The Extended Forcast is Good!

Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.  Philippians 1:12

I am 2 days post surgical removal of 2 root-canaled teeth and THE CONVULSIONS ARE GONE!!!  Yipppeeee and praise the Lord!  This 3 years of daily hell for me and my beloved husband, Steve, is finally over!

While there is still much work to do to detox mercury toxicity and re-evaluate chronic Lyme and mold illnesses, I feel more optimistic that I will be able to tolerate those treatments someday.  Until this week, I was failing.  I was bedridden most every day with convulsive episodes.  The grief and impact was huge on everything from our finances to my aching neck.  My husband no longer got a full night of sleep and this illness had changed virtually every activity inside/outside of our home.  How would Steve find me when he came home from work?  Would he have to make me my pureed dinner and feed me again before bed tonight?  Carry me to the toilet?  Our hearts were weary after 3 years of this living hell.

Nine months ago I began investigating how two sore molars in the upper left section of my jaw might be impacting my health.  Four dentists and three oral surgeons, a cone beam CT, MRI, and pano plus regular x-rays later (including a consultation out of State) we had no objective data to guide us.  Everything looked “fine.”  The teeth had bothered me for over 13 years!  Fifteen years ago I had all my amalgam fillings removed but was never guided to chelate for mercury.  Were there silver filings containing mercury remaining underneath the crowns over these two teeth?  We will never know the answer to that question.  My saliva had started tasting metallic.  Eating started triggering the convulsive episodes.  With Steve’s support, we took an expensive leap of faith and pursued a dental solution.

Additionally, seven weeks before what would become the big day, I started eating only on the right side of my mouth.  Two and one-half weeks later I started a pureed diet to eliminate the chewing action that seemed to make things worse; all this was quite a feat since my struggle to get well led me to eat low oxalate, virtually dairy-free, and completely sugar/sweetener-free, gluten-free, and mold -free foods too!  Another two weeks later and 1 week before the surgery I noticed that using plastic utensils delayed the onset of convulsions after eating.  Even drinking my foods through a straw helped initially then ultimately triggered episodes.  I feared eating anything at all!  The only problem with that was hunger and thirst could also trigger convulsions or make them worse.  I felt trapped!

Three and one-half days before the dental surgery my doctor recommended trying an EMF deflecting device.  “It might help” he said, like so many other recommendations I had received all over the spectrum of traditional and alternative medical care.  After one such technology (a Rife machine called a Beam Ray) I tried 3 years ago to treat “Chronic Lyme,” the daily tic attacks started.  Within a year these episodes would escalate to waking seizure attacks then convulsive episodes lasting 2 to 5 hours per day.  We had tried to shield me from wireless technology in our home in the past yet the results were initially helpful then inconsistent.  This time the GEOMACK from Spain reduced the intensity of the convulsions 50%.  That reduction gave me a tiny boost of strength that I needed to physically and mentally prepare for surgery.  My husband got some much needed sleep as well!  Could their be an electrical cause after all?  (See this blog for more anatomy and discussion.)

The morning of the surgery went as usual.  Convulsive episodes began shortly after opening my eyes and periodically as we prepared to leave the house.  Seizure zips ripped through my hungry and thirsty frame as my beloved drove us to the hospital.  We were still reeling from the large check we had to carry with us since the oral surgeon insisted on performing the extractions near a crash cart, I guess.  And after some prayers, many silly jokes and one last shake/rattle/and roll with placement of the IV in my arm, the time had come to let go and not look back.  We reviewed my situation with the anesthesiologist and oral surgeon, surgical tech, and several nurses.  They were not to abort the mission if I seized under anesthesia!  Just wait a moment and get the job done.

I’d like to say that I woke up in a calm, blissful state but that simply was not the case.  I became nauseous and pain management was a problem over the next day and one-half.  Oh well.  One thing was certain:  THERE WERE NO SEIZURES OR CONVULSIONS!   The “battery effect” of dissimilar metals in 2 adjacent crowns over root-canaled teeth WERE FRICKIN’ GONE!  No more tazoring of my brain would continue.  And hey, if there was hidden infection in the root-canaled teeth then the problems caused therein are now also “history.”  The hell is over.

