Adventures of the charmingly odd

My Anxiety & PTSD is Attacking My Immune System

In June 2013 I fell on an escalator in a Best Buy by Lincoln Center in New York City. I hit my left arm and slip down the one story escalator to the next floor. An ambulance was called, even though I begged them not to. I briefly lost my eyesight from the pain and the public mortification.

Months and years passed with endless doctor specialists and procedures and medications pumped into my body. Nobody could figure out why my body was in so much crippling pain and why it continued to get worse. I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), which was an easy answer to explain the pain that didn’t show up on any MRIs, X-rays, or blood tests.

During this time I was dating an abusive ex boyfriend 8 years older than me, as explained in a previous post “April Told Me to Write”. In April 2014 I finally escaped him, moved back to New Jersey, and in July 2014 met Steve – with whom I live at the beach with in Asbury Park, NJ and have never felt so loved and safe with him in my entire life ❤️

However, in October 2017, a pain management doctor told me that I did not have CRPS, but Fibromyalgia. All due to an old injury to my neck that could have only happened by a direct blow to my neck – not a fall on an escalator. In the ERB after that incident my neck and back were cleared multi times as being uninjured.

This news in Oct 2017 forced me to deal with a lot of emotional pain I had suppressed for the past four years. I thought I had left that monster ex boyfriend behind for good, and here he was still fucking hurting me every day.

Now 16 months later, therapy and medical procedures and even more toxic medication are my every day to cope with the crippling migraines and neck pain that seems to be getting steadily worse. I was started to relapse into a dark depression, a level of which I had never experienced before.

The pain had gotten so bad that I suddenly became overcome with this cripple fear that this was going to be the norm of my everyday life for the rest of my life. And I didn’t know how to handle that grief.

Thank god Steve’s cousin, Kim, had previously reached out to me around Christmas sharing with me her own horrid experiences. Her journey was similar to mine- debilitating pain and daily migraines. Her life was saved two years ago by a Dr. Perry Nicholson in north New Jersey. He didn’t take insurance and his methods were holistic and different, but very popular in Europe.

I was desperate and made an appointment.

Yesterday, February 26th 2019, Kim was kind enough to accompany me to my 1st appointment to see Dr. Perry. As the neurotic, insanely organized writing major I am, I came with a stack of every piece of medical history documented in chronological order and highlighted to the T.

Dr. Perry was amused and appreciative of my documents but wanted to focus on a few simple questions first and examine me. I explained the debilitating migraines and the neck pain. I explained how I was diagnosed first with CRPS and then Fibromyalgia and the fall on the escalator but also at some point I was strangled by an ex boyfriend.

Dr. Perry paused and looked me in the eye and asked if the strangulation came before the fall. I said yes, about four months prior. But I explained that I didn’t feel the extreme pain until the fall on the escalator.

Dr. Perry explained my brain suppressed the pain & emotional trauma of that day until it was all triggered by the fall on the escalator.

It was then Dr. Perry examined all the muscles in my neck and found that I don’t have Fibromyalgia at all, that I just have a complete lack of muscle strength in all areas of my neck.

The reason for this was because:

In order for my brain to process the traumatic event of having an ex military man shove his thumbs into my mouth, choke me, and pin me into the couch of his apartment – in order to survive this fucking event – my brain decided to just turn off the immune system in my neck so that I would never have to experience that same pain ever again.

It was a defensive mechanism.

And although 6 six years have passed since this event and I live an incredibly wonderful life without any toxic people in my life and am only surrounded in my life with love and support, my brain still has not gotten over that event, and all the emotional abuse I received from that monster.

And in turn, my nerves (especially the crucial Vargas nerve) and my organs were so inflamed and my body fucking was shot from not being able to deal with my anxiety disorder and depression for all of these years.

Dr. Perry evaluated the rest of my body, did infrared laser therapy, and placed amino neurofrequency therapy disks on key parts of my nervous system to help jump start my body to begin working properly again. He also gave me a list of herbal supplements to start taking, with the main goal to lower the high levels of cortisol in my body.

For when your body is in a state of panic for fucking years, your body over produces cortisol hormones and that starts shutting down your goddamn body.

This all sounded so foreign and a lot to take in for me. So I did what I normally do in any crisis: I went straight to Barnes and Noble afterwards and spent a few hours doing research. And I did find a lot of books backing up what Dr. Perry had told me:

My past trauma, years of anxiety and stress, and current constant state of panic were the single cause of how much physical pain I was in.

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a significant role in our emotional and physiological responses to stress and trauma. The ANS is understood to have two primary systems: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is associated with the fight or flight response and the release of cortisol throughout the bloodstream. The parasympathetic nervous system puts the brakes on the sympathetic nervous system, so the body stops releasing stress chemicals and shifts toward relaxation, digestion, and regeneration. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are meant to work in a rhythmic alternation that supports healthy digestion, sleep, and immune system functioning. – Dr. Arielle Schwartz, The Neurobiology of Trauma (2016)

 

One of the books I purchased is the New York Times Bestseller, “The Body Keeps The Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Bessel Van De Kolk, which can be found on Amazon here.

It’s amazing to me that the dozens and dozens of pain management doctors I have seen in the last 6 years, all of whom knew that I also had General Anxiety Disorder and a history of an abusive relationship, never once thought to mention to me that hey, “perhaps you are approaching your anxiety and stress the wrong way. Maybe by internalizing it because you want to fit the standard of a ‘normal, functioning’ human being is actually physically killing you by ruining your immune system.”

My spleen was enlarged, I’ve had IBS for years, I am unable to sleep without Ambien, I have chronic fatigue, my body cannot digest protein, I experience full body pain, etc etc etc. All because of what – is honestly hard to admit – PTSD.

So we shall see. I will continue to see Dr. Perry for physical therapy to strengthen the muscles in my neck and will start seeing a therapist again to better deal with my obviously insane level of anxiety.

This all makes sense to me, deep down in my soul though. For the last six years I’ve been taking an insane amount of anxiety, nerve pain, migraine prevention, muscle relaxing medication on top of invasive procedures – all to treat the systems of an inflamed body due to my mental health.

This isn’t the end of the healing process, but I think I’ve finally found the map to lead me down the right yellow brick road to get me back to Kansas.

 

 

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