A Few Words...

What is written here is my opinion and personal experience only. I am not qualified to give advice - medical, legal, or otherwise. Please be responsible and do your own research regarding treatments, diets, doctors, and alternative therapies.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life: April 1, 2009

I awoke that morning like any other, stood up to walk to the bathroom and immediately did a one eighty back to bed.  OMG!  The room was spinning and so, once back in bed, I laid perfectly still, eyes closed, and began to feel panicked.  After a little while, I surmised I had a hangover and began to relax.  And get angry.
  I had asked the waiter the night before how the mimosas were made.  I know I cannot drink Champagne.  Even a small glass leaves me miserable the next day with a headache and an all over icky feeling.  He assured me the restaurant made their mimosas only with organic Chardonnay.  Wine and I get along fine, so I had three: one before dinner, one with dinner, and, not being the designated driver, one for the road.  Nothing beyond my usual level of tolerance.

As I lay in bed that morning, I cursed the waiter.  Damn, those mimosas had to have been made with Champagne.  I accepted I had a hangover and swayed myself to the bathroom to lay on the cold floor, just in case.  My husband chuckled and got the kids off to school.  Three or four hours later I began to feel better and chalked it up to a lesson-learned.  No more mimosas for me.

The next three weeks were uneventful.  Then, one night as I sat down to eat dinner, my ear made a loud popping sound and once again the room was spinning.  This time I sensed something was wrong.  This felt too similar to what I had felt on that fateful April Fool's Day.  Again, I felt better after several hours, as if nothing had happened.

However, the next few days I continued to have shorter bouts of vertigo and dizziness.  And my husband pointed out that I was "deaf."  I took Sudafed to no avail, my ears felt so plugged and I couldn't hear anything.  By about the 2nd or 3rd day of this, I called and insisted on getting a doctor's appointment that day.  My regular doctor was out so I saw her colleague, a nice guy about my age.  He assured me I only had benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and relayed to me his own experience with it.  I was not convinced.  I had vertigo no matter what position I was in.  My hearing was shot.  And the vertigo always subsided after a few hours.  But I hoped he was right.

Even at this early point I began to suspect Meniere's Disease.  Toward the end of her life, my grandma was given this diagnosis.  As we were very close, I remember her having a vertigo attack that sent her to the hospital in an ambulance.  From that day on she took meclizine every morning.  This was sometime around 2001 and I later recalled the frightening words I had read about this disease as I researched her diagnosis on-line: vertigo, deafness.  Disability.  A disease, I quietly thought, I hope I never get.  I remember that thought like I had it yesterday.

A few days later, and more research, I was convinced I needed a referral to an ENT.  Again Dr. Nice Guy was covering for my usual doctor when I called to ask for a referral.  He refused.  Said I just needed to give it time.  I suggested I thought I might have MM (aka Meniere's Disease), but he assured me this is very rare and to wait it out.  Fortunately for me, I have a PPO, so I referred myself.

A week or so later, I was seen by an ENT, Dr. Bone.  Ok, now I am cracking myself up.  I get MM on April Fool's Day and then go see a guy named Bone.  He was actually a very serious guy, probably would not appreciate my crack about his name.  Regardless, he took me seriously, ordered an MRI (or was it a CT scan) to rule out a brain tumor and referred me to his colleague, a neurotologist who specialized in vestibular disorders.

At this point, I almost hoped it was the tumor they were trying to rule out: an acoustic neuroma.  By then I understood that MM was a difficult disorder to treat and that a tumor could be surgically removed with a relatively high success rate.

But my brain scan was normal and my new doctor, Dr. Harris, confirmed my fear: Meniere's Disease.  It was now late May or early June.  In hindsight, I was so fortunate to get a diagnosis so quickly.  I have read about so many people suffering for years with the wrong diagnosis and wrong treatments, if they got any at all. 

Again, more reassurance. Dr. Harris said 80% of people respond well to diuretics and a low salt diet.  I took this as a challenge.  Being a dietitian, I could handle any dietary restriction.  This was a race I could win.  I would be his star patient!  I would be in the 80%!  How could I not be?

Huge failure...

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