Histamines & Allergies

I’ve been plagued by sinus infections for most of my life. My long struggle with these upper respiratory infections is what masked the symptoms of Menieres for me for many years. My first vertigo attack was triggered by my aggressive attempts to clear what I just knew had to be an ear infection from my head by running water into the ear that was giving me pain, the ear that felt like it was a full balloon of water about to burst inside my head.

I didn’t know what part of my head had an infection in it, I only knew that the pain was always in the left ear. When I would go in to see doctors they would either discover that I had a sinus infection, or they would give me antibiotics because I insisted on having them when the symptoms would occur. Later on, when I would insist it was an ear infection, the doctors could never find evidence of an ear infection.

I eventually fell in love with:

Until the insane war on drugs took away my favorite allergy treatment medicine, that is. The federal and state governments know exactly how much pseudoephedrine I still take because they make me sign for it and track my usage every time I buy more. Guaifenesin I can buy by the truckload. When it comes to pseudo I have to count pills and make each one count. Forget ever seeing my beloved green gelcaps again.

As to how I discovered I had other serious health problems? A funny thing happened on the way to the chiropractor one afternoon. Caught in traffic one hot summer’s day. Livid at the delays and the time away from my beloved architecture practice I finally screamed my way into the parking lot and stomped into the waiting room. The nurses tried calming me down at that point so they could check my blood pressure before starting the rituals of chiropractic quackery. Then they tried calming me down again and they tried checking the blood pressure again. Then they called someone else over to check it a third time. They couldn’t figure out how I hadn’t had a stroke already with blood pressure as high as the readings they were getting said I had. They wouldn’t even let me leave their office without taking something to bring the blood pressure down.

So it was goodbye pseudoephedrine for me. High blood pressure is deadly and pseudo can kick up your blood pressure. No more decongestants of any stripe, which made dealing with allergies and sinus infections into something akin to slow torture. This lead almost directly to my first attempt at surgical intervention.

I underwent septoplasty with turbinate reduction about five years after giving up my daily pseudo doses, right after the weekly vertigo attacks started. The thought at the time was that getting the sinuses to work properly would help with the allergies, and that would help with the vertigo. Sadly, it had little effect on the Meniere’s symptoms but it did ultimately solve many of my issues with breathing and chronic sinus infections.

Even after I had discovered that Meniere’s disease was a thing in 2003 I still thought that my allergies had to have something to do with the manifestation of my symptoms when and where they did. They seemed to correlate to a degree that simply defied any explanation that wouldn’t create a shared cause.

Meniere’s, as I’ve explained many times on this blog, is basically idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops; which means that it is a fluid imbalance in the labyrinth of the inner ear that cannot be explained by any known cause. One of the suspected causes is immunological disfunction, which is why I’m talking about Meniere’s at all in this article about treating allergies.

An allergic reaction produces an inflammation of the skin or other tissues of the body. It is caused by your immune system attacking an invader in your body that isn’t something that the immune system should waste it’s time on. Inflamed tissues swell, changing fluid pressures in the body as well as cutting off airways and doing other nasty things that make the sufferer’s life shorter and more miserable.

Betahistine has a histamine interaction that is not well understood and that is why it has an effect on Meniere’s symptoms for some sufferers, or so it is thought by people studying it. As the title of the post suggests, histamines are all tied up together in allergic reactions that I just barely understand myself.

reddit

Histamine is a chemical, known as a biogenic amine. It plays a role in several of the body’s major systems, including the immune, digestive, and neurological systems.

The body gets all the histamine it needs from its own cells, but histamine is also found in certain foods.

healthline.com

I only passed high school organic chemistry because there was a nerdy girl that I befriended in class who was willing to help me pass the class as long as I didn’t bring her grade down by screwing up the experiments. I did my best not to screw up her averages, and she managed to get me through that class. I still only barely understand what any of it meant.

