Everything went black.
Within (what I'm guessing was) a few seconds, I'd been flipped onto my back and was beginning to regain my senses.
I heard panic, beeps and hustle. Lots of hustle.
I blinked and squinted until I saw a circle of blurry heads peering down at me. Embarrassed, realizing that even though I fought hard to resist fainting - I'd been unsuccessful. I grinned crookedly the way that I do when I'm uncomfortable and said, "I'm okay," as I tried to push up to my elbows but the staff ignored my efforts and worked diligently.
It was a cardiac floor after all, and within seconds they had mobilized me with a neck brace, removed my thick sweater (I knew I shouldn't have worn that extra layer in the hospital), peeled open my blouse (but I had wished I'd worn a prettier bra), as someone placed sticky heart monitors across my chest.
Soon a cardiologist announced that all was fine, "she just fainted" and the staff quickly dispersed.
As the crowd cleared I looked to my mentor, a dietitian, I'd been shadowing that day as a senior in college (back in 2004). It was winter break and I was squeezing in some extra time with Gail. She was a robust little thing, we'd been on the floor nearly 4 hours with next to nothing to eat or drink. It was warm and as we reviewed notes I felt a strong wave of syncope pass over me. This hadn't been my first time to drop suddenly, but it was the worst.
I looked to Gail to see if the neck brace was really all that necessary. And that's when I saw the concern in her eyes. She told me I had hit the front of my forehead directly on the tile floor, that nothing had broken my fall, and in doing so I seized. "They need to take you to the ER to do a CT scan to check your brain."
I don't remember too much after that aside from a pounding headache, a nice notch forming on my forehead, eagerly accepting pain killer, gracious Gail buttoning up my blouse, mom and dad arriving, and a lot of dozing off.
Oh yeah, and there was an abnormally cute nurse/ER tech/medical student of some sort (at least in my foggy mind) who learned I was studying to be a dietitian and said, "Do you Eat to Live or live to eat?" I, having never heard of the book (Eat to Live) at that time and still quite confused, enthusiastically said, "I live to eat!" Disappointment crossed his face and I remember thinking, "wrong answer Lis." Then things went fuzzy again.
I was sent home with a normal CT scan and drugs to dull the pain. That afternoon I returned to my part-time job, but I remember being quite useless. I think it was the day after, while attempting to exercise, that I realized it felt like my brain had been bouncing around in my skull. I cooled it on the exercise for a few days after that.
Needless to say, life marched on. My pride was hurt and I looked upon my next shadowing session with great fear and anxiety. I had passed out before, but it was usually when I'd been under-the-weather. I seemed to develop a terrible association with fainting and hospitals - the same destination where I was planning to earn a living as a clinical dietitian.
The next time I was scheduled to shadow, I forced myself there, huffing and puffing and feeling like I was going to faint every step of the way. I was given my assignment with a new dietitian, and without Gail's comforting presence I realized I couldn't go through with it. The pounding in my heart, sweaty palms and dizzying anxiety was all I could take. I told the staff I didn't feel well, and they were very kind (or maybe relieved). As chief dietitian, Gail reminded me that I took quite a fall and said we'd try again. They even escorted me to my car and offered to call my mom.
Well that fainting sensation went on for years. I battled it through my internship (and nearly did faint a few times had I not dropped my head between my knees), and within multiple hospitals. Each new facility brought on that dreadful feeling, that dizzying anxiety.
I didn't speak much about those episodes, or how they paralyzed me in my tracks. I simply talked myself through it, told myself I was acting like a flake, and that I had to work past being a head case. I suspected all I needed was self talk and time.
Through the years I overcame these bouts, and it wasn't until a recent consultation with a renown pain specialist that I realized how serious a fall I had taken, why my mind was so fearful of fainting again, and how that injury may still be affecting my health to this day.
Fast forward to the present. I was searching online one minute, and the next I was watching this clip from Dr. Oz on Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy.
From there, I explored Dr. Pawluck's website and the vast resources on this topic.
