Catching Up After An Unintentional Time Out

A monsoon storm, the first significant one of the season, crashes a few bolts down just before the gates opened for the Annual Bloom Night at Tohono Chul Park, July 13, 2019, Tucson, AZ. Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star

After my last post about shame I didn’t mean to be away so long. That post caused a lot of reactions, some people seemed to understand my feelings of shame, others got very worried about me. First I want to apologize for not answering every comment, I have been going through an awful time with my migraines and simply haven’t been able to look at the computer much, and I will admit it has put me in a depressed funk, I’m so sorry if I worried anyone. The shame I feel is not overwhelming, I know I made it seem that way in the post, but I promise it’s not all consuming. It is not uncommon for people who have chronic pain or illness to have feelings of shame mixed in with feelings of guilt, I wanted people to know if they do, they aren’t alone. And I wanted people to know, I’d been feeling it and didn’t even realize that’s what it was. Now that I realize it, it’s easier to notice it, and to fight it. I understand that I have no reason to feel ashamed, I also understand that I have no reason to feel guilty, but those feelings still come. They are less now, but they still come.

Something happened this past week that I’d like to share. I’ve needed to cancel plans with our realtor a couple of times because of my migraines, and when we saw him he said, “Hi sickie! Feeling better?” At first I felt shame, then I was angry, very angry, and I stayed angry for days. I told Stuart if he wasn’t our landlord and a good friend of Stuart’s father he would no longer be our realtor. Then I decided he needed to be educated that this is not an acceptable thing to say to a person with chronic illness, or anyone for that matter. I was going to say something to him, but my advocate of a husband beat me to it. Stuart said that he was very apologetic and said that he doesn’t know why he said such a thing, it’s not something he would normally say. He doesn’t know that I know Stuart talked to him, and he hasn’t said anything to me. I’m simply proud that I didn’t just sit back and accept being shamed. This happens to us way too often and we mostly just shrug it off, I think we need to speak up more often and educate people as to how we should be treated. This is one way I will fight my feelings of shame.

Now, a really quick update. Since July 26th, my last visit to my migraine doctor, I’ve had 2 migraine free days, 2 days with moderate migraine pain (5-7), and every other day I had severe migraine pain (8-10), along with many other symptoms, such as nausea, light sensitivity, vertigo… None of my medications were working at all. My doctor prescribed Migranal, but it took until September 4th before I finally got it (stupid insurance hoops you have to jump through) and I can only use it 8 days a month. It’s been difficult. Our 15th wedding anniversary was September 3rd, we wanted to do something special, but instead I basically missed it. Good thing it’s the marriage that counts, and it’s a celebration every day. (HA…how hokey was that?!? It really is special though.)

I saw my migraine doctor yesterday. After my last appointment I had a CTA scan, that’s a CT scan that shows your arteries, it came back normal. I had just started Effexor to try to help my migraines, and I stayed on Emgality for prevention until we saw if Effexor worked. Well, Effexor didn’t work, so we are changing the Emgality to Amovig. You have probably seen the commercials for both of these drugs. They are similar, but a little different in how they work, so hopefully Amovig will be a better fit for me. It can take up to 3 months, to tell if it’s going to work at all. So I’ll know in December. She thinks this last 6 weeks could have been so much worse because of monsoon season. She said it has been worse than last year. I know I was affected last year, but I know I wasn’t this bad.

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Migraines Suck

Warning: this post may contain whining, feeling sorry for myself, and just plain complaining, but most of it is simply the way things are right now….it sucks, I accept that, but no I don’t like it and I wish it were different.

The last two weeks I have experienced some of the worst symptoms I can recall in many years. I woke up one day a couple of weeks ago now, feeling pain creeping up the left side of my head, it felt like my brain was hurting, inside my skull, my brain was being squeezed. It started on the left side and crept up over my head until it covered my whole brain, I could not help but cry out. I woke Stuart and he could only hold me. The intense feeling of motion, the pressure in my skull, the extreme nausea…it was horrible. Finally it eased to the point that I was able to simply pass out. Then it came back! This happened three more times. I decided sleep was not going to help, so I got up. It continued to happen throughout the day, no matter how much medication I took. Nothing worked. That was the beginning of my walk deeper into hell.

