It’s not the same thing, Part 2

In Part 1 of this story, I disclosed a horrific scene that has plagued my mind and body for decades. The only way for the incident to have been true and for me to have survived without going completely MAD, is by the grace of repression. It’s a coping mechanism of our mind that we have to deal with severe trauma lest we fall into addiction, self-destructive, catatonia, mental illness, homicidal/suicidal behavior, or worse. Even though we may not “remember” what happened, the mind and body never really forget and for me, the stored memories of a fateful day has been revealed in bits and pieces over a very long period of time. A strong image, smell, sound, or new traumatic event can trigger a chain of events that brings it back and more recently for me that trigger has been convulsive episodes. The episodes revealed the truth.

A waking seizure attack comprises convulsive episodes for me that are not epileptic nor psychogenic. The seizure comes virtually anytime and, less than 1% of the time, a memory has gotten unlocked underneath it before the episode ends. It’s as if my brain freezes and goes back in time accompanied by a feeling of terror so intense that my brain feels like it is on fire; I cannot stop the screaming. There is horrific pain, gasping for air, and thoughts that slow waaaay down. An observer would describe it as a seizure followed by a nearly catatonic state when I cannot move or speak or breathe. Limbs often shake, one violently flapping then the other, then both legs involuntarily move very rapidly together-and-apart like that of a child in an autistic fit of sorts. I am awake; my eyes are closed but eyelids twitch or squeeze as if squinting (in one eye or both). I am always aware of my surroundings although I may or may not be able to speak when it stops. This electrical activity of my brain-on-fire has had the power to unlock images and scenes from my past that fit what I already recall in my history. It’s as if the terrifying emotion that I was unable to express at the time of the incident is finally released to the light of day. It is not fake. The memory always fits a scene that I do recall from my past, much like what happens when you finally locate a missing piece of a puzzle. A puzzle with edges fried by fire, that is. Finally you can see the full image albeit tainted by the horror of what you are now seeing more clearly.

I concluded Part 1 with two methods that my mentally ill father used to try to get me to forget what happened at his home when I was a pre-teen. Years later I would come to understand that he was 1) using methods that he probably had tried on himself to manage the thought disorder of his own paranoid schizophrenia, 2) experimenting with mind control methods popular in the fields of psycho-cybernetics and psychology of the 1970’s, 3) drinking a lot of wine, 4) not hiding what he was doing most of the time (i.e. there were witnesses who have corroborated pieces of every scene that I have recalled), and 5) trying to get me to forget what happened, perhaps knowing the damage that trauma in his own childhood had done to him. I believe that his mental illness was a consequence of ritualistic (i.e. continuous) verbal and physical abuse by his mother/passive father until he found a way out of the home as a young adult by marrying my Mom. But RoseAnne was fleeing her own abusive father/passive mother. Their marriage was doomed shortly after it started as abusive patterns repeated themselves between them, spilling over into the lives of little Julie, Michael, and Robert. Eventually my Dad ran away, came back, then ran away again for twenty-seven years. What a mess.

Sadly when those really bad things happened to me at his home, he wouldn’t know the difference between how to help me and how helping me ended up hurting me even more. To get me to forget a horrific murder scene, the maiming of his pet German shepherd in a satanic ritual, and the sexual abuse by two women ALL DURING THE SAME DAY of a visitation to his home, my Dad tried used a method of instilling intense FEAR. He wanted me to forget what happened by attempting to cover it with other intense emotions, images, and threats. Forget trying to talk about it!!! (I am aware that there are witnesses who were in the house at the time who have either been sworn to secrecy or were under the influence of so many drugs and alcohol that they have some level of amnesia as well. Maybe something will trigger their memories one day? Maybe one of them will try to find me through this blog?) My Dad was wrong. Subjecting me to more fear compounded the torture, the trauma even more. Eventually I remembered the most important parts of the story. I wrote about it to release it’s power over me and highlight the power of our Lord to overcome my dark hell on earth.

