Upper Cervical Advocate Blogger: An Interview with Julie Horton

by The Atlas of Life on February 3, 2010

Julie HortonTwo weeks ago, I posted an interview with Dr. Kevin Broome, a long time sufferer of Meniere’s disease.

This week, I am interviewing Julie Horton. Julie is an upper cervical patient advocate. She, too, was a sufferer of Meniere’s disease before discovering the power of Upper Cervical Chiropractic.

She started a blog called Upper Cervical Advocates which you can check out here.

I’m grateful Julie could take time out of her schedule to answer some questions for The Atlas of Life.

Dr. Harshe: You were diagnosed as having Meniere’s disease a while back. Can you tell us what it was like living through that condition?

Julie: “I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease about five years ago after my second vertigo attack.  At that time I had no idea what was wrong with me. I just knew that there was something serious going on inside my body. I had never felt like that before.

The vertigo spells, which came out of nowhere, were so severe that there’s no way to fully describe what I went through other than a horrible, horrible nightmare. I would get so dizzy that I couldn’t stand or walk by myself, see clearly or speak full sentences without a lot of effort.  It was almost a paralyzing feeling yet I could feel everything at the same time. Every sense in my body would be heighted and felt over exaggerated. The visual disturbances were horrifying.  The room would look like it was waving up and down and yet it would look like it was coming at me at the same time.  I would feel like I was spinning yet it would feel like I was being pushed and pulled at the same time. I would vomit dozens of times.  And my heart rate would skyrocket.   One time it was up to over 160 bpm during an attack.  Can you imagine how that felt?  At times I would wonder if I was going to have a heart attack right there.  And my body would feel like it was on fire, like I needed to jump in a pool of ice water.

I would say, no matter what it looked like, it felt a thousand times worse. In many of those dark moments, I would say that I’d rather be dead.  I hate putting those words down in writing. It doesn’t even sound like me. But in those moments, I was feeling that defeated.

After the attacks I would be exhausted and feel off balanced. I would also experience brain fog. And at times it felt like my brain wasn’t working like it should. I sometimes felt confused or slow to understand if too many things were going on at once. Despite all of this, I had people tell me, “But you look pretty good,” and I would think “Are you kidding me?”  That’s when I realized that I felt worse than I actually looked.  Inside I felt like I was some sort of freak mad scientist’s project. Everyday there was some sort of internal struggle that no one could see.

I would feel better (but still not normal) for periods at a time, as I learned how to adjust to “my new normal.” But then out of what seemed like nowhere I would have another violent attack. They were so bad at one point that I had endolymphatic-mastoid shunt surgery to try to ease the symptoms. Several months later, the attacks came back at full force. I was having severe vertigo spells every day, sometimes multiple times a day.”

Dr. Harshe: How did Meniere’s disease interfere with your life and activities?

Julie: “It messed up my head!  My sense of security had been ripped out right underneath me.  I wouldn’t go anywhere for days after an attack. I would even be afraid to walk to my mailbox without my cell phone or “dizzy pills” just in case I had an attack.  When I would get brave enough to go to the store by myself, I would sometimes panic wondering if I was going to have an attack right there in Wal-Mart!  Simple errands that I had done a thousand times before without even thinking twice about were made difficult. It was always in the front of my mind – wondering if “IT” was going to happen again.

I am a very active person, competing in triathlons, 5k’s, half marathons, so this new kind of lifestyle was absolutely devastating.  There were many times when I wondered how I ever even did any of that stuff before.  I would think, “Did I really move like that before?” because after an attack when I was feeling “off” I would barely turn my head. I would turn my body instead of turning my head because I would get dizzy.  I wouldn’t bend over to pick something up; I would bend down and pick it up.  I would use my toes or feet to pick stuff up off the ground so I wouldn’t have to bend over.  And the thought of being in a POOL?  Gross. It made me nauseous just thinking about it. Another realization of how much I USED to move my body. I was now just moving forward instead of moving freely, like a body is supposed to.

I also stopped socializing as much.  Going into a crowded room, a restaurant, a bar, the gym was pure torture!  The noise, the lights (bright or dim) and the movement made me extremely weird and nervous. In the meantime I had lost almost all the hearing in my right ear because of my “Meniere’s Disease.”  So socializing also became a real chore, as I would have to struggle to hear people.  Sometimes I would just give up trying and just sit back and be a spectator.”

Dr. Harshe: How did you discover Upper Cervical Chiropractic?

Julie: “Now this is a good story! It was an incredible (coincidence?) the way I found Dr. Nathan Vuagniaux.  He made a flyer on Upper Cervical Care as a last minute decision to put in a 5k race goodie bag that I had received.  I had signed up for the race weeks prior, but at the time of the race I was sicker than I had ever been in my life and unable to participate.  I’m so glad he made that flyer because if he hadn’t, I may have made the biggest mistake of my life… having selective vestibular neurectomy surgery.  I was a week away from my pre-op appointment with my hearing and balance specialist when I found out what was really wrong with me.

