Treatment Update and Anniversary

Six years ago tonight began a journey that has tested me in every way possible; brought me closer to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, than ever before; deepened my love and gratitude for my beloved Steve; and helped me to grasp the incredible resilience of the human body/human spirit.  Thank you Lord for your sustaining grace through it all!

Rather than go into the details, I will simply refer you, Gentle Reader, to my story here.  Briefly, I got deathly sick with viral hepatitis after kayaking in a local reservoir and never fully recovered.  Seizure attack episodes began on a daily basis within a couple of months and have yet to resolve.  This serious illness has had many names, required extensive treatments at considerable expense, and rendered me unable to work in my profession of occupational therapy.  I miss working.  The social isolation, sense of loss, grief, and various disabilities have changed my daily life considerably.  Without my faith in Christ I would not have made it this far.  I do have hope for a better tomorrow which brings me to my quarterly treatment update as follows:

Recent lab tests found extremely high pesticide toxicity.  I immediately increased Far Infrared Sauna and various detox treatments until I could meet with my functional medicine Doctor.  Now after two intense weeks of exhausting research, medical appointments, and enough follow-up that would make the great T.V. detective Colombo proud, I am hoping that my Doctor’s office has processed a referral to a State Toxicology Center.  I found a neurologist that specializes in seizures related to toxicity and I want to see her as soon as possible!

In the meantime, I try to function as best as I can.  Sadly the very difficult titration of a new medication either keeps me up most nights or wakes me up with breakthrough tic attacks every two hours.  (I still spend most weekends in and out of bed with sickness.)  The focus now is to inhibit acetylcholine that we hypothesize is causing the seizures because of damage from organophosphate poisoning (OP).  Acute treatments for OP are well known but not for long term effects; we simply do not know how long I have had this toxicity.  The medication is an interim measure.  I am wondering if various Lyme, fungal, viral, and even parasitic infections have sequestered OP like these organisms can do with other toxic agents.  We know that detoxification can increase feelings of sickness called “herxing” (from release and recirculation of mycotoxins for example) when we either detox too fast or our liver or kidney pathways are blocked.  I now use bitter herbs with various binding agents in a “push-catch” protocol that helps to better tolerate the process.

organophosphate poisoning, round-up, pesticide, herbicide, toxicity, toxic, clonidine, seizures, treatment,acute

So here we go again with another new treatment direction!  At least this time I have concrete lab values to help explain what is going on along with a new, promising treatment direction.  In the meantime I’ll be hanging out as the “chick in the box” (as Steve says) at about 124 or more degrees, trying to literally “sweat it out” in our sauna. There will be no anniversary celebration per se for enduring six years of hell albeit with some sweet moments sprinkled in here and there.  There will be humility though as I try to be a godly steward of this journey my Lord has entrusted to my care.  I do have hope for a better tomorrow.  That is where this blog began 6 months into this 6-year journey and I hope that is where I will remain beyond that too.

Thank you for sharing the road with me Gentle Reader.  When I see my stats ticker go up a notch my spirit gets a little lighter, knowing you are there.  Thank you.

With love,  JJjer, 29:11, jeremiah, hope, future, plans, says the Lord, Christian

Smaller Moments Mean More

When the mist on the pond lifts up to the air

The morning hath come and I give witness to life once again.

For I am up through the night, my old haunts hath returned

A way of coping, of living:  just what I gotta do for right now.

So I edit a magazine, make charts of treatments, plan for when I will be well,

Most folks would not notice the shifts ever so small

The wretched episodes continue albeit with shaking, less overall.

I had to gain courage to take more meds/more remedies than ever before

Go rogue to kill the monsters within with faith and every tool from this road.

“Parasites in the brain” sounds pretty scary might you agree?

Yet that is exactly where I have arrived so be that as it may

Find me spacey perchance to dream when restorative sleep comes that way.

The smaller treats of life mean more to me now in my softened state

I get to see them in slow motion and savior their texture, their smell even when awful like glue.

What is before me fills every moment in much more detail

Healing comes small before big so intentionally I walk through most of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, the chores fill more hours than they used to years ago

That ‘s just one part of the plan so is rest and in times of rest I believe answers we have found.

Wyoming, clouds, blog, metaphor, analogy, Chistian, faith, majesty, creation, God, sky, big

One does feel ever so small next to God’s majesty revealed in the big sky over Wyoming . . .

