watervole: (Default)
The vertigo is mostly gone these days, but I had a recent resurgence which is revealing in its way.

I've been having to having to re-acclimatise myself to contact lenses after the problems I had with amitriptyline.   I'm most of the way there now (I can wear them for about ten hours a day now), but I noticed an immediate return of the vertigo when I started wearing them again after a two-month break.

Clearly my eyes and balance system were confused by the change in focal length, etc.  Using glasses is a bad trigger at present, with or without lenses, clearly all part of the same issue.

It's starting to settle down now that I've been using the lenses for a couple of weeks, but the vertigo still triggers if I move my head while wearing glasses.  I'm hoping that too will wear off in a few more weeks. (It's a real bind when trying to look at my character sheet in RPGs.)
watervole: (Toothache)
Sadly, the results of the MRI scan didn't show anything. My ear/auditory nerve/brain are all fine (which is good if you look at it one way). However, it also means that I'm among the fairly large percentage of people who suffer from vertigo with no definite cause.

I can tell you what will trigger it with a fair degree of accuracy (and what will not)  - I can generally minimise it if I stay away from the computer long enough and stay outdoors a fair bit of the time. What I can't do, is to find an underlying cause that can be treated medically.

A lot of cases of vertigo vanish as mysteriously as they came - I'll just have to hope that mine is among them.  I don't think it's as bad as it was a few months ago (I rarely get nausea now), but using the computer seems to trigger it as easily as ever (I'm feeling dizzy even as I type this).

Hopefully it will fade over time.

Fingers crossed.

MRI Scan

Jul. 28th, 2009 09:55 pm
watervole: (Toothache)
I had an MRI scan last week (won't know if it's produced any useful information for a week or two).  I suspect it's only looking for long-shot options on the cause of the vertigo.

Having a scan is staggeringly boring.  You wait for ages in the waiting room (but at least there's decent magazines), then you lie down with your head in a ring just like on your average hospital TV show.  You effectively have your head in a box, but they thoughtfully provide an angled mirror so you can see the guy at the controls. I suspect this makes people a lot less likely to panic.

They offer you a choice of music on big, padded, headphones.  There's a reason for this...

Being in a scanner is noisy - that's the bit the TV shows gloss over.

They give you the headphones for a reason.

Being in a scanner is not just noisy, it is very noisy.

When you have the headphones on, playing banal music of  limited choice, you can just about hear the music over the sound of a pile driver.

It really, truly, sounds just like someone is operating  a pile driver right next to you - and that's WITH the headphones and music.

I shudder to think what it sounds like without the headphones!  The medical staff all sensibly retire to another room with a closed door before they switch it on.

Being a fairly phlegmatic person, I lay back, closed my eyes for most of the 1-15 mins the scan took and day-dreamed about Doctor Who.  I suspect some people might find it a little scary, but personally, it was reassuringly dull.



watervole: (water vole)
We went on the canals with [profile] on_idle_moor  and had a pleasant week.

More of that later (time and email backlog permitting).

This is mostly a placeholder for me to record what does/does not trigger vertigo.

Much to my pleased surprise, walking on a nine inch wide plank over a fifteen foot drop down to the water of a lock caused me no problems at all.  Indeed, the canals proved to be remarkably low on vertigo triggers and I had less trouble than in any week I can recently remember.

Thus, the few mild attacks that I did get stand out against the background with clear causes.

1.  Crossing a busy road. Turning my head quickly from left to right to keep checking the traffic.

2.  The combined effect of the sound of an in-store freezer along with the store's lighting.  (I actually had to force myself out of a very interesting shop)

3.  Sitting at a table when the boat was rocking and seeing out the window opposite (drawing the curtains solved that one)

4.  Normally, steering the boat was very easy (looking in the same direction that I'm moving seems to be a good thing), but on one occasion we were passing under some poplars in bright sunlight and the shadows of the leaves were racing towards me over the roof of the boat while the boat was moving forwards. That brought on an instant attack.

The triggers all seem to be visual.  I've learned to avoid one or two triggers, simply by closing my eyes every time I take off or put on a pair of glasses, and also by closing my eyes if I turn my head while wearing glasses.  That's becoming almost an automatic habit now and has definitely reduced the number of attacks.