My job now includes retraining my brain to relax when falling asleep instead of bracing for impact.  My job now includes remembering all of the relaxation techniques I used to train my patients in psychiatric hospitals to deal with anxiety.  I need to rework those memory pathways and feelings of impending doom that followed me, waited for me every night, every morning, every time when I was exposed to noxious stimuli, or even on the clothing or breath of my beloved anytime, anywhere.  Hey, no problemmo.  I am ready to live and the extended forecast is good!

Thank you and big hugs to those of you who have followed my story for any length of time,  You have been an important part of my lifeblood to go on when I could not.  Sometimes my husband could not be home with me and I was alone, feeling terrified mostly of even greater suffering and it came.  The worst episodes were never captured on YouTube videos because my warrior husband was needed to hold me tightly to keep me from greater harm instead of holding onto a camera.  Sometimes the Lord was silent even when I cried out to Him when breathless, facing death again and again when my breathing stopped.  When He did speak I gained the courage I needed to face the next trial.  In the end, death was not my greatest fear.  Dying without my Heavenly Husband was.

But you know what?  I made it through.  Steve made it through.  A new chapter in our lives is about to begin.  I’m going to take some time now and regroup.  I am very weak.  An infusion of my Jesus is needed.  The warmest embrace with my beloved must follow.  And really good food cannot be far behind.  After tomorrow the putty d’ jour will be history!  Yeah God!

Pureed Tri-Color Carrots, Cauliflower, Bacon, Ground Round, Potato Chips, Homemade Broth, and Sea Salt
Pureed Organic Tri-Color Carrots & Cauliflower, Bacon, Organic Beef & Potato Chips, Homemade Broth, and Sea Salt in the Recovery Room!

With love, JJ

But the Lord was my support. He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.  Psalm 18:18b-19

Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

UPDATE:  The holiday from convulsive episodes did not last, unfortunately.  There were many benefits from having these two infected teeth removed:  significantly less mouth pain, less congestion in the upper shoulder and neck, decreased TMJ symptoms, decreased auditory anomalies, reduced ringing in my ears, and more.  Then there was a miracle:  our insurance company covered most of the $10,000 bill.  Amazing!  :J

The liver that got away

Roger looked more like a tall, lanky college student than a young adult with schizophrenia.  He was also smart:  well-studied as if to be a medical school student long before the days where WebMD could make the rest of us stand out from our peers on a particular topic of interest.  There was one problem with Roger’s course of study, however.  I met him shortly after what could have been his second fatal mistake.

Roger believed that removal of his liver would cure his schizophrenia.  Yes, truly, and he would talk about it with a straight face in earnest to his psychiatrist.  Roger had poured over medical books, secured all the tools and supplies of a typical surgical suite, and attempted a procedure at home in the past.  When he could not control the bleeding at some point during the procedure he called the paramedics and was rushed to a local hospital.  They patched him up and transferred him to the mental health unit where he stayed until his psychiatric medication could be “adjusted.”

Within a short time after discharge Roger re-doubled his efforts.  He gathered more supplies for a second attempt at a total liver resection.  Somehow he never read that the liver is a vital organ and that he would die if he ever succeeded.  And who knows where he found sterile drapings, forceps, lancets, and such in the days long before Amazon and Medline?  What he did not expect the second time was the intolerable pain he would experience as he got deeper into his surgery.  He was alone and got scared.  Again he called the paramedics, was hospitalized, and landed on the mental health unit.

I worked as an occupational therapist on that unit with the even lower functioning clients than Roger.  While he was not one of my patients, his notoriety was the talk of the nursing station.  What incredible bravery it would take to operate on oneself with what, a handheld mirror?  I mean, how exactly did he do it?  I think I recall that he was discharged to a residential facility after his hospital stay in an effort to preserve his life lest he make a third attempt.  The delusion that excision of his liver could cure his mental illness was simply too strong to believe that he would ever give up his theory until he died trying to make it so.

