Saturday, August 9, 2014

Keep looking up! (medical UPdate on my vestibular disorder)

I saw my ENT doctor yesterday for a follow-up visit. I told her all about my recent developments with my illness, how I seem to have had some sort of set back.  I told her all about my theory on me possibly having migraine associated vertigo (which she shot down), and how I started the MAV diet (she had no comment as to whether or not I should continue).  She basically told me that what I'm experiencing is a "normal" part of this illness. I know it's true to have ups and downs, but to have my symptoms dramatically change after being the same for 6 months puzzled me. It's still hard to accept that it's normal, but what else can I do when no one knows for sure? She doesn't think I have migraine associated vertigo because I don't have the "classic" symptoms, which to her knowledge include the headache with the dizziness/vertigo.  However, this goes against everything I've read about the illness. From what I understand, a lot of sufferers have the vestibular symptoms of the migraine with no pain (I do have a history of true headache type migraines).  After a lengthy talk, she concluded with: "I'll be honest with you, I could be wrong". Not very reassuring!
She went on to tell me not to fear the positional vertigo, that is fatigues quickly if I just let it pass instead of changing position to make it stop. Thankfully, this type of dizziness does not happen to me often, but it was a nice reminder.  Although then she added: "If it doesn't stop, feel free to curse me out".  Again, not very reassuring! 
While on the topic of vertigo, I told her that I had not laid on my right side for years for fear of triggering an attack, as any previous bouts of positional vertigo I had would be triggered by laying on my right side.  She told me not to avoid this position, but rather get back into it so my brain can get used it.  She then told me about one of her patients who told her she would get dizzy when looking up so she hadn't looked up for 10 years!  I had to chuckle because I could certainly relate to the avoidance behavior.  She said she told this woman, don't do that, keep looking up!  (In other words, don't avoid the position that makes you uncomfortable.)
As I lay in bed this morning, in between that place of still being asleep and just waking up, the words "keep looking up" came back to me and I immediately thought about looking up towards God.  I was reminded of this scripture: "Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on the earth" (Colossians 3:1-2)
I know He wants me to look to Him, not to my illness but it's all I can focus on since my latest attack and I know it's not where my mind should be. I look up, I look down, I look back up, I look back down and sometimes I'm looking down for too long.  A lot of times I'm still looking down even when I'm looking up.  I'm seeking the Lord and professing my trust, as I'm seeking ways to lessen my symptoms or get healed through diets, supplements, doctors, holistic practitioners.  Why can't I truly rest in His promise to heal me and just wait!?

I left the doctor's office without any more knowledge regarding my illness than I had before. As a matter of fact, I may be more confused. She continues to believe I have uncompensated labyrinthitis and that it will get better one day.
Dear Lord, I know You know that this illness is not easy for me, but I also know You want me to trust You completely.  I have dealt with fear, anxiety and control my whole life and it's clear you are working through these things in my life with this illness.  I thank You that in your sovereignty You know exactly what is going on and have it all under control.  Thank you for the spiritual work you are doing in my life and that I can rest knowing You have my best interests in mind through it all.  Please help me to stop seeking other forms of reassurance and to only look up and to keep looking up!  In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


"Always be joyful, never stop praying, be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

I've been doing a study on the book of Colossians and Paul talks a lot about being thankful. A cross reference study question led me to the Thessalonians scripture above one day and it really made me stop and think.  It's God's will for me to be thankful in all circumstances (as well as joyful!).  I haven't exactly been obedient in this area. While I don't think He expects me to sit around and thank Him for allowing me to be dizzy all day and night, I do think He wants me to have an attitude of thankfulness because of all that I DO have to be thankful for thanks to my new life in Him. (On some level, I am thankful for this illness because it's what God used to bring me closer to Him than I have ever been before.)
First and foremost, I am thankful for my salvation and my reconciliation to God, my Father, through the blood of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, without whom I could not have possibly made it through a single day of this illness.  I am also forever thankful to God for my husband, who the Lord has given to me as my love, encourager, strength and so much more.
Today, practically speaking despite my illness, I am thankful for:
  • Being able to get out of bed.
  • The time I was able to spend in Bible study and prayer without any major episodes of dizziness trying to stop me!
  • The fact that I was able to feed and care for my pets :)
  • A successful vestibular rehabilitation appointment, despite the fact that it was very difficult mentally and emotionally to realize how far I have backslidden in my therapy due to this recent bout of vertigo.  I made it through each and every exercise with the Lord's strength when every part of me wanted to give up and felt fearful that it might trigger dizziness.
  • Being able to do two loads of laundry and run the dishwasher.
  • My recliner, air conditioning and nice, long nap in the afternoon!
  • The fact that I was able to prepare dinner and enjoy it at my dining room table with my husband
  • A nice, warm shower that I was able to take. Speaking of the shower, I'm also thankful for not getting hurt more seriously when I fell (ironically, not because of my dizziness)
All in all I'd say it was a good day despite feeling worse lately. I need to focus on the good.  I want this to be a habit, a life change, but it's so hard.  It's something only the Lord can do in me as I make the daily choice to focus on all I have to be thankful for.
Do you struggle with being joyful and thankful, especially in the really hard times?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A bump along the dizzy road (Part 2)