Back home, I'm noticing a difference already.  Working on the computer is possible, but is creating a definite sense of instability (I didn't use a computer at all while we were away and that probably helped a lot.)  I'll have to continue rationing computer use - which will be tricky as there's a massive backlog from when I was away.

I'll probably do a few posts at some point about canal history/culture/archeology.  They were an interesting phase of our history and, as far as I'm aware, the British narrow gauge canal system has no equivalent elsewhere.  (Broad canals are widespread, but the narrow lock may be a British peculiarity and was a specific period in our history.)

PS. I bought a cuddly watervole with a boatman's neckerchief.  (He's more of a hybrid with a rat really, but he's still cute)

watervole: (Toothache)
Had an appointment with ENT at Poole hospital today, which turned out to be quite long and detailed.

First off, I had a hearing test. This produced (as far as I could tell) the same results as the test I had done last week at the opticians. My hearing is fine.

Then I had a long talk with the doctor who was very patient and a good listener.  Which was fortunate.  Sometimes, when the vertigo kicks in I find it very hard to focus and start talking in fits and starts with pauses in mid-sentence - this was one of those days.

He took a detailed case history and then took a look in my ears. He used a sucker of some kind to remove some bits of wax and skin debris, but there was a bit that stayed stuck to the right eardrum, so I've got some bicarbonate of soda drops to try and shift that (I had the sense to ask the pharmacist if they were cheaper off-pescription, and they were, so I saved nearly a fiver there.)

Sucking the bits out produced a temporary improvement (as the vertigo is back again now, I wonder if this was due to a temporary pressure effect?)

He said my right eardrum looked 'dull'. I asked about that and he said that it often indicated fluid behind the ear-drum.  Fluid affects the reflection of light, as well as the inner ear balance mechanisms.  (He was willing to give me a good explanation as I'd already show that I had a reasonable understanding by recognising the BPPV test he carried out - which was negative as I expected, but is never a bad idea to repeat as it's the most easily treatable form of vertigo)

So, I'm going to get another appointment to see the ENT guy in a couple of weeks for a 'pressure test'.  I assume this involves applying air pressure to the eardrums and seeing what is learned from that.

I'm also going to get an appointment for an MRI scan...  I didn't ask him about what that was testing for, and in retrospect, I wish I had.  He did a number of tests with my eyes, tracking finger movements and looking into my pupils, etc. and I think some of those might be relevant.

I'm looking at a couple of web sites, but I'm really getting out of the zone where I can understand what they're talking about, especially when I don't know what conclusions the doctor got from the eye tests.

I suspect some form of inflammation is still the most likely cause, but I've no idea for sure.

watervole: (Morris dancing)
The three of us (Richard, Henry and myself) are back again. We're absolutely exhausted. Too tired even to be hungry.

We collected during Friday's procession, danced in Friday's ceilidh, collected all day Saturday (10-6), went to Saturday's ceilidh, collected all day Sunday, then went home and collapsed.

Serious offer: if anyone running an event that needs a lot of collectors wants a workshop on how to collect effectively, then I could probably help. There are definite tricks to doing it well.

I'm gradually homing in on the things that trigger my vertigo.  I can twirl round in a ceilidh without any problems, but I had an attack when I put my specs on to read the titles of the CDs at the music stall. As soon as I started moving my head sideways to scan the titles, the room started wobbling.  Saved me a lot of money on CDs...

The next time it kicked in was Saturday evening.  We always go to the local Italian restaurant after the street dancing finishes on Saturday.  This time, reading the menu outside the restaurant cause me to feel dizzy. It also kicked in inside the restaurant while eating.  I found myself clutching the side of table to try and feel stable.  I had to leave the restaurant at intervals and walk up and down the street to recover some balance.

Conclusion: although ear trouble is at the base of this (I often get a sense of pressure in the ears, occasional tinnitus and my hearing seems to be a bit off), the triggers may be mainly visual.  (Working at the computer is a minor trigger.)
watervole: (Toothache)
Good things.  Body balance class at the gym.  I think the Cawthorne-Cooksey exercises may also be helping.

