The Diary of a Neurofeedback Girl (2)
‘It has been a few weeks since our initial appointment,’
‘So what I want to do first is carry out a shorter Q EEG test – this time only with your eyes shut – to see if your brain activity has changed since we first met’ said Ms Brain, when we met for the second time today. And when she analysed the results she said something that I was quite amazed at – ‘The results are interesting – they show more activity than your previous result. I’m not saying that your brain isn’t screwed up – it’s still screwed up, but just that you had more activity today. Are your tired or stressed?’ ‘It is quite unbelievable,’ I thought. ‘She really does seem to know what is happening in my brain.’ I’m was a bit scared. I was definitely doing more thinking in that test than the absolutely no thoughts that I had in the previous test. I wasn’t thinking loads but I was doing more thinking. So, I said to her, ‘In the last test I was more tired than I am today and also I am more stressed today I was last time so I guess these things could have impacted on my brain activity’.
‘What we are going to do first is magnetic stimulation,’ said Ms Brain. ‘It’s very gentle. I have to go very slowly with someone with epilepsy because we don’t want to provoke seizures.’ And then she put four little black boxes on my head, which reminded me of tefillin – the black boxes which contain the words of the most sacred of all Jewish prayers – the shema – which Jewish men wear in the morning to pray (as far as I know, although I don’t know for sure, the magnetic boxes did not contain the word of God but I’m convinced that She is involved in the process somehow).
And then I felt it – a sensation I had felt before. A long long time ago, before I was diagnosed with epilepsy, I took part in a weekly psychodrama group. Much of it was role playing out different parts of my internal and external life (both real and make believe) and I had an enormous amount of respect for my therapist who was a Wise One. After a year or so (OK I’ve made that bit up – I don’t know how long I had been in the group exactly because that’s just not the sort of thing that I know, but it was a relatively large amount of time) of seeing her she said to me to me ‘Sharon there is something wrong with your brain. Have you ever been hit on the head?’ ‘As it happens, yes I have’, I said. ‘When I was eight or so I was in a hotel bathroom and slipped on the floor and hit my head. My parents were in the restaurant downstairs (this was completely acceptable and even the norm in those days) and my nine-year-old sister was looking after me and my brother. She called my parents and they came back from their meal but I didn’t go to the doctor as the bleeding stopped and I was fine. However, now there is a small patch on my head where hair doesn’t grow.’ ‘Do you know if you were unconscious at any point?’ the Wise One asked. ‘Probably not. I guess theoretically I could have been for a moment or two but if I was no one knew about it.’ ‘I suggest you go and see a cranial sacral therapist,’ she said. ‘Maybe they will be able to help you.’
Thinking about it now, it was a bit odd that I was not disturbed at the thought that the Wise One thought that there was something wrong with my brain but nevertheless I faithfully went off and made an appointment with a cranial sacral (CS) therapist. For those of you that don’t know this CS therapy involves evoking the CS system within the body which according to its proponents enables the body to find its own natural ability to heal itself. It was a joyous and beautiful experience. As I lied down on a therapy bed my therapist (one of those people who have been there, bought the tea-shirt and grown from it) put her hands on my head and sort of massaged it. Sort of. Generally, I don’t like massages. They don’t do anything for me. But this was very very gentle. And it was like the first time in my life I felt relief. I felt free. I was alive. OK, the changes weren’t permanent but it was definitely worth paying for the experience. And that was what the electrical stimulation felt like – it wasn’t as intense as the CS – it wasn’t as beautiful but there was some relief and that made me feel like there might possibly, if I prayed hard enough and God willed it so, be an end in sight (or even better – a new beginning).
But that wasn’t the end of the session. After that I played the strangest ‘game’ I have ever played. With my wired-up cap on, I became an aeroplane. That is, I became an aeroplane flying on a computer game and my task was to fly through the green hoops. Except I didn’t have a console. And if I blinked or moved my head to somehow physically move the plane I was told that I should try not to do that as it caused difficulties for the computer programme. No, the task was to simply think my way through the green hoops. ‘Up, up’ I thought. ‘Higher, oh dear, oops. Concentrate’ It is difficult to say how I was flying the aeroplane but I knew this – I was thinking my way through the task. The programme was responding to me. It was not made up hocus pocus. I’ve got no idea how I scored, but Ms Brain told me that I was doing quite well. Let’s hope I keep on winning.