Just short of maximum destruction

monster truck, women, riding, Maximum Destruction, celebrate, ride a truck

That’s me with my brother’s girlfriend catching a ride on a Saturday night as I waved to my husband from the Monster Truck ride at the Maximum Destruction show.  Although I had never ridden in a jacked-up truck before, the figure-8 track of an auto raceway not far from the Motor City is nothing new for me.  I grew up hollering and hooting during demolishion derbies on hot summer weekends in the Detroit area where I grew up.  Virtually everyone in my family worked in the auto industry, the men in my family all tinkered with their cars, and my Dad founded a company that produced the fastest slot car motors on the tracks in the 1960’s.  It seems so long ago yet the adrenaline is so easy to tap into when I hear those engines get revved up!

The racing was exciting!  The effect it had on me was not-so-much exciting as it jittered my fragile nerves.  We did make it all the way through to the trailer races on the figure-8 track at the end of the night:  battered vehicles of all types pulling various types of 2-wheeled trailers for about 10 laps around the track.  The smash-ups drew roars from the crowd and the buggy towing the large teddy bear in a row boat took home the trophy that night.  I was exhausted as my own River Bear drove us home into the wee hours of the morning back across the State lines to Indiana.  What a crazy night!

I am not sure if it was all of the smoke that seeped through my charcoal mask, the vibration of the roaring engines, sitting on those damp wooden bleacher seats, or what exactly affected me the most on Sunday.  I sure slept a lot!  Certainly any of it would have kept me home just 1 year ago.  I am doing better in many ways.  But today brought another bad convulsive episode that seems to be happening again about every other day now.  We are puzzled; I am discouraged.  The healing from the specialized dental appliances and upper cervical chiropractic care appeared to be helping to decrease my reactivity, normalize my sleep/wake cycle, increase my activity level, and overall decrease the episodes.  There were at least 2 days per week when I had no seizure attacks at all!  And now they are back.

The only possibility we can think of right now, after nearly 7 years of serious illness and more medical care than you can imagine is a hidden issue in my cervical spine.  Cervical vascular disease can give rise to traditional seizures but more in the acute phase of these issues than in a chronic phase.  When neck extension can trigger them and the episodes can include a near paralysis of one side of my body then I start to think there is more going on than some pinched cranial nerves.  Have the dental appliances reduced my symptoms 80%?  Yes, until now, they have yet I still deal with the remaining 20% every day.  Chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy  have both triggered and resolved an onset of episodes.

My medical doctor took some convincing then ordered the first of a couple of diagnostic tests after realizing that I have a family history of carotid artery  and heart disease.  I was at the race this weekend with my brother who had a devastating stroke 4 years ago due to occlusion of his carotid arteries.  For me, initial testing shows that my carotid artery is fine; it is the vertebral artery that could be most suspect as it travels around the first cervical vertebrae called the atlas.  More testing should clarify what is going on.  I often have instability or rotation at the level of  C1.  It doesn’t move correctly during flexion or extension according to specialized cervical xrays.  We have got to figure out what is going in these structures in my neck!

Today and some other days recently, Steve providing simple distraction technique of my neck eventually resolved my worst symptoms during a bad episode.  Extreme fatigue follows with an emotional release of frustration, despondency, exasperation, grief, and sorrow.  This has just been going on for so very long!  I am amazed that all of the massively destructive movement patterns occurring thousands of times day after day for years has not caused more damage to my weary frame.  This finding actually gives me hope — that if the episodes stop then maybe I can regain some physical health and fitness with with what is left of me, with the body my Lord has entrusted to my care.  Even those beat-up sedans, pick-up trucks, and other stock cars on the race track somehow keep going to win races week after week.  Just tune ’em up, sure-up the quarter panels-n-bumpers, and onto the track they line up to race another day.

Perhaps that will be me at some level too in my race called “life.”  Only I think I’ll add a little more bling to my frame than the lipstick ladies did to their jalopies during the first heat this past Saturday night.  I might even spruce up the “paint job” on my hair color too.  Next weekend (or hopefully one day soon) just might be my night to shine when the official waves the green flag to get up and go.  Surely that will be a prize worth waiting for . . . just short of the ultimate finish line in heaven.  Yes my Lord, I’m ready!

