Last Entry: Experiences: April 15, 2013

Friday, December 16, 2011

Left Shoulder Pain

At about the same time that I quit my job and was working toward starting vision therapy, I began to have pain deep within the middle of my left shoulder. The pain seemed to have no specific cause, but felt like a tensed muscle that didn't want to let go and no amount of stretching seemed to relieve it.

I think, because my memory is a bit foggy now, that the chiropractic neurologist first found nodules within the shoulder that needed to be broken down. He discussed treatment that would involve frequent sessions utilizing ultrasound, but also suggested that the more practical course, because of insurance coverage, would be to consult a conventional practitioner specializing in pain management. Going the pain management route, of course, would mostly involve the use of pharmaceuticals, which I was not even willing to entertain.

So, the first treatment I received on the shoulder was ultrasound, which occurred in weekly sessions. But, one day, after I had talked about how a connection seemed to be present between the pain in my shoulder, tension in my neck, and diminished capability within the left side of my brain, the chiropractic neurologist was checking me out by applying light pressure to a particular point on my shoulder, as I became nauseous and nearly passed out. Apparently, my parasympathetic nervous system had been invoked by touching this "trigger" point. So, I was immediately laid down and given oxygen.

This response, however, led to more tests from a conventional neurologist, including a EMG and another MRI, neither of which found anything. Again the use of pharmaceuticals, particularly by injection, was proposed as were anti-depressants. But, I still was not interested in going down this road. Thus, the ultrasound treatments continued for a bit longer.

To make a longish story a bit shorter, physical treatment of my shoulder also ultimately included acupuncture as suggested by my naturopath, graston technique that was provided by the chiropractic neurologist, and massage by a LMT. These methods were applied throughout a five year period, at intervals that were generally two to four weeks apart.

That's nice and all, but why am I bringing up this chronic physical condition at all? Well, it was at the end of this five year period that something else happened. I had just transferred from the Art Therapy Counseling program at Marylhurst University in Oregon to the program at Southwestern College in New Mexico. I also had been reading about trauma with specific interest in the physical manifestations of it. Then, after specific experiences during my first term at Southwestern College, my shoulder problem almost completely resolved with one exception. The details of these experiences and the unresolved aspect to follow in a future blog entry.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two Years of Vision Therapy Begin

After I was cleared by the conventional neurologist, I would spend the next two years doing eye exercises every morning. After the first year (2006) of vision therapy, I started to feel better. But, it took a second year (2007) before I started to feel normal again and an additional three years (2010) before I was back to a level of functioning that was present prior to the appearance of my neurological dysfunction.

Within this process, I went through a couple of stages from the beginning to the end of vision therapy and beyond. My initial eyeglass lenses were tinted a reddish brown, which was closest to the rose colored sunglasses that I had been wearing. In addition, they also contained prisms that were meant to encourage my eyes to move in the right direction and in unison. These lenses would be used during the entire two years of my vision therapy. Then, as my vision had corrected enough to stop doing the eye exercises, I was able to go to clear lenses, which still contained the prisms. This act, of going to clear lenses, was in and of itself another vision exercise. But, I was successfully able to make this transfer, although the prisms remain a necessary support for my functioning today.

Throughout the main portion of this therapy, I also continued to need the consistent support of my alternative care physicians. This was necessary because the nature of correcting my vision and my related neurology was often challenging and fatiguing. But healing of this type, I found, requires a cycle of getting a bit worse before getting a bit better. In other words, the system or neurology needs to be challenged enough to change without being overwhelmed, which would instigate further failure rather than healing. So, the process requires a rather delicate balancing act where some ongoing dysfunction is expected.

Although the problem with my binocular vision was found to be the major factor of my neurological functioning, other events and factors would also prove to be significant. These other aspects, however, are mostly only beginning to show themselves as I examine my chosen path of healing and personal growth. But, it is these other aspects that are of particular interest with regard to the use of art in the therapeutic realm. So, future entries will begin to makes the connections between neurological dysfunction, therapeutic relationships, and art making.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

You're Depressed...Take Some Prozac and Get the Hell Out of My Office

When I went to see the conventional neurologist, I mistakenly reviewed the work I was doing with the chiropractic neurologist not thinking about the antagonistic attitudes of conventional medicine toward alternative approaches. He examined me with suspicion and sought proof of validity in working with my naturopath and chiropractic neurologist.  I felt victimized, rather than cared for.

After examining me, he found nothing of significance. He suggested that I was depressed and offered me a prescription for Prozac.  Of course I was probably a bit depressed, since I hadn't been able to function normally for almost a year. But this wasn't causing my dysfunction. Also, none of my other alternative care physicians, who had been seeing me consistently for more than a year, saw me as depressed.

