Saturday, August 11, 2012

One Who Helped Me Heal

Imagine feeling the following sensations periodically on a daily basis: 
light headedness,

Add to that:
 a sense of being out of sync with life, your environment, and those around you.

This all makes you feel
not understood.

Add to all of these symptoms, pain and headaches.
Along with the headaches, 
visual disturbances,
fullness in the ears.  

Along with the above symptoms and sensations,
that does not go away even as you sleep much of the day away,
loss of the ability to
the loss of 
short term memory,
and the inability to problem solve.

not being able to drive,
frequent public places,
 go grocery shopping
because you are overwhelmed by the sights and sounds surrounding you.

Add crippling anxiety to all of the above.

Intensify the debilitating effect of all of the above with the process of dealing with
 grief over the recent death of a child.  

Imagine that it is the dead of winter and the landscape seems bleak and bare.
Nothing seems to be blooming in your life, not even hope.  

This is how I felt though much of January of 2012 after a head injury from falling down the stairs of my home.  This fall sent me on a new journey of learning much about healing, hope, pacing, and patience.
I remember that one of the first pieces of advice given me after my injury by my chiropractor was, 
"Be patient with yourself."
I am not a patient person.

I needed a very special person in my life to teach me patience and pacing.  I also needed one who had the education and skills to properly diagnose my problems and give me the therapy I needed to heal.
That person was

Julie, a physical therapist with South Valley Physical Therapy, is a board certified neurological clinical specialist who specializes in all those symptoms that were robbing me of the life I once had.  To say that she was a God send to my life is an understatement.  I honestly do not know how I would have survived without the skill set that she used to diagnose my problems and to design a treatment plan that would give me both hope and healing.

In many ways, I consider that fact that I even found Julie Knoll nothing short of a miracle.  As I reflect back on my life over the past year, I am aware that I have suffered from vertigo and dizziness since early last summer.  Just as the symptoms of vertigo were finally abating some, I fell down the stairs and my problems with this puzzling symptom in my life were exacerbated.  If I count the number of doctors and tests that I had before I fell, I come up with at least four different specialists or tests that were done to try to find out what was going on in my life.  I was tested for seizures.  I was given MRIs and CAT scans.  I saw a balance disorder specialist.  I was sent to a cardiologist.  I had all kinds of tests, but I had no answers.  Interestingly, the Vestibular Disorders Association found in a survey of those diagnosed to have this disorder that 52% of those diagnosed had seen five or more doctors before they were properly diagnosed and treated.  

After already suffering from attacks of vertigo from an unknown source,  I fell and suffered a head injury.  After the head injury, when things just weren't getting better, my chiropractor,  of all people, sent me to an optometrist, Dr. Saxerud,  who specializes in visual mid-line shift problems.  This doctor confirmed I did not have a visual mid-line shift but told me I totally failed the test for vestibular disorder.  He recommended that I see Julie Knoll. He said she was the best person he knew of to help me with this problem, but he also noted that I would have to travel to Castle Rock, Colorado to see her.  That was not a problem.  Driving 85 miles to see someone who could help me seemed like a blessing.  At least I didn't have to go into Denver.

When I first met Julie, I was immediately impressed by her demeanor.  In fact, since I had been working on acquiring patience in dealing with my vertigo and headaches, I felt especially reassured by the quote on a plaque behind her desk.  I have superimposed it on this photo of the Pope John Paul II rose from my garden.  The quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson reads:  "Adopt the pace of nature, her name is patience."  I knew my healing would not be instantaneous, but I knew I had found someone who would help on the journey.

Julie exudes competence, self-confidence, wisdom, peace, patience, and hope.  She is able to build all of these same virtues in her patients.  As Julie began to review the intake form I had filled out prior to seeing her the first time, I was immediately aware of her great knowledge about the disorder for which I was seeking treatment.  Her academic knowledge was enhanced by her obvious possession of much successful experience in her chosen field.  While all of these attributes are greatly sought for in looking for any healer, I was especially struck by Julie's healing nature which was expressed by her care, concern, and willingness to truly listen and respond with ideas to aid in healing.  She didn't just come up with a treatment plan, she gave me other resources to help me on my path to health.  She suggested books to read, tips on handling times when I was experiencing symptoms, tips on traveling with this disorder, food choice that might make a difference, and advice on how to handle reactions to activities and medications.  She is both a gifted healer and teacher.  She taught me about the importance of exercise and diet to aid in recovery.  She suggested that I might explore dietary changes.