JJ

Hebrews, 12:1, run, the race, with endurance, Bible verse, race of life

Do you see me?

I shook for almost 3 hours in that clinic recliner chair after a treatment that was supposed to help me.  Why did the nurse wait to answer the call light when I finally figured out what I needed to do?

treatment, recliner, hospital, bark a lounger, adjustable, IV infusion

I couldn’t speak properly but had to go to the bathroom greatly, knowing it would require transport via wheelchair and considerable physical assistance.  Why do I have to risk the episode worsening as I attempt to blurt it all out and even help operate the dang chair?

My left arm and leg were too weak and unstable as they seized with the rest of me so pivoting on a leg opposite the grab bar was the only way to land on the toilet dontcha know?  Why do I have to keep repeating that initiation of speech or movement makes the convulsions worse then be forced in a situation to have to do both anyways?

Each jolt repeated hundreds of times that night made the headache spike while wrenching my neck, spine, low back but alas I could do nothing to stop it or change its course.  Why did not voiding alleviate the symptoms like it had so many times before?

The infusions of fluids were supposed to help me treat the dysautonomia they said and address the dehydration but instead pushed me deeper into an exacerbation of my worst symptoms.  Why did not both doctors return my calls about my care that week, that day?

My beloved rescued me, drove me home, and helped me start the decontamination procedures to minimize the influence of exposures that could make the episode persist.  I feared falling in the shower after mumbling that I thought I could do it myself after he left.  Why do these heartaches keep happening to us?

I am still so very sick a year post IV antibiotics, genetic coaching, IV and compounded nutritional treatments, testing and treatments beyond that most experts would ever comprehend.  Why am I still at this level of strife FIVE YEARS down the road with no money for a big new direction, a possible cure?

The symptoms concerning me most recently are the ones where my cognition becomes dulled.  Why . . .  How in the world will we figure this out if my mind goes dim now?

I place this need to know “why” at the foot of my Lord’s cross who crafted this journey for me and my beloved for this time in our lives.  Thank you Jesus for Steve’s love.  I surrender my questions, my suffering, the thorns in my flesh, and the weakening of my mind to Your mighty hand with trust o’ God of the universe Who reigns!  Whether the battle is in the heavenlies or in my heart, my flesh, I let it all go to you now and ask for your covering my Jesus Christ.

God’s Word captures the submission of Job to the Lord in His time of suffering:

25 I know that my redeemer lives,
    and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
    yet in my flesh I will see God;
27 I myself will see him
    with my own eyes—I, and not another. (Job 19)

“I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.

“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
    but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
    and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42)

Me too.  I trust that You always see me.  I will trust in you.  JJ

O.B. Panties and an HGTV Hangover

Are you going to love it or list it?  Are you ready to see your fixer upper?  I just don’t think this kitchen is big enough for me!  This will all have to be torn out and redone!

And so goes the thoughts in my head the day after being discharged from the hospital.   Since cable TV was my only steady friend and we don’t have cable TV at home, we got really well acquainted in the past 3 days.  I am convinced now that the wood floors in our home are stunning and that we can stay put for awhile longer.  Wood floors are on-trend these days dontcha know?

I also learned that O.B. elastic panties secure blankets over hospital bedrails really well!   When you are on “Fall Precautions” and have a history of seizures, they pad the bedrails with them.  The only problem is that I am sure that wrapping blankets over metal bed rails hardly meets JCAHO requirements for prevention of injury!  They outta have provided bed pads.  Oh well.  Welcome to the modern hospital complete with a 20+ year old hammock sling for a mattress.  Otherwise, the food filled my belly and care was alright.

I was in the hospital after an urgent trip to the Rapid Care Clinic associated with my doctor’s office sent me there on Sunday.  The Internal Medicine Doc said I could get an evaluation from an Infectious Disease Specialist there (which I was later promised in the ER as well).  That never happened.  What did happen was getting pumped with a plethora of drugs that created nausea for the first day and one-half, exhaustion from side effects and lack of sleep, weight gain from 4,000 cc of fluid and food-snacks-with-every-drug-to-protect-my-tummy, and a lesson in humility.

