MOVING FORWARD AFTER A CONCUSSION

MOVING FORWARD AFTER A CONCUSSION

There are two major things I’ve learned from having a concussion:

 

1) It’s more common than you think.

2) No concussion is the same.

 

I’ve been struggling to write this blog for a while now.  But I wanted to share my story to be transparent and hopefully connect with others dealing with their own concussion.

 

I had mine on January 20th.  I’m at a point where I have more good days than bad days and symptoms don’t arise as frequently.  In comparison, my concussion was not that bad – I know people who can barely get out of bed for months, and still suffer years later.

 

Sooooo how did I get the most frustrating injury I’ve had in my life?

 

Eight weeks ago I went downhill skiing for the first time with two people I trust. On the last run on the last hill of the day, I confidently “bombed it” down the hill. From what I remember, I hit a patch of ice and fell face first into the ground and tumbled the rest of the way.  I laid face first in the snow and scanned my body to see where the pain was – it was all in my face and head.  I thought I had broken my nose as it was bleeding, and my face burned from skidding across the snow. At the moment my only worry was aesthetic damage and not the fact that my brain had just rattled inside of my head.

PRE-WIPEOUT: Having a great day with my friends.
POST-WIPEOUT: It looks like I had bad botox.
 

Symptoms started to arise as the day went on.  The headache and pressure got worse, I was dizzy and confused, and REALLY wanted to fall asleep. By midnight I was seeing a doctor at the emergency room who said I definitely had my ‘bell rung’, and would know if I had a concussion over the next few days. Despite the actual pain, the most worrisome moment was forgetting my dad’s first name (it was the security word at the hospital on my account).

 

Since then, here are the symptoms I have gone through…

 

Headaches: For the first month I always had a headache at varying degrees. Now they are less frequent.

Pressure: Predominently behind my eyes and in my forehead.

Feeling “drunk”: This is a combination of symptoms but the only way to describe it.  You know the part of the night after a few too many when your eyes don’t match up with your head? Like that.

Dizziness: This was only a problem at the beginning but I also get it on occasion while exercising.

Sensitivity to light/sound/smell: Yes, even smell. Walking by people smoking or with strong perfumes has given me headaches.

Emotional: It’s like PMS’ing 24/7.  I cried the other day because I dropped an egg on the floor.

Clumsiness: If you know me at all, being clumsy is part of who I am, BUT it has been 10x worse since the concussion.

Memory: I asked my boyfriend 5 times in 2 hours the other day when he’s going to Costco. Also I forgot where I was at the mall the other day.

Inability to read/write: This only happened for a couple weeks thank god. I would mix up letters and put words in the wrong order.

Ringing in my ears: I hear ringing in my ears almost every night when I lay down to go to sleep.

 

 

Luckily I’ve progressed thanks to the support of family and friends, plus the small village of health professionals who have helped me.  I know about SIX people who also have concussions right now, and have become our own little emotional support group. Without them, I wouldn’t have seen my physiotherapist who specializes in concussions or taken as much time to rest.

 

The BIGGEST factor that has been stressing me out? I’m supposed to go to Nepal on April 27th to hike Everest Base Camp with the Dream Mountains team.  Other than not being able to work out for six weeks, I’ve had moments where I didn’t think I would be able to go at all.  When you sink half a year into fundraising for an awesome charity, saving money to pay for the actual trip, and attaching your ego to an adventure of a lifetime, it’s crushing to think that this concussion could hinder that.

 

At this point I’m positive I will be better in time (so is my physiotherapist).  I’ve been cleared for exercise and have slowly been working my way back to normal activity and finding my threshold without symptoms.  Every day I wake up and move on with my day depending how I feel.  This morning I woke up with a headache, so I evaluated what could have CAUSED it and how to avoid it in the future.  I’m in full ‘self-aware’ mode at all times.

 

A few triggers of mine include:

  • Social activities with more than one person.  The stimulation of turning your head and following conversations is exhausting with a concussion.
  • Doing too much in one day.
  • Staring at screens for too long.
  • Being caught in a downward spiral of negative thoughts and anxiety.

 

Things that help:

  • Nature/fresh air/movement.  I feel normal and my absolute best when I’m going for a hike or cross country skiing (while watching my heart rate).  I’ve always believed that nature is healing.
  • Sleeping 9-10 hours a night.
  • Tylenol.
  • Drinking LOTS of water and eating right.

 

If there’s anything I can leave you with, it’s TAKE CARE OF YOUR BRAIN.  If you have a concussion, please be patient and kind with yourself.  If someone close to you has a concussion, understand that some days are worse than others and recovery time is necessary.