And so here I find myself four days before my own surgical procedure, banking on a theory that excision of two teeth will save my own life.  Have I too succumbed to the “Roger effect?”  When contrasted to sick thinking, we all like to think that ours is different.  After all, I have done my research and can find clinical and anecdotal evidence that what I have asked an oral surgeon to do will cure the worst of my ills.  Dr. R doesn’t agree with my suppositions (a biologic dentist did!) yet is willing to proceed to diminish years of dental pain AND after having required extraordinary precautionary measures!  Lord willing all will be completed on Thursday, March 26th:  my spirit will no longer be crushed with the virtual hell that has left me bedridden most days.  (See this blog for details: https://justjuliewrites.com/2015/03/01/only-my-potato-chips-remain-crushed-today/)

Looking back to my days working in mental health I realized that I have come a long way in my view of the world.  Today I am more willing to ask the tough questions of life than in the past.  I see that I am not so different from many of the patients who landed in a “psych ward.”  By the grace of God I did not have to be admitted or committed when my despair exceeded my ability to cope.  Somehow the Lord provided the hope, the help, the peace to carry on until the day when the pain was no longer unbearable.  Gratefully, much emotional pain has left my life for good.  Much joy has taken it’s place even in the face of this horrible illness.  My internal joy is no longer measured by my circumstances; He has allowed me to overcome immeasurable desperation.  I believe that things will begin to turnaround this week.  This week people!

If he is still alive today, I do hope that Roger has found some peace with his struggles.  Wherever you are today dear one, I pray these words from the Lord for you and your loved ones.  Sometimes letting go of that one thing that got away in our lives is the very thing that brings us to all that we seek:  the joy that passes all understanding.

John 16:33 (NIV)

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16.33

Off in the distance

Time is right

This is a tough one for me and likely for everyone reading this at some level or another.  Let’s add a Biblical perspective:

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens  (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.  (Lamentations 3:25-26)

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  (Galatians 6:9)

And there is more from my own experience in life.  Waiting on the Lord in the past was where my faith in Him was strengthened.  I remember a time when the crisis was so severe that the Pastor and Elders in my church kept asking me how I was doing with the basics of life:  eating, drinking enough fluids and sleeping.  Yes, they were all a struggle.  By the grace of God and many good sojourners I got through that season of life with sweet victory.  And here I am again in another . . .

March 26th is the day that Steve and I hope everything will start to change for the better.  As written in the potato chip blog, we believe that a dental procedure will vastly reduce if not eliminate the hours of daily convulsive episodes.  Yesterday it was on and off for 24 hours!  You know it’s bad when you see stars and are gasping for air.  Despite nearly a hundred episodes, somehow I read a book while in lying in bed.  It served to protect my mind from dwelling on the wretchedness when I could focus.  I am hoping it preserves a few of the neuronal synapses in my brain from damage.  And focusing despite the pain does carry me through the daytime, the nighttime.  Talking to Jesus a lot is a given . . . .

Thirteen more days and this hell could be over.  In one month will be the 3-year anniversary of when the tics began while thinking I needed to treat a clinical diagnosis of Lyme disease with a fancy Rife machine.  The Beam Ray was a mistake for me.  It has taken 3 long years and many failed attempts at various treatments to figure out what is causing the tazoring of my central nervous system.  Lord willing with removal of the source of what could be “dental galvanism” in my head, I will begin to heal from so much.  And so in my weakness I rest at the throne of grace that delivers me each day unto the next.  Lord willing, I am going to get well.  Off in the distance is the hope of this new beginning for me and my beloved, Stevers.  We are hopeful that His goodness awaits.

