This is my story and the events that led up to my visit to Vision Specialists of Birmingham.
My story begins with the time I was attending beauty school. One day as I was getting a customer ready for the hair dryer without warning I felt like I was being pushed to the floor. I started shaking and was so dizzy I was just barely able to get to a chair. The panic that came over me was like nothing I had ever felt before. There were so many symptoms I couldn’t sort through them all; it took a few years for that to happen. I managed to finish beauty school with the help of some very kind instructors.
After that it was all downhill – I couldn’t drive, couldn’t go to the store, I couldn’t even walk 50 yards to my neighbor’s house. I was too shaky and dizzy. I went on Valium and was able to do hairdressing out of my house which became my refuge.
I went from doctor to doctor but there was nothing and no one to help. I even went to a hypnotist. Nothing helped. I was left to believe I had a mental condition. The only problem with that was I felt fine mentally and wondered why I didn’t have more mental-type symptoms. My symptoms were all physical. Twelve years later the words “agoraphobia” and “panic attacks” were used to describe my condition.
During those years I used alcohol and Valium to do things there was no way out of. Like going to school functions for the kids (used vodka), teacher’s conferences, etc. I hate the taste of alcohol, so it never became a problem for me. I guess I thought of it as medicine. I had another child at the age of 35, another boy. I thought having him would take my mind off of my problems. It did help – I enjoyed him and I didn’t think of myself all the time. However, the symptoms persisted.
Then a neighbor got me interested in reading the Bible. This also helped. The neighbors never really knew the problems I had. I decided to go to church with my neighbor but could only sit in the back of the church. At least I was out of the house for the first time in a long time.
One day about 2 1/2 years after the birth of my son I was pregnant again – totally unplanned – another boy. It worked out great because they had each other. Between the kids, the neighbors, and the Bible I started moving out of my comfort zone. I also went on Xanax and started seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist who gave me the Xanax. The Xanax got me in the car and off the booze. The Valium I gave up years before because I couldn’t find a doctor to give it to me. It wasn’t like today where doctors are happy to give you drugs. For years I had nothing but a drink now and then to get me through. Now the Xanax relaxed me enough so that I could lead a more normal life. I even dropped some of my symptoms. I could drive (not far) and be more independent. The dizziness, panic, and shaking never went away – I could just deal with them better. The trade off was tiredness and later on double vision, to add to the mix. I had to plan my life around the Xanax. Nothing was spontaneous – I had to make sure my pill was working and know how long I had until it quit working.
By now the kids were grown up, we became grandparents, and my husband retired. I quit the hairdressing when my second son was born. Then one day I noticed, as I was riding in the car with my husband, that I was seeing double. Furthermore, my Xanax wasn’t working as it used to. It didn’t seem to calm me down the way it always did. I took one 0.5mg pill and a half of another 0.5mg pill a day. I tried to space them out throughout the day. I took this dose for about 30 years. I would take more if I really needed it, but it made me so tired that this usually didn’t happen. So now not only wasn’t the Xanax working but I seemed to be getting worse with more dizziness. I could not stand and talk to anyone without feeling I was pitching forward. If I had something in front of me or in back of me I felt better, or if I was sitting I felt OK – never good, just OK. No one would ever have believed all this was happening to me because I have a very out-going personality.
One day while in the shower I went to turn around and almost fell – my eyes had done something funny – I could feel it. It just hit me that maybe my eyes were my problem! By this time I had gotten into the computer and loved it. I definitely was the computer queen. It made sense with all the home-time I had. It opened up a whole new world to me. Anyway, I looked up eyes and agoraphobia and saw Dr. Debby’s site. I could not believe what I saw. All of my symptoms were listed there with the words “Vertical Heterophoria”. I called her and she faxed me a questionnaire to fill out to see if I had it. I filled out the form and faxed it back. She called me right away and told me I had most of the symptoms of someone with this problem. While we were talking I mentioned that I took Xanax. She told me I would have to go off Xanax or I couldn’t be completely helped. That was a bit of a shock, and for the first time in 30 some years I tried to picture my life without Xanax. They didn’t seem to be working anyway. So how do I do this? I thought I would go to the net and find out how. There was a lot about Paxil but not a lot about Xanax, and what I did find was bad news. It said I had to go slow, or I could have convulsions, rapid heart beat, insomnia etc. One site said “once the physiologic dependence has occurred with Xanax the ability of the patient to discontinue use succussfully is quite low, and medical asistance becomes of significant necessity in the majority of cases.”
I started by breaking the 1/2 in half and stayed on that for 2 weeks sometime 3 weeks and kept going by 1/4’s until they were gone. I think it took about 2 months. I had no withdrawal at all. When I first started I felt pressure in my chest but I think it was from all the scare I thought was going to happen to me. It didn’t last long.
