Deacon Patrick’s Log
UPDATE: See update below for some good news!
Massive change in regulation as a result of Obamacare hit our nation on January first, 2014. Doctors are afraid, and they should be. So should their patients. I understand from a hospital board member that the penalty for a doctor’s first offense of not following the regulation is a $100,000 fine. Second offense is lose of their medical license. If that’s true (and I’ve every reason to believe it is), our government is giving doctors less benefit of the doubt than various criminals, who at least get a three-strike rule in their favor before the heavy consequences hit.
Some of the doctors I know are shifting out of the medical field because they can not see a way to be a doctor anymore. It would seem to be true.
I have been looking for a new doctor since I fired my doctor for failing to take my need for accommodation into consideration when requiring tests before he would sign my insurance papers (He saw me at Thanksgiving, had no substantive questions, there was a delay in him receiving and submitting my paperwork, and then January hit. I presume there was a review of his cases and some bureaucrat told him what care he needed to give me (a complete reevaluation of all my symptoms as though we didn’t have any tests or scans showing the cause of vertigo and cognitive issues, albeit 10 years old). Here’s the full story. I took 36 days to fully recover from attempting to fulfill one of his tests.
I still do not have my disability insurance paperwork signed by a doctor. I’ll be seeing my primary care doc today to hopefully address that issue while we (my wife, primarily, because of all the details), continues to find an MD doctor who understands brain injury and sees chronic brain injury patients.
So far, recommendations have turned up empty. Everyone recommends the doctor I fired, and he is the first and usually only doctor recommended in the Colorado Springs area. The head of rehabilitation recommended a doctor in Pueblo, but he specializes in sports injuries and getting athletes back out on the field, and will not see someone who is addressing the issues of chronic brain injury recovery. The head of rehabilitation’s only other advice? Fix things with your old doctor or perhaps a general practitioner is the way to go. Perhaps.
Doctors, doctors everywhere, but not a one to see.
The medical field is extremely broken. Yes insurance requires I be seen by an MD doctor who will certify to my ongoing disability. The real brain injury specialists are neuropsychologists (who are PhD’s, not MDs). MD’s do not often address brain injury, and when they do it is not chronic, long term recovery, but acute medial care they provide. Learn about the difference here.
Most doctors still practicing fail to understand the benefits of restoring God’s engineering, such as going barefoot, floor living, Ketogenic diet, exercise, and more. It’s not acute care and it does not make any sense to them. Yet the medical world has not been able to help me in any way except a diagnosis and filling out paperwork. That’s sad. I want a doctor who can help me with my long term recovery, who understands the rules of long term recovery are different from acute rehabilitation. But that doctor does not appear to exist.
Doctors, doctors everywhere, but not a one to see.
UPDATE: I just saw the GP I used to see and my wife sees. Wow. She knew what a ketogenic diet was and what some of the effects were. She understands chronic, long term recovery and brain injury. Her nurse deeply understands brain injury from personal experience with a family member. The fact that I sat on the floor with ear plugs and noise canceling headphones one phased no one. This great doc has agreed to see me and handle my insurance paperwork. Yes!
Since the onset of my brain injury, I have had cravings for intense flavors. I think I may have finally figured out why. Things like cacao (chocolate), ceylon cinnamon, vanilla beans, coffee, and others have what are called flavonoids. Flavonoids trigger various effects in the brain that change neurotransmitters, among other things.
Yesterday, for the first time, I tried a stick of ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is known as the “real cinnamon” and is sweeter, more subtle, and has almost none of the stuff that harms your liver compared to what most of us are used to buying in the grocery store (which is not cinnamon, but a close cousin in the cinnamon family).
I’ve still been clawing my way out of the adrenaline pit from my doctor’s visit over three weeks ago. Immediately after starting to work on this stick of cinnamon (it is crumbly and easy to break off and chew, unlike it’s poser cousin) my head felt cleared and less mired in a swamp. But I didn’t have the racing heart and other stimulant effects I get from caffeine or from the poser cinnamon stick I tried on a different day.
Then, this morning, sitting up in bed with our one-year-old, something happened that hasn’t happened since my brain injury. Usually I watch her with focused fascination as she crawls to a toy, crawls to me, then unexpectedly (to me only) flings it toward me suddenly. The sudden motion overloads my brain and I need time to recover. Not this morning. This morning I saw it coming. First time ever since the brain injury in 2002. More eating of ceylon cinnamon sticks is needed, but it seems a very strong candidate for the reason I saw this coming. I wonder what else is in store?
