Sunshine in the Valley

humor and encouragement from my heart to yours

Mystery Diagnosis…..solved!

As many of you now know, Monday was a huge day for me. I finally was given an answer for the crazy health problems that began over a year ago and altered my life in the months since. I am still overwhelmed by the incredible reality that (as far as we know), my quest for a diagnosis is now over. So without further ado, here is my story. :)

It all began when I was cleaning a room at work last year, a week after my 29th birthday. As I moved around the bed to change the table paper, I tripped over a cord and fell full-force on my knees, whacking myself on the chin with the table rod in the process. (smooth, yes) The next day, my right arm began inexplicably jerking and twitching uncontrollably….and things went downhill from there in the following weeks and months. When I went to my chiropractor for help (thinking I just pinched a nerve), I reacted badly to his adjustment, passing out, and then discovering that I could not move, speak, or open my eyes. We initially thought I just had a vegal nerve response, and that I would recover and be better. (for the record, my chiropractor was not at all at fault….the problem was with me) Sure enough, I was much better within a couple hours. But then I began experiencing tremors….and muscle weakness. My legs began going “wobbly”, and walking was a terrible struggle at times as certain muscle groups locked up and refused to respond. I was utterly exhausted much of the time, for no apparent reason. I frequently experienced deep pain in my arms and thighs, and then came the day when I could not move my legs at all. I had MRIs, saw specialists, had test after test after test done…..with no answer. Tests came back clear, doctors were skeptical at best, and I was left struggling to regain my health without any medical assistance whatsoever.

What made it all confusing is how the symptoms would come and go. I would have terrible symptoms for a week, and then they would inexplicably disappear. I was thankful that they always left, but was completely confused about why they happened in the first place! Sometimes it was a struggle just to get through a day. Yet in the darkness, God’s presence was always there. He used my dear friends, family, and coworkers to surround me with more love, care, and prayers than I ever could have imagined, and I experienced His tenderness and compassion like never before in my life. At this time of utter helplessness, His grace was always there, holding me up, giving me joy, and carrying me when I was too weak to possibly get through a day by myself.

In His loving providence, He led me to Dr. Torin Gray, a wonderful Christian physician who listened and cared and took on my case, determined to get to the root of the problem. He was the first doctor (besides the wonderful docs I work for) who actually took me seriously and recognized that I had major issues going on….no matter HOW many tests came back normal! :) He was so reassuring and kind, and very encouraging. He sent me to specialists and ordered a huge battery of labs, but we could get no closer to answers. But he did not give up, and even if he couldn’t cure me at the time, I left his office encouraged every single time, because I knew I had an advocate.

There were signs that I might possibly have an autoimmune disease, which was not a happy prospect. Other neurological conditions were possibilities…but still, they didn’t quite fit my problems. We had theories……but nothing concrete, thus nothing that we could really do about any of it.

Meanwhile, my overall condition had so deteriorated in the midst of the episodes that I knew I needed chiropractic care or I was going to be totally debilitated. (I had stopped going to my chiropractor since we initially thought that the adjustments might be aggravating the problem) There were times when my body basically would “lock up” and I could not move, and a couple times my breathing and swallowing were even affected, improving only when I took muscle relaxers. This could not go on. So my wonderful chiropractor, Dr. Weatherley, bravely took on my very complicated case, and worked with me extensively. He greatly improved my overall condition, and spent hours working on me when necessary. Again, he was absolutely a God-send. Things were better, but still…..episodes would hit out of the blue, with varying symptoms, presenting themselves in different ways, and we were all completely confused about what this craziness could possibly be. My day-to-day life was greatly affected, because I could not really make plans of any kind, never knowing when I would wake up unable to walk, or having other crazy neurological issues.

Boy did I learn some deep lessons during this time! I never before realized how subconsciously I had a tendency to think I was in control of my own life. I love my Jesus, and sought His will in decisions and wanted to please Him…but deep down inside I still grasped to make my own choices in many of the everyday things of life. There was love for ME mixed in my love for Him. :(  But when facing the reality of not being able to do something as simple as walk across a room, needing help even to get to the bathroom (the utmost humiliation, really, heh)…. when I would tell people that I would be somewhere or do something and then find myself flat-out unable to….. when I sought desperately for answers and only found more questions…. I realized just how small I really am. How I am NOT in control here. That James had very good reason for saying “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (ch.4) God began gently – but intensely! – teaching me that my sufficiency was in Him, that my life was absolutely NOT my own, and that I was most definitely not in charge here! :) He also opened my eyes to the many other people who were suffering much worse things than I was, which kept my own problems in perspective…. and how people were watching my response to my present trials. I would either glorify Him in the midst of this, or bring disgrace to His name…there was no middle ground. I prayed desperately that I would not shame Him, and He began teaching me what it meant to “count it all joy” when trials came…. this was when some of His greatest work could be accomplished, not just in my own life, but in the lives of those around me. There were days when I felt utterly overwhelmed, so helpless….. but to my amazement, those were the days when I realized just how incredible my God really was. His peace was there…..His joy He gave….His love He bestowed so tenderly, even when I came to Him in a shower of tears and frustration. Not because I was special or deserved it, but because that is WHO HE IS. It was all there for the taking…..all I had to do was reach out and make it mine. He always, faithfully, calmed the storm in my heart, and reminded me that His grace was sufficient, His strength was made perfect in my weakness. When I was at my limit, His strength was only just beginning. And it was enough. Always enough.