 

Lots of hiking love,

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: LION’S HEAD TRAIL

HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: LION’S HEAD TRAIL

Location: Lion’s Head Provincial Park
Starting Point: Around the corner from Mcurdy Drive Parkette (trail map below)
Total Distance: 8 km
Time: 4 hours (taking our time)
Level of Difficulty: Easy

If you’ve read our previous posts about the Bruce Trail, you know this is one of my favourite destinations in Ontario. Read more

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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CTV MORNING LIVE OTTAWA: Fall Hiking

CTV MORNING LIVE OTTAWA: Fall Hiking

Thanks to our friends on CTV Morning Live Ottawa for having us on to talk about fall hiking in Ottawa/Gatineau Park.

We cover gear to bring and where to hike from beginner to advanced. Watch video below, and check out our TOP 5 GATINEAU PARK HIKES.

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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GIANT MOUNTAIN + ROCKY PEAK RIDGE, NY

GIANT MOUNTAIN + ROCKY PEAK RIDGE, NY

Location: In between Keene Valley and Underwood on the 73, NY, USA
Starting Point: Giant Mountain Primary Trailhead 
Elevation: Giant 4,626ft (#12 on High Peaks List)
RPR 4,390ft (#20)
Ascent: Giant 3,050ft
RPR 1,400ft
Route We Took: Ridge Trail to Giant Summit, to Rocky Peak Ridge, back to Giant and down Ridge Trail
Total Distance: 14 km
Time: 8 hours
Level of Difficulty: Moderate (compared to other High Peaks)

This was day 2 of my solo-hiking trip in the Adirondacks to crush out a couple more 46er peaks (the day before I did Cascade and Porter).

The terrain is pleasant to start to the ascent as you make your way through a typical whimsical Adirondack forest.  Then be prepared for lots of rocks and rock slides.  You reach a junction that either sends you to the Giant summit (SO CLOSE) or towards Rocky Peak Ridge.  I decided to summit Giant first.

It was manageable with a bit of scrambling.  The summit was quite busy but it was a beautiful and bright sunny day so it was easy to hang out for a while.

Panorama view from Giant summit.
An example of scrambling up Giant.

Then it was time for Rocky Peak Ridge.  After descending back to the junction, you take a left towards RPR.  At this point, you have to go DOWN Giant and BACK UP RPR. This was the steepest and toughest part of my 2 day hiking days.

Summit of Rocky Peak Ridge looking at Giant.

Rocky’s summit was a lot less busy and just as beautiful. It was even more rewarding seeing where you just came from as Giant is right in front of you.

The toughest part is getting back up Giant.  Since you’ve already put in a long day, the steepness and rock slides are that much more challenging.  But you can do it!

The view of getting back UP Giant from RRP.

Once you get back up Giant be prepared for the long descent back down.  These mountains are both worth it but make for a tough day.

Lots of hiking love,
Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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CASCADE MOUNTAIN + PORTER MOUNTAIN, NY

CASCADE MOUNTAIN + PORTER MOUNTAIN, NY

Location: In between Lake Placid and Keene, NY, USA
Starting Point: Cascade Mountain Foot Trail
Elevation:  Cascade 4,098ft (#36 on High Peaks List)
Porter 4,060ft (#38)
Ascent: 1,940ft
Route We Took: Cascade Mountain trailhead to Cascade summit, back down to junction, head to Porter summit, return to parking
Total Distance: 10 km
Time: 5 hours
Level of Difficulty: Easy (compared to other High Peaks)

This was my first attempt at climbing any of the Adirondack 46ers and heard Cascade and Porter combined are great “starter mountains” (even though Vicky and I did Mount Marcy last fall, we had no idea it was a 46er at the time).

Don’t be fooled by the easy ranking though, this is in comparison to the surrounding mountains.  Cascade is a perfect day hike and best “bang for your buck”.  It’s pretty, only takes half the day, not too tough and has spectacular 360 views when you get to the summit.

Porter isn’t exactly worth it unless you’re attempting the 46 peaks.

Lots of hiking love,
Mary Anne

 

(Top image view from Cascade summit)

Trailhead
View from Porter Mountain

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO HIKING

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO HIKING

Congratulations! This is your first step to becoming a HikeAddict. We love hiking, and the whole point of this blog is to share our love and passion for hiking with you. However, actually getting outside and actually doing it can be a bit intimidating. Here’s our “A Beginner’s Guide To Hiking” to help you get outside, connect with nature, and get some exercise in the process.

Where do I go?

I find this a big barrier for some people, where the heck do you start? It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you should have an idea where you’re going. Thank God for MAPS! Oh, and bring a buddy.