I just know that I have allergic reactions to many things around me and that the Meniere’s treatment that has produced the most effect for me is a treatment that alters the bodies histamines in some way that works for me. That’s it. That’s all I know about it. I’ve had every test that I and my various doctors can think of that might point towards a cause for the symptoms I’ve suffered from for decades now. All of them have come up negative, which means I have the symptoms but not any of the known causes.

One of these days they will come up with a test for some other autoimmune-related ototoxic reaction for which there is a new treatment, and that test will be positive for me. When that happens I will have a name for what ails me and a cure for it too.

I often wonder these days, what might have happened with my hearing if I had started taking Betahistine twenty or forty years ago instead of just three years ago? Would my hearing be better? Would I still have a job? Would I still be the asshole I was back then? Hard to say.

I still take guaifenesin and Claritin on bad allergy days. Flonase and azelastine sprays in each nostril twice a day. (Those two are my latest allergy treatments) They seem to help with keeping the sinuses clear. I wear a mask outdoors even though masks annoy the hell out of me. I take Betahistine 3x16mg every day.

I also rinse my sinuses semi-regularly with a neti pot.

reddit

The saline rinse for your sinuses can be made at home. you don’t have to buy it pre-made and measured from the neti pot manufacturer.

To make your own saline, mix the following in a clean container:

1/2 to 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt, such as pickling or canning salt (iodized salt can irritate the nasal passages)

Pinch baking soda (added to prevent burning; you can increase the amount as needed)

1 cup warm water (distilled or previously boiled water)

Then, place the above mixture in a clean Neti pot or sinus rinse squeeze bottle, or draw up into a nasal bulb syringe. The most convenient way to perform a sinus rinse is in the shower, but may also be performed over a sink.

verywellhealth.com

Just don’t forget to shake the mixture. I’ve done that a few times. When the salt crystals hit your sinuses you will realize your mistake but then it is too late to prevent the burn.

The latest round of allergy tests altered my understanding of my allergies. I have always assumed I had seasonal allergies because there are clearly seasons with my allergic reactions. This appears to not be the case after all.

From what I currently understand, I do have allergies but they are year-round allergies that are exacerbated by the crap that gets in my borderline asthmatic lungs every Spring and Fall. Simply wearing a mask twenty-four hours a day will eliminate the seasonal appearance of my allergies. This has been roughly confirmed over the CoVID years through direct experience, much to my utter disgust. So the masks are here to stay for me.

It’s also CoVID that has underscored my belief that my core issue is immunological. Every vaccination that I get makes me sick. The pneumonia vaccines were just the start. The CoVID vaccines have all been multi-day pain/fever sessions that I gladly endure, just as I do for flu vaccines, gladly endure in exchange for not getting deadly infections of those viruses.

The first Shingrix vaccination made all my joints hurt for almost a week. The second one was a breeze by comparison, causing almost no pain but still causing fever, lethargy and borderline vertigo for a few days. Vertigo I get with almost every vaccination; whether this is stress related from worrying about the needle or is directly connected to the hacking of my immune system remains unclear.

What is clear is that my reactions are more severe than those experienced by most people given these shots. I really wish I knew why this happens, then I might know what causes Meniere’s for me.

Disabled by Disability Red Tape

I can relate to the lamentations of the disabled person in this podcast:

The Indicator from Planet Money – Jobs Friday: The problem with disability support – October 7, 2022

I spent nearly five years trying to get disability myself:

1 in four people will have to go on disability support before retirement. That means of the four or five people who might be reading this right now, one or two of you will need to be on disability in the near future. As this blog is read more frequently by disabled persons, that number is probably even higher and many of the complaints aired in the above episode probably echo with their own experiences.

I quite literally could have died during the five year process it took to get disability and it would have done nothing to demonstrate the need for support that my family and I needed at the time. The amount of fraud in the system is miniscule and yet the harm that is caused to disabled people and their families by delaying disability payments can be demonstrated time and time again. It is a black mark on our country’s moral ledger that this harm continues.

