Torture, water-boarding and more: Part 3

[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!

Godspeed.  JJ

Torture, water-boarding and more: Part 2

This story began in Part 1 with how I landed at The Balance Center on the last day of the year for the conclusion of my hearing and vestibular system testing.  That was yesterday and I am still recovering . . .

My mood was in a major funk as I was running late for my appointment (struggling to function), trying to hold off any tic attacks whilst still getting ready and out the door.  I am back into a 2-part fractionated sleep schedule to try and manage:  1) an increase in the nightly and morning convulsive episodes and 2) getting enough sleep.  Usually there are at least 2 nights when the number of hours of unconsciousness barely exceeds FOUR; the night before the appointment was one of them!  Eeee gads.  But by the grace of God have I survived to tell the story so let us continue!

A very sweet technician named “M” was assigned to walk me through the procedures to be performed in three rooms, each equipped with various test equipment, computers, and some funny-looking masks.  I’ll include some stock photos here to bring you into my world:

The Balance Center, vestibular, training, testing, dizziness, therapy, light-headed, physical therapy, rehabilitation, audiology, mask

Generally each part of each test was completed three times.  Most of the time “M” warned me about the challenge that was about to happen (except for the water-boarding shock that came later, unfortunately!).  In the first room I stepped barefoot onto a cold, 3-walled compartment in which the floor moved independently of the walls that also moved.  She harnessed me in with the same number of straps usually employed with bungee jumping!  I remembered hearing professional dancers talk about focusing on one object as they spun around doing pirouettes so I decided that would be my strategy all afternoon to avoid up-chucking early in the game.  It helped for a little while and I guess I did o.k. during phase 2 (with phase 1 being the audiology testing in October) although the dizziness, uneasiness, queasiness, and feeling of being lost-in-space began quickly.  She allowed me to rest a short while afterwards and for this I was exceedingly grateful.  My feet eventually started to warm up  . . .

brain testing, balance testing, vestibular, rehabilitation, Balance Center, dizziness, light headedness, physical therapy, audiology, ENTI hobbled to the next room labeled, “Rotational Chair.”  Holy crap.  I was doomed!  I never liked the Merry-Go-Round at the playground as a kid and now was the time to find out why.  You know what happens to the kids too scared to jump off, right?  This is probably why The Balance Center instructs you to eat only oatmeal in the hours before your appointment!  So with fear and trembling I stepped into what looked like the anti-gravity room at the Nassau Space Center.  The walls and chair in the “space capsule” were black, equipped with even more straps that comprised the harness and seat belt configuration.  This time my head was restrained as well with the mask pictured above affixed to my head.  Then she closed the door.  I was all alone in the darkness.

I wondered about trace specks of mold, fragrance, and other irritants from the travelers who had gone before me.  Should I have been wearing my carbon mask all along to avoid trace exposures?  My mind was so overwhelmed with the test procedures that day that I would not pull it out until the dire end.  For now, I was to spin in circles and watch the little red dot ahead of me, make the line straight using the “Play Station” controllers in each hand, and hope that the fraction of light peeking through the hinge of the door would re-orient me enough to go on . . .  My defenses were rapidly breaking down.

balance-testing rotational chair

“M” asked me probably 75 questions total that afternoon, spread throughout all of the test procedures.  Had I ever fallen?  Hit my head?  Gotten dizzy?  What about headaches?  Migraines?  Chemical exposures?  You get the idea.  In the chair of the Black Hole, those questions made it impossible to focus enough to use the ballerina strategy to keep my act together.  The nausea crept up inside me then miraculously never exceeded critical mass to prompt a return of my breakfast.  (I took the nausea medication I had with me later anyways!  It was the least I could do to calm things down!)  I am now getting dizzy and light headed just writing about this experience.

When “M” opened the Magic Door and set me free from my restraint, I slumped forward with my head plunging into my hands.  What the heck was happening to me?  Low grade tic attacks erupted.  I felt listless, unbalanced, disoriented, exhausted, sideways, unsteady even in my seat, like I was struggling to keep breathing (as if someone had pushed the air out of my chest), with increased ringing in my ears and a knife-like sub-occipital headache.  The sinus headache had returned as a bonus.  I asked if I could lie down.  She agreed since there would be supine positioning in the next room and testing anyways.  Great.  I strained to hold myself together long enough to make it to the torture chamber just around the corner . . .

balance testing, vestibular, lights, flashing lights, therapy, audiology, Balance Center, testing, dizziness, light headed, head injury, concussions

The usual nightmare met me on that treatment table.  Violent convulsive episodes displayed their wretched glory with deep vocalizations that I could not control.  On and on with no end in sight they came as I lain face down in the position I have discovered that causes the least amount of trauma to my banging neck and head.  My legs were cold.  My hands were cold.  The room was darkened yet the bright desk lamp next to the technician’s computer was too bright for my eyes just 4 feet away.  I struggled to raise my arm to shield my eyes and held on for dear life.