I’ve barely been out of the dark, the light sensitivity has been more intense than I’ve ever experienced it. Often I have not been able to get out of the dark at all. For days on end I couldn’t look at my phone or computer. I’ve been having the feeling of intense movement all day, with visual vertigo on and off. My vision will tilt, double, and is constantly blurry. For 2 solid days I could not focus enough to see much of anything, I just sat in my chair curled up in a ball, with sun glasses on, a towel on my head to further help block out light, an ice pack on top of that, staring at the TV watching shows that I’d seen over and over, just so I knew what was going on, since I couldn’t really focus enough to read the captions and often couldn’t even see what was going on at all. It’s bad enough to be in severe pain and dizzy, but to be forced to have nothing to distract you from that is torture. I tried to meditate, I tried to make up stories in my head, I tried to think of nice places, nothing worked. I was trapped sitting in a chair with my pain, confusion, and vertigo with nothing to help relieve it. I knew at that moment, if I had to live like this forever, I wanted to die.

I continue to fight this. My baseline headache never gets below a 5 now (I have daily headache all the time that normally hovers around a 3 or a 4). Every day the pain gets to at least an 8 for a few hours, and will spike to a 10 on and off. I continue to have all the other symptoms, sometimes they are worse than others, but they are always there. The nasal spray (Zomig) she gave me to try did not work. It’s kind of obvious that triptans have stopped working for some reason. I believe my head has gone crazy because it has gotten no relief. Normally I do get some relief from triptans, so the nerves have some time to reset, a little at least. (my 10 precious days a month when I can take meds gave me a few hours) Now there has been no relief so the nerves are constantly firing and just going crazy. My neurological and vestibular system are on over drive, what is triggering me this much, I have no idea, all I know is that my head is a mess, and I’m miserable.

Now my doctor is out of the country until June 12th, and she has jury duty the first week of July, so she had to reschedule my appointment to July 26th. I admit when I heard this I had a complete break down. I sobbed and sobbed, which of course caused more pain…ugh. But them I thought, I’ve lived with this for so long, a couple more months will not kill me, and I can go to the ER if I absolutely have to. I must admit though, I’m afraid to go to the ER, they treat migraine patients like drug seekers or fakers, the bright lights and noise there is torture, the stress of waiting hours….it makes me worse before they make it better. It’s so scary.

The good news is, her office did get the sphenopaltine ganglion block approved, so I will be getting that when I see her. It’s very interesting, she will actually be teaching me how to do it so I can do it at home. They are also working to get the Migranal approved, it is the Dihydroergotamine (DHE) in nasal spray. I have DHE injectables at home. I haven’t used it because you can’t use it in the same day that you use a triptan, and I had gone over the amount of days I can take meds for the month. When I’ve had intractable migraines in the past, not with the extreme symptoms I’ve been having lately, my previous doctor prescribed a DHE protocol of having 3 shots a day for 3 days to try to knock it out. We are going to start that today. Hopefully I’ll get some relief.

This has taken me two days to write and I’m sure it doesn’t read quite right because my brain is mush, and I know there are things I’ve left out, but I really tried. I even put in a couple of links. Woot!



Week and a day in review

I didn’t do it. I intended to do it. After I missed one day, I still thought I would do it, but didn’t write a single journal entry this past week. I’m such a slacker! I still kept up with my migraines on the Migraine Buddy app, so at least I have that information. Now let me share some of what’s been going on this past week.

On Saturday I had a vestibular migraine so debilitating that I could not walk without assistance. I stayed in a dim room (I really want black out curtains), in silence, with ice on my head all day. (The symptoms I was experiencing included vertigo and dizziness, light sensitivity, noise sensitivity, scent sensitivity, nausea, cognitive impairment, blurred vision, and numbness and drooping of the right side of my face. It was a cloudy icky day.  Finally around 8:30 that night it started to rain.  When the barometric pressure eased so did my migraine, just in time for bed.

On Sunday we went to have brunch with Stuart’s Dad and his wife at her home in memory care. It had been too long since we had been there for a visit, it was nice, but we sat in the little restaurant for way too long for my physical comfort level. By the time we left my back was hurting pretty bad, and I was starting to get pretty grumpy.  I had been feeling so much better since starting the new anti depressant, but Sunday I was touchy, sad, and down on myself. I knew I missed a dose on Friday, but dang. Then that night I realized I missed another dose, I was so angry and ashamed I couldn’t even look at Stuart. (overreacted?)  When I saw my psychiatrist on Tuesday I found out that the prescription she called in was for the wrong dosage, so for the last week I have been taking half the dose I was taking the week before. Oops. So no wonder it really messed me up when I missed a couple of doses!  I’m trying new strategies to remind myself to take my meds with breakfast!  So far so good!