Gentle Reader:  Just wait for the shining glory of His light through the words on this page as that day comes.  Are you ready for it?  Brace for impact!  It’s going to be a good day real soon!  Like the old Barbara Streisand song goes, “there ain’t no tellin’ what a satisfied woman can do!”  ;J

Only my potato chips remain crushed today

Who knew that finely crushed, Unsalted Kettle Potato Chips would be like a salve to my wounded frame today?  In the spirit of my previous foodie post, I must say that finely crushed chips make my creamy beef stew-ish soup puree quite special.  Since there are potato chips in my belly, life will go on after all!

Yes, there is other good news after enduring 36-hours of hell, ending about an hour ago:  we believe we have identified the trifecta-root cause of much of my illness.  However, unlike a horserace where a bet on a trifecta identifies win, place, or show, we are not sure of the order of these little fillies:

  1. Two infected teeth with root canals
  2. Inflammation secondary to the infection and
  3. Dental galvanism from dissimilar metals in the crowns of the root-canaled teeth.

Now we recognize that while we certainly won’t know the exact cause until the teeth are extracted and I have treated the infection, if needed.  I am on a waiting list for a local surgeon after a trip to see a qualified biologic dentist out-of-state resulted in being passed on to someone else equally far from home.  My husband has led us to the decision to find someone else locally; I am on a waiting list to have my appointment moved up from April 2nd with the best local oral surgeon.  Those Gentle Readers who have followed me for awhile know that I have thought before that we found the “root cause” of everything.  The “it” still could be complicated by underlying Lyme disease, mold neurotoxins and the definite mercury toxicity fueling it all.  Yet one thing is now clear:  these teeth still have to come out!

Here’s a brief summary of these three new factors in my own words:

1.  When a person has a root canal procedure, a dead tooth is left behind.  The primary root canals consisting of nerve tissue and blood are scraped out and a rubber-like substance called gutta percha is stuffed into the remaining cavity.  While the opening is treated with an antiseptic, no one can ever know for sure if any secondary root canals were left un-cleaned and untreated.  Any remaining nerve and blood tissues dies and can provide food for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria.

Between the root canal channel and the outer enamel of the tooth is the dentin, consisting of 3 miles of dentil tubules.  These are too numerous to be completely sterilized before placement of the gutta percha.  Thus there is a possibility of infection seeping into the dentil tubules.  When a tooth is healthy, all of the dental tissues are washed with blood but this is no longer possible with the severing of the blood vessels during the root canal procedure.  However, if the infection grows, the bacteria can eventually seep from it’s hidden little factory in the tubules into the jaw bone and surrounding blood supply thus potentially affecting the mouth and rest of the body.  It is well-recognized that these bacteria can be exceedingly dangerous.

Lastly, during a root canal procedure the periodontal ligament is often left in place around the dead tooth, adding further risk for infection and necrosis from this dead tissue lying next to the gums or jaw bone.  Only in the dental industry is a once-living, now-dead tissue and a dead structure (the tooth) allowed to stay in the body; otherwise this tissue would be surgically removed as in the examples of damaged frostbitten fingers, gangrenous toes, severely burned skin, etc!

2.  As spoken by the nurse in my doctor’s office this past week, reddened tissue means inflammation and often indicates the presence of infection.  Pain in the upper left portion of my jaw has lasted over 13 years, increasing lately to the point of requiring periodic Ibuprofen and topical treatments such as (diluted) clove oil.  I now chew food only on the right side of my mouth, avoid hot and cold temperatures, and consume soft/pureed foods so as to minimize the chewing and pressure on my teeth that trigger convulsive episodes.  Geez!