Every time I saw Julie, she gave me exercises to do to help me overcome my disorder and injury.  The philosophy behind the exercise program she developed in one of habituation.  In other words, I was to do those very things that made me dizzy in order to retrain my brain to accept those things that caused me to be out of balance with my body and my world.

As I think back over the past year, and especially over the last six months, I truly do not know what I would have done without the support, encouragement, knowledge, and help I received from this outstanding professional.  It is no small thing to give one a name for something that is disrupting one's ability to cope with what is going on within one's body and brain.  I learned that what I was experiencing had a name:  vestibular disorder.  I learned there was much to learn about the disorder itself, and I learned that the more you inform yourself about your disorder, the better equipped you will be to manage your symptoms and communicate effectively about your needs with family, friends, and health professionals.*

This past week, my husband and I traveled to the other side of the state to visit my mother.  The trip itself was horrendous.  The canyon roads that wind through deep canyons brought back intense vertigo.  The changes in altitude as we drove over mountain passes caused pressure and fullness in my ears that added to the vertigo and nausea.  I was fatigued, nearly unable to cope, my memory and concentration were disrupted as I struggled to regain some sense of equanimity in my mind and my body.  Thankfully, I knew this was temporary.  I knew what to do to regain some balance.  I knew it would take time.  I knew I needed to be patient, to pace myself, to rest.  I was reminded that I should build in a recovery day when I travel.  I was fine after resting a day.  I am not able to drive mountain passes yet.  I hope to be able to do so soon.

I know many will never understand the full scope of how this disorder has impacted my life, but I know that because just one person did know, did have the ability to diagnose and treat my symptoms, and listened to me while giving me help and hope, I am able to do those things I love to do again.  That person is Julie Knoll. I will be forever grateful for her.  She gave me the tools I needed to begin to recover my life.  Thank you, Julie.

*Quote from brochure published by Vestibular Disorder Association


Barb said...

The path to healing is sometimes slow and torturous. Thank goodness you found an expert you trust to lead the way. Hope the rest of your summer is restful and that you feel better and better, Sally.

Terra said...

This is a powerful testament to the importance of finding the right person and treatment, for any disorder, and especially for this one, and I know God sent you to Julie. How wonderful you are regaining your ability to embrace life, and to be healing.

Vagabonde said...

I had never heard of Vestibular Disorder and read up on it. How terrible to have to go from doctor to doctor to find out a correct diagnostic. Your post about Julie is beautiful as she is beautiful – she radiates kindness. You were very lucky to find such a person to help you. I hope you get better and better as time goes by.

Linda Myers said...

Thank goodness for Julie!

Joanne said...

God bless Julie Knoll! She is truly a God send. I am so glad that you finally have someone who understands and can help you with those dibilitating symptoms.
Blessings, Joanne

Thisisme. said...

Hi Sally. What can I say? To suffer all those things that you listed must have been horrendous for you, and would have knocked your confidence too, I would imagine. Thank the Lord that you found Julie, and that she has been able to help you. like others, I have certainly never heard of Vestibular Disorder. Obviously, all this had been happening which led to your fall at the beginning of the year. It must have been a relief to have a diagnosis I would think. Like you, I find it so very difficult to be patient, so I can imagine how frustrating all this must have been for you. I pray for your continued healing and peace in your heart my friend.

Olga said...

I am so glad that you found this angel when you needed her.

Jeanie said...

I am so glad you are on the road to recovery, Sally. What a beautiful tribute to Julie for all she has done for you. Most of all I love hearing that she has given you hope in such a difficult time.

Dee said...