Back to migraine talk. I mentioned in a previous post that I messaged my doctor and asked about a new rescue medication because the Maxalt isn’t working any more. I finally heard back from her, there was a problem with their patient portal, after it was fixed I heard from her right away and we’ve talked a couple of times since then, so I feel better about that. Here’s what’s going on there: She suggested one of two things, trying Zomig nasal spray (it is another triptan, but could help more in this form) or try Migranal nasal spray (it is DHE in nasal spray form). I’m trying the Zomig because my insurance will cover it (still cost a lot), my insurance will not cover the Migranal, however, if the Zomig does not work we will appeal to the insurance company to see if they will cover the Migranal. She is also trying to get another treatment approved, a Sphenopalatine Ganglion (SPG) Block. The SPG is a group of nerves linked to the trigeminal nerve, the main nerve involved in headache, and is located behind the nose. They use a catheter through the nose to apply lidocaine to the SPG. I’ve been reading about it, and I’m not sure exactly how my doctor is planning on using it with me.  From what I’ve read it has been shown to reduce chronic migraine frequency and pain severity over a 6 month period after having the procedure done twice a week for 6 weeks. So yeah, I’d like to try that.

The above was written last night, May 16th, I thought I’d finish this up this morning and post it, but today did not go as planned, following is a recap of today.

Today started out pretty dang good.  I decided to try to start the day completely silent to see if my migraines would hold off for longer.  It was a nice way to start the day, the silence kind of forces me to be more mindful. I ate breakfast outside, sat out by the pool, did my breathing exercises, and started to do more of my yoga exercises, but the sun was too bright. I was still feeling good so I decided to sweep the front porch and patio. Gaah! That was the biggest mistake of the week! I got about half of it done when the pain in my back started to get too much, I slowed down and tried to get to a good stopping point. Then my vision got wavy, the pain started in my head, and my back seized. Oh boy. I dropped everything where it was and got inside as quick as I could so I wouldn’t fall down outside. Things calmed down and I thought things were going to be fine, I just had to rest. After about an hour things were going good. I was ready to get up and maybe do something, then the vertigo started, and I was not going anywhere. The rest of the day has been filled with these on and off sensations of vertigo and pain.  I wanted to try the Zomig, but I’ve already taken medication 7 of the 10 days I’m allowed in a month, I decided to save it for days when I have to be out somewhere, or really want to do something fun.

Speaking of something fun, we are planning on going to the botanical gardens this weekend, it is supposed to be a very nice weekend for it.  Cross fingers and toes we can make it there, I really want to go to the Butterfly House, and it closes for the season soon.

the photo above is by the pool, it was taken this morning.  It is my favorite spot in the yard, especially this time of year with the yellow, red and purple blooms.

This, That, and The Other

In just 8 days since I started writing these journal posts I’ve made some observations. The antidepressant is working, and I’m very glad I took the chance and tried it. I’m in a much better place mentally. On the other hand, I do not see a great improvement from the Emgality, I hope I’m wrong, but as of right now my migraines aren’t better and I’m having an increase in vestibular migraines. Finally, I can see that I get a lot more done than I thought I did, and by paying attention to what I’m doing encourages me to do even more. I may not continue to write these journal entries publicly, (let’s face it, who really wants to read my day to day activites?) but I think I will continue to keep a private journal, I can really see how useful it can be.

More thoughts about my migraines I’ve noticed over the past month or so I wake up with relatively no pain, this has changed since starting Emgality, I used to wake up with a migraine almost every day; however, within a couple of hours a migraine will normally start. There were a few days last month that this didn’t happen, but for the most part, I could set my watch to it. This past week I’ve had 3 vestibular migraines, (a vestibular migraine causes dizziness and vertigo with or without pain) each one has been accompanied with severe pain and confusion. These are not new, but they do seem to be coming more often, and are more intense. Things to talk about with my doctor.

