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DO I HAVE BRAIN INJURY?


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Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 48
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Posted Aug 31, 2005 at 11:06:03 PM
Subject: DO I HAVE BRAIN INJURY?

This has nothing to do with my LD directly, but nonetheless I'd just like to ask you guys for opinion and advice since this board is such a good source of support.

I have been having awfull shortness of breath and chest pain, irregular heartbeat and even dizziness episodes for years now (have posted about it before). A couple of weeks ago, I had it badly again and at one point I felt like blood was flowing out on the left, back side of my head. Then I had a piercing pain there for like a minute. However, since then I feel numbness and dull pain at this spot practically all the time. The sensation, itself, isn't too disturbing, yet it feels like this region has sort of died out, as if it's not working anymore. I trully feel that's it's harder to think and to process what I hear for meaning. The situation scares me because I have NLD and rely on the left side the most.

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TammyCat
Joined Aug 04, 2005
Posts: 38

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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 12:08:40 AM

Quote c66a6ad49b="itsmethere":

This has nothing to do with my LD directly, but nonetheless I'd just like to ask you guys for opinion and advice since this board is such a good source of support.

Quote c66a6ad49b="itsmethere":

I have been having awfull shortness of breath and chest pain, irregular heartbeat and even dizziness episodes for years now (have posted about it before). A couple of weeks ago, I had it badly again and at one point I felt like blood was flowing out on the left, back side of my head. Then I had a piercing pain there for like a minute. However, since then I feel numbness and dull pain at this spot practically all the time. The sensation, itself, isn't too disturbing, yet it feels like this region has sort of died out, as if it's not working anymore. I trully feel that's it's harder to think and to process what I hear for meaning. The situation scares me because I have NLD and rely on the left side the most.

GET TO A DOCTOR BEFORE YOU DROP DEAD!!!!!!!!!!

It sounds like you had a stroke!!!!!!

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itsmethere
Joined Jul 07, 2005
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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 7:50:16 AM

But I think the doctors won't believe me and will interpret it as either anxiety or hypochondria. That's how they've interpreted my shortness of breath and chest pain, and they did do all the standard cardiac and lung tests repetitively. And I've been having these symptoms for 11 years (and I am 21). And the fact that I am officially diagnosed with anxiety and take Zoloft diminuishes my credibility.

My own family who loves me immensely even thinks that, at the least, I don't have anything serious going on. And with the head thing, my mom thinks that I've just misinterpreted a benign event/sensation partially due to my increased preoccupation and vigilance towards my brain health since I've recently got diagnosed with NLD (decided to have a neuropsych since school has never been easy) and am on this board all the time. I am leaving for my junior year in college this Saturday and my mom promised to try to pull out an MRI or something from my primary doctor for when I come back for winter break. It would be hard concentrating on schoolwork and have a latent worry that my cognitive functions have/may decrease.

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bgb
Joined Jun 13, 2003
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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 10:02:59 AM

Since you are going away to school, you will be in a different location. Could you try a different doctor?

I too am very concerned.

Barb

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itsmethere
Joined Jul 07, 2005
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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 11:43:21 AM

I might sound cynical and depressed but NO MEDICAL FACILITY SUCKS MORE THAN COLLEGE HEALTH SERVICES. They are part of the school administration and their primary concern is not student's health but liability and convenience to the college and the college community. If I utter something like this, they would think that I am in a psychiatric crisis. It's very unlikely that they will think that I have a physical issue. Either way, they would pressure me to leave since college is not designed to deal with health problems, it's a place of learning, not a hospital, and if someone has serious health issues, he should leave. They don't want and fear to deal with it and don't want anyone so preoccupied to stay on campus. And I am speaking from experience.

I was originally supposed to be a year ahead and a rising senior now. However, I took a medical leave six weeks into my freshman year in college because I had my usual bad shortness of breath and chest pain. I was very scared to die away from home and was trully very disturbed. The college pressured me to sign a medical leave (due to psychiatric issues). Everyone assumed that my usual medical symptoms were a manifestation of homesickness and adjustment problems. I stayed at home that whole school year basically doing nothing. My symptoms cleared when I came back home, but I still had them several times throughout the year. I was checked out again: have seen a cardiologist, and had the standard workup repeated. Everyone thinks I am fine. I have returned back to that college the following year and started from scratch as a freshman. I have completed two years so far and am about to go for my third. I am a very mediocre student there but am in no way failing. I still do have these symptoms up there with varying frequency: often I feel fine for two months at a time and sometimes they return in a week. I deal with them by wringing reassurances from my mother that "even if something is wrong, all would be fine at the end", she promises to make an appointment to the doctor when I come back and I also talk to a therapist that I see privately up there.

