Rock Bottom – Part 4 (Hallucinations)

It got worse, before it got better.

Once home, I claimed a corner of our sectional and would remain there. I wouldn’t be among the living for six or so more weeks.

In 2004, after the first surgery, I bounced back quickly. The third surgery in 2016, was more invasive, I was older and the damage caused by the blockage was more extensive. Recovery was not pleasant and it was slow going at best. IMG_20160810_165417578

The Norco prescribed caused problems but was an absolute necessity. I had an incision that was longer than a dollar bill and full of staples.

Hallucinations became an everyday occurance. I truly think that my family thought I was going to “see things” for the rest of my life. That this was our “new norm.” None of us knew what to expect or what my new normal would be. I don’t remember many of the hallucinations or the stories that accompany them.

Apparently, there were lions, hired by Corey, to eat the pet zebras that I had in the backyard. There were a few phone calls made to my father in law, complaining about the transgressions of the lions, with much anger directed towards Corey for hiring them.

Apparently, there was a minor freak out, origin, the hands of Corey and his girlfriend at the time. Let me just say, when you are on enough pain killers to subdue an elephant, watching a Sci-Fi movie, the main characters being giant spiders, does not make for a good time. Well, at least not for the “subdued.”  They had me convinced the movie was the evening news and the spiders were attacking Willis. Funny, not funny.

Then, there was the night that my, now son-in-law, thought I was possessed. Apparently, I got up off the couch and walked out the front door. Casey and Blake followed me not knowing what I was doing. The story goes, I turned towards him with crazy eyes, making a crunching noise.  He thought I was possessed and ready to drop me if need be. The crunching noise was a cinnamon candy.

The only hallucinations I remember are the ones that include the “shadow people.”  I spent many nights, laying in my spot on the couch, peeping out from under my blanket, watching the “shadow people.” They would walk from the back of the house only to disappear into the floor in the living room, waiting to make an appearance the very next night.

I didn’t sleep at all for two or three solid weeks. I ate only cinnamon disks and drank Icee’s. Nothing taste right. The part of my brain that was manipulated had everything to do with my appetite and my sleep patterns or lack thereof. I stayed nauseous for weeks. Again, due to the “brain manipulation.”

The pain was dulled to doable, thanks to the narcotics.  I tried not to cry. Crying made the pressure worse. But I did cry and I cried a lot. Thank God for my family. They were patient but I know they were terrified. IMG_20160804_183058283

I made myself start walking around the block around week five, maybe six. It was hot outside but I didn’t care. Nana, the faithful Yorkie, was with me every step of the way. 26168445_10203967454462192_7792636226160571445_n.jpgShe traveled on my hip in a doggie purse. She begged to go and then tolerated the bouncing. The summernats became my cheerleaders, bugging me every step of the way. The lake, my sanctuary, my happy place. I could be there in less than a five minute walk. I needed the water view to keep me motivated.

Each time one of my feet hit the ground, the back of my head felt like it was going to explode. I remember thinking, is this what I have to look forward to? I wasn’t stuttering and my eyes weren’t twitching. I hadn’t had a drop attack or passed out since the morning of the the surgery. I was still experiencing numbness and tingling in my right arm and leg. My balance was still wonky. My headaches, worse than before the surgery.

Week 5

My mood was deteriorating. I felt hopeful and hopeless at the same time. I was starting to regret the decision to have the brain lift. I didn’t know how I was going to handle the increased pain.

I think God was trying to teach my to chill out.  Pretty sure, He is still working on me in that regard. Strike that, I know He is still working on me in that regard. I guess I’m a slower learner.


  1. Thanks son much for sharing your story. My 21 year old son has Chiari 1 Malformation and chooses to pretend he doesn’t. He only feels effects when he is sick. He’s an athlete who pushes himsuyo the I th degree in heat or cold. He says he thinks it’s a Jim issue and he’s outgrown it. From my standpoint, watching him grow up, even a slight fever of 99 brings on exacerbated senses. Loudness, wiggling vision with gray bubbles, feeling he’s moving when sitting still. Feels his skin is too big for his body. Feels like everything is moving fast. Diagnosed in 2nd grade, denial is his coping mechanism. Wants to join the military. Don’t see that happening… please keep writing. And that book sounds like a grand idea. Could help so many. Lisa

    • Oh wow. I’m sorry he, and you have to deal with Chiari. My daughter was diagnosed at the age of ten but hasn’t had any major problems. I don’t want to sound preachy by any means but sports are not good. I know that is impossible to tell an athlete. My daughter pitched at the collegiate level. Tell him to do some research. Ultimately it’s his choice but he needs to make and educated decision. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you guys have any questions.

      • He marches with the Boston Crusaders of Drum Corp International all summer. It’s his last season and then back to college for his degree in Emergency Medical Care and clinicals. Two more weeks and he’s done marching running dancing singing, playing Baritone and performing in competitions all over the USA. In middle and high school he played football, stopped due to an injury then Track as an excellent high jumper and hurdler. I held my breath for years. Then he switched to marching band which many do t realize is like musical athletics. Many skills going on at once. I pray he realizes becoming a paratrooper medic is perhaps not the best use of his lifesaving skills. If you’ve never seen a DCI competition you might look on Youtube for Boston Crusaders 2018 program S.O.S. He’s one of the three singers at the beginning. Then plays and performs all over the field. It’s awesome. We will go watch them perform in Indy next month and deliver him back to school. Saw the show this past Sunday in Winston Salem NC. So great to see him. Almost 22 but always my heart.

      • Ah gosh thanks. Glad you saw it. You can see why he loves it. Practice is so intense from morning till bedtime in the summer heat, then perform, maybe sleep on a bus or if lucky in a school gym on mats after a locker room
        Shower. Or drive through the night to the next state or city for the next performance. I think it’s as close to boot camp as he can get. Ha.

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