Falling roof tile turns 47-year-old nurse’s life upside down

"I couldn't tolerate the images of trees flashing by"

Kitty Verloop will never forget the heavy storm that raged on 18 January 2018. When she opened her front door, the 47-year-old nurse from Lisserbroek had no idea that only 5 minutes later her life would be turned upside down. Kitty's husband pulled her straight back inside when she was struck by a dislodged roof tile. Initially, Kitty didn’t seem to have been too badly hurt. "I had a wound right along my hairline, which was stitched straight away when I got to the medical centre. I did not feel sick to my stomach, nor did I feel dizzy." The only thing she noticed was that natural light was too bright for her. Her GP reassured her and advised Kitty to take it easy for two weeks. "Then you can go back to work," he said. Kitty spent most of those two weeks lying on the sofa, too tired to do anything. “Sounds were deafening, as if they were amplified. Visitors’ voices were often too loud and we had to turn the sound down on the TV." 

Fresh air

Kitty's GP advised her to take the dog for a walk to get some fresh air. “So that's what I did. I felt better outside than indoors. But if I happened to walk just a bit too long, I would feel a huge bang in my head. It was debilitating and I would have trouble just making it back home.” Eight weeks and some ups and downs later, Kitty returned to work on a therapeutic basis. "But after two hours of replenishing cupboards, I was completely exhausted," said Kitty, who was driven to and from work by her husband during that time. “There was no way I could drive. The rows of trees that line the road on the way to work drove me crazy. I had to keep my eyes closed; I couldn't tolerate the flashing images of those trees. Shopping at quiet times was sheer torment. There were simply too many stimuli. If someone was ahead of me at the checkout counter, I would get such a weird feeling in my head that I thought I would faint. My world got smaller and smaller by the day." 

Incomprehension in social surroundings

In the end, the GP was unable to help Kitty. "That's why I insisted on being referred to a neuropsychologist." She taught her how to anticipate the loud bang in her head and also advised Kitty to take it easy as soon as it occurred. When Kitty felt that this approach was aimed at dealing with her situation, she decided to stop going to the neuropsychologist. "I didn't want to learn how to live with my disability; I just wanted to get rid of it completely." 2018 was a survival year for Kitty. "You want to move forward. And you just can’t." Meanwhile, Kitty noticed that there were some in her social surroundings who didn’t appreciate her situation. "If I had to cancel plans again, they would say ‘gosh, aren’t you over it yet?'. The problem is that there is no visible evidence of your ailment. Even my own children, aged 14 and 16, were like ‘Mom, it's done now, okay?'. 

Unbearable sounds

The turning point came for Kitty when she visited a clothing trade fair with a friend and the music in the event hall was turned up too loud. “It was harrowing; far, far too loud for me. I just couldn't stand it." Kitty decided she could not go on like that and decided to visit the Functional Neurology Institute in Lisse. "I had been there before when we suspected our children were dyslexic." With that experience in mind, Kitty could hardly wait to hear her diagnosis. "The examinations and tests showed that my auditory nerve was damaged in three places. Furthermore, one eye was unable to keep track of rapid movements and the sight in my other eye was weak." 

Pieces of the puzzle fell into place

All the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for Kitty. “It explained why I couldn't tolerate those rows of trees flashing by or why I couldn’t keep track of moving images on my computer screen at work." Right from her very first session in the GyroStim, a high-tech computer-controlled chair that can rotate around its axes in different directions helping clinicians to cure patients of their neurological complaints, Kitty noticed that something was changing in her head. "I felt tingling, like tiny pinpricks and I felt a pulling sensation in my eye." This first GyroStim session heralded the first signs of Kitty’s recovery. "I noticed that when sitting in the waiting room. The first few times there I had to wear earplugs because I couldn't bear the background music, but after a few treatments I noticed that the music didn’t bother me." 

Proper guidance

Kitty is very pleased with the professional specialist. "He has a lot of specialised knowledge and is very pleasant to deal with. He is very plain-spoken, but on the other hand gives you a pat on the back exactly when you need it. Before starting each treatment, he warns you how rough it might be for you. If he says that you will be very tired the first few days after the treatment, you’d better believe it." The professional specialist also encouraged Kitty to slowly raise the bar. “Progress sometimes means having to push through a barrier. It's just like gaming; getting to a higher level is not easy,” as Kitty now knows. "But there is no lack of guidance and support in your efforts." 

Rapid progression

Kitty says the practice in Lisse exudes warmth and kindness. "Everyone is friendly and personable and addresses you by your first name, unlike in hospitals, where you are often only a number, not a human being.” Three months after starting with three treatment sessions a week in April 2019, the frequency was down to once a week. Satisfied with her rapid progression, Kitty hopes that other people who suffer TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) will make their way to the Functional Neurology Institute. “There are many out there who have been suffering TBI complaints for years, but whose cry for help has fallen on deaf ears. The key to recovery is here in Lisse. As far as I'm concerned, they deserve a medal, if not a statue." 

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