In addition to eating the sticks, I plan on making my own chi tea with vanilla beans, cloves, chocolate, ceylon cinnamon, and possibly others. We also use a lot of tumeric and cumin in our cooking, which help stimulate and heal the brain.
If you try the cinnamon and/or chi, I highly recommend getting organic spices. So many of the pesticides used are neuro-inhibitors, and we don’t need any help in neuro inhibiting. Sardonic grin.
May God startle you with joy!
Here I am in the reading nook, aka a sitting cushion that folds up for when I’m on the computer at the kneeling desk.
Living with brain injury includes having a brain that is easily short circuited by loud sounds, bright flickering lights, scents and any other sensory input. Thus, the concept of a sanctuary, which I call my hobbit hole.
I was blessed to receive from Catholic Charities and GE Johnson Construction the gift of new windows and increased sound proofing in the walls (a friend took several years arranging it). The result is beautiful. I am going to keep things very simple.
At this end is my desk (I kneel on a kneeler) and the floor couch (think thin sitting pad) for visiting with my family in the quietest room in the house. The other end houses my cloths and is my walk in closet and reserve bedroom for when the town is too loud and I need somewhere quieter to sleep. Not bad for 200 square feet.
One of the therapies that is very effective at restoring God’s Engineering and helping me both function and heal as much as possible is floor living. Our whole family sits, eats, plays, sleeps on the floor. This keeps the body’s core very strong, keeps us shifting positions every 20-40 minutes, and keeps us feeling lithe and limber all the time. Our bodies did not evolve to be in chairs or cushie beds. Quite simply we feel far better all the time because we live on the floor. I never need to stretch before running or biking, I just go. It also uses space much more efficiently.
The earphones are Bose noise canceling headphones. The mechanical rumble still comes through the walls and windows a wee bit (there is a fan on the restaurant across the creek that runs 24/7 that none but me can hear, and it puts out sound that carries through most things — the longer the waves the harder they are to stop). So unless I am talking with the family, my earphones are on.
The windows and walls now stop the infra noise that was finding its way into my hobbit hole, and that is perhaps the biggest gain. I have been able to write and think far more in the week I’ve been in the new hobbit hole than in the months before (at least until the doctor’s office debacle). We’ll see what the noisier spring and summer bring!
Here I am at the kneeling desk on the computer. The desk is two night stands connected by a board in the middle, which happens to be the right height for kneeling.
Here I am in a wider shot, and you can see the small couch area in front of me, where is works to meet with family in a quiet room. Before I couldn’t have many conversations with my family until the town quieted down in the evening (if it did, in summer it stays pretty loud (for me)).
“Are your eyes covered? I need a drink.”
This is what my wife asked me last night as I was in bed. It seems absurd. Yet with brain injury it makes perfect sense, and it well illustrates what families with a brain injured person do all the time to accommodate their brain injured member.
I’ll break it down for understanding. If light changes suddenly, unexpectedly, my brain short circuits. I’m done. In that instant, I no longer have the brain energy to ignore the constant vertigo. I instantly need help to walk or I have to slump to the floor. Thus, before anyone turns a light on or off, regardless of where I am in the house, they announce it, give time so I can cover my eyes, and then turn it on. This has become normal for us.
“Are your eyes covered? I need a drink” was my wife’s shorthand for “I’m turning on the kitchen light and getting water, watch your eyes.” Just part of normal life with brain injury that most folks never see or understand. After all, a light going on or off makes no difference to them.
We are Catholic and embrace life with wild abandon. I don’t mean just that we strive to find the gift and joy in every moment despite the challenges we face from my brain injury and disability, among other things. We absolutely do that. I also mean that we do not use birth control or family planning of any kind, trusting to God’s wild abundance and life.
This openness to life baffles many who interact with us, including some family, friends, and possibly my doctor. My doctor was stunned to learn that I’d had more children. I can’t help but wonder if that didn’t somehow unconsciously effect his choice to stop believing me and stop talking with me and working with me on my treatment plan. I am disabled and should not have more children and thus be more of a burden on the system. Never mind that is God’s concern, not his or anyone else’s. Never mind that I am not receiving more from the “system” because we have more children.
