I was awakened, after being asleep less than 2 hours, by hearing the words: “Ow!, Ow!. Ow!”. Imagine my surprise when I realized the words were coming out of my own mouth. Suddenly I realized just how much pain I was in. My head was at an odd angle and my neck was screaming with pain, my head was throbbing, and my stomach and bladder were causing extreme discomfort. As I hobbled to the bathroom I found the words, “Ow!….” continuing to come from my mouth. (Funny thing, I can’t really hear me say it, but when I woke up it really did sound as if the words were coming from outside my body….strange how deafness works sometimes.)
I stretched my neck and put ice on it and it felt much better, my head was also starting to ease some. The pain in my bladder and stomach were a different story. My stomach literally felt like it was being eaten from the inside out. Over production of acid is not a pleasant feeling. I tried to eat a little something to calm the pain down, I took extra medication for my acid reflux, but it takes time to work. I’ve never had it so bad before, I could not touch my stomach without it causing more pain. I would love to have been able to take Maalox, it was always my go-to fix when my stomach was acting like this, but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find Maalox or any medication like it that I can take, they all have something that will cause my fructose malabsorption to attack. I’m happy to report after a couple of days of a pretty bland diet, and extra acid reflux medication, my stomach is once again pain free…..for now. I do try hard to not eat anything that will cause excess acid production, and I don’t think I did eat anything offending before this, however, stress can also cause excess acid production, and the pain from my bladder was causing me much stress.
When I first saw the doctor here I was having pain in my bladder and she tested my urine and found nothing, I have an irritable bladder and we decided it was just spasming. So when this pain started I thought it may be the same. Unfortunately, this pain kept getting worse and worse. Every time I moved it hurt. Sitting was very painful, so was walking. I’m sure everyone who’s ever had a UTI will also know that I was having to go more than usual, but couldn’t urinate once I got in the bathroom…and it was very painful. All of this started on Sunday, the 3rd, I had just finished my antibiotics and steroids for the bronchitis 2 days before. I couldn’t believe I had an infection again. I upped my already large amount of water I drink, trying hard to flush things out. By Thursday, the 7th, I was convinced it wasn’t irritable bladder talking, something was wrong. So off to see the doctor again. Unfortunately, the doctor I’ve seen before is out on medical leave. (I hope she is alright, I mentioned before that she had pneumonia last month, so I’m a bit concerned.) I saw another doctor in the office. Not someone I really want to see again I felt like he talked down to me, as if I was not able to understand things. Stuart thinks I’m a bit too sensitive, and maybe I am, but this visit started off wrong (and Stuart later told me that he didn’t have a good feeling about this doctor either). I told the doctor I have profound hearing loss and could not hear him. He raised his voice a little, but didn’t look at me when he was talking, it didn’t help when I did see his mouth as he had a lot of facial hair and I couldn’t see his lips well enough. I had to rely on Stuart to tell me what was going on. He asked if I’d been running a fever, I explained that my normal temperature is 97.4F, and it has been around 99F recently. He said, that’s not a fever, everyone fluctuates. (Then why ask me??) I told him about just finishing antibiotics and just couldn’t believe I had an infection so fast….he says that antibiotics don’t stop you from getting something else….but it was the way he said it, as if what I said was stupid. I never said they did, I am just overwhelmed that I’ve been sick so much recently. I asked him about a medication I have for irritable bladder that is expired and wanted to know if I should get a new prescription….he went into this long tirade about how medicines don’t explode after the expiration date, and how there have been studies that medication that hasn’t been opened is good for years after the expiration date. I was so confused at how he was talking to me….and yes I heard most of that. I told him that I know different chemicals have different half-lives, and I didn’t know the half-life of this medication. Well he just went on and on about how drugs are not food and they don’t just lose it because of the expiration date.
He did examine me, but I didn’t feel that he listened to me very much. That’s ok, I talk too much when I’m nervous anyway. He told me my urinalysis was negative, but that could be because I was drinking so much water it caused it to dilute the urine too much. He said I had all the classic symptoms of a Urinary Tract and Bladder infection so he was going to treat me for it. He gave me an antibiotic specifically used to treat this type of infection, and told me if I wasn’t better in 48 hours to call the doctor on call or I could wait until Monday and call him. Yeah, that’s not going to happen if I can help it. I’m feeling better. Not well, but better.
On another note….I’m so very proud of myself today!! I took a bath by myself! I even washed my hair! I haven’t taken a bath or washed my hair without Stuart’s help in a very, very long time. I’m thinking over a year. Don’t worry I wasn’t being irresponsible. Stuart was in the house and on alert for my call. He also just couldn’t stay away the whole time and came in to check on me. But I did fine. A little wobbly, but that often happens with temperature changes (cool room, hot water). Or it just happens any time….heck most of the time…so I’m getting pretty used to it and how to handle it. Being extra cautious, have hand holds, non-slip surface under my feet…..
(at this point I got too hot while writing this and started to feel funny, so I had to put it down. Today, Tuesday February 12th, is the first day I’ve felt like coming back to the computer. I think I’ll end this post here If I start where I left off I’ll be writing another VERY long post….so I’ll have to write more soon)
Throughout my journey having chronic illnesses I’ve fought hard to not allow my illnesses to define me. Yes they are a part of me, but they aren’t all of me. I worked hard to keep some sense of normalcy in my life…and to try my best to keep true to me.
