Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An update on me

I am still experiencing mild dizziness, mild anxiety and I cannot sleep BUT I can tell that I am getting better with every day that passes. I have been going to an ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor), a masseuse, an audiologist and I have a holistic doctor appt. tomorrow. It has been crazy with all the running around lately but it seems that I am following the correct path to recovery.

12/23-The ENT diagnosed me with vestibular neuritis over labyrinthitis. The only difference is labyrinthitis sufferers experience hearing loss and my tests have came back normal so far. The audiologist tested me before I saw the ENT. She found that the virus is likely in my right ear. She did lots of testing for hearing and balance. I passed the hearing test but my balance was off which indicates that one of my inner ears isn't functioning properly (duh, we already knew that, lol). She had me close my eyes and march in place for about a minute. When I opened my eyes, I had moved forward (which is normal) but then I turned to face the right side of the room. That is an indicator that the damage is in my right ear. This is all preliminary but we will have a further diagnosis soon.

12/29-I saw the audiologist again for a VEMP (Vestibular-Evoked Myogenic Potential) test. I had to turn my head to tighten my neck muscles during it. I had electrodes on my neck muscles and just below them. She placed a plug into one ear at a time and then it would play some loud sounds while I strained my neck muscle. It was awkward but didn't hurt. I don't know what the results of the test were but it will be a piece of the puzzle once all of my testing has been completed.

12/31-I have an interesting appointment with a holistic doctor up in Fort Collins tomorrow. It's strange how I got hooked up with her. I have never been a person to believe in natural medicine (where are the good drugs???), lol. What happened was I went to the spa to get a massage earlier this month (Clayton bought me 3 for Christmas-gotta love that man!). My masseuse knew exactly what I was going through on the anxiety side. She had suffered major anxiety attacks stemming back 5 years ago when she was involved in a car accident, lost 3 family members and her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She had really been put through the ringer that year, to say the least. We compared symptoms and we had many similarities (fear, withdrawal behavior from normal activities, headaches, inability to sleep, mind racing, distorted vision, etc.). I asked her what all she did to get rid of the anxiety and she told me that she tried lots of different methods that involved all sorts of doctors, counselors, gurus, quacks, etc. The one person that helped her the most was the holistic gal that I will be seeing tomorrow. She told me that I needed to be open-minded about my experience and to trust her. It's worth a shot, in my opinion. If my masseuse can go through all that misery and come out okay on the other side then this gives me hope.

1/7-My VNG test is scheduled for this day but I keep trying desperately to get the appt. sooner. This will be the best test I can do to pinpoint my inner ear issue. Once I get this test over with, the audiologist will be able to help me regain my eye coordination using vestibular rehabilitation therapy. Basically, I have to retrain my damaged nerve to work correctly so that it can function properly. I dread the prep for this test because I won't be able to take any meds 48 hours beforehand. Ugh, I don't need Valium all that often (only when my ear starts to bother me and I get dizzy or anxious) but not taking Ambien is going to be hard. I did somehow manage to go to sleep on my own last night so hopefully I can get back into my normal sleep habits before the VNG. I just don't like knowing that I won't be able to take anything 48 hours before it. That scares me just a little bit. 4 hours before the test, I can't eat or drink. I hope that I don't get a headache or lightheaded.

1/14-All the tests will have been interpreted by now so the puzzle will finally come together. I will hopefully know exactly what I am dealing with at this point and how damaged my vestibular nerve is. I will begin VRT (vestibular rehabilitation therapy) on this day with exercises that have been prescribed just for me and my condition. I can't wait!!

2/3-I go back to the ENT for a check-up. This will have been 6 weeks since he diagnosed me with vestibular neuritis.

I know that is alot of jibber jabber but I needed to write all of this down so that my family back home can track my progress. Sorry for the lack of fun stuff. I do have some pics to post soon of my family ice skating and on Christmas morning. ;)

The vestibular system is the part of the inner ear and the brain which helps control balance and eye movement. Although your balance system is located primarily in the inner ear, it is connected with the brain, the eyes and the sensory nerves throughout your body. Each of these centers sends and receives messages to the others causing you to feel dizziness when there is damage to the vestibular nerve.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy 10th Anniversary to My One & Only

Let me just say that the anniversary band was a complete surprise. I have always said that I would like one for our 10th but I honestly didn't expect it.

Today is our anniversary but we celebrated over the weekend. Clayton first surprised me on Saturday by having Aunt Steph take the kiddos. Then he took me to a nice hotel in downtown Denver where we got upgraded to a suite. There was wine and cheese waiting for us in the room. I couldn't believe it! He then gave me my ring. We went to Randolph's for a fabulous dinner and then took a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride down 16th St. It was a beautiful night and not too cold. We had such a good time.