There is a constant attack against the family and against life in today’s society. It takes many subtle, devious, undermining forms. This judgement for having children despite my disability is among them. Whether my doctor fell for it or not, it is something we have experienced painfully first hand.
Pray for our families, especially those struggling with disability in any form, that they may have the faith, trust, and courage to embrace life with wild abandon!
The medical system to all people claiming brain injury:
“Brain Injured? You’re faking it until proven otherwise. Even then, if we see something we don’t understand about you, you’re back to faking it. We won’t ask you about it. We will simply order a barrage of invasive tests after your disability paperwork is past due, all asking if you have brain injury and what the source of your symptoms is. As though you have no diagnosis, no scan results or test results showing objective proof you have brain injury.”
This is the presumption of guilt I have consistently experienced since 2002 when I received my most recent of over 8 concussions. I naively thought having brain scans showing my brain is essentially missing the function of key areas, blacked out because they only get enough blood to live, not function, would eliminate this. But here I am, 12 years later having to once again prove from ground zero that I have significant loss of capacity due to brain injury.
I fired my doctor today because he treated me in precisely the manner described above.
When I tried to talk with my doctor, he turned dictatorial on me. When I turned to the head chaplain at the hospital I received this response following our one conversation and his promise to talk with my doctor to learn what he could and get back with me (I never heard from him except for the following response two weeks later):
“I did what I could do. And I wish you success in your pursuits. I would be less than honest if I did not say that I find you isolating yourself from those who might want to help you out by your personal attacks on physicians and the system.”
So it is isolating myself to request actual medical care that does no harm? And this is being treated well compared to how so many with brain injury are treated.
Pray for all brain injured, their caregivers, and for the softening of the hearts of those who provide medical and pastoral care to those whom they do not understand.
So we know, and our doctors know, we hold them to a high standard of care, expect them to treat us as chronically injured in need of long term care than does not harm us and that we are not faking or exaggerating what our brain injury does to us any more than someone with quadriplegia does their disability, I propose we begin having the doctors we see sign this Brain Injury Patients’ Bill of Rights and if they do not that we go to doctors who will.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas for changes (what should be added, removed, etc.?)?
Brain Injury Patients’ Bill of Rights
We the brain injured name, assert, and require rights which by common decency ought not require statement or demand but which the current state of common medical practice requires.
We have a right to be the primary person in charge of our care (or our caregiver if they are our legal guardian), to make the decisions regarding what testing is best, if any, and under what circumstances that testing will occur so that it will not cause us harm.
Every brain injury is different. You may have seen one or ten thousand people with brain injury before you see me, but not one of them has my brain injury. Do many of us have many things in common? Absolutely. But the brain is the most complex organ in our body, controlling everything about us, so any combination of things can be scrambled. Do not make assumptions about my brain injury or its effects or my capacity. Ask me or my caregiver. We can answer whatever questions you have. You are a partner in our care, not a dictator or judge.
Brain injury is physical harm done to organic matter in our brain. We have a right to be trusted regarding our experiences and challenges and successes and needs and symptoms rather than to be presumed to be faking or exaggerating, or treated as if our issue is psychological. We have unseen physical damage. Because of this, things unseen or not realized by you can deeply harm us. This is not psychological, but use responding to protect ourselves against real harm that we really pay a price for. Respect and trust that. For example, you may not even hear the HVAC system that is pulsating and exploding in our brains. So what? We do and it has a torturous effect on us.
Once brain injury is established by means of objective testing or scans, we are to never again be treated as if no one knows the source of our symptoms. We are to receive accommodation so we have access to medical treatment without needing to recover for days from the overwhelming of our brain by stimulus others may not notice or other issues specific to our brain injury.
We require your inquiry toward understanding and patience along that journey rather than judgement at what seems odd, out of place, objectionable or otherwise wrong in your perception. Just as blind people may cross a cluttered room in the complete dark while a seeing person would stumble, so can people with brain injury who have learned to adapt do amazing things. Rather than question the brain injured person’s integrity, be amazed at their resourcefulness, ingenuity, and inquire by what mechanism they have made progress to perhaps others can as well, in the same way you would admire the blind person who has learned to navigate their world.
This document is not legally binding. It is, however, morally binding. By signing it, you the doctor I hope to see, agree morally with the above rights. This is not about liability, it is about with is right. If you can not sign it for any reason, please tell me and I’ll be on my way. If you choose to sign it, thank you, and I look forward to working with you for the best care possible for my brain injury.
