Well, I came home from our trip to Utah with the flu, bummer. I found out at the end of that week that I had an middle ear infection also. By the next Tuesday I was feeling pretty good and Geoff and I actually went for a walk in the park. I woke up on Wednesday feeling slightly dizzy and by that night I was pewking every time I moved in bed. I felt terrible! The room felt like it was spinning any time I moved. Geoff got me to the Dr on Thursday, which wasn't a pretty sight! I had my pewk bucket under my chin the whole time, was dry heaving and belching in the waiting room and couldn't walk without falling unless I held onto Geoff. That was the shortest waiting room wait I've ever had! I think they wanted to get me away from the other patients!
The Dr. diagnosed me with labrynthitis, an inner ear infection, gave me a shot for the nausea and sent me home. I spent the next three days in bed with Geoff or Elisa walking me to the bathroom. I finally got out of bed on Sunday and could sit up if I had my head supported for about 4 hours, then right back to bed. I started to hate my bed! I felt so cooped up. I took for granted being able to dress myself without help, take a shower and brush my teeth standing up. (For my first shower we put a chair in the shower so I could sit. It felt so good to be clean after about 5 days!) Luckily the shot and then the pills they gave me for the nausea worked. I was just very dizzy.
Every day I felt better and about a week after it started I decided to call the outpatient department of the hospital where I work. They have an audiologist and a physical therapist that specialize in vestibular problems. They tested me and told me I actually had vestibular neuritis which is when a virus attacks your vestibular nerve. They also told me I had sustained 40% permanent damage to that nerve. That didn't sound very good to me! but they seemed happy that it wasn't 70% or more, which I guess is typical. Luckily I didn't have any hearing loss. If I did then the diagnosis would have been labrynthitis like my Dr. thought. It is still unclear how people get a virus in the inner ear and it isn't very common for younger people, but the audiologist said I was the third young person in 2 months to come in with this diagnosis.
Any way, they started having me do therapy, which included things like looking at an X in front of me and turning my head side to side, then up and down. They gradually increased the difficulty of the exercises as I improved. I had to stand with my feet together or on pillows. It really amazed me how poor my balance was when they tested me! After being in bed for 3 days I had been happy that I was up and moving around the house. I had even thought I might be able to go back to work. (I now work one day a week.) But the therapist assured me it would be very difficult and challenging to return to work and I'm glad I took her advice!
The first time I went back to church I got dizzy just walking into the chapel and looking at all the pews, turning my head to find a seat. It was also difficult to talk to people because nodding my head in response to what they were saying (something I didn't realize I did so much!) made me dizzy.
I kept going to therapy and doing my exercises and the good news is that I graduated from therapy early. Yay! I didn't mind going, in fact I'd take Mina with me because the other therapist loved watching her. It was just nice to know I was going to recover. I still feel a little dizzy when I turn my head fast, and the therapist said I'd have some residual deficit (there's my therapist talk coming out!) for the rest of my life, but it should only affect me during really high level activity like roller blading or something like that.
The therapist at one point said that I was taking my decreased balance and dizziness with a very good attitude, that most people are very discouraged when they see how bad it actually is when tested. I told her that after spending all that time in bed I was just grateful to be able to walk to the bathroom and function by myself. I was free again, even if my balance wasn't great and I got dizzy when I turned my head fast. It takes being down to realize how blessed I am to move and function freely.
I now hardly ever feel dizzy and have returned to normal life. I do wonder, though, how my next roller coaster ride is going to go! Maybe I'll have to bring my pewk bucket along!