Tags: vertigo

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Post-Surgical Ramblings

How Things Are Looking Today

Well, the giant patch is now off my left eye, but my vision is so wonky that I'm probably going to wear a less giant patch on my right eye until the next surgery next Wednesday. On my way out of the post-op appointment this afternoon, I tried wearing glasses with the left lens taken out, but that was actually worse, with the world constantly swinging around me every time I moved. So right now I'm just going glasses-less, with my left eye seeing well and my right eye completely uncorrected. It's disconcerting, which is why I plan to just slap a patch over the half-blind right eye tomorrow morning. (I see little sense in putting a patch on right now, when I only plan to go to bed soon.)

I've come to truly realize exactly how much I'd gotten into the unconscious habit of closing my left eye over the past several months, because today I often closed it instinctively when I was having trouble seeing something, and suddenly I'm blind! I'm blind! Ack! It cracked me up each time.

If I'm going to put a patch over the right eye for the next few days, though, I needed to get reading glasses, because I now absolutely cannot read anything close to my face with my left eye. As a result, since I was walking around today without glasses and unable to read with my de-cataracted right eye, whenever I wanted to read something (like the labels on the reading glasses at Walgreens) I would have to hold it up about 2 inches from my right eye. It was pretty silly.

Two things I now cannot do (much to my annoyance and inconvenience) without wearing reading glasses:
  1. read my watch
  2. check my email

The reason these are so inconvenient is because I do them all day long without any planning even a minute in advance (unlike art, reading a restaurant menu, or playing games on the iPad).

So today, post-post-op appointment, post-seeing what my seeing is like now, was a shopping day. We went to Walgreens and experimented with about 400 different pairs of reading glasses, then tried another 393 or so pairs of sunglasses, because (1) for the next 2 weeks I'm supposed to wear glasses or sunglasses whenever I'm outside and (2) I can no longer wear the sunglasses that hook over my regular glasses.

But I now have tolerable reading glasses and sunglasses, so our mission was a success.

I also ordered myself a watch with a larger face & greater contrast between the face and the hands. My current watch has such little contrast that—even with comparatively perfect near vision—I often had to tilt my wrist this way and that in order to get the right lighting to read it. Now it's impossible. So I bought a new watch online & will just have to ask people what time it is in the meantime. I've gone ahead and taken my watch off, because once the patch is on my right eye, this watch will be completely useless to me unless I want to go hunt up my reading glasses whenever I wonder what time it is.

I now understand why people talk about walking all over the house looking for their glasses. This never made any sense to me, because I've never been able to see a thing without my glasses, so they were always on my face unless I was showering or in bed. But now when I decide to check my email, I have to walk around looking for my reading glasses. This has only been going on for one day, but I'm already developing plans to stash reading glasses in multiple convenient places—in my backpack, beside where I watch tv, beside my computer—once both eyes are done & I know my vision has stabilized.

At the post-op appointment this afternoon, they told me that my vision in my left eye is currently 20/25, but is likely to fluctuate a bit before stabilizing. It most likely will end up being a bit better than it is now.

The doc told me that my eye looks perfect & that I don't need to wear a patch at night. Huzzah! I forgot to ask him about sleeping on my left side, so I'll just follow the post-op paperwork & see how I do with that tonight & possibly phone tomorrow & leave a message for him (or my surgeon, as they are two different docs in the same office) to phone me, since the receptionist was 100% non-helpful when I phoned previously. "Just have the doctor phone me" — that's my plan this time. Then I can ask if the side-sleeping restriction, like the patch-wearing restriction, is not as necessary in practice as the paperwork made it sound.

Looking Back: The Surgery Itself

In the mail today, I got a "Get Well" card from all the people at Aspen Surgery Center who were involved in my surgery (the prep nurses, the anesthesiologist, the surgical assistants, and the recovery nurse). How incredibly nice is that? My experience there was just amazing & they all made me feel relaxed and actually pampered. The anesthesiologist (Dr. Green) told me they would be putting a drape over my face, but there would be an oxygen mask to make sure I could breathe, and I warned him that I can be a little claustrophobic. I started to feel a tiny bit nervous, but he was so kind and reassuring, promising that he would make sure that I wasn't scared, that I immediately felt all right about it.

