Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vertiginous J.O.Y.

So yesterday the vertigo kept nudging at me: a little swirl here, a little swirl there, slight motion sickness all the way in on the train. I got to work, called my doctor's office, and made an appointment with someone who could see me.

Taking a taxi (mercifully, there were few turns, so I didn't suffer the indignity of having a full-bore attack on the way), I got to the medical center.

The doctor who was seeing me was not my regular (she's on maternity leave), but she was pleasant enough. She was accompanied by an absolutely gorgeous young medical student. I won't use his name, of course. Let's just say he could take a sad song and make it better.

"This is Gorgeous Medical Student. Do you mind if I let him ask you some questions?"

I looked into two blue eyes. His lab coat was immaculate.

"Anything to advance the interest of medicine," I said.

"Great, thanks," and she left us alone.

Many things went through my mind (Did I say vertigo? I meant a lump in my left breast! No, the other one! Um, I meant I'm here for a pelvic exam!)

He asked me about allergies, cold, congestion. Nope, nope, nope. I felt like I was losing him. I had no clues to give. He looked in my ears, fumbling with the otoscope, and then had the doctor come in.

We went over my answers, and then she looked into my ears. At the left one she said, "There's something in here."

"Really? Like, what?" I asked, stunned.

"It's green and yellow."

Mucus, infection, bugs, aliens, slime...

"Like an infection?" I asked.

"No, it's more like a stick."


"There's a stick in my ear? How is that possible?"

"Well, it looks like a stick through this magnifier but it's stick-like. It's green with some yellow on it."

She helped Gorgeous Med Student figure out how to hold the scope so he'd see it this time. He got very excited when he finally succeeded. Me? I'm thinking, there's a Gorgeous Med Student and I'm sitting here with the very sexy Stick In The Ear.

I thought. "Wait. Could it look like hay?"

I explained I had a rabbit who ate hay, but that the chances of a piece of it becoming airborne and flying into my ear were on a magnitude with torpedoing a Death Star ventilation shaft. We then began speculating on the rabbit's Motive, Means and Opportunity, rebuilding the scene of the crime.

She got me an appointment with the Ear Nose and Throat guy, so I walked over there to have "the foreign body" removed (she'd called it that to make it sound pressing.)

I waited forever in a lobby filled with wheelchairs and breathing apparatuses. Me and the old folks at the Otolaryngology center. Yowza. When I finally got to a room, a young doctor (not the one I was to see) came in, asked me the same questions about allergies, cold, fevers, etc. and then looked in my ear.

"I see it. It's right on your ear drum." He then opened a drawer that looked like something out of a Tim Burton movie: lots of long, incredibly thin instruments. And he was going to put these things in my ear.

"OK. I'm going to remove the object, but it's right on your ear drum, so you can't move."

"Got it."

"I can't stress enough how important it is that you stay absolutely still."

"I will."

"Because I am going to be right on your eardrum. So let me know if it hurts, but do not move under any circumstances."

So he puts some long evil instrument into my ear, and oh boy, the pain.

"OK, not moving, not moving at all, but that really hurts. Again, not moving a bit, but ow ow ow ow OW OW OW OW!!!"

He held the object out.

"Holy crap, it's a pine needle," I said. "It must have fallen into my ear when I was carrying my Christmas tree to my car to be recycled."

He gave it to me. It was not small. How I'd not felt it is beyond me,

Then Dr Specialist came in. Once again, I went over my story.

"A previous doctor thought my ear canals just don't drain well, that there is some scarring from perhaps a virus."

He shook his head. "How would you describe the vertigo?"

"Really awful, and Jimmy Stewart keeps showing up outside my window."

It took them a minute.

"Sudden, unbelievable spinning, and instant, violent nausea. It's horrible. I'd rather be in pain than have this."

And your ears?

"My ears feel full."

I wanted for him to prescribe a decongestant. What he said was, "I want to do an MRI."

I blinked. "For my ears?"

"Yes. Yo could have some deterioration, you could have Meniere's Disease, and if you do, we'll have to prescribe diuretics -- oh, I see here you're allergic to sulfa drugs, hmmm, the diuretics we'd prescribe for Meniere's are all sulfa based, we'd have to send you to an allergy specialist to see what kinds of sulfa you're allergic to."

"If I take sulfa drugs I look like the Horta from Demon in the Dark. I get really bumpy. If I drink a glass of wine with sulfites, I feel like crap. If I eat anything pickled and preserved with sulfites, I get itchy."

"Hmmm. Yes, you really are allergic.."

"Well, why don't we start with the MRI."

"Yes, yes, of course."

So today I scheduled the appointment, thinking this is all so overblown; I just have clogged ears. Then I looked up Meniere's.

He might be on to something.

So I'm finally taking my mother's advice and getting my head examined.

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