Thursday, January 27, 2005

my immune system, the ignorant over-achiever

Once upon a time I graduated from my MFA program, had my mom staying in my apartment, had a wedding dress made, drove to Las Vegas with Alex (and my mom), got married, drove back from Las Vegas with Alex (and my mom), went on a honeymoon (without my mom) and got the job offer of my dreams all within a three week span. As you can imagine, all of this was quite stressful, so in return for this generous helping of stress my body gave me the gift of hives. Chronic hives. 8 straight weeks of hives. My immune system was attacking an imaginary virus, which it apparently thought was all over my entire body. For two months I lived in itchy misery, sometimes my eyelids would swell up so much that I couldn't see. Other days I couldn't tie my shoes because my feet were abnormally large with hives. Eventually this came to an end, with the help of time and a little acupuncture. But my immune system warned me then, it would do anything for me, even if it meant it had to hurt me in the process of trying to protect me.

It seems, after consulting with my ENT for the third time, that almost 4 months ago my immune system took an offer it couldn't refuse. It took a hit out on virus in my right ear. Not only did my over enthusiastic antibodies kill the virus, they destroyed some nerves in my ear as well. Nerves which are irreplaceable and I was quite fond of; the ones for balancing and hearing. Most likely my body will compensate for the loss over time. How much time is the big question.

I think that today might be an appropriate time to have a little chat with my immune system and outline what kind of destruction is appropriate. I'll probably open with "Let's work smarter, not harder."

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

right said, fred

Over the past few days these very excellent exchanges took place:

while working at the Iron Puzzler at Endgame -
me: Greg, your pants are too big
Greg: I know.
dude(to Greg): Excuse me, where's the restroom?
Greg: Straight down these pants. STAIRS, stairs.

while in a basic stringing class at Baubles and Beads -
me: Why can't I get this thing over my needle? I think my fingers are slippery.
Julianne: I told you to stop eating so much bacon.

while watching Alex take an allergy pill -
me: Dude, you're addicted.
Alex: You're a dick head!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

temazepam induced memories

Trying to remember a time when I wasn't dizzy has become my favorite hobby. It's probably not healthy, but it's what I do. I came up with these two precious childhood moments last night.

When I was about 7 years old, my dad came in from work with a new phone for the apartment. I always thought this phone came from his place of employment, but chances are it was someone's old phone, someone who realized the joy of touch tone phoning 10 years before my parents. It was a kick-ass black rotary phone with a clear plastic dial. This was a big improvement over the other black rotary phone we had, because the dial on that one was metal, and when I would play with the phone (or on the 4 occasions I actually had to dial a number) I remember the weight and sharpness of it digging into my frail fingers, any number with a 9 or a 0 was out of the question. Before my dad set up the new phone in the hallway, my sister and I had a swell time using it like a toy; living the exciting life of a secretary, the hectic day of an operator, and ultimate dream ... taking personal calls. At one point I decided I would do an impression and picked up the phone pretending to be my dad. I think my dad worked for the government at the time, and when he answered the phone there he would say his name, followed by the name of the department he worked for. I recall him saying "interstate". Now that I think of it, he most likely did not work in the middle of a giant highway, but it sounded like interstate to me. With both my parents proudly watching, I picked up the receiver with great enthusiasm and in my best man voice I said my dad's name followed by the word "intercourse." Awkward silence was followed by my mom asking "You do know what intercourse is, right?" And even though I wasn't completely sure, I was positive it was not a phone appropriate word. I looked my mom square in the eyes and blurted out "YES!" I then swiftly escaped to my bedroom, opened a Richard Scary book to the middle as if I had been reading it for hours, and tried pretend the whole thing never happened.

One weekday afternoon (after we had the new phone) my sister and I were doing homework, or rather, my sister was doing homework, and I was taunting her. Although there would be the occasional brawl following the taunting, afternoons like this were usually very quiet, because my mother worked from 11 p.m. - 7 a.m. and slept in the afternoon. On this particular afternoon there was a knock on the door. This was odd for a few reasons, the main reason was that we lived in a three story apartment building and you couldn't get to our apartment on the second floor without having been let in through the main door on the first floor. The other reason was that we had no guests in the afternoon, or any other time. This knock perplexed and intrigued me, so I stopped my taunting and went to the door. Although I had been told to never open the door for a stranger I deduced that no stranger could get to the second floor, clearly this had to be a neighbor, and neighbors aren't strangers! Through the glass and lacy curtain I saw a silhouette which looked very harmless, so I unlocked the deadbolt and turned the knob. An old man towered over me, I noticed that his coat was dirty and his hat was plaid. "I'm your grandfather!" he slurred as he stumbled over the threshold. This man was not my grandfather, or a neighbor. At this point my sister was at the door with me and we looked at each other with fear and sadness. What had I done? There we were, two small girls in awe of a tall, drunk imposter. My sister tried with all her might to push the man back out into the hallway as he continued to assure her that he was our grandfather, she was actually just holding him up. I, on the other hand, walked into my parent's room where I calmly sat beside my mother, shook her awake and let her know a guest had arrived for her. Then I went into my room, opened an Encylopedia Brown book to the middle as if I had been reading it for hours and tried to pretend the whole thing never happened. It turned out the old man was the grandfather of the people upstairs, I was in a lot of trouble and I still can't believe I deserted my sister.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

a shower by candlelight

sounds relaxing and perhaps enjoyable. But it actually sucks when your power goes out at 7:00am and all you can find are 3 tea lights and a candle that smells like a giant tomato. Even all together this sad votive grouping could not illuminate my cavernous, windowless bathroom.

