Neurotherapy – Day 11 – Wave Goodbye, Say Hello…

photo-19It could just be the neurotherapy talking but, man what a great bunch of people. I’ve been in classes and conferences where you were wondering why the exit door seemed to be moving in slow motion, dreading that someone would catch up with you. I can honestly say that there was not a single person that I met with whom I wouldn’t cheerfully spend a day. Interesting, dedicated, open and open-minded. A good few will be friends, collaborative partners and potentially colleagues for years, I’m quite sure.

So I say goodbye cheerfully, warm in the knowledge that goodbyes and beginnings are two sides of the same coin. Bye, all. LA…well, I’ll see you soon. And San Diego. And Portland…

Clinicians Course – Last Day

Today was the last day of what has to be one of the hardest short courses I have ever encountered.  Honestly, I was boggled by the level, depth and sheer volume of information. Under the general rule of you get as good as you give, this was also one of the most rewarding courses I have ever taken.

Normally there are little spots where you can take a bit of a breather. You know. A quick glaze over and no one will really notice if your head starts to roll a bit. Not such a good plan here. I think I did that once, thinking about something or other, only to snap back into focus hearing a bunch of words that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. None. Like the babel fish just fell out of my ear and breathed its last, leaving me merciless at the hands of a completely incomprehensible Vogon. No one expects their aliens on the smallish side with glasses and a little vest. That’s how they infiltrate.

Anyway, the other 31 hours, 58 minutes were spent in rapt attention. I think I was down to alternating eyes for blinking, just in case. The one exercise where we actually closed them was nearly sinfully lovely.

And let’s use that as a segue into the real heart of the matter:

Did Neurotherapy Work?

Well, let’s look at it from a few angles. Random bursts of excitement and Deus Ex Machining aside, I’ve seen a lot of evidence from a number of sources over the last two weeks:

ME

  1. There is no way in hell that I would have been able to devote that kind of focus and attention to anything two weeks ago. No way. In hell. Period. (note – admit to this potentially being in LA doing cool stuff, learning cool things, meeting cool people – see in the long run)
  2. I was both focused and engaged. I felt upbeat, excited and happy to be there pretty much every minute. (as per note above)
  3. I am actively seeking plans for the future, with some solid, or at least excitingly ephemeral results.
  4. I am now hungry three times a day. I increasingly bow to the common understanding that this may be a good thing, although it’s largely a moot point.
  5. Although I am hungry, I seem to know when I am full. I worry that the unfinished food may suffer self esteem issues.
  6. I just don’t seem to want sugar much anymore. This is ok, but confusing.
  7. I am now drunk on one beer. This causes me shame.
  8. I have a more general thirst for life that I haven’t seen in far longer than I really want to think about.
  9. I haven’t had a migraine in 2 weeks. This is a while, but by no means a record. Bears watching but not conclusive.
  10. I seem to be surprisingly sensitive to blood glucose level changes. Minor (minor! – still strange) headache today after big carb lunch, same a s I used to get from beer in the afternoon. This is not a good thing but is clearly a change from my previous last one to the box ‘o cookies is a rotten egg system. Significant negative effect still equals effect. And it’s probably fixable.

OTHERS

  1. The other members of the class were not dummies or rubes. There were clear effects using the machines for even the few hours of demonstration time we had.
  2. The effects are sufficiently powerful that when people made mistakes during class, the person doing the training clearly felt the effects. Headaches, tight chest, rapid mood swings, clenched jaws, instant grogginess and many other symptoms showed up in the light of our inexperience. Needless to say people learned fast.
  3. Also clearly, when the settings were right, the person felt a sense of immense well-being. This would sometimes happen when they didn’t know the settings had been changed.
  4. Occasionally settings were changed with a stray elbow or arm. Neither the tester nor the subject knew this. The effects were still extremely obvious and had to be corrected quickly.

FACTS AND FIGURES

  1. There is solid, published research behind it, on lots of test subjects but no where near the numbers that exist in pharmacuetical studies – the cash just ain’t there.
  2. The Othmers have compiled data on several thousand cases the clinic has dealt with. These numbers seem solid and in several cases really, really impressive.

Looking at it skeptically, there are still many areas where I want more knowledge, more facts, more understanding of what’s happening and why. Then again, I also don’t know how an MRI works, or even that Blizzard machine at Dairy Queen. They still do the job.

I never take statistics as proof of anything. Spent too many years making them dance to believe them in isolation. Once they start to get confirmed by real world test subjects (or as I like to think of the class, my fellow guinea pigs), I start to think hmmmm…maybe.

And once I feel them myself, I hope.

I truly believe that this has had a significant effect on me. I feel like a new man, utterly and completely. As I continue to work with Sue from Victoria, we will see how these effects settle, build, change and last. Once I know all that, well… I will find a good avenue to do this for other people. No question about that. It’s a gift.