Dr. Pawluck is a Board-Certified Family Physician and pain specialist affiliated with a number of universities including Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. When he became frustrated with pain meds and procedures, he learned alternatives methods like acupuncture, homeopathy and body work. Today, he's a national expert in the medical use of electromagnetics and energy medicine with more than 22 years of experience.
After much reading, Joe and I decided we needed to talk to him.
Our initial phone consultation with Dr. Pawluck went a lot like this:
Following the 5-minute version of my past medical history, he said I was probably exposed to Lyme. I had just received my Lyme results that day and they were negative (my score = 17, positive score = 25 or greater using the NeuroScience iSpot Lyme Test. Therefore, he agreed that my journey doesn't indicate Lyme. Let's pause for a cheer since this is good news (wooohooo!), even though it was received with a mixed batch of feelings.
If not Lyme, then why all the pain?
Dr. Pawluck indicated that it's never simple, especially with chronic problems, and suspects that I've got something else going on in my brain.
He then shared a story about a very smart nurse with severe brain fog. She was treated for Lyme and still not recovering. He tested her for viruses that land in the brain, and she tested positive for many. He did a lumbar puncture and tested for Lyme and all the viruses that tested positive in the blood. Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV 6) came up positive in her spinal fluid. This is a herpes virus caused by an upper respiratory infection. The HHV 6 was active in her brain, plus she had been through a car windshield twice in two different car accidents.
So then he asked if I had had any car accidents, falls or head injuries?
Me: "I fainted and whacked my head, likely had a concussion."
Dr. Pawluck: "Did you pass out?"
Me: "I did, briefly."
Dr. Pawluck: "So you didn't have a concussion, you had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)."
Dr. Pawluck: "It may have been a mild TBI, but it was a TBI. This is the rage now in professional sports, college and high school. It's a real BIG issue. If you lose consciousness at all, even temporarily, you've had a TBI. That part of the brain that's been injured is now vulnerable. It's vulnerable to mercury, viruses, yeast, fungi and heavy metals. These things begin to gang up on you and once they start ganging up more cells are compromised, more cells don't function properly and therefore you end up with some of the symptoms you're describing."
Dr. Pawluck: "Lis, your brain's been ganged up on."
Me: "It feels like that."
Dr. Pawluck: "I expect it would...Nature kicks you when you're down. It's a calling of the species, or taking of the weak in the species. We don't want to be called weak but if we're injured or damaged, we're weak. Nature is unrelenting, uncompromising and unforgiving. Yet, we still have to live with these symptoms despite insults received."
He suggested further testing for these viruses: 1) Human Herpes Virus 6 (HHV 6), 2) Parvovirus, 3) Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV), 4) Cytomegalovirus, 5) Coxsackie A, 6) Coxsackie B, and 7) Shingles.
Dr. Pawluck went on to say, so how do we optimize the ability of the body to function despite the circumstance? We can't necessarily reverse the process, especially when it comes to viruses, but we can learn how to keep symptoms at bay.
In other words, viruses never really die so the trick is to keep them dormant - especially once we know what we're dealing with (hence the viral testing). This is where the PEMF comes in. PEMF essentially uses magnetic wave forms to stimulate healing at a cellular level. Here are a few of my favorite articles if you'd like to read up on this topic:
Lyme Disease and PEMF
New to Magnetic Fields
PEMF: How They Heal
Using PEMF To Modify Inflammation
After much emphasis from Dr. Pawluck that PEMF therapy is not a cure but that it's intended as a complimentary adjunct to my current care, and that I would likely see some benefit - we decided to rent a device to trial. We're using The MAS System.
I'm about a month into my daily treatments, multiple times a day, and observing subtle shifts - but it's still early. For instance, superficial symptoms will come and go quickly but organs and deep tissues will take longer to heal (expect 5-7 years). This also depends on the layers of illness that have accumulated through the years.
Once again I'm reminded that there's no quick fix. On the other hand, I'm comforted by the concept of the healing crisis because it reminds me that some symptoms are necessary.
Sometimes it's easy to be blinded by the symptoms, but sometimes those symptoms are necessary for healing.
I'll leave you with a couple brain supporting resources that have piqued my interest:
The Dynamic Neural Retraining System
The Irlen Method