Monday, March 11, 2013


If you know me, you know that I don’t take things lying down. I get up and I make things work, I don’t let fear of the unknown stop me. I have very little tolerance for weakness in myself, especially when it comes to getting things done on time and correctly. There isn’t anything that I put above the love I have for my family, and my desire to make a good life for them (hence the full time job and school).

Recently I started having trouble with my health, like really scary stuff. I went in to my normal eye doctor to get an eye exam, because I wanted to get some contacts (which I still haven’t gotten BTW). During the course of my eye exam he noticed that my optic nerves were swollen. I got to have fun pictures taken of my optic nerves, which allowed him to see that indeed I have swollen optic nerves. This was the beginning of a long conversation about my history of headaches. You see, I have had terrible headaches for as long as I can remember which sometimes last for several days. They have over the last few years gotten pretty bad, leading me to have a sinus surgery last January to theoretically make them go away. I also know that the second you tell a doctor that you have headaches, they want to run a bazillion tests on you to see what is causing it, or they tell you that it is all in your head. So after several minutes of talking about what could possibly be causing my headaches, and my optic nerves to become swollen, my optometrist decided to send me for a second opinion.

It took me longer than I had anticipated getting in to see the ophthalmologist I was referred to, due to an emergency involving a penny and my 3 year old daughter, and then a death in the family. I went into the ophthalmologist fully expecting to be told that I had nothing to worry about. My vision tests all came back good, except for my optic nerves being swollen. I mentioned to the ophthalmologist that I had started to get random dizzy spells, usually at the same time as the headaches. This made her decide to send me STAT for a CT scan of my brain. So off I went, with my now very worried mother in tow, to get my CT scan and wait for the doctor to read it and call me. After about an hour’s wait (which felt like an eternity) the ophthalmologist called me to tell me the good news, I do not have a large or obvious tumor on my brain. Yes, that was the good news… they couldn’t rule out a small inconspicuous tumor or anything else that could be wrong with my brain that would be causing these weird symptoms. So what is the plan to figure this out I asked… she said that the next step is seeing a neurologist.

The soonest I could get in to see the neurologist was a week and a half from my ophthalmologist appointment, and almost a month since my optometrist appointment. We now know that I have papilledema (swollen optic nerves) and are looking to determine the cause. There is nothing I can do but tell myself to remain calm and wait to see the neurologist. Until the Sunday night before my neurologist appointment... I started to get dizzy, but the dizzy wasn’t with a headache, and didn’t seem to be going away. I proceeded with my normal work schedule, and went to my neurologist appointment. He made me do some sort of sobriety test in his office, then told me nothing except that he is ordering a spinal tap (Joy!). I made sure to mention my dizziness to him, but he didn’t seem concerned, said he couldn’t tell me anything until after the spinal tap. Okay then…

Neurologist appointment was on a Monday, dizziness started Sunday night, and continued to get worse. Wednesday I was too dizzy to go to work, and had a terrible headache. The dizziness continued to get worse and Thursday I went to the ER, where they gave me a shot of Valium because I was silly enough to admit that I have been dizzy since Sunday, and was afraid that there was something wrong with my brain. They did an EKG because I was having anxiety, and were able to rule out pregnancy and ear infection as the causes for my dizziness.

 Let me tell you what 4+ days of incredible dizziness will do to your psyche. I was certain that I was going insane, like lock you up crazy, because everything was like I was drunk on a boat, without having anything alcoholic to drink in days. It was the worst part of being drunk, and it wasn’t going away. I was sick to my stomach from it, I was exhausted from it, and I was finally scared. I can handle a lot of things, but the thought that maybe I was seriously losing my mind, or that I had tumors on my brain causing me to slowly lose it, it was too much for me. I couldn’t drive, I was afraid to walk anywhere without someone with me, I couldn’t read because the words wouldn’t stay still, and forget about working on those two papers I had for school. I finally felt overwhelmed and defeated. The thought that I might not be able to do anything with my daughter had me nearly paralyzed with fear.

I decided to drag myself to my general practitioner to see if he could do anything to help me. This was three days ago now, this past Friday. I managed to get through the entire story of what was going on without breaking down, even though I was certain he was going to say there was nothing he could or would do until I saw the neurologist again. He checked to make sure that I didn’t have a sinus infection, my blood pressure was normal, I didn’t seem to be going crazy. He said that I have benign vertigo. And the best thing that I have heard in years, was that there is medication to stop the dizziness! Yep, I could wait nervously for my spinal tap without going insane. He assured me that it was only a band-aid for what was causing the dizziness and the papiledema. We can’t know anything for sure until the spinal tap. Okay, whatever, I know I am not losing it. He told me that the chances are it is not a tumor causing this problem, but a disease known as Pseudo Tumor CerebrI, which is not something that is terminal, and is something that can go away. What a relief!

This brings me to the end of my post. I don’t know what is wrong with my brain. I do know that the anti-vertigo pills are working. I know that I want to write about and drink beer, but I can’t while I am on these meds. I know that I am still scared, in spite of my best efforts to get past those fears. I know that I am worn out from this ordeal already, and it has only been a month and a half. Why am I writing about this on my beer blog? I am not sure, but I thought that I would feel better by writing what was going on…  Now I guess all I can do is wait for the spinal tap in two weeks. 


  1. if i may point out some silver linings:

    it sounds like all of the doctors that you saw actually listened to you, which is a step up from the last few doctors i've seen, who literally wouldn't let me answer the questions they asked me.

    i am also impressed and proud that with all of those scary things happening, your blood pressure was normal! mine is high if there is even the most remote hint that something might be wrong with me (and by remote hint, i mean "gone to the doctor for a routine check up").

    i am also impressed that none of this ordeal manifested itself in you having a freakout or an outburst, or by you verbally abusing the doctors. you are one cool customer, my dear!

    1. Thank you for pointing out the silver lining. I think that is exactly what I needed to hear.

      I hope that you find a doctor who will listen! And thanks again!

  2. i am going to have to find a doctor who listens to me because after i called the last one an asshole and stormed out of the office... i guess i can't go back. which is why i found your level-headedness so awesome!

    1. Ha! I think that might be a good idea then. If its any consolation I hit on my ENT when he gave me presurgical meds... That was awkward.

      Hang in there.


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