Friday, January 14, 2005

favorite lyrics of the day (vol. 4)

from That's What I Love About Sunday, Craig Morgan
I stroll to the end of the drive,
Pick up the Sunday Times, grab my coffee cup.
It looks like Sally an' Ron, finally tied the knot,
Well, it's about time.
It's 35 cents off a ground round,
Baby. cut that coupon out!

Let it be known that the CD player in my car is broken and I was forced to listen to the radio. In my pursuit of a tune to rock out to I came upon this gem.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

it's not a tumor*

But I am now the owner of some pretty sweet pictures of my brain.

Here's the rundown of what's been going on with my ailing ear:

Before Thanksgiving I saw my ENT twice. I thought he was cool the first time I met him, but after our second meeting I came to the conclusion that he's kind of a meanie and doesn't seem to like to deal with the mysterious. He was very impatient while I was trying to describe what kind of dizziness I was experiencing and told me that he didn't understand what I was talking about. At the end of our allotted 10 minutes together he was quick to give me all sorts of medications, tell me "it will go away soon" and send me on my way. Since then I've called his assistant 9 times to only have received one return call, in which she told me to come in the next day. When I arrived on that next day, both the assistant and the doctor were in surgery, unable to see me. I had an auditory brainstem response test on December 15, and I'm still waiting to hear or see the results. I called his assistant twice regarding the outcome of the test, so I could find out if any of my nerves are damaged, but apparently she must keep deleting me off her to do list. The soonest appointment I could get with the ENT is on January 25. ahhh, health care.

In the mean time, I switched my primary care physician and have seen a nurse practitioner at the new practice who I really like. She not only dried tears from my soggy eyes, but also referred me to a neurologist, who I saw last week.

I really dig this neurologist. After introducing me to his 2 pound dog, which was in his office, he assured me that we would figure out what is wrong with me. He spent 30 minutes listening to my history and symptoms. He was shocked to hear that I hadn't been sent in for an MRI yet, and said he wasn't sure what was causing the dizziness, hearing loss or tinnitus, but those things are all signs of an acoustic neuroma, and wanted to rule that possibility out as soon as possible with an MRI. Then he took me into another room where he did a series of tests for balance and hearing. At the end of all this he told me that he noticed I was breathing funny, lots of deep breaths and sighs. He told me I was overbreathing, which is a sign of anxiety. At this point I was thinking "yeah, because I'm in a neurologist's office and you just told me I might have a tumor." He then demonstrated how to hyperventilate and asked me to do it. While taking in way too much air for 30 seconds he asked me to take note of how my dizziness felt before, during and after. I thought nothing could feel more humiliating than a command performance of hyperventilating and feeling like I was going to pass out in front of a stranger (even though he was a doctor), but then he gave me my prescription. Written on a piece of paper were these three things: more aerobic exercise, discontinue overbreathing, try my paper bag theory. Then he gave me a paper bag to breathe into. He instructed me to keep it on hand and breathe into it when necessary, even though it seemed so cliche. He noted that the bag won't help with the hearing loss or the tinnitus, but it would probably help a lot with the dizziness. So off I went to schedule my MRI and breathe into my bag. (I have to admit, I've tried the paper bag a few times, it hasn't done a thing for me.)

I had my MRI this past Sunday and I decided to take an anti-vertigo drug before I went in. Not because I had vertigo, but I was counting on it to calm me down, or knock me out, either one was fine. I figured 25 minutes in an extremely loud and tiny tube which would reveal if I had a tumor might make me a little antsy, or I could overbreathe, and I was pretty sure they wouldn't let me paper bag it in there. It actually wasn't so bad, I didn't freak out when the buzzing and clicking was going on, but the silence was what got my imagination going. I pictured earthquakes, power outages or technicians going out for a smoke and me stuck in a tube there was no way of getting out of. I think the key was to realize how ridiculous these imaginary events were as well as never opening my eyes to see how cramped I really was in that tube. Once I was done I waited with Alex in the lobby for 5 minutes and then some dude handed me a bunch of pictures of my brain. We then promptly drove to Max and Julianne's for coffee, panettone and a viewing of my brain photos. After that we went home and I slept for the rest of the day, while visions of tumors danced in my head.

I found out today that the results of the MRI are normal. I'm glad I don't have a tumor, but part of me was hoping that this would have been the end of ear mystery and I would have some answers. So now I wait for January 25 and another meeting with Dr. Li to try to figure this whole thing out. Until then I'll just keep doing my aerobic exercise with my paper bag handy...

*for this title to have it's full effect, think back to a time before Schwartzenneger presented awesome budgets to all the girlie men of California, but was just a mere Kindergarten Cop

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

out of commission

My inner ear (or something in my head) is still broken and making everything I try to do all sorts of difficult. So instead of writing about how frustrating everything is, I will lamely put links to some of my favorite old entries... enjoy, won't you?

I tried to buy pants

then I tried to buy a bathing suit

top 40 music makes me feel uncool

I was never meant to be a bridesmaid

why I quit my last job

toys I'll never buy (but my mother will)