Once you have qualified for disability it then becomes a constant irritant, this need to demonstrate a need for continued support as if chronic illness is a thing that you recover from, or that the lasting effects of years of illness would not in themselves merit some level of support from the government. Rather than being something that you had to demonstrate a need for, disability payments should be a benefit that is granted automatically to every person who is not working. Granted automatically so that loss of housing, food and security isn’t a thing that the newly unemployed person suffers from.

If there are shirkers living off those easy benefits then it’s a simple matter of getting those people the mental help they need to get back out of their houses and get back to work doing something. You won’t live long sitting around your house doing nothing. Twenty years of disability has proven this to me. The only thing that keeps me alive now is getting out and engaging with the world on a near-daily basis. Something that I’m not allowed to charge anything for if I want to keep my disability payments.

Universal basic income would solve this problem, but I don’t expect we’ll be seeing that anytime soon no matter how feasible it might seem to the economists who support it. In the meantime if you aren’t working, can’t work, then you shouldn’t be facing eviction and eventual starvation because of it. It just shouldn’t happen anywhere that calls itself civilized.

Worst Rotational Vertigo Experience

I had taken off early from work to go get my children from school. It had been a fairly hectic day and I was frazzled and the traffic was the usual Austin stop and go parking lot all the way across town to pick up my daughter from her school. Then I drove back across town through the same traffic to pick up my son from his day care.

We had all just gotten back in the car. I had strapped my son in the child seat, made sure my daughter was buckled into the passenger seat and gotten in the car myself. Visions of which kind of food we’d get on the way home were being discussed when the world came unstuck and started to spin around my head.

I had nothing to alleviate the rotational vertigo with me in the car. I really had no idea how to treat it other than to hug the toilet and throw up until it passed. I couldn’t do either of those things because we were miles away from home. I didn’t have a cellphone at the time because we couldn’t afford one. The school was closed and the teachers had all gone home.

So we waited. It was summer in Texas so we sat there with the engine running in the car and the air conditioner blowing full blast on my face while I stared fixedly at a screw head in the interior finish of my car. This went on for about two hours.

After that time, with little let up in the vertigo and no convenient police cars to flag down, I got my daughter to play lookout for me. I would creep forward to an intersection and wait for her to tell me it was clear. Luckily there was little traffic on the side roads between where we were and where the house was, so I just went block by block until we got back to the house, where I promptly went to the bathroom and started throwing up.

A friend bought a cellphone for me the next day and demanded I allow her to pay for it. I started carrying meclizine around with me. When that proved to not be enough I got valium and promethazine and had to use them and the cellphone pretty regularly to keep the nausea to a minimum and to call people to get me home. Get my children home. Then I stopped working and things got a lot easier to deal with even if paying for them got quite a bit harder.

I’ll never forget that day, though. How helpless I felt. How dreadfully wrong everything could have gone. It is probably one of those scarring events that keeps me from doing things to this day, and that day was about twenty years ago.

reddit

Tinnitus

That cat has tinnitus.

It’s pronounced TIN-ni-tus because it is persistent tones heard in the ear when no environmental sounds are present. It’s not pronounced tin-NYE-tus because, if it were, your tin would be inflamed.

Tin smelters (Or cats. -ed.) can have tin-NYE-tus. The rest of us have TIN-ni-tus.

There is no known treatment for tinnitus. There are methods to train yourself to ignore it, and there are ways to masque it, but the ringing is something you learn to live with one way or another. People will try to sell you on treatments. My advice is to save your money.

The trick is to train yourself not to listen to the sounds the tinnitus makes. After as many years as I’ve suffered with this I think I can say pretty authoritatively that not listening to it, reducing it’s importance, even meditating on it to become one with it, is how to cope with it. I definitely don’t listen to it.