Cactus Flowering Tucson, AZ W. Holcombe

Yesterday I finally spent some time outside. I have 3 types of exercises from my new therapist, breathing, hip stability, and functional. While I was outside I laid down by the pool and focused on my breathing exercises. It was so nice, I finally felt things said I should feel! Exciting! I got all of my exercises done, not all at once, but I got them all done. So, I didn’t get a whole heck of a lot done yesterday, but I accomplished exactly what I wanted to, I went outside, and I did my exercises. The rest of the day I didn’t feel well and didn’t feel like doing much of anything, then right before I fell asleep I had a migraine hit that was excruciating. I thought a cluster was starting it was so intense, but it didn’t quite hit that magnitude. However, the pain was behind my eye and in my temple, my eye watered and right nostril ran, just like when I have a cluster. I had to move because the pain was so intense. So, I’m not positive it was not a cluster, but if it was, it wasn’t quite as painful as ones I’ve had in the past; not to say this was not severely painful. (for me a cluster is the greatest pain I can imagine, the pain I had last night would have sent me to the ER if it had lasted longer, but it was not the worst pain imaginable.)

Quick rundown of today. I ate breakfast outside. I took a bath and washed my hair. (this is a big task for me) I had a dentist appointment (check up, cleaning, fixed a small chip in a filling, and a fluoride treatment), went to Trader Joe’s, had dinner at the table with my husband, made “brownies” (hopefully I’ll sleep better tonight), and watched old Dr. Who’s for a bit. I did have a migraine that started shortly after breakfast but it didn’t get above a 6 all day so I was able to function. I used my functional exercises while making brownies and my back hurt less, but it did start to hurt more after I finished. I’m just thrilled I was able to get them all mixed up and in the pan without being in intense pain. Today was a FULL DAY! Tomorrow is an early day, so I’m going to bed.

Short day

The day started out okay. I could have slept longer but Kiki decided it was time to play, and who can argue with that face?

Kiki

It was a normal morning, I had my breakfast, took my meds and thought about what I could accomplish today. I only had 3 things I wanted to get done 1- spend some time outside, 2- fill out insurance information for cochlear implant replacement, 3- do my new exercises.

Out of the 3 the exercises were the most important, so I decided to do that first. Then I looked down at the floor and thought, “There is no way I’m getting on that dirty carpet and have my allergies go crazy again, I’ll vacuum it first.” So, I picked up everything on the floor, moved things around, pulled out the vacuum and vacuumed our small living room. It was going well, then right before I finished I had a shooting pain through my head, the room spun and got dark, I had a hot flush, got nauseous, and had to sit down fast. Another vestibular migraine.

The pain lessened in intensity in a relatively short period of time, but I’ve had continuous other symptoms throughout the day. I feel awful and can’t trust my balance at all, so I basically spent the day curled up in my chair watching Netflix (I saw a talk by Brene’ Brown and an episode of Queer Eye) then I watched cooking shows (which made me want to bake bread and make my own crackers.) Have I mentioned I’m obsessed with The Great British Bake Off? I watch it over and over, can’t wait for a new season to come to the US. Oh, it’s called The Great British Baking Show in the US if anyone is interested.

Now I’m off to bed, having only accomplished, let’s see, nothing on my list for today; and that’s perfectly okay. I got the living room vacuumed!

I do believe the new antidepressant must be working, 2 weeks ago having a day like today would have made me feel worthless, useless, and filled with dread. Today I can take it for what it is, life at this moment. Nothing more, nothing less. I guess it was a good day after all.

Weekend Warrior

One of the last of the wildflowers 2019 Tucson – W Holcombe

I missed writing yesterday, it was such a full day I just didn’t get it in.

Before my painting class with my niece I decided to take a Maxalt, and a couple of toradol with a little caffeine to see if I could get this migraine to a level where I could not only be present for the day, but also enjoy it a little. The pain did get to a more tolerable level, and after an hour I took the 2nd dose of Maxalt (if the pain doesn’t subside with a first dose you are supposed to take a second, I normally don’t because I don’t want to run out of my medication too soon, but on special days I will), after the second dose the pain was reduced more! Yay. The class was fun. I was sad because I cannot understand most of what my niece says, she speaks very quietly most of the time and does not move her mouth much at all. I’d love to be the aunt she could whisper too and tell secrets, but I can’t hear most of what she says. It makes me so sad. It did bother me that I did not get a thank you at the end of the day, I wasn’t surprised, that saddens me too. I do think she had a good time, though.

After our painting class we went out for pizza with the family. It’s always a mixture of emotions when I spend time with Stuart’s family. I like the feeling of family, but it can be a bit too much for me all at one time, and Stuart’s sister is very boisterous. I can only take her in small doses. We had to go back over to their house for some things after lunch so my time with her was close to hitting it’s limit before we left, and I was starting to have more pain.