I describe one method my dad used to instill fear in Part 1: nearly drowning me in our backyard pool. The damage to my neck has continued for my entire life. Another method he tried was injecting me multiple times with a psychedelic drug that left pock marks on the inner surface of both of my elbows. Perhaps he thought that the altered mental state created by the drug would cover my memories? He was right: I didn’t recall most of it for two decades. The blisters that appeared right afterwards then later the scars raised repeated suspicion from our family doctor, sure that I was shooting up drugs but hey, I was just a kid at the time. I still have the scars to this day albeit distorted by the effects of aging. Another family member disclosed that some people in my dad’s circle of people used hard drugs in addition to satanic rituals such as seances; sadly he won’t tell me anything else, alluding to needing to protect his wife who I believe was also present. The seances were very likely held at a table right in front of the couch to which I retreated during that fateful day at his house. This exposure to the supernatural world opened me up at a tender age to demonic influences of the occult (that would be compounded by teenage curiosities with a Ouija board). The abuse, the occult, the psychedelic drugs, and perhaps even changing body chemistry of puberty created a lock-down in my mind and body that most people would never survive. I know. It took me a year in a healing prayer ministry to start to understand the power of the demonic and how to stand firmly with the power of Jesus Christ. And as I write this, I am the only surviving member of my immediate family, all tainted by various forms of evil known as abuse.

Three More Methods

For most of my life I have had difficulty falling asleep. It used to take me up to 90 minutes to settle down enough to finally drift off to sleep or rather endure the difficult sequencing required to let go. The problem? Intensely fearful thoughts to the level of waking night terrors at times. If I’d ever had a nightmare more than once, my mind would often recall them again and again at random while I was trying to calm my thinking down enough to be able to sleep. Sometimes a scary scene would continue getting worse and worse then other times it would just keep repeating itself like a scene viewed from a broken piece of film flapping in an old theater projector. As I grew older I learned a technique of trying to re-write the dream or images to a happier ending. Sometimes it helped and sometimes it didn’t. Eventually I passed out anyways from mental exhaustion. Most of the abuse that I experienced in my childhood happened either at night or when falling asleep. No surprises here that I would need to work on this problem for most of my adult life: dealing with night terrors and waking nightmares, terrifying dreams overnight, then flashbacks of abuse.

Another problem was the black-and-white flashes of lighted psychedelic designs that spun in my mind’s eye or were thrust near-and-far at quick intervals before stopping. These occurrences happened every single night as I was trying to fall asleep, somewhere between the first and second stages of REM sleep. I thought it was normal. It was as if someone was focusing the beam of a flashlight on a toy pinwheel or a spinning saucer 2 to 3 feet in front of my face. The bedroom would be dark and my eyes closed after lying down to sleep but the lines and designs in my “mind’s eye” were as clear as a pen and ink drawing on bright white watercolor paper. There was no way to stop these images from coming to mind. They happened every single night of my life for decades. Even though I had taken psychology classes in college and worked many years as an Occupational Therapist in the mental health field, it didn’t register to me that this nighttime behavior wasn’t normal until I finally started getting counseling in my 40’s specifically for this type of abuse. Ritual abuse occurs when a person of influence uses a repeated, harmful behavior to control another person for the gain of the abuser, over an extended period of time. It can be spiritual, demonic, or other forms as well. Flashing black-and-white images in front of my face when I was falling asleep is the third method of ritual abuse that my Dad used to try to get me forget, to try to control me and my thought processes. (It’s actually related to a twisted form of psychocybernetics invented by Maxwell Maltz in the 1960s and described here.)

I cannot explain exactly when or why the nighttime “flash-treatments” began. I don’t know if my Dad said anything when he did this or when he eventually stopped them. How many times did it take for it to become almost permanent in my mind? There was enough repetition to cause harm. After I came to faith in Jesus Christ and about a decade of therapy, the images slowed then stopped. I don’t see them anymore when I am trying to fall asleep. Praise the Lord! In examining all of this, I realized that my dad’s use of strange rituals that were frightful to me as a child were not isolated events. In Part 1 I described how my dad tried to help my brother Mike via messages of his voice on a tape recorder that he played on a special speaker under his pillow as my brother was falling asleep. Those messages were intended to help my brother’s self esteem. Decades later Mike would tell me how much they damaged him, that his Dad must have thought so poorly of him that my dad had to repeatedly tell Mike via a cassette tape that he was a “good boy.” Why didn’t my Dad just say it to Mike’s face? Tell Mike that he loved him? Since I do not recall much affirmation from my Dad as the oldest sibling (who actually looked like a member of my dad’s family; Mike did not and this was an important point that my Mom told me many years later), I doubt Mike got any affection at all. But how could he? My father had none to give . . . Such realizations ultimately helped me to forgive my Dad and paradoxically paved the way to remembering more of my past, good and bad.