Why was I going through all of this anyways?  Would all of this trauma really yield anything useful beyond yet another human version of a “lab rat” experiment to tell me that something was very, very wrong.  NO KIDDING SOMETHING IS WRONG!!!  I asked for my purse and awkwardly donned my face-mask when I could get my hands to work together enough to do so.  Probably 20 minutes passed before the overt symptoms stopped:  the ones you can see, that is!  Inside I was seemingly beyond repair.  This was going to take a long time from which to recover.  I wept.  The more I write about it, the more I experience a slight flashback of symptoms.  I will pause here for a little cry.  More later . . .

Continued in Part 3

 

Torture, water-boarding, and more: Part 1

balance-testing

These 3-part posts are not for the faint of heart.

I wish that I was not writing them.

This was my reality just 24 hours ago and it bears recording for future reference.

A true miracle usually starts with a hell-of-a-story.  So here it is, Part 1:

Many of you gracious, Gentle Readers know that I have been battling a serious illness for just over 4 years.  What began as an acute, viral hepatitis became the introduction of an ongoing drama that has now included (alleged) Chronic Lyme disease, mercury toxicity, poisoning from root-canaled teeth, Stage 2 Candida infection and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS) including a biotoxin illness.  The most wretched of the myriad of symptoms continues to be daily convulsive episodes.  And for the last 2 1/2 of these 4 years those episodes range from 2 to 10 hours per day rendering me useless for a bigger chunk of daily living.  (See this video for a sample.)  Currently there is no end in sight.

My toe clips failed and I fell off my bike on August 23rd of this past year causing a Closed Head Injury with Concussion.  While my baseline functioning was only mildly affected, the orthopedic and neurologic impacts were measurable.  I hit my left shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee and side of my head on the pavement.  Within the next few weeks I received chiropractic and physical therapies then was referred to “The Balance Center” to assess ongoing dizziness, lightheadedness, ringing in my ears, etc.  I pleaded with my Doctor to delay the 3 1/2 hour test procedures due to the severity of the convulsive episodes and the fact that the acute symptoms had already diminished.  He agreed and we delayed it one month to allow some additional time to heal.

The Balance Center had to get special permission to schedule the appointment after I mentioned “seizures,” for fear that I would not be able to tolerate the test procedures.  Wise concerns.  My Doctor approved their request to proceed!  When the day got nearer I intervened and delayed it another month to October.  My Doctor understood my reasoning back then and pressed for me to complete the assessment as scheduled this past week.  He stated that there still could be some vestibular issues contributing to the convulsive episodes and lingering symptoms noted above although the latter had improved.

I knew I was doomed.  Having worked in occupational therapy for over 3 decades until disabled by this wretched illness, I knew about vestibular testing and rehabilitation.  I had attended a weekend training for it many years ago and referred my home health patients to this very clinic!  Now it was my turn.  I also knew that test devices with moving parts that cause you to lose your balance, spin you around, prompt you to move your eyes rapidly and the like would be hell for me.  I did not think I would be able to complete most of it.  That is exactly what happened:  the first appointment in October had ended after the audiology test portion: a simple hearing test in a quiet, sound-proof booth!  When the audiologist entered the room to review the results after I had just stopped seizing, her perfume sent me into more violent episodes.  It took a long time to recover from everything as I sat in a cold chair in a long hallway, staff and patients busily walking by . . .

They did the best they could with my atypical “case” perhaps.  However, the room with the sound-proof booth was already booked for the next patient and the schedule, the schedule, THE SCHEDULE must go on don’t you know?  Such is life in modern medicine these days.  It was a very desolate feeling to sit there with my unsupported head banging around with no where to lie down to minimize injury.  Gratefully the technician was very nice as she escorted me to my “recovery chair,” and later offered to reschedule me.  Reluctantly we settled upon the last day of the year:  that was yesterday.

See Part 2 for the rest of the story . . .