When we left I was still feeling pretty good though and decided I did not want to waste it. I knew I might be pushing it a bit too much, but it’s a good chance that the next day could bring increased pain no matter what I do, so when I’m able, I’m taking advantage of it. I found out about this little clothing store that carries a style of clothing that I like so we went to check it out. Funny thing, I got 2 dresses, and neither one of them are in the style that I went there looking for. ha!

After that we were both bushed, but we wanted a treat so we got frozen yogurt before we went home and spent the evening watching baking shows and old Dr. Who’s.

Today I woke up feeling pretty good. Ate breakfast, picked up a few things around the house, then set out in the backyard to poopy scoop, something I haven’t done in a very long time and I’ve been feeling very guilty about it. I walked out and saw that the little rake and pan that I use to do it had been moved. “Oh no, my landlord felt the need to pick up my dog’s poop!” I felt so ashamed. I told Stuart and he said he wouldn’t feel bad if someone did that he’d just thank them. Ugh! I thought well no wonder stuff just accumulates on the porch and things are not put away….he feels no shame about things. Our back porch looks awful, he should be ashamed. So I told him so! Then I went out there and cleaned up the back porch! I moved and rearranged plastic totes (they are empty), I swept down the cob webs, I swept off all the totes and pool floats, I swept the porch (boy was there a lot of little mesquite leaves on there!), I wiped down the grill, and I got Stuart to get rid of the 2 cardboard boxed that were back there. Now my back porch looks all clean and organized, and we look like we take pride in our home. I am absolutely amazed at how much I can do when I’m mad! The amazing thing is, I could sweep like that and it didn’t hurt my back much at all, but have me stand at the kitchen counter and try to bake or cut up veggies and it hurts so bad it brings me to my knees.
(Yes, I know the whole thing about feeling shame sounded snarky, I felt snarky at the time. I shouldn’t have gotten mad. I know a lot of my anger actually came from feeling that I can’t do my share to help keep up the house and the yard. Stuart and I talked about it, and he says he understands, I think he does, and I still think he needs to feel a little shame now and then. lol)

After all that adrenaline flew out of my body I fell into a heap in my chair and crashed. Then after about an hour I started seeing the world vibrating and going dim, I suddenly felt high but I hadn’t done anything to cause it, then the pain hit; a vestibular migraine had started. It wasn’t quite lunch time when I curled up ready for the end of the day.

I had a very full weekend, I got a lot of things done and had some fun, now for some sleep.

Journal Day 2 – Yoga Therapy

It has been a very long day and I thought about not writing today, but the main reason I decided to post these journal entries here instead of writing them in a personal journal was to keep me accountable and keep me motivated, so here goes it.

Firs Saguaro bloom I saw this year.

My 3 day migraine broke about 10pm last night, so I was able to sleep well until 5am when I woke feeling a bit off and went to the bathroom when suddenly vertigo hit and so did the pain in my head. I had a vestibular migraine, with migraine associated vertigo. I’m not sure how long the vertigo lasted. I took my medication, and used medical marijuana to stop the vomiting and waited it out until I could go back to sleep. Stuart stayed with me and then worked from home to make sure I was okay. When I got up at 10am I no longer felt the effects of the vertigo, but the migraine was more intense. I ate breakfast hoping it would improve before my 1pm appointment, but by noon I decided I needed to take something. It took the edge off just enough that I was able to get through my appointment.

Now, about that appointment! I’ve been in physical therapy for my back and it simply hasn’t been helping so I decided to try something else. Someone recommended a woman who is a physical therapist who teaches therapeutic yoga. I’m working one on one with her. The first visit was very interesting. She showed me lots of photos of how muscles work together and we talked about how if certain muscles in one part of the body are not strong then other parts of the body will suffer. My hips and pelvic area are weak. She said that often when those muscles are weak it will cause pain in the back, especially when standing for a while, like mine does. She gave me some very simple exercises to focus on over the next couple of weeks then I go back in. I don’t know if this will help my back or not, but I know my whole pelvic area needs to be stronger so I’m going to work really hard on this. I’m really proud of myself for going to this appointment after waking with vertigo this morning, often that would cause me to be too afraid to do anything for the rest of the day. I was more off balance than normal, but I was determined, and since Stuart was able to take me I felt safe.

