Blogae wARRIOR pERSONAL sTORIES
AND TOPICS OF INTEREST
We all appreciate the complexity of the human brain. While our hearts, lungs, and livers are very similar to those of other mammals, our brains are what distinguish us from our primate ancestors. Humans learn, communicate, adapt, and connect with each other like no other species on Earth. But until recently, the true complexity of the human brain was still a mystery. Scientists often use animal models to study the brain because of how difficult it is to gain access to human brains both technically and ethically.
Learning to Bloom Where You’re Planted | Conclusion to the WhereAreMyPillows Resilience Report Series
Two years ago last month, I was hospitalized for the first time. I was diagnosed with seronegative autoimmune encephalitis (AE). And I started 5 months of immunotherapy, roughly 5 years after my illness first began.
By November 2019, I thought the war was won: I seemingly had all the answers to solve my medical mystery, which had been open since 2014.
It was July 4, 2013
I sat in a plastic chair with my arms wrapped around my knees curled up with my toes pointed to the floor. Non-responsive. Catatonic. I was not aware of the date, as I sat unmoving holding that position from 6am on July 4th until 1 a.m. on July 5th.
The staff at IAES is proud to present a different type of blog. During the course our AE journeys each of us has had the pleasure of being treated by and interacting with what seems like an overwhelming diversity of doctors, specialists, nurses, and therapists. We have all had challenges keeping them straight. At times we have all had problems with knowing who to ask what, how to ask and where to go for assistance. AE is overwhelming enough and keeping all the medical personnel straight can sometimes make it even more challenging.
Creativity can often feel spontaneous and out of our control. It can hit us all at once, seemingly coming out of nowhere. Then there’s writer’s block. The struggling, uninspired artist. The elusive solution. Scientists have long been trying to understand creativity by uncovering its biological basis. What is happening in the brain when we have that lightbulb moment? To tackle that question, we first have to ask: what needs to happen in the brain to switch on the light?
IAES would like to celebrate the fathers and men in our lives. Every year in June we have a day that celebrates Fathers. It is our belief that we celebrate these men every day. These are the men that have helped us become who we are. These are the men who have shown us support, told us stories with a sparkle in their eye, laughed and cried with us, and danced the dance of life with us! It is our sincere hope you enjoy the two stories below that highlight the role of the magnificent men in our lives….Happy Father’s Day!
It’s been about five months since my last blog entry. Medical progress has been slow. But….positive progress on many fronts has been made! I submitted a press release regarding AE and my first blog and the story has received national press coverage here in Australia! I’ve been stable on my current medications and I refuse to back off or wean off the meds for fear of returning symptoms.
Have you ever put on music to help you study? Or to calm you down after a stressful day? Maybe you’re scrolling on Youtube right now trying to figure out what to listen to next…Well, have you ever considered listening to binaural beats?
The plane lifts. Like many traveling for the first time since the pandemic began, anxious feelings churn beneath my calm exterior.
Is it safe to fly? Will I regret this later?
At the very least, the destination promises to deliver on novelty, excitement, and energy—qualities that had been missing from much of the past year. As we reach cruising altitude, my nerves are gradually dampened by daydreams of stepping inside iconic landmarks, taking in a show, and sating my photographer heart with vistas of an expansive skyline. Soon, my imagination is running wild with all the things to experience as a first-time visitor to the City That Never Sleeps.
How this piece by Erma Bombeck came to me will always be fresh in my memory. There was a synchronicity to it that touched my heart. Our son Matthew is now 30 years old. When he was four, I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a very elite advocacy training program for people with disabilities called Partner in Policymaking. Raising a child with autism is hard. Attending a yearlong program that met for a 3-day weekend each month was challenging for Jim and me as Matthew required 24/7 care and without back-up, that meant Jim would only get a few hours of sleep a night during those periods.
I am an Autoimmune Encephalitis (AE) survivor. I’m also a life coach.
Meaning matters and it’s taken me years to ascribe my AE journey any meaning beyond “Why me!?” My story may be just like yours or infinitely different, but one thing I’m sure of is that you’re not nuts.
This is not game over. You will feel okay again and I look forward to one day reading your resilience story.
Major depressive disorder, commonly called depression, is a disorder that affects more than 168 million people worldwide1,2. Symptoms include depressed mood, lack of energy, loss of interest/pleasure, sleep disturbances, significant weight changes, and thoughts of suicide3. While depression can occur on its own, which is known as primary depression, it can also be caused by other diseases or medical conditions. This form of depression, called secondary depression, is relatively common in patients diagnosed with chronic illnesses, and is one of the key factors resulting in an impaired quality of life experienced by patients with chronic diseases.
It’s been a rough 10 days. That family member with the huge personality that everyone tries to avoid, moved in again…the one that takes over your household, no matter how hard you try to keep control. The one that makes everyone run around like crazy, makes everything spin out of control and for which you can do everything to the best of your knowledge and capability, but it just isn’t good enough!
