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 . . .

 

 

He said I was tough

Lying in the dusk immobile on the asphalt was not the place I had intended to be on Sunday night.  It was only the second time I had attempted to ride my bike this year and it ended in a bit of a disaster when my toe clip malfunctioned . . .

20150824_143000Lying on my chase lounge icing my sore, bruised, scraped elbow the next day came with a pretty view of our garden.  Both the clematis and the wisteria had started climbing the 8-foot trellises that flanked the flagstone patio.  From every angle but this one, their foliage plus the hydrangea, Japanese maple, dwarf mugo pine, and two goldenthread cypress blocked the view of the neighbors.  Perhaps in another year the landscaping plan will have achieved its goal of complete privacy!

Lying on the grass after dizziness set in post-crash last night, all I could see above me was a few buzzing mosquitos against the early night sky.  I had no idea the extent of my injuries.  How would I make it home?  We were two blocks from our house and I had not yet moved my left arm in searingly sharp pain.  Steve hovered nearby, having dismounted his road bike, waiting for a word from me.

Lying in bed this morning, the wretched convulsive episodes were particularly long.  They jarred my tender left arm and beaten-up spirit.  The tears flowed easily:  the big crocodile type ones that come from deep within.  “How much more trauma could my broken frame handle?”  I wondered.  Probably “all of it” would be the Biblical answer but definitely not in my own strength!  The Lord breathed life into me once again and helped me get up out of bed when my world stopped shaking.  It was afternoon:  time to get breakfast I guess.

Lying on the treatment bed in physical therapy today, I was glad that my PT was a competitive cyclist.  Like my husband, he had crashed his bike a couple of times as a consequence of the toe clips of his cycling shoes not disengaging from the pedals.  Jason made it sound like a normal occurrence.  When you must stop suddenly and the quick turn of your ankle fails to disconnect the cleat that attaches your foot to the pedal, you can do nothing to brace yourself from falling.  You simply fall straight down sideways to the hard asphalt or concrete below you.  Your elbow usually ends up taking the brunt of the impact.  Yup.  For me this was followed by my knee, hip, shoulder and head.  Thank the Lord for my helmet!

Sitting after dinner talking with my beloved Steve this evening, we reviewed the accident.  There were misunderstandings between us that needed to be clarified and a plan put in place should an acute situation like this come our way again.  This incident was unlike the medical episodes I encounter every night that often require his physical assistance or supervision.  Yet it was very difficult to separate the two types of stressors.  We agreed:  all we really wanted was a nice activity that we could share together.  Instead something went terribly wrong . . . again!  So sad.

Reliving the whole ordeal yielded two truths that made this experience significant for our future times together.  First, when I was crying in pain I was also scared not knowing if I had any serious injuries (as I still couldn’t move my left arm), struggling to get myself up off the ground the second time, and unsure how to position myself to walk home with my bike.  Steve had offered to go get my truck to bring me home.  Some other ideas he had ended up stirring some resolve within me to force myself to do as much as I could on my own.  Even in this time of mini-crisis, I would not fall victim to another major setback in my health.  I cried and groaned in agony for two blocks, stopping periodically as needed.  I was going to make it home under my own power no matter what!  This attitude carried me though the pain of later dressing and icing my wounds.  (Gratefully nothing would be broken or even sprained!)

The next morning was difficult as already mentioned.  The second truth was realized as I later was able drag my way through my daily routines.  For many of us those routines might mean interacting with real people.  For a largely homebound person that means checking social media!  And what I found under my brief post on Facebook about the accident and my gratitude for no serious injury . . . was as humbling as it was empowering.  My beloved made a comment in which he called me a “tough one.”  Really?  Yes really!  And yes, I guess I am!  He added a thought this evening that not everyone can keep on going with all of these struggles going on at once.  His words meant the world to me.  The person closest to me in this time of unbelievable struggle believes in me.  He said I was tough!

Now you and I both know, Gentle Reader, the source of the strength that lies within me.  It is not my own, it comes from the Lord.  I embody His strength when I have none of my own.  When my resolve can bring me no further, my Jesus’ hand covers mine over the handlebars and together we roll that crazy thing home.  And when I had to wash open wounds it was the Lord showing me what to do, giving me the courage to do it too.  My beloved helped me apply the compression bandages to keep down the swelling and pain.  It was my Heavenly Husband who gave me the idea to use this kind of dressing of which I had never used before and was incredibly effective.  Wow.

Lying in bed later on tonight I will have much praise for my Lord and for my beloved husband.  My arm is working fairly well a day later and I will recover fully.  I have learned a little more about the physical toughness that goes with the mental toughness of recovery from serious illness or accidents.  Both will happen in this life to all of us.  It is my prayer, Gentle Reader that no matter what situation you may find yourself in someday that you too will find the Giver of strength available to each us that knows no boundaries.  I’d love to hear about your travels with Him too.  Kind of like a bicycle built for two, eh?  JJ

woman on a bike, woman riding a bike, bicycling, biking, recreational riding, cycling, winter cycling, winter biking
First ride this year: that’s me taking a quick ride around the campground, January 2015