I don’t ever remember being able to sleep well. Even when I was a little kid, I had trouble sleeping, and would often wake up in the night, unable to fall back to sleep. But lately, my sleeplessness has reached a whole new level.
I’m not sure what’s causing the sleeplessness, but it usually goes something like this. I lie in bed, almost asleep — until I get a strong sensation of movement that startles me completely out of my state of almost-sleep.
It’s strong enough that I actually lie in bed, muscles tensed, wondering if I did actually move — even though I know that I really didn’t. This is coupled with a second feeling, where I am actually sleeping, and then wake up because I’ve rolled over — and then get the sensation that I just keep going.
Today’s one of those strange days where I woke up really tired, and then as I went out and did some stuff during the day, I actually felt quite good. My usual ugly morning imbalance usually fades away during the day anyway, but today took a bit longer to go away.
I spent quite a bit of time outside today, mostly potting some plants that I bought. It was a nice day (around 20 degrees Celsius and sunny), so it was great to be able to spend the time outside (I did some walking too near the lake, which was also nice). I also had an iced coffee, which is unusual for me (I quit drinking coffee when I had my first episode of vertigo).
And then this evening the imbalance hit me. As soon as I had dinner (which as usual, is a low fat, low sodium dinner), then I really started to feel the tiredness and imbalance (the two usually go together for me).
Well, I had my caloric testing done this week, and the results were a little odd. I first did a hearing test, after which the tester informed me that the results were completely normal — I was happy about that, because I don’t particularly feel like losing my hearing.
I then did a test where I had to watch a red light move back and forth, both vertically and horizontally. I didn’t find it particularly dizziness-inducing, I was more dizzy just having to lie on an incline.
We then did the caloric testing, starting with warm water in the left ear. I had thought before that the caloric testing would be one quick squirt of water, not a continuous jet of water into your ear. The warm water in the left ear made me quite dizzy, which the tester informed me was actually normal.
I’ve implemented ‘dofollow’ as a bit of a reward system for people who leave a comment here and have a website — if you you’re kind enough to leave a comment, you’ll get a real live link back to the site you leave in the URL field.
To accomplish this, I’ve used the WordPress Do Follow plugin, which basically removes the ‘no follow’ attribute that Google and other search engines use to determine what to index and what not to index (funny enough, I’ve noticed that Google seems to index links marked even with ‘nofollow’ however).
It’s funny how sometimes when you physically feel better, it can mentally makes things tougher. My cold seems to have pretty much vanished (about time) today, and I was actually feeling quite good.
Before I had my first episode of vertigo, I never had difficulty travelling. I’ve travelled quite far without any problems (Montreal to Hong Kong was probably the farthest I’ve been).
Since having the first episode of vertigo, I’ve travelled within North America, and I’ve also been to Costa Rica and Mexico — but I haven’t been able to make any overseas flights. Even those shorter flights (even the ‘short’ international flights I’ve taken since then) have been really difficult.
I felt pretty good yesterday — barely any imbalance, and I went out and got lots of stuff done (including some shopping that I had been putting off for a really long time). I came home, put a bookshelf together, reorganized things at home, and generally felt pretty good.
Then I woke up this morning and felt like I was right back to where I was before when I had caught the cold I haven’t been able to get over. I felt stuffed up and had a headache, and felt extremely off balance.
However, the circus festival was here today, and I forced myself to go out and check out the festival. I went and took some really good pictures, and generally felt much better that I hadn’t decided to retreat back home where I could feel sick.
I’m due to start vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT) very soon, and I’m very hopeful that it’s going to allow me to feel better. I know I probably should have started it after my initial episode of severe vertigo three years ago, but I didn’t really know about it then. I just hope it’s not too late to start it now.
I’m also a big fan of gaming on the Nintendo Wii, and I’m excited for the Wii Fit to come out in North America on May 21st — in case you haven’t seen or heard of the Wii Fit, here’s a short video explaining what it is and what it can do:
I had completely never heard of caloric testing before, but I’m hoping it will reveal something about my (potentially?) damaged vestibular nerve. If you’re like me and had never heard of caloric testing, here’s Wikipedia’s definition of it:
In medicine, the caloric reflex test is a test of the vestibulo-ocular reflex. It is used by audiologists and other trained professionals to validate a diagnosis of asymmetric function in the peripheral vestibular system. Calorics are usually a subtest of the electronystagmography (ENG) test battery.
So basically, what they do is squirt warm and cold water into your ear. In a normal person, the eye will move in a particular way — but for someone with vestibular dysfunction, the eye will move less (or perhaps not at all?).
I thought a good way to start out here would be to describe my first experience with severe vertigo. It happened 3 years ago, when I was studying in graduate school.
I was under a great deal of stress, in my job, my relationship and at school — with the added pressure that I now was graduating and needed to find a permanent job. When I think back on it now, it was an incredibly difficult period in my life.
At the time, I was drinking what I would say is an above average amount of alcohol to deal with the stress, smoking too much, not to mention eating poorly and not getting any exercise. My lifestyle had really hit rock bottom, and I was rewarded with an upper respiratory infection that lasted over a month.
I’ve been trying to sort out many of the issues I’ve had with balance and anxiety for several years now, as I mentioned in my first post here. Part of the major problem I’ve had though, is that I’ve found it tough to nail down exactly what is caused by what.
I would imagine that this is a phenomenon that is experienced by many people who have an ongoing illness — you start to confuse benign everyday things (like a headache from not sleeping enough, or a lightheaded feeling from being hungry) with more serious symptoms.
For me, being tired or hungry make my balance issues much worse. I have to always ensure to get enough sleep, not skip meals, take my vitamins and not overdo it with caffeine or alcohol (I’ve always loved having a coffee and having a beer, both of which I’ve had to limit severely).