Perhaps this all sounds too crazy to believe. Maybe for you but not for me. My Dad’s experimentation didn’t end there though and it would be sprinkled in some manner throughout the years that my Dad was still around. One night when my parents were still together, my Dad had taken the crucifix down from the wall in my brothers’ room to make some kind of repair. When he didn’t come back with the cross right away, I snuck down the stairs to see what he was doing. I believe Mike followed sometime thereafter but I am not sure. The lights were on in the stairway but the basement was very dark, which seemed strange to me. The stairwell was placed in the middle of the basement area of our ranch home and my Dad had created two rooms on either side of it: a laundry room on one side and a workshop on the other. There was no door on either room so you could travel from one to the other underneath the stairs between the two rooms. The walls were a white stucco over concrete, the floor was poured concrete, and the entryway into each room was made of brown paneled walls with a light-colored wood trim around the edges. I spent a lot of time in both areas, fascinated by all of the tools in the workroom.

I slowly peeked around the edge of the paneling into the doorway of the darkened room and was frightened by the face of my Dad lit up by candlelight. What the . . .? He had a look of surprise on his face that I had come down there; evidently I was very quiet sneaking down the steps, dressed in my pajamas and socks. I came around to the width of the opening just long enough to see the cross propped up on a wooden table in front of the mirror of our old bathroom vanity (affixed like a cabinet to the side of the wooden staircase). The Jesus figure and front of the wooden cross shined in the glow of the candle held by my Dad. He was looking at the reflection of the cross in the mirror and doing something that I knew was weird and scary and that I shouldn’t be seeing at all. I don’t know if my Dad made his usual “Yaaaaarl” sound to get us out of there and back upstairs or if it was my sheer terror that caused me to turn and escape as fast as I could. Who knows where Mike was in all of this?! The rest is a blank slate in my memory. It was at least a day later before the cross was back on the wall in my brothers’ room. Seeing that nail hole in the wall without the Catholic cross hanging there sure was creepy until then. I don’t recall my Dad or anyone else ever saying anything about it ever again.

The fourth method that my Dad used to get me forget became the seed of agoraphobia that would plague me my entire life. Sure, it’s normal to be afraid of spiders. What is not normal is experiencing a fear so terrifying that you KNOW you will DIE and have physical symptoms that appear to be fatal when faced with anything larger than a tiny bug on a bedroom floor. Then there are the nightmares for days afterward seeing one even in a movie or a TV show. The fear never, ever goes away or gets better with exposure, talking, desensitization techniques, or whatever anyone tries to do to help me get it to change. I know, I have tried. It’s just not that simple especially when the origin for me was the deliberate use of an already fear-mongering creature to scare me so badly that I would forget the trauma somehow associated with it. I am not even sure how the association was made, just that I knew I would DIE if I remembered what happened that fateful day at my Dad’s house; the phobia reinforced the amnesia. Layer it all with demonic oppression where satan himself uses the fear, the memory, the remembering, the telling, the physical symptoms against you with lies and a worsening of all associated types of pain. They call it spiritual attacks. Perhaps the Lord allowed him to inflict me with convulsive episodes all these years? Perhaps it’s now a tool to uncover the truth of what happened so many years ago? To let me know just how bad the scenes were that it would take thousands of profound electrical misfirings of my brain to uncover it? Talk about a lock-down . . .

