Living with Dizziness, Vertigo, and Balance Issues

Have you ever spun around on a swing or something and when you get off you feel dizzy, can’t focus your eyes, feel out of balance and sick to your stomach? That’s what life has been like for me for over a week. It’s a complication of my ear surgery from three weeks ago.  It has made life very tough.  It has been difficult to walk straight. The ceiling and walls tend to jump around and move. I can’t bend over to pick things up. It’s hard to read and concentrate. I can’t drive. I feel woozy when I move my head back-and-forth or side-to-side. Um, yes you heard that right–virtually anyway I move my head makes the world spin!

It has also been difficult to keep my mind on things.  I read that suffering from a type of forgetfulness and confusion that is common with this condition.  This is due to the brain’s heightened struggle at trying to maintain balance on its own. Ugh!

I have had to ask for help much more than I am used to.  I can’t go grocery shopping or drop the kids off at their activities. My friends have come to pick up or drop off the kids. Hubby has had to go into work late so he could drive me to-and-from the doctors and to vote.

So how did all this come about?  Well, I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about my ear surgery.  There were complications during the surgery and the surgery itself took a lot longer than they expected. Then when I was in the recovery area, I was violently ill, nauseous, and dizzy. I couldn’t go home and was admitted and spent an extra day in the hospital.

After the surgery, my in-laws were here to hold down the fort.  I didn’t feel great and spent a lot of time sitting and/or sleeping.  Even if I did get up for part of the day, by 2pm or so I was worn out, had earaches, and just generally felt bad and had little appetite. In fact, during those 2 1/2 weeks or so I lost 10 pounds. The doctor kept saying I’d be just fine by 2 weeks, so I just assumed I’d be getting better. My  in-laws stayed an extra 4 days and then had to head back to Missouri. I started doing a bit more with the kids, but then last week I really started suffering from a lot of balance and dizziness issues. I couldn’t bend down and even walking made me feel like I was going to tip over.

One of my closest friends happens to be a vestibular therapist and she’s the one who started putting the pieces together that I’m having vestibular issues (a rare complication from ear surgery). I checked positive for something called BPPV — which is when crystals in your ear that deal with balance and your position in space get knocked out of place and float around (which gives false signals to your brain, so that your eyes dart up and down as they try to focus).The crystals probably were knocked loose during the surgery because of all the drilling they did (the surgery was longer and more difficult than they had initially thought it would be.)  As I moved around more trying to get “back to normal” it stirred things up and made me feel terrible.

I’ve been back to the doctor every four or five days since the surgery.  The past couple of visits he’s been trying to do procedures to help put those crystals back in place. Those crystals can fall out of any of the three canals (in the picture below) in your inner ear. But unfortunately for me, it seem that the crystals have fallen out from at least two of the canals (that is also pretty rare, usually crystals just fall out of one canal or another).

220px-Balance_Disorder_Illustration_A
What you do to get better is tilt your head in different directions trying to get those crystals back where they belong. (Kind of like a maze with your head!) I’m nowhere near as bad as I was back last Saturday when I was dry-heaving and couldn’t do anything but sit on the couch trying not to move my head at all, but I still can’t drive and am pretty unsteady on my feet (and all those other things I was talking about).

So, the great news is that this is not something that requires more surgery, but the bad news is that it takes time to get those crystals back in place where they need to be.

It hasn’t brought homeschooling to a stand-still, but the kids have definitely had to work more independently and we’re moving through things at a much (much, much) slower pace.  And it’s why we love homeschooling — it’s flexible and we can adjust when times (like this) require it!

P.S. — I wrote this a couple of days ago. It’s now Saturday morning. I have improved steadily the past couple of days… It is SUCH a relief!  I’m still having to move slow and have trouble focusing my eyes when I move quickly, but I can walk without feeling like I’m going to tip over!

My other ear posts:

I doubt too many people will want to delve into much detail, but there was someone who had complications to his ear surgery and happened upon one of my posts. Since others might be looking for stories about superior semi-circular canal dehiscence, BPPV, vertigo or some of the things I’ve gone through the past 8 months I thought I’d paste in links to my other posts.   I didn’t realize how many posts I’ve written about all this… it sure has been a loooooong journey.
A video post — which gives an overview about my whole journey (6 surgeries and then having everything in my ear removed, what it has been like going deaf, and the new device for people like me (hard of hearing in one ear, deaf in the other)
Ear Surgery #5 – Trying to Resolve my Noise Sensitivity, Autophony, Balance Issues and More (June 3)
In Crisis, Lies Opportunity for Growth (March 27)
My 4th Ear Surgery (March 18)
My Debilitating Medical Problems and Crazy Symptoms (March 2) – Just prior to my 3rd surgery to remove the prosthesis.
My Ear is Broken – (Feb. 1) Post 2nd surgery, which was only partly successful… and as my symptoms worsened. This explains (with pictures) what’s wrong medically.
Liesl-Ear-Explanation
Good News, Bad News About My Ear Surgery (Jan. 22)
Mom Down! Why I’m in Surgery Today (Jan. 20 my 2nd surgery) — Surgery to remove the bone filler because I seem to be allergic to the calcium phosphate.
Self-Reflection Questions for New Years (Jan. 2014) I talked about the struggles of dealing with all of my ear issues
Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov. 9) — After my October surgery when I came down with BPPV, a horrible, horrible case of vertigo… when the little crystals in your ear fall out of place and make the walls spin and makes you incredibly nauseous.
A Rough Week – When None of the Trivial Things Matter and Only the Trivial Things Matter Post-surgery post from my first (of 5) surgery about how great the kids were, the support I got and all that!
My New Vocabulary Word – Cholesteatoma – This was a successful surgery on my right ear… not related to all the drama with my left ear and the 5 surgeries that followed. Jan. 2012, when I found out I need surgery on my right ear. The other posts (mentioned above) were all the recent surgery on my left ear.
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7 Responses

  1. January 20, 2014

    […] Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov, 2013) […]

  2. June 2, 2014

    […] — Surgery to remove the bone filler because I seem to be allergic to the calcium phosphate. Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov. 9) — After my October surgery when I came down with BPPV, a horrible, horrible case of […]

  3. June 2, 2014

    […] — Surgery to remove the bone filler because I seem to be allergic to the calcium phosphate. Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov. 9) — After my October surgery when I came down with BPPV, a horrible, horrible case of […]

  4. June 2, 2014

    […] for New Years (Jan. 2014) I talked about the struggles of dealing with all of my ear issues Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov. 9) — After my October surgery when I came down with BPPV, a horrible, horrible case of […]

  5. June 2, 2014

    […] for New Years (Jan. 2014) I talked about the struggles of dealing with all of my ear issues Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov. 9) — After my October surgery when I came down with BPPV, a horrible, horrible case of […]

  6. June 7, 2014

    […] for New Years (Jan. 2014) I talked about the struggles of dealing with all of my ear issues Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov. 9) — After my October surgery when I came down with BPPV, a horrible, horrible case of […]

  7. June 7, 2014

    […] for New Years (Jan. 2014) I talked about the struggles of dealing with all of my ear issues Living with Dizziness, Vertigo and Balance Issues (Nov. 9) — After my October surgery when I came down with BPPV, a horrible, horrible case of […]

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