The Dog Behind the Curtain

Dimly lit, like the medical equipment stored all around me, I sat in the vinyl seat of that cold wheelchair.  My head was unsupported as I writhed this way and that, right leg then left leg shaking uncontrollably.  Breathing was irregular and challenging as I pushed the air out of my chest to start the cycle again then again, gasping every few intervals.  Just my legs were visible from behind the curtain drawn along my right side and lit from light in the hallway.  A passerby might see my exposed knee bouncing up and down from underneath my torn jeans or maybe not.  Who would expect to see a middle-aged woman seizing just beyond a dark veil anyways?

Most likely a dog in a kennel could be positioned in such a fashion!  Perhaps to put her to sleep, to stow her away out of sight, to deal with her later?  Only a mean caregiver would treat an animal in such a way.  Or perhaps a nurse in the outpatient lab of a local hospital?  The latter was my lot this afternoon.  And hours later I grieved the insensitive treatment that I had received (rather had not received).  She never even responded earlier to my light chatter or attempts at humor as she withdrew 10 vials of blood from my scarred veins.  I had to ask her with strained breaths not to wheel me into the waiting room where others would gawk at my strife.  Holy cow.  Aren’t you paid to care for your patients?  You don’t have to care about me personally but HAVE YOU NO HEART?

Most of them have seen me react many times before to medical procedures that trigger anywhere from a couple of moments of shaking to over 2 hours of convulsive episodes and long after the procedure in their outpatient clinic was completed for infusions, injections, blood draws, and port flushes.  Several times other nurses have had to find coverage for their stations or stay late to take me to the bathroom in a wheelchair while my body writhed, gasping for air like a child with cerebral palsy.  Eventually the episode would resolve minutes after voiding in the toilet.

Once I was in the clinic having an infusion of fluids on my birthday and ended up spending the entire evening in the Emergency Room when the seizure attacks would not stop.  That was 2 1/2 years ago.  Twice they have had to call my husband to come and get me or bring me a medication to try and make it stop.  Dozens of times they have just allowed me to sit in a treatment room recovering, long after they had gone home for the night.  A p.m. shift nurse would come in and check on me every 30-60 minutes as I stared at the walls or the mobile T.V. screen in front of my face.  When I could walk again I would move to the lobby for another interval of time until I was stable enough to go home.  No one even noticed I was there.  By the way, they always play my fav HGTV in the Surgical Waiting lobby dontcha know?

This time the aftermath felt like being banished to the broom closet by an abusive grandmother.  I could not reach the call light and no effort was made to make it possible.  I heard the same phlebotomy nurse chatting lightly with the next patient after me who was there for an EEG.  And again with the lady having a blood test.  I guess they were less “complicated” than me.  They probably didn’t remind said nurse of her own seizure episode many years ago that had disrupted her life for 6 months.  (She had told me about that earlier this year while I was sitting in the clinic recovering from an episode triggered by the pain of the needle stick and extraction.)  Yeah maybe that’s it.  Or did she just want to get back to the break area this afternoon and not be bothered by me anymore?

These episodes and experiences create additional trauma for the person enduring a serious, long-term illness.  You come face-to-face with the reality that people just don’t care as much as they should or get tired of caring, even as professional care-givers.  Take more of their time, their effort, their expertise, their personal comfort than they are willing to give and you will struggle making up the difference.  You are pretty close to being on your own.  It is not your fault yet it is your fault.  Suck it up and figure out a way to get home and not kick the dog when you get there.  Almost 3 hours later I felt as beaten down as I could possibly be as I walked out of that place.

A warm fuzzy friend with big brown eyes and wagging tail greeted me at the door when I got home.  She loves me.  I love our Elle.  So at least for me, I will be caring for our dog in a well-lit room with all the comfort measures she needs within a reasonable time of her letting me know that need.  She may not even need to ask me.  I know what she needs.  I care about her and know how to take care of her.  She will not be shunned to a dark corner behind a curtain as others are walking by.  At least unless she is barking wildly at the UPS or FedEx driver, that is.  Into the laundry room alone you will go . . . but just for a moment or two.  She would bite a chunk out of them if I didn’t!

Well Elle, I must say that I know how you feel. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  JJ

woman with dog, German shepherd, travelling, pet, Nissan Frontier, trip, jump seat

Treatment Update: The Beasts Within

If you follow as many of the various functional medicine forums as I do, you probably have noticed the topic of parasites coming up more often these days.  In fact, there is a free “Parasite Summit” coming up in September.  This topic became a personal one for me within the past month.  Allow me to explain.