Here are some of our favourite beginner hikes in the Ottawa area:

EAST END
Mer-Bleue Bog

GLOUCESTER
Pine Grove Trail

WEST END
Stony Swamp
Old Quarry Trail

GATINEAU PARK
Pink Lake Trail

Here’s also a list of our favourite hikes in Gatineau Park if you want to be a bit more adventurous: CLICK HERE!

What do I wear and what do I bring?

If you’re just starting out to see if hiking’s your “thing”, you don’t have to invest in $300 boots and merino wool (yet). Test out the trails with clothes you would wear to the gym – with a few extras.

Hiking Beginner Gear:

– Good, sturdy shoes or hiking boots
– Athletic socks
– Gym clothing or whatever you’re comfortable in (I would suggest long pants to help against bug bites/nature critters)
– Sunglasses
– Hat

When it comes to clothing be sure to check the weather before you go – a raincoat is something I usually carry!

Small Backpack to Hold The Following:

– Water (at least a litre, drink the whole thing!)
– Snack (nuts are great)
– Hand sanitizer
– Kleenex
– Bug spray or a natural repellent
– After-bite
– Sunscreen (apply before you go)
– Bandaids or small first aid kit
– Map (or your GPS on your phone)

Goodluck on your first adventure, and if you need anything don’t hesitate to email us at HikeAddicts@gmail.com!

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 2 – THE GROTTO AND INDIAN HEAD COVE

HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 2 – THE GROTTO AND INDIAN HEAD COVE

(This post is a continuation of HIKING THE BRUCE: Day 1 – Halfway Log Dump to Stormhaven)

 

With it’s stunning rock formations and Caribbean-like water, Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most beautiful destinations to hike to in Ontario.  Plus with it’s close proximity to Toronto and Parks Canada having free entrance for Canada 150, it’s one of the most popular.

 

My first attempt to park to get to the Grotto was unsuccessful (full story here) on Victoria Day long weekend.  Stupid on my part.  Obviously people would be swarming to this place to hang out on the first long weekend of nice weather in Canada.

 

So I got up early on Tuesday morning (with coffee of course) and headed to the Cyprus Lake parking lot for 7am.  Luckily and shockingly, there was only one other car there.  A.k.a. I had this extreme tourist destination pretty much to myself.

First glance at Indian Head Cove
This water though

After a quick 30 minute and well-marked hike, the trees opened up to expose the rock and bright blue colours of Georgian Bay.  You first end up at Indian Head Cove, which is NEXT to the Grotto (see map below).  A lot of people think this is the Grotto…. It’s not.  You have to head to the left for a couple of minutes to find it through more rocks and trees.

 

The Grotto

Once I found the Grotto, I  wondered “How the hell am I going to get down there?”.  There was no clear or safe path down, although on previous visits I have seen people inside the cave.

 

Thankfully, a man named Terry who works for Parks Canada was there to point me in the direction of “The Hole”.  The Hole is a safer and more direct way into the cave.  It’s a tad hard to find and I had to take my backpack off to squeeze through it.

“The Hole”

The squeeze through the claustrophobic hole was well worth it.  The Grotto opens up to a mesmerizing rock formation and green/turquoise waters.  Definitely one of those “I thought this only existed in magazines” moments.

Inside the Grotto

You can even swim here, however I wouldn’t recommend that until July/August. Even then it can be chilly!

 

I finished my coffee on the rocks overlooking the bay and soaked in the beautiful morning.  If there’s one road trip you should plan in Ontario it should be this one.

Lots of hiking love,

Mary Anne

 

(Find out more about Bruce Peninsula National Park here)

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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MOUNT WASHINGTON, NH

MOUNT WASHINGTON, NH

Location: Mount Washington, NH, USA
Starting Point: Pinkham Notch Visitor Centre, Pinkham’s Grant, NH
Elevation: 6,228 ft (1,917 m)
Route We Took: Tuckerman Ravine to Lion Head
Distance: Approx. 12 KM (one way)
Time it took us: 4.5 hour ascent, 3 hour descent
Level of Difficulty: OW, MY JOINTS

 

This was our first HikeAddicts “excursion” with a large group!

 

14 of us (friends and Dream Mountains alumni) carpooled to North Conway, New Hampshire on Friday, June 9th.  We booked an Airbnb in a house that fit ALL of us, and split the cost of groceries for the weekend.

Our awesome group of 14 ready to take on Mount Washington

Tuckerman Ravine Trail is the most popular route up Mount Washington, however we had to detour at Lion Head Trail due to snow blocking Tuckerman.  We soon learned this trail is uphill, all rock and unforgiving.

