Monday, October 10, 2005

Tokyo Spinning...

I have had attacks of vertigo since I was a kid. They kind of make me feel as if everything is all of the sudden spinning, and I want it to stop, but it doesn’t, and then comes the nausea, and then the wretchedness and vomiting, which continues, sometimes for days.
It has started again. The fact that I can write this is an indication that it isn’t too bad: I can sit upright. But the fear of what it will be is nearly as bad as anything. I have been through this before, and there is no solution, no simple way that this will end tomorrow, all a bad dream. At minimum, I will be dizzy for a week or two, have a hard time riding trains because I will easily get motion sick, and generally be incapacitated. At worst, I will have multiple bouts of completely incapacitating vertigo lasting from six to thirty six hours. Nothing is set in stone, and I suppose that I should be open to the possibility that this time will be different. But why, in my experience as a sufferer of a chronic ailment that has always followed the same patterns, should I believe that?
There is not a name for my ailment. At least not one that boneheaded doctors are willing to give it.  Menieres disease is the one I give it. And, to tell the truth, my diagnosis is probably at least as close to the mark as any that doctors have ever made. Which is to say that doctors have never been willing to go out on any kind of limb, except to say ‘gee, you seem really dizzy.’
My last bout was in 2002. It was really bad, with multiple bouts of completely debilitating vertigo. I went in to an ENT between the bouts, and he gave me all kinds of tests, and then concluded ‘there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with you.’ I told him that there most certainly was, and that not being able to stand and puking for a whole day was not a normal way of life. ‘Well, right now, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with you,’ he corrected, ‘come back when the symptoms return.’ Getting in a car is the last thing one does when the world is spinning around. I did, though, driven by my wife. I was such a mess, that this time the doctor said ‘we can do this at some other time, if you want.’ I told him that I wanted answers, and if I had to come in the state I was to get the answers, he would just have to deal with it if I threw up.
I still didn’t get a clear diagnosis. He sent me off to a neurologist, who did a CT scan, bless his heart, which was more than any of the ENT jerks have ever bothered with. He said that there was nothing that he could see that pointed to it being a brain problem, or a physical problem with my ear canals. I went back to the ENT, with the CT scans in hand, and he then had the temerity, to say ‘what is it that you want from me?’ My god! Is anyone that stupid? I didn’t care even a little about him. I wanted to know what was wrong with me. At university, too, the ENT was an asshole. He seemed to think that there was some reason why I would fake complete hearing loss in my left ear, which had actually returned by that point, but which I wanted an answer for. Did I mention that hearing loss is another symptom of Meniere’s disease? I mentioned it to this ENT, and he pompously said ‘it is not possible to diagnose Meniere’s disease, so I can’t say that’s what you have.’
What he meant was that, medically, when they can’t figure out what is going on, and they have exhausted every other test, then they call it Meniere’s disease. Guess what, though? All of those tests mean squat when you know what it is you are experiencing, and just want it to stop. The reality is that it won’t stop, though.  Movement, loud sounds, and stuff of that ilk make it worse, so the only thing I can do is lock myself in my room and hope that I feel better tomorrow than I do today, and especially that everything doesn’t start to spin out of control. For now, I just want Tokyo to stop spinning…

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