Brittany's Hope

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DANCING DAYS

 

In 1999, when Brittany was four years old, she started dancing at Dance Expressions in El Dorado Hills, CA.   Even at that young age, she absolutely loved to dance. 

 

Three years later Brittany transferred to Center Stage Dance Academy, also in El Dorado Hills, to study with Georgina Coleman.  Brittany loved her four years at Center Stage.  She studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, clogging and pointe and was an enthusiastic member of the Jr. Compani and Compani 2.

 

In 2006, when she was 11, Brittany transferred to Northern California Dance Conservatory in Roseville to train with Theodore Constant and Jen Bradford.  Brittany spent four years as an Apprentice in NCDC's pre-professional division, developing her technique in ballet, modern and pointe.  Brittany became ill during her fourth year at NCDC, when she was fifteen.  She was promoted to the Company for what would have been her fifth year, but was unable to return to the studio due to her illness.

 

DEBILITATING ILLNESS

 

When Brittany was 15 and a freshman at Ponderosa High School, she began getting frequent headaches.  She also started getting sick with high fevers.  The hip pain and plantar fasciitis that she had developed in eighth grade continued to plague her.  (Several physical therapists were unable to help with the hip and foot pain, which was thought to have been related to her dancing.) 

 

By December 2009, her headaches were occurring every day.  In spite of her efforts to get help, the headaches were worsening.  On March 1, 2010, Brittany experienced a much more painful headache than she had been having.  She went to sleep, hoping it would improve by morning.  But when she woke up, the Migraine-like pain had been joined by severe neck pain and nausea.  Those three symptoms have stayed with her continuously from that day on. 

At first, Brittany tried to keep attending school and dance, but she was unable to find anything to help control her excruciating pain.  Her body began weakening and her family was startled to see her dropping objects and stumbling into walls.  She began having word-finding difficulties, tinnitus, dizziness, tremors, and pain throughout her body in her muscles and joints. 

 

By January, 2011, Brittany was so weak that she required a wheelchair when leaving the house for appointments.  She had become so light- and sound-sensitive that TV, computer and iPod screens were too painful for her to use.  Her "brain fog" increased and made reading, doing school work, and even having conversations, impossible because she couldn't understand what she was reading or what someone was saying to her.  Brittany began spending her time crocheting in her darkened room.  She spent many months in isolation. 

 

Throughout this time, Brittany sought help from many doctors and holistic practitioners.  Nothing helped her pain, and often, suggested treatments made the pain worse.  In September, 2011, a new doctor suspected that Brittany had Lyme disease.  She had been tested a year earlier, and the result had been negative, but this doctor explained that it wasn't uncommon to have a negative test for Lyme.  He recommended visiting a specialist in San Francisco.  Based on her tests and evaluation, the specialist agreed that Brittany did indeed have Lyme disease.  Unfortunately, an attempt at antibiotic treatment resulted in muscle weakness so severe that Brittany could not move, breathe, or swallow.  She was admitted to the hospital for five days, and then spent several months in bed. 

 

Brittany sought out alternative treatment methods for her symptoms, but those attempts also made her worse.  At one point she lost 16 pounds in six weeks, and was unable to swallow solid food.  During September 2012, she contracted a stomach flu and experienced multiple trips to the ER for fluids, as her body could not stop vomiting.  By October 2012, Brittany was so weak and depleted that her family feared they were losing her.  They found a doctor in Phoenix who was willing to treat her, but she was too weak to travel.

 

RECOVERY BEGINS

 

Also in October, 2012, Brittany was introduced to a new product called the iMRS.  This mat seemed to help with her severe insomnia, along with her trouble breathing and swallowing.  Over the next two months, as Brittany became stronger, she heard of a new doctor who had been successful treating severe, complex chronic conditions, like hers.  After consulting with 42 doctors and holistic practitioners in the previous nearly-three years, Brittany was ready to try again.

 

By January 2013, after two months using the iMRS, Brittany was strong enough for the 2.5 hour drive to the new doctor's office.  From the moment he walked in the room, it was clear that Dr. G had experience with patients as ill as Brittany.  He was very cautious in introducing any new treatments, because he recognized the potential for making her significantly worse. 

 

One of the first medications he recommended helped Brittany's strength increase noticeably.  A bodywork therapy changed her whole-body pain from stabbing to aching (a welcome improvement!).  The GI issues she had been dealing with started to resolve, and the severe abdominal pain that had plagued her disappeared.  The painful skin rash she had suffered with vanished.   In July 2013, Brittany had her first experience with a pain medication slightly reducing her constant headache.  In August 2013, Brittany experienced a dramatic reduction in her headache.  For two years, her baseline had been 8/10 on the pain scale.  For one amazing hour, her pain lowered to a 3/10.  For several days afterward, her pain fluctuated between 4/10-7/10.  This was an amazing breakthrough and gave Brittany hope that she would indeed get well. 

 

Center Stage Dance Academy, June 2005, 10 years old.

Northern California Dance Conservatory, May 2007,

12 years old.

Northern California Dance Conservatory, Fall 2009,

14 years old.

Fall, 2011,

16 years old

One of many ER visits

September 2012, 17 years old

Brief but dramatic pain relief, August 2013, 18 years old.

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