I feel after everything that happened this past year….and not all of them had to do with my illnesses…I lost myself. I became the sick person. I stopped trying to be me. I stopped posting regularly, I stopped doing my art, I stopped cooking (partially because I had a dizzy spell while cooking and almost hurt myself, but I’ve been to scared to start back)….I’ve been living in fear and self loathing.
2012 was one of the hardest years I’ve lived through, (topped only by 1993, the year my mother died). I had 2 new chronic diagnoses, my dearest friend and constant companion of 19 years died (yes I am talking about Sandy), I had contact from someone I’ve loved unconditionally who I haven’t heard from in years and the correspondence was filled with hatred….just true and deep rooted hatred. It would be hard enough for me to deal with anyone hating me, but this person….well the wound cut deep. It’s so hard to explain. I don’t remember a lot of my life before I got my bipolar stable, and I’ve changed so much since I met and married my husband, and since I’ve been sick. I love me…me as a person.
But me as a person was lost. I didn’t realize it until we came to Tucson and I got so sick. Not just my normal chronic illnesses, but more and more. I had a cough that wouldn’t go away…I’m still coughing some. I finally saw the doctor, and I had bronchitis and Asthma. I was born with Asthma, so I’ve known it was there, but supposedly I’d “grown out of it”. I would have an attack if I got around someone with perfume on, or someone smoking, or around things I’m allergic to. But now, I’m dealing with it every day. And unfortunately, I had more vertigo attacks in November than I had the entire year combined. I’ve also been having a huge problem with my GI system. I know my food issues and I’m careful, but things sneak in….and I had no idea….still I’m having bowel issues. And I’m gaining weight. I’m back to being 5 pounds from my largest weight. And that’s way too much for my short body.
It has just been too much. More illnesses. More conflicts to deal with. More being stuck in bed. I got lost and didn’t even know it.
I was lying in bed recently and realized how much I hate me. No, I don’t hate me as a person, I actually like the person I’ve become. Adversity really does create good people. (and I think I am a good person) But, me…my body….I hate it. I’m larger than I want to be, or should be. I have no energy, I’m sick ALL THE TIME! I feel my body betrayed me. And I don’t want anyone to see me when I’m ill. When I do actually get to see someone, I try my best to look my best. I know this probably causes a bit of confusion for people, I don’t look sick when they see me, so how can I be so very sick. I remember one day when friend came to visit with her 2 children. I loved seeing them, but I started to feel very worn out and dizzy before they left. I tried so hard not to let them see. Soon it was time for them to leave, Stuart and I walked them to the door, arm in arm….and when the door was closed, I collapsed. But I couldn’t let her see. I think I’m afraid if people see how sick I am they will shun me, and I will lose all my friends. But really, I think I’ve lost most of them anyway. I’ve hidden away. And I don’t think I could stand for someone to see me really sick. I’d rather be with just Stuart than for others to feel uncomfortable because I’m sick. Gaining weight hasn’t helped. People expect sick people to be underweight. Instead I’ve gained about 60 pounds.
So, now that I know what has been happening to me, I am determined to get me back. The inner me. My blog was very important to me, but I allowed someone to scare me away from it. I can’t do that. I have to write and reach out to those who can help me and those whom I may be able to help. This is such an important part of me. My art has been an important part. I wanted to have something I did consistently….but I’ve failed…I need to get that back. I need to do something that is productive and useful. I’ve felt like a useless burden for too long. I found out about a few charities in my area who knit or crochet blankets, scarves….ect….for needy. One charity that really spoke to me is one that donates to foster children, so they will have something special that was made just for them. (as many of you may know, Stuart and I had planned to be foster parents but ended up not being able to because my illness got so much worse). Foster children hold a special place in our hearts. The charity I found makes items for foster children in a neighboring county, at some point I would like to see the same type of charity started for the county we live in.
So here’s the beginnings of a plan for me. Begin doing something that will make me feel more like I’m a contributing member of society, learn to love my body no matter what size it is or how sick it is, stop listening to old ghost from the past and hope they can move past their hate and find a happy life, learn more about dealing with my new diagnoses, and learn American sign language.
I didn’t mention, I haven’t been able to hear out of my right ear…with my hearing aid…for about a month. So we really need to learn ASL. We will be starting a class here in Tucson next week. It is a beginning conversation ASL class. We will miss the last couple of classes, but feel it will be worth while. This is through a Hard of Hearing and Deaf group, many of the members are deaf or severely hard of hearing, so I shouldn’t have a problem with not being able to hear in class. (Stuart talked to the teacher and she assured him it wouldn’t be a problem, and many people who have Cochlear Implants are members there too.
This is the third attempt at writing this post.
So I shall not try to explain things, or guess at things, I’m just going to tell what is happening.
Vertigo!!! Nearly constant. mini spins, mid-line spinning, and horrendous attacks. When I was diagnosed with Meniere’s I was told it could be one of the worst things you can get that won’t kill you, but you may wish it would.
For the past few weeks, I wish it would.
I’m so miserable. I can’t walk without aid, and then it’s very difficult. I often can’t move my head without going into a full swing. Right now I’m having a decent moment, so I’m trying to write.
