[Eight hours have passed since I wrote Part 2 that chronicled the second phase of my recent hearing and vestibular testing at our local Balance Center. Four hours of the eight were lost to persistent deep-brain convulsive episodes then passing out in exhaustion and tears for about 2 hours. These episodes are different from those usually associated with epilepsy; I do not have epilepsy as I am awake, aware of my surroundings, sometimes able to communicate, and can often pinpoint the trigger of the living hell that follows. (See this link for more information.) The assessment was completed 1 1/2 days ago but its negative impact has lingered. Here is my conclusion to this story with hopes of a little cathartic experience to follow as I use blogging to let go of the trauma that went before me.]
In Part 1 of this series I gave a brief history of the four years of illness that has precipitated the referral for testing at The Balance Center. In Part 2, I shared the severe struggle I encountered with the first two parts of the second phase of test procedures rendering me useless on a treatment table with my own carbon mask covering my face, wretchedly seizing without end. Eventually and by the grace of God the episodes finally stopped. I learned that the 3rd phase of the testing would conclude in this third treatment room where I was lying and would normally take about 30 minutes to complete. Alright, so again I rallied, sat up, got some new goggles calibrated, and got ready for battle.
The technician, “M,” had me lie back down on the treatment table for what appeared to be a simple process of keeping my eyes open in the darkened mask while she would be squirting some warm water into my ears, one at a time. She said that the water would only be a couple of degrees warmer than my own body temperature but might feel much hotter than that. She wrapped the left side of my head in A LOT of paper towels. Then suddenly without any additional warning a massive blast of really hot water banged against my tender ear drum! WTF? (Seriously, I generally don’t swear so imagine something nasty like moldy f-ruitcake at this juncture!) Then within seconds and before I could catch my breath CAME A SECOND BLAST of equally hot water! Within 10 seconds I was massively dizzy, yes, the highest number on her 4-point scale, thank you very much! How is this even possible? What the heck could they possibly be testing through such a tortuous, water-boarding procedure? I winced in more head and neck pain as the convulsive episodes immediately returned with a vengeance. “Why Lord!? Why all this suffering?” my heart cried.
I struggled as she kept telling me to keep my eyes open for two full minutes or we would have to repeat the sequence. Oh dear not that! All I wanted to do was close my eyes to retreat into the smallest cocoon in my mind and die. (Someone please kill me now.) Keeping my eyes open in a darkened room and blackened mask under these circumstances was more difficult that I can describe to you. I was wearing my carbon mask PLUS the large black mask pictured in Part 2, much like Darth Vader in The Force Awakens! Of course in the thick of the now-violent head banging it would be my only solace to close my eyes and hang on for a ride worse than a Mexican taxi driver racing along a dirt goat path along the side of a cliff. (I know. I have endured that too.) I am not sure that I even breathed a peep for the remaining seconds. “Please Lord. Make it stop!” I pleaded in earnest.
“M” graciously gave me all the time that I needed to start to calm down enough to try again. Perhaps, she said, she could allow me to skip the cold water-boarding torture test if I could only repeat everything on the right side too? Well that almost seemed like some good news at last! And there would only be one more test after this one. “One more? O.k.,” I thought to myself. “I am not coming back to this holocaust-for-a-day ever again so I had better decide right now how much of this I can really take.” And in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ the answer is faithfully: all of it. “Somehow, my Lord has seen me through so much hell in my life already,” I reasoned. “Please Lord, help me finish so I can go home.”
The last 2 blasts of hot water were slightly less traumatic in my right ear since I now knew what to expect. (Imagine that: you are about to get burned in one of your most sensitive parts knowing that it will spike dizziness worse than any world-famous roller coaster ride. You know that it is coming as the train click, click, clicks up the steep hill of the Gatekeeper at Cedar Point or some such nonsense. Good times indeed.) In that back room of The Balance Center I braced for impact. Smash! When the two minutes thereafter were done I wept from deep within my soul once again. There no longer was anywhere safe for me, without sickness or pain, anywhere on the earth. I am not being mellow dramatic. I was a machetied puppy in my spirit and broken in my weary frame. Everything hurt grievously.
In due time I was able to sit up, transfer to a chair, and finish the final light bar test. I have no idea how I did this. Suddenly the technician’s tempo increased and she revealed that she wanted to take me to the lobby so that she could clean the room! I knew that I had taken longer than most patients in completing the battery of tests. And that’s when her sweetness kind of stopped. She re-appeared with a wheelchair as I was still deciding if I was alive or dead? Could I move my limbs to get up or had I digressed into the neurological collapse that often follows severe convulsive episodes? More shaking, more head-banging followed this time sitting up and it had not stopped yet when “M” returned. (Those attacks are the worst kind, by the way. No protection for my neck when flailing up in space.) If my central nervous system was in collapse-mode then I would require maximum assistance to move. Moments passed. I breathed as best as I could. I really needed to walk out of there under my own power . . .
And so I did. I sat in the lobby for at least 30 minutes then another 20 minutes in my truck before even thinking about driving home. I could barely eat a few bites of the makeshift lunch I had brought with me. The words “shell-shocked” apply here. By the grace of God I rallied again and was able to drive home. Within a few minutes of arriving safely I came unglued, raced to our bedroom screaming and crying, overcome with grief, unable to speak to my beloved husband in complete sentences about all that I had endured that day. My mind unraveled. Somehow I completed the mold-avoidance procedures we follow when returning from any public place. Hot tears streamed down my face, mixed with the cleansing water from the shower head washing away the horror, revealing the sinus and neck headaches, unmasking the fact that no where in my body was free of pain. The bed received me at once with more thrashing/hell that was required to unwind all the damage that had been done. Eventually I passed out for about four hours . . .
Somewhere in this journey that the Lord has ordained for my life will be a glorious story of redemptive grace. A miracle perhaps. Healing? Wisdom gleaned from the years the locusts have eaten, so to speak. Blessings? Those are promises that we all can count on when we walk with the Lord our God through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28). We will know that our trials will not be wasted. Something good will come from them whether in this life or the next. When I am more recovered from The Balance Center ordeal I will speak about this with more confidence that I can today. What I want you to know is that I am not giving up. My heart raced and I was unable to breathe during one of the most violent episodes that transpired during the test procedures but I did not die. That being said, it is again crystal clear there must be more for me in the future. I am still here so why not get ready to really live instead? I can deal with that one for sure.
And so can you, Gentle Reader. But if you are “dead” in your sins then that is a different matter. Why not choose life in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ who will one day replace all of this suffering with fulfillment of His promises? Please contact me if you want to discuss this further. Please allow my suffering to bring you renewal, bring you cleansing once and for all. We simply do not have any more time to waste!