Rainymood or some other white noise generator works best when the tinnitus gets painful or impossible to ignore. I’m particularly fond of the sound of the warp engines from Star Trek the Next Generation. There are several multi hour versions of the sounds on YouTube.

reddit, reddit

My tinnitus is basically a ringing that seems to constantly vary in strength and pitch and be in varying tones simultaneously. It fluctuates from day to day, hour to hour. It is the sound of buzzing or ringing. I can hear my heartbeat in it. It seems to reflect environmental noise, so loud places are intolerable for long periods. Ear plugs are a godsend when hyperacusis sets in.

reddit

Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is basically an audio migraine. All sounds, even quiet sounds, can be painful. Wearing earplugs is about the only way to deal with it successfully and ear plugs can aggravate other types of tinnitus. Hyperacusis can be so bad that the sound of your own breathing can set it off.

Hyperacusis should wind down like the more traditional migraine does. They don’t know what causes any of the things they call migraines, and that is the biggest problem with them. Some part of the brain is misinterpreting the signals that it’s receiving and you get audio problems, vision problems, skin sensitivity problems or vertigo.

I wonder what the more modern epilepsy treatments would do for it?

Sudden Brief Unilateral Tapering Tinnitus (Otology & Neurotology)

SBUTTs are benign and common among most people. I’m still looking at the literature on the subject, but I see little to be concerned about in it even if it occurs frequently.

I get these at weird times. Possibly more frequently than I did before, but also possibly not. I haven’t noticed that they are linked to spells of vertigo or hearing loss myself, although the sudden spikes that disappear do make me worry about an attack. The worry is probably more of a concern than the SBUTT should be. Worry and street go hand in hand and stress is a major trigger.

reddit

American Tinnitus Association

If you run the slider up and down on this Tone Generator you can find which specific tones that you can or cannot hear. I get a distinct doppler effect as the tone pass through ranges that I can’t hear in one ear or the other. Bit of a freaky experience.

If you want to understand what the effects of hearing loss or tinnitus sounds like to others, hear-it.org has a list of sound files that approximates them. I can’t judge the accuracy since I can’t hear them normally anyway.

reddit

A hodgepodge of comments spliced together from numerous places over the span of a decade. Steven Novella inspired this being posted today with his pithy comment about the pronunciation of tinnitus in yesterday’s episode of the SGU. Since I mispronounce this word frequently myself, I decided to riff on the subject. Featured image.

Otologist, Neurotologist, Otolaryngologist, ENT

There is a lot of confusion about what doctor someone who thinks they have Meniere’s should see. I see this fight go on all the time and it is tiring to witness it happening over and over again, not to mention the wasted time and energy involved in multiple people arguing over and over about something that is easily proven by simply Googling the subject.

The specialist you want to see is called an Otolaryngologist. Most people call them ENTs which is short for “ear, nose and throat” doctor, what the different latin syllables that make up the word otolaryngology mean.

To make things even more confusing, there are specialists of that specialization. An Otologist is also an ENT that specializes in the outer and middle ear. A Neurotologist is an ENT that specializes in the middle and inner ear. Most neurotologists are surgeons who do things like cochlear implants but some of them have regular medical practices. It’s confusing, which is why people say “go see an ENT” and don’t elaborate further on the subject. Most of them don’t know the difference, either. They just know that they either like or dislike their ENT doctor and the experience that they’ve had.

Obviously you don’t want to go to someone who specializes in sleep disorders (probably also an otolaryngologist) or does cancer surgery in the throat (ditto) what you want is someone who works on the middle/inner ear if you’ve already been diagnosed with Meniere’s; and if you haven’t then the more general the generalized medical education the doctor has is probably fine as long as they are actually ENTs. What you need is someone who knows what tests to run to exclude what kinds of causes for the symptoms you are experiencing.

Here’s hoping that what you find out when you see your ENT doctor is that your symptoms are caused by something that is treatable. My fingers are crossed for you.

