Soon I will come up on the seven year anniversary of when serious illness entered my life. No, I won’t be kayaking in the Cedarville Reservoir to commemorate October 11, 2011! That’s the day I contracted viral hepatitis and never really recovered. It’s been a complicated journey since then, trying to get well.
Soon I will meet with my Doctor and see what he thinks about a new treatment with which I have been experimenting. Recently I wrote about how devastated I was when some vascular studies revealed no new information about why the convulsive episodes continue. Over the next week I dwelt at the foot of the Cross of my Savior and He showed me some things I had not considered before: many of the triggers of episodes have had something to do with my neck. The CT Angiogram helped me examine this issue more closely and led me back to a comment by an ENT specialist back in January. He said I should look into vagal nerve seizures and so I did. That process led me to pursue specialized dental appliances that helped take pressure off of most of the cranial nerves involved in episodes and they started coming down within a day or two. Adjustments in the appliances helped further then the improvements waxed and waned as time went on. It is now 7 months later. They are a pain to wear and look weird. What else could be going on?
Soon I may have more of an answer to that question as I experiment with specific stimulation of one of the 12 cranial nerves: the vagus nerve as it travels through my neck area. A person has to be careful with this as it lies in close proximity, distal to the carotid arteries, thyroid, and parathyroid glands in the front of the neck. Indeed vagal nerve seizures is a part of some forms of epileptic seizures and is treated with a surgically implanted vagal nerve stimulator. A person has to have a diagnosis of intractable epilepsy or migraine headaches with treatment failures from trials of two types of medications before it is deemed medically feasible. For me, no epileptiform activity was ever detected in EEG sleep studies even though numerous convulsive episodes occurred during two different studies in two different clinics. I now wonder if they should have been watching the heart monitor not the EEG monitor when the episodes spiked. Changes in heart rate and other vitals can accompany a seizure. I have experienced this. Were these factors recorded but missed in my clinical studies?
Hopefully soon my experimentation with two different vibrating wands will stop these wretched seizure attacks altogether. I found 2 very simple devices that I could carry with me, experimented until I figured out which ones work better at a given time of day. The high-frequency wand makes me sleepy so I use it at night. The lower frequency wand is more effective during the daytime should I feel the symptoms of a pre-tic episode. How cool is this? Yes, I still need to avoid certain head-and-neck positions due to other cervical spine issues, get back into either chiropractic care or physical therapy, and review everything with my primary Doctor. I will continue wearing my specialized dental appliances. In the meantime, it sure is nice having a better option than Prednisone (which I can only take in emergency situations!) to bring real relief for daily involuntary head-banging!
Will letcha know really soon, Gentle Reader if this all leads to something GOOD. In the meantime, I am encouraged. And grateful. Thank you Lord, for bringing hope beyond what I can see once again. JJ
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:
Two infected teeth with root canals
Inflammation secondary to the infection and
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 embryonicpons, and the sensory division originates in the cranial neural crest.
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