I found out that I have a severely misaligned upper cervical spine due to four concussions in my life.  My C1 and C2 vertebrae were so severely misaligned that they were twisting my brainstem causing damage. I was blown away and and in a state of confusion for days as this was so far off from anything I had been told was wrong with me.  I thank God every day for finding the answer and for Dr. Nate making that flyer!  The bizarre and frustrating thing is that Dr. Nate’s office was in my town the whole time and I never even heard of this! Why hadn’t I heard about this before?”

Dr. Harshe: How has your experience been since getting under Upper Cervical Chiropractic care?

Julie: “There was such a jolt to my system after my first correction. It really was like a switch was flipped on after being off for so many years. The severe vertigo attacks stopped!  Up until this point I was having attacks every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It was a miracle.  A few months later my heart rate started dropping down to a more normal beat.  That was really weird because I was so used to feeling like I was shot out of cannon at all times, like my heart was always ahead of my body.  The new heart rate was a great feeling, but it took awhile to acclimate because feeling “normal” was not something I was used to.  I would think “Is this how everyone else feels?  I feel so relaxed!  I hope I don’t become lazy!”

My condition has stabilized and is continuing to improve.  I’m back to work, doing activities that I used to do and working out again, though I’m not completely healed. My upper cervical spine was in such a compromised state for years that it will take some time to restore proper body function and be “normal” again.

I won’t lie; there have been many challenges along the way as my body began to adjust to what normal should be.  I’m a work in progress.  And I go through patterns of not holding my corrections as well at times.  As I challenge myself in new ways, my body has to figure out how to adjust to what I’m asking it to do.  I’ve had a few vertigo spells since my first correction, but just a handful, and they’re not as severe as they used to be.  I know that it will take time to be out of the woods, but I’m confident that I will get there with the help of Upper Cervical care.”

Dr. Harshe: To those suffering from Meniere’s disease, what advice can you offer them?

Julie: “After researching Meniere’s and Upper Cervical Care, I believe Meniere’s is simply a symptom of an upper cervical subluxation.  It was not the cause of my symptoms, but just a name needed by my previous doctor to classify my condition, so he could look up a treatment for my symptoms. I’m sure that will fire up a few doctors out there, but it’s what I believe.  No, I’m not a doctor, but I know what I went through and I don’t believe Meniere’s was my problem.

So my advice to Meniere’s patients would be GO GET CHECKED BY A CERTIFIED UPPER CERVICAL DOCTOR to see if you have a vertebral subluxation. If you have an interference, it could be why you are experiencing “Meniere’s symptoms.” Keep asking your doctor questions. Make him or her listen to you, don’t just settle for “That’s just the disease.  Figure out a way to deal with it.”  And DO NOT sign up for a surgery like I did without getting a second, third, fourth opinion!  There is another alternative to your suffering and I believe that is through Upper Cervical Care. I only wish I had known about this miracle years ago. Educate yourself!”

Dr. Harshe: Tell us about your Upper Cervical Advocates blog. Why did you start it and how has the response been?

Julie: “I just know there are people out there even in my own zip code who are suffering and could be helped by Upper Cervical Chiropractic if they only knew about it!  I have to get information to people.  I can’t stop talking about my miracle and what an incredible doctor that Dr. Nathan Vuagniaux is.  And what better way to spread the word than by blogging about it!

And I think that writing about my experience has helped with my healing process.  I had a lot of anger for a while about this whole ordeal.  I was so confused as to how it could have gotten so out of control.  My life was ruined! How could I have been misdiagnosed for so long? I had surgery for goodness sake!   I realize that my case is a bit rare, but the information WAS out there, we just didn’t find it soon enough.  I don’t want anyone else to suffer unnecessarily.

The response has been great!   I’m tickled that even just one person found my blog. Knowing that I may be helping people keeps me motivated to continue writing about UCC until everyone knows about it! I know I can make a difference, and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to do so.”

Dr. Harshe: As a patient advocate, how do you see the future of Upper Cervical Chiropractic?

Julie: “I would love for my hearing and balance specialist to hear the facts of my Upper Cervical experience and ask him to be open to considering Upper Cervical Care as an alternative to his patients, especially to his Meniere’s patients and especially to his patients who have had head injuries.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents would get their kids routinely checked?  My first concussion and the most severe was when I was just a few years old. I was sitting in a high chair and I kicked myself off the table and fell backwards and hit my head on the cabinet behind me causing my head to fly forward.  By looking at my x-rays now, Dr. Nate explained that he could see that that injury was almost an internal decapitation and is what set the path of my vertebral subluxation.  Of course my parents took me to the ER and were told that I had a concussion and to wake me up every few hours that night.  That’s it.  Do you know how that one moment changed my life forever though the symptoms didn’t show up until YEARS later?  If my parents had only known about Upper Cervical then, my life could be different.  I don’t focus on that for me, but every time I hear one of my friends tell me that their child fell and hit their head, I just cringe. I immediately want to go get that kid and take them to Dr. Nate.  It could change their life.”