Signed by Doctor:______________________________
This Brain Injury Patients’ Bill of Rights is created by Patrick Jones of www.MindYourHeadCoop.org and may be freely distributed.
Therapy and recovery for chronic issues looks vastly different than therapy, care, and recovery for acute issues. Part of my therapy is doing all I can away from the invasion of mechanized sounds, either in my Sanctuary Hobbit Hole or in the wilderness. I have far more capacity there than I do after 30 seconds wherever you are right now, which due to scents and sounds alone would reduce me to needing assistance to walk.
If you have an acute medical issue, bones sticking out for example, our medical system is brilliant and providing the care you need. However, if you have a chronic, long term medical issue, such as brain injury, our medical system is no only inept but often harmful and incapable of recognizing either, blaming you instead. Let me explain…
When I first found my current main doctor (a rehab doctor familiar with brain injury), I was excited. First, he believed me (so many doctors despite brain scans clearly showing the damage to my brain, did not). I eagerly tried his recommended drugs. They wholloped me and I learned that at least my brain is too sensitive to the effects of drugs to find them helpful rather than harmful.
Drugs. That was it. That was his arsenal against brain injury. My disability insurance company required me to see him less as the permanency of my disability was clear, so I ended up usually seeing him for 3-5 minutes a year. I would excitedly tell him whatever I was doing that was helping (going barefoot, diet changes, creating a sanctuary, etc.). He always seemed surprised when I’d mention the HVAC system being hard on me.
Did he inquire to learn more about how what I was doing might help others with brain injury? No. Was he interested in learning why these things helped me? No. Here I was, discovering foundational things that help brain injury (I believe most of them help chronic issues in general universally, including brain injury), and he has yet to see it as anything other than the weird things I do that help me and me alone. Seriously?
What happened to the eager medical doctor who yearned to know more about how the human body actually works and in the face of a wall of inability to offer anything helpful sought to learn more about God’s natural law and how to help people? Fiction, perhaps? So rare, it is more rare than my neurological vertigo, which is less than 1% of vertigo, and no one I’ve ever met understands it.
What helps me? Foundational things. Things that help my body help itself. Longterm, slow working, persistent, diligent things that nurture and promote recovery and capacity. Rather than run headlong into the wall of what I can’t do, I focus on what I can do, figuring that in doing those things far more often and paying minimal price for doing them, I will end up pushing the envelope in other ways, and slowly build neural connections. My therapy is what I eat (high fat, low carb. See “Grain Brain”). My therapy is running through the forest for a long time, activating my body’s natural healing mechanisms inherent to endurance activity, which includes natural levels of the same things found in illegal drugs (in a dose and form I know my body can handle and won’t harm my brain). My therapy is popping out from my Hobbit Hole sanctuary to play with my children for the 5 minutes that I can. When the problem is acute, the best therapy is head on. However, when the issues are chronic, the best therapy is focusing on what can be done, being sustainable, nurturing, healing and recovering. That’s how we recover long term.
Yes, it is incredibly odd that I can run for hours without food or water on the slopes of Pikes Peak but could not walk unassisted out a doctors office after being there for 30 minutes yesterday. Yes, to many ignorant folks, many doctors included, I no doubt seem uncooperative because I refuse to be in an environment harmful to me, though they do not even hear or see the things that are harming me.
The medical system is precisely the system you want to be in when you have bones protruding, or a heart stopped, or a blood clot in the brain. These people are amazing at handling trauma. If your issue is acute, these are your folks. You want them on your team.
Unfortunately, the same traits that make the people and system so excellent at acute issues are the same traits that make them inept at handling chronic ones. There is no equation for which drugs work because none of them actually are helpful, and science is showing more and more that they are likely harmful in many cases (see statins for heart care). They can’t even get basic nutrition right, believing a low fat, high carb diet is healthy. No, the anti-nutrients and lack of healthy fat is causing the epidemics we experience now. Cholesterol? Healthy. We need it. And lack of cholesterol is causal in metal deterioration such as alzheimer’s, MS, and others.
In being excellent at focusing on the broken needles and branches of the forest in their acute care, they miss the tree, let alone the forest.
