Thanks for all the comments!

I haven’t posted here in quite a while, since I’ve been busy with a bunch of life changes (bought a new home and changed jobs, which have both kept me quite busy). First off though, I wanted to thank everyone that has left a comment here over the past little while — I think it’s great to see that we’re not alone in feeling this way.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t really been much progress for me in the past half a year however. I’ve been feeling pretty much the same (except for a few months after my doctor had prescribed a migraine medication which I had a bad reaction to — which was pretty much hell).

Yet another visit to my neurotologist suggested that something called ‘overbreathing syndrome’ might be worsening my already-existing balance issues, and although I’m not entirely sure about that. It seems to me sometimes like the doctors are grasping at straws to explain away how I feel.

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Stress, anxiety, vertigo and dizziness.

If you suffer from any sort of balance disorder, you’ve probably come to realize that stress plays a big part in how good (or bad) you feel. For me personally, it’s taken me quite a while to realize the intimate connection between these two forces, but once I came to recognize it, it allowed me to better control when and where I feel dizzy.

As I said in my last post, I took a great vacation, and was able to unwind for a few days. I felt tremendously better (I did have my usual daily dizziness, but it was actually much better than usual). The lack of work-related stress really seemed to have a positive impact on how I felt.

I find exercise has the same stress-relieving effect — and it usually lasts for several hours after I exercise. And alcohol, while it certainly relieves stress in the short term, actually makes me feel more stressed in the longer term.

So while alcohol may be a quick fix for stress, it has a negative cumulative effect, and can often leave you feeling more stressed later in the day or the next day. Not to mention that alcohol is usually a motivation-killer as well.

As I’ve told myself many times, I need to avoid alcohol more, eat better and exercise more regularly (good advice for anyone, balance disorder or not). But for me (and anyone else with balance issues), the effects of not doing these things are not just felt in 10 or 20 years, but instead almost immediately.

New vestibular rehabilitation exercises.

I went back to see the vestibular rehabilitation therapist, and they said there’s not really much noticeable improvement — so now we’re going to try to complete overload the vestibular system and see if it causes it to improve.

I’m still supposed to do the exercsises with the business card and moving my head horizontally back and forth, but now I’m also supposed to move my hand horiztonally back and forth in the opposite direction. It tends to make me feel a bit nasty.

I’ve also got to do what is essentially tight-rope walking with my eyes closed — just without the tight-rope (I do it across the floor in my apartment). I have a really hard time staying in a straight line, which the therapist says is normal with bilateral damage.

The last thing I have to do is stand on one foot while brushing my teeth (both in the morning and at night), which I also find tough. I’m hoping that between all these different exercises, we’ll start to some improvement. If not, then it’s going to be the BrainPort route for sure.

Are these vestibular compensation headaches?

I haven’t been sleeping very well lately, and I’ve been under a great deal of stress (both work stress and just stressing about finances, the usual every day life kind of stuff). And in the past week, I’ve experienced something I’ve never experienced before — migraines.

I didn’t quite know what it was at first, just that my head hurt to the point where it felt like it was going to explode (it didn’t, in case you’re wondering). The onset of these headaches is quite sudden, and they tend to last for anywhere from an hour to a few hours.

I also often feel nauseous and off-balance (which makes me wonder if this has something to do with my busted vestibular system). I don’t know anything at all about migraines (since I never experienced them before), so I think I’ll have to read up on the potential causes.

I also wonder if it has to do with VRT — could the VRT exercises cause my brain to start compensating more and thus lead to headaches as my brain gets overloaded with too much to do?

A tough few days of stress and dizziness.

I mentioned before that the meclizine was really helping things. It would seem however, that for some reason, it’s no longer really helping very much at all.

I’ve frequently been waking up with very dizzy, falling sensations. It’s especially bad in the morning when I wake up — and it’s starting to drive me a little nuts.

It’s tough to deal with, especially when I thought I had somewhat of a solution with the meclizine. I’m still taking it, and it seems to keep things from getting overwhelmingly dizzy, but it’s not doing nearly what it was before.

The comment about these being referred to as “drop attacks” is right on the money. That’s exactly like what they feel like — one minute I’m sitting or standing comfortably doing something, the next I feel like I’m tumbling through space.

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The invisible suffering of balance disorders.

Dizzy Dame has a great post about the difficulty of dealing with a condition that is essentially invisible to others. I completely agree that this condition is a really tough thing to explain to someone, especially when I function and act normally all the time.

I think it starts to make other people wonder if you’re really just making it up or think it’s all just in your head. For some people however, there are other very unfortunate side effects of a vestibular illness. Take my sister for example.

Like me, my sister was diagnosed with something that either vestibular neuritis or labyrinthitis, and she suffered from the same horrible vertigo that I did. Unfortunately though, she went completely deaf in that ear within a few days of being sick. Yep, that’s right — totally deaf in one ear. So while she’s totally lost her hearing, it would be pretty difficult for anyone to say she’s not really deaf.

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A disappointing visit to the neurotologist.

I visited the neurotologist this week after getting my appointment changed from July to now. I was hoping that after getting the caloric testing done, we would finally have some answers about what exactly could be done to make me feel better.

So I went in with my fingers crossed, not quite knowing what to expect. I saw the same doctor as last time, and he had the results of my caloric test in hand.

I was completely shocked when he said, as he was flipping through the pages, “It looks like your results were normal.” I didn’t quite know what to say.

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Getting out: tough, but necessary.

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.

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What’s wrong: the breakdown method.

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).

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