Stay Tuned,

Same Bat-channel, Same Bat-place (that one’s for you, Darla)

Thank you, I’m sorry and a big list

shoulderandneck13I started this blog as a way to see if my process couldn’t perhaps help more people than just myself. I’ve have quite a few people say, “hey I see parts of myself there”, and I have to say I’m really gratified and pleased. But there’s no doubt it’s a two way street. The process of writing for all of you is a serious gut check every single time I put fingers to keyboard. What should I put in, what is too personal? Well, turns out that the best way to help people connect with the process is to just be me, not too edit-y and pretty honest about what going on. I normally hide a lot about myself, and that’s a strange and scary feeling. I feel like I’m up on the edge of a cliff (I hate heights too)…but the audience, the confessional I suppose, is making me feel better about myself, stronger and clearer.

So thank you.

In that vein….They say that the first thing a person who is choking will try to do is leave the room, as if dying in front of people were a terrible, shameful inconvenience for the other diners. In the same way I suppose, whether it’s ADD or the tendency to depression, the stuff I’m looking at now in neurotherapy…well, I’m ashamed of it. I’ve kept it all well hidden from the world, or even myself, for my entire life. I haven’t known I was ADD until I started looking at neurotherapy for depression (which is harder to miss – dark curtains and a fetal position are a dead giveaway).  In the course of looking at what neurotherapy does, I came across some clear descriptions of what ADD looks like. It looks like me apparently.

I also don’t have a lot of ability to complete complex tasks that require a lot of forward planning. I’m a bright guy, I can bumble along getting day to day stuff done, and I have lucid times when I can look ahead and see past my toes for a bit. I can even be a total star. But all people really see is a guy who can think pretty quickly in conversation. So they are really really disappointed in me when stuff gets dropped or just don’t git done. “Jeez Tim, if you can do it then, you can do it now. You must just be lazy.” And I’m disappointed in me too.

I’ve spent me whole life not understanding that there are good reasons for that; that being broken isn’t really a badge of shame so much as a sign of being human.

The thing that really brings that home (strangely) is some of the technical manuals on how to do neurotherapy. One of them is a very matter-of-fact list of what to do with certain symptoms and syndromes. Quite frankly I’m staggered by the list of things that can be changed, or improved. I get that it’s a really powerful technique. The brain has an amazing ability to be flexible, to find a way to change itself and adapt to it’s environment. Neurotherapy takes the adaptation systems the brain has developed to keep us alive, and channels them toward repairing the things that are holding us back. That’s an amazing tool, but even knowing that, I look at the list and see a whole bunch of people, myself included, that I had kind of written off as never going to get better or be more. For all of you, myself included, I’m sorry.

Here’s an partial version of the list, in no particular order:

  • Migraines
  • Seizures
  • Asthma
  • Mood swings
  • Depression and motivation challenges
  • ADD/ADHD and difficulties focusing or ability to plan ahead
  • Emotional and impulse control and anger/fear management, dangerous thrill seeking and self-injuring
  • Attachment disorder
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder and Asbergers
  • Anxiety challenges, including OCD, Tourettes, panic attacks, paranoia
  • Flashbacks and fears stemming from past incidents, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and childhood abuse
  • Body issues, including Anorexia, Bulimia, over or under eating and sugar cravings
  • Inability to plan
  • Control over ones body/clumsiness.
  • Addictions
  • Nightmares
  • Physical tension, including Bruxism (tight jaw and teeth grinding)
  • Sleep challenges
  • Pain and pain management, including Fibromyalgia, low pain threshold, Sciatica and chronic nerve pain
  • Poor math or language ability

This list seems ridiculous, even to me. Like a travelling salesman with his fancy wagon, selling snakeoil to the local hicks. Hence the “I’ll try it first and you can see what you think” approach. We tend to single out the diseases, illneses and broken bits, putting them up against a wall and shining a narrow spotlight on them. We don’t tend to think in terms of larger, interacting systems, and we certainly don’t think about what a healthy human looks like, or how to create that. It’s how our medical system operates, and it’s how we’ve come to think of ourselves and our bodies. It’s clear, however, that the brain can command an amazing number of resources, can touch an incredible number of things within us. By harnessing that, we have a hell of a tool.

Drumroll…Neurotherapy Day One!

Ok. let’s start with the weird stuff first.

I have often bored my close friends with a strange Tim fact…I never, ever get hungry. Well, not perfectly accurate. I get hungry every 5 – 10 years when, until I remember what it is, I get all freaked out and think I’m dying. Possibly of stomach cancer or alien worms. I’m not complaining mind. This trait has served me well in the past. In an emergency, I can go literally days before I go all faint and have to put some calories in me. I usually know how much my body needed them by how fast I eat them at that point. Yes I know this is stupid but that’s how I’ve always been.

