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!