I guess I jumped the gun a bit in my last post when I casually mentioned my vertigo and that it wasn’t going too badly. Since then it has progressively gotten worse to the point that having to get into work was nerve-wracking to say the least (running for a bus, being on said bus while unsteady, walking to my office, etc). On top of that, it was starting to affect my ability to do my actual job because apparently it can be quite difficult to concentrate when your head suddenly starts to spin. Go figure. On top of that, I sometimes get extremely nauseated very quickly when the spinning is especially brutal, so you can imagine how challenging customer service could be under all those conditions.
I have seen a regular doctor, an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat specialist) twice, and an audiologist in recent weeks. The regular doctor wasn’t really able to offer much help beyond prescribing me with medication which helps some of the time, but not all of the time. However, he was also able to refer me to the ENT which was great. The ENT had me come in to see the audiologist who confirmed that I do show some hearing loss in my left ear. That makes sense as the left ear is the one that regularly experiences tinnitus – both the high pitched ringing kind and the “whooshing” kind. It’s also the one that often feels like it’s blocked even though it’s not.
The good news is that the hearing loss may not be permanent, but we won’t know for awhile. I’m scheduled to go back in five months to do another hearing test to see if there’s any change for better or for worse. Also, luckily I can still hear fairly well, it’s just sounds on the high pitch side of things that I don’t hear quite as well.
I saw the ENT for a second time on Monday and he is hopeful that this vertigo will not be a chronic condition that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. He feels that it’s caused by a build-up of fluid in my inner ear though he couldn’t say what caused it. All I care about is whether he’s correct about it going away in due time. I have so much empathy and compassion for people who have been living with this for years. I think about the things that I love to do that are not possible right now (especially running, something that I was planning on starting back up again in the next couple of weeks to start training for the Bluenose Half Marathon but I can’t of course run when I sometimes find walking a challenge!) and it terrifies me to think this could be permanent.
So I’m being as positive as I can be and believing that yes, it will fade away and I’ll be fine very soon!
In the meantime I have taken my ENT’s advice and filed a claim for short term disability leave from work. Thank God for insurance! I’m still waiting to see if my claim will be approved or if I will need to find a way to drag myself back into work again somehow, but I am hopeful. The doctor said it would be a very good idea to take the time to rest and let myself heal so I am keeping my fingers crossed. I’ve been off since Wednesday and I am hoping to hear a decision by the beginning of the week.
I’ve been told to cut way back on salt so I am avoiding my beloved chips like the plague and I have become a neurotic label-reader to see how much sodium is in anything that I may ingest. Although I was always a salt addict, it’s worth it to me to cut it out as much as possible if that is the key to getting rid of this vertigo. One reassuring thing was that he confirmed that eating salty snacks was not the cause of the vertigo (they don’t know what causes this kind) so at least I feel better knowing that I didn’t do this to myself. He also said to take care in not drinking too much in the way of fluids because the idea is to reduce the inner ear fluid, so although it’s difficult sometimes to not drink my usual amount of water, I am drinking much less water than usual. I must confess that one took me by surprise because every instinct in me says to drink MORE water, not less, but I’m not a medical professional so I will follow his advice and see how it goes.
I’m also still taking the medication (betahistine) even though it’s hit or miss. I figure it isn’t hurting me to take it (I have almost no side effects to it, other than the occasional tiny headache) and I can only imagine it would be even that much worse if I stopped taking it.
The ENT told me that vertigo caused by an inner ear fluid build-up is stubborn but that “if you show it you’re serious by taking away salt, excess fluids, taking the medication, and resting as much as possible, it will eventually go away.”
The sooner the better, thanks!