So, I didn't take the Prozac offered. For one, I didn't think I needed it. For another, if I was depressed, this wasn't going to help me get out of it. 

Although he didn't specifically say it, Mr. conventional neurologist made it clear to me that I should take the Prozac and get the hell out of his office and stop wasting his time. I didn't take the Prozac, but I gladly got out of his office and never returned.

A Binocular Vision Problem is Diagnosed

By Spring, the chiropractic neurologist decided that I probably had a vision problem, recommending that I consult a optometric specialist for vision therapy. He made this recommendation after spending many months of observing my eye movements in relation to particular stimuli and through the use of specialized goggles with video output.

So, I was off to see this optometric specialist whom I was told did excellent work. But, sometimes being referred to doctors with excellent reputations means a long wait for an appointment and a lot of time spent in the office. The normal wait for this optometrist was 2-3 months. I was lucky, however, because someone had just canceled an appointment. The date of this appointment happened to be my birthday.

Good thing I didn't make any plans for this day. Since, an appointment that shouldn't have taken more than an hour extended into 3 hours. Not because I was being looked at during all of that time, but because the optometrist was so far behind. However, I would come to understand that he does do a lot of good work and deals with a lot people who have neurological dysfunction.

After the examination, he found that I appeared to have a problem with my binocular vision, which could be resolved by adding a prism to my eyeglass lenses and doing vision therapy. The optometrist, however, was concerned about proceeding. He'd had a similar case in which his patient was found to have bleeding in the brain. So, he wanted me to see a conventional neurologist before doing further work with me.

I asked for a referral, so that the optometrist would feel confidence in the resulting examination, since he obviously wasn't confident in the examination done by the chiropractic neurologist. This referral was slow in coming, so it wasn't until August that I saw this physician.

Meanwhile, my condition was not improving significantly. I also realized that my work environment was not helping me to resolve my health problems. So, at the end of July 2005 with my sick leave was running out, I decided to quit my job.

Quitting my job was a hard decision to make, but I really couldn't handle it anymore. It meant going down to one income or about 38% of our previous income. It also meant depending on different health insurance, which offered a benefit of $300/yr vs. 70% coverage on alternative care. And none of the vision therapy that I would soon begin would be covered at all. Thus, the next two years became a very difficult period for me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rose Colored Lenses, Incandescent Light Bulbs, and such...

Because of my neurological presentation, the following adjustments were suggested for my environment:
  • Wear red/rose colored lenses to reduce the amount of stimulation to the brain. Preferably only in the right lens, to reduce stimulation only to the left brain. But, this was seen as being cruel and unusual punishment, so I was allowed to wear the same color of lenses on both sides.
  • Place an incandescent lamp to the right side of the computer (at work and at home) to even out the stimulation being caused by the flicker of the computer monitor and the fluorescent lights.
  • Set the refresh rate of the monitor as high as possible, to also reduce flicker. Everyone is encouraged to do this. This will help to reduce eye strain.
  • Set the keyboard to the left of the monitor and look at the monitor from the right side.
  • In using the phone, place against the right ear.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Treatment Begins with the Chiropractic Neurologist

    When I met with the chiropractic neurologist, one of the first things he noticed was that I was hypoxic. That is, I wasn't getting enough oxygen profusion within my brain. So, he suggested a treatment course of 20 minutes of oxygen 3x per day.

    This meant that I had to find a source of oxygen, which was not going to be covered by health insurance because it was considered "oxygen therapy" rather than a life threatening need. Luckily, at the time, you could still find refurbished oxygen generating machines on ebay, which satisfied the level of my needs.

    The chiropractic neurologist also noticed that the dysfunction I was experiencing occurred mainly within the left side of my brain, initially estimating that this could be corrected with 3 sessions per week for a period of 6 weeks. But, my issues would prove to be a bit more complicated than that, as 6 weeks turned into nearly 6 years.

    As treatment began, he found out that my system was at such a low point that he really had to calibrate how much brain stimulation to provide. Just enough stimulation would shift my situation in a positive direction, but any more than that and I would just fall back down the other way. This became the first indication that something more complex and unexpected was happening, which was going to require more treatment and investigation than had been initially indicated.

    The next indication of a more complex situation occurred when the adjustments seemed to be helping, but not improving, my functionality. In exasperation, the chiropractic neurologist rhetorically exclaimed "What the #%@& is going on with you?"

    So, he started working through a series of different techniques in an attempt to discover what exactly was happening with me. His experience had shown him that his work either had a large effect or none at all. Thus, my case was totally unexpected for him, as my case file grew to one of the largest within his experience.