Brain injury is a chronic, long term, life term recovery. Acute answers from acutely trained people are not answers at all. They diagnosed me, and they sign my disability paperwork (at least they have, we’ll see). But none of the things that have helped me have come from the medical community. And many of the things that have harmed me have.
It was only a few years ago I began to understand more fully the extend of harm to my capacity adrenaline causes and just how long it takes to leave my system. I suspect most of us with bludgeoned brains feel the effects of adrenaline and friends (there is a slew of neurochemical stuff released that no one is really sure what all it does) without even realizing it for the simple reason that we are under constant bombardment from stimulation.
Brain injury is the invisible injury and, while every brain injury is different, one very common symptom is the loss of the ability to filter out stimulation, so it hits our brains hard and full like an explosion. For me, very few things in nature overstimulate me (though I do not hang out around loud water falls often). A field of wild flowers in morning dew at 10,000 feet the summer? Amazing scents! The vanilla-rum scent of a water hole from several miles away alluring me in to the shaded niche in the scorching desert till it was a veritable symphony of scents as I ran through the surrounding horsetails with various subtle changes? Delicious.
No, it is the mechanized sounds and manufactured scents stimulations that impact my brain as weapons bento on destroying my capacity. And it works. But it does so, in part, by releasing adrenaline and friends.
Adrenaline is deceptive. At the rush of it we suddenly feel capable and able to handle the situation that triggered our fight or flight response. Do not be deceived! Get out, get away! To sanctuary!
This is, of course, the very purpose of adrenaline and friends. Fight or flight. Give us a short term boost of super power to handle the life-threatening situation at hand. But that boost is a debt against future capacity. Worth it so we can live rather than die, but when we are constantly accruing debt because of overstimulation, our functional capacity is diminished and may well be hard to recover.
In yesterday’s encounter with my doctor’s office (30 minutes, ending in a burst of TBI rage, aka adrenaline, out the office), the adrenaline gave me the capacity to overcome the deficits I’d incurred from the over stimulation (sound, scent, tactile). I was able to escape without having to be wheeled out. (Note, this gives the false impression to the ignorant observer, doctors often included, that I was making a bigger deal of the stimulation, and I really have a anger issue and need psychological help not brain injury help.). Education is essential!
Getting home at 9am-ish, I spent the rest of the day in my Hobbit Hole sanctuary, barely able to walk using the walls. Fortunately, I can often write in such a state, given a quiet enough environment, and my Hobbit Hole is newly fortified against more of the outside invasion of increased town noise, so I wrote about the experience as adrenaline coursed through me, giving me shakes, a racing pounding in my head, skull bones collapsing inward and exploding outward simultaneously, and a mind that is like a hamster on speed that can’t run fast enough on it’s little wheel.
I took my Adrenaline and friends protocol:
– 1000 mg Calcium Citrate
– 5000 iu Vit. D3
– 400 mg Magnesium Citrate
– 10,000 mcg V B12 Methylcobalamin, Sublingual
– 5 balls arnica montana 200CK
– 2 balls chamomile 12C
– Dark chocolate as desired (85% or greater)
Immediately after Bonk: Take 1 round of above
2 hours, 4-6 hours, 12 hours post Bonk: repeat.
Following day or two: take 4-6 rounds of arnica, chamomile, and B12 Methyl.
Return to aerobic, non-jarring exercise as soon as possible, even for brief periods. Aerobic = able to easily talk to someone next to you.
That protocol has cut the effects I feel from adrenaline dramatically. It still takes 2-4 days to recover from the small exposure I received yesterday. When we’ve made the mistake of continuing to car camp despite the fact that I was not doing well then was doing “magically” better (due to adrenaline), I’ve taken weeks or months to recover (generally 1-2 times the length of the trip).
At some point n the day or two after the adrenaline trigger has abated comes the adrenaline crash: I stop generating heat and can be cold no matter the temperature. I have no energy and no brain energy. I may sleep for much of the day or at least several hours (under heavy down comforters).
Then, in the days it takes to flush out adrenaline and friends, I always have a much shorter fuse to triggering my adrenaline again. So I have to lay extra low lest I dig myself into an adrenaline debt pit I need weeks or months to climb out of. That’s happened before. One big thing happens, then multiple little things kick me into the pit while I’m still recovering. The snowball effect, but with adrenaline rather than multiple concussions.