I sit here and think about how to begin and write the third part or story or chapter in my AE journey. It is difficult because many days I am confused, tired and lose focus.
I have AE GAD65 Stiff Person Syndrome. My ongoing symptoms include many things one of which is the inability, at times, to be able to focus.
My AE journey began quite unexpectedly in 2015! I was attempting to see a doctor for a consultation for spine issues at the Cleveland Clinic. All scans, x-rays, MRIs etc. were sent there for the consult from Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
When it comes to responses by the body, the immune response is usually a good thing. Your body recognizes an invading pathogen that does not belong there: bacteria, a virus, and other substances. In response to these pathogens, the immune system must react in a regulated manner and then shut off when it has solved the problem. But sometimes this goes awry, creating an overactive reaction that does not turn off and can end up harming the body it is trying to protect.
As the 4th and final of the IAES blog series for AE Awareness month 2021 we are honored to present and hope you enjoy the compelling story of the AE journey, thus far, of one of our AE Warrior members, Dominic McDonald and his guide dog Captain! This includes an interview Dominic had with one of his doctors regarding his thoughts about AE and rehabilitation.
On the first day of April 2020 my life was to change forever. I just didn’t realize the depth of which I would fall into this dark world.
I woke in the morning of the first of April to vertigo, something, I had never experienced before, but knew all too well through my nursing training that something was amiss.
I cried with relief and joy over having learned from my Doctor that the testing for the antiLGI1 autoimmune encephalitis antibodies which attacked my brain a little over two years ago were no longer present in my bloodstream or spinal fluid. Sure, I am likely to have residual difficulties with cognitive function and memory, but I at least feel I’m finally on the road to recovery. I cried because I know I’m one of the lucky ones.
“Princesses, they’re just like us.”
My friend Christina once commented that on Facebook, under a picture of Princess Kate. You know, the most beautiful woman in the world. The one whose three children always look clean and like angels. The one who stepped out of the hospital in a slim fitting dress and heels the day after giving birth to her first child. I remember slowly walking out of the hospital in sweats, days after I had my first born, wondering if I’d ever be able to sit down again. Yeah, princesses, they’re just like us.
I recently lost a beloved parent to anti-NMDA encephalitis. It is still hard to talk about it as my sister and I went through many challenges to get her diagnosed. I understand the pain and difficulties that many of you go through with this disease and having physicians or other health care professionals who are unfamiliar with this disease and its treatments.
Autoimmune Encephalitis Awareness Month February 2021. Learn all the activities planned for this year’s awareness month and how you can get involved. Raise awareness for AE to help us save lives.
My name is Catherine Cloutier, and I’m currently 28 years old. My journey with anti-NMDAr autoimmune encephalitis started in April 2015, at the age of 23.
I had previously completed a human nutrition degree at Université de Montréal and I am still practicing as a Registered Dietitian in Québec, and I am a member of my professional order (Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec).
Diagnosing a problem in the brain can be a major challenge. Unlike a broken bone,
many neurological problems are extremely hard to see. A computer tomography (CT) scan of
the brain, which is similar to an x-ray, can usually only detect obvious damage, such as bleeding in the brain.
Telemedicine allows patients to have a remote, non-emergency office visit with their health care provider by using a smartphone, computer or tablet. Research shows most patients are highly satisfied with telemedicine visits, and in most instances these visits are as good as in-person visits.
By definition, guilt is like shame. Or pride or embarrassment. It has been described as a self-conscious emotion, one that involves reflection on oneself and sometimes on others.
This is a subject that is difficult for AE Warriors, caregivers and medical personnel on so many levels. As 2020 turns into 2021, I believe this is worth taking a look at, talking about, facing head-on — and putting to rest — in a kind and loving way. Turning over a new leaf, so to speak, as we head into a joyous, healthy and prosperous 2021.
December 24, 2020 | Tabitha Andrews Orth My letter to Santa. ATTENTION: YULETIDE BUREAU WISH DEPARTMENT Dear Santa, As you know, I have given great thought to my Christmas wish this year. I hope I have made your 'NICE LIST", as my wish is in the form of a favor....
December 19, 2020 | By WhereAreMyPillows.com
The classic story arc of autoimmune encephalitis goes something like this: a patient presents to the hospital emergency room with an abrupt onset of psychotic features that include hallucinations, paranoia, anxiety, and strange behavioural changes.
December 9, 2020 | By Sherree Bargo
Larissa was born after a normal, healthy pregnancy on May 29, 2007. The next 5 years were seemingly “normal” as she hit all of her milestones on time and ahead of most of them. She was potty trained by 2, reading Dr. Seuss books by memory at 19 months! She was classic first child doing everything early.
November 26, 2020 | By Jeri Gore
I have often pondered over this day throughout my life. From being with loads of family laughing over a huge turkey dinner and all the talk and smiles and analyzing whose stuffing is best and simply being together. To being away at college or jobs that have carried us off and unable to return home for Turkey day.