I don't want to transfer since I am already half-way through and it's also a very good school. Anyway, even if I stay at home, while this would alleviate anxiety about not having close ones near by, yet it won't solve my health/psychiatric problems/sensations. I know that my being up at school takes a toll on my mother who worries to hell when I complain and loves me immensely. My father often loses his temper and thinks I have been spoiled and am generally a lost cause. And my family, of modest income, is already dishing lots of money on me for a private college (despite substantial financial aid), for my therapist and a very substantial co-pay for my psychiatric visits and medication. And it all seems to be of little avail. And they also have my younger brother to go through right after me and he is MUCH easier than I am. After all, in my situation, I could've very well gone to a local, cheap college. I feel my family is at a loss about me. They'd prefer me not to complain about dying all the time and wrecking havoc in the family.

I really don't know what to do. My mother does all she can for me. I had all the tests done repetitively (although nothing invasive). And I've been having these symptoms for years (although I did not tell anyone at the very begining due to fear). Frankly, when I talk to doctors, I am primarily seeking reassurance because I am myself scared. I want them to convince me I am OK and when I feel well, it is surely very believable. For some reason, I've always believed I have a heart problem, although I may be wrong. The doctors don't see a need to do any further testing for anything and, of course, I don't insist much. On top of that, I am afraid that this may have recently caused some minor brain issue. And after all, this can trully be all psychiatric. I want to lead a normal, happy and fullfulling life but I am undermining myself whether or not my primary problem is psychological or physical.

P.S. I need a referral from college health services for everything because I don't have cash to pay even for a single office visit. Besides, my semester won't end up well if I become caught up in medical workup rather than study. That doesn't sound like a good idea at all.

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 12:30:16 PM

This is a sticky situation.

* I have met good college health services and truly horrible ones. And at the same service, both good and horible doctors. You really do have to take things into your own hands and search for a good doctor and stick to him. It's work, but DO IT.

* It is possible to have two things at once. A person with anxiety issues may *also* have a separate physical illness. And vice versa. And a physical illness can cause mental symptoms. A good doctor will *not* automatically write everything off as anxiety.

* On the other hand, anxiety can mimic a lot of things. Stress is very hard on the body. You really do suffer pain; the problem is to find the source. NOBODY can diagnose you over the internet. You MUST find a good doctor.

* Doctors can miss things. I had a child with pneumonia pushed back to me with the comment that I was just an overprotective mother. A second opinion is always a good idea.

* If you have *serious* head pain, don't wait and go to a doctor's office when it is convenient. Go *right away* to the emergency ward of a big hospital. Lord knows if they will find anything -- remember that alas the show ER is fiction, not reality -- but if you go to a place that has the facilities to test, *while* you have the symptoms, there is a better chance.

And talk about the symptoms you are having. If you are having head pain, keep stressing that you are there for head pain and it needs to be looked at. If they do look and don't find any cause, then it could be anxiety causing it -- but a responsible doctor will at least look first (and you have to go *while* you have the symptom in order to help him find if there is something there.)

* Try some alternative treatments for your anxiety. Many people report far better results from yoga, meditation, biofeedback, and other approaches that teach them to control the problems from within than from dropping drugs on it from outside. DO NOT just stop taking prescribed medications without medical supervision, but do look into other ways of dealing with theses things positively. There are probably many groups on and around your campus that you could join. Be proactive, DO IT.

IF the anxiety is causing the stress and pain (and yes. it is real pain, the question is the cause and the treatment) then many people report a great relief with appropriate relaxation/control techniques as above.

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itsmethere
Joined Jul 07, 2005
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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 1:15:01 PM

I don't have serious head ache, just a dull pain at the back. So, I guess I can wait until winter break.

And I did not have just one opinion; I had four. So what do I do then? If it is psychological, then it DEFFINITELY mimicks physical symptoms way too much. And I've been to the emergency room with my chest pain and shortness of breath. The doctor examined me and I had an EKG done which was normal, so there was nothing more for them to do and they've sent me home. I clearly wasn't dying. And they told me that for a thorough work up, I need to go to cardiology which I did. The cause of my symptoms does not show up on their tests.