Maybe you recall the scene in first Home Alone movie where an 8-year-old boy named Kevin McCallister was accidentally left home alone then tried to outsmart a pair of thieves? One of the booby-traps he sets for them includes letting loose his pet tarantula. I cringed in horror as I knew what was about to happen at some point when the spider met its intended victim. One of the bandits screamed in fear as the spider crawled on his face when he was lying face-up on the stairwell inside the home. Granted probably most of us would scream holy terror as well! But we would not go catatonic in an effort to avert death. A true phobia is not a rational fear, not a moment of screaming that resolves thereafter. My Dad put the large spider on my face to get me to forget the trauma of three horrific scenes of terror in a single day. Equally as traumatizing as the huge spider was the image of black beady eyes of that spider staring at me. I really cannot say anymore right now. It’s still quite disturbing to put all of this together here. This realization only came to me recently and I have just begun the work of unpacking it. The effects of using fear to control me has resulted in lifelong behavioral anomalies, irrational fear, supreme difficulty studying pests and insects as a Master Gardener, avoidance behaviors, nightmares, and more. That is what a phobia does to a person. It starts a survival mechanism of the mind then continues despite its harm. And in the end, it did not get me to forget forever what happened, what I witnessed. Eventually I did remember. In the end, it just inflicted even more harm.

A fifth method was hypnosis although I don’t think that it was applied directly to me. All 3 of us kids were in my Dad’s workroom with him one afternoon when I don’t think my Mom was home. She was often at church doing work as President of the Altar Society at St. Cletus Church. I remember my Dad sitting one of my brothers on a metal stool, the one with the red vinyl top on it, and dangling a chain with a pendant on it in front of his face. My Dad instructed him to keep his eye on the pendant as it moved from side to side. My other brother and I were watching intently as my Dad went through some kind of sequence in a slow, low, calm voice. “You’re getting sleepy” or something like that. I don’t recall if either one of them fell asleep or changed posture in any way; I know that I was able to look around the room shortly thereafter, feeling like it didn’t affect me at all. My other brother was next. I didn’t volunteer. I was curious but also just old enough to know that there was something not right about what my Dad was doing with us. I wish I could remember what the goal was, if there were any special instructions my Dad tried to “suggest” under the influence of hypnosis but I do not. I may have asked what it was used for? Funny how a child is curious about what he or she is seeing a parent do even when it is exceedingly harmful and never should have happened. At a gut level, this experience made me resist the offer of hypnosis from every therapist I have had in my life who wanted to “help me” remember the forgotten years of my childhood. No, no, never!

We should never experiment with mind control techniques on another person when we are not trained to do so and I believe rarely even if the person of influence is trained. The Lord will bring back the memories in His own way and in His own time when the person is ready for them. More importantly I can see no reason for even a trained person to use mind control techniques like hypnosis on a child! It doesn’t matter if it worked for someone else. It’s not the same thing to use a method or object or saying or rationale for mind control over someone else especially without the consent of the other person. A child cannot give such consent as he or she cannot understand the potential risks. I also disagree with a parent providing consent for a child to be hypnotized. If what anyone is doing runs the risk of violating another human being’s right of consent at any age then it may construe undo influence and potentially abuse. We must filter our actions as an adult with what is morally good, what is right, what is fair, and what our Lord Jesus Christ instructed in His Word for how we should live; consulting mediums and mind-altering drugs and ritualistic sayings/prayers are taboo! Tapping into the unconscious mind runs the risk of inviting the supernatural world of which satan rules. Satan only seeks to deceive and destroy. Don’t try to get ahead of God! Please do not yield to “whatever works” Gentle Reader!

Stated another way, we must not “experiment” on another human being, especially a child, hoping for a certain outcome when we can easily run the risk of hurting him, her, or even yourself and your relationship if we don’t get it right. How do we know we will get it right? Neural retraining and the like are popular now in the treatment of Non-epileptic seizures and many chronic illnesses these days. If you must use mind-altering methods, please choose degreed and certified professionals with proven track records and decades of success. Further, I contend that a parent must never treat his or her own child even if degreed or certified in a given technique. My Dad was one of the most extreme examples of the damage that can be done when this happens. My Dad inflicted immeasurable harm that damaged me and my brothers. Although mentally ill, he was still responsible for his actions as we all are. Knowing that he was mentally ill, struggling to overcome it, and abused as a child helped me much later to forgive him and begin to heal. If my Dad did not repent and come to faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ, then God’s Word promises that my Dad will punished one day by a righteous God. He said that he came to faith in Jesus and I hope that is true; the Lord’s mercy and grace will cover him. I don’t like to think that my Dad will face eternal damnation; it’s just not for me to worry about as I focus now on what I have learned along the way and even some good memories that came forth with the bad ones. We did get to make our amends of sorts in 2011 and for that I am very glad, at peace. Further, I have come to understand that everything that happened to me was ultimately a consequence of a larger concept called “sin” and of living in a fallen world. This world is laden with evil led by satan himself. My ritual abuser willfully opened himself and even enlisted the power of satan and his minions not knowing that ultimately satan comes to destroy: he will not help you control your mental illness nor the unruly behavior of 3 innocent children! Sadly, my Dad battled mental illness his entire life.

