Healing pain from a life-altering motor vehicle collision
A doctor’s case report
Doris is a 78-year-old woman. In November 2015, she sustained life-threatening injuries in a car collision. Doris remembers driving down the road, preparing to make a turn, and hearing a loud voice in her head say, “You are going to die!”
Doris found herself yelling, “Nooo!!!” At the same moment, she wondered why she was yelling out loud, since she was alone in the car. The next thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital. She’d been in a coma for more than six days.
Doris sustained traumatic displaced fractures of three ribs, two cervical vertebral fractures, along with a fracture and dislocation of the left clavicle. She also had severe traumatic brain injury and intracranial bleeding from severe head trauma. Her daughter reported that while she was in the hospital, Doris would mention that her deceased mother would come to visit her. The daughter asked Doris what grandmother wanted and Doris said, “She wants me to go with her.” Doris had replied to her mother “I’m not ready to go.”
After one month in the hospital, Doris was discharged to a nursing facility where she remained for 3-½ months. She required assistance with all daily activities of living, like bathing and dressing, help with transfers, and help to go to the restroom. She required the use of a wheelchair and later a walker. Doris did not want to use narcotic pain medication. While convalescing in the nursing home she weaned herself off all opiates.
Seven years prior to the car collision, Doris had had a two vessels coronary artery bypass graft with aortic valve replacement. She has not had any chest pain or shortness of breath since her bypass graft. Due to the multiple rib fractures however, breathing had become quite painful and the pain in her chest at times almost unbearable.
After being discharged from the nursing facility, Doris started going to the Blu Room once a week in 2015. Her progress was gradual, she was unable to drive, still needing considerable assistance, all her movements were very slow, her balance being impaired and her memory poor.
In 2016 she was able to use the Blu Room for two weeks every day. When she began these two weeks of daily Blu Room visits, she needed help to be able to lay down on the table and to transfer and could not get up by herself. After two weeks of daily treatment, she had substantially decreased pain and was able to get up by herself. “I almost jumped off the table by myself!” she proudly says.
Doris experienced an enormous difference with decreased pain through regular Blu Room use, which was a relief beyond the descriptive power of words.
Chronic pain can be a devastating experience for patients who live with it, often leading to severe depression, hopelessness, substantially impaired functionality in life. Pain can become an all life consuming experience of suffering. The gift of relief from this through the Blu Room without the need for debilitating use of mind-altering pain relief drugs has been of unspeakable value for Doris.
Since the rib fractures were displaced, they were unable to heal appropriately, and she still was experiencing substantial pain with movement, walking, laying down, and any position change. Doris was determined not to take any chronic pain medications at any time because she did not want the side effects of clouding her mind and her ability to think.
After the motor vehicle accident, it had been recommended to Doris to undergo neurosurgical treatment for the two vertebral fractures in her neck. Doris declined and was able to progress with her healing without surgery. She was in a hard collar neck brace for several months. Unfortunately, since her rib fractures were unable to completely heal as the bones were dislocated and the shattered left clavicle fracture was causing pain when she was laying down – she felt compression to the soft tissue in her neck occasionally giving her even a choking sensation. Most recently in early 2018, during a re-evaluation by a surgeon regarding the option to repair the dislocated non-healed left clavicle fracture, Doris opted against surgical intervention at her age. She prefers to heal herself.
In fact, her right shoulder had substantially decreased mobility due to previous injury from the accident. Since starting the Mercy Blu Room program she developed increased range of motion in her right shoulder. Now she can lift her arm and shoulders, reach for things, and comb her own hair.
Her overall mobility in her arms and upper torso have improved so much since April 2018 that Doris can drive again. She hadn’t been physically able to do so since the accident. Doris also no longer uses a walker. She’s careful not to fall and she moves slow, but well enough to not have to utilize an assistive device. She fights for her independence of living alone and says, “I clean corners” meaning she cleans her house a little at a time and then sits down and rests, but she does it all herself. She can even use her own vacuum cleaner. Only someone with her experience understands what a miracle that is.
For many months Doris had difficulty sleeping due to ongoing pain. Her sleep has significantly improved with her Blu Room use. She proudly says, “Now I sleep like a log!”
Doris feels that her mood is uplifted, and she is much improved. To maintain a willful optimistic and enthusiastic outlook when physical suffering is ongoing for so long is an extraordinary feat.
Throughout her journey, the Blu Room has been healing Doris significantly and on many levels of her Being. Doris felt that the Blu Room was helping her to recover an enthusiasm about Life and support her determination to be able to master this challenge mindfully, emotionally, and physically.
Doris has been using her focus to continually heal herself. Due to the severe brain injury she had developed significant memory loss and problems with her balance. Gradually with ongoing use of the Blu Room her memory started improving. Doris has been going into the Blu Room with specific intents like healing her brain from memory loss. She would diligently work with her healing focus in the Blu Room and noticed that her ability to concentrate was improved and deepened.
Doris notes that she also underwent a profound personality transformation. She has been able to be more allowing of others and letting go of control in her life. Doris feels that the extraordinary challenge of surviving from this motor vehicle accident and continually fighting to improve her physical and mental function has brought a wisdom and peace to her, and the Blu Room has been supporting her to hold that tranquil peaceful place in her daily life.
At 78 years old Doris marvels at her own recovery, her determination to heal, and prides herself that she’s living independently, taking care of herself.
Throughout the years since the accident her goal was to master her own suffering and the mischievous twinkle in her eyes shows her knowing that she’s doing it! Doris feels the Blu Room has been a tremendous gift in supporting her healing and rehabilitation to a functional life.
Ana Maria Mihalcea, M.D. June 2018
Supervising physician, Mercy Blu Room program