Lots of scrambling.
Lots of cairns to guide our way.
More uphill. More rocks.
6/14 of us!

Naturally, the group got split up (hence only 6 of us above), however everyone DID make it in their own time and pace.

 

What I’m NOT going to post was the hoards of people at the top.  You can actually drive up Mount Washington so when we got to the sign, there were people waiting to get their picture in heels and jeans.  That means no serenity or peacefulness at the top.

 

What lacked in serenity was made up for by COFFEE AND DORITOS.  Our group took advantage of the restaurant at the top.  We chugged some coffee and crushed some snacks before our descent.  However, I’m pretty sure it crossed most of our minds to pay the $30 American to take the shuttle back down.

On our way back down.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it – this was a tough hike.  All the rocks were incredibly hard on the body, and the long day was tough on the mind. However, for 3 of our friends this was the first mountain they have EVER climbed.  In the car on the way back I heard phrases like “This was life-changing” and “I can’t wait to hike my next mountain”.  It’s pretty cool to hear your friends fall in love with something you love just as much.

Lots of hiking love,

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 1 – HALFWAY LOG DUMP TO STORMHAVEN

HIKING THE BRUCE TRAIL: DAY 1 – HALFWAY LOG DUMP TO STORMHAVEN

Yes.  This is in Ontario.  More specifically, that crystal blue water is Georgian Bay in Bruce Peninsula National Park along the Bruce Trail.

 

This is my favourite spot to hike in Ontario.  I remember spending time in the park as a child with my family as we would drive up to Tobermory to take the Chi-Cheemaun (ferry) over to Manitoulin Island.  I more recently rediscovered the park 2 years ago with Vicky and my BFF since grade 9 Steph.

 

There are some places you go to and think “wow, I HAVE to come back and spend more time here”.  The Bruce is one of those special places.

How is this even Ontario?

This trip came about last minute.  I was spending a girls weekend near Barrie followed by a visit to my parents in Southwestern Ontario afterwards.  I was so close to The Bruce Peninsula that I couldn’t NOT visit (it’s a solid 8-10 hour drive from Ottawa on a normal day).  I looked at Airbnb and booked a private room at The Fitz Hostel in Lion’s Head (about 30mins + drive to the park).

Picture courtesy of The Fitz Hostel

The holiday Monday morning I left the cottage and drove to the hostel, dropped my stuff off and drove to Cyprus Lake campground to hike to The Grotto and Indian Head Cove.  However when I pulled up around 2:30pm, I was told about some new timed parking (explained better here) they had implemented and I had to come back at 5pm which meant my hiking time was cut in half.  Instead of waiting till 5 and wasting precious hiking time, I referred to my trusty map and drove to the Halfway Log Dump parking lot.

Let’s be real: Halfway Log Dump does not sound like an attractive place to hike.  But even with cloudy skies and chillier temps it turned out to be fantastic afternoon.  I had the mindset going into the hike of “we’ll see what happens and how far I get” with a turnaround time of 6pm.

Maps are important!

With map in hand I blazed along at a quick speed making great time on the dirt trail.  At one point you have the option to stay on the Bruce Trail or to follow the rocky coastline…guess which one I chose?

White Rocks and Crystal Blue Water along Georgian Bay
Cliffs are the bomb

Like everywhere else in Ontario the water was higher than normal along the shoreline.  At one point the only way I had to continue was to take my boots and socks off, pull up my leggings and go knee-deep in the freezing water to continue on.  These kids followed my very bad example.

Kids following my bad example of how to cross the water.

Eventually the knee-deep water turned into “you have to swim across this” water, so I headed back into the woods to find the trail again.  An hour and a half in I came across the campground Stormhaven (which sounds WAY COOLER than Halfway Log Dump).

 

At this point I spent some time checking out the campsites and the rocky beach.  I stacked some stones and set the timer 47 times to get this one picture.

I took my time heading back to my car the same way I came, and decided to get up early the next morning to explore my original plan of hiking to The Grotto.

 

With Lots of Hiking Love,

Mary Anne

 

Link to trail hiked: Halfway Log Dump

Where I stayed: The Fitz Hostel

This is the cutest and best little hostel I’ve ever stayed in.  Very clean, accommodating.

Where I Ate: Harvest Moon Organic Bakery

STOP HERE AND EAT EVERYTHING, SO CUTE AND DELICIOUS.

Mary Anne Ivison

Mary Anne loves hiking, mossy rocks and her gig as a radio personality. She is in pursuit of becoming an ADK 46er and touching every mountain on planet Earth.

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