A friend and her sister were receiving some complex treatments for serious health issues that they have been battling most of their lives.  Shortly after their focus turned to testing and treatment remedies from outside the United States, my friend suggested I look into parasites as the potential cause of the seizure attacks I have been battling for over 5 years.  I looked into it.  Their provider would not be for me yet the topic launched me into some new research about the time my hubby and I were set to leave on an extended vacation.  Imagine realizing during your first day away from home that you have a new infection that requires attention IMMEDIATELY!  Yeah, well when your bum itches making you crazy insane, ya gotta fix it FAST!

So right before heading out to my River Bear’s kayaking nationals 2 States away, wifey-poo requests hubby-poo stop at a local drug store for an over-the-counter medication.  Thank the Lord he said yes!  My symptoms diminished within hours!  The problem was not a yeast infection but a nasty pinworm/parasite infestation!  How did I get it?  Who knows?!  Pinworms are highly contagious and you can pick them up almost anywhere.  The big shocker was that the seizure attacks virtually disappeared for the next 24 hours after treatment!  I wasn’t expecting that!  No episodes falling asleep or waking up; barely a little tic-zip broke through here or there.  What was going on?

Three weeks have now passed and I have repeated the OTC remedy a couple of times.  I found that clove essential oil with coconut oil provides some topical relief with the added benefit of killing the parasite eggs.  Who knew?  And now my Functional Medicine Doc is testing me a couple of different ways with a couple of different lab tests to see if we can capture all the critters that may be wreaking havoc “down there,” in my body, and brain.  Yes:  in my brain.  Parasites can move to any tissue in the body once they hit the bloodstream or lymphatic system.  My MRI and CT scans have been negative for typical markers that would suggest Central Nervous System involvement, however, allergies to contrast dyes have prevented use of same in diagnosis.  In the end it really doesn’t matter to me if tests show anything or not.  The idea of parasites just makes sense to me.

Simply stated, parasites develop a symbiotic relationship with their human “host.”  They can actually help the body by balancing blood sugars or harboring heavy metals/toxic chemicals (that would be toxic if left to circulate freely).  Parasites are not a good thingy though.  They can also harbor infectious elements (some have suggested Lyme disease bacteria) setting up resistance to treatment, to eradicating the infections.  And I thought it was the cysts and biofilms that were the biggest issues in treatment resistance!  As they continue to live in our bodies, they drain nutrition and mineral resources in addition to creating a host of negative symptoms that mimic a wide range of diseases.  Gut dysbiosis is a big example to which I can relate:  my Doc wonders if parasites are causing my belly pain which has not changed much after two different treatment protocols for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.  He says that worms/flukes/bugs can favor the right lower quadrant and where the trouble lies for me.

But the Palo Alto Toxoplasmosis Serology Lab testing was negative.  Pinworms don’t typically cause neurological problems.  Stool testing hasn’t found anything in the past even when I put a WORM in the sample cup!  Oy vey!  Maybe these two new tests will yield something useful?  In the meantime, I am taking lots of anti-parasitic herbal formulas with a concoction of binders with gratitude that neither trigger seizure episodes as they have in the past.  Lord willing, I am going to get well!  Indeed there are parts of days where I feel some positive changes for the better as a result of these additions to my care.

If you have followed this blog for awhile then you know I am always looking for answers, for hope.  I do hope to get well and am working every day towards that goal.  Overriding everything however is this guiding principle:  that my true hope is in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who will one day make me whole, here with you or when we meet in heaven.  Nothing will change that.  He is gracious and good to me even on my worst of days.  I am so humbled to feel His presence on my bed of sickness as well as the moments where I can have a little fun here and there.  Speaking of fun, did I tell you about white water rafting 2 weeks ago?  Yeah, you heard me!

Stay tuned Gentle Reader.  Pictures and more stories to follow that will blow your socks off . . . or at least get them a little cold and wet!  The Snake River is about 60 degrees even in August dontcha know!  More on that one next time.  Gotta take some stuff and get to bed.

Take care, JJ

white water rafting, Snake River, white water, rapids, Class II, Class III, raft,trip, Mad River, living, in the moment, one day at a time, break, chronic illness, fun

Snake River, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

 

Where to go from here?

More testing, more phone calls

Why did I ask for preliminary results?

Wouldn’t you knowing my next appointment was so far away?

Two hours of seizing.  Every day now.  Of course I asked!

Sigh.

Full report due next week.

The findings of acute toxoplasmosis will be clarified.

Will PCR or the summary mean more antibiotics

To challenge my innards, still reeling from IVs last year?

I cried when I should have been glad

To know there was something there after all —

The test will cost over a grand

And we have no idea what insurance will do.

So for now I wait.

The specialty lab is delivering on time

Hoping the Lab Director talks to my Doc

And none too soon . . .

Hold me Jesus.