Posts Tagged ‘health’

Vertigo and Meniere’s Disease

In 1999, our family went to Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh and rode on a stupid roller coaster called the Steel Phantom.  I was so damn mad at that ride when we got off. I was crying because my neck hurt so badly. I swear we all had whiplash. I found out that the Kennywood people re-vamped it after many complaints. It wasn’t too long after that “Ride of Misery”, that I started having problems with my ear.

One day out of the blue, my right ear started feeling like swimmer’s ear. It felt full. Well, I had been swimming in our pool that afternoon. That night when I rolled over, it felt as if water was leaking out of my ear. I was sure my pillow was soaked. Nothing. It was such a weird feeling. This went on for a few days. It felt like someone jammed cotton in my ear.

I woke up one day and everything was spinning. I mean, around and around and around. It ended up being for 36 hours straight. I had to crawl to the bathroom. I had to crawl down the stairs when everyone was in school or at work. I threw up non-stop. I crawled back to bed. I crawled. The one thing I did realize is that my vaccum cleaner wasn’t doing a very good job. I was up close and personal with my carpet. And the toilet. I think vomiting is just so….sickening. I was about to name my toilet, we became such good friends. It was there for me. Tammy Toilet,

I really never thought I was going to get better. I was just going to be a spinning, vomiting, crawling cry-baby for the rest of my life. The carnival ride of death. I took Dramamine and threw it up. I was a mess. Finally, after 36 long, tortuous hours, I felt a bit better and called  and made an appointment with an ENT in Morgantown. I explained the tortuous event, which he named Vertigo.  Vickie Vertigo. I remembered the Jimmy Stewart movie, Vertigo.  He suffered from acrophobia, a fear of heights. Vertigo can be triggered by looking up or down. My vertigo was triggered because I looked.

Actually, according to earsurgery.com, Vertigo is described “as a sudden loss of normal balance or equilibrium. The room may suddenly begin to spin and rotate at high speed. Focusing is difficult, and if the vertigo continues, nausea and vomiting may occur. Vertigo is commonnly caused by acute labyrinthitis (a viral inflammation of the inner ear), benign positional vertigo (a condition due to abnormally floating crystals in the inner ear that stimulate the nerve endings of the inner ear), delayed symptom of head injury, or result of cervical spine problems.”  In a nutshell, I am screwed.

So, back to my visit to the ENT. They put me through some weird tests. They put a balloon in my ears and put water in them, and then blew them up or something. Seriously? Can you imagine the first person they did this to. “Sir, what we are going to do is put this balloon in your ear, and blow it up and then put some water in it.”  They tried to make me dizzy. Thanks alot. I had hearing tests and another where they shut the light and watched my eyes. I don’t know. I guess I should do a google and write the procedures here for you guys to understand, but I’m not feeling it this morning. Anywho, they said my eyes move too much (nystagmus) and that I had Meniere’s Disease.

I had a disease? Hell, a disease sounds contagious. He told me to come back the next time I was having an episode. Sure, I will just have my husband peel me away from the toilet and let him drive me to Morgantown right in the middle of  spinning like a top. This was rotational spinning that would not stop. The ENT told me that Meniere’s Disease is marked by four main symptoms: progressive hearing loss, tinnitus, ear fullness and vertigo. All wrapped up  with a bow on top and given to me. Nice….Oh, and he added, “Stay away from caffeine, salt, and stress. And don’t climb any ladders.”  Funny guy.

So, I went home and did some research. It said that Meniere’s Disease was rare. I joined a forum and found out that it wasn’t rare at all. I made some good friends from Nova Scotia and Saskatoon, Canada and Upper Michigan. People all over the damn place suffered from symptoms of Meniere’s Disease. I started an online group on Yahoo, The Meniere’s Disease Club, which now has over 2,000 members world-wide since 2000. So, no, it isn’t rare. Dizzy is dizzy.

Each person with Meniere’s Disease may have different symptoms. Some lose their hearing over the course of a few months. Some lose it gradually. Some don’t lose much at all. Some people have vertigo attacks daily and can no longer work. It can be a debilitating disorder. I have only had 2 full blown vertigo attacks. I do, however, also have BPPV,  which is short for Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. It sometimes starts at night, when I lie down to go to bed. If I roll over, I get dizzy. Basically, BPPV is vertigo induced by head movements. Well, hell, just put me in a whiplash collar and send me on my merry way. Great. It was bearable when I was a stay-at-home mom, but when I have bouts now, I can’t really look down at the kid’s desks, or turn my head. And I veer while walking down the hall.