Regarding the latter, I learned that Nurse Practitioners and Physician’s Assistants run the modern hospital in America these days.  Or at least they do for what happens bedside.  I saw both types of professionals; they got to talk to the Infectious Disease Doc but I did not.  Turns out that my acute case of shingles had been seen before so they treated me “by the book.”  Never mind my history of daily seizures and concern for the brain-swelling complications that can come with the worst cases of shingles:  a disaster potential which could change my life even further, forever.  Thank you Lord that I had called the Ophthalmologist on-call the night before and gotten the treatment needed to protect my eyes from the herpes zoster virus.  It is through the blurry vision of an eye ointment that I chat with you today!  The hospitalists never mentioned protecting my eyes from the spread of this nasty, searingly painful viral infection . . .

So I did my time, got my drugs, stabilized a good part of the intractable pain, and got sent home with:  red lesions and swelling on the right side of my face, a 4th day of constipation, lots of prescriptions for drugs and OTC meds, and a renewed sense of what it means to NOT be in charge of your own life, your own healthcare.  I did get to ask questions and for that I am grateful.  I did receive my Lyme infusions of antibiotics before I left to continue that part of my treatment and for that I am grateful.  I tolerated a peripheral line for 3 days without skin irritation and for that I was amazingly grateful.  I did catch up on HGTV enough to last me a good long while and for that I am grateful.  And I was reasonably able to tolerate a modified, hybrid version of my diet from the hospital menu and for that I am grateful.  I was alone for those 3 days and 2 nights yet my Heavenly Husband was always present and for that I am grateful.

There are two other tidbits to note:  I met a lady while walking the halls who was in the hospital for pneumonia.  She’s a smoker and familiar with Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  I shared with her a short testimony of how the Lord appeared to be orchestrating the meds I was given during that hospital stay to possibly treat the serious seizures I have been suffering for 5 years.  Please join me in praying that the person of Jesus Christ would become real for her as well:  as her personal Savior this Christmas.

My second point was hidden in the first noted above.  Did ya catch it?  Yes, I have not had a seizure since coming home from the hospital and had WAAAY FEWER since taking Neurontin in the hospital.  Neurontin is not typically given for Non-epileptic seizure episodes but hey, it is commonly indicated for shingles.  Win-win?  I am hopeful.  What if these 5 years of suffering daily episodes are about to end?  It is too soon to tell how this will proceed going forward yet I am grateful for my little Christmas week reprieve for sure!

Merry Christmas to you, Gentle Reader.  Be sure to check out the Christmas Letter from Steve and me posted today as well.  Even in the dark times there is hope since the Light of the World has come as the person of Jesus Christ.  Oh I do hope that you will share with me in knowing this joy today!

And keep an eye on your panties, eh?  JJ

maternity, pregnancy, other uses, panties, underwear, adapted, stretch

 

It’s Legal: CBD Oil is Here to Stay

A couple of years ago, I ordered my first bottle of CBD oil from Bluebird Botanicals.  My hope is that it would take away the seizure attacks that I experienced on a daily basis as part of a serious and complex illness.  The preliminary research showed that CBD oil made from industrial hemp would be legal for me to purchase in Indiana, was effective for intractable seizure disorders affecting children, and would bear few if any side effects.

I tried it.  I slowly increased my dose over the next 3 weeks to the level indicated in the testimonies and research that I had found online.  Then things went terribly wrong.  I started to have frightful nightmares.  They increased in vividness and horror then were joined by waking night terrors.  These are the kind that don’t stop when you wake up!  I was scared to continue.  I backed down my dose, took a break, re-started and nothing seemed to bring relief.  The benefits of halting or preventing seizure attacks did not outweigh these horrible side effects.  Eventually I abandoned CBD oil altogether.

While medical marijuana has Cannabidiol (CBD) as an ingredient, you don’t need to live in a State where medical marijuana is legal to obtain CBD oil by itself.  Medical marijuana also contains THC which is a schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States.  CBD oil from industrial hemp only contains .3% THC.  This allows sale of pure CBD oil in all 50 States.  For me the .3% was still too much.  I would later understand that I don’t even have a genetic disposition in my opiate receptors to explain my hypersensitivity to THC.  Heck, I smoked pot occasionally as a young adult without any ill effects.  There would simply be no explanation for my intolerance of legal CBD oil from industrial hemp.

industrial, hemp, CBD, oil, seizures, convulsions, benefits, legal, legalize, Lyme, tremors, tics

Flash forward 3 years.  I became acquainted with a company who manufactured pharmaceutical grade liposomal products.  When they introduced a CBD oil product made from industrial hemp, I decided to try it again.  I still suffered from daily convulsive episodes although the number of hours lost per day to them had decreased after beginning IV antibiotics for chronic Lyme disease.  Seizures, tics of organic origin, non-epileptic seizures (or whatever you want to call them) were a definite neurological complication of latent Lyme disease.  The episodes were less per day but not gone.  I ordered a bottle.

