufficiency (double vision) became worse, so reading became difficult and caused severe headaches. As a result, I began listening to podcasts including, The Daily and The Hidden Brain, because they were intellectually stimulating without causing headaches.
6. TV: In the second month following my concussion I was able to use screens. I would watch TV shows that did not require too much focus, including The Good Place, Hart of Dixie, and Master Chef Junior. It took very little to entertain me ;)
7. Card games: As I got better, and my energy level improved I would convince my family members to play games such as Texas Holdem, UNO and Scrabble. This required me to stay focused for long periods, and to practice thinking ahead.
8. Cooking/Baking: As I regained strength in my third and fourth months after my concussion, I was feeling well enough to start cooking and baking. It started with simply making my own breakfast, but later on, I would attempt to follow recipes and make more complex dishes. Doing activities that I would do prior to my concussion helped me feel more like myself, which was essential to me returning back to my normal lifestyle.
9. Mini Projects: About a month after my concussion, my brother wanted to create a youtube channel, called, “Cooking with Parth.” The first and only video he made, explained how to make pancakes, and I videotaped him. Now, this was not as simple as it may seem, as it took over 10 takes and a lot of pancake batter. One time, he forgot the butter, another I didn't realize I never pressed record, but by the end, we had created a video explaining how to make a pancake. While, this doesn’t seem like anything special, or extraordinary, it was. In order to do this, I had to have the coordination to videotape, to follow him around the kitchen, and to multitask. That day I made improvements, sure it wasn’t standing on one foot, but it was a step in the right direction though.
10. Arts and crafts: I would draw, and do coloring pages. This helped me rebuild my mind and body connections. It helped with the recovery of my eyes and my double vision. Most importantly, it made me happy, and whenever I would finish something I would feel accomplished.
11. Robot: For my eleventh birthday my aunt and uncle had bought me a robot to build. However, I never had enough time to put it together. Now, I find myself with so much time that I do not know how to spend it. I decided to invite one of my friends from school to construct it with me. This was a great activity because I was doing it with someone else, and they could help me with the things that I found to be challenging.
12. Escape room: As I got better I would invite one to two friends over to hangout. During this time we would do a board game version of the escape room. You would have an hour to escape the room and would open clues whenever the box beeped. This was perfect, because it felt like a normal social experience, without leaving my house and being in an environment that was overstimulating. Link for escape room.
What is your role at TheraSpecs?
My name is Greg Bullock and I am the Director of Marketing at TheraSpecs. The core part of my job is to help find people who have light sensitivity, introduce them to TheraSpecs glasses and show them how they can provide protection and relief for their symptoms.
What are TheraSpecs?
TheraSpecs are stylish and therapeutic glasses for people with light sensitivity caused by migraines, post-concussion syndrome, traumatic brain injury, and other light-sensitive conditions. What makes our glasses special is the precision tint we use to filter wavelengths of light proven to trigger the symptoms of these conditions.
The tint in our glasses is great for protection against fluorescent lighting, LEDs, screen light from devices, as well as other artificial sources. Our outdoor lenses use the same tint as our indoor lenses but are applied on a dark and polarized lens. They look like traditional sunglasses but have the added protection of our light filtration. We also offer prescription glasses, custom frames, and other customized relief.
Can you explain the tint used in TheraSpecs?
The tint in the Theraspecs glasses has been around for decades. This tint has been extensively studied and is referred to as FL-41, which speaks to the specific filtration properties of the lens. Our lenses filter the spectrum of light that causes the most pain and other symptoms for people with light sensitivity. It has mainly been studied in people with migraines, but more evidence suggests it helps people with post-concussion syndrome, traumatic brain injuries, and photosensitive epilepsy, among other conditions.
How was the efficacy of the tint tested?
The main studies that demonstrated the efficacy of the tint were conducted before TheraSpecs was created. In 1991 and in more recent studies from 2006, 2009, 2010, scientists have studied how this tint worked and helped people with migraines.
The 1991 study is the landmark study for the FL-41 tint which showed that 74% of people had a reduction in migraine attacks and migraine-related symptoms. After observing the positive effect the tint had in people with migraines, studies have looked at how our tint could help people with other conditions like blepharospasm (an ocular disorder), and fluorescent light sensitivity.
