My name is Char and I want to talk about a very important issue and tell you about the miracle that happened to me.
First let me ask you about how well you are protecting yourself & your loved ones. How many of you have some type of security system on your houses to protect you from harm? Some systems cost a few hundred dollars or you might invest in one that costs even thousands of dollars. Others of us rely on locks on our doors & windows. But no matter what system you use, it wonít protect you from this type of invasion. Because it may already be in your home. And this is a very deadly enemy.
Iím talking about Carbon Monoxide. There are many federal & state laws that require smoke detectors in public buildings & apartment complexes or homes that are used for rentals or other public use. But as of now, there are none that require the installation of C.O. detectors. Iím going to do whatever I can to change that law. And I want to encourage anyone here that is either renting or that owns your own home to buy one for your protection. My intention today is to inform everyone about C.O. & the long-term effects it can have on your system, and also to tell you about the miracles that happened to me.
There are probably many of you who are under the same impression that I was about C.O. I always thought that if you were exposed, you either died from it or you were ok. THAT IS NOT THE CASE! C.O. can & usually does have long term effects that are very scary, frustrating & incapacitating.
First, Iím going to tell you about my experience & the effects Iíve been left with. Then, Iíll give you some information that Iíve been able to research along with the URL to Dr. David Penneyís Website. He has worked exclusively with Carbon Monoxide Research for over 30 years.
Doug & I moved into a new apartment January 19th, 2002. We were very excited & within a week we had everything unpacked & put away. We had a storage unit we were paying for & decided to get everything out of storage & put it in the spare bedroom upstairs until we could go through it all & get it organized or dispose of what we didnít want to keep. We managed to get it all moved to the apartment, and piled it up in the diningroom first intending to carry it upstairs afterward.
During this period, I started becoming ill. I thought I was coming down with the flu, because I ached all over, started becoming nauseated, and had migraine headaches... (all of which I attributed to moving. The storage things didnít get unpacked until months later). I became increasingly ill. The dizziness & aching became worse, along with nausea. I became very lightheaded & the headaches became quite severe. I became very disoriented, dizzy and could not walk by myself. I spent most of the time in bed. I had gone through a lot of emotional stress just before our move so I attributed it to just being worn down & possibly the flu. I thought if I just stayed in bed & rested, I would get over it. Since our bedroom was upstairs, Doug would bring me food and something to drink before he left for work, so I wouldnít have to use the stairs to go to the kitchen. Doug was occasionally getting headaches too, but we still didnít become that concerned. His headaches werenít as bad & they would go away. (He was working everyday, so he was getting out in the fresh air.)
On February 21st, Doug convinced me to go out to lunch with him before he went to work. He worked 2nd shift. When we left the house, I became extremely giddy. My body tingled & I felt like I had too much to drink. (Now I understand it was from the fresh air.)
When we returned home, I went right back to bed & Doug left for work. My son called me about 4 p.m. He could tell I still didnít feel right so he told me to go back to bed. Thatís the last thing I remember until a little after 9 p.m. when I realized someone was in my apartment coming up the stairs. I remember someone calling out ďLady, are you alright? This is maintenance.Ē
My neighbor had walked past my door outside where the gas meters are located & smelled a gas leak a few hours earlier. She knew I was home & had knocked on my door but I didnít respond. She went home but it bothered her so she tried knocking again. Still no response, so she called the gas company. They came out & discovered a small gas leak at the meter & fixed it. They were concerned too when my neighbor told them she was sure I was home, but not responding. They tried knocking again for quite some time, but again, no response from me. They called the on call number for maintenance and after trying to get ahold of the oncall worker for over two hours, the worker finally came with a passkey & let himself into the apartment. Thatís when I aroused enough to respond. When I managed to get down the stairs, the gas company's C.O. detector was going crazy! The lady said she had never gotten that high of a reading before. They got me out of the apartment & opened the doors & windows while they checked the furnace. There was a cracked heat exchanger on the furnace & they tagged it & shut off the gas. The last thing I remembered was that my son Brad called me about 4 p.m. and said I sounded really bad and I should go back and lay down. When they gained access to my apartment it was after 9 p.m. I called my fiancť who worked in the Intensive Cardiac Care Unit at the hospital and he came home and took me to the hospital where they were waiting for me in emergency. They did arterial blood tests and put me on oxygen. I was toxic with C.O. The doctor said that I would not have made it till Doug got home at midnight. I was treated there till early morning and released.
