Mike Brignac’s Journey From Dystonia To Freedom
By Kerri Cooke
I first interviewed Mike Brignac about his battle against dystonia in 2014. He had developed dystonia in August 2010, when he was helping clean-up after the BP oil spill in Mobile, Ala. A refrigeration company leaked anhydrous ammonia, and the day after the chemical release Brignac started exhibiting symptoms.
Dystonia is a neurological disease that causes abnormal muscle contractions. These muscle contractions can either be constant or irregular depending on each specific case. These involuntary movements can cause contortions of the body. The cramps travel from one muscle group to next closest muscle group throughout the body. Dystonia can be worsened by intentional movements made by a person because it can set off a chain reaction of involuntary movements that can travel into nearby muscles.
In 2014, Brignac was walking with a limp, teaching at F.K. White Middle School and helping raise five kids. But his dystonia got much more debilitating in the following years.
Shortly after we talked, one of Brignac’s doctors discovered lesions on the bilateral basal ganglia in his brain, the obvious cause of the dystonia, through a brain scan. (This was a breakthrough because Brignac mentioned that once doctors heard that he was in an industrial accident, they clammed up.) The bilateral basal ganglia is also the part of the brain that is affected in Parkinson’s patients. Brignac mentioned that dystonia affects 40 percent of Parkinson’s sufferers.
Brignac’s new doctor prescribed him a dopamine-based medication and a muscle relaxer. But still there was no cure for his disease.
By 2016, Brignac couldn’t leave the house without a wheelchair. The whole right side of his body was twisted and cramped from his face all the way down to his foot. Brignac described the pain as being like a “charley horse all over your body. And that’s the baseline. The bad days were worse.” Brignac was also forced to retire from teaching.
Brignac could tell the disease was progressing into his left side, and in 2017, things came to a head.
In October 2017, Brignac fell out of his wheelchair and injured his back, which led him to being bedridden for a couple of weeks. He began watching videos on YouTube to pass the time.
The Power of the Subconscious Mind, published in 1963, was a book Brignac had read in college and he found the audio on YouTube. When in college, after Brignac had read the book, his grades went from poor to excellent, so he knew the concepts in the book worked.
As Brignac was flipping through these videos, YouTube suggested a video by Neville Goddard. Goddard died when Brignac was two, but Brignac marveled at how this man, long dead, was speaking the things he needed to hear at the moment through modern technology.
Brignac says Goddard quoted scripture, talked about changing your thought process and about how God is in us. (I will note that The Power of the Subconscious Mind and Goddard’s speeches will not appeal to everyone as they offer a broad view of religion and are more about spirituality. Think new-age concepts.)
Brignac continued by talking about faith and how he began thinking about Mark 11:24, which says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours (NIV). Brignac began to ponder the concept that “if you just believe… it’s possible.”
In November 2017, Brignac and his daughter had a conversation about all the places they wanted to travel to. The mountains were of particular interest. Brignac ended the conversation by telling his daughter “You know… none of these places are wheelchair friendly.”
As the days passed, Brignac continued to think and “explore the possibilities and power of faith.” He was “spending time being quiet in my imagination.”
On Nov. 23, 2017, Thanksgiving morning, Brignac said he was in bed, feeling a bit sorry for himself and thinking about the conversation he had had with his daughter. He said God asked him, “How are you going to do any of that with dystonia?” He replied, “I can’t.” He said God then answered, “I guess it’s time for dystonia to go.”
Brignac went about his day and didn’t think too much about what had happened. However, the following Monday small changes started to appear.
Brignac had started using his left hand to write because his right hand had been affected by dystonia. Writing with his left hand, however, led to some pretty awful writing. Brignac went to the kitchen to write a grocery list and his daughter exclaimed, “Dad, you’re writing with your right hand!” Brignac said his handwriting was as good as it used to be and that this incident lightened his mood for the rest of the day.
Fast forward to Wednesday. Brignac and his wife, Kim, had attended church service that night. Around 9:30 pm, Brignac wanted to get up to go to the kitchen. He went to grab his crutches but ended up standing without them and walking to the kitchen without any pain. Brignac said his wife told him to “come back here.” She then said, “Walk to the front door. You’re walking normally again!” And he responded, “Let me tell you about this conversation I had.”
The couple decided not to tell the kids but let them notice on their own. The next morning Brignac’s youngest son noticed immediately. “What are you doing? Where’s your crutches?” he asked.
That night the couple had to attend an end of the season banquet for their son Caius. Before leaving for the banquet, Brignac said he started dancing in front of his son in the living room, but Caius was too engrossed with his phone to notice. When Brignac arrived at the school he started walking backwards into the cafeteria. Caius was still engrossed with his phone. Brignac exclaimed, “Caius, I’m healed!” v responded, “Yeah right.” Then Kim said, “No, look!”
When the family got back from the banquet Brignac’s daughter saw him and burst into tears. He said that “she was five at the time I got sick. She had no memory of me being healthy.”
Brignac had a different strategy when it came to telling family and friends about his good news. He told his family by having his wife record a video of him in the wheelchair and then jumping out and doing the worm on the floor.
A week after Brignac stepped out of his wheelchair is when SWLA had our last significant snow. This time he sent his friends a video of him doing cartwheels in the snow.
Brignac says he hasn’t had any symptoms since that fateful Wednesday. Brignac sold his wheelchair, got rid of his crutches and has never look back. I asked him if he has had another brain scan. He said, “I haven’t been back to the doctor at all. I don’t need proof. I am the proof. How I feel is the proof. I don’t need a scan to prove I’m healthy.”
Manifesting His Healing
Brignac said one of the exercises he did leading up to his miracle was using the power of his imagination. One time in particular he imagined himself “standing up straight in the kitchen and seeing my wife from the right point of view. I saw her and she said, ‘This is amazing!’”
He said he would pray in his imagination. He noted that one of the definitions of pray in the Strong’s concordance is “motion toward.” He said he had to get into the zone where he was “believing what I want is already mine and capture that feeling.”
He encourages people to think about how you would feel if you had enough money, your dream relationship and perfect health, and just believe that it can and will happen. “We get so caught up in what our reason and senses dictate to us that belief can be the hardest thing to do.”
Brignac also offers hope to anyone struggling. “Anything, no matter how dark and hopeless it feels, nothing is so hopeless that it can’t be resolved. And not just get resolved. Life can completely change… Nothing is impossible at all.”
Living Normal Life Again
I asked Brignac if he and his daughter have gone on any of the trips they discussed. He replied that they haven’t gone to the mountains yet. He thanked me for asking that question and said, “I got what I wanted… even when something wonderful happens, we get caught up in life and forget what we want to do.”
Brignac detailed some small trips he and his family have taken. They recently went to Houston for a long weekend to go shopping, go-kart racing and museum-hopping.
He also recalled going to the BigStuf youth convention in 2017 while still suffering from dystonia. He said he was miserable due to the hot weather, maneuvering his wheelchair on the “rickety boardwalk” and his inability to go onto the sand or near the water. He emphasized, “I really wanted to go out on the beach where everyone else was.” He said a big teenage boy came and lifted him out of his wheelchair and brought him onto the beach. He said he felt “so humiliated that he was that helpless.”
In 2018, he and his family went back to the convention and he was able to enjoy the beach and do all the things healthy people take for granted. He said he “couldn’t have done any of that still sick… I did things I couldn’t do for years.”