Vestibular Neuritis

I have finally been diagnosed.  I have Vestibular Neuritis which is a “disorder that affects the nerve of the inner ear called the vestibulocochlear nerve. This nerve sends balance and head position information from the inner ear to the brain. When this nerve becomes swollen (inflamed), it disrupts the way the information would normally be interpreted by the brain”.  I got that explanation right off of the internet.

But here is what my doctor told me.  I have a virus that affects the nerve from the inner ear to the brain causing symptoms of vertigo, dizziness, balance difficulties, nausea and fatigue.  Exactly 3 weeks ago I woke up and started to get ready to go to my Friday boot camp with Dave Reddy.    But I was feeling a bit unsteady and not sure if I was coming down with something.  I just didn’t feel right.  So I decided to take a day off from working out.

I went to work and was able to photograph 10 senior basketball players from DeSmet Jesuit High School for their annual coaches gift.  My balance was off but I was able to complete the shoot.  I went home and rested on the couch and started to feel better.  The next day I went to Chicago on Amtrak and was still feeling off.  A bit dizzy.  I got worse in Chicago and could not take the train home, so my wonderful husband drove from St. Louis to pick me up.

Fast forward to today, three weeks later, several doctors visits, doctor’s evaluations and an MRI. Yesterday I had a VNG test.  And I was finally diagnosed with this virus.  I am so relieved that I finally found out what I had.  But the most interesting thing about this illness is that the more active one is and the more exercise one does the sooner the illness goes away.  I was so excited to here that because for three weeks I have done nothing.  I did go out for a walk at Fenton Park two weeks ago but that is the only exercise I have had in three weeks.  So today I will be working out and I am excited to do so.

But the funny thing about these past few weeks is how my imagination played havoc with my mind.  Of course I was sure something was wrong when my symptoms did not go away after 1 week.  And I was sure it was a tumor of some sort in my brain when my symptoms did not go away after two weeks.  When the ENT doctor set me up for the MRI, I really was afraid to ask her what they were looking for.  She was nice and said “we want to rule out anything that may be going on in the brain.”  And that answer was good enough for me. I also was assured I was not showing any neurological signs of anything serious.  But I still had that nagging bad feeling in the back of my mind.

I tried to stay off of the internet to search what I might have.  But my curiosity got the better of me.   And what I found out scared the bejesus out of me.  I was preparing for the worst.

So when preparing for the worst I started to think.  Heck, I should just have an Imo’s Supreme pizza since I am preparing for the worst.  I may not be able to eat Ted Drews because I will be to ill, so I better get some now.  I kept thinking about what I have not eaten in one and a half years and how I might enjoy something crazy fattening indulgences.

But the more I thought about it, the more I decided that whatever illness I had, those foods would only make me feel worse in the long run.  I love how my body feels now.  And I don’t mind looking at my body anymore.  I decided I did not want to sabotage my eating with some crazy indulgences.   So for the past three weeks I have been eating very healthy and sticking to my 26 Weight Watcher points per day.

But last night I was craving – and I mean craving – ice cream.  Like Ben and Jerry’s.  I wanted my husband to go and get it for me.  He said he would go if I went with him.  But I was so cozy sitting by the fireplace I did not want to go into the cold.  So I got my greek yogurt and frozen strawberries and a banana and stirred it all together.  It was delicious and it took care of that ice cream craving.  It was such a healthy dessert.

I am getting better and looking forward to being 100% better.  Every day I can tell, the symptoms are subsiding.  I start physical therapy on Monday and I am excited to learn the exercises that will redirect my brain to compensate for the damage done to that nerve.  And the most amazing thing about this illness is that activity and exercise will make the symptoms go away quicker.  So watch out world, this girl is going to rock the gym.

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