Friday, March 1, 2013

Testing, testing, 1,2,3...

Well, I ended up staying 18 days in the hospital and am breathing much better now.  The Colistin seemed to do the trick and got rid of all the gunk I've been producing since November.  It is wonderful not to cough all day and then cough all night.  The day I left UCH I did one last pft and saw an increase to 28%--not exactly the number I was aiming for but I improved nonetheless.  I wasn't too happy finishing three more days of home IV's but I was ready to get outta there!

Thanks to the scheduling of my wonderful doctor, I was discharged on Feb. 15th and walked directly over to the Outpatient Pavilion to the ENT clinic for vestibular testing for my vertigo.  They were the craziest tests I've ever had.  First they put electrodes on my face and neck and then put an instrument in my left ear that sounded like a very loud and ticked-off woodpecker.  The technician then switched to the right ear and I heard nothing--no response.  "I guess we know which ear is affected," she said.  We did a few more interesting tests then it was time for Return of the Frogwoman!

Looking through my fancy goggles!
The next series of tests required me to wear infra-red goggles. Yes, I looked like I was in training for a covert, black-op mission.  I was feeling confident with how things were going until things truly went black! The technician blocked the goggles to all outside light.  Now I was floating along in my little sea of darkness--not a good place to set sail when you're already equilibrium-ly challenged.

I must digress here and say that so many times during the tests, the words "that's so cool" came flying out of my mouth.  Our ears are truly amazing things.  How they work to process sounds and synchronize with the eyes to create balance is incredible.  They can test for so many functions our ears accomplish--ones we don't even have to think about.  The scripture, "All things testify there is a God" came forcefully to my mind several times.  Not even considering the complexity of all our other organs working together, the ears alone testify to a Creator.

The final part of the vestibular testing was the water-boarding part of my mission.  The technician flushed very warm water in my right ear, whatever.  Then she did the same to the left ear.  Whoa, baby that's when I began spinning in my vortex of blackness--not pleasant at all.  Finally, a little red patch of light came on in the goggles and she told me to focus on it and eventually the spinning would stop, which thankfully it did.   Then she repeated the process with cold water.  Same results.  No response on the right and whirling dervish on the left.  To add insult to my under-performing right ear, she next flooded it with ice water. Yowza!  Waves of goosebumps from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, but no response from my ear.

Diagnosis:  balance center of right ear completely gone.  Kaput.  Thanks Tobraymyicin.  Bad news, the nerves are poisoned and will never regain their function--hence the "permanent" part I heard and read about.  Good news, the left ear and both eyes will learn to take over the function and my balance will be nearly normal, however I will always have to be very careful in the dark.  It will take some time but already my world is much less shifty than it felt a month ago.

Next I went to the sound-proof room for hearing tests.  These were fun with lots of "push the button when you hear a sound" exercises.  After the sounds went on for awhile, I started to wonder if I was truly hearing things or if it was my imagination.  I really thought I'd passed the test with flying colors.  Easy peasy.  Come to find out there were sounds I didn't know I missed.  Thanks Tobramyicin.  Good news, I can hear.  Bad news, I've lost some significant range of hearing.

The past two months have been long and miserable but there is hope. I feel very blessed to see improvement with my symptoms instead of the steady worsening that was occurring. I'm thankful my ear was designed with a back-up system to make things right again.  I'm glad I'm making it through this test.


  1. Holy crapoly! That sounds like no fun in a big way. It's wonderful that your body can fix the balance thing, that's just awful! I loved the frog look, it was cool, but wishing you could have donned it under better circumstances :)

  2. I remember when I was really little having a hearing test and I wondered how often I was hearing stuff or if it was just my imagination. No fun. I also had an ear infection a few months ago and tried the whole idea of putting drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear and that was just a few drops and it would make my head spin and go crazy so I hate to imagine how it would feel getting them flushed out so much. I'm amazed at all you go through - you're so strong and brave and awesome! I really really hope there continues to be improvement with your symptoms and things get better. Love you!!