Archive for the 'vertigo' Category

we now interrupt this vacation story for a brief prognosis

i’ll get back to the catalan, maurizio, barca, cs lewis, etc. tomorrow.  But based on what people who read my blog seem to be interested in, i thought i’d give the public what it wants by updating an alternative plot-line: the brain damage vs panic saga.

i went back to dr. cranium for the results of my EEG, MRI and baer tests last thursday.  but not before my coworker (brekkies, the brit) totally freaked me out and chastised me for not having someone accompany me to the results session.  he told me it was very serious stuff and that i should not be alone and was there not a single girlfriend or boyfriend that could go with me for support?  i’m like support for what?  we all know the tests will tell us nothing we don’t already know.  he berated me a bit further and reminded me that i’m not a fucking superhero.  i told him i appreciated his concern, but he was actually making me feel worse.  i mean, if i were going for biopsy results or something, maybe i’d ask someone to go, but not for routine tests.  i mean, shit, do you ask your friends to hold your hand for every pap smear result?

dr. cranium was way cooler this time- nice, funny, relaxed.  maybe he was just having a bad day last time.  he told me that everything looked pretty good.  my mri showed only two small lesion-esque things, but he didn’t think they were the issue.  the eeg and the baer were normal, but i’d only gotten the brief, initial tests and they only show damages 50% of the time.  he then offered options: i can let it go, or i can go for further tests. 

the “further tests” is being locked into a room for 24 hours with electrodes stuck to my head, constantly being monitored and occasionally provoked to have “an episode-” panic attack, vertigo, whathaveyou.  sleep deprivation, absence of my klonopin, that kind of stuff.  i can watch movies and have friends over, but preferably the kind that are likely to provoke me into freaking out or disrupting my sensory flow.  who wouldn’t want that?

he stressed that it’s my choice and is less scary than the explanatory literature makes it sound.  since my current meds help me function relatively well, it’s not necessary.  however, without further info, he can’t really answer “what ifs” because the answers could be endless and impossible to guess. 

i told him i thought it would be a good idea (as long as insurance approves) and that we should set it up for a saturday so as to keep workplace busybody-ism to a minimum.  he said he thought that was the best course, but didn’t want to pressure me.  as he says, the ideal number of medications in your body is zero, so might as well shoot for that.

before signing off on this course, we agreed i should read up on it and then make my appointment.  i also threw him a curve: what if i just have panic disorder, with a side order of spatial perception issues?  i mean, i don’t want to be a hypochondriac.  he said that the prognosis of panic was entirely plausible, but not hypochondria.  he’s met tons of those and i am definitely not in that class.  that was reassuring.  i don’t want to be that asshole. 

so, might as well knock down all the possibilities until we settle on the one that fits and then treat that.  makes sense, i think.  but i’m not sure.

any advice?


uh, i’m not sure how to take that

i have had the grand distinction of being called “interesting” by both a neurologist and a psychiatrist. 

since both of these gentlemen are very learned, been practicing for decades, are unknown to each other and are essentially talking about my brain, i’m not so sure this is a good thing.

in addition to a dental cleaning and a dose of pain management, i had the pleasure of visiting a neurologist for the first time today.  being my second day of hat tricks of doctor’s visits this week, i was at least glad for the novelty. also novel was being scolded for two very contradictory behaviors at the same time by dr. cranium md, do. 

let me explain.  no, there is too much.  let me sum up.

as mouchany of you know, i bumped into a midnight-blue ford econoline e-350 back in high school and the encounter caused a myriad of pesky bodily injuries as well some hiccups in my spatial and visual perception, bouts of vertigo, wee moments of panic and occasional lapses in memory.  as i mentioned in previous entries, i began addressing the soft tissue damage and spinal irregularities a few years ago, hoping various methods of pain management would actually help heal my wounds of nearly two decades.

so, i also go to see a shrink to manage the panic and meds that go with it.  he took the usual history and suggested we meet semi-regularly both to monitor my medications as well as figure out if my vertigo causes my panic or my panic causes my vertigo, or if they are mere happy coincidences.  during some of these talks, he declared me “very interesting” and not in a condescending tone- impressive for a freudian.  he’s also often mentioned that it’s insane that i’ve never been to see a neurologist considering the nasty bump my head received upon impact with the pavement all those years ago. 

so, when i was last in dr. koala’s office (he really, really looks like a koala bear, and his name sounds an awful lot like that as well- onomatopoeia!  in reality.  awesome, no?), i mentioned that i was finally seeing a neurologist this week.  he said “apropos of…..?” 

apropos of you telling me the craziest thing about me is not having seen one in the last eighteen years, maybe.