How are TheraSpecs different from blue light glasses?
We filter about 80% of the wavelengths of blue light between 480 nanometers and 520 nanometers which represents up to 25 times more than other typical “blue light glasses”. This simply shows that other brands of glasses generally don't emphasize the spectrum of light we choose to focus on.
How are TheraSpecs different from sunglasses?
People with chronic light sensitivity understandably turn to anything that provides relief. This usually includes staying in a dark room or wearing sunglasses indoors. When people wear sunglasses as a preventative measure for an extended period of time, their sensitivity to light can worsen.
I use the analogy of going into a darkened movie theater. You go in to see a movie, and two hours later when you leave the theatre, everything feels extra bright. You feel like the light is blinding you, and after a few seconds or a few minutes, your eyes adapt to the light. This is an example of when you are in a darkened space for only a short amount of time. If you're in that “darkened space” or wearing sunglasses for long periods of time, your eyes eventually adapt, and that becomes the “new normal” for you.
TheraSpecs only focus on the spectrum of light that causes pain and discomfort, making our indoor lenses much lighter than typical sunglasses. That means they can be worn comfortably indoors without the risk of dark adaptation that can happen over time.
We also pride ourselves on carrying an extensive line of lightweight frames. This feature is specifically for people with a concussion or migraines who find that added weight or pressure on their faces is a trigger for their migraines. We don’t want to add unnecessary weight and counteract the effect of having eye protection, by triggering a headache when wearing the glasses.
Can you explain how the peripheral protection technology in TheraSpecs works?
People with light sensitivity find direct light to be painful along with the light that indirectly hits their eyes.
We've all probably had that experience when you're driving. There's a gnarly reflection off a car, and it hits you right in the side of your eyes and we all feel that pain. Imagine having an underlying condition that increases your sensitivity to that light.
To rectify this issue, we have specific frame styles that provide peripheral protection to prevent light from getting in through the top or sides of their eyes. We recognize that not everyone is in need of this peripheral protection, and have added more fashionable or stylish frame styles that do not have this encompassing feature but still provide incredible protection against direct light.
Is there anyone TheraSpecs is less likely to work for?
Each person who tries our glasses has varied responses based on their circumstances. It could be because their light sensitivity is not triggered by the spectrum of light we target, or they could have a different manifestation of their condition. For instance, people with migraines, or post-concussion syndrome, have a variety of triggers and different symptoms. They have different experiences, not just from patient to patient, but from attack to attack. A person might experience smell sensitivity, or sound sensitivity in one attack and experience completely different symptoms in the next one. There are numerous physiological aspects that can affect the outcome with our glasses, which explains why some people don't respond in the same way that others do. With that said, about 90% of people who try our glasses find at least some level of relief.
The most important thing I can stress is that people who believe that TheraSpecs will be a “cure-all” for their condition, are likely to feel unsatisfied about the result. Currently, there is no cure for migraine, post-concussion syndrome, and concussions. Every brain is different and our focus is on people who have chronic or intense light sensitivity. But even though our lenses are unlikely to eliminate all issues, they can still absolutely provide significant improvements in light-triggered symptoms and attacks.
What would you tell someone who is hesitant about using TheraSpecs?
The most important thing I can stress is not to give up. When you talk about chronic conditions - migraines, traumatic brain injuries, photosensitive epilepsy, or conditions that the people have had their entire lives - it's understandable to feel jaded about another product that claims to help especially when you've tried a multitude of different treatments and have been previously disappointed.
TheraSpecs is supported not just by the research that proves the efficacy of our lenses, but also the support and care of our team. It is why we have a 60-day return policy on all of our products. We want you to try them. We know it takes time to adjust to any new therapy and we want to give you the chance to see if it works for you. Our hope is that you find immediate relief but also know it will build over time. We want to give you that opportunity and then help you if you have questions or concerns. You're not just getting a pair of glasses; you’re getting our entire team, who truly wants to help you find relief.
To learn more visit their website: https://www.theraspecs.com/