Late Night Ramblings
I wrote on here a couple of weeks ago about the neurological issues I’ve been dealing with for the last 8 months or so, and now that I seem to be on the mend, I want to share more details of what I went through. Back in 1989, I suffered a pretty severe head trauma and have lived with the side effects of post-concussion syndrome ever since. For the first year, I had a constant headache, and not your run of the mill one either. To this day, a headache has to pretty severe for me to even notice it. For about 10 years or so, I would occasionally lose focus on where I was and what I was doing. It would sometimes take me a minute or two to come back to full consciousness, but fortunately, that symptom faded with time. The three that have remained are sensitivity to light, trouble with word recall from time to time, and poor equilibrium. To me, they are minor nuisances that I’ve grown to accept and live with.
Several years back, I started noticing a random tremor in my left hand. It was infrequent and rarely lasted for more than a few seconds, so I figured it was just another effect of the injury. Then, last summer, that hand started giving me lots of issues. The trembling became nearly constant, and sometimes I would get a severe cramp that would draw my middle fingers together in a painful knot that took several minutes of rubbing to undo. By mid-September, the trembling had spread to my right hand, though not as severe or constant.
Around this time, I also realized that mundane tasks like walking, especially on stairs, writing, and typing took extreme amounts of concentration. I could still function, but it took all of my effort to do them. My muscle strength was fine, but getting my muscles to respond took everything I had. With each step, I felt like my legs were glued to the floor and didn’t want to lift. Just holding a pen steady was maddeningly difficult, and while typing, I would constantly miss keys or hit two at once. I went from being able to easily type 60 words a minute to struggling to complete 30. Also, I noticed that my handwriting on the board kept getting smaller, especially the longer I wrote. My arms and legs often felt like they were either very far away from my body or disconnected altogether. After doing some preliminary research on WebMD and the Mayo Clinic, I was terrified I had either Parkinson’s or MS.
Then, in late September/early October, the muscle spasms started. They would happen sporadically and without warning at odd places on my body. Usually, they were in my legs or arms, but a few times, they occurred in my abdomen and once on my upper lip. They weren’t painful, more just annoying, and they would last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. I never knew when or where they would hit.
Then, sometime in October, the worst symptom hit. The only way I can describe it is that I felt like I was dying. Some days were worse than others, but the sensation never went away. There were days when just getting out of bed took everything I had, and making it through each day at work required every ounce of energy I could muster. The feeling was so real and terrifying I actually wrote letters to my sons in case something did happen to me. I lost count of how many times I broke down crying from the fear. To further complicate the situation, the doctors had no idea what was going on. Every single test kept coming back normal, and as I wrote before, my neurologist treated me as if I were imagining the whole thing. I know I wasn’t imagining that feeling of death.
The whole experience was a nightmare, and I’ve never felt so helpless and alone. Today, fortunately, I feel like I’m healing. The death feeling faded within weeks of cutting out gluten, and the muscle spasms have all but ceased. I still have some trembling in my left hand, and my coordination isn’t 100%, but everyday I feel a little better. If you are experiencing any unexplained health issues, I urge you to look at gluten as a potential culprit. The effects of the sensitivity can mimic nearly anything, and it affects everyone in different ways. The cure is simple, and there’s about a 6 month healing process. If you are of Scots-Irish heritage, you are highly likely to have the sensitivity, so please, don’t ignore the possibility.