Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Judy's illness: The Miniseries

So even though this blog started as a place to talk about learning how to play the piano, I'm going to start blogging about my medical stuff. I figure it's logical because it's been keeping me from playing the piano, and hey, at least the blog title is still accurate.

So here's the story up until now:

Last Monday, I started feeling very, very lightheaded. I bought a vcr/dvd combo (don't ask; craigslist, you are the devil!), and as I was carrying it to my car, I suddenly didn't trust my arms to not drop it. So I rushed to the car and rested it on the trunk of the car and worried about getting home. I thought it had been the new video we'd tried earlier in the day, Paula Abdul's Cardio Dance Jam, so I just crawled on the couch and sacked out for the night at like, 8.

So Tuesday, it got worse. The lightheadedness upgraded to a full-blown dizziness* and I felt like I was falling all the time, even while laying down. I called in sick and spent 23 of the 24 hours of the day in bed.

On Wednesday, it was still bad. I talked to Tim, who had experienced vertigo after going on some kind of medication, and I wondered if this could be like that. I was in bed all day, and feeling OK because of it, and I decided to try to come in for a meeting for changes to the paper at 5. When I stumbled into the shower, I knew that was a mistake, but I kept at it. Lauren drove me to work after we talked about me not going. I was miserable the whole time. Paul and Denis and some guy named Mike were talking about some page behind me, and I couldn't turn around and look at it, because of the dizziness. I mostly just kept my eyes closed and sat as fully reclined as possible in the chair, using my ponytail to steady the back of my head. Jim thought I was delirious, with moments of extreme lucidity. Apparently I used the word "hopefulness" a lot. Then I used the wall to brace myself to get back to the Jeep and laid/slept for the rest of the evening.

Sometime in these few days I realized that the TV was making me feel much, much worse, even for 1-2 minutes at a time. Also, my little iBook makes my eyes crazy and my head feel like it's falling off. And I can't read the paper for long stretches at a time because it makes my head crazy. So I've been using my PC laptop from bed. Pretty much it's all I have right now. Thank goodness for living in 2006.

On Thursday, my doctor checked me out and hypothesized that I had some kind of inner-ear labyrinth problem. He checked out my eyes, too, and said that I had some difficulties following his finger as it wiggled around. He prescribed me some Meclizine and said if it's not a lot better by 10 Friday, to come back. He also said I have orthostatic hypotension, which I think I've had forever because I sometimes grey out when I stand up. I just hold onto something and just wait until it clears up, like static on an old-timey tv.

So I took the Meclizine and went to bed, and on Friday morning I felt pretty good. Mornings are better than evenings for me, because I just get so fatigued and dizzy. The Meclizine is supposed to make you drowsy, and I really, really wanted to go to work, so I didn't take it. For a while I thought this was the dumbest thing I'd ever done, but it turns out that it didn't even work for what I have, so I'm not feeling quite as dum. Anyway, I drove to the paper, but I knew in the car that I'd made a mistake. Why can't I ever admit that to myself? I drove the 6 minutes there, and then sat in the car for about 10 minutes, slowing down my spinning head and getting up the energy to go in. I was carrying my purse and my lunch box and an umbrella, and by the time I got to the redesign grotto, it was just too heavy for me. So I pushed through the door and just dumped my stuff. I don't know what I was thinking, because then I tried to walk to my desk. I COULDN'T CARRY MY THINGS, BUT I THOUGHT I COULD JUST GET TO MY DESK AND WORK. This truly is dumb, to be sure. Anyway, halfway there, Evil Brian saw me and stopped me and turned me back around. Brianne drove me home, first stopping at Harris Teeter and getting me groceries. I hadn't been out of the house, really, in 4-5 days, and the food at home was getting very desperate and collegelike. Jeffrey had been working a ton of OT, so he didn't have time to go out and shop, either.

In the Harris Teeter parking lot, waiting for Brianne to come back with my food, I just started to cry. I hate to have people have to take care of me. And it definitely brought up issues of when I took care of my mom as she died of cancer. I just cried and cried. It was awful.

is a blur, because I started taking those Meclizine pills again, and then sleeping, and then waking up and taking a pill, and then going back to sleep. Sunday, when it became clear the pills weren't working, I stopped taking them. I was able to get out of the house for about an hour and a half for a planned social gathering, but the last 45 minutes were very painful. I had to lay down and call Jeffrey to pick me up. All I had been doing was eating and sitting up, but it was too much.

So on Monday, I went back to the doc. He was upset to see the pills hadn't worked, and did some blood work and sent me over to the e.r. to get a ct scan and an ekg and some more bloodwork. After about 4 hours, (Jeffrey was in the waiting room through several episodes of Law and Order; 2 not guilty shows in a row!) everything came back negative. The ct ruled out bleeding in the upper lobes of my brain, but can't rule out bleeding in the stem. My liver and kidney and thyroid functions looked normal. I went back to my bed nest. I did leave it for a while because one of my favorite shows, "The Closer," (and let me just say that goddammit, they really do know drama) was coming back from hiatus. I went out to the living room and tried to sit and listen to it, but my eyes kept wandering over to the tv with very bad results. So I ended up turning the chair so it was faced all the way away from the tv and I listened to it. It was pretty dramatic that way -- someone got shot and I had no idea who!

took me back to the doctor, where he looked concerned again. He's usually pretty jolly, so I can't say as I like that. We set up the course for the rest of the week, which included going to see an ophthalmologist** for a neurological consult, and then back to him, and then getting an mri. This test can rule out bleeding in the brain stem, I'm told, as well as show lesions and other abnormalities in my brain. My doctors are pretty convinced that it has to do with my eyes, because they move around in a funny fashion, as well as the fact that I can't look at certain things without getting sick. I also close my eyes a lot while I'm talking and typing because it's much more comfortable.

The other thing he told me to do is drink a gallon of Gatorade a day and increase my salt intake to increase my blood pressure. I was like, can do, Doc! So Jeffrey and I went to Gene Walters and got a ton of different -ade options (Gatorade leaves a bad aftertaste in my mouth sometimes, and Powerade makes me feel like I'm getting away with something!) for me to try out. Also salty goods!

So that brings us to today. I've been up and sitting for an hour, so that's great! But I have a headache, which is new. That scares me.

I'll keep this up to date with my medical stuff and whatever I come up with.

* Since then, I've heard people call this "disequilibrium," which always makes me want to say the word, then spell it out in sets of 3, and then repeat the word again.
** This word I want to spell out, too.

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