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Sue
Joined Jun 14, 2003
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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 3:06:54 PM

I have to (painfully) laugh... my experiences with college health services haVe also been HORRIBLe - yet one of my biking buddies is a doc at the local U and she really does seem highly competent. So... I wouldn't count on them, but it's worth trying. The other thing is that anxiety *is* something they deal with a lot, since college is an anxious time, so they might be more open to dealing with it instead of saying "oh, it's anxiety - relax and you will be fine."
Alas, there have been people (usually women) who've been to four doctors and gotten four "everything's normal, what could be wrong?" opinions.

Sue J, webmastress www.resourceroom.net

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
Posts: 1784

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Posted:Sep 01, 2005 10:44:59 PM

True stories:

It took me ten years, five dentists and dental Xrays, twenty doctors, in a total of four provinces and two states. to get abscessed wisdom teeth diagnosed correctly! Imagine what ten years of bone infection draining into my body did to the rest of my physical health. Not to mention my mental state.
THEN it happened again, another tooth abscess caused by the damage started by the first ones, another ten years and multiple Xrays, and all the doctors and dentists in two counties telling me I was making it up, until it burst. Just imagine what a second go-round did to my health. Not to mention my mental state, again.

I just happen to have Viking ancestry and a really solid bone structure, and things just don't show up on the usual denist's low-power Xrays. There is a saying in science: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. That translates to mean that just because you don't see anything, that does not necessarily mean there is nothing there; maybe you have to look harder or at a different angle.

It then took *another* ten years to get anyone to notice that all of the above had damaged my thyroid and set off an auto-immune problem with digestion (celiac disease) I had to gain fifty pounds and become unable to breathe and move before anyone believed the thyroid; of course that was all in my mind too.

Those are only the most notable ones, I have had everything under the sun from severe internal infections to pneumonia diagnosed as "all in my mind".

Therefore, when I hear of someone getting a psychological diagnosis, I most strongly recommend getting a doctor who is willing to listen do a serious workup just in case.

BUT I also do know people who have severe physical symptoms caused by mental stress.
Again, nobody can diagnose over the internet and it would be irresponsible to even try.

If your shortness of breath seems to be caused by anxiety, OK. Find stress reduction groups such as yoga or meditation as above.

That however may (or may not) have nothing to do with your head pain. If you have another episode of serious pain as you described, go in and have that looked at, and don't get distracted into talking about other things.

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Amber
Joined Jan 16, 2004
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Posted:Mar 14, 2006 9:39:02 PM

I know how college health services and HMO's can be. A few years I ago I was told by the college's doctor my LD's were caused by asparatame, caffiene, and vaccinations ( she blamed the last one on her grandson's autism) and recommended a strict vegan diet. I had gone in to the clinic as mononucleosis was going around and I had some swollen glands in my throat and not to be preached about a bunch of New Age crud. As I told her I tried veganism as a teen and got sick ( stunted my growth and I developed hypoglycemia) she said "Well go ahead with your recent diet and get cancer and heart disease!" very rudely. Well I had to dish out almost $200 to see my mother's doctor, and he said that it seems the school can only afford all these fringe alternative medicine doctors and not "real" ones. He also recommended I keep on drinking green tea and to keep away from "real sugar" as the real stuff if worse than anything.

Also my mother had problems with my HMO as they said my allergies and asthma were "psychosomatic" though I was waking up at night coughing my head off. As I had been taking drugs for depression then they thought any thing I was coming in for was a "nervous problem". Mom had asthma as a child rather bad and kept on pushing the doctors to do something but the insurance wouldn't send me to an allergist to see what I was allergic to. One symphathetic doctor gave me some Albuteral pills and a booklet about asthma ( mostly saying get rid of pets and stuffed animals) rather than send me to get tested. Almost a year later another doctor took me off the Albuteral pills as my mother tried to tell him as I was sitting and wheezing in front of him that my neighbor's cat had somehow got into our house and triggered an allergic reaction. He said to her I probably have a cat phobia and was hyperventilating so he was taking me off of Albuterol and was going to tell my psychologist to teach me breathing exercises for anxiety so if a cat comes along I won't "panic". It wasn't until I got a free allergy test at a clinical trial a fews years ago I discovered I have some rather bad allergies, especially cats! In reality I love cats and other animals, but can't have a kitty because I'lll be sick for sure!

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Sue
Joined Jun 14, 2003
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Posted:Mar 20, 2006 12:38:17 PM

Lunatics aside, though, it's worth making sure things like Aspartame don't disagree with you (it definitely disagrees with me, and I don't trust the folks making the big bucks from it any more than the ones pushing Vioxx, et al - that whole testing process is a tad corrupt). Doesn't mean going vegan, though.

Sue J, webmastress www.resourceroom.net

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Amber
Joined Jan 16, 2004
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Posted:Mar 21, 2006 9:15:47 AM

Believe me but no one in my family has any problem with sugar free stuff. I had an aunt who raised my cousins on sugar free treats ( she thought carbs were fattening so was very strict about even complex carbohydrates) and I did not consume any aspartame until I was fifteen. As my cousins were raised on a low carb diet and do not have the learning problems and stunted growth like I have I'm thinking of raising my kids on that diet as it looks like carbohydrates in my family causes brain dysfunction.

There are some food allergies in my family though. My mother was deathly allergic to tomatoes and my grandmother gets swollen eyes and lips from eating corn and some fish. Other family members have simular reactions to food, but I think I might have some allergies that affect my behavior. My mother said when I was one she gave me my first piece of chocolate and thirty minutes later I was having a screaming tantrum. For a long time I was not allowed to eat chocolate until I was almost eight years old as the doctor said my tantrum was an allergic reaction.

I do not have that problem with chocolate anymore but I can't tolerate soy as when I drink soy milk or eat soy products I either become really nasty and confrontational in my behavior, or I start to act like someone who smokes marujuana. A friend of my mother observed me once after drinking a quart of soy milk and said to my mother "She acted like she was doing drugs! Are you sure she is not doing drugs as she just started to giggle and get rowdy for no reason." After that I noticed it was the soy so now I avoid soy as much as I can.

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victoria
Joined Jun 13, 2003
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Posted:Mar 21, 2006 1:55:07 PM

I have severe allergies, some life-threatening. They do affect my behaviour and my mental state, as well as my general health.

I have to avoid wheat and fresh milk, not "as much as I can", but totally, 100 percent. I also have to avoid a number of other things including sulfates and sulfites -- those are the ones that cause behaviour changes in me, a feeling like being drunk and not pleasantly.
I also get very distressed -- asthmatic, dizzy, and as a result nervy -- when exposed to artificial perfumes, some of the worst being the Glade and similar "fresheners".

You *can* avoid things 100 percent. You have to become a fanatic label reader and simply refuse to eat or be exposed to things when you don't know the ingredients. Very plain food in restaurants (hard to wreck grilled chicken without seasonings for example), and discuss ahead of time what is being served when you visit friends -- true friends will care about your health.

It is worth getting tested for allergies and working on changing these things. You will feel a lot better, and when you feel better you work better and learn better.

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Amber
Joined Jan 16, 2004
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Posted:Mar 21, 2006 8:35:42 PM

The problem is I can't afford allergy testing as I do not have insurance ( and at this moment) no job so I'm broke. Another problem is trying to afford special foods on a tight budget is very difficult as my diabetic mother can attest to. Also I'm thinking a lot of behavioral stuff as a teenager was mostly psychological or a result of having hypoglycemia. For many years I went undiagnosed with hypoglycemia as most doctor's thought my behavioral problems needed "tough love" and not a through exam of my entire body. Both hypoglycemia and diabetes run in my family and I remember an aunt I used to visit who would go into this chatty hyper behavior when her blood glucose would fall. Also my mother had a cousin who would faint a lot until her hypoglycemia was diagnosed.

Anyway speaking of food allergies I had been on a very strict diet ( created by a registered nutritionist) for a weight problem when my behavioral problems came about. My mother also blames my LD's on the diet I was on as I didn't get enough fat ( the diet was simular to the Ornish diet) and after three years I was deficient in the B vitamins and lacking in protein and calcium. When I went and researched vitamin B defeciency and some of the behavioral problems I had matched those of someone who lacked in the B vitamins. As soon as the doctor who checked me for vitamin deficiencies told me to "eat meat!" when I drank soy milk along with a meal with meat or cheese I didn't have a problem. Even now I can enjoy soy products as I don't have those problems anymore, but still if I could afford to get tests for allergies and sensitivities I would as I think I might have a gluten sensitivity.

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