Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Finally a Diagnosis

This summer I started experiencing severe vertigo and nausea on top of the tinnitus (ringing in my ear) that I've had for the last couple of years. It was bad enough that I couldn't function so I decided to visit a physician that specializes in balance issues to seek a diagnosis.

The spells would last approximately 12 hours and then I would return to normal for a few days until experiencing the same problems again.

After several tests that ruled out other possible causes the doctor confirmed what he had already suggested. I have Meniere's disease.

I feel relieved to know what has been causing me to feel so crummy. On the other side, it is something that I will have to learn to live with my whole life since it is treatable but not curable. 

In essence, there is excess fluid in my inner ear that gets trapped affecting my equilibrium among other things.  I am resigned to the fact that I am progressively loosing my hearing in that ear, so aside from the attack, probably the most frustrating thing for me is a fogginess that I experience long after I'm better. I have problem remembering things and thinking through things as clearly as I'd like. I feel dumb and I hate it!

We live in a new neighborhood and I've really tried to memorize people's names (adults and the kids with whom my children play). There are times I can't even remember my next door neighbor's name- and I talk to them quite frequently.

The best way for me to avoid the problem is to eat a low sodium diet. My maximum daily sodium intake is 1800 mg. I originally thought that I could just have a low sodium breakfast and lunch and eat dinner with the family but the concentration of all the sodium in a meal, even when it is within the daily limits, is just as bad as not sticking to the imposed diet.

Sodium is more than just salt. It's found in a lot of things so I've been going through the process of rethinking what we eat as a family. Luckily it is summer and there are a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. As the winter months restrict my choices, I'll be able to ease into other alternatives.

The results of the diet (and medication in my case) have been rather positive. I have not had another attack in several weeks. Todd and I have also lost weight. I know what you are thinking. Neither of  you had any to lose. A low sodium diet is something that doctors recommend to patients with heart disease. So I know that by starting early, we're both avoiding other possible health problems down the road.

Diet alone is not going to do it for me, so along the way I am discovering what other triggers affect my health (colds, environment, emotional) so that I can cope accordingly.

Externally I look the same, nothing has visibly changed. Yet I am changed. It has made me become more empathetic to those who are also going through their own private challenges. Who at times lose their composure when it reaches a tipping point of frustration, fear, sadness and/or anger. The thought that 'We've all been there at some point or another'  rings true persistently in my ear.