After leaving the hospital, we spent the day at a hotel. I wasnít able to sleep all day. My body was tingling & it felt like there were things crawling under my skin and all over my body.
Some of the other symptoms I had during the exposure were blurred vision, vomiting & my hearing would fade in & out. Sometimes things seemed extremely loud, but most times my hearing was very muffled.
I became unbalanced & unstable. I needed assistance to go to the bathroom & Doug had to actually bathe me, I was so weak.
He would bring me up food to eat & things to drink before he went to work. But I rarely ate, because of the vomiting. Also everything I attempted to eat or drink had a horrible taste. Everything tasted like rotten meat & had a metallic taste to it, even water.
One of the few times I attempted to come downstairs by myself when he was at work, I fell in the kitchen & my neck got hung up on a footstool. I had to knock it out from under me because I couldnít stand up. The pain from landing with my neck on the stool was so bad that I crawled out of the kitchen & lay on the livingroom floor until Doug got home at midnight & took me to emergency. Iím allergic to most all pain medications. They x-rayed my neck & saw no broken bones but all they could do for me was send me home in a soft collar.
About this same time I started having problems with my face. I used to describe it as ďFacial ScrunchingĒ. I have now been diagnosed as having a seizure disorder. (Focal Seizures.)
Also about this time I started experiencing something that was so confusing & scary that itís hard to describe. The sound of the TV bothered me so I rarely watched it. Most of the time the house was in silence. My body started tingling at first. Then I would have periods where my whole body would go numb & I would lose all sensation. During these times I would actually wonder if I had died & if my mind just didnít realize it yet. There was so much confusion & loss of time. I wondered if - when Doug got home he would be able to see me.... - Was I was really there or had I died....
Since my exposure I am still suffering from some of the effects. I get really bad headaches. I still get dizzy and unbalanced, although that isnít as often now. When I do, I have to use a shower stool and also have someone in the bathroom with me. I also have torn and damaged nerves in my neck so I have daily pain. Since I'm allergic to all normal pain prescriptions, the only thing I can take is Tylenol. I have memory loss. Most of it is my short-term memory, however I donít remember other things either. Before this happened I was designing web sites and had just started my own Graphic Design and Web site Development business. Now I canít remember html codes and can no longer write my own Java scripts. I was also teaching computer and Internet skills as well as certain graphics programs. I am no longer able to do that. Sometimes I have trouble pronouncing words, or canít think of the word I want to say, so my communication has been affected. I also have heart palpitations and occasionally chest pain. The most devastating thing though has been the focal seizures. These started during the exposure, right after the fall I took. I am being treated for them, but I still experience about 60-80 per day. I am also suffering from depression. I hate the way the seizures make my face look. I usually find myself putting my hand in front of my face when Iím talking to someone because Iím embarrassed. I donít see friends very often anymore. This has effected my whole life.
During the course of my treatment, my neurologist ran several tests. I had 2 M.R.I.ís done on my brain & from those I was diagnosed as having Aneurysms. I was sent to a neurosurgeon who re-diagnosed them as venous angiomies. Aneurysms are in the arteries and venous angiomies are in the main veins leading into the arteries. Both aneurysms and venous angiomies are sometimes there from birth, but can be caused by trauma. The neurosurgeon wanted me to have a Cerebral Arteriogram so they could see exactly where they were located & to see the size of them. He said he might be able to do a Gamma Knife procedure on some of them. Thatís a type of laser procedure where they burn them out or go in & fill the angiomy with small coils of wire to secure the vein. Surgery was out of the question, because the MRI's showed that I had a cluster of at least 7 behind my left temple and at least 7 more scattered across my brain. Regular surgery would cause a lot of brain damage, & he refused to even try it. I put off the arteriogram myself for quite awhile because it is supposed to be done with a local anesthetic and Iím allergic to all locals as well. Finally I decided that I needed to have it done so I called the hospital to schedule with a radiologist. I had trouble finding one who would put me under to do the proceedure. One of the radiologists it was scheduled with canceled the night before. About a year passed when the hospital called me & said they found a doctor who was willing to do it.