Featured image from Wikipedia, a beacon of light in the crushing darkness that is the internet. A h/t is owed to Pattywhack_the_bear whose intransigence on the subject of what specialist to see forced me to hone the point I was trying to make with my comments on this reddit thread. I did have to block her, but I also learned something from her. So congratz I guess?

Postscript

It bears mentioning that my only personal experience with Neurotologists has been the offer to inject gentamicin into my middle ear. We looked into this procedure and decided against it because I simply wasn’t having that many episodes of vertigo by that point. Removing the pressure and stress of architectural design work did more to stop my Meniere’s symptoms than any other intervention has done since.

Vertigo Sailing. Vertigo Flying.

Since being diagnosed with Meniere’s twenty years ago I’ve been on a boat three times. Getting on or off a boat is always the scariest part for me, relative movement being nearly impossible to predict even for the ablest of abled people. Even when I was an abled person myself this was the task that could break legs or ankles or feet and so I took it quite seriously.

I used to own a sailboat. It was a dinky little thing, a fourteen foot sliver of fiberglass with a nineteen foot mast. We took it to Twin Buttes in San Angelo and to Lake Travis here in Austin and I’d have people hanging off the trapeze on the side of the boat while we tacked across the wind. The wind whipping your hair as the spray hit your face and you flew across the water like a bird. Those were some of the most invigorating moments, the kinds of moments that you know you are alive because your heart is pounding in your chest and the adrenaline is coursing through your veins and you know (know, because you’ve done it more than once) that one wrong move could capsize the boat and cause all manner of upset for your passengers.

I loved the water and was more at home in it and on it than I was on the land. I swam like a fish and did my best to sail like a veteran captain, but not anymore. The vertigo seems to be always on the verge of occurring the entire time I’ve been on the water or even in the water since I started having to constantly fight it. Just looking at a moving ship’s deck spikes the anxiety and makes me want to run the other direction. It takes an iron will to propel me onto the boat, and I don’t dare go below decks or fail to hang onto something that isn’t structural as I move around on deck, always keeping my eyes on the horizon so that I don’t tempt the nausea to rise.

I’m know I’m alive at these times too, but it’s not a good kind of alive feeling. I could kill the anxiety with Xanax, but then I’m not going to be at my best. I’ll just be enjoying the show and marveling at the pretty colors and people, never taking any of it seriously. So I don’t go on boats much anymore and I haven’t gone for a proper swim in almost a decade now.

reddit

This is going to change. I’m taking a few weeks off. Maybe more than a few. I’m not sure why I need to tell anyone this, I post sporadically at the best of times. Still, it bears mentioning that I will be AWOL and probably not posting much during the first few weeks of September because I’m heading to Illinois to visit relatives and to attend Chicon 8.

This will be my first convention experience since being diagnosed in 2005, much less my first flight and convention since Coronapocalypse. I might even get on a boat and go out on Lake Michigan like I did the last time I was in Chicago. The last time I was on a boat.

Next year we are thinking of going cross-Atlantic on Cunard and catching the Northern Lights (fingers crossed there) cruise ships might be stable enough for me not to notice the movement. Seven days on the water will be long enough to kill any anxiety about triggering vertigo even if it does ultimately trigger vertigo. Who knows? I used to get car sick riding as a passenger in any vehicle but these days I can’t even tell if we are moving unless I look out the window or the Wife hits a bump (she drives, I don’t) I’m planning on taking a bottle of Xanax with me anyway just in case.

Take what you need to cope and get out of town if and when you can. That is my suggestion. Take the things you need to feel safe and/or confident in your ability to manage the planned excursion and get some form of document from your doctor explaining why you need it in case anyone asks. Then just be prepared to sleep on deck so you can see the horizon line when you open your eyes. That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.

reddit

I’ll see ya’ll on the other side. Who knows, I might even post daily from the convention. A sailor’s wish is for fair winds and a following sea. When fighting ocean currents and weather can spell death even for the best of sailors, it’s a blessing worth having. The equivalent blessing for the modern technologist? Four full bars and direct access. Fingers crossed on there being wifi.