I wanted to keep a written record of the recent events regarding my dizziness (see: "A bump along the dizzy road" (Part 1)) because every month, around my menstrual cycle, I feel horrible and think I'm never going to get better.  There were some things I left out my "bump in the road (Part 1)" post that I wanted to share, mostly for my own benefit, but perhaps others could give me some insight or commiseration too.
A few days before I had my recent attack of vertigo, I felt like I was coming down with a cold.  I was sneezing like crazy, felt run down and had a sore throat.  Ironically, my dizziness was feeling really well considering my menstrual cycle was due and the possible impending cold (colds and sickness can set a vestibular illness back).  Ever since I started the Heal your Headache diet for suspected Migraine Associated Vertigo, I've noticed small improvements in my condition, so I was very encouraged by that.  On Monday, I made a batch of elderberry syrup with honey to combat my oncoming cold.  I also started taking a spoonful of honey and cinnamon for my sore throat.  On Tuesday night, I had a massive headache and finally gave in to taking two Ibuprofen.  I also had a gigantic bowl of vanilla ice cream (Turkey Hill natural - no preservatives) with home made whipped cream (from the Migraine-Free Cookbook) and some caramel topping (also all natural).  I know that bowls of ice cream tend to make me wake up with a sugar hang over, but of course I had to have a bowl.

I woke up Wednesday morning feeling really off.  My head felt strange; however, my sore throat was gone and I didn't feel like I was coming down with a cold anymore.  After I bent down to feed my cat and stood back up, a few seconds later is when the vertigo started.  That story can be found in the post linked above. My menstrual cycle started later that day.
Every month during my cycle, my dizziness increases.  It also increases during pressure changes.  Sadly enough, the day I got my cycle, we were due for rain and I clearly was also combatting some type of illness.  Could all three of these things have been what sent my condition over the edge?  All I know is that every month, I feel worse and think I will never get better.  This month though, I feel worse then ever!  It's like I took one giant step backwards. Every day I have felt like a walking zombie, with tons of pressure in my head, terrible eye aches and the feeling like I might tip over or have vertigo again.  Thankfully I haven't had the vertigo again but I feel really, really lousy, like the worst ever since this whole thing started in January.  I've gone back to my basic vestibular exercises and even those are causing my dizziness to increase badly.  For that reason, I've been spending a lot of time lying down.  I know that's bad for this condition, but it's too frightening and uncomfortable to get up and move around too much.
I don't know what to do.  Since doctors have no clue how to help, that leaves out their advice. Since everyone's symptoms on any forum or support group I visit and read about vary as much as each snowflake, I simply cannot wrap my mind around this illness and that really upsets me.  It bugs me that no one can tell me what is happening and why and that there is no cure.  Perhaps this is in fact the perfect illness for me to have so the Lord can continue to work in my life.  After all, without any sort of control over the situation or method of healing, I have no where else to turn but to Him.  I truly know what it means now to trust in Him with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).  As if I could have any understanding with this illness!?  Now if only I can get the head knowledge into my heart and quit trying so hard to make this go away!!!
As I sat in prayer this morning, crying once again to the Lord, the Holy Spirit spoke this word to me: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13). I was so thankful the Lord gave me that truth and it filled me with peace. Several hours later, I went back through my journal that I've been keeping (I call it my book of encouragement) filled with scriptures and teachings on healing and waiting on the Lord, and I came across a list I made of truths versus lies a few months ago. One of the lies I was believing at the time was about me getting worse.  I wrote down the lie: what if I get worse?  The truth I used to combat that lie was written in the adjacent column and it said: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me".   Thank you, Lord.  I've never needed your strength so bad in my life!

A bump along the dizzy road (Part 1)