anyhoo, i go today to see the brain doctor and he simultaneously sternly told me that he didn’t understand why i was seeing him while reprimanding me for not seeing him or one of his colleagues for the last two decades.  he kept telling me it didn’t make sense.  i tried explaining i was fourteen when i was in the accident, that no one would tell me anything because i was a minor and that since my mom has died and i have no reference for that time period.  i was too busy in the two years following my accident taking care of my mom to go. 

since then, how would i know?  no one gave me the manual or sent me the memo on what to do.  what i knew about brain injuries is that they’re permanent and since i have pills to keep the panic at bay, the perceptory spasms are momentary and the memory lapses are minor, what’s he gonna do about it anyway?

after he calmed down and examined me, he suggested a battery of tests because, as he put it, every once in a while you find out that panic attacks are actually small seizures and since my uncle pat had petit mal epilepsy, we might want to run some basics as a matter of course. 

so, i have some more appointments.  as he put it, if we find something, we’ll deal with it, if we don’t, i just have permanent brain damage from a traumatic injury. 

i’m still figuring out which of these is the best case scenario.

footnote: this is not a pity-me entry, it’s being put into the stable of my signature “funny stories” that both friends and strangers alike so completely dread. 

the boss of me

literalismi’m totally having one of those “dancing in the dark” moments.  you know, “i wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face…”

i’m not sure if bruce meant that expression of ennui to extend to your job, friends, family, name, home furnishings, country of residence… but i think he did.  and man, was he singing my tune.

you know that girl who has a great, fun job, an incredible apartment, many and good friends, is (relatively) financially solvent, blah, blah, blah and has no apparent reason to complain?  well here i am, and i’m doing it anyway.

i’m just exhausted.  i have to tell you (whoever you are, dear reader) that chronic pain really can put a damper on all the other stuff you’ve got going for you.  for years and years, i thought it was something i just had to live with and i was tough about it, and didn’t complain.  hell, my gimped out leg, banged up brain and creaky, crackly neck were not going to be the boss of me.  i laughed at their petty attempts to slow me down, to make me uncomfortable, to turn the world and my stomach upside down.  and i wasn’t going to take no pain killers or sleeping pills neither.  it just was.  me against them.  and i knew who was going to win that war.

 so then, a couple of years ago, i go to a new doctor and i hear this new whispering on the wind: you don’t have to hurt, you can be healed!  you can be saved!  you can be whole again!  it was like a tent revival with the elders speaking via the tongues of acupuncture needles, electronic stimulation and lidocaine injections (among other fun for the whole family).

there was this totally weird side effect: a begrudging hope.  i might wake up one day and not be hurting?  hell, that’s putting the cart before the horse.  i might be able to fall asleep one day, and not have the pain and tension keep me up and wake me up and wear me out the whole night through?  at first it seemed crazy talk.  but the more people i saw, the more my impending recovery was touted, the more i believed.

so, i go.  i get injected with syringes full of lidocaine in my neck, shoulder, hip, head and face twice a week.  about forty to fifty shots in all.  i get cracked and realigned and twisted and pushed and stretched at least once a week. i am coached to make my body relax to ease the pain in the name of rest and sleep for a couple hundred a month.  i spend seventy percent of my disposable income on copays, treatments not covered, prescriptions, you name it. 

 now comes the next weird side effect: defeat. 

 i’m not saying i don’t feel a bit better.  i do. a bit.  after treatment, usually the next day and maybe the day after that.  better, not good.  but the raised expectations have made the reality that much more demoralizing by comparison.

now, don’t get me wrong.  i know in the grand scheme of things, i’m floating on air.  nothing fatal, nothing debilitating, nothing acute.  it’s hard to articulate.  sometimes i think the worst part is that people are understanding, but they don’t understand.  get vertigo and have to will yourself not to wretch in glass building? i know trust me. pull a muscle?  that’s my daily condition.  tear a rotator cuff, arthritis stinging, strain a ligament?  i know i live it.  all the time. 

people don’t really want to hear it.  and you know what, guys, neither do i.  seriously.  i’d love not to talk about it, or think about it, or complain about it.  i feel like a heel right now.  a totally selfish, self-sorry jerk.

so what do i do now?  i keep trying.  i take the painkillers.  get the sleeping pills.  and if that doesn’t work, i think i might want to go back to my roots: telling the pain to fuck off and pretending it did.  it may not get better, but it will stop ruling my world. 

 just needed to get that off my chest.  thanks for listening.  i’ll go back to writing about inanity and pop culture and digital etiquette.

i promise.


“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
September 2018
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”