Postscript

Yep. I was on a boat.

instagram

…and I didn’t need a Xanax while on the boat, either. I did need to cling to stabilizing surfaces though. My balance is very bad and there is no denying this fact.

Caffeine Tales

Throughout my childhood and into adolescence, morning was announced with the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Dad would get up at six am, start coffee and read the morning paper in his tighty-whities reclined in his easy chair (there’s a mental image that you’ll never erase) while drinking his first cup of coffee. Mom would get up and brew coffee in the morning in those years after dad wasn’t around.

Short Wave – How To Brew Amazing Coffee With Science – August 16, 2022

Throughout childhood and into adulthood, morning and coffee were inextricably linked for me; and to this day, I wake up when I smell coffee brewing. It’s a better alarm clock that any other that I’ve discovered in nearly sixty years of experience. This fact of life presents a problem when you aren’t allowed to have coffee anymore.

Caffeine is high on the list of food/chemical triggers for Meniere’s, and it is one of the many things that they tell you to give up when you are diagnosed. When I was first diagnosed I poo-pooed this directive. I’d been drinking iced tea and Coca-Cola all my life. Dad had a gas station with one of those ancient 25¢ (15¢ for the beverage, 10¢ for the bottle deposit) Coca-Cola vending machines and I drank Cokes every time I had a quarter to spend in that machine.

I had only recently acquired a taste for coffee myself before being diagnosed with Meniere’s. Before that time I was a tea drinker even though I liked the smell of coffee brewing. Working as one of the ever-present drones in an office cubicle farm where coffee is kept hot and on demand all day long made me come to terms with the quality issues that most coffee services face.

I was reluctant to give up my morning coffee. I fought against giving it up until that one time at the Waffle House where I gave myself a vertigo attack while drinking coffee. That was case closed for me. No more coffee. No more caffeine in anything like a regular dose; so no Coca-Cola, no black tea, etc.

Dropping caffeine from my diet revealed other things, too. That thing I called sugar shakes as a teenager? That was probably caffeine shakes. I fell off the wagon and had a cup of regular coffee one Sunday a few years ago. The same fluttering in the arms, legs and stomach that I used to blame on a dip in blood sugar occurred; and it wasn’t sugar shakes because there was no high sugar intake that preceded them. I drink everything unsweetened unless it comes presweetened. The coffee was black and I still got the reaction a few hours later, a connection that I have purposefully initiated and observed several times since.

I had stopped having these sugar shakes after I stopped drinking caffeinated beverages and not only when I had stopped drinking Coca-Cola, where the sugar was in sugar shakes. I should have known it was the caffeine.

There was this one time when we were out driving test cars on short sleep and I needed a pick me up. When we stopped for our break in Sonora I got some 357 magnum caffeine tablets (a truck driver’s replacement for a pot of coffee) and took one or two of them on the drive down into the hole along the Devil’s River.

Then I had an argument with my test car. She was a beauty, that one. They had us testing tires on new Chevrolet Camaros. I had the prettiest one of the group, midnight blue with a black interior. Most of the interior had been stripped out and replaced with sandbags, but she was still the sweetest car I’d ever driven at the time. She wanted to go to Florida. I told her, “no, we can’t go to Florida.” Didn’t I want to see her on the beach? “Well, yes, of course, a beach would be nice, but Florida isn’t on the course we’re driving.” Come on, she said. We could just take off. It would be weeks before they could find us. We could have a lot of fun by that time. The argument lasted for hours and came to a head as we drove back into Sonora on the way back home.

I made it back to the shop that day, despite the greatest temptation I’d ever encountered in my life. In hindsight, I should have known that caffeine was not my friend based on that experience alone.

