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  • I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor at the V.A. last Friday. For once, it was just a routine follow-up - there were no new dramatics going on in my inner-ear, other than a slight muffledness in my hearing of late. I thought he’d have to go in and dig some wax out of there, which is usually the case, but it was all clear in there. I’m probably just slightly congested. I have too much fluid in my inner ear, so congestion can cause that.

    But that was it. He decided it was time to get another CT Scan and MRI, as we’re keeping a close eye on that schwannoma, and everything else in there, so I went downstairs and got my CT Scan – at this point, I know I can usually get that on the same day. The MRI has to be scheduled in advance, and I have to have blood work done within 30 days of it, since they use the contrast dye for that one. I scheduled the MRI, and left. Nothing new to worry about.

    Yesterday, my brother Jim told me about an article in the New York Times, written by a guy who’s had some horrific experiences with vestibular migraines, which is what we eventually discovered was what was causing my vertigo episodes. He asked if that was what I had, and he hoped I didn’t go through what that guy went through. So, I read the article.

    It sounded like this guy had been through utter hell, figuring out a way to manage his migraines and vertigo stuff. It was like my last summer, where I was having attacks every ten days, only on steroids. They tried all kinds of different medications on him – including steroids (prednazone). When they finally found one that worked, which happened to be a well-known anti-depressant med, it had a side-effect of causing terrible nightmares, and he never got more than 3 hours sleep a night, as a result. After three years, he tried going off it to see if anything had changed. The vertigo was as bad as ever, then when he tried to go back on it, it didn’t work. His struggle made mine look like nothing.

    Wow, talk about getting a ton of gratitude! It did bring back to me how miserable last summer was for me. I still don’t know how I got through that period – what’s crazy is, I actually have a lot of good memories from things that happened, then. There were moments when the insanity of all that vertigo was trumped by life, by good things going on, around me and inside me. But overall, I was downright miserable.

    I just got lucky to have a doctor who knew what the hell he was doing, who listened to me to find out what was really happening to me, and who came up with a great solution, on the first try. When he prescribed the medication that I still take, nortriptyline, which is also used as an anti-depressant, the results were almost immediate. I felt so much better after a couple of days, I only then realized how lousy I’d been feeling all the time, all summer. Then, when my vertigo episodes relaxed to once a month instead of every ten days, I felt like I got my life back. I still get them, but some months, like this one, they actually don’t completely knock me out for a whole day. Maybe I’m just getting more used to them and not resisting them as much. Maybe I’ve reached a deeper level of acceptance that they might not go away altogether, so I’ve adapted to them.

    All I know is, it’s a lot better than it was, and for that, I am truly grateful.

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