The silent price we pay for seeing doctors and being tested in environments that harm us is invisible, including to many of us because we are always paying it. To see the price, you have to escape out of overstimulation recover to whatever your actual capacity is, and then experience the sudden drop in capacity when again exposed to over stimulation. It is certainly invisible to the doctors.
I’ve found the best thing for adrenaline recovery is to use the above protocol, law low and quiet in my Hobbit Hole for several days, then emerge and begin doing aerobic activity in a quiet, natural setting.
UPDATE: It’s taken three days to reach the point that my head is no longer imploding and exploding simultaneously. It’s now in the “cottony” vacuous feeling stage. Experience says it’s another 2-4 days to recover fully, presuming my heightened adrenaline trigger doesn’t get triggered in the meantime, in which case I fall back into a deeper pit to crawl out of. Seven days of lost capacity is a ridiculously high price to pay for spending 30 minutes in a doctor’s office (and not even getting to see him) but instead be berated and belittled by him. The. System. Is. Broken.
UPDATE 2: Day four. Still feeling cottony and vacuous in the head and now unable to generate heat, so I am quite cold.
UPDATE 3: Day 13. Och! I got sucked into the quicksand pit of hair-trigger adrenaline rushes. It goes something like this. Had I been able to go two more days after day 4 without adrenaline, I would have recovered to the point that adrenaline would not be triggered by the smaller things. Unfortunately, I had to leave town and go winter camping on day 6, but a minor event in that triggered my adrenaline, causing me to come out early (fortunately, we’ve been blessed with a newly fortified sanctuary, and so the construction noise does not incapacity me as it would have otherwise). So, I am home now, and the whole family being stressed by the construction noise and debacle with my doctors has everyone on edge and little things keep happening before I recover, triggering my adrenaline rush anew and deepening the pit from which I must crawl. It is very challenging to break this cycle, and that is with understanding it.
UPDATE 4: Day 20. I’ve managed to get out on a few aerobic activities, and they are helping flush the residual adrenaline and friends out of my system. Of course, as that happens, I get the chills and crashes all over again, along with sinus activity (stuffy/runny nose). I’ve managed to not trigger my adrenaline for about a week now, so am hopeful that a few more days will see me through.
UPDATE 5: It’s is now Mach 26, 2014, and I am finally out of the adrenaline pit and I have a bit of brain cushion building up again, so I am roughly where I was when I when to the failed doctor visit 36 days ago. It took 36 days to completely recover from an attempted 30 minute doctor visit. I’ve heard harry a peep from the doctor I fired and am searching for a doctor who will see me.
What is your experience with adrenaline and friends?
This was not like the experience I had this morning at the doctors, nor is it like any experience any person with TBI has ever had with a doctor. A picture from Dante Inferno’s outer ring of hell would be more appropriate for conveying that experience. Something must change.
People with brain injury who are highly sensitive to sensory stimulation (light, sound, touch, scent, etc.) face a horrible dilemma: be seen/tested by a doctor in an office/hospital that may very well harm them, or ask for accommodation to be seen, be scoffed at, refused, and turned away from medical care.
I know this from personal experience as well as from the experiences of the hundreds of brain injured people I have supported through email support ministry and this website. I will share my personal story here, but suffice to say the far too common response from doctors is both ignorance of brain injury and it’s realities and arrogance in denying service.
As a Catholic deacon, I used to attempt to serve at Mass at least once a year. I often took 3-4 days to recover after due to the scents and sounds (heater and air conditioning units in public building typically pulse horribly, blowing up in my brain). At one Mass, the priest forgot I could not have singing. Rather than kick in my adrenaline, I shut down. He did not notice and did nothing, but continue Mass. My wife wasn’t sure what to do (she knows now to just walk up and get me). So I stayed limp next to the altar throughout Mass. I needed months of recovery, and ever since, I have been far more sensitive to stimulation than even I was before. I have not tried to serve at Mass since.
For reasons I’ve yet to ferret out, my doctor, who specializes in brain injury, is requiring (before signing past-due insurance papers) that I see a neuropsych for 8 hours of testing and an ENT (ear, nose, throat) specializing in vertigo to determine if my vertigo is caused by ear or neurological issues and what therapies might be helpful or new. Sounds good on the surface, right? It seems reasonable to have current, objective data. But there are a number of problems:
– Why hold my insurance paperwork (and thus disability income) hostage? “Liability. Too much liability.” was his answer. Why not give me a year to get the testing done? “Too long. Too much liability!” Never mind we have a number of extenuating noise issues happening in our town now due to flood recovery that I can’t be in town for and thus can’t be tested during. Absurd.