I’m scared. I went to a doctor here, and he thinks it’s allergies. (I’m not so sure, I take 3 different meds for my allergies.) He put me on steroids and gave me drops to reduce the inflammation. No infection was seen. I feel have been worse since starting the medication. I’m supposed to see him again on Friday, the 21st, but Stuart is calling him tomorrow.
I can’t be left alone. We are having a hard time. Stuart needs to leave to go grocery shopping and such, but it’s almost impossible. He left for a bit last night to shop, and I ended up spinning and terrified. I called him, but of course I could hear when he answered, I just kept saying help. He found me in a lump on the floor. I know it scared him as much as it did me. I am not prepared to take care of these attacks by myself. I know I have, but it is terrifying even with help.
We came to Tucson hoping I would feel better here. Oh how wrong I was! I never thought I would feel worse! The same maybe, but not worse. I’ve seen family once the whole time we have been here. I haven’t seen any friends. I’m just so sick. I often can’t even move my head.
I want to be home where my doctors are. I don’t know if Tucson is doing this to me, or if it would have happened any way, but either way, I want my doctors! But now, I don’t know how we would get home. Riding in a car is torture. I can only imagine what riding in a plane would be like. I often can’t lift my head without spinning very fast.
So that’s all I can write for now.
I made a huge mistake, I should never have left NC. Having family and friends close here is nice, we do have some people we can call on…but this is new to them, how long would the charity last? At home we don’t really have a support system….but I have my doctors….and that’s important! If I could have the support from those here, and my doctors in the same place, I would be a much happier person.
Anyone reading this who are close to us now. Stuart could really use some help….it’s hard for him to admit, but he is overwhelmed by all of this, I can tell.
(also my migraines are back with a vengeance. I think the Botox has worn off. It really seemed to help for a while!)
I always hoped I’d never need it. When I made up my emergency kit it was more a peace of mind thing, not a real thought that I’d ever need it. On Wednesday, I was so grateful I had that emergency kit! (TMI -This post contains information that may be too much for some people.)
The day started off so wonderful. You can see that in the last post….but later that afternoon I was hit with an attack, and I was in public! We decided to go out and check out a few stores that carry allergy friendly foods, but we were hungry and thought we’d grab a bite to eat. (yes I know, too much food out…too much sodium! But I had steamed chicken with vegetables and rice, no sauce….I ordered smart!) We were sitting in the restaurant and Stuart pointed out something to my left and over my head, I glanced at it and everything spun around. It scared the mess out of me! First I started to panic, then I felt it was slowing down. I thought it was Migraine Associated Vertigo and would pass after I took my migraine medication and emergency pills. Boy was I wrong! I took the pills and things didn’t get better. I was getting sick. Very sick, and the world was spinning faster and faster. I handed Stuart my purse and asked him to get my emergency kit. I needed to cool down, and I needed something to throw up in (just in case). I have cold packs in my emergency kit that turn cold when you twist them…or hit them really hard. This was a wonderful thing. I needed to cool down my core fast. We left the restaurant as soon as I could stand. It had slowed down so I thought the medication was finally working and we could get home with minimal discomfort.
I was VERY wrong again! We drove a ways fairly well, then the spinning got so much worse. I couldn’t stand the car moving. I asked Stuart to stop the car, he couldn’t stop where we were, and I started to panic….”Please just stop the car!” It was torture. I was actually screaming before he could get stopped. He stopped. Later he told me he was not in the best spot. It was pretty public and he knew I’d feel uncomfortable. Frankly, I didn’t care, nor did I notice. I was throwing up (thank goodness for those little garbage bags I packed in the Emergency kit), and I was losing control of my bladder. I was devastated. We were in Stuart’s father’s car, it had just been detailed….I mean like an hour before we left in it….it has leather seats! How could this be happening to me, in my father-in-law’s Lexus? (luckily it was his older car, but still, leather seats!!) Stuart swears when he went to clean it up, there was nothing on the seat, and no vomit anywhere. I did miss some the last time and got it on me. I’m so glad I was wearing a reusable pad, I use them for my menstrual cycle, but I also use them most of the time in case I sneeze or cough and pee a little.
We got home, and got me inside. I collapsed on the couch and passed out. I woke up an hour later gagging, but didn’t throw up. My body was spasming, it feels like I’m convulsing (not that I’d know what that feels like first hand), this lasted what felt like hours. I got very scared. I was having a hard time breathing with the spasms, and for the first time during one of these attacks I was afraid of dying. Then i passed out again, but only for a few minutes. When I came to, I decided I wanted to try to get to the bed. We succeeded. Not without much difficulty, but I was out after that for a few hours.
I know most of you have heard my horror stories of my vertigo attacks before, but the main part of this recount is how much my emergency kit helped. In it I have cold packs (to cool me down), small trash bags (to throw up in), large Ziploc bags (to put the soiled items in…and bags that have throw-up in them), wash cloths (to wipe my mouth, and help cool me down when they are wet), extra meds (we always have my emergency pills on us, this is an extra safe guard and it has more meds than I usually carry), a card explaining what is happening to me…and I keep a water bottle with me (normally this is just to drink from, but when I’m having an attack it helps to wet wash cloths and I need to rinse my mouth).
I will never think I can go without that kit again. I was recently thinking it was taking up too much room in my bag, no more! If I go out with nothing else, I will have my kit!