New developments began indicating that my neck could be the source of my troubles. Dr Weatherley and Dr Gray both became convinced of this, and after Dr W began adjusting my neck again (which he previously had not done, concerned that it would harm me), I drastically improved. But after enjoying sweet respite from symptoms over the summer, I began having big setbacks in September. Then came a new development: speech problems. That was pretty scary, because it indicated beyond doubt that I was experiencing problems involving my brain. Again, though, my doctors were convinced the problem had to be in my neck, because brain signals were clearly not getting through, yet nothing was wrong with the brain itself. We began discussing sending me out of state to see specialists who would hopefully be able to detect the source of the problem.

Then came this past weekend. After doing well for two weeks, I began having significant problems speaking after my neck was gently pressed during an evaluation. It made no sense, yet I struggled with symptoms all weekend, and when I woke up Monday with the problem still quite persistent, I knew something had to be done. After months of waiting and trying to be patient, I knew action was needed but felt overwhelmed, not sure what to do. I prayed for wisdom, and my dear coworkers prayed for me too during our morning meeting. Some were in tears over my speech issues, and that too made me realize that things were getting to a crisis point here.

I called Dr. W, and he told me I needed to see an upper cervical chiropractor. He arranged for me to be treated by one that very day, and I prayed desperately that the Lord would give this doctor wisdom to determine what was wrong with my neck.

And after 14 months of waiting and praying and longing for an answer, I heard some of the sweetest words you can imagine…. “I know what’s wrong with you!” :) :)

Dr. Jones had performed special x-rays that morning, and showed me where my atlas, the bone directly beneath the skull, was askew. Instead of being perfectly straight like it should be, mine was tilted down to the right and pushed forward! He said its position would block many of the transmissions from my brain, and was also affecting my cranial nerves, resulting in the speech difficulties and motor skill issues that had recently begun (difficulty writing and incoordination, in particular). He assured me that once he corrected this, I would be a normal person again!

I was so hopeful, so longing for him to be right….but not sure. It made sense, but could this really be it?? Could it be so very…..well….simple? :) It seemed too good to be true! He got his little tools out, and proceeded to very gently work on my atlas. Initially I didn’t notice any difference, and tried not to despair :)….but when he made a few more adjustments and stepped back, I immediately realized that something was different! The terrible “fog” left my head, and my previous speech and walking problems completely vanished. I was….a normal person!!! No pain, no problems of any kind. I could now communicate with him with no difficulty whatsoever!! It had changed in an instant!!

And that was when everything “clicked”. This was why nothing showed up on tests….this is why chiropractic had helped some but not completely….this was why my perfectly healthy limbs would sometimes not respond to my commands…..this was why neurological symptoms plagued me at times….there was a roadblock right in the middle of the “information gateway” between my brain and my body!! No wonder!

Best of all? Unlike a dread disease or autoimmune condition, THIS PROBLEM COULD BE FIXED! Praise the Lord! :D

The most overwhelming abundant joy filled me from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, and I positively could have danced a jig right there in that office had I not been afraid of undoing his handiwork! :) The Lord had heard our prayers and answered in HIS timing…..and I felt as though in that moment, He gave me my life back.

What rejoicing and celebration took place when I returned to work that morning! Those precious ladies have been with me every step of the way, and our hearts were full of thanksgiving to the Lord for finally bringing the answer we longed for. Tears of sadness were turned to tears of joy, and we all were just in awe of what happened in the course of one day!

It will be a process, getting me back to normal. I will need therapy to strengthen my neck, and reverse its outward curve, and could have a few setbacks as he works to keep that bone in place. But now we know what to do…now I can take active measures to regain my health and live a normal active life. What an incredible gift!

I know this post has been very long, but I wanted to share not just the happy ending, but the faithfulness of God during the journey to get here. I also wanted to share more details than I have in the past, in hopes of maybe helping other folks who may have similar problems and haven’t yet found an answer….they may want to see if their problem is the same as mine! :) I can give you all the information you need if you ask me! ;)

I want to thank each and every one of you who have prayed for me, encouraged me, and supported me during all the craziness of the past year…..God knew I needed you, and I would never have survived with my sanity intact had it not been for you! And honestly? I don’t think I would change any of it, even if I could, because I have learned (and am still in the process of learning) incredible lessons that I never would have, had these events not taken place. It has amazed me the treasures that are discovered in the midst of pain, and for this I am truly grateful. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond thrilled to realize that most likely this season in my life is over (unless there are other underlying problems we are unaware of), yet I can see at least part of why the Lord chose to allow me to go through it. I know there will be other challenges ahead – life is full of them! –  but I can face them with more confidence than ever before, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that my God is faithful, and will be with me every step of the way.

“Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” Psa 28:6-7

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