I did not get past a single dose of the new product before suffering another waking night terror incident.  Dang!  The only difference this time was that the superior liposomal nanoparticle size delivered the CBD more quickly to my brain than the Bluebird Botanicals product — and for me that was not good.  I returned the bottle to the healthcare professional from whom I had ordered it.  And then I waited.  There would be no other compelling rescue remedies to reduce my suffering when the nightly episodes came.  No doctor would order medication for me to even try; I have been to the Emergency Room 10 times over these past 4 1/2 years because of wretched convulsions!  Even over-the-counter Benedryl would leave me unable to function very well the next day if it did stop them (and render me too sleepy to care about anything the next day).  A few herbal antibacterial supplements offered temporary relief on occasion and the reason for that will be another blog post about Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).  Neurotransmitters and hormones that can give rise to seizures are manufactured in the gut dontcha know . . .

I learned that one of the better manufacturers of CBD oil was preparing to introduce a THC-free CBD oil so I contacted the owner.  I leveraged everything and asked to try a beta version of their new product.  Within 2 weeks the bottle arrived in the mail.  It took around 15 drops to get a significant response:  their THC-free CBD oil definitely helped reduce the intensity and duration of the nightly seizure attacks.  Yeah God!  This benefit happened even when herxing (or reacting) to a new antibiotic used in the treatment of SIBO.  Some relief came at last!  I am optimistic for the benefits that I might receive when the first round of antibiotics for the treatment of SIBO are completed in 5 more days.  Perhaps healing my gut will help everything as well.  In the meantime I have contacted the owner again to see if I might obtain additional product; my hope is to transition from using it as a rescue remedy to having enough for regular dosing that can help prevent the episodes altogether.  I may need to switch brands to get this accomplished.  We’ll see.

CBD oil is legal for purchase in all 50 States of the USA.  If you are frustrated with noxious symptoms especially tics, seizures, pain, depression, or anxiety, there may be hope in the use of CBD oil from industrial hemp.  Please do significant research on the track record of the manufacturer, look for independent lab testing of purity/potentency/concentration of active ingredients and absence of unnecessary fillers before making your purchase, especially if online.  Very likely you will not find a superior product at your local health food store as hemp seeds and hemp oil contain too low a concentration of CBD to make much difference for a serious health condition.  Here is one brand that is available only from healthcare practitioners nation-wide:  Colorado Hemp Oil.  And this website has some good general information although note that it used to be funded by a manufacturer of industrial hemp products:  Project CBD.  I am not sure of its current status.

This is my story and I’m sticking to it!  I am not an expert by any means just a gal trying to find some relief in an ethical, legal, and medically sound manner.  Feel free to share pertinent information below.  Please don’t try to sell me anything!

Take care, JJ

 

 

 

He really cares: Part 1

The initial blog title rattling around in my brain for the last 24+ hours was, “You are THE ONE who really cares.”  After all, when each of us is alone in the midst of a trial (particularly when it is medical), it is only you that bears the greatest burden of the suffering.  Others offer comfort, prayer, helps of various levels, and if you are lucky will actually stick around for more than a few moments.  But it is you, one and only, who must bear the pain . . .  And that can be frightening to say the least!

Rather than rant about what to do with fear, give platitudes and verses with which to train your mind, and otherwise avoid ministering to the weeping heart, I will simply offer this:

Just lay your head on the lap of Jesus.

More than anyone, Jesus Christ knows what it is like to be killed, pained, abandoned, betrayed, falsely accused.  He is the only one Who can be with you as the Holy Spirit, in your time of sorrow from its beginning until its end.  He will never leave us or forsake us and always be there if we but call upon His name.  He is worthy of our

praise

tears

anger

weakness

alms

thanksgiving.  I was reminded of all of this just yesterday!

