Despite how hard I tried to convince myself it was all going to just go away, I woke up on Monday October, 26th feeling as miserable as I had the day before. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Still, I hated the silence. It was so loud. I lay there, my heart racing, my mind doing the same.
The ear is an amazing organ. For being so small, it affects SO much. Although I can’t hear anything out of my left ear, I have a very loud white noise (whooshing/buzzing/ringing) constantly in it. There is this catch 22; when there is noise for my right ear to focus on, I don’t fixate on the white noise, but that other noise also intensifies my vertigo…and everything else.
I refer to the whooshing/buzzing/ringing as my hairdryer. It sounds like I ALWAYS have a hairdryer blowing next to my ear, sometimes on high, medium, or low-depending on how much other stimuli I am exposed to at the time. It’s almost been 4 months straight of listening to it. I’m especially proud of the fact that it hasn’t drove me to the same extremes it took poor Demi Lovato‘s character on this episode of Grey’s.
I feel ya, girl, “I’m not crazy” is my mantra some days too. The hairdryer is really frustrating. Luckily for me, mine’s not scratch-my-eyes-out-frustrating.
So anyway, most of Monday morning I spent sleeping and trying not to freak out over the hairdryer. On high. That I could not turn off. I also finally accepted none of this was just going to go away and it was time for urgent care.
But first, I had to call my insurance and see where I could go. I just moved to a new town and started a new job in June and had yet to have any need for my insurance…until then.
After making LOTS of new long distance insurance phone friends and chatting for a couple hours, I found a Northwest Urgent Care that wasn’t too far away and my dad was able to take me there. Nothing about this trip was ideal-lights, sounds, motion sickness, increased anxiety, so much stimuli which meant so much pain/vertigo, etc, etc- but it was necessary, so que sera, sera.
Once there the wait was long, but that was expected. Snow birds had already started arriving so it was a pretty busy place. I just kept my head down and my eyes closed-and my hands thoroughly sanitized! They took me back for “triage” where a nurse took my brief history and basic information, then sent me back to the waiting room.
Eventually I got placed into a patient room and a physician’s assistant came to work with me. I was very impressed with him. He was kind, compassionate, efficient, and thorough. He did exactly what an urgent care doctor should do in a situation like mine. He gave me a preliminary diagnosis of Labyrinthitis and Vestibular Neuritis (a middle ear infection), treated my symptoms (pain, motion sickness, nausea), and told me to follow up with my primary care physician by Friday of that week. They let me lay in the dark room until the meds kicked in and a very kind nurse came and checked on me. It was an overall good experience, but left me with more questions than answers.
So leaving there my thoughts were:
- Something is wrong with my ear
- I need to find someone who knows more about ears
- I’m still miserable
- I only have 2 more sick days left
- I’m taking tomorrow off to find someone who knows about ears
I sent a few quick texts and emails begging my coworkers to whip something together for my sub on Tuesday the 27th because I was incapable of coming up with anything. I truly am indebted to all of them. They’ve been so good to me.
Then, the morning of the 27th I woke up with the same symptoms, but I knew I had to suck it up and make some phone calls and try to use my computer even though my eyes couldn’t focus and it hurt my head.
When I first moved to town, the earliest I could get an appointment with my general practitioner wasn’t until November, so I hadn’t established one yet, and ultimately, I assumed she would have to send me to an ENT anyways.
Next, I called my insurance (making even more new friends) and asked if they required referrals for specialists, which they didn’t. Yay! Then I asked them for a list of ENT’s in my area.
Once I had those lists, it was a matter of finding ones that had decent reviews and could get me in quickly. I struck out on most of the ones closet to me, but I was excited to find an ENT doctor who specializes in hearing and vertigo issues at Banner UMC. So I called to make an appointment with him, Dr. Jacob Abraham. Unfortunately, I was not the only person who was excited to find him, because the earliest appointment I could get with him was January 15th. Bummer. So I asked if there were any other ENTs that had any openings this week or next at any time of day. There was an appointment available not
this Friday, but of the following week with Dr. Mindy Black (cue angels singing=Hallelujah!).
I was so thankful that Dr. Black could get me in in a timely manner, but also realized that meant at least 7 days of work before I could take off my 3rd and last day of earned leave. I had to go to work. Like this. I can’t even take a shower. I can’t even do the dishes. I can’t walk my dog. I can’t watch TV, use the computer, read a book, ride in a car, or even turn my head too fast!
My eyes can’t focus. My brain can’t think. My stomach can’t settle. My world won’t stop spinning. My head HURTS all the time. I can barely walk. My whole body is in fight or flight mode. But, I’m going to work tomorrow. I’m going to talk using my “stage” voice all day long. I’m going to monitor, teach, love, advise, coach, discipline, and enjoy being with each of my 30-35 kids at a time, who keep me on my toes on my best days.
I will be going to work in the morning. It has to happen. What other option do I have? I love my job. I’m a new employee. I have already taken 2 days off. I only have one left that I need for the doctor next Friday, a week from this one. I have no other option. I will suck it up. I will survive. I will be fine.
I cried for a long time. Then, I laid out my clothes, packed my bag and lunch, set literally 5 different alarms starting about an hour earlier than usual, and crawled into bed around 7pm.