Not to be Debbie Downer but we had a horrible night that night. We fell asleep just after midnight and woke up to fits of crying/screaming in the hallway. There was a totally drunk girl in the hall that would not go to her room (which happened to be next to us). The cops were called because hotel management couldn't do anything. I was ticked and so we got moved to the presidential suite just so we could get some sleep. It was insane. We were wide awake after that so we didn't get much sleep that night. Oh well, at least it made for a funny tale, lol.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Praise the Lord!! I Have A Diagnosis

You guys would not believe the heck I have been through over the past month. I began having constant panic attacks, nausea, sweating, heart racing, blurry vision, vertigo, dull ringing in ears (I can't stand not to have background noise or talk on the phone), nervousness, lightheadedness and just plain couldn't function. It has been awful. I was taken to the ER back on 11/14 because I thought that I was dying. I had electric shock waves through my head and racing thoughts. I also sweat a lot and couldn't sleep. The worry about the weird feelings is what brought on the anxiety and panic attacks. I have had an extremely hard time dealing with life ever since.

I decided last week to turn to God. The doctors at the ER and my general practitioner thought that I was just highly anxious. No prescriptions seemed to help. They couldn't help me. My GP prayed for me and then told me about his church. I decided to take the kiddos and my neighbor last Sunday. It was wonderful! I had a hard time focusing but I really loved the sermon. I have to laugh because the first half of the sermon was hard for me to sit still because I felt like I might embarrassingly pass out. The good news is that my doctor and his wife (who is also a doctor) were sitting beside us. If I were to pass out, that would have been a good place to do it, lol. Anyway, I prayed that night and cried forever as I asked him into my heart. It felt so good that words cannot describe it. I decided to spend the evening with my family rather than the bed that night because I felt so good. Well, that unfortunately didn't last too long. Evidently I needed the spiritual love but I spiraled again the next day and all the bad symptoms came back.

This week has been horrendous. I have tried to deal with the anxiety but finally had a total lapse yesterday. I couldn't function and I knew I couldn't drive. My vision was so bad and the room was spinning. My stomach just wanted to vomit. I called Clayton and got him to come home early for work. We went to the Urgent Care place in Loveland rather than my GP this time. Thank God I did!! When I went in, I couldn't even focus my eyes. Clayton had to fill out my paperwork for me. The nurse was disturbed and couldn't figure out what to do with me. I couldn't look directly at her and the room was wildly spinning. I thought that I was going to faint. The doctor comes in and starts asking lots of questions. I didn't mention the word "anxiety" because I didn't want her to write me off as just being anxious like the ER did. She listened and said not to worry because she could help me. I was shocked! How come it took so long to find someone who understood? If the ER couldn't figure me out, how could she? Well, she had been through it before herself. I was told that this will go away and she could help me do it. What a relief that was to hear for the first time! I fully believe that God led me to this woman. If I hadn't of found her, I would still be suffering. BTW-She said that this could not be total anxiety I was experiencing because I would not have problems with the room spinning. Rooms don't spin with anxiety.

This is what is going on-labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis. My vestibular nerve is to blame. It is aggravated and it sure lets me know it, lol. It controls our overall balance. The brain, eyes and ears are all connected so my head is one big playground run by a bully right now. A regular ear exam looked clear because I had no problems with the part that the doctors can simply look into. The CT scan I had done while in the ER could never have spotted this either. They can detect middle ear infections but not this (which was originally what they thought I may have because they can cause the same symptoms). The big difference is that a middle ear infection can be treated with antibiotics because it is bacterial. My problem is a virus so it cannot be treated in the same fashion. I am now on steroids to help the inflammation and another med to battle the dizziness. I will also have to retrain my damaged nerve to work properly once again. If I cannot do it using the techniques the doctor showed me then I will move on to physical therapy with a neuro doctor.

Check out this:
Chronic anxiety is a common side effect of labyrinthitis which can produce tremors, heart palpitations, panic attacks, derealization and depression. Often a panic attack is one of the first symptoms to occur as labyrinthitis begins. While dizziness can occur from extreme anxiety, labyrinthitis itself can precipitate a panic disorder.

Anyway, sorry for the long post on medical mumbo jumbo but I just had to get this out. I am so happy now that I have a diagnosis and I know I am going to make it. It may be 6 months before I am totally normal but hey, I will take it any day over thinking that I am just crazy. My poor hubby deserves a gold medal for all that he has had to deal with lately. I am sure he is glad to finally have his wife back. God is good!!