    Although no answers were immediately presented themselves, I stayed with this course of treatment because it was the only thing that was helping me to function and because I trusted that the answers would eventually be found. But work was becoming increasingly difficult for me, so by January of 2005 I had to request the use of FMLA and had my hours at work cut it half. It would be another 4 months, however, before the first of my answers would begin to reveal itself.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Six Years of Intensive Healing and Change Begin

    By the end of 2003, my "migraine" symptoms were increasing again. I felt like I was on the edge of having an episode all the time, with the occasional shooting stars that would cross my field of vision. Although I had been able to handle multiple tasks with ease, I was now having trouble keeping focused on just one of the many projects that I was involved with at work. Work, therefore, became very frustrating. I felt scattered, unable to pull details together, and unable to fully keep track of what was happening within the individual projects that I worked on. You would have thought that this would be affecting my ability to hold onto my job, but because I usually far exceeded peoples expectations, not much notice was given to the deficits that I was experiencing.

    But, I realized that I needed to seek help with whatever was happening with me. Since I felt that the conventional neurologist didn't offer me any help back in 1996, I knew that I needed to look elsewhere. Thus, I sought care that I always wanted to experience but had never tried before. I made an appointment with a naturopathic physician.

    With the naturopath, I discovered that I was borderline diabetic and worked on radically changing my diet. Also, although I don't have any food allergies, I found out that I do have several food sensitivities, which are substances that my body thinks are poisons. Most of these sensitivities were in the wheat and sugar categories and included: clams, lentils, goat's milk, cheddar cheese, wheat flour, wheat bran, sprouted wheat, barley, oats, refined sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, date sugar, stevia, watermelon, MSG, nitrates, benzoic acid, oregano, nutmeg, beer, white wine, and sugar with dairy (ice cream).

    Within the next 6-8 months, I lost nearly 50 pounds and my symptoms seemed to reduce some, but they weren't going away. I then started to have a couple of unusual visual events. The first involved instances in which it seemed like large objects had moved when in fact they obviously had not. The second instance occurred while I was driving. In this case, I became suddenly nauseous and it appeared as if an earthquake was occurring. But, no earthquake was occurring and my visual experience disappeared within seconds.

    These experiences led my naturopath to suggest that I see a chiropractic neurologist that she was hearing good things about. So, in October of 2004, as my condition began to worsen, I was introduced to a different type of neurological investigation, which would have a huge impact upon regaining a resemblance of my normal functioning.

    Leave of Absence Requested

    At the end of 2000, work had become an extremely stressful place. The computer system that I worked on was being upgraded and improved from a mainframe hierarchical to a PC object relations based application. Having been trained in the PC world, rather that the mainframe world, I was especially ready for this change. Others, however, were not so ready to make the switch.

    I began to feel like all the stress of the workplace was being dumped on me, but I didn't know what to do about it. One person told me that I needed to protect my energy field, which I understood but had no idea how to do that.

    So, I ended up requesting two months off. Since I happened to be in between projects, my request was granted. I took leave during November and December of 2000. I came back refreshed and in a better state than I had left, but still had no understanding of energy fields and how I might protect myself in the future. My co-workers, however, were cognizant of my reasons for taking leave and seemed to be more sensitive to what I was experiencing.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Soul Communication?

    In 2000, I started to have some new and interesting energetic experiences. As I sat silently with a friend, I had the sensations of an ongoing conversation. I couldn't hear the words being said, but I could feel the information being passed between us in a vague sort of way. I believed that I was experiencing a subconscious conversation.

    A few years later, however, I met someone that change my perspective on this experience. Upon meeting this person, the sensations that came to me were akin to meeting up with an old high school friend that I hadn’t seen in 20 years. It was like having an excited conversation about where we had been and what we had been learning about. This conversation also came with an overwhelming feeling of unconditional trust, as if it had already been earned.

    Since I had never met this person before, it seemed like this conversation could only be related to a past life. Thus, I decided that these conversations must be from the soul, not the subconscious, because only the soul would know about a past life.

    After having these energetic experiences, I was very curious about what they were all about, but I had a lot of fear in talking about them with anyone. So, I was left to simply observe and experience what was happening. These soul conversations seemed to continue and to expand, as I became able to sense the energetic presence of a person who was not physically in the room with me and who was likely several miles away. The experience of this energetic presence, however, was so great that I felt them physically and emotionally with me.

    I continue to have a curiosity about these experiences today, but without the fear of discussing them. I have always wished for someone who would engage with me about them, with a particular interest in those who have had these experiences themselves. So, if you are out there reading this, I would really appreciate your perspective and experience...