Hallucinations & Delusions - Why I Believe Daniel

From seven years of age, through my mid-teens, I battled strep throat two to four times a winter. As dreadful as the headache, sore throat and high fever were, the Procaine Penicillin G, intramuscular injection was worse. And as painful as that was, the hallucinations that followed, during the night of the penicillin injection, were the most dreadful of all, transforming my bedroom into a little den of horrors.

The progression was always the same, as was my inability to call out for help, instead staring helplessly as the same hallucations occured, in the very same order, time after time, year after year.

From the center of my window shade, backlit by the street light, several pair of eyeballs oozed into existence, swirling in a bizarre figure-eight race track pattern. Gradually, the track increased in size, covering one entire bedroom wall. As it expanded, it magnetically drew more pairs of eyes from the window shade until hundreds slowly floated along in the silent dance.

If my sliding closet doors were left open, pallid translucent floating heads materialized, rolling upward like a breath of evening fog sliding in over coastal headlands. I’d wait, terrified the heads would lift and turn towards me, revealing empty sockets where the floating eyeballs belonged.

When the tightness and fear inside my chest became overwhelming, I’d will my eyes, the only part of me that had any muscle response, to shift away, staring at the ceiling. I’d watch in terror, my muscles becoming rigid, the paralysis deepening with each inch the ceiling appeared to move closer to my body. With absolute certainty, I waited for it to crush me. At some point, I’d pant for whatever little air remained in my room-turned-coffin, feeling myself suffocating to death. I have the sense these events lasted anywhere from 20-30 minutes, a horribly long time to suffer when you’re convinced every breath may be your last.

From the very first episode at age 7, I tried any number of ways to explain the occurrences to my mother. Her responses ranged from, “you just had a bad dream” to “you have a good imagination and are just trying to come up with an excuse to avoid the penicillin shot”. Yeah, well….

One night, in my 14th year of life, I heard my mother’s voice calling to me. Her voice seemed impossibly tiny, sounding miles removed from where I lay, wide-eyed, paralyzed, staring at the ceiling. If I had been able to respond, I would have said, “not now, please, I’m busy trying to breath”. The ceiling, seemed to respond to her presence, moving down a mere fraction of an inch above my panting chest, the closest it had ever been to me.

Again, she called. “I’m here”, I silently screamed in my head to her, aggravating the crushing strep-throat headache. Her plantive tiny high-pitched command, “wake up”, turned to ultra-fast screams for my father “come, come, come, here, here, here, here, she’s paralyzed, she isn’t moving, I can’t shake her, shake her, shake her, please help help help…..”.

I wondered if we’d all been turned into little mice-sized people transported to some strange mountaintop land of echos. Later she told me she’d been kneeling next to my bed, shaking me by my shoulders, attempting to restore me back to life.

I don’t remember being carried to the living room couch. At some point, as my father called it, I “came back to them”. Wrapped in a heavy blanket, gripping a warm cup of tea, I re-oriented myself, watching my parent’s worried faces as they questioned each other, trying to pull together the details of why my mother woke with a start at 3 a.m. A noise, perhaps?

Checking the sleeping household she discovered the noise, if there had been one, could never have come from me. I was occupied mimicking a wide-eyed translucent white marble statue, equally cold to her touch.

They asked me to give them details of what I had experienced. Their heads hung low, recognizing the familar story, knowing they’d never made a connection between my “dreams” and any possible drug reaction.

My father eventually returned to his bed, hoping to get a little more sleep before work. My mother and I remained awake, me still gripping the solid warmth of the tea mug, she lost in deep, sad sighs. At first light, she wore off nervous energy pacing between kitchen and living room, staring longingly at the telephone as if she could will the doctor’s office to open early.

The doctor confirmed I’d experienced an “allergic reaction to the penicillin”, while chiding me that he wished I’d “spoken up a lot earlier but well, we’re happy…very happy…you’re here….you’re fine…just no more penicillin shots for you!”. Every fifth syllable was punctuated with a gentle pat on my back.

It’s only now, years later, that I realize it was probably the “procaine” component of the injection to which I was allergic, and NOT the penicillin. Most of my symptoms I experienced – including “hallucination, confusion, anxiety and fear of impending death” – are listed in the production information section of the King Pharmaceuticals website.

Like so many other intense experiences in life, this one has multiple practical applications and lessons. First, it left me with absolutely no desire to join my peers in recreational drug use. As far as I was concerned, I’d been an unwilling participant 16-24 times over an 8-year period. Amoxicillin pills freed me from the Procaine Penicillin G’s ticket-to-ride and there wasn’t any way anyone could ever talk me into getting back on that long black train to what felt like the edge of death.

Spiritually, I always felt I’d been preserved, saved, and mercifully spared.

As thankful as I was for the desire it gave me to “just say NO”, I am even more thankful now because I believe Daniel’s hallucations are real, and not just a result of an overactive imagination.

(to be continued in “Hallucinations & Delusions – Leaky Gut Syndrome”)

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