For me it was not the same thing to know what happened to me as it is to become free of the impact it had on my life. The former is exceedingly painful. The latter is freeing. It’s not the same thing decades later to have a seizure disorder of unknown type and 1) have Doctors claim then that it must be psychological, for some kind of personal gain (yeah right, how sick is that?!) vs. 2) the electrical activity of seizures jarring locked-down memories of horrific trauma. Thank the Lord that I did forget such horrific trauma so I could survive, focus as much as I could on living. Years later it was explained to me that I didn’t have a seizure when the abuse occurred so there’s no psychological reason for me to have seizures now. I had flashbacks of really bad things for twenty years before the onset of convulsive episodes eight years ago. Each memory came back to me when the Lord ordained the timing, when I was ready to handle more of the truth. It took time to work though each nasty piece, lay each one at the foot of the Cross, and figure out how to go forth after reclaiming the full picture of a mixed-up, dysfunctional family, a once mixed-up dysfunctional Julie.

I just wish that now that I can see how the Lord used the seizures for some good in reclaiming my past that they would stop already! I still deal with numerous abnormal lab tests and scans that all could be contributing to the convulsive episodes and tics, confirming an organic cause. Years of treatments have alleviated, changed the pattern of, reduced, and some days even stopped episodes. The latest contributing factor is Autonomic Dysfunction. This diagnosis confirms why vagus nerve stimulation techniques have helped me so much, particularly those of the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s no surprise that it is the opposite, sympathetic nervous system that gets revved up when abuse happens and, for example, would have contributed to decades of difficulty falling asleep at night. My mind and body are more calm now in general than ever before. So I guess I can say that these nine years of battling serious illness has become a serendipitous opportunity to free my life from the various things that trauma and the serious illness itself did to me. I have a long rap sheet of medical problems but my spirit is lighter now than ever before. Good things have happened! This is true even though I still have tics or episodes virtually every day. It’s just taking a long time to find the CURE for whatever is their CAUSE. Lord willing, one day I will be healed!

In the book of Genesis, Joseph professes to his brothers that sold him into slavery the following:

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Genesis 50:20

Joseph’s brothers were jealous of a dream he had shared with them that one day they would serve him even though he was the youngest member of the family at the time. They faked his death! In the end Joseph survived, endured tremendous trials and years later, rose to fame in Egypt as second in command of the nation that saved the lives of many peoples because of his inspired leadership. When his estranged family came calling for help, Joseph ended up saving their lives as well in addition to reconciling with them. All was restored including his relationship with his beloved father who feared he would die if he lost another son. He didn’t. He gained a son he thought was once lost.

My Dad did very bad things at least partially knowingly what he was doing, akin to those of Joseph’s brothers. Then as the Lord showed me the abuse that my dad had suffered, our familial patterns of alcoholism and mental illness, and brought me to a saving relationship with His son, Jesus Christ, I was able to move from hurt and anger to forgiveness. That forgiveness had many layers as more truth came into the light and as I got to see him after TWENTY SEVEN years of estrangement from our family. I still didn’t know back in 2011 what I know now. The serious illness that developed into daily convulsive episodes came at the end of the year 2011 and after my dad had passed away. I cannot go back to my father and ask him about what has been opened up to me most recently. I simply have to trust the Lord’s timing in how all of this came together, put any pain at His Cross and leave it there.