I very strongly believe in God and Iím lucky enough to have lots of family members and friends who do too. Lots of prayers were said for me around the world, as well as a Native American Healing Ceremony that was done for me the day before the surgery. When the doctor completed the procedure, he said all he found were 2 very small angiomies that shouldnít cause me any problems, even though the MRI's showed over 14. He said I should have a Cerebral Arteriogram done every year or two just to make sure they donít grow.
Several Miracles have taken place during my exposure , while I was going through testing & treatment & continue to occur even now.
The first miracle is that I survived the exposure at all. They evacuate buildings at 50 ppm's. When they entered my apartment, the meter registered at 200 ppm's.
And of course it was a miracle that my neighbor discovered the gas leak & reported it to Consumers. I know my angels were there by her side protecting me, because she wouldn't give up on getting into my apartment.
Spirit had plans for me. He wanted my faith to grow. I don't know what would have happened if I had been able to have the Cerebral Arteriogram done right away, but there would have been a lot of risk and a very long recovery time. I needed that years time to grow spiritually and to build my faith. My brother dropped me off at a Native American Moon Lodge. I was still very sick at the time & not really thrilled at being around other people with the facial twitching & seizures I was having. Part of the moonlodge included healings of many kinds & my personal healing both physically & spiritually started that weekend. Over the course of the year, I made many beautiful friends that helped me so much. The day before my surgery, several friends came over to my apartment & participated in a Native American Pipe Healing Ceremony. The day of my surgery, I had people praying for me all over the U.S. as well as in other countries, including India. I believe that I needed the time for the wonderful miracle of prayer & faith to promote my healing. While the MRI's showed so many serious angiomies, prayer & faith healed them. Even my doctors were amazed!
My healing continues... My doctors say the seizures are permanant& there's nothing more they can do. But they are always developing new medications and new surgical procedures, so I will continue to hope. Each morning when I wake up, I thank God for giving me the gift of life, one more day.
And I heal a bit more over time! Headaches are mostly gone. I still get dizzy & unbalanced, but not very often. My memory is improving & I've found that I can re-learn some things. And thanks to Doug, Sheryl & a few other friends I've been able to do websites again! And I'm very proud of what I can do! Still having mega seizures.... Still can't get used to them.... Still cover my face. I read a little more again & remember some of it. My faith is still strong & I believe my health is going to continue to become even better!
I'm still around!
The headaches are very rare now.
Testing showed torn & damaged nerves in the back of my neck & also some damaged nerves in the brain. The pain is constant as there is no treatment or surgery available at this time.
Doctor's took me off the seizure medication because it didn't stop them. It DID help though to slow them down. There are days again where I have 5-20 seizures an hour, & I'm still trying to learn to live with that. I've had two neurologists tell me that they are permanent. This is still one of my biggest problems. Sometimes I hate to leave my house even to go to the store because people look at me like I'm having a stroke or something. Others that I explain it to, say "Oh? I hadn't even noticed...." Come on, people! Let's be honest! When you're looking at me & my face scrunches up & my eye closes.... How could you NOT notice?
I also had some problems a few years ago where my teeth started breaking off. Xrays showed that my top teeth were all cracked just above the gumline all the way across. An effect of the fall I took on the footstool. So I had to have surgery & have all my top teeth pulled, 8 of them that were broken off drilled out. That was a not so great time. They had to put me under to do it due to my allergies to locals & I couldn't take any pain meds afterward. Got through it though!
My memory has improved except for the occassional brain fart that comes with old age, LOL!
I'm able to obsorb more & my concentration & communication is better for the most part. I still have problems sometimes finding the right word that I want to say & sometimes mix my words up when speaking, but it is much less frequent.
I still have times when I'm really weak & can't do much.... I hate those times.
I'm also having neurological problems where I fall down just out of the blue. My ankle or knee doesn't go out or anything, I just fall. I also drop things, my hand just lets go.
But all in all, things are getting better. And I have hope & faith that get me through each day!
CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) HEADQUARTERS