After that appointment we went and picked up my new glasses. I got new glasses a couple of weeks ago, but they made the lenses wrong. They had the focal point in the wrong spot so my progressives were not working at all. Now they are all fixed and I can see the computer. I’m not positive I like these new frames, it will take me a while to get used to them. They are SO different from my old ones. I went from dark bold statement frames to clear light weight frames. What a difference. I would post a picture, but I’m in bed. lol

We then went to Walgreens to pick up some prescriptions of mine and get some things straight they have messed up and I had a bit of a melt down. They really have messed up a few of my prescriptions, calling doctors for refills who I don’t see anymore, filling things I don’t need, prescriptions not showing up on line so I can manage them….So I had a list of things that needed to be discussed fixed, but I couldn’t hear anything in there so Stuart had to do the talking. I was trying so hard to follow what was being said, and he would ask me something and I’d try to answer and then I felt like he just dismissed me and half the things on my list were not addressed and it was just a mess. I ended up in tears and went to sit in the car. There has to be a better way for me to communicate the things I need.

I looked back at the situation and when we walked up there it was so noisy I got so overwhelmed told Stuart that I couldn’t hear so he would need to handle it for me. Right there, I gave up my control in the situation, but then I got upset when I felt like he “dismissed” me. When I started to feel like things were not being handled the way I wanted them to be, I should have spoken up and said something. Even though I couldn’t hear well enough, I should have made them slow down and help me understand, even it that meant they had to write it down. This is my healthcare, I need to be more assertive and stop being so afraid.

There’s something else I need to also look at with this situation though, I had a migraine. The pain had increased to a 7, it was harder to concentrate and focus, my vision was slightly blurred from the florescent lights and the right side of my face was tingling. I honestly don’t know if I would have spoken up if I had been migraine free, but I do think I need understand that migraine changes how you deal with life, and I need to give myself a break sometimes.

Thoughts on Migraine Hypersensitivity

Thoughts on migraine hypersensitivity

I found a post on Hearing Health and Technology Matters that I felt would be of interest to many of you.

Thoughts on Migraine Hypersensitivity By On July 18, 2016

“As the director of a balance and vestibular clinic, I see many patients with complaints of dizziness, disorientation, and motion sensitivity related to migraine. We work closely with our neurology colleagues in managing these patients. The International Headache Society has an official classification of “vestibular migraine.”

to continue reading this article please follow this link: http://hearinghealthmatters.org/dizzinessdepot/2016/thoughts-migraine-hypersensitivity/

6 Signs Your Symptoms Could be a Vestibular Migraine

migraine eyeAs I’ve written about before, I have vestibular migraines, with Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV).   It is hard to diagnose this type of migraine,it’s also very difficult to figure out if your vertigo is coming from MAV.  I came across this article the other day and thought it was worthy of sharing.

6 Signs Your Symptoms Could be a Vestibular Migraine

Following are the Symptoms they talk about, please go to the actual article to read about each of these in detail.

1. You have a personal or family history of migraine.
2. You experience vestibular symptoms in the presence or absence of a migraine headache.
3. Your vestibular symptoms vary in their severity over time.
4. In an episode, you experience other classic migraine symptoms.
5. Your symptoms increase with exposure to known migraine triggers.
6. Your vestibular symptoms significantly reduce your quality of life.

From this article there is a link to a blog post on My Migraine Brain that I found interesting. Valerie’s Vestibular Migraine

I hope you will find this as informative as I did.

If you have any questions about my experience with vestibular migraines and MAV, please ask.  I’m happy to keep the conversation going.

My Visit to John Hopkins

John Hopkins Outpatient
John Hopkins Outpatient

A couple of months ago I applied to be seen at the vestibular clinic at John Hopkins Hospital.  My records were sent, and an appointment was set up for December 27th, then it was moved up to December 11th. I must say, that was just fine with me.

I was scheduled to have a hearing test, and an Electonystagmography (ENG) test before seeing the doctor, but the doctor had to leave at 2pm (before my original appointment time) so he wouldn’t see the test before he left, so we asked if I could take the test at home.  You see, I had to stop any medication that might help with vertigo attacks before the Electonystagmography (ENG) test, if I didn’t have to stop these medications while out-of-town, I sure didn’t want to.  They said no problem, and I sure was glad.  I spent all of Thursday with vertigo, it was slow but it was there, I can’t imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t been able to take my meds.  I also had an attack right before my appointment on Friday.  I had very little balance when I saw the doctor and my vision still wasn’t clear.  So he saw me when I was not doing well.  I think that’s a good thing.  How many times have you been to the doctor and all of your symptoms just magically disappear right when you get there?  That is so frustrating.

