For more information about the below post, click here.
The distant sounds from within
Four years after the head injury, towards the end of the classroom part of physical therapy school, I was sitting in some type of neurology rehabilitation class. I felt normal. I became aware of a strange noise or sounds like ocean waves in an echo chamber or large empty space. It wasn’t loud. I looked around to see if anyone else seemed to be hearing anything. Apparently just me. It lasted for probably about a minute then was gone with some popping sounds. This continued intermittently throughout my internships. I rarely mentioned it. I did test my coordination and balance, standing on one foot, eyes closed, fingertip to nose, throwing and catching. All systems go during the static. I did ask a PT that I knew to check my pulse, eye movements and pupils during one of the episodes. Normal.
On my first PT job (in Tucson) I had real health insurance and the money to pay deductibles so I went for a hearing evaluation. Everything tested normal and there was no explanation for the random sound effects.
I moved on to Durango, CO and ran a small PT clinic in Aztec, NM. Over time the episodes became more frequent, lasted longer and perhaps unrelated, I thought I noticed occasional moments of incoordination. I had another evaluation that was normal for hearing but showed a deficit in my right vestibular mechanism. Those results didn’t explain anything that was happening inside my head.
I was moving to Flagstaff, trying to catch up on my paperwork (the curse of my existence) in Aztec and driving to Flagstaff on weekends trying to find a place to live. Sometime in there I ran the Imogene Pass run. One day I was sitting at my desk eating lunch and finishing the morning’s patient notes. My first afternoon patient had come in early and was exercising on his own before his session started. No pressure. The day was going fine.
I began to get a strange feeling, not pain, not ill, more a sense of dread. I never remembered that feeling before. For some reason it seemed like a good idea to splash some cold water on my face. While in the bathroom, splashing the water on my face it became difficult to use my right arm and the right side of my face began to droop. Oh fecal matter! I was having a stroke. Managing to get the door open before things got worse, I got to my secretary’s desk and tried to say that I needed help. I couldn’t speak but she got the message. Getting up from her chair and she put it behind me so I could sit down. I didn’t quite sit, sliding from the chair to the floor.
The lights went out.
Over an hour later they came on again in the Farmington, NM emergency room. Very groggy and confused. That apparently was a grand mal seizure, shorted out, gone. My fiancé, Debbie also a PT, came and got me back to Durango. She was pretty concerned, scared even. I don’t have much of a memory of the couple of days after that. An EEG and MRI were normal. The assessment was that maybe I was just exhausted and that could cause a seizure. I was put on Dilantin temporarily but if there was no relapse it was up to me if I wanted to continue it. I declined. Dilantin clashed with my coffee.
The irregular auditory sideshow continued, back to normal and I moved to Flagstaff.
The outpatient PT clinic in Flagstaff had good exercise equipment which we used before or after seeing patients. There was also a shower. I worked out before seeing patients one day then took a shower. In the shower I began to notice music, that was nice, but there was no speaker in the shower room. Oops! Things started to go downhill. I quickly pulled my shorts on, got out of the shower room while I still could and right in front was the office manager’s desk. I couldn’t talk but she could tell that something wasn’t right (more than usual) with me. Somehow I was brought back to one of the treatment rooms. I knew what was going on this time and seemed as if I was able to fight to stay conscious.
Another MRI, an extensive evaluation at an epilepsy center and no evidence of anything unusual. The brainstorms happen when they will regardless of mental meteorologists. This time the Dilantin was not debatable. My coffee consumption increased to meet the challenge.
Tomorrow I’m off to another Hypnotherapy conference. Not sure what I’ll write about next time but there will be words.
Feel free to contact me with any comments and of course if you know someone who might be interested in these posts please send them on.