One of the movies that has really resonated deeply with me is, The Breakfast Club. Please see my previous post for the catchy theme song that underscored the film and one of the most poignant scenes that is also pertinent to Part 2 of this 3-part blog.
In Part 1, I described the isolation that I have felt when enduring a serious illness and how the Lord still gets me through the toughest of days. His Word is my greatest comfort; the leading of the Holy Spirit and His presence are my greatest companions. I ended with a question,
But how well does he really know me?
Sure, my Lord crafted me before I was born and set forth all that I would be, all that I would endure and accomplish. His Words in Psalm 139 declare that He knows my “innermost being.” Does this include the longing of my heart as well? If it does, why has He allowed me to become so dreadfully isolated?
Maybe someday I will get to see why so many family and friends have chosen to “walk on by” me as it says in the theme song of The Breakfast Club. Have I not been a good friend? Maybe I was not. I remember about two years into this ordeal someone contacted me and asked me about getting together for coffee. I replied “yes” and then I never heard from her again. My spirits had soared then crashed and burned. For believers in Jesus Christ, the answer to the “why” question is usually left for eternity. We simply may never know “why” this side of heaven.
Those of you not living in isolation may not have any idea how much Satan uses this experience to tear a person down. He can prey upon all of our negative emotions and be allowed to create havoc in our lives. (Yes, ultimately God is still in charge!) Yet I know that it’s really not about resisting Satan or about losing the people in my life. I resist the devil and his demons with the sword of the spirit: the Word of God as described in Ephesians 6:10-17. People come and go in our lives and that is the normal ebb and flow of life. It really is about my response to the taunting, the loss of these relationships.
My challenge has been particularly great due to the effect that this chronic illness has had on my brain. Responding to Satan’s lies and the loss of relationships has been affected by the change in brain chemistry that came with chronic illness. My ability claim victory in the name of Jesus Christ and fully embody the companionship of my Lord have been affected. Satan’s lies have been magnified. My social skills have eroded. My ability to think clearly has been altered. And I struggled to override these skill deficits but could not, even if I tried. Allow me to explain.
Only recently did we discover that excessive neurotransmitters called catecholamines (epinephrine, norephinephrine, and dopamine) are likely contributing to my mood changes, thinking and communication skills in addition to possibly causing the convulsive episodes. This is happening due to the expression or “turning on” of polymorphisms (SNPs) or breaks in several enzymes that help form my DNA code. The DNA code is the instruction manual or blueprint from which the body functions. Everyone has a unique combination of broken SNPs that get turned on by illness or significant stressors in the environment (such as exposure to mold). For me the factors included everything that I have written about in this blog: biotoxin illness/hepatitis, latent Lyme disease, Candida toxicity, mold illness, infected root-canaled teeth, and mercury toxicity. That’s a lot of stressors! These illness and environmental challenges became a trigger for disaster. I even have the data to prove it, all of it!
For some people this process manifests as a Mitochondrial Disease or a disruption in the methylation cycle inside the nucleus of the cells of our bodies. My thought life was affected. My mood was affected too. I had waking and nightly nightmares not based in any reality past or present. Those were internal things that my beloved husband, Steve, and the healthcare community could not see very often. Several healthcare practitioners labeled me as having a mental illness of sorts, often without even completing a mental status exam or workup! Gratefully, Steve believed me. They all saw the wretched convulsive episodes that have plagued me for hours every day for 3 1/2 years. And Satan was allowed to enter into the whole dynamic with lies and attacks that I will definitely write about at another time. Absolute mental and physical wretchedness.
But now the gig is up! Two days ago I woke up from a lovely nap after starting to treat this condition. I had my first 16 hours seizure-free! It’s as if someone turned on the lights in my brain! Not only do I have a formula for correcting the brain-part of the process but the prayers of deliverance against the spiritual warfare are taking hold. The cascade of negative mental, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual suffering is beginning to turn around. Lord willing, I am going to get well!
My Jesus knows all about every aspect of what I have described here. He also knows the desires of my heart. How do I know this? My prayers long before this illness began was to become whole. I had been broken by the consequences of a hard life: events out of my control. Many times during trauma the Holy Spirit would bring encouraging scripture to me that kept me moving forward. Yeah, finding hope and finding myself has come through horrible, ongoing isolation and trauma. I have worked hard to recover from so much suffering in my heart, my mind, my body. Each step of the way has been both painful and meaningful. Yet I tell you, Gentle Reader that nothing has been wasted! I have learned to trust the process in EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE under the protection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And now the desires of my heart are being realized. Cool beans.
So how does one rebirth the desires of one’s heart?
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
When you start to leave hell, it’s important to take stock of where you have been and where you are then leave all of your baggage at the turning point.
Hi Gentle Reader. This is my gentle wisdom to you as I gratefully and graciously turn the corner after 3 years of wretched illness. Much grieving has already gone before me and my beloved Steve. Much loss has already pruned that which is no longer critical to our lives. Much angst at our Lord’s merciful throne of grace has established Who is most important in our lives and that He was leading us through all of this. Much dashing of hopes in false turning points along the way has produced endurance for what appears to be the last leg of this race. And yes, much joy has returned despite the jagged line that is normal in the recovery phase. That’s o.k. WE HAVE HOPE!!!
Briefly, I am experiencing 50% improvement in my health after beginning treatment for very high mercury levels. This process will require a slow titration of chelating agents, detoxification with the gentlest of methods, much rest, and humility. Humility? Oh yeah, humility to stay watchful for the Lord’s leading each step of the way and to continue to lean on Him as my own strength returns. My husband has proven himself again and again as the Lord’s instrument, a capable spiritual leader in my life. I have many examples in my life how pride has gone before my downfall, you know (Proverbs 16:18). I don’t want any more “slips and trips” anymore particularly of my own creation!
As I have started to feel better and do more my devotional time has diminished. This is not good. So in response to this turning point, I aim to spend more time in the Word than I have in the past when feeling reasonably well. I aim to keep practicing gratitude: holding lightly any material blessings, fruits of my labors, times of fellowship and the like. I aim to smile more and complain less. After all, I faced death many, many times! These days the gift of time and space, my talents and gifts, and the people/places/things around me are a bonus. I have never believed that I deserved either the good or bad things that have happened in my life. They simply “are.” They simply “were.” It is with great wonder that I aim to explore each day for what may come.
How can anyone really see beyond a turning point anyways when he or she has never been on a given journey before? If we worry about it then we have chosen to believe a lie. No one knows the future so why make up something bad? Why not something good? I aim to squelch what is false with what is true from God’s Word:
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6)
Nuff said. Steve and I enjoyed a long walk in the rain this evening with our pup. This picture portrays my heart inside. God is good. All the time. God is good. JJ