God Isn't Finished with Me Yet!
By Dr. Gail Sanders Durgin Ph.D, and Dr. Gregory Garth M.D.
My name is Gregory Garth. I suffered a stroke on March 22, 2004. It's been over two and a half years now. I was not supposed to be at risk for a stroke. I was working as an ear, nose and throat surgeon. I had been doing that for 23 years. That day in March, I began at 5:30 a.m., working out for physical fitness as I have done every day for years. I had a routine day. At the end of the day, I ate supper and went to bed about 10:30. I woke up at 11:00 and my hand and arm were asleep. I thought that it was strange and I tried to get them awake. I went to get out of the bed and fell over. After a few minutes I came to realize that I might be having a stroke. I thought, " I can't believe it. Not me." I dialed the operator at the hospital. I said Yyyyyy. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't even say who I was or anything. Just for a minute, I was able to speak. I think God was there and he said tell them you are Dr. Garth and where you are. I did that and then I couldn't speak anymore. The operator said to hang on the line and we will get someone to come and rescue you. Soon the ambulance came and I don't remember what else happened.
When they took me to the hospital, there was a brief time when I woke up and answered some questions about the stroke. My neurologist said something about clot busters and I said "Yes. Give it to me." I didn't know anymore until three or four days later. When I woke up I couldn't move the right side of my body and I couldn't speak. After a few days, I went off to the rehabilitation center in Charlotte. After about six weeks, I had some functions in my right leg and arm and was doing fairly well. I went through some speech rehabilitation locally for about nine months. By that time I had relinquished my walker, my wheelchair and my AFO, a device to put behind my knee. I functioned without much assistance. Then the speech therapist released me and said that there was no more that she could do for me. The rest will be up to me. I said "OK."
I kept working at my practice, not seeing patients but working on charts and reviews and reviewing the doctors where I worked. I kept going to the wellness center to work out every day. My speech continued to improve to a certain point. In November, almost a year ago, I realized that I wasn't going to get any better on my own and I started searching. My physical therapist said she heard about neurobiofeedback and that it might be helpful for stroke victims. I said "OK. I will look into it." I called and was referred to Dr. Durgin.
I came down for an interview and soon after that Dr. Durgin recorded a quantitative EEG or brain map. Then she mapped out a plan and brought me back for my first session. Initially, she trained the sensory-motor strip. After 2 sessions, I asked if changes could happen that quickly. She said it was unusual but could happen. I told her that I had to think about my right foot when I climbed stairs so that I would not kick the edge of the stair and trip. After the sessions, I could climb the stairs without focusing on my foot and have not tripped to this day. By the fifth session, I was able to stand up from the chair without pushing up with my arms. Soon after that, I was able to balance and put my pants on while standing up. I could also balance on my right foot and hold my left foot up. By session 14, I tried to do pull-ups in the gym and was able to do 2. I am now doing 12 pull-ups, my pre-stroke number.
One day, she was working the sensory-motor area of my back. Later, I got muscle cramps in my back that were painful. I got an MRI but it did not show any problem. The pain gradually improved but sensations moved down my body as she moved the leads and trained different areas. That made a believer out of me that this Neurofeedback was really doing something. She had been treating different parts of my brain and it is amazing the responses that I had. One day during a session, I could feel the return of sensation start in my right arm, travel down my back and then down my leg.
By session 20, my memory had improved while doing routine clerical work and the time I needed to complete it had decreased greatly. My bladder control improved and I no longer woke in the night to urinate or needed to stop to use the rest room while driving to Greensboro.
During the past weeks we have focused on my speech. It has gradually improved. I know it will not be fast but the improvement keeps coming. I think that in the next few months, I am going to take the time so see what I can do to get back into practice. I think this will be the first time anyone has gone back into the practice of ear, nose and throat ever, after a stroke. I am destined to do that. That's my goal.
A note from Dr. Durgin: Dr. Garth has been treated with Neurofeedback or EEG Biofeedback. This involves putting sensors on the scalp and giving visual and auditory rewards to the client when the brain produces the correct frequencies. It has been proven to be effective with many physical and emotional issues.
For more information contact Dr. Gail Sanders Durgin, Neurofeedback Associates, 2311 West Cone Blvd. Suite 227, Greensboro, NC 336-540-1972
Published in Art of Well Being Winter 2006.