So here I am on a journey unexpected………….
In August of 2014 my life changed dramatically after an unexpected health crisis. It appeared to be a normal morning of volunteering at a local community garden. My day was like any other until I experienced an extreme sense of unwell, which progressed into a severe migraine. Within the course of a half hour I was on my way to the emergency room at my local hospital. My symptoms started with an escalating migraine, extreme nausea, vision impairment, cognitive impairment, extreme sinus pressure, a bulging right eyeball and enlarged right pupil.
After an initial exam an x-ray of my sinuses revealed no blockages, so I was given some pain medication, and prescribed pain and sinus medication and sent home.
Over the next few days I struggled with medicating myself. Due to this unexplained health crisis, I was unable to tell time, although I knew how to count to four, I struggled with knowing how to calculate when four hours from a set time would be. This left me unable to comprehend when to take my medication. This consequently left me very anxious and in pain most of the time, evidently increasing my brain inflammation.
Over the course of the next week I progressively got worse with regards to the brain inflammation, which manifested in the inability to read my emails, watch TV and put words together into a sentence when speaking to family members on the phone. I was losing weight and I had no desire to eat. I remember the feeling of being lost, confused and unsupported but dismissed it as something that was temporary.
My reality soon revealed that this was not a temporary situation and was progressing into dementia, rapid weight loss, emotional distress and a sense of hopelessness. I remember feeling like I was floating along with no direction and feeling disconnected from my brain. If it were not for my family and a friend at the time, noticing my inability to communicate coherently, I feel I would have continued to decline.
My symptoms were very similar to those of someone who has had a stroke or aneurism and this was becoming increasingly worrisome to my sister. Thanks to my sister, together with my daughters, they decided to try to get the answers to their questions regarding my failing health. My daughters arrived from Toronto and we headed to Lindsay Hospital, to the emergency department, to get the results of a CT scan which was preformed the previous day. After a long day spent in the emergency department with more tests and a chest x-ray I returned home with my daughters, but no answers as to why I was unwell and declining. It was a relief to learn I had not had a stroke or aneurism, however, I still had no one to address my brain inflammation.
After numerous tests, my doctors ruled out stroke, aneurism, heart issues, Lyme disease and other viruses and bacteria. Progressive inflammation, pain and cognitive impairment were still not on anyone’s radar, including mine, due to my inability to process what was happening to me.
I was sent to see an ophthalmologist due to my bulging right eye and concerns about the pressure on my eye damaging my vision, but that was the only therapy offered to me. I remember trying to complete the required paperwork on my personal information and medical history with great difficulty. Were it not for my husband’s help I could not have completed the form. When I was asked some questions about any history of eye problems I attempted to tell them about an injury when I was seven, to no avail. The thoughts were there but the words could not be verbalized. I remember trying to tell the therapist three times and apologizing for not being able to communicate the facts. I remember feeling very alone and confused.
From there I sought alternative solutions, since conventional medicine had no answers therefore no effective treatment.
I consulted an alternative health care professional who was a family physician and psychologist. Through his specialized assessment he concluded that I was suffering from a herpes virus that had become active. His treatment protocol was; see a recommended naturopath and shaman healer.
The naturopathic doctor started me on various supplements to boost my immune system and help prevent further weight loss. The shaman healer performed various ritual ceremonies and treatments. Although these modalities were therapeutic, providing me with a sense of support and hope, they did not resolve my symptoms.
Around that time my sister, Elisabeth Hines, who is a Holistic Wellness Practitioner, had recently been introduced to Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential oils by her daughter and discovered their healing properties. She recommended applying some immune supporting essential oils to the bottom of my feet twice a day. I had no idea how that would benefit me but having no other success in terms of my recovery, I trusted her intuition and proceeded with the treatment for about three months.
Slowly I began to have hope as I began to feel slightly better every day. I started addressing the symptoms of pressure and ringing in my ears with Basil oil with great success. As time went on I started ordering more of these amazing oils and purchased a recommended book to learn more. I continue to administer essential oils for my brain inflammation, memory, mental clarity and the emotional challenges.
I continue to diffuse a couple of drops of Frankincense nightly for brain inflammation and relaxation and apply emotional aromatherapy blends for the emotional healing needed to continue this healing journey.
Unless a person walks in someone else’s shoes, with regards to brain fog and confusion, they have no idea of how devastating a mental disorder can be in terms of their suffering. Part of the suffering, in no small part, is the result of watching loved ones struggle to understand the personality changes, decision making, physical, mental and emotional changes they see.
For a very long time I suffered in silence with the emotional aspect of accepting that some of the people around me did not understand my inner pain and therefore were not able to be supportive. I was unable and unwilling to share with some of the people closest to me, to save them from undue stress and worry about what I considered may have been an irreversible condition. I truly envisioned myself as someone who may end up in a care facility due to the fact I knew I could not look after myself. The thoughts of what a burden that would be on my family were a huge part of my anxiety, depression and hopelessness.
Two years later a lot of feelings and memories of the events of my brain trauma started flooding back to the point I knew I needed to share my story in order to move on. Up until now my sister Elisabeth has been my primary support system with regards to understanding and helping me gently regain my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in the very loving and understanding way I so desperately needed. This came from a place of sisterly love but also from a place of experiencing a wellbeing journey of her own and her devastating experiences of loneliness and isolation during her wellbeing journey.
Her journey has been documented in a book she wrote to help journal her recovery process. She is a practicing Holistic Wellness Practitioner as a result of her health challenges and a search for answers and treatments to regain her health. She too has come a long way and shares her story and her practices to help others.
Her website is http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/what_people_are_saying.htm.
Understanding mental health is not an easy thing for any family, and mine is no exception. If I had not experienced this health crisis I could never have believed or accepted that there are many layers of physical, mental, emotional and relationship healing involved. There is no timeframe, my healing continues as naturally as possible. Am I a changed person because of my health crisis? Of course I am.
I continue to look at life differently through a new level of understanding and acceptance of the journey.
It’s now the summer of 2019, almost 5 years later, and I continue to feel better every day. I will continue to educate, support and share with others to make lives better.
My mindfulness meditation has been essential to my wellbeing, in terms of becoming aware, throughout the day, that I have an abundance of doable practices in my wellbeing tool box. I am now able to change my mindset to “I can change my mind and turn to a health giving practice rather than become downtrodden with thinking I can’t”.
Ancient practices such as Meditation, Tai Chi, Yoga, feeding my body healthy organic and unprocessed foods, enjoying exercise such as kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, bicycling, walking through my forest and tending to my garden, spending time with people who lift me up and share my passion for joyful living, spending time with my family, allowing my creativity, and sharing the healing I’ve experienced with others is my therapy for joyful living and healthy longevity.
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