Dear Sally, I have a disease called "Meniere's Disease." It came upon me in 2002 and then reoccured in 2006. It became intractable. It was so bad that I was unable to leave the house and spent much of my time crawling from room to room. I fell often, knocking myself out. I blogged about Meniere's Disease several times back in 2011. There was, as with you, vomiting and nausea and trips to emergency because of dehydration

Like you, I saw several doctors. It was only when I met--by pure chance--Dr. Paparella in Minneapolis that I learned of the operation that could help me.
For over 18 months, I was unable to drive and I spent much of my time lying flat as the world spun around me with what is called "acute rotational vertigo episodes."

I tell you all this simply to say that I truly understand what you are going thru and my heart aches for you. I am so gladdened to learn that you have Julie and that she is helping you.

I can say only that for me everything finally got better, but still today there is a residual fear within, always lurking, that fears it will all start over. I try to simply live the day with the knowledge that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be exceedingly well" (Juliana of Norwich).

Peace to you and may you be balanced in mind, body, and spirit.

rosaria williams said...

This is such an important post, for you, for Julie and the field she works in, and for all your readers who might not have known of this condition. Thanks to you, (and to Julie) we now know that time and training help us to re-habituate.

I'm fond of physical therapy, as I have healed from a variety of incidents, with grace and with total recuperation. These professionals are worth their weight in gold!

Glad you are feeling better, Sally. I wonder how many of us who suffer through grief, how many of us end up with additional injuries and maladies that will be mis-diagnosed because of our mental state. I pray people are surrounded by good souls who care enough to land a hand.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What an ordeal you've suffered, Sally! I knew about your fall and injury, but never understood in such a visceral way all that you've been through. I'm so glad Julie came into your life to help you heal and that you're feeling better. It's interesting that as you've grieved the loss of your Julie, another Julie helps you to recover from your physical injury. Loving best wishes to you today for continued healing in all ways.

Betsy Adams said...

What a great post to read --after being on a blogging break this past week. You, Sally, are such an inspiration to all of us. Going through all that you have gone through --and then doing what you needed to do to get some help and to get well is AWESOME....

Life is never easy ---but with God's help, we just keep on putting one foot in front of the other ---moving forward. You are definitely doing that... May God continue to Bless You ---and thanks to Julie Knoll for her expertise and ministry.

Can't wait to meet you two in Sept.

DJan said...

I am so glad to find out that you are so much better now, and the reason for your continuing recovery. I didn't know anything about this disorder before. I am off to read more about it from your link. I am sending you my very best wishes for a complete recovery one day.

Terri Tiffany said...

You are so blessed to have found some answers and this woman to help you! Praying you heal and can learn to cope with this!

#1Nana said...

So good to hear that you are doing better. Now I'm worried about you traveling to meet up with us this fall. Have you traveled by plane since the accident? Take care.

Sandi said...

Oh Sally, this was such a moving and powerful post! What an angel Julie was for you. She was exactly what you needed her to be, and what a miracle it was for you to find each other.

I had not known much about this disease, so I thank you for sharing your story. I can imagine that there will be many lives touched with understanding, through your descriptions and experiences.

What a relief to know that you are not only on the healing path, but that you recognize your limitations, and know how to take care of yourself.

Big hugs to you, Sally!

Rita said...

Julie truly is a Godsend for you! What a life-changing journey you have had. I am so glad that Julie has helped you to adjust and adapt and overcome and endure such a tremendous challenge to you and your body. I am so happy you found her and that your life has improved so very much. :):)

Grandmother said...

What an horrendous ordeal for you to go through! I'm glad you found a healer and that you shared the info about this difficult disorder.

Cape Cod Kitty said...

This is such a beautiful and informant post. You have certainly been experiencing a painfully challening ordeal. Julie most certainly is a gift in your life, and how wonderful you have shared her gifts that others may benefit. The methods of healing seem that they will benefit your life beyond your current condition. Many wishes, my friend, for continuing recovery.

troutbirder said...

I'm so glad to read your now on the right track by finding the right person. These unusual disorders cam be such a pain (no pun intended) to get the right diagnosis and treatment. Luckily living near the Mayo Clinic my Cardiologist treating my AFib problem noticed my head tremor, send me to a nuerologist who came up with cervical dystonia a rare disorder with involuntary muscle spasms. I'm confident they know what they are doing... ;)

Jeanie said...