About 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon I was abandoned in a treatment room of my doctor’s office.  The nurse practitioner (NP) had left the room after writing an order for me to get IV fluids and after “catching” me collapse during a short convulsive episode during the appointment.  After all, that’s why I was there:  to document the crisis, get the orders, and head over to the hospital for treatment thereafter.  I was sitting there kind of dazed.  Soon after she left the room (and after another nurse came into the room to revise the scheduling of some other appointments), I began to list to one side.  There was a chair next to me with my purse and water bottle resting on it.  The weakness increased and a few inches at a time, I began falling to my right side, coming closer to the purse on the chair.  I could not speak.  I could not brace myself.  I could not do anything but be glad there was a chair next to the one upon which I was sitting so as to break my fall.

The next 20-30 minutes were very ugly.  My body collapsed fully onto the chair next to me.  My face smashed into the zipper of the purse while my glasses and cover-style sunglasses pressed into my face.  I looked straight ahead with my head rotated completely to my left, straining my neck most uncomfortably.   The front of my right ear was crushed underneath me on the purse whilst the back was free-falling unsupported; the back of my head pressed into the vinyl backrest of the metal chair.  Not exactly pillow material!  My right hip was twisted and pushed into the thinly padded, vinyl seat of the chair upon which I was sitting.  The ringing in my ears had already increased with the headache that had been working its way into action over the past hour.  Legs cramping, toe tips burning as much as my finger tips, and feet struggling to keep contact with the floor to stabilize my position . . . herein I would remain for the next 90 minutes.

I thought about many things.  First, I prayed.  I prayed again and again and talked to God about many things.  Will they be coming soon?  Do I hear them coming?  Was I expected to go out to the nurse’s desk after the NP left the room or was she coming back with more instructions?  I really could not remember since I was already in the brain fog of recovering from the earlier episode that she had witnessed before she left the room.  Surely the staff would notice that I had not left the room yet?  Or maybe not.  I waited in that same treatment room (#4) TWO HOURS the last time I saw the NP before I stepped out to mention that I was in there waiting.  “I didn’t know you were in there waiting for me,” she explained with her soft, sweet voice that I would learn never changes even in the midst of an emergency . . .

Time passed.  It was hard to ignore the searing pain of the two pairs of glasses being pressed with my full upper body weight into the side of my nose.  I could not move to get more comfortable.  I still couldn’t speak.  I tested this out and nothing happened.  In a while when I tested it again, my arm would start shaking; if I tried my leg, my leg would start shaking.  This is what I call, “neurological collapse” at it’s finest.  I learned on in a Catamenial Epilepsy Facebook page that in true epilepsy (which I do not have) has a name for this phenomenon called, “Todd’s paralysis.”  It can go on for up to 48 hours and mimic the signs/symptoms of a stroke.  Todd’s paresis usually resolves on its own without any residual effects.  I have experienced this complication at least once per week for the last 3 years.  Gratefully, most of the time the residual effects for me resolve within 2 hours, at home, in the evening, and within reach of my beloved husband!

There is nothing I can do to quicken the process of recovery from an episode.  It takes what it takes.  Knowing this I tried to calm myself down and focus on my breathing despite my twisted posture.  My rib cage was constricted so I did what I could to at least slow down each inhale, each exhale.  I did what I could to keep my neck and shoulder muscles tensed a bit so as not to twist my upper torso any more extremely than it already was.  I tried to relax the crushed tissues on my face so the pain would subside.  This worked poorly.  Suddenly the voices beyond the closed door seemed louder.  Then I heard the doctor’s voice.  This would be the time to try and vocalize something for help.  My voice was weak.  help.  Help.  I tried many times.  Probably no one in the same room with me would have heard those first cries.

I redoubled my efforts.  I took a deeper breath and vocalized a little louder, “Help!”  Then I rested and made more attempts, “HELP!”  Surely the door cannot be that thick!  I can see a crack at the bottom between the wood of the door and the low pile carpeting.  “HEEEEEEELP!!!”  I cried again.  My nose was running from the first time I had started to cry, dripping onto my purse.  Fortunately it is made of an outdoorsy, washable fabric.  Your mind thinks of all kinds of things when you are trapped.

To be continued in Part 2