Vestibular disorder symptoms I have experienced

I came across an interesting website for an organization called VEDA (VEstibular Disorder Association).  I found this list of possible symptoms that is very interesting.

Image copied from “vestibular system.” Online Art. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 23 Jan. 2008
Here is an explanation of the Vestibular system.

I did not initially place all these symptoms into the same category (i.e. having to do with my hearing), but maybe I should have??? I exctracted the whole list and will excempt (a strikethrough line) those not experienced by me. If commented, the comment has been marked like this.

This list was a revelation to me… It all fits, kind of… Seems it connects to the wiring of the vestibulo-cochlear nerve: the nerve that carries information from the inner ear to the brain. Also called the eighth cranial nerve, auditory nerve, or acoustic nerve. If the “recruitment”-theory in my previous article holds water, the information about these symptoms could also have some bearing on the subject of my condition.

Vision

  • Trouble focusing or tracking objects with the eyes; objects or words on a page seem to jump, bounce, float, or blur or may appear doubled
  • Discomfort from busy visual environments such as traffic, crowds, stores, and patterns.
  • Sensitivity to light, glare, and moving or flickering lights; fluorescent lights may be especially troublesome Very much so!
  • Tendency to focus on nearby objects; increased discomfort when focusing at a distance
  • Increased night blindness; difficulty walking in the dark Yes, have to find walls or points of support in order to be able to move, get a complete feeling of immediate disorientation
  • Poor depth perception

Hearing

  • Hearing loss; distorted or fluctuating hearing Well, that’s not exactly news…
  • Tinnitus (ringing, roaring, buzzing, whooshing, or other noises in the ear) Very much so!
  • Sensitivity to loud noises or environments Especially high pitch like childrens voices
  • Sudden loud sounds may increase symptoms of vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance Yes!

 

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Mentally drowned

Feeling of defeat is not a good feeling. Yesterday I attended my fathers 60th anniversary celebration and had some experiences with my hearing, or rather, the lack of hearing…

In the days up to his celebration yesterday, I had my son with me as I usually have every second (extended) weekend. This time I really had my hands full just dealing with my son. Not that he is raucous or anything. But my strengths go only to a certain level these days as demonstrated yesterday. I was supposed to bake a cake to the celebration, which I had voluntarily said I would bake. And I really wanted to do it, too. But the thing with my memory when fatigue hits is that it’s very similar to what happens when one has depression; performance is poor…

Luckily one of my brothers has gotten a knack for baking himself lately (as he is expecting his firstborn I guess his domestic consciousness arises 😉  ) and the cake supply was sufficient.

Family members who hasn’t seen each others for a few years have a lot of catching up to do. Usually I try to arrive a little early, in order to be able to have a few words with whomever gets in before there’s too many. This time the weather was bad with blizzard so the drive took it’s time…Cornered_20Kitten

I sat down in the couch in the corner (always try to avoid getting any sounds behind me) and could not distinguish anything that was being said around the table.

Being happy to see relatives, wondering what had happened in their lives lately, I guess I tried too hard in the beginning. I quickly got tired from trying to follow conversations.

My blessed super girlfriend sees right through me, and could tell how tired I became just by looking at me. She made me aware to take a rest by turning my hearing aids off. But in a situation like that it’s nearly impossible to be able to rest, because my eyes do most of the work. I scan the room to see if anybody has their eyes directed on me, if they are talking to me. And every now and then someone does talk to me, and I turn on my HA and lean forward to try to decipher what they ask me…

After a few hours I was shot… Simply shot….  No strength left, and I was on my “emergency battery”. I told everyone that I had to leave because I didn’t feel good, and I gave them a quick explanation. I’m lucky to have a understanding family.

But the feeling of defeat was quite heavy. I felt forced to withdraw before I wanted to. I hated it. But it was necessary…

Yesterday it was clearer than I ever have experienced… It is very difficult to describe the state of my condition then, but I’ll give it a try:

If you take a whole pack of chewing gum and chew on it a whole day you know you are bound to have an aching jaw, ok? This was quite a similar sensation: the side of my head felt like it had been pounded by someone with boxing gloves for a few hours. Headaches (on the sides, around my temples), a sensation of dizziness and all sounds was kind of like painful. The sounds were unpleasant and felt intruding and annoying.

Today, as I write this, my head still has this ring in it. I write this now even before I have gotten out of my bed, because I know that not before long, I will be mentally too tired to conjure any text like I want to…drown2

It’s a hellish place to be… Like being forcefully drowned mentally. And because the transition to deafness is so slow for me, I have fallen in some kind of trap, by not being able to protect (get CI) myself in time.

But here I am, and I have to take care of my son, myself, and keep on with my life. I know there is a solution for me up ahead with the CI, and it can’t come soon enough!!!

I have high hopes for 2008 to be the year when I either get word of when my first CI will be inserted…

I need it badly, as confirmed yesterday….

Cold on cold winters day

Still suffering from that common cold I reported on a few days back, I feel it takes forever to recover. I’m an impatient guy who hates to be slowed down. But I guess the years have given me at least a little more of that precious patience. When I grew up i was prone to get ear-infections and had more than my fair share of common cold and alike.
This time it has been a while since last round so I notice things more vividly. I am even more baffled by the impact the clogged sinuses and all other symptoms have on my hearing. Talking in a controlled environment is harder, thus giving me even more strain by communicating. Being in noisy environment communicating is virtually impossible.

I have become quite obsessed these last years about dressing myself properly to avoid getting cooled down and thus more vulnerable to catch a cold os something similar. I make sure to stay warm on feet, head and neck as good as I can. I can sense when I get bugs in my body, and mostly I feel I’m able to beat it down before I get sick. It takes a few hours sleep and a lot of heated beverage like milk with honey in it 🙂

Sometimes I wonder if I’m developing paranoia for illness, or if I’m a hypochondric…

Speaking of hypochondria, I remember when I was young I was often accused of being hypochondric, because I complained a lot. In retrospect I can understand that, and at the same time, I understand my own behaviour. What I didn’t understand was how I was affected when I had a cold. And being young and utterly impatient the feeling of increased isolation and deafness wasn’t easy to deal with.
Over the years I have slowly come to terms with all the issues concerning my state of hearing, and I have