I can attribute this success to the fact that about 5 years ago I started to study alternative medicine. I learned about vitamins, antioxidants, immune boosters, body balancing ph, enzyme nutrition and parasites just to name a few of the things I studied. The reason I did all this was because of my son Ben. He was my last born son. He died a few days before his 21st birthday. That was eight years ago – he died of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. There are no words that can express our sorrow. I set out to see if we could have done something different, was there something else we could have done for Ben. I found a lot!!!! I couldn’t believe what was out there – all natural, non-invasive. Mostly just boosting the immune system. Cancer is a disease of the immune system. Finding out what is pushing the immune system down is a place to start.
For the last 4 years I have been taking vitamins, especially Vitamin C. Now I know why the Xanax quit working. My theory is that it was neutralized by the Vitamin C and the other antioxidants I was taking every day. For those of you who are also trying to get off drugs, I am going to list all the vitamins I take every day. You can decide for yourself if they are for you.
Vit C 3mg if you are detoxing you will need to take a bowel tolerance which means until you get the runs then just cut back, don’t go off.
Vitamin C-3mg….E-400iu….Selenium 200mg….SuperB100’s….Zinc 30mg….
B6 200mg….Magnesium 300mg….D3 1 drop 400iu….Beta Carotene 15mg
When I have a cold or my immune system is down with a cold, sore throat, or the flu, I take Echinacea, Pau d’Arco, Grape seed, Grapefruit seed extract, Rose Hips, Hydrangea Root. There are a lot more. I had trouble sleeping so I took Melatonin and L-Ornithine– 3 mg of Melatonin and 500 mg of L-Ornithine before bed.
January, 2006 was my first visit to Dr. Debby and she made me feel at home. It was like, OK – we’re going to work together to get this thing done. She took one look at me and said, “You have it”. She told my husband to look at my eyes as she held a ruler up to them – he could see it right away. One eye was higher than the other. She put all those prisms in these big round glasses and sent me out to the grocery store to see how I did. The grocery store was one of my bad things to do. She told me to leave my purse in the car because it was too heavy and would throw me off. So my husband and I went into the store. I had no cart and no purse and these funny looking glasses. It wasn’t long before I was getting stares from the other customers – that was enough for me – I told my husband I’m out of here. We went back to the office and the staff wanted to know “how did you do”? I said I don’t know, I left because I was too embarrassed to stay there.
I live in Illinois, and I had them mail me the glasses. I waited for them to arrive, and when they arrived I put them on and had double vision. I couldn’t wear those glasses, so that set me back a couple of months while I waited to be retested and fitted with new glasses. In the meantime, my symptoms were the same. I was dizzy at the store, couldn’t drive, and had a hard time going to restaurants, so I started taking 1 Xanax every now and then. The double vision came back, and I don’t remember the Xanax helping anyway. I went back and told Dr. Debby I was taking just one Xanax to get me through. She was not happy, so I promised her I would go off and not take another one, and I haven’t. That was in June – I never took another one, and had no withdrawal. In the meantime, I was starting to get skeptical of the whole process. It was just not going fast enough for me. Dr. Debby knew this and just looked at me and said “we don’t give up on anyone”, and that I was definitely a harder case. But I felt better when she said that. She told me to get a book and log in it any little thing that I saw that was different. I did that and started noticing that things in my back yard seemed closer; that was the very first time I noticed anything with my new glasses. After that things started changing. I wasn’t as dizzy in the stores, and eating in restaurants wasn’t as difficult – not good, but not as bad as it used to be. I even tried driving. I did better that I ever thought I could do without a pill, but things were not right. I needed to go back and get more help.
During this time I looked through old pictures of myself. Dr. Debby said that I was tilting my head to the side (a sure sign of this condition). I couldn’t believe it -most, if not all of the pictures of me showed my head was tilted to one side. On the next visit I showed her my head tilt pictures. This was a real breakthrough. My prisms were adjusted. With me, I need to wear my new glasses for 2 weeks before I start seeing anything different. But change they did – I couldn’t believe that the dizziness at the store was practically gone. I didn’t get dizzy when I was standing talking to someone and I didn’t have that pitching forth problem. Anxiety was at a very low level – sometimes it was gone. All this without Xanax. I was also driving – not alone, but once I found out that I was not looking at the line in the middle of the road – just at the one on the right side – things improved significantly. It is now one year later and I am 95% improved. I just need some practice doing things over and over until I could find my “new normal” as Dr. Debby calls it. After all, it’s been 40 years since I experienced “normal”. While I might need a few more adjustments, I know I will be 100% shortly.
I can’t thank Dr. Debby enough. Also her father, Dr. Paul. They are caring doctors truly interested in helping people. The staff is great, too, and they make you feel at home.
As I look back on life, do I wish I could have found this out years ago? Yes, but I also believe that the adversity in my life has made me a better person. I thank my Ben whose death was not in vain. Because of him, there have been and will be a lot of people that will be helped with the knowledge I have gained in alternative medicine.
I hope this information has been of help to those of you who are getting started, and to those of you who have yet to come.
God Bless you.