I noticed that in the grocery stores, my buggy veered to the left. When I drove my car into the garage, I veered to the left. Don’t know why. I veer. I can’t walk a straight line if my life depended on it. I hope I never get pulled over and asked to walk a straight line, because they would be hauling my butt off to jail for DUI. It would have to be DWM, for Driving With Menieres. It is such a stupid disorder.

Another symptom of Meniere’s Disease is tinnitus. William Shatner has tinnitus. “No! JIM!”  Tinnitus is noise in your ear. Mine sounds like a high pitched whine. According to Wikipedia, Tinnitus is usually described “as a ringing noise, but can take the form of a high pitched whining, electric, buzzing, hissing, screaming, humming, tinging or whistling sound, or as ticking, clicking, roaring, “crickets” or “tree frogs” or “locusts “, tunes, songs, beeping, or even a pure steady tone like heard in a hearing test. It has also been described as a “wooshing” sound, as of wind or waves.” I guess mine would be described as the “pure steady tone like heard in a hearing test.” Fun stuff I have.

The only good thing about having Meniere’s is that I can sleep on my right side and not hear a dog barking. Or someone breaking into my apartment.  I also am affected by the change in barometric pressure. My right ear begins to  hurt before it rains. Sometimes my ear hurts so badly, like a pencil is being shoved in my ear slowly. I also feel the sensation of a bug crawling deep  in my ear. I just want to jam a Q-tip in there, and kill it. And you know how your ears pop when you travel into a higher altitude? Well, my right ear won’t pop. It just starts hurting. I think my head will explode when I travel by plane to visit my daughter in France next spring. Again, fun stuff.

So, this is my life. Thank goodness my Meniere’s symptoms are very mild. I make fun of myself, so that helps when I have flare-ups. I haven’t crawled to visit my friend, Tammy the toilet in years.

If you have any of these symptoms, hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.  Damn roller coaster. At least when someone calls me a “dizzy blonde,” it really will be the truth.

Update: March 2014….just wanted you to know that I haven’t had a full blown vertigo attack in years, but have a lot of postitional vertigo. I have found that my salt intake is a big part of whether it gets worse or not…also, I have come to the conclusion that diet plays a big part of mine…I can’t eat a turkey breast sandwich from Subway anymore….I think it may be the salt…Weather and change of seasons or a quick change of barometric pressure seems to give me ear pain…everyone with menieres has different little triggers, you have to experiment to find yours….but I believe diet is the culprit….for me.

Mono…The Kissing Disease

When I was in high school, I was lucky if I weighed 90 pounds. I used to fry up two hamburgers most mornings before the bus came in order to gain weight. That is probably where the high cholesterol came from. Nothing worked. I was still skinny.  So, imagine my horror when I was diagnosed with….mono.

In 1973, mononucleosis, or mono, for those with mono who are too fatigued to say the longer term, was called “The Kissing Disease.”  I was pissed because I didn’t kiss anyone. I think it should have been called the “Water Fountain Licking Disease.” I don’t think I got it from there either. I really don’t know where I got it, but I remember there was a football player who had it a week or two before I was diagnosed with it. I bet he licked the water fountain and the bugs jumped up while I was getting water one day. I really didn’t mind people teasing me about kissing this guy, but alas, I was just a blurp on his radar screen.

I specifically remember my symptoms. The sore throat was intense. Mom mom got out a small flashlight and kept checking my throat. “My goodness, Vickie……There are patches of white all over your throat.” Thanks, Mom. Now it hurt even more. Later, it was found that they were pus patches, which is disgusting. “Hey, I have pus patches on my throat..Wanna see with the flashlight?  Hey, I know, let’s go lick some water fountains.” I really wanted others to experience this wonderful thing called mono.

I had a very high fever.  Before I was diagnosed with mono, I called what I had, “The Shuffle Flu.” I remember wearing those scruffy slippers and shuffling around the house because with each step, my head pounded like you wouldn’t believe. So, I couldn’t walk like a normal person. I was a shuffler.

The worse thing for me were the swollen glands. I had them wrapped around my neck. I had no idea there were glands behind your

neck. My neck hurt so badly. I wanted to wear one of those whiplash collars to keep my neck from moving. I felt awful. I might as well look stupid. I even had hurtful swollen glands in my armpits. I was a mess.

One symptom of mononucleosis that I couldn’t handle was the extreme fatigue. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that a trip from the  couch to the kitchen sink was like running a mile as fast as I could. By the time I would shuffle over to the sink, I would be sweating, my pulse would be racing, and I was spent, drained of all energy. I would shuffle slowly back to bed and sleep for hours. It was horrible. I would not wish this on anyone.