I’ve been working on this post since Thursday, the day after it happened. I’ve had days and days of extreme disequilibrium. I couldn’t move my head at all without seeing the world move. It was like it just didn’t keep up with my head….strange. I just started walking some unaided yesterday. Today I feel better and can get around by myself, but I still feel a bit wobbly. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t just a Meniere’s attack. My hearing in my right ear did drop significantly, and hasn’t returned to its normal level…that’s weird for me, normally after the attack ends the hearing comes back…at least almost to where it was. We think I had another spinal “blow out”, and my Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure (CSF) dropped. Stuart suggested the first night after the attack to not take my medication that controls the high CSF, it’s a strong diuretic and I couldn’t afford to lose any more fluids. But I started taking them again the next day after I was sure I was well hydrated. Then things didn’t get better. I was scared that I would feel that way all the time. I was having a big pity party for myself (sorry I didn’t invite you all). Yesterday morning, Sunday, I woke up feeling much better. I took my CSF medication, then I got up and fixed myself some breakfast. After making breakfast I turned and the world spun, dang-it! But it was at that time I realized my CSF pressure was too low. I had all the symptoms…the wooshy head, a headache when standing..ect. I went back to bed and lied down flat and the symptoms lessened and went away. Ah…yep, low CSF. So yesterday I spent the day lying flat. I’m holding off on the high CSF medication until I get signs of high CSF, then I’ll ramp back up on them.
Today I’m feeling much, much better, but still weak. My main goals for the day are a shower, and finishing this post…not necessarily in that order.
I’m sure I’ll feel better and better. The weather here is still gorgeous. We had an overcast day, but it was still nice. Today we have the windows open and are enjoying the fresh air.
Where have I been you ask? Or perhaps you haven’t noticed (don’t tell me, I want to think I was missed) I haven’t been commenting as much on other blogs, or chatting away on mine (I know for a while I’ve been a little silent here so you probably didn’t notice), I haven’t even been able to answer emails in a timely manner. I logged on today and I had over 230+ emails in my inbox. Normally there are about 30…so how many days has it been??
I’ve been much sicker, if that’s the word to use, lately. I’m not really sick, it’s my chronic stuff, plus a little oops added in. First I’ll tell about my oops.
I know in my last post 30 things you may not know….. I mentioned how hard it is for me to wash my hair. It’s normally easier in the bathtub than the shower (I’ve fallen too many times in the shower), but I’ve decided that my bathtub is evil. I’ve had heart palpitations in the tub and nearly passed out, I’ve slipped a few times trying to get out, once I smacked my head against the wall. My latest fight with the tub? I pulled the tendons in my left ankle, and knocked everything out of whack on that side from my foot to my lower back, while I was lying in the tub. Yes, I said, LYING IN THE TUB! Only me right? Ok, it was a little more than just lying still. I had scooted down in the tub to rinse my hair, then I pushed with my feet to scoot up – my left foot slipped and went in a direction it shouldn’t have. But I must say, it really didn’t hurt. When I got out of the tub I could stand fine as long as I didn’t go up on my toes. So I’m thinking, no big deal. Then Stuart looked at my ankle and said, “Oh My!”. My ankle was very swollen!! My lower back hurt, but my ankle really didn’t. If you touched the swollen area it hurt, but not much. This happened last Friday night. On Wednesday the swelling was down and I had a massage, she helped the leg and back, but last night my ankle was swollen again. (not that I’ve been on it, I had vertigo all day yesterday so I was in the bed.) So now you know. I am afraid of my tub and shower….makes it pretty hard to keep up personal hygiene, but I manage….thanks to that darling man of mine.
What else had been causing me frustration and just plan fear lately? I was supposed to have the Botox shots for my migraines on the 18th, my doctor was sick and they had to reschedule….they wanted to make the appointment in November! We are leaving for Tucson, AZ the last week on October, we won’t be here in November. So they scheduled it for October 20th…I cried. I had the worst time with migraines this past month. Right before my period started the pain started…they gave me special medication for that time of the month, it didn’t work. I had 15 days out of 20 were spent in a dark room, often without any hearing device on because the light and sound would make me throw up. Throw in some vertigo, and we have a great party going on. Luckily, the appointment has just been changed to October 3rd. This should be during my period, so it will be a real test. Big problem now? If it works I need to have another shot regimen in 3 months, we won’t be here. I’m not sure I can find a neurologist in Tucson who would be willing to see me just once to give me Botox injections. Actually, I doubt I will be able to, so it will be more like 5 months between injections.
Recently I’ve been having more vertigo, and constant disequilibrium. Frankly, it scares me. I’m pretty sure some of this is Cerebrospinal Fluid Pressure. We changed my medication that controls the high pressure to a times released form instead of the kind I have to take numerous times a day (I kept missing one). Since I’ve been on this new version of this medication I’ve been having symptoms like I did when my pressure was too low. I started back on the regular form of the medication yesterday, I hope this really is what’s wrong. Because the vertigo is scary. I’m proud of myself about how much better I’m dealing with it. I don’t panic as much, I’m sure I would if it was a severe attack. My biggest fear I have is that when a severe attack hits it will never end. I’ll give you an example of my days…Yesterday I woke up to the word spinning, slowly, but still spinning…this went on all day. Luckily, I was able to sleep through some of it. Then when it actually got to be bedtime, I couldn’t sleep. So many things going through my head. I kept thinking, something doesn’t add up….but I’m not sure what…at least I finished Uncle Tom’s Cabin…and still laid awake until 5am. Today, I’m not spinning, but I can’t walk straight. I can’t move my head at a normal speed or I will fall down from the disequilibrium. In the past 48 hours, I’ve been to the bathroom once unaided.