Recently an expert instructed me how the Lord divinely sequences every detail in our lives. My understanding of this sequencing has not been the same in the past as it is now. I may weep in the moment but it doesn’t last very long. I try as best I can to live around this scourge, my thorn in the flesh perhaps. It is my firm belief that our God endorses and redeems everything we endure in this life as we prepare, we mature for our eternity with Him. Nothing that happens in our lives is wasted: not the good, not the bad, not the ugly. Nothing is hidden from our Heavenly Father either. He sees and He grieves for our suffering. He rejoices in our victories! I know that He will not only make all things right and new one day but also bring justice and reward for the faithful. The truth will come into the light. Believe it Gentle Reader! I do. JJ

Pics of my Dad as a boy and with my Mom

A Call to Grace

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.  (Gal 1)

butterfly, Galations, serve, burdens, break free, servant, let go,Christian, heart, image

From the perspective of the supernatural power of grace bestowed by my Lord, Jesus Christ, I write to you this day.  For my flesh is more broken than before, hopes beaten up from the road, and spirit exasperated from the waiting.  Yet I am compelled to look beyond my angst to the call to grace . . .

If I have fallen short of praising my Lord then I am sorry.  Please forgive me.  The alms and adoration to my Savior is what shall draw me nearer to Him and lift my sorrows.

Should I have focused too much on my own needs and not those of others then my selfishness has thus blinded me.  The trials of life have more to do with our response to these trials (and more importantly to others) than to their resolution.  I cannot serve others when my mind is full of woe.  There is always room to love on others.

When I act to make my own plate o’ food and have not called upon God’s infinite power to feed my family then I have shorted all of us to the weakness of my own hands.  My Lord is sufficient for me, enables me to serve beyond my ability.

Where my face has turned to the shiny distractions of this life, pining after them (or worse coveting that which I have been blessed) then I have really made my world smaller.  Who knows the blessing that will come from sacrificial giving?  Gratitude?  And proper placement of my gaze to the Cross?

How much better it is to wait on my Heavenly Father than to cry out my need only to act thereafter in my own strength?  Oh Lord, help me to wait, to listen, to dwell and nothing more during these times.

That about sums it up right now.  Thank you to those who prayed for me last week and who remember me in your prayers.  Please let me know how I may serve you too, k?

JJ

Vampire Diaries 3

“It’s only a day away,”

The curly haired girl would sing on stage

‘Cause the sun did come out “tomorrow”

And that was all that shined over here, alas.

Bedbound once again

I search my mind in wonder:

What penance doth I need to serve?

What sin doeth I need forgiveness?

Thy husband is off on his adventures

And I am here, alone with you

Exasperating in another lost day

Where even the counselor had little to say.

My Lord is silent on such an occasion

Perhaps waiting for me to simply dwell

And know that He is there

Even when I cannot see, feel, or touch His face.

Is this my fate, I ask to the silence around me?

Perhaps it is.  Perhaps nothing will ever change.

I am to rejoice the Scriptures tell me forthright

That must come from grace for my strength fails,

Lest a key drops into my space with some goodness

This day I will simply breathe one nare at a time

(Until the pounding in my head subsides, alas.)

Psalm, psalm 139, 9-10, dwell, peace, Scripture, Christian, strength, darkness

 

 

Little blue booties ring true

The little reminders that things are going to be o.k., that the Lord is in charge, and that you have all you need are quite an encouragement to me today.  I am seeing this more clearly as my head clears after a whirlwind “Plan B” long weekend.

We never made it to Branson, Missouri for the celebration of my Other Mom’s (aka mother-in-law’s) 80th birthday celebration.  Family was scheduled to land there from 4 States for a long weekend including the 4th of July.  My Other Dad (aka father-in-law) had an acute worsening of multiple joint pain and was unable to drive the two of them cross-country from California to Missouri so we made the decision to do what was best:  cancel and reschedule the trip for the Fall.  We all scrambled to cancel various reservations made for camping, cabins, the Dixie Stampede show, watering of the garden in our absence, etc.  Then this wifey-poo decided she still needed to get away . . .

Meanwhile, my life continues to be dominated by the treatment of chronic Lyme disease, a serious fungal co-infection (protomyxzoa rheumatica), and the complicated detox/supplement regimes that go with it.  While I am grateful for a solid treatment plan, the making of our home into a hospital plus the tangible reminders at home of thousands of hellish convulsive episodes begs for a change of scenery when possible.  Sure looked like the enormous effort to get away was going to be worth a bit ‘o respite from all of those reminders.  I reacted selfishly when everything changed.  I was more crushed for my own sorry lot than my mother-in-laws cancelled family gathering, big birthday celebration.  Maybe I need less of “poor me baby,” sentiment, eh?

