Ive had some level of symptoms from what looks like a birth injury to my neck in 1962- mostly along the lines of ADHD, and dyspraxia,low grade dyslexia. That worsened in 1985 with the onset of what was to be 2 years of sever R sciatica
It seems that I was set up for more trouble in 1987 by a whiplash injury, which within a week was followed by the abrupt onset of my first ever manic episode. In due course that was controlled with Lithium, and the problem seemed to be over.
However my work involves much home visiting and much paper work.
From abut 1993 I experienced (as well as the declining episodes of sciatica) gradually increasing neck stiffness- becoming unable to turn around properly, misjudging distances, having minor car accidents (ie reversing into other cars in car parks) becoming intolerably vague ( I will write for you all one day the full list of types of inattentive episodes leading to my diagnosis of ADHD), and also a good number of other odd symptoms- increasing sleep dysregulation, episodes of nausea, episodes of sensory processing disorder. One symptom of the ADHD in particular was losing track- once I was doing something I had to lock on to it to the exclusion of everything else.
“Please don’t interrupt me while I am ignoring you” reads the coffee cup my partner gave me– but it was not in jest.
ADHD diagnosis and stimulant medication was a live saver, and to this day I remain of the opinion that even though they only symptom relievers, stimulants are the most effective medications and predictable I have ever had or prescribed. So much for all the bad publicity they get.
However like virtually everything else in Internal Medicine (barring antibiotics)- symptom relief is all they offer.
The ADHD diagnosis was on 4 October 2008, and by that time the pain was worsening, but it seemed unrelated.
Soon after that I realised that meditation can be regarded as a form of attention training- and started investigating.
By chance, in December 2009, while in dire straits I encountered a brochure for Atlas Profilax, and I had treatment within days. That was puzzling– how could those”quack chiropractors” who treated a non existent subluxation, be right. However they were, and I started seeing many other people with the same problem, particularly chronic orthopedic issues like frozen shoulder. Diagnosing and referring these patients was an imperative, because they were in great trouble. However the attitude of the profession, the health regulation authority and my professional defence organisation was hostile– so this was very stressful. However I did not do this job to curry favour, I did it to help people, and to dishonestly conceal useful information. thatwould have been a breach of mBuddhist vows. So after finding and reading some textbooks I started referring. Yes, it was devastatingly stressful, but I will say no more as there is a good chance i will pursue legal action.
The outcome of Atlas Profilax in terms of mental clarity and reduction of pain was staggering- far stronger than the stimulants, and very fast, within 24 hours. However I still had a very crooked spine and that kept stirring the issue up. You will not keep your neck straight if it is not sitting straight on your body. That’s not rocket science.
I learned mindfulness integrated CBT- (body scanning) to use as a psychotherapy with my patients. It also proved useful for me and helped me be more precise in localsing remaining issues. That + the outcome of the Atlas issue was enough from me to taper from 50g dexamphetamine to zero from 15April to 15 June 2010. (I had to resume a lower dose later- April 2012 to now).
In June 2010 I had a further stroke of luck- a chance meeting with a chiropractic neurologist and we started work on my dysfunctional movement patterns, eye movements etc that were maintaining the pain and postural issues.
That proved very resistant to treatment and despite steady progress there were setbacks related to my marriage breakdown, and a further severe manic episode due to a change of medications. However, by May this year the pain and subluxation feelings were largely gone and the return to work process for me was initiated.
However there were still ongoing issues with irregular sleep pattern (sometimes as much as 5 days straight with no sleep) with bizarre right sided sweats, with mental fog, and terrible issues staying on track in tasks. I would get ice cold fingers, upset gut, postural hypotension, alternating with skyrocketing blood pressure episodes (up to 240/160), frequency of urine all night, strange skin discomfort (dysaesthesiae). I was not having a good time. I was also not my best- though I was actually much better than an entire profession whose prejdices prevented them from seeing what was needed to get me well. Ie I was that sick and STILL a better diagnostician and researcher.
I found the functional neurology profoundly interested and have studied as much as I could given my illnesses. The quality of the information and its obvious applicability have caught my interest. It is worthy of my attention. The sort of articles we so often see in medical magazines about various tedious demographic studies of the incidence of championship level tiddlywinks playing amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders are not worth my attention.
The functional neurologists have also been incredibly kind, making time to answer my incessant questions and handle my endless theorising. Several have directly reached out from the far side of the world and guided me in the study that I needed to do to understand my chronic pain. That is generous on a scale usually only seen in bodhisattvas. Thankyou George, and Amy, Brandon, and Lynn, the queen of photobiomodulation.
In the last few months though the information has started flowing in much faster.
I found on You Tube several excellent short presentation on dysautonomia in ADHD (I have been observing this and clinically confirming it for some years)
-then a huge cache of information on the recent discoveries made around the cervicocranial dysfunction following the advent of upright MRI.
Now closer inspection of all that and my new book “The Cervicocranial Syndrome and MRI)
made several things clear. The symptoms troubling me fit neatly in to “cervicomedullary syndrome”. In the context of a neck issue the causative chain is
Whiplash- ruptured alar +/or transverse ligaments between the peg of C2 and C1 and the base of the skull
leading to minor lateral instability of the odontoid peg (C2)— leading to mild inflammation over the odontoid peg, which, on neck flexion compresses the upper spinal cord /lower medulla
That causes a low grade inflammation and localized energy deficiency in the brain stem which can lead to neuronal deaths (apoptosis) but certainly leads to dysfunction.
There are other likely issues such as lateral stretch of the cervical spinal canal irritating the lateral spinothalamic tract. That could have huge ramifications for chronic pain.
The instability in my spine at that level is obvious and I am strangely unenthusiastic about getting parts of my neck bolted together.
I had heard about photobiomodulation- low level laser therapy (frequencies 640, 808 and 904 and thought it worth a try. I had my first dose last Thursday 13th September.
Essentially the target is the front of the spine- going through the gaps between the back of the skull, the back of C1 and the back of C2.
20minutes later ALL symptoms apart from a little local instability are gone.
It actually feels really good to be alive- and not imprisoned in a body that feels like a torture chamber.
This has enormous implications though. The neurosurgeon Joel Franck lists global neuropsychological, multifocal brainstem, spinal pain, and radiculomyelopathic clusters of conditions. That’s all of my problems.
Now I believe there is real work to be done optimising treatment. With the work I have had has straightened my spine up I think that the minor instability I do have at C1/C2 will require not much more than basic fitness and postural care- but for people earlier in that process, that might be harder and they will need to work with their therapists.
On the matter of neuropsychological problems it should not be lost on any psychopharmacologist that the neurones carrying those important neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin are all neurones that originate in the brainstem. Given time I hope that we shall see the “neurotransmitter model of psychiatric illness dead and buried. The symptoms of all these conditions can mostly be understood as variants of cervicomedullary syndrome.
Another small point on self care involves walking in the sun before 9 and after 3 and getting it to shine on the back of the neck. That is the same wavelengths. It also occurs to me that the old yogic practice of sun eating would shine sunlight on the rear pharyngeal wall and would also help.
The current situation in medicine has been incredibly wasteful and destructive.
I have had a great deal of psychotherapy over all this time (he is a lovely man and he actually learned quite a lot from me. it was nice having a specialist who did not think you a nut case. However looked at one way– we spent $90,000 trying to talk my alar and transverse ligaments to grow back together!
To me this post seems more brief and to the point than my early efforts– I suppose better energy supply will do that. As always I am happy to clarify any questions. I am learning more every day.