OK…I know this is another venting post. But I’m scared. What if the change in medication doesn’t work? Then why is this happening? We’ll figure it out, or I’ll learn to live with it! Right?
The other night I was talking to Stuart and told him that sometimes I envy people who don’t have to feel like I do. Of course, he said that’s natural, part of self-preservation and all that…. I then told him, I would gladly be the only person in the world who had to feel this way if no one else ever did. And I mean it. The thought that others go through this is heart breaking to me.
I do have some good news about my hearing! (unfortunately I had to cancel the last 3 appointments I’ve had with my audiologist because I was too ill to go, so I can’t tell you what she has to say, but I have some Wow! news.) Stuart got The Lorax DVD from Netflix and we curled up in bed and watched it on the computer. I used the direct link cable and linked the computer sound up to my processor. I didn’t expect to hear any better than I hear the TV, I thought I’d mostly read the movie, as usual (thank goodness for closed captioning!), but this was different! I heard the movie!! I heard the characters the way they were supposed to sound! I really heard it all, just right! Isn’t that amazing? That gives me hope that one day my CI will give me sounds that are normal. Right now, I hear better with it than my hearing aid, but sounds are a bit off, however, I understand things more. It’s coming along! And The Lorax is my new best friend!
September 10 -16 is National Invisible Awareness Week – If you’d like to get involved check out the official site.
30 things about my illness you may not know.
(warning, some answers may give too much information, but it’s not detailed)
- The illness I live with is: The main illnesses I live with are Meniere’s, chronic Migraines, Bipolar I disorder, and chronic hip and pelvic pain. If you are interested in my other illnesses please see the the tab above titled The Ants That Bite.
- I was diagnosed with it in the year: I don’t remember any more. I think I was diagnosed with Meniere’s in 2001, Migraines (I’m not really sure, I’ve had doctors tell me on and off since my teens that I have migraines, but they became chronic in my late 20′s…I’m 49 now), chronic hip pain and pelvic pain – they haven’t figured out what is causing all the pain, so no diagnosis. Bipolar I – 1990 then was told they were wrong – re-diagnosed in 1994.
- But I had symptoms since: Meniere’s – the first attack I remember was in 1993. Migraines – the first one I remember, I was 11. The pelvic pain – in my early 30′s, in the mid 1990′s. The hip pain – 2008. Bipolar – in my teens.
- The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: These are a few major ones for me…. Losing my hearing. Not being able to drive. Not seeing my friends like I used to. Realizing that I will never be cured. Not being able to have a sex life without pain. (but I’ve dealt with, or am dealing with all of these. They will not keep me down.)
- Most people assume: I can do much more than I can, after all, I don’t “look” sick. And some assume I use my illness to get out of social situations, but honestly I hate being so solitary
- The hardest part about mornings are: Never knowing what the day will bring. I often wake up with a blinding headache, I know what that day will bring. But if I wake up feeling decent I never know if I’ll continue to feel that way, or if I’ll be hit with a Meniere’s attack or Migraine. However, I try to make the most out of every day.
- My favorite medical TV show is: Ummm, funny, I used to watch some medical TV shows, but I don’t any longer. I think I see too much of the medical community in person.
- A gadget I couldn’t live without is: I suppose I could “live” with out most gadgets, but there are some I wouldn’t want to! My Cochlear Implant, I can hear so much more now. My laptop -so many of my friends are in there!
- The hardest part about nights are: Trying to sleep, and trying to stay asleep. Fear. Fear of having an attack just as I’m falling asleep (this happens more than I’d like to admit), fear of waking up with a blinding headache……However, each night before I sleep I acknowledge my gratitude for the day, and plan what I’d like to do the next day. I always have hope I will have a good day, and if I don’t I still know I’ll get something out of it.
- Each day I take __ pills & vitamins. (No comments, please) 18 daily (this included the total number, not different medications), 5 as needed, 4 vitamins daily, and one B12 shot a week.
- Regarding alternative treatments I: have tried many, including chiropractic, acupuncture, certain vitamin routines…. I found medical massage helps my migraines and hip pain a lot. I also use a special diet to treat gluten and fructose intolerance.
- If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don’t think anyone would choose to have an illness, but I’ll deal with the hand I’ve been dealt.
- Regarding working and career: I don’t work. I don’t have a career. Takes a lot out of conversations with others. My doctor suggested I look into filing for disability, but I haven’t done it yet.
- People would be surprised to know: I often don’t wash my hair for a month or more. Water on my head is a trigger for me, especially if I have to close my eyes. Luckily, my hair is pretty dry, and it’s long so I just tie it back.
- The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: There are a lot of times I have to say” I can’t” or “no” to people…and to myself. Losing most of my independence. Not being able to drive. And not being able to have a normal sex life.
- Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Find the positive. Become my own advocate. Fire a doctor.
- The commercials about my illness: The only one of my illnesses I’ve seen commercials for is Migraines. Commercials are always drug companies wanting you to talk to your doctor about their drug. I’m not comfortable with this, and normally the side effects they list are pretty scary.
- Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: I miss being able to go places alone. (the answer to this question changes often, but right now, not being able to go anywhere alone is very difficult.)
- It was really hard to have to give up: My hearing. Even with technological help, I have a cochlear implant (CI) and a hearing aid, it is still very hard to hear at times. I know my hearing with the CI will get better, but it has been very hard to loose all my hearing in one ear, and almost all of it in the other. Without technology, I can’t hear anything.
- A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Blogging. Reading a lot! I’ve always liked to read, but now it’s almost an obsession. (thank you to Kym for my Kindle! Oh. another gadget I wouldn’t want to live without.)
- If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: I would be so very thankful!! Then I’d spend a day pampering my husband, in and out of bed. ; )
- My illness has taught me: To be my own advocate. To be more tolerant…I thought I was tolerant before, but I realize I needed a wake up call on that one. That I’m not alone….this one relieves me because I needed to feel that someone understood, but it makes me so sad that others have to go through what I have. And that I can handle much more than I ever thought I could.
- Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Any form of, telling me I’ll get better. “When you get better….”, “You will beat this….” NO, I won’t. This doesn’t go away. I may be able to find something to make it more tolerable, but it will never go away. And often treatments that work, stop working. I also hate it when people say, “You don’t deserve this” I know they are trying to be kind….but I never thought I deserved this! And one more….”But you look so good.“
- But I love it when people: Tell me how they are doing, want my opinion, want to talk to me as a friend…..Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if someone asks about my illness, if they are interested and want to know more about it. But, sometimes I feel like people forget I’m anything more than my illness.
- My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: This may not be the life I expected, so I’m changing my expectations. I don’t know if this is a quote or anything, it’s simply something I thought one day and it has helped me through accepting a lot of things that have had to change.
- When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: Often people who have been recently diagnosed find my blog and it scares them, so I start off telling people: Everyone’s journey with Meniere’s is different. Most do not get to the stage I’m at, so please don’t think you are going to lose your hearing….or any number of things I’ve been though. I’m in the very rare group. I let them know there are many treatments to keep Meniere’s under control, and point them to sites and other bloggers who can give a different perspective. Most importantly, I assure them, they are not alone. They can contact me any time, and there are online groups.
- Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: That my husband and I have gotten even closer. Thank you to our therapist, I think having to go to a therapist about all of this surprised me too. I was not handling losing my independence very well, and hubby wasn’t communicating very well. But by going to a therapist we began to communicate out needs much easier, and recognize our needs. Another big surprise is that people will reach out to me. I’m very surprised that I’ve touched people, and made some honest friendships with people I’ve never met.
- The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: (This does not include things my husband does for me) Come to visit me. It doesn’t happen often, but I do enjoy other people’s company. I hate that I often have to cancel when someone wants to do something with me. I’m already so isolated, and if I have to cancel people often think I don’t want to see them, or I’m just too much trouble. I don’t blame them, most of my friends have families, and they have to work their schedule around a lot of things. So missing a visit makes it harder to make plans the next time.
- I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: Because I have more than one. Some people I love and care about have invisible illnesses. We need to let people know we are still people, but don’t judge us by how we look.
- The fact that you read this list makes me feel: That you care, and maybe you understand some things about me you didn’t before.
It has been a very hard week. I won’t go into details as it concerns people in my family, and I won’t talk about my family on my blog again. I’ve been contemplating all week simply closing my blog and disappearing, or making it private. But that’s stress talking, I’ve found so much support here and I want to think I’ve given a lot of support and information here too. Plus I need a place to go and just get it out. Even when I can’t talk about all of it. Let’s just say, it’s settled for now….maybe.
On the 15th, I got hit with a huge stessor! I was under extreme stress and confusion for hours. Finally, things were calming down. I was relaxing in bed, tying to breathe in the ill feelings I felt towards me, and breathe out happiness and goodness to all. I decided to have a little pineapple Greek yogurt, with a banana and nuts for desert. It is delicious. Well, what I got to eat of it. Right when Stuart brought me my decadence, I had that Wonky feeling in my head…so I took my pills and hoped it was just a blip on the radar. (Yes I know, how could I think of eating if I was feeling Wonky, but I’ve been having a lot of Wonky spells that just turn into nothing lately.) Unfortunately, before I was even finished with my treat the world was in full spin! This was one of the longest attacks I’ve ever had….and one of the strangest. It was Meniere’s, not vertigo caused by a migraine. I went through all the stages…and all the grossness. (some how while throwing up I bashed my elbow on something, and it has had a knot on it since then. It’s getting better, but I was afraid I had broken it the next day.) Again, all the throwing up and losing all bodily functions. Not being able to lift my head, except to put it in a bucket. (I even threw up on our brand new carpet….not much, thank goodness, but Yuck!)
So the vertigo kept changing speeds, it would be wild, so fast I couldn’t recognize the things spinning by, then it would slow down to the point I thought it was going to stop any second….I even dozed off a few times, just to be jerked awake by vicious spinning again! This went on for over 16 hours. Luckily I didn’t throw up the whole time, I did keep heaving though. Even before I threw up the first time, I would have the worst muscle spasms and just heave, like I had dry heaves, but nothing had started yet. This often happens to me when I have an attack, at he beginning at least, I can’t figure out why. Why does it have to hurt so bad??