– Simply entering most medical buildings I am greeted a wave of laundry and disinfectant scents as I approach from the parking lot. Open the front doors and I am hit by a wall of scents and the pulsing of the HVAC unit. That is with my ear plugs in and my Bose noise canceling headphones on. That’s an accessibility issue.
– Any testing, poking, prodding, and other attempts to obtain “current objective data” are most like torturous to my brain — overwhelming me rapidly.
– I have multiple tests clearly showing my vertigo is neurologically caused, not inner ear related.
– 8 hours of neuropsych testing for me is the equivalent of testing a quadriplegic with partial use of their arms ten years after diagnosis to see why they are quadriplegic and how much use of their arms and hands they have now to have current objective data. How do you test this quadriplegic? Put them in a gym, take away their wheelchair, and expect them to go from station to station to use each piece of equipment to the best of their ability — all while constantly poking them in the head with high voltage cattle prods. Torture chamber. No thank you. Come up with a better way to test me.
Today was my ENT appointment. This is what we brain injured so very commonly experience seeing doctors and how we are responded to.
My wife worked with them to find the quietest exam room while I waited in the car. She walked with her hand on my back (which helps me mitigate the vertigo in challenging environs) to get me through the foyer and waiting room to the exam room. Still amazingly loud and pulsing HVAC, that I could feel on my skin as it pulsed, blowing up in my head. But quieter than what I’d just been through.
Wait a few minutes, and they take me through highly scented hallways with various and changing pulsing HVAC fun to get my hearing tested. The “sound” room also had a pulsing HVAC opening, so was far from quiet to me. The earphones I am supposed to hear sound through creaked and popped on their own on my head, and even more so when the wires attached to them moved. Sounds and speaking at various volumes through just one ear or the other happen — all challenging on my brain, while trying to listen to the beeps over or under the HVAC, popping and crackling of the room and earphones. The doctor later told me that room is quiet (no, it is not) and that I show low frequency healing loss. I doubt it. I think the more likely cause of me missing hearing those sounds is my brain injury and being unable to filter out background noise that the ignorant, arrogant doctor thinks does not exist.
My adrenaline kicked in heading back to the exam room when someone suddenly and urgently steered me a different direction because I went into a wrong room. That was it. I was done. Adrenaline and friends kicked in and I burst out of there in a rage, like swearing up a storm (welcome to TBI rage!). All before seeing a doctor.
My wife helped me to the car, then went back to see the doctor and explain things and ask for accommodation so I could be seen. She put me on a speaker phone call with the doctor. We explained my needs and he said he could see in his offices there. I said I was asking for accommodation, so I could be seen despite my disability, that I was like someone in a wheelchair asking for a ramp. “Absolutely not the same at all,” and refused to explain why it was different when asked. He said he would not take me as a patient (whew! I don’t want a doctor so ignorant and arrogant as that) but would provide referrals so I could be seen elsewhere.
I replied “Going from torture chamber to torture chamber to see which is less torturous does not seem the best way to go about this.”
His response? “This is NOT torturous!” When I called him on it, asking him if he had brain injury, he dug in his heels even more, interrupting every attempt I made (calmly, according to my wife) to ask questions (that apparently were threatening to him). The doctor was the one hot headed and not allowing me to finish my sentences or thoughts and just kept loudly repeating “This is a quiet office! Those things are not torture!” (update, I just learned from my wife that she was escorted out of the office at the conclusion of that call. My wife, the very picture of decorum and grace, holding a baby in her arms. This is a system unable to treat people with due human dignity.)
This is not a system capable of understanding, let alone helping heal, many of the brain injuries people have. Until doctors learn what it is to listen to a patient, be compassionate, and put the patient first, treatment for brain injury will remain tortuous and possibly even harmful. This is a sad and sinful state for our medical community.
I am done paying the price for seeing doctors without the doctors knowing. I no longer accept that I must be tortured to be seen. I require accommodation to be seen by the medical system and I will leave any situation that is overwhelming to me, just as I do anywhere else.
UPDATE: It took me 36 days to recover back to where I was brain energy and adrenaline pit wise before attempting to see this doctor. See details of the recovery here.