Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Recovery



For those of you who are less than super-tech-savvy, I often include links to more information on certain topics in my posts. When a word or a phrase is in purplish-blue instead of black, that indicates a link (which you can click on) to read more information about the subject of that word or phrase. 🙂


If you haven't read my previous post, you might not know that I've been putting up with a tiny bit of illness since mid-November.

I'm better now. Much better. A week ago I saw Stephanie, a Physical Therapist at Kaiser Redlands (who is terrific, by the way—kind, patient, empathetic and a great teacher). She did some evaluation, told me she suspected I have Cervicogenic Dizziness, and gave me some exercises that are classified as Vestibular Therapy to unlock the stiffness in my neck (which I will discuss further in a sec—keep reading because that's the human interest part).

It was a lot to take in, but I will tell you I was literally sitting on the edge of my chair as I listened to her, and I was so relieved when she said, "Oh yeah, I think we can relieve your symptoms" that I had to will myself not to start crying. ("Focus, Kay, focus," said the rational part of my brain.) Even as she demonstrated and had me do the exercises, I began to feel a bit of relief from the constant wooziness. Now, one week later, I am immensely improved—so much so that I think after another few weeks of doing the exercises I will feel better than I have in years in terms of the chronic neck pain I've had forever. (Well, not literally "forever," but you know what I mean. I haven't even been alive for "forever." Kinda feels like it sometimes, though.)

Two funny bits to share (and this is where the human interest part comes in):

My crush in the sixth grade was Ricky Smith. He liked me, too, and he came over to the house a few times, took me square dancing and gave me a St. Christopher medallion. After school one day, he mentioned that I should relax more, telling me, "You walk around school with your shoulders all hunched up." Oh my Buddha! How embarrassing that he noticed! Yet... how true. At eleven years old, I had already experienced enough in life to keep me in a state of constant cringing. So add all that neck tension to the injuries I sustained to my head and neck around the same time (from getting tossed off horses), and you have the makings of chronic neck pain.

Also: Kudos to my bestie Donna who had read my previous post, so when I told her about the cervicogenic dizziness diagnosis she was able to link the onset of it with that two-hour stint in the dentist chair for the crown. (Her super-power is analytical reasoning.) I don't think I've mentioned on the blog before that my childhood dentist was a sadist. No, I mean, he actually was a sadist. For thirty years, I have seen my dentists twice a year, but it still triggers profound anxiety.

I want to extend giant hugs to all my friends, family members and blog readers who prayed for/chanted for/sent energy to me plus all those who continued behind the scenes to make suggestions as to what might be the cause. I love all of you, and thanks so much for your support through these weeks. You kept me on the sunny side of life while I was slogging away with the docs, trying to find a resolution.

Life is good! (Hence the smiley seal pictured above.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Madness Dancing

Since mid-November, I have been, er, under the weather. Ill in some way, certainly, but not exactly "sick," as I would characterize it. The week before this malady began, I had some dental work (a crown), and I had a flu shot. Three days after the shot, I woke feeling dizzy, achy and with a mild headache. I took a nap that day—and slept three hours. Despite having slept eight hours the night before, I was still so sleepy after three hours of napping it was all I could do to get up and take Thomas out. It was chilly in the house, but I woke feeling clammy, as if I'd been sweating.

"Dang," I thought, "this is quite the reaction to that damn flu shot. Thank goodness it will go away in a couple of days."

But it didn't. After the symptoms persisted for four weeks (cold sweats, daily dizziness, headaches and a profound need to sleep excessively—rivaling the number of hours I slept when I was pregnant), I made an appointment to see my doctor. By the time I saw her, I'd narrowed my own diagnosis down to either Lyme disease or a brain tumor.

Dr. V. ordered a CT scan, so no, I don't have a brain tumor. I do have a brain that shows "no abnormalities." (Comment on that as you will.)



After a second appointment, here's what I know:

I don't have BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo) or at least it doesn't seem so.
This is not a neurological problem—or at least it doesn't seem so.
This is not West Nile Virus—or at least the doc doesn't think so.
It's not got to do with my hypo-thyroidism.
There's no infection in my system, apparently (according to blood tests).
I probably don't have cancer. (Yay!)
I don't need new glasses (as Harry R. suggested).
This probably won't go away if I "relax enough" (as Harry C. suggested).
I'm not dehydrated.
The symptoms worsen dramatically when I don't nap or if I become overly fatigued.

I'm only posting all that so that the sleuths among you can get busy thinking and come to some conclusion that would be a possible diagnosis. (Go ahead. Have at it. Please click on "comments" below to offer your two cents.)

Anyway, my life has gone on unabated—thank the Universe. I'm still walking my dog (though I try not to get too far out in the boonies lest I keel over and Thomas has to find his way home alone), still writing, still feeling blessed for having the ability to sing (but not dance because, yeah, too dizzy).

And today I transplanted a tree. A week ago I mowed the lawn, a chore that hadn't been done in many weeks as I just didn't trust my body with the task. Today I felt good enough (albeit somewhat dizzy) to dig up the orange tree that the previous owner had planted on the shady side of the house. Now it will have more sun and more love and some prayers that it will re-root itself and finally grow some oranges. If nothing else, it will give all my little backyard birds a place to sit while they're taking turns at the feeder.



Since my days of wooziness began, I've had a song off Rick Shea's new album ("The Town Where I Live") stuck in my head: "Trouble Like This." It's a catchy tune, but I think it's been on repeat in my mind because these multiple doctor visits with no resolution remind me of the fall of 2012; it took three months before my bronchiectasis was diagnosed. (And that only happened because I insisted that my doctor order an MRI of my lungs. "Okay," she said, throwing up her hands, "if that's what you want." Yes, humor me, please. And what do you know? The MRI revealed the holes in my lungs.)

Rick Shea at a recent concert.

Today, though, my brain worm switched from Rick's song to a song by Bob Bennett, "Madness Dancing," from his "Matters of the Heart" album. Lordy, I love this song! And I have for nearly forty years. Consider these lyrics:

In the middle of this madness I am dancing
Though I'm not sure why just now
I tried to be sober, tried to be logical
But I could not stop my feet.

I know I haven't turned off my mind...
I know there's evil all around
But for now it's outside, and I am in my room
Joy is like a crashing tide.

I don't wanna burn no books
Don't wanna argue rock 'n roll
I don't wanna shoot anyone with my high-powered doctrine gun....

That's pretty non-judgmental for a man who professes to be an evangelical Christian.

At any rate, it's the crashing tide of joy and the madness of dancing despite all the dire woes in life that make me love this song and sing it again and again. Especially right now. I may not be in top form physically, but I am still so blessed to be alive—whether I can dance right now or not.