I had an enlarged spleen. I wasn’t allowed to pick up anything heavy. So, my mom wouldn’t let me even pick up my dog, Cricket. I just remember my mom saying that there was another boy who had mono in our city at the same time and he had an enlarged heart with his mono.  Oh great. I didn’t want an enlarged heart. I’d take some enlarged breasts though.  Too bad that wasn’t a symptom. So, now there were two guys and me with mono. I sure got around.

I can’t remember how long I was out of school, but I had been preparing for a Voice of Democracy Speech in Speech Class for weeks before mono attacked me, and I was determined to be in that damn contest.  Oh, what a mistake that was. I went to school for a half day and went to the contest at the local VFW that night. All I can remember was standing at the podium, breaking out in a sweat, dying for a glass of water, which someone gave me in the middle of my speech. I downed like I had been out in the desert for a month. Who the hell was I kidding.? I wasn’t going to win. I may have won for “Best Attempt to Utter a Sentence Without Passing Out” award.  I had to hold onto the podium with both hands because I was so fatigued. Stupid, Vickie, stupid. But, teenagers are stupid, so you know, you learn.

So, there are some ways for you to keep the mono bug out of your mouth. Don’t share anyone’s drink or straw. Don’t borrow anyone’s lipstick. Don’t use anyone’s used Kleenex. Ok, that would be gross, but I do want to mention that mononucleosis is spread by saliva and mucus, so don’t flick boogers at people. Ok, still being gross.

Mononucleosis is not fun. Diseases usually aren’t. Just take it easy if you are diagnosed with mono, and don’t rush back to your every day activities. I have found from watching others with it over the years that it can delay the return of your energy if you don’t take time to let your body rest. You could have relapses of fatigue for a while.

And just don’t spit on anyone, Luggie-style.

Damn You, Stupid Elliptical Machine

I toured 2 health facilities in May and decided to go with the one that costs more.  The first place only had 6 bikes and ellipticals and a very small parking lot. Former members told me they quit because they were tired of driving around the parking lot. (In my book, that counts as exercise, so I would have left too.) And, I just didn’t care for the lady who was showing me around. She kept telling me that she was 63 years old…I don’t think that is something to be excited about..

Anywho, I joined Healthplex and I love it there! Since I am a teacher, I have my summers off, and it is like having the whole facility to myself. Well, except for the guy on oxygen and people driving in their Mercedes,  and I imagine they probably don’t have to work or own their own business and can do whatever they want. I had to attend a 1 hour demonstration on the cardio machines and Fitlinx, which logs you in and out  and records your session. I really tried hard to listen, but I didn’t remember a damn thing he told me. I still can’t log on correctly and I don’t want to appear like I have dementia just yet.

My exercise person said I should start on the elliptical. Sounded good to me. I live by the Rails to Trails and often walk, but my feet hurt so badly after a short distance. I think it is because I have no arch and my weight bears down on my poor little feet and I don’t go too far. The elliptical sounded like the right fit for me.

So, I had my little bottle of water, my new Ipod that made me look hip, and I was ready to spend a long time there for my first time. After being on the elliptical for a minute….60 seconds, I thought, “Uh Oh!”  My thighs were already burning. WTH?  I looked over at a very large woman who was going to town on that machine. I forced myself to do 4 minutes and drove home with my head hung low…I am pathetic….Until I googled “elliptical hard” and found a forum full of Vickie’s…

The first week I went to Healthplex, I watched an anorexic looking woman next to me just going crazy on the elliptical. At that time, I was lucky if I could go 6 minutes without my thighs still feeling like they were on fire. When I got off of the elliptical, I looked at her and said, “I hate you.” She cracked up.  I meant it.

It is now July 18 and I am up to 18 minutes. I try to go there 3-4 times a week and I am determined to get to 30 minutes by the time I die, or the end of August, whichever comes sooner. It helps listening to Black Eyed Peas song  “Halfway There” over and over again..(called them Black Eyed Susan’s to someone the other day…hahahaha (ok, not that funny).

The first time I started sweating, I looked around at people like, “Look, I’m sweating.” I wear my sweat with pride, but I can’t stand it.  I really like the elliptical. My thighs are getting tight and the little waves of whatever have disappeared. Now, I just have to quit eating and maybe some weight will come off..Oh,yes, did I mention I have not lost one frickin pound? That’s another vent for another day. In the end, I will conquer the elliptical..I will.

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