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Elisa's Airway Story

Posted on 10/10/2018 by Foundation for Airway Health
Couple walking on a trail

The Dentist Who Made Me Walk

My health history is so complicated, I actually don’t understand it all myself. But one thing I can say for sure is that if I hadn’t happened upon an airway dentist, I might not be walking now. You read that right: the dentist helped me walk again.

I have a very rare autoimmune disease called Dermatomyositis. It means I experience severe inflammation of the skin and debilitating muscle weakness. In January 2016, I felt tired and weak. I went to the doctor and they tested me for Lyme disease and started to administer the usual medication. But that was the wrong diagnosis. Within four days I was in the hospital, completely paralyzed. Every organ of my body was compromised. My stay in the hospital was two weeks shy of four months and when there was nothing left for them to do for me, I was sent home, probably to die. When I was released I had to learn how to do everything all over again – sit, stand shower, eat and walk.

Even though I was no longer paralyzed, my brain just couldn’t get the hang of walking. I felt like I was going to fall. My gait was wide. I was leaning to one side, and I kept falling.

Among the treatments that came up while researching my autoimmune disease was detoxing mercury. When you’re as compromised as I was, you’ll try just about anything to feel normal again. So I went to a dentist to have my old mercury amalgam fillings removed. In my first visit, I talked about my disease and how anxious I was about walking. Then he asked if he could “try something” on me; he had a hunch about my wonky gait. All he did was place cotton along the back of my teeth. That’s all. Then he asked me to walk. I was so desperate for help, I decided to cooperate with this dentist who thought he could help me walk. I transcended my apprehensions, got up from the chair and walked! To my surprise I was walking straight and my gait had normalized.

I became open to a discussion about getting a dental appliance that would position my jaw so that the extremely tight muscles in my back would release. They were still tight from compensating around the damage. When my jaw was properly aligned, my nervous system calmed down and my brain got the right signals for walking properly. I wear it all the time except while eating. It worked like a miracle. My falls started to decline; I was walking straighter and with more confidence.

It took a lot of different treatments to give me my life back after the hospitalization. Like I said, I am a complicated case. The OT and PT brought me closer to walking, but it took a dentist who did an experiment with my brain to fix my gait.
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