When we walked into the Outpatient Clinic it was like walking into an airport.  You checked into the front desk, we both got arm bands to prove we belonged there.  There were all kinds of signs and lines and directions, it was a bit to take in all at once.  Stuart said we were told where the elevators were (no I couldn’t hear much in there) and off we went.  When we got where we were supposed to be, I was very impressed that the check in and out areas were looped.  If you don’t have hearing aids of CI’s you won’t understand that.  If your hearing aid or CI has a telecoil setting, then the hearing loop provides a magnetic, wireless signal that is picked up by the hearing aid or CI when it is set to ‘T’ (Telecoil) setting, and the person using that setting can hear the voice right in their ear, no background noise or anything…it is really cool. So, we checked in and were told to go to the little waiting room in the back….that’s when it started to look like just a normal hospital setting.  The little waiting room, wasn’t all that little, but it wasn’t all that big either.  We were early, because I HATE to be late.  My first appointment was to get a hearing test…(snicker).  But soon a very soft spoken woman came out and said the doctor wanted to see me first, at least that is what Stuart told me she said, I had no idea.  She took my vitals, she asked for my weight and height…I got it mixed up as to which one she asked for first, because I couldn’t hear her and I was guessing.  Soon the doctor came in…..

We talked a bit about my history and he gave me some tests while in his office.  A bit of touching my finger to my nose and then to his hand, turning my hand over and over….ect. Some I could do okay, some I had trouble with.  Then he said he was sorry but needed to shake my head a bit.  I did not do well with that one.  I had to look at his nose while he shook my head.  One time when he shook my head Stuart said he saw my eyes jerk, he said it was “kinda freaky”.  The doctor asked me to stand up and I staggered a bit, he said never mind, sit down, be careful.  I guess that answered that test.

He then said he wanted me to have the hearing test and come back in to see him.  So I went out.  I still thought it was kind of funny getting a hearing test because I’m deaf.  I can hear a tiny bit in my right ear, but it is so little you may as well say, I can’t hear anything.  Soon the doctor comes to the waiting room and said, the Audiologist said that since I have cochlear implants she couldn’t give me a hearing test.  Yes, I kind of giggled inside.  Stuart told them over on the phone that I had CI’s and a hearing test was kind of unnecessary, but they said it was ordered.  Then the doctor said they could do the ENG test that I was originally scheduled for now, so he could see it.  Well, I had just taken meds to help me, since I was really sick after the test he performed.  I told him, that and how it said I wasn’t supposed to take any meds for like that for 48 hours before the test, and I’d already taken it twice that day.  He agreed the test might not be accurate under those circumstances. Oops, kinda wish I hadn’t taken my meds, but then again, I really don’t want to be so far from home when I have that test done.  I just know I’m going to be sick.

The ENG will show how much vestibular function I have left in each ear.  That’s pretty important right now…..because here’s what he thinks and the plan……

He said, it is obvious I have damaged vestibular function, it is just a question of how much, and how much in each ear.  He said he believes that, yes I have Meniere’s Disease, and Vestibular Migraines, and he said I have balance issues caused from getting my Cochlear Implants.  I noticed before, my vertigo got worse after getting my CI’s, but no one ever said that they could have caused some of it.

He said we have to treat these in different ways.  One is to get my migraines under control.  He likes that I’m seeing a Neurologist that specializes in headaches, so I’ll continue to see her and try to get the migraines more under control.  If we can’t do this, I may be taking another trip to John Hopkins to the Headache Clinic for evaluation.  The next thing he said was, I need to have vestibular rehabilitation to train my body and brain to balance without my ears.  He also said,  we need to kill my balance system in my ears.  We plan on doing this with gentamicin shots in both ears.  How much I need to have depends on the results of the test, one ear may already be dead, who knows…we just don’t know how damaged they are yet.

I will be seeing a new otolaryngolgist here in Charlotte on Wednesday, the 16th, and we will discuss all of this, and set up getting the test that the doctor at John Hopkins wants.  They will confer with each other on a treatment plan.  I guess, It will also be good getting a 3rd opinion.  The one from my doctor at Duke, the one from John Hopkins, and now let’s see what this doctor thinks.  This doctor knows I have been to John Hopkins and they will be conferring with each other.

There are a few questions I forgot to ask.  I know many of you are thinking….”You should have written them down.”  I did, really, I did.  But I wrote it on the paperwork they gave me, and I gave it to them…I didn’t have it after that….duh.  So I’m going to ask the new doctor.  It’s only a couple of things.  Nothing that would really change the plan I think.  I just want to know if they think my Meniere’s could be autoimmune, since it reacts so well when I am on steroids; and I’d like to know if they can answer why when I breathe in through my mouth, or drink anything cold or hot I feel it in my right ear.  That’s just weird.