Even after the spinning stopped for the next day I kept feeling like they would start back up, I couldn’t walk straight. It was a very rough 2 days.
On Friday I had an appointment with my headache pain specialist (neurologist). I was supposed to get Botox shots for my migraines. Many people have had good results from this procedure. I was a bit nervous, they do 31 shots in your head and neck/shoulder area. Alas, I did not get it done. Once again our insurance did not send a pre-approval, they didn’t deny it, but they didn’t approve it either. Just like with the Cochlear Implant. What a pain in the butt that was. Luckily, they did pay for most of it. They didn’t cover a procedure that cost about $500, testing the device after they hooked it up to me to make sure everything worked right. Can you believe? What if they hadn’t tested it, and later found out part of it wasn’t working? I’d have to go through another surgery to replace it. How bizarre. Stuart called the insurance company on Monday, I have been approved for the procedure, it just seems no one knew it. So now I have to get another appointment with this doctor…..hope it’s soon.
Sunday I had another scare. but not with vertigo. Really I wasn’t scared, it’s happened before, and I’ve been checked out, still it’s uncomfortable and yeah, it’s a bit scary. I had heart palpitations. I figured out why, but it lasted a long time. I wasn’t as careful Sunday about what I ate or drank. I do not drink caffeine very often, and if I do, it’s just a little bit. I also don’t eat much sugar. Well…I wasn’t so bright on Sunday. We were out and I had Mandarin Orange Green Tea, not thinking that Green Tea has caffeine. That would have been fine, but later in the day we were at a store and I started feeling funny, and very thirsty, we couldn’t find anything that didn’t have either caffeine or sugar. I decided to take the caffeine since I wasn’t sure if the sugared drinks had fructose. I only drank about half of the soda. After dinner I decided to have some ice cream we bought, it is Fat Free, and I was thinking Sugar Free too. Not bright. I only had about half a cup, but it was enough. I started feeling strange. I thought my blood sugar had dropped, so I ate some protein. But it didn’t work. I was sitting on the couch watching TV with my hubby and I felt like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. The doctor told me to massage one side of my neck, and it should help, she also said to put something cold on my wrist. Well I did both, for a long time. This lasted longer than I was comfortable with. Finally, things slowed down….and all was alright.
I hate how much I have to watch everything I put in my mouth. It would be difficult enough if that was all I had to deal with, but dealing with all my food issues and my other health issues is hard! I’m dealing with it, and I’m lucky I can eat as much as I can…right? I just need to be more diligent.
Well that’s all for this past week.
I promise my next post will be on a happier note.
As excited as I am about getting the Cochlear Implant (CI) next week, I’m nervous too. I realized this yesterday. I had appointments scheduled for this week and a dinner with friends scheduled for Sunday, and I told Stuart I just couldn’t do it. I simply feel like there is too much stress on me right now. With all the stress, I was making myself sick.
So what am I nervous about? You would think I’d be nervous about the surgery, but I’m not. I am nervous about the nurses finding a vein for the IV before the surgery, that is always an ordeal with me. However, mostly I’m worried that the surgery will be postponed. There have been so many delays, I’m having a hard time believing it’s going to happen. I am expecting something to happen…I’ll get sick, my doctor will get sick or have to postpone for some reason….anything.
Now that I realize what has been bothering me so much, I’m dealing with it much better. I know the surgery will happen. If some unforeseen circumstance causes the surgery to be delayed , I’ll deal with it. I know it will happen, if not next week as scheduled then as soon as possible afterward. I still don’t want to be stressed out more by going to the dentist, having a mammogram, and having a dinner party. These things will just have to wait.
Now, let’s talk a little about the surgery. I’m pretty lucky really, about 90% of the surgery has already been done to me. Since I had the Endolymphatic Sac Surgery, they don’t have to drill a hole in my head. It’s already there. All that has to be done is thread the wire from the CI into the cochlea, and place the implant.
There were 3 companies for me to choose my CI from, each had positives and negatives but really they were all pretty close. I chose Advanced Bionics. This is a very personal decision for each person who gets a Cochlear Implant, I felt that the Advanced Bionics CI would fit best in my life style.
This is what will be going in my head:
I’m so happy that Duke is a two processor facility. The processor is the part that you see on the outside. Since Advance Bionics offers more than one processor, I was given the choice of getting 2 the same or one of each. I chose to get one of each. One processor is called the Harmony, it is a Behind The Ear type. I liked this model because the T-mic (microphone) is located at the opening of your ear, so it will be easier to talk on the phone, and my ear will act as a natural buffer for noises, like your ear normally does.
Here’s a photo of the Harmony Processor:
The Harmony comes in a variety of colors. I think I was allowed to choose 5, but it’s been so long now, I don’t remember what colors I chose. We’ll have to wait and see after I get hooked up. You can use regular hearing aid batteries, or rechargeable batteries, I’m sure you know which ones I’ll be using. I was able to chose different types of rechargeable batteries, small and large. The small battery doesn’t last as long as the larger one. I ordered both.
The other processor I chose was the Neptune. The Neptune is capable of being Water Proof, it’s the only CI that is Water Proof, so I can swim in it! The Processor is not behind the ear (BTE) it can be clipped to different things: an arm band, your shirt, a lanyard, your hair…ect. The microphone is on the part that fits to the head.
