Ernest L Riffe ernest at
Sun Dec 17 21:44:02 EST 1995

I am a 23yo male and I have a medical question for anyone and hopefully 
some doctors who may have information or know where to get it. I live in 
Honolulu, Hawaii and would very much enjoy diving if I found that the 
risk was not outweighing the enjoyment. I won't do anything which may 
worsen my stablized neurological condition(s). 
In 1992, I had an accident on North Shore which left me with multiple 
problems. A skull fracture resulted in Hydrocephelus which is currently 
and will always be drained via a VP Shunt. I soon after my accident had 
a seisure which was a one time occurance and was put on Anti-convulsants 
for a year following. I haven't had to take them since Nov 93 and 
haven't had any seisure problems. The next of my problems is one which 
is disturbing because the diagnoses was basically based on it's symptoms 
instead of being able to find any physical damage in my spinal cord. I 
have what has been diagnosed as Brown-Sequard Syndrome which is of 
unknown etiology and manifests itself as a decreased strength in my 
right leg and a lack of pain or temperature on my left side from T6 down 
accompanied by bladder dysfunction which has been diagnosed by a 
urologist as a neurogenic bladder but causes no extreme problems. 
I had been prescribed Nortriptyline as a treatment for migrane headaches 
and in addition to Midrin which I took on the onset. I quit taking 
Midrin when I found that I was up to my daily limit every day. And, 
surprisingly, my headaches were less often after the first two weeks. In 
Dec 94, I was taken off the daily dosage of 100mg of Nortriptyline 
because of an interaction it had with a cold medicine I had gotten for a 
cold. My doctors and I then discovered a new problem, depression. 
Apparently, as I was to find out, Nortiptyline is also used to treat 
depression. I didn't feel "depressed" but exibited all of the classic 
signs including a problem with panic attacks. I was put back on the 
Nortripyline about two months ago andd have only had one panic attack 
since then. Other than that I am healthy. HA! I still have a sense of 
So to review my medical problems and my question:
Problems:  1  Hydrocephelus
           2  Brown-Sequard Syndrome
           3  Previous Seisure Disorder
           4  Depression-Panic Attacks
Questions: 1  Would I be crazy to chance scuba diving with the present 
conditions as I listed above? 
           2  If so, realizing I am still 23, in college, and 
desperately seeking a hobby, what would you recommend? I have other 
interests in skydiving, parasailing, flying (small airraft), and am 
unsure of what would be safe. My doctors seem to be motivated by their 
liability if they tell me I can do something. So they usually cop out 
and say, "I wouldn't recommend it." This is getting aggravating.
          3  Has anyone ever heard of Brown Sequard Syndrome developing 
with no physical signs of damage? I have had multiple MRI's on a regular 
basis and the doctors have not been able to find anything which would 
cause such a problem. The neurology dept at Walter Reed Army Medical 
Center told me that this could have been caused by a blood flow problem 
to the spine in that area which was temporary. It should be noted that 
this condition developed more than a month after the accident and 
started out as massive muscle spasms in my back which lasted for over 8 
hours until I fell asleep from exaustion. I waited in the waiting room 
of Emergency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii for the whole time 
. When I awoke, I found that my left right leg felt weak. 3 hours later 
it wouldn't move, and a week later I got my first toe twitch and started 
my road to recovery which I have found will be a long one. I haven't 
developed strength in some muscles in my right leg. I still haven't 
found any therapy which works for this. 
Please reply via e-mail: ernest at   THANK YOU.

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