The vertigo (certainly when I'm indoors) is better when I'm wearing contact lenses than when I'm wearing glasses.  (the peripheral vision confusion of focus with glasses makes it worse)

Bad things - working at the computer can definitely trigger it sometimes.  The most likely occasions seem to be when I'm scrolling down the screen (I'm trying to use page down when that is an option).  Also looking at the computer to a piece of paper and back again several times can sometimes be a trigger.  I've got the screen on the highest refresh rate.

Bonus symptoms - I'm getting a little bit of tinitus in my left ear.  I only notice it when I'm trying to go to sleep as other sounds mask it during the day. (and it often goes away all together).  It's not very loud, just a small pulse of white noise at intervals of around a second, but it's surprisingly annoying.
watervole: (Clanger)
The doctor is referring me to the ENT people.

We both have one concern. It's very likely that there is some inflammation in the inner ear - that's the root cause of a lot of balance problems.

However, the normal, straightforward treatment is anti-inflammatories. Generally a steroid nasal spray.

I can't take inhaled steroids - that's always been the curse of my asthma. (Inhaled steroids make me lose my voice -and we're not just talking about a short term loss. The damage can last for months/years.)

So, if the problem is inflammation, I'm not sure what treatment options will be open to me.
watervole: (Toothache)
Kwells, active ingredient hyoscine hydrobromide, do not help my dizziness.

I may try another brand of travel sickness tablet with a different active ingredient as they do help some people.
watervole: (Toothache)
[livejournal.com profile] adelheid  suggested I try vestibular rehabilitation exercises - here are the Cawthorne-Cooksey exercises.  I've been doing them for the last few days and they may be helping a little - they need to be done over a period of time for maximum effectiveness, so I'm going to carry on with them.  They've also made me decide to try and learn juggling as a couple of the exercises resemble very basic juggling moves.

Another angle I've been following up on is a connection to all the toothache I used to have.  Bruxism, night-time teeth-grinding is due to TMJ  (TemporoMandibular Joint disorder).

Having a BRD (bite-raising device) fitted removed the tooth pain, but did not stop the actual grinding.

Acting on pure suspicion, I Googled for links between vertigo and TMJ (on the grounds that the pain in my jaw is very close to the ear canal) and promptly hit pay dirt.  There is a connection and many people suffer from both.  Here's one person talking about it.

So, what can I do?  Well, I'm seeing the doctor again next week, but I've been looking for suitable exercises as it seems logical that anything caused by tense muscles will have exercises that will help.  Here's the best one that I've found. A video on You tube.

And, brother, the muscle that she predicted would be sore, was indeed very sore.

This one was also useful (I prefer NHS sites when I can find them as they're less likely to have an axe to grind for an dubious therapy).  It commented that TMJ Is often related to the jaw opening to one side and I think I may do that a bit.  I'm pretty sure that I chew more on one side than the other, so I'm going to try evening that out and see if it helps in any way.

Will report back after a day or two of trying the TMJ exercises and let you know if they help.

Vertigo

May. 27th, 2009 05:02 pm
watervole: (Thoughtful)
I've been suffering from vertigo for the last two or three months and have no real idea of what is causing it.

My balance is slightly off kilter a lot of the time. Sometimes it goes away for a while, but it always comes back again. It's wrecking my ability to concentrate, is making me miss several morris dance sessions, and occasionally produces bouts of mild nausea.

The doctor originally tried to treat it with ear drops and then a steroid cream on the outer ear (there was some inflammation there) but it's becoming clear that it's actually something wrong in the inner ear/Eustachian tubes.  I get a sense of pressure on the ear drum most of the time.  Occasionally yawning helps. Blowing my nose generally makes it worse.

We're trying an anti-histamine nasal spray this week, but I don't think the doctor or I have great hopes of it doing the trick. Still, you never know - maybe some kind of allergic reaction is causing mucus inside the ears.

If this fails, then it's probably time to get referred to a specialist.

If any of my medical friends have any suggestions, then I'm all ears...

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Judith Proctor

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