Unfortunately, it turns out that neurotherapy, as an adjunct to some other stuff (stay tuned) will actually change this. I will now be hungry just like normal people. Which sucks. I liked being all special and strange, even though it meant a raised possibility of hypoglycemic shock. I suppose it’s a small consolation that it will leave in place a bunch of other things that people were asking about (you know who you are). We never really know when we start out what the road will look like, do we?

The awful, terrible, crushing thing? I WASN’T different! When we made up the list of things that weren’t working, my clinician, Sue, was merrily checking things off on a list. I had a look and there it was! – “Lack of Appetite Awareness”. How humility inducing. Stop laughing, you.

The early part of today was very unexpected. It was less focussedly about brainwaves and more about self-reported behaviours (at least at first) than I said here, um, yesterday. Sorry about that. Turns out there’s an interesting discussion around different neurotherapy styles and schools of thought, which I will go into another time.

At any rate, through either my own burbling and gentle questioning by Sue, we came up with a pretty extensive laundry list of (as Winnie the Pooh would say) Things That Aren’t Quite Right With Tim. Caveat – None of these things, with the possible exception of depression, are the kinds of things that I would talk to a doctor about, but cumulatively they’re a problem for me. I just didn’t know that you could deal with them cumulatively or at all. And no, this doesn’t make me wierd, or broken, or at least not more broken than anyone else. It’s ok – you can still talk to me on the street, and you probably don’t even need to use that loud voice we reserve for the deaf and non-english speakers.

This isn’t the full list, but rather a list of ones we agreed would be indicative and easy to track, along with a score (subjective 1-10) of how the things on these scales were/felt in the past week.

chartday1 So, we started work on what’s called brain instabilities. (No, that’s not the same thing as being unstable, thank you for asking). These include things like headaches, seisures, oversensitivity, and other “brain can’t really control itself” things.

This was, frankly, strange. I had an impression that Neurotherapy was a slow, you’ll feel it over time process. It was anything but, at least in this area.

During the evaluation and two treatment sessions I did today, there were often times when Sue would change a setting on the machine, looking for the most effective combination of “reward fequencies” (the brainwave pattern that you respond best to in training) and symmetry (the way your two halves of your brain work together). Within a minute, or less, of a setting being changed, I would notice with a sensation change, which ranged from tingling on my skull (possibly increased bloodflow) to a small headache (that I hadn’t had before) that we chased across my head like a recalcitrant child at bedtime.

The last word on the first day? I feel good. Energetic, relaxed, able to concentrate (shocking in itself). Some of it is no doubt the excitement of a new game /placebo effect. We’ll see over time.

What’s normal?

A number of people (big hugs, you know who you are) have pointed out that I really don’t appear to have that many problems, that I’m perfectly normal. Fact is, in comparison to many many others, I really don’t. I can hold down a job, have perfectly reasonable relationships with perfectly reasonable people, and raise lovely children well and responsibly. Fact is also that I’m still not satisfied and I think I have good reason to think I could be more.

Let’s take a poll… What would you want more of in your life…Not money or fame or those things – I’m not a freaking genie – what would you want your brain to do better? Please take this little poll and then read on.

In part what I’m talking about, and trying for, is not…normal. I think our “normal” is kinda broken. Some more, some less, but broken. We live in a world where the large majority of people consider themselves “normal” but also spend a good portion of their time hiding the many many things that make them not normal from the world. Are you normal? Am I? Is the autistic child or the guy with tourette’s on the bus a form of alien, completely unlike me in any way? Or do we all sit somewhere on the same line, like birds on a telephone wire.

I think there’s a a big bulge of us in the middle, supposed norms, some a little quirky, some not so sensitive to the needs of others, some engineers, god help them. And out on one end is the autistic boy. He’s not really different, or even broken. He’s just way far out on the end of the wire, out past the engineers and the shut-ins, in a place we can’t easily reach, with many of the same things we see in ourselves everyday, just way more of it.

There’s also the other end of the (same) wire, from emotionally sensitive on out to the clinically depressed and suicidal, whom life rubs so raw that they simply can’t survive it. I know I sit somewhere on that scale…where seems to depend on what day it is. Happily, suicide has never really been a draw, but I admit to feeling completely crushed by my life at times.

Perhaps there are a whole bunch of wires that crisscross, perhaps the reality is something more complex. My point is that it’s a lot easier for us to believe that we are one of the many, and they are the shattered few. I just don’t think it’s true.

So the poll: It’s a list (except for write-ins) of all the things that Neurotherapy works well at resolving. Many of them are things we naturally assume can’t be changed without serious drugs and an admission that we are one of the few broken souls.

What if it’s all a lot easier than that? What would you do if you didn’t have to hide your differences, your failures, the things that hold you back? Perhaps it’s as easy as putting a cast on a broken leg, healing it rather than continuing to just limp along.

Pure speculation of course…We’ll see when it comes down to it. But whether neurotherapy helps me or not, I think it’s worth asking the question…what IS normal?