I can’t lie, I miss my morning coffee. The quick pick me up and focus that comes with the caffeine buzz. The energy and concentration. I miss that. I don’t miss the lethargy and feebleness of the downhill side. Hot green tea is still good and doesn’t give me symptoms of any kind. A nice, hot cup of green tea on a cool morning. There is nothing better when viewed from a distance.

reddit

Meniere’s Testing

Back at the dawn of my personal Meniere’s experiences, I had been having what I saw as seasonal afflictions of tinnitus and ear pressure that I treated with Sudafed Non-Drying Sinus, an over the counter allergy medication. When the vertigo started to present itself along with the tinnitus and the ear pressure, which is also when I started to notice permanent changes in my hearing, I had no treatment options that I could fall back on because the nausea and the vertigo of spinning was something that I had merely endured as a child. That kind of vertigo was something that you braced yourself to endure until it passed; which was generally less than an hour’s time, sometimes even less than a minute. I had never experienced an extended bout of vertigo like the ones that started to take over my life back in 2001-3 when my life took a left-turn into the land of near-permanent spinning.

The first time that I spent the night on the bathroom floor suffering from vertigo; spinning, vomiting and then unconscious (the first time that wasn’t related to drinking far too many shots of liquor) I made an appointment with an otolaryngologist (ENT) and asked open questions about what these seemingly-related symptoms meant rather than assuming that they were just allergies or some other thing that I could easily treat with over the counter medication.

The second ENT gave me my first caloric stimulation test, warm and cold water in the ears. Light bars on the wall that I was supposed to track. They couldn’t tell me what was wrong with me, but even this inconclusive attempt at an assessment was better than the first ENT that I saw. That guy told me I was mental and needed a psychiatrist. That might have been a true observation at the time, but I wasn’t there for advice on my mental makeup. I was there to stop the vertigo and nothing more or less than that.

The third ENT gave me my first thorough battery of tests (thank you Dr. Thompson) Electronystagmography (ENG) and caloric stimulation, this time with hot and cold air. I have had audiograms run on my hearing for most of my life because of my frequent childhood ear and sinus infections. This was the first time that they showed me the results for one. There was a noticeable drop in the hearing in the left ear. That ENT first said the word Meniere’s to me.

Several of the ENTs I saw over the time I spent trying to figure out where the vertigo came from performed various versions of videonystagmography (VNG) and head-impulse tests (HIT) although they never explained what it was they were looking for until long after I had the Meniere’s diagnosis and I started asking tougher questions of everyone around me.

I’ve had several CAT scans over the years, the most recent one was run specifically to rule out superior semicircular canal dehiscence (missing or abnormally thin bone structure over the inner ear canals) I’ve also had several MRIs or magnetic resonance imaging tests run over the years. The brain looks good. The problem is in the ears.

I’m seeing a new ENT these days and they’ve decided that some essential tests were missed in my original diagnosis. I don’t know why they are questioning the diagnosis now but I’m not hostile to finding an alternative explanation and treatment for my symptoms, either.

The test that they currently want to run is an Electrocochleography (ECOG/ECOCHG) I’ve never had an ECOCHG before and was confused when the subject first came up in the Meniere’s subreddit because they kept calling it an ECoG, which is a widely-known experimental procedure involving placing electrodes directly on the brain. I couldn’t imagine how it could be a common test conducted on patients suffering acute vertigo. As it turns out I was right, but for the wrong reason. Par for the course.

Once that confusion was cleared up on my part I was curious to know what that test was like and what it might show for me. I was curious enough to initially agree to undergo the test when it was suggested. However, I’m beginning to have second thoughts on the subject.

I don’t think that much can be revealed from an ECOCHG now aside from ruling out a Meniere’s diagnosis, something that will not get me any closer to the kinds of answer that I as a sufferer will find helpful. I don’t really care what you call this collective group of symptoms, what I want to find is a cause and through that discovery find a more useful treatment.

