We got in to see the ENT on Thursday (side note: because we didn't want to expose Lincoln to the germs at the doctor's office, we left him with our good friend Kari. I also spent a good chunk of Thursday at Kari's house because I couldn't be trusted to pick up Lincoln and Lucas had to go to work, so Kari was so kind to "babysit" us both. Kari is awesome. side note #2: this was the FIRST time we have left Lincoln with a non-family member. Again, Kari is awesome.). I got a full audiological work-up: tympanometry, acoustic reflux testing, pure tone audiometry test in the sound booth, speech reception threshold, otological exam...and passed them all (Blair, I wrote those out just for you, in the event you are reading this. Figured you'd want to know what tests they did : ) ) Next up: saw the ENT. We REALLY liked him. He explained everything he was doing, super friendly, didn't dumb things down for us. All around A+. He did a bunch of tests like having me track his finger with my eye gaze, tip my head back, stand up...but mostly, he just asked questions. And, based on the answers we gave, I finally got my diagnosis: vestibular neuritis. And, for the bonus fun, he said I may be the worse case he's seen. Woohoo, I am racking up the medical records here! (For those keeping track, I also hold the record for worst tearing at my midwife's birth center...). His basis for "worst case" though was simply because in most cases, the nystagmus (the eye twitching) tends to resolve after 48-72 hours, or at least greatly improve, and mind was definitely still in full force. His words "Yep, you're still right in the thick of it, aren't you?" as I stood up and tipped to the right.
I won't bore you with the nitty gritty of what vestibular neuritis is, but I'll offer a brief definition. Then, if you want to learn more, I'll post some links for the curious. Vestibular neuritis is a viral infection of the inner ear. It disrupts the connection between the inner ear and the brain (via the 8th cranial nerve). Because this connection is impaired, my brain things my body is moving when it isn't, and my eyes try to compensate (click for a video of what my eyes do: nystagmus) and everything gets spinny, and thus, I fall. That's in simple terms, of course. There isn't a medicine for this, since it is a virus, and in fact, the ENT told me that it is best if I can even avoid taking the antivert (anti-vertigo medicine) because I need to be focusing on rebuilding the connection between my brain and inner ear. The vertigo typically goes away within 3 weeks, but can also last months. In some cases, it can be permanent....as in everytime you turn your head too fast, it make bring on a dizzy spell. I have a series of exercises that I do twice a day to help my brain learn to listen again to my inner ear. I am still fairly tipsy when I walk (I think the neighbors must think I've taken to the bottle with the way I look when Lucas and I walk to the mailbox. I have to hold on to his arm everywhere we go, and yet I still weave back and forth on the sidewalk).
I stayed home today by myself with Lincoln for the first time since Sunday. I did pretty good, if I do say so myself. I limited my carrying him about, changed him on the floor or bed, and stayed home. No driving for me for awhile. I did run into the refrigerator once, but I would have probably done that anyway (I was already accident prone). A bonus: one of the articles I read said I might have a permanent reduction in my ability to play sports such as volleyball or racquetball. I was already horrendous at any sport involving eye-hand coordination, and I have now been handed a valid excuse for being awful? Score!!
I'll try to keep updates on how the progress is going with the exercises. Lucas wants to take a video of me walking. If I'm feeling brave, perhaps I'll post it. It's ok if you laugh. I probably would : )
(had to sneak in a cute picture of Lucas and Lincoln...awww)