I know I forgot to ask him these things because he was telling me things that had been thinking for a long time.  I actually asked for this treatment from my doctor.  But he wouldn’t do it.  He said it was too destructive and I could be so disabled I wouldn’t be able to do anything….ect.  The doctor at John Hopkins looked at me and said, “more disabled than you are now?”  He then asked if I had been given vestibular rehabilitation, and we told him no, that I asked for it, but my doctor had said that things fluctuated so much he didn’t think it would help.  He frowned, and said, he thought I could benefit a lot from vestibular rehab….so as I said before, we plan to do that first.   I went into the appointment with no expectations.  Actually, I expected them to tell me there was nothing they could do.  I had no real hope.  I told the doctor this, he said….No, don’t give up hope.  I explained, if I came in there thinking he was going to fix me and then he couldn’t do anything I would have fallen apart, if I came in there with no expectations, I would be thrilled if he could do anything.  He liked that.  We talked a bit more, and he insured me he would consult with my doctor here and answer any questions, and if I came back up there he would be happy to see me.  Then when I left he shook my hand and told me that it was a true honor to meet me.  That shocked me.  I told him it was so very good to meet him and thanked him profusely.  and went on my way.

A little about the trip itself…….The trip up to John Hopkins was pretty uneventful.  We stopped by Duke to pick up films that I’ve had done….you know, MRI’s, and such.   When we went through Washington, I saw the White House, the Jefferson Memorial and the National Monument in the distance.  I’ve been to Washington before and have seen those things up close, but it is still kind of magical to me.  I don’t know why.  Driving into Baltimore, it seemed so BIG.  The GPS told us to go straight when we should have gone to the right to get to our hotel and we ended up in a very sad part of town.  The buildings were mostly boarded up, yet there were a few businesses here and there.  I can’t imagine how they would ever do any business.  One place we passed there were a lot of nice cars parked on the road, and one burnt out car right in the middle of them.  Soon we made it back to our hotel.  It was just a very sad detour.

On Wednesday night…well I guess it was Thursday morning…Stuart shook me awake at 5am.  I thought, we don’t have to be anywhere, why is he waking me up.  I read his lips… FIRE!  I was awake then!!  He pointed to the alarm.  The Fire Alarm was going off.  I jumped up and put on enough to get out of the hotel…it was very hard for me to go down 3 flights of stairs!!  We were all out on the street and almost immediately there were 2 fire trucks on the scene.  No fire.  I never found out what happened.  I could not climb back up those stairs, and it took a while for them to turn the elevator back on so we had a bit of a wait.  That was fine with me.  I was very impressed that the fire department got there so fast.  The scariest part for me, if Stuart had not been in the room I never would have known there was a fire alarm going off.  I would have slept right through it.

Well, we had an adventure!  I told Stuart when we got back to the room, that with all this stress, I still hadn’t had a vertigo attack…that was amazing….so, we were moving to Baltimore.  But I spoke too soon.  Of course, I woke up with one the next day….and it lasted all day….but I spoke about that earlier in this post.

I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to do anything while we were there.  The one day I felt good, we wasted because 2 of my shirts didn’t get packed so I didn’t have enough clothes.  Curses.  The next day if I had felt well, we were going to do something.  We planned to go to the Aquarium, it wasn’t far from where we were staying.  However, of all the sites in Baltimore that there are to see…..after all it is home to one of my favorite poets, Edgar Allen Poe…I really wanted to see Charm City Cakes.  Yes, I wanted to go see a Bakery!  I didn’t even care if I went inside, I just wanted to see the building.  It is the bakery from the show Ace of Cakes….that isn’t on any more.

Duff Goldman
Duff Goldman – photo courtesy of Food Network

Duff Goldman started it..still owns it, has a second one in LA now.  He is often on the Food Network.  They do spectacular work, and I was just a huge fan of that show, and I just love Duff.  I could just eat him up.  I love the story behind his life, and I love his personality.   I regret that we didn’t at least drive by Charm City Cakes.  Yes, I am a goof.  I was sick, had a migraine, couldn’t focus worth a toot, had about 8 hours on the road ahead of me…and I regret that I didn’t stop by and see a bakery.  But hey, what is life without the little things?