What a beautiful tribute, Sally. I remember when you had your head injury -- your description now is so very clear, so spot on, so right there, it makes me gasp.

Rick has had a number of head injuries, but not all the symptoms you did. I can't imagine what they would be like -- or can only imagine. I'm so very grateful that you found the help you need. Help and hope.

Rose said...

I can't imagine all that you have been through this year, Sally. But how wonderful to have found someone who understood what you were dealing with and could provide this healing for you. Julie sounds like such a caring person, the kind of health provider we need more of. Wishing you continued recovery,


Betty said...


I could have written much of this post. I understand all of the symptoms you suffer.

I am on the mend. It all started about 2 years ago. It was gradual in the beginning, eventually growing into a hellish nightmare.

I too couldn't get answers. There is/was no Julie for me.

Slowly through the internet I found information to help me.

Diet has been the biggest help!
I have discovered that histamine in foods bring on these symptoms.

Previous to all the symptoms I had been dieting. I went on a vegan diet. The diet was greens, beans, fruits, nuts, and, seeds. All of these foods are very high in histamine. Too, I cut out salt and, sugar. The high histamine in my diet caused high stress for my body which increased energy demand.
I needed extra sugar, salt and, calories to handle the high histamine load. Unfortunately, I didn't know that was the issue.

Today, I limit high histamine foods. I eat sugar and, salt. I don't overdue drinking water as that dilutes salt and, glucose in the blood. I also use a supplement called Histame. It contains the enzyme needed to break down histamine.

While I am not cured, I am now able to control my symptoms. I live in Arkansas. When symptoms were high I too couldn't tolerate going to higher elevations. But, this past month my husband and, I went to Estes Park CO. I enjoyed it very much. I did not develope head or, ear pressure.

I should mention B vitamins have helped greatly too. I take a high stress B multivitamin. I also take B-12. (sublingual)

I know very well how fearful this condition makes one. I am happy you had Julie. I know that helped the need to feel understood. I never had that kind of support and, it was painful to feel so alone.

Chatty Crone said...

God does seem to give us what we need when we need it. I am so glad you found her and she helped you.

Kay said...

I just can't get over all you've been through, Sally. It just boggles my mind. Thank goodness you found someone who was able to work this miracle for you. I wish everybody could be as fortunate to find the right person to help them back to health.

Deb Shucka said...

I love that this angel came into your life, and it sounds like she continues to offer you comfort and light. And her name is Julie. As you have so many times before, you've offered me comfort and inspiration here as I struggle to be patient with my own body's pain and the restrictions that come with it.

Friko said...

Knowing your enemy is half the battle. The other half is finding a helpmeet for the fight.

I am so glad that you have at long last found a name for your condition and a way of combating it.

I hope your recovery will run its course, steadily and upwardly. Patience, dear girl.

Do you know Dee of 'Coming Home to Myself'? She suffered Meniere's desease for years and has written about it. I believe that she is almost fully recovered.

LC said...

This post was such useful information.I think most everyone has at least one friend or relative who has suffered from this condition and not found the healing help that Julie provided.

I read your second-blooming post first and this tribute helps me understand better how you have reached this stage in your blooming. My prayers continue for you with lots of thanksgiving.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Geeze, what a horrible thing that you have been going through. I have never heard of that before now. I am so glad that you have been diagnosed and are feeling better now. Glad that you found Julie to help you out. Sending out some prayers that you will continue to improve, Sally.

Kathy M.

dkzody said...

I feel so fortunate to have been sent to a vestibular specialist a couple of years ago when I complained about a bit of dizziness.

I was assigned a set of exercises and told that I would have to do them the rest of my life if I wanted to maintain good balance. My situation was caught very early, before any falls, and could be helped with exercises. I do them faithfully, twice a day, and have seen a big improvement in my balance, with no more dizzy spells when I suddenly move my head.

I was also told, by my therapist, that I could not continue to do more than one thing at a time which I have always done. That has been a big adjustment and one with which I am not 100% yet.