From the very beginning of my symptoms I have been convinced that there is an autoimmune-caused quotient of the overall problem. While I have had several blood tests to rule out autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) and other commonly known autoimmune issues that can cause the symptoms I have, none of them have come up as positive and so none of them have produced results that I found useful.

I remain convinced that there is an autoimmune-related cause for my symptoms in spite of there being no evidence to back up this belief of mine. Betahistine and guaifenesin added to the treatments that I already undergo for hypertension seem to be the most useful medications at preventing ear pressure and vertigo. I can’t get past these facts. An allergy treatment and the most common Meniere’s treatment in the world are the two drugs that produce the best results for me aside from just basic rest and exercise. This has to mean something.

Easter Vertigo

The migraine crept up on me over the course of yesterday evening. I chalked it up to bad weather. Low cloud cover and high pressure tends to make my eyeballs and sinuses ache and the migraine slowly presented itself out of those minor irritations over the late hours of the evening.

I eventually gave up on my attempts to distract myself with playing World of Warcraft, and went downstairs to fix a late snack. I wasn’t hungry but knew I needed to eat something before taking my drugs and going to bed. I hadn’t eaten anything since about noon.

While my snack was heating up in the nuker I went and took my traditional cocktail of migraine drugs. Two ibuprofen, two acetaminophen, pseudoephedrine, guaifenesin and Claritin. As bad as I felt, I kept the dose down to two ibuprofen instead of four. I have been cautioned about overdosing on ibuprofen several times now, even though I’ve known pain sufferers who took as many as ten at a time. So just two ibuprofen instead of four.

When I went back to the nuker (microwave ovens have always been nukers in this household) to check on my low sodium pot pie, the world violently started to spin to the left. It happened so suddenly that I almost missed catching myself on the countertop.

“No, no, NO” I told the world, but it didn’t listen. I couldn’t track anything visually. I felt around for the stop button on the nuker and then felt my way back into the bedroom to get my Xanax, the only treatment that I’ve found can quell rotational vertigo when it strikes.

The wife was at the hospital still recovering from her latest surgery. I’m without my partner in crime today. There will be no cheating the gods of vertigo this time, and it felt like it was going to be one of my worse experiences with the symptom.

I had to shake several bottles before I felt the weight I was looking for, and then I double checked the label. It took four tries before I could make out the name on it. Alp. Alpro. Alprazolam. That’s the Xanax. So I took one.

I felt around for the controls for the bed and then got in it and tried to make the Catbus plushy that I focus on when the world starts spinning stop dancing back and forth in front of me. It was leering at me, not grinning. It also wouldn’t hold still.

When someone finally came to check on me I begged for a promethazine and then I passed out after taking it. Clothes on, no CPAP, no nothing.

I came to breifly at six am and did my own version of an Easter egg hunt. I was starving. Where was the food I’d left in the nuker? I reheated it, ate it, took the remainder of my normal daily drugs from the night before along with a second Xanax just to make sure, and passed back out again.

Now it is 4:04 again. I barely know who I am or what I will be capable of today. I won’t be driving to the hospital to pick up the Wife. It’s Easter. She can’t get her required pain pills after surgery because the pharmacies are closed. Aside from which, I doubt I could get there without crashing the car several times.

Happy Easter everyone!

Postscript

The Cedar Fever woes have continued onto the verge of May. I still feel like every breath is accompanied with a tickling sensation, pretty much every day. I can ignore it until that one breath where I feel like I have to struggle just to get air in my lungs. Twice I’ve had to give up trying to sleep until some extra medication kicked in because I was just too congested to sleep, both in the lungs and in the sinuses. It’s a wonder that I’ve only had one major vertigo attack this season.

My friend Xanax has saved me from a few minor ones as well as making the major one less hellish. I’m going to have to get a refill. I hope the doctors don’t give me crap about it.