3.  Though considered controversial by traditional dentists, it is easy to find hundreds of mainstream and holistic dentistry sites that have described the dental galvanism (aka “battery effect”) that can occur from the use of dissimilar metals in amalgam fillings, crowns, and dental appliances.  I had my amalgam fillings (generally consisting 50% of mercury) removed many years ago yet there remains a question if there is any remaining underneath one of my crowns.  The bigger issue is that three of the four crowns in my mouth consist of a combination of metals.  To establish if the presence of metals (in the presence of saliva) creates any currents between my teeth, yesterday my husband and I touched the probes of a voltmeter to the surface of the two teeth in question.  The voltage was TWICE that of my skin on my arm!  Steve questioned if this small amount of voltage would be of any clinical significance?  Note that microcurrent (significantly less than the voltage we measured on my teeth) is used in rehabilitation for the treatment of pain.  This means that the body must be affected by tiny currents.  Too bad the current in my teeth is not mitigating pain!    Conversely, I wonder if this battery-effect is over stimulating a part of my brain, triggering the convulsions instead?

Now to flesh out number 3 a little more, I refreshed myself on a little neuroanatomy.  The upper branch of the trigeminal nerve innervates the upper and lower jaw of the mouth.  The trigeminal nerve originates from a part of the brainstem called the “Pons” which sits on top of the spinal cord inside the back of the skull; three branches extend on each side of your head and across the face with the mandibular branch dividing over the top and bottom of the jaw.   During dental procedures, this is the nerve into which a dentist injects a numbing agent such as Novocain.  The motor division of the entire trigeminal nerve derives from the basal plate of the embryonic pons, and the sensory division originates in the cranial neural crest.

Fifth Cranial Nerve Distribution:  Trigeminal Nerve (from Wikipedia 2.27.15)
Fifth Cranial Nerve Distribution: Trigeminal Nerve (from Wikipedia 2.27.15)

To hypothesize what electrical stimulation from 1) this battery-effect flowing 2) BACK TO the brain in the first two of these three areas could mean for a person, I took some liberties and looked up the symptoms of the person who has a stroke affecting these three areas.  (The cranial neural crest has more significance in embryonic development and stem cell research than the discussion here so I left it out.)  My findings are fascinating.  Please note that the exact symptoms will depend on which biological “electrical circuits” and junctions are affected since the structures are so small and interrelated; we cannot know for certain which structures will be affected.  Regardless, I have listed a few symptoms that I do experience from each of these respective areas during my own seizure attack or convulsive episodes.

  • Damage to Basal Plate Symptoms:  Loss of movement, such as stiff, rigid or weak muscles; tremors or body shakes; aphasia (difficulty speaking); changes in eye movements; or changes in motivation or personality.
  • Damage to Embryonic Pons Symptoms:  Weakness of upper and lower extremity (arm and leg on same side as damage); dysregulation from inhalation to exhalation (difficulty breathing); sleep paralysis (inability to move when falling asleep or after waking up and altered dreams); difficulties with balance (ataxia); dizziness due to vertigo; or clumsiness of a hand or arm.  A person with a severe stroke may need help with self-care or feeding as a result.

Wow.  These all have happened in some combination with each “tazoring” as I call it.  Thankfully there are higher parts of my brain in the cerebral cortex that appear unaffected and thankfully the symptoms are not permanent so far!  I would not be able to write this blog if the damage was permanent.  But I know I cannot overthink all of this.  After the onset of acute upper back pain two days ago, I feared what the range of random electrical charges on my weakened frame could do to my heart.  Or was it a heart attack?  Well, no.  I had gone too far.  Pain comes from thrashing around and will be dealt with when I return to physical therapy and chiropractic care sometime after dental surgery.

Wasn’t this interesting?  There is much hope in putting all of this together.  Please join me in praying for the Lord’s will in all of this.  And if it is the Lord’s will, I would love to have these two crazy teeth outta here ASAP!  Time for these little ones to go!  I prefer to be toothless in Indiana with crushed potato chips on my soup of the day instead of this saga continuing.  Even if my hypothesis was wrong, I am grateful for the mental stimulation, the challenge of the hunt.  I trust that the Lord will use all of this for His glory.  Maybe this insight will help someone, somewhere, someday?

And you know and Lord willing, this year I AM GOING TO GET WELL!!!  Yeah baby.  Take care Gentle Readers.  JJ