Here’s a photo of the Neptune:
I realize the photo above doesn’t give you a good idea of what the Neptune really looks like. So here’s a few that will give you a better idea:
With the Neptune I was also given the opportunity of picking all kinds of colors. I know I picked a brown, and the lime green seen above, but I don’t remember the rest. We’ll all be surprised when I get hooked up.
The CI will be turned on 2 weeks after surgery. That will be the beginning of August, hopefully the 2nd or 3rd.
Anybody want to know anything else?
I know this is a LONG post, but it’s full of information, right?
We can make it, one day at a time. : )
I miss blogging, I miss my blogging friends….but it’s hard to get started again.
Now I think of things that have happened since I’ve been away that you don’t know about, and things that are going to happen….so much to talk about I’m overwhelmed. Eh….maybe not so much. My life really isn’t that exciting.
I went through a bout of depression, that knocked me off my feet. By that I mean, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I’d wake up and think, what reason to I have to get up? I couldn’t think of a reason, and the sleeping side effect was not helping!
I know part of the depression started when Sandy died. But the biggest problem is a bit strange….at least to me, my therapist says it’s normal. I’ve been feeling better. The Meniere’s isn’t bothering much at all since the surgery in December. The Intracranial Hypertension (High CSF), is minor and under control with medication. My migraines are not as painful, but they are causing vertigo often! So much so that there is no way I’ll ever be able to drive again. The Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV) gives me NO warning. I wouldn’t even be able to pull over to the side of the road, the world just goes crazy immediately. I can’t even walk around the block by myself, or do things in the yard. I tried one day, and it did not end up good. So I’m stuck in our house, unless I have someone with me (meaning Stuart). I know there is plenty I could do in the house, but when you can’t do things you want….well everything else kind of falls flat.
But I’m better. Really. It’s kind of funny. I was watching Sponge Bob Square Pants and he was singing, “I’ve got an attitude of gratitude….” And I realized I used to every day think about things I’m grateful for, and I hadn’t been lately. So I started thinking about it, and I felt better. Also we’ve been talking about fostering a dog, or perhaps adopting. Sandy was a rescue dog, and we’ve been thinking that taking care of another dog who needs rescuing would honor her. This has made me feel better about things, I really miss Sandy, and do NOT want to replace her, but the thought of honoring her by helping another dog….that makes me feel better inside.
Now that the sleeping has gotten back to normal, I’m feeling better about other things too.
We went to see the audiologist on Wednesday. I picked out all the options for the Cochlear Implant (CI) that I want! We expected to have heard from the insurance by now, but it’s seems to be a big old pain in the butt. And all I can do is, wait patiently. I’m not the most patient person!
Now, I’m started… let’s see if I can’t make a habit of this!
There is so much I wanted to accomplish during my little hiatus. Paying more attention to the spiritual side of me, painting, working on some things in the house….
What have I been doing? Sleeping. A lot.
First I’ve been having much more Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV), one day I had 2 attacks in one day! That’s never happened before. On those days I understand why I’m so whipped out, but there are many days where nothing has happened, but I feel like I can’t keep my eyes open. I’m wondering if one of my medications is bothering me, but nothing has really changed recently. I was taken off one drug, but nothing was added when this started.
On the 12th I had the Pneumovax -23 vaccine. It’s a vaccine for 23 different strains of pneumonia. Including one that causes meningitis. This vaccine is required for anyone who is getting a cochlear implant.
Unfortunately, I’m one of the people who had side effects to the vaccine. Including extreme soreness of the injection site, and my whole arm, fever, swelling of injection site, redness of injection site, diarrhea, and extreme fatigue. Normally, all of the side effects subside within about 5 days, but some people feel some of them (especially the fatigue and malaise for 14 days or more.) I think I’m in the more category.
This has been an experience. Most of the symptoms did disappear after the first few days. The injection site is still a little pink and warm to the touch, but I can lift my arm, not fever, the extremely gross diarrhea didn’t last long, I’m grateful to say. (too much information following) – One day I was having loose stools, nothing serious, but I felt so exhausted, so I decided to take a nap. While I was asleep the diarrhea struck, it didn’t even wake me up! What a mess. That was a scary thing indeed, for a long time I was afraid to go to sleep, but I was so tired. We decided to put a pad under me on the bed so I knew if something happened I wouldn’t ruin the bed, then I was finally able to go to sleep. But I had 3 times where I had to RUSH to the bathroom before sleep finally came…and I’m happy to say the extreme diarrhea stopped.
Still I’m tired. It’s been 19 days. I don’t think this is just the vaccination. I think it’s a combination of MAV (yes I’m having it almost daily, luckily this vertigo isn’t as intense as my vertigo from the Meniere’s. It is easier to get through.), some medication, and probably just some of the stress from everything. Plus, maybe some of the medication.
I am putting together a post about my journey on my way to getting a Cochlear Implant (CI), mostly it’s a lot of waiting. Next week I tell them which processor I’ve chosen, and I find out where we are with the insurance. I’m really hoping this will happen soon. I’d like to have it turned on by my birthday…what a present that would be!
In the next post, I’ll explain more about what is going to happen, which processor I’ve chose, and a bit more about the process I had to go through to get qualified for the CI.
Until then, I think I’ll take a nap. After all I only slept 12 hours last night. : )