Thursday, December 8, 2011

Meniere's Update

A lovely flower from a grateful client

I am back with another update on my meniere's disease.  Please forgive me.  I don't mean to blather on and bore you to tears.  But I need to keep a journal of my symptoms and the way my house functions a hard copy journal would disappear.  So bear with me.  Skip over this post if need be.  I'll be back with crafty updates soon.

Over the weekend I felt GREAT.  As in 100% normal.  As in I was a perfectly capable and well human being.  As in I could HEAR. This is also remarkable as I was in the midst of working (last week I logged 65 hours in seven days; three night shifts and two day shifts).  No tinnitus or dizziness or head fog.

Work was busy and I had a surgery to perform (a GDV on a dog).  I made an effort to appreciate the experience.  If this disease continues (especially if it worsens) I'll no longer be able to perform surgery.

Fast forward to Tuesday, my first day off work.  The tinnitus in my left ear returned (why does it always come back when I have days off?).

Then yesterday.  Yesterday Middle and I went to get allergy shots (I've been getting them for five years so this is nothing new).  After shots we went to pick Little up from dance class.  We were nearly there when my tinnitus increased.  Not only did it increase but I had it in both ears.  This seems to be my warning sign that a vertigo attack is impending.

I spent a good 30 seconds trying to convince myself I was imagining the tinnitus; that it was simply a sound my car was making.  Then I spent another 30 seconds inwardly chanting I will not have an attack, I will not have an attack.  Then I had an attack.

Fortunately we were nearly there.  I was able to pull over in the dance parking lot. The actual vertigo portion was relatively short-lived (maybe 45 seconds).  Middle went in to get Little and I sat in the car waiting to see what was going to happen next.  My head was foggy, I was a little off balance but felt okay so long as I didn't quickly turn my head from side to side.  I was able to drive home.

The upside?  No real nausea and no vomiting.  Seriously.  This is a very good thing.

Now, as I type, I feel slightly off balance (even though I'm sitting in a chair).  I again feel as if I'm on a boat -- swaying slightly back and forth.  Not like I'm going to fall over, just slightly off balance.

So here are the dilemmas (and there are a multitude of them).

  •  Do I keep driving?  For now, for me, the answer is yes.  I seem to have fair warning before and impending attack and should be able to pull over.  Of course if I'm feeling particularly off balance then I won't drive.  If I start having drop attacks then driving might be out.  
  • Do I allow other people's children in my car?  On a good day, a day without tinnitus,  yes.  When my ear is ringing - no.  It's just not a good idea.  
  • Should I get a cell phone?  Yes.  I probably should.  There may be a time in the future when I need someone to come pick me up.  
  • Was this caused by my allergy shots?  Who the heck knows.  Certainly the tinnitus preceded the injections but they could have pushed things over the edge.  Allergy shots are recommended for people with meniere's as it is thought to reduce overall body inflammation. 
  • How is this going to affect my ability to work?  Thus far I've had one mild vertigo episode at work.  I was able to lay down and it passed.  If these episodes become more frequent and more severe they will be a problem.  If I'm having tinnitus and have to go into surgery I may have to have someone on call.  Someone to come in should things go south.  This doesn't make me feel particularly capable. 
  • Can we save enough money to get us by should these attacks get worse?  Good question.  We certainly don't have that three months pay set aside (the amount of time until disability would kick in). 
  • At what point would my disability insurance consider me disabled?  Now I am working and functioning.  But has this been sheer luck?  My attacks have happened mostly during my off hours.
  • How much is work, and my schedule, affecting this disease?  I don't know.  I'm sure a lack of sleep does not help. 
  • How long would it take and how difficult would it be to file a disability claim?  I have no idea.  I'm not ready to file a claim just yet but am wondering and worrying about the future. 
  • When do I notify my disability insurance about an impending problem?  Again I have no idea.  
And there you have it.  More questions than answers. 

Tomorrow I have another doctor's appointment at the ENT.  This time with the meniere's specialist.  Truth-be-told I feel silly going.  There is not much they can do.  I'm capable of reading up on this disease on my own.  But, again, I want documentation should things get worse. 

For now I'll just appreciate things as they are.  Appreciate my ability to work.  Appreciate driving. Appreciate walking.  And it looks like that cell phone I've been wanting but haven't quite been able to justify is also in my future.  I'm going to have fun with that too.  



Jen said...

It must be horrible to feel so frightened and uncertain, and to be aware of growing limitations. I hope this resolves soon!

Keith said...

I've had Meniere's for 6 years now and still have a driver's liscence . As long as I am having warnin signs the doctor says I can drive . I've found out the trans derm V patch really helps with the vertigo . My ENT says the tinnitus is caused by the brain not the ear. So , if I keep the brain distracted I don't have the tinnitus as badly . I hae been lucky as the Meniere's hit after I retired so I don't have to worry about income . Hope you can continue to do the things you love for many years to come . Don't get tired or stressed I have found these to be the biggest triggers in my case .

Shalet said...

Thanks Keith. I am hoping to keep doing what I love. I went to the doctor today and am trying another dose of steroids. If that doesn't work then he's recommending a steroid injection into my ear (ouch!). We shall see how things progress.

I love having the support of others with this disease. So wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Oh, sweetie. I'm so sorry.

Anonymous said...

Coping must be the hardest part.
I bow to your grace in this situation.
I can not imagine the mountain that this must be.
Acceptance would be something I would be in constant battle over myself with.
if it helps in even the smallest way,
know that I am believing in you, and that however you cope, that you will do so beautifully.
and on a side note, I had a major crisis in my days last week and I thought of you.
Our little dog was hit by a car in our driveway. My daughter was beside herself, but I took her with me to the 24 hr vets.
The women working was not only good with my poor battered puppy, but she communicated with my daughter on her level, and helped her to deal with her fear and love with such amazing skill. I found myself thinking at 2 am, that this must be what it's like for you. My gratitude for what you do knows no bounds...
little man is mending slowly, stitches staples and a cracked pelvis, he is sleeping by my feet