Steve and I thought through our options.  We had cancelled supporting a paddling race in a town about 100 miles away since we were going to be gone so we re-volunteered to help out and bring our Stellar kayak display.  But travelling a total of 200 miles plus standing out in the hot sun all day recording race times and hosting Steve’s booth seemed a bit much after 3 straight days of IV antibiotics.  So what about camping afterwards?  In the end we worked into the wee hours of the morning the night before the race to make Plan B a reality!

  • Supporting the race.
  • Finishing up all shopping plus cooking within a day for my special diet.
  • Making new reservations to camp in 2 places over a holiday weekend beginning north of the race and en-route to a new destination.
  • Continue north to Silver Lake Dunes and the campground adjacent to a Christian camp where a young couple we know has worked for about 7 years.
  • Return home after the 4th of July for Steve to return to work, allowing him to finish some important training and projects that we would have missed had we gone to Branson.
  • Resume treatment at home after a 5-day break.
  • Commence about 8 loads of laundry, post-camping melee, etc. too!

So with a tremendous effort, the ebb-n-flow of violent reactive episodes that followed being off of my treatment schedule, and some sweet memories sprinkled therein we had a decent weekend overall.  At some level I exclaim:  how crazy!  And: Is it worth it?  Well my answer this time is different than in the past:  NO!  There still are too many noxious exposures from campfires in any campground to succeed at avoidance even inside a modest travel trailer.  There is always some type of breakdown that ends up stressing us out, creating conflict even nearly 5 years down the road from dealing with this serious illness.  When we got back I was ready to sell the travel trailer the Lord had provided the resources for almost 3 years ago.  What were we thinking back then anyways?  Trying to continue with a normal life was my focus then when I did not have a clear treatment plan.  Killing the beasts within me at an extraordinary cost is my focus now.  The proceeds from the sale could pay off some of our debt.  I was ready to let it go should the Lord be leading me to do so.

In a Christian marriage, the husband is the God-ordained spiritual leader of the home.  His headship is God’s design for the protection and provision of his wife and family as he follows the leading of the Lord.  I have come to trust this, be blessed as well in submitting to Steve.  As it turns out in the scenario I have shared here, Steve suggested that we wait to make a decision about the trailer until later this year.  We have a couple more trips planned and it is clear that he wants me with him on all of them.  How sweet!  His love is amazing.  We will make some further adjustments in how we handle things next time and hope that I will be doing better as my treatment progresses; going with a partial treatment holiday could work out better for travelling than dropping everything, Lord willing!

Oh did I mention the blue footies yet?  I bought a large box of disposable medical shoe coverings in anticipation of developing a new product this past Spring.  (I could earn some money to pay for the development of my real invention by my company, Two Step Solutions, Inc.)  Attaching a Swiffer-style duster with Velcro to the bottom of a disposable slipper makes a great foot-broom for dusting wood floors.  This saves a lot of time and effort as compared to other cleaning methods, IMHO!  Then when I continued to have difficulty functioning, the idea got shelved instead of developed.  Dang!  Flash forward 2 months later and those cute booties are part of the garments I ask my home health nurse to wear to avoid chemical/dust exposures when administering my IV antibiotics three times per week.  Works great!  And in thinking through all of this today I am reminded of these truths:

John 16:33 New International Version (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.”

Matthew 6:25-27 New International Version (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

My Heavenly Father and Husband is so good to me.  He loves me so and I get to feel it everyday in the arms of my beloved Stevers.  The Lord is there in times of wretchedness, times of joy . . . none of it will be wasted as He leads me home to dwell in the heavenly mansion of many rooms, near the river of Life, with the saints who have gone before me sheltered in His majesty beyond imagination.  Thank you Lord that you sprinkle some of that goodness into my days to encourage me, to encourage my beloved.  Thank you for caring about all the details of our lives.  I submit them to You.  We will wait upon the Lord, Jesus Christ, until You walk us home to sit at Your feet in awe and wonder of all that has gone before us:  from blue booties to a lighthouse along the shore.

This rings true above all else:  You are so good to me.  Thank you Lord.

Dunes Harbor, Sleeping Bear Dunes, lighthouse, just julie writes, Julie Horney
Kayaking at Lighthouse Beach along Silver Lake Dunes

 

 

 

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