In fact, I don't remember anything about an oxygen mask or a face drape or anything at all. I remember the surgery people talking to me—the anesthesiologist telling me about his plans, Dr. Lim (my surgeon) saying hello, some random other doctor asking if she could observe the procedure then making me sign something saying it was okay, and everyone joking about how the whole surgery would be broadcast large on a screen. If I remember correctly, I drunkenly slurred something about how my eye could become famous on YouTube.

And then suddenly, out of a fog, a nurse was buckling my Birkenstocks onto my feet (despite my protestations that I could do it myself) while I was still lying in the hospital bed, and then I ended up in a lounge chair with Shannon sitting on the tile floor next to me, and the nurse seemed distressed by this odd behavior, and I pointed out that there was a small wooden chair on the other side of me, and so he sat there, and the nurse asked me if I wanted a blanket, and I decided that this sounded like a fine idea, and she brought me a blanket that felt like it had just come out of the dryer & I sat there feeling like a queen. A queen with a big funky colander on her eye and tape in her hair, but a queen nonetheless.

On the way home, I sat in the back of Crystal's car & listened to Shannon & Crystal talk in the front seat. I tried to make a couple of contributions to the conversation in the first few minutes of the drive, but my attempts sounded kind of wonky even to my own ears, and so I decided to just go to sleep, which I did with great vigor.

(Oh, also, at the beginning of the day, I somehow appointed myself navigator on the drive to the surgery center in the morning, reading Google Maps directions to Katherine and helping her watch for signs on the freeway. It was only maybe half-way into the trip that I realized how ridiculous it was for the person on their way to vision-correcting surgery to jump in and take responsibility for watching for signs. Sheesh.)


The headaches have seemed better since the surgery, but I'm not sure how much of that could be psychosomatic. It's only been such a brief period of time that I think it's impossible to tell. I had a headache much of the early evening, but it didn't feel like the headaches I've been having for the past several months—it was more of a standard eye-strain headache.

Today's Tylenol+Codeine Usage
1/2 Tylenol #4 at 8:10 a.m.
1/2 Tylenol #4 at 5:00 p.m.
1 Tylenol #4 at 6:30 p.m.
2 Tylenol #4's at 12:30 a.m. (planned)

I'm pretty sure that's considerably less codeine than it's been in more than a week. Possibly considerably more than a week. I'd have to look back at my records to tell for sure, and right now I would definitely rather just stop peering through these new reading glasses at my computer screen & go rest my eyes until I can take my Tylenol #4's at 12:30 & go to bed.

Creatinine and GFR results since CKD diagnosis

I just received lab results (from the 1/7/14 blood draw) and so wanted to record the info. I still haven't heard anything from the 1/15/14 urinalysis, though I emailed my nephrologist today to find out if she's heard anything.

Stage III (Moderate) CKD definition: eGFR=30-59
my creatinine is worse when it goes higher
my eGFR is worse when it goes lower

creatinine = 1.65
eGFR = 38
(this is when I was diagnosed with CKD and started going off lithium)

creatinine = 1.33
eGFR = 49

creatinine = 1.57
eGFR = 40
(after which I spent about 4 days aggressively hydrating myself)

creatinine = 1.60
eGFR = 39

So my eGFR right now is almost exactly as bad as it was when I was still on lithium, before I'd started going off the drug at all. I still don't know what's happening and am waiting to hear about the results of the urinalysis from last week. It's a little stressful. Why have the results gotten so bad again? Yikes. Also, my vertigo continues, especially at night and in the mornings. Is it related? This is all worrisome.
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Spring is coming

My latest medication regimen really seems to be helping. My anxiety is dramatically reduced, such that I can comfortably sit in a crowded, noisy restaurant full of children, or a crowded, noisy art room full of mentally ill people without feeling remotely unsettled. I don't enjoy being around people who speak really loudly, but it's only annoying, not anxiety-provoking.

My nausea has also been less and less frequent lately, and less and less severe when it does occur, which leads Shannon and me to speculate that the nausea was related to the anxiety all along.

Funny. I was complaining about extreme anxiety to the Evil Meds Doc for about a year, and he never did anything about it. Non-Evil Meds Doc seems to have hit upon a successful approach fairly quickly. Maybe I didn't need to spend several months feeling like I was going to vomit every day. Sheesh.

I'm still having vertigo every day, here and there. It's often quite bad when I first get out of bed in the morning, such that I have to grab onto the nightstand with one hand and the bed with the other and just hold still for a minute or so until the world stops spinning. I'll go to the doctor about it again if necessary, but right now I'm waiting to see what's up with my kidneys, since they could be related. I'm still waiting to hear about the results of the latest labs. I'm hoping to hear more on Monday.

In the meantime, I've been enjoying the fact that the cherry blossoms have just started blooming in the last couple days. I took a photo this morning (with the Christmas Camera):

art, collage

Mostly about my current collage project

The magnolias started blooming a few days ago, which means the cherry blossoms will be next. It's a nice time of year for tree-watching.

I've been walking a lot. Vertigo every day, but not terrible enough to really stop me from doing anything. Not too much nausea lately, which has been nice. I still haven't received the new lab order from the nephrologist, but am expecting it in the mail any day.

I seem to have filled up the earring rack I got for Christmas last year. This is what comes of an Etsy obsession. I bought a lot of earrings with Christmas money and 10x10 award money. I'm very fond of earrings right now.

I'm working on a new art project that is taking me a lot of time. Katy (the art teacher at CWC) handed out these big canvases (maybe 18"x18") and suggested that people draw their "spirit animal," whatever they imagine that to be. I immediately thought of elephants and polar bears, which have been my two favorite animals lately (though I do still harbor a deep and abiding love for frogs, geckos, and turtles), though I don't think of either of them as my "spirit animal." (I cringe when I even think those words. So very New Age. So overused. So culturally appropriated in what feels like a blithely imperialistic way.)

But it made me start thinking about doing a collage inspired by this photo I'd seen of a mother elephant with a very small baby elephant, not because it was elephants, but because I liked the sense of protection, safety, love, security, comfort, whatever that I got from the photo. So maybe my "spirit animal" is a protector. But it got me thinking about how to express the basic feeling that I get from that photo of the elephants, just discarding the "spirit animal" thing, and I got all inspired to do another collage made entirely of text on different colored backgrounds, cut from magazines, like the self-portrait I did last year, except that this time I'm collaging the entire background, as well, instead of using a base of acrylic paint like I did that time. The background is going to be sky: black in the center at the bottom, but gradually fading in an arc through different shades of blue until it reaches a light blue at the top and right edges.

So, anyway, I've spent several hours in the last week scouring dozens of magazines for appropriate magazine text (nothing trying to sell anything, nothiing about genocide or extinction, nothing really depressing, nothing I actively disagree with, etc. -- I don't need every tiny snippet of text to be on-topic or anything, but I don't want to include anything that really goes against my emotional intention for the collage) in appropriate colors, or trimming magazine snippets (mostly from National Geographic) to get rid of the "white space," or sorting magazine snippets by color, or pasting magazine snippets on the canvas with soft acrylic gel medium, or scraping dried acrylic gel medium off of my fingers. This acrylic gel medium stuff is nearly impossible to get rid of once it's dried. I think some of it is just going to have to wear off my fingers over time.

I've got about 3/4 of the background done at this point, but I still haven't even decided exactly what the image in the foreground is going to be. Possibly two elephants -- mother and baby -- but possibly something else communicating the same emotion. Possibly human mother and child, possibly a more abstract representation of the protection and security concept. I know what I want to convey with the image, but not yet what the image is actually going to look like. For now, I'm focusing on pasting little bits of background into appropriate formations to form a gradual face from black to light blue. It's meditative.
blue pattern


Mild vertigo on and off all day today. Not even just when waking up. After lying on the gynecologist's table for a bit, even after taking some time sitting up to talk to the doctor and then spending some time getting dressed, I found myself staggering down the hall on my way out. Any time I lift my head up quickly or lower my head quickly: vertigo. Sometimes when I'm just sitting still, it feels like the world is spinning.

Since I've been drinking like a fish for the last few days, it seems unlikely to be dehydration, and I don't have any new meds, so it seems unlikely to be a side effect. A recurrence of chronic hyperventilation syndrome seems more and more likely. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, since it tends to be brought on my stress/anxiety. Shannon wants me to go back to see my GP again about the vertigo, but I'm not sure she'll be any help. In my experience (albeit more than a decade ago), most doctors didn't understand or recognize the disorder. I'd seen several doctors and specialists (over the course of about 7 months) before a neurologist was able to diagnose me last time. And she diagnosed me within a few minutes. That was when I was first referred to a therapist to deal with anxiety.

Some other symptoms of chronic hyperventilation include nausea, tiredness, restless sleep, and insomnia, all of which have been plaguing me. Is it possible that the last couple years of mounting nausea (accompanied by mounting anxiety and tiredness) have actually just been caused by CHVS? Well, I'm seeing a GI specialist next month, so I'm making no assumptions. Also, we'll have some kidney lab results within the next couple days, as well. Information is good. Lack of information is scary.
art, collage


Saw my GP today, and she did the positional tests for BPPV, which were negative. She thinks my recent vertigo problems have been due to dehydration. She noted that the vertigo was worst on the day after I'd had my blood draw, and my nephrologist said that my blood draw results from that time indicated that I was probably very dehydrated.

I had noted in the week or so before the blood draw that I'd been drinking less Gatorade than usual, but I thought I was drinking plenty of water. I've been less thirsty since going off lithium, and I thought that was a good thing. But if I'm not drinking enough, then that's not a good thing.

So the GP told me to continue following the nephrologist's instructions about drinking lots of water and Gatorade (she, too, expressed the importance of Gatorade) and waiting to see the results of the blood draw I'll have taken tomorrow. I emailed the nephrologist yesterday to ask whether this need for additional liquids and sodium is a long-term thing or only until tomorrow's blood draw.

I've been searching online to try to find out if dehydration can actually make chronic kidney disease worse, as I'm worrying that I may have actually been further damaging my kidneys, but all I keep finding is info about how dehydration can cause acute kidney disease. Nothing about the relationship between CKD and dehydration.

I think I need a kidney icon.
me blue hair


Interesting data point: I fell asleep for an hour this afternoon, and when I got up ... vertigo again! A subsequent Google search for "vertigo sleep" resulted in several million hits, almost all of which seem to be about "benign paroxysmal positional vertigo" (which mousme had mentioned in a comment to me yesterday). Further research is required. Is it really possible that yet another totally random, unrelated thing is going wrong with my body?

(no subject)

By mid-afternoon today, my vertigo had passed and I was feeling mostly fine. Weird. Debbie mentioned my breathing, referring to my problems with hyperventilation more than a decade ago, and that very possibly may have been the cause. In any case, it was weird. The worst vertigo I've ever felt. I could barely walk two steps without careening into the wall (or, evidently, the bookcase). And now I feel normal. My body is weird.

The year draws to a close today, and I my primary reaction is this: "Wow. 2013 sucked even more than 2012!" One hopes (or, at least, I hope) that 2014 will be less horrible. Perhaps there will be no dying cats. Perhaps there will be no bronchitis. Perhaps we will discover a solution to my persistent nausea (which a perusal of previous journal entries shows has been growing increasingly frequent and severe since early 2011). Perhaps no doctors will betray my trust through blatant malpractice.

Perhaps, at least, in 2014 I will not be diagnosed with significant damage to any of my other major organs.

Putting aside wishes for world peace and harmony and happiness, here are my (almost entirely) selfish hopes for 2014:
  1. comparative physical health (this should be fairly easy to accomplish)
  2. comparative emotional health (stabilize currently chaotic medications for mood and anxiety: avoid panic attacks, avoid hypomania, avoid depression, etc.)
  3. lower stress for Shannon
  4. complete and utter cat health (and perhaps even growing cat friendship)
  5. comparative house health (no major renovations or crises)
  6. improved physical fitness (seeing as it's in severe decline after more than a year of frequently debilitating health problems)

Here's wishing you all (and me) a 2014 full of every possible kind of health.