Cursing myself for not skipping the broken sidewalk (while rolling around in the grass trying to get up) ended up in a trip to the emergency room. My husband was not pleased with me when I called him and told him to pick me up. To be honest, I wasn’t pleased with myself. Except that I learned something significant from this particular run the ER.
The receptionist processed me through quickly after we arrived at the hospital. They sedated me quickly so the doctor could reset my dislocated elbow. The anesthesiologist dosed me with morphine and my world shifted.
Suddenly I felt s-o-o-o-o-o good. My arm didn’t hurt anymore. More importantly, I could talk a blue streak! What I thought came out of my mouth unhindered.
Most people think that saying what they mean is normal. If you have had a stroke that affects Brocha’s area (like I did), then you might have aphasia and talking goes out the window. It is interesting to think of the words (which I could do). Pushing them out of my mouth (which I couldn’t do) is a real struggle. It all depended on the situation. Was I fatigued? Scared or nervous? Needed to talk at a deeper level like one does at work? It all matters.
Sometimes I had no words that came out of my mouth. If it did come, I said something that would get my point across, but it was completely different from the words that were rolling around in my head. To be able to think—and say—the same words were a miracle when I was on morphine. I was cured!
Of course, I wasn’t. When the morphine wore off I was back to thinking one way and talking another. I teased my husband that I would have to go on morphine to be able to speak. He wasn’t amused. Oh well, it at least suggested to me that there might be a way to get around aphasia. The trick? I needed to find out what the technique happened to be. How did I know there was a solution? I didn’t. What I did have was hope.
Low-level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
The week before my unfortunate accident, I had begun a new therapy called Low-level Laser Therapy (LLLT). I found Dr. Perih because of a new acquaintance I met through networking. This man, Ron, told me that he was being treated for injuries from a car accident. The laser treatments got him thinking clearly again. I put my prejudices aside and decided to see if there was anything of substance to Dr. Perih’s treatment.
It had been almost two years since my stroke and it had become a chronic problem. Dr. Perih thought LLLT might do me some good, but there were no guarantees from him. We would know after a few treatments. I dislocated my elbow after the first week and interrupted our plan. He said, “No problem. Come in when you are able to continue the treatment.” I came back the next week.
The device was quite small, approximately the size of a large smartphone with two red lasers on one end. I laid down on the red exam table. Dr. Perih put the laser in a holder, turned in on, and asked me to do the cross crawl.
The cross crawl is done on your back with your arms at your sides. As the left leg is brought into the chest, the right arm swings from where it’s laying to over your head. Once the arm and leg are back on the table, the process is repeated on the other side. I felt a little odd about doing the cross crawl. Up. Down. Up. Down. After a few minutes, though, I was finished.
The cross crawl is an integral part of laser therapy because it stimulates nerve cells on both sides of the brain. This makes the treatment more effective. While the therapy would work without the cross crawl, recipients wouldn’t receive the maximum benefit. Even though I felt a little silly, I did the cross crawl every time because I wanted the maximum benefit.
The Energizer Bunny, or ATP
The LLLT treatment in the 600 - 800 light range has been shown to penetrate the skull and brain tissue. Dr. Perih uses the Erchonia brand because it has been certified by the FDA and works at 635 nanometers. As I understand it, LLLT is like letting the Energizer Bunny loose inside my brain to make connections better.
“Laser light delivers these required electrons and photons (little energy packets) directly to the cells and enhances both their ability to communicate with each other and their ability to produce ATP (Adenine Tri Phosphate). Increased energy to the cells increases cellular metabolism and the production of enzymes that reduce inflamation.”
As long as your ATP molecules aren’t dead, they are boosted by laser therapy and help in the healing process. Re-energized molecules transport nutrients and allow healthy cells to begin to grow.
Other than feeling a little silly doing the cross-crawl, I admit that I didn’t feel anything during treatment. After I left, though, I noticed a difference as I went about my day. A small difference, perhaps, but a meaningful change in that the words came a little easier and more in the way I intended.
A few months into treatment, I decided to go to a 72-hour Meetup to see how well I’d do in a chaotic environment. It ran the entire weekend. On Friday, I lasted from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., although I was toast by about 3:00 p.m.; I could barely utter a word. I went back at noon on Saturday, still not speaking well, and left before 5:00 p.m. Sunday, I strode in while they were doing presentations at noon. I probably stayed only for three hours. By that day, I was so tired that I could barely talk.
I was so discouraged by my performance that I told Dr. Perih about it. He needed to check with some other doctors he knew. Sure enough, he had a new protocol for me the next time I came in for treatment. I laid down and did the cross crawl as we completed the first protocol. Next, he unhooked the laser from the stand and held it while he did one-minute intervals on four areas of my head: both sides, forehead, and back (for which I had to sit up). This protocol, which focuses on general brain health, heals sick neurons. Interestingly, I found that it worked extremely well.
Trust Your Doctor
What would I say to you? It doesn’t hurt to try as long as you trust your doctor. When I am in Dr. Perih’s office, I feel as if he looks at me. I am an entire person. If I have questions, he answers them. If I don’t think a protocol is working, we discuss the issue. He will research any solutions. Then we agree on a new protocol. I am very grateful to Dr. Perih and the improvement he helped me achieve.
Does LLLT work for everyone? No. It does not. It had been almost two years since my stroke when I first met Dr. Perih, and he said the only thing to do was try it. Laser therapy is just one tool that I added to my toolkit. There are more tools to talk about in coming blogs.