Many people mistakenly believe if an individual is paralyzed they have no feelings below their level of injury. Nothing could be further from the truth. After I was injured I was amazed at the amount of discomfort I could feel below my neck. Your nervous system still works, still responds to stimulation, but the problem is the nerves and their ability to communicate with the brain exactly what is happening. The inability of correct interpretation, on the part of the brain, gives rise to an amazing amount of sensations in the rest of the body. Autonomic Dyslexia has already been discussed and the serious life-threatening implications identified. There is, however, another major nerve that runs outside the spine. The vagus Nerve creates an amazing amount of problems for quadriplegics.


Under stimulation the Vagus Nerve causes the body to feel a stimulus that can force it to go into the fight or flight syndrome. Stimulation from the Vagus Nerve has caused me to pass out several times. Last week, I passed out somewhere between 10 – 15 minutes. I was taken to the emergency room and given a battery of tests that showed everything was functioning normally. I usually get an aura of light shortly before I pass out. My doctor has given me a small pill to place under my tongue at the first sign of potential fainting.

Effect of Vagus Nerve on the body

If you look at the picture top right, you can see the normal configurations for my hands. My challenge was how am I going to have the pill regularly accessible and be able to get it in my mouth at the first signs of fainting? Unfortunately, I could not depend on my hands or someone being nearby to assist me. After brainstorming, I came up with the idea of using what is called a bite valve. We then took a piece of wooden dowel that fit in the open end, pushed it part way in, and taped it in place on my necklace with electrical tape. Bite valves have a small slit in the top, which opens up when squeezed by the teeth, allowing water to be drawn from the container. The idea was when the bite valve was squeezed the pill would roll in my mouth. Good idea, but it didn't work.


Recently, I found a little container of tiny glass beads which were purchased for another project that didn't work out, so I decided to try that. By luck, it had a flip cap, which can be opened with my teeth. Marge taped it on the Life Alert necklace I wear all the time solving the problem. Lesson learned, do not give up. Small pill containers are available on E-Bay and online. 

Necklace with attached vial.

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My hands

Water bottle

Close up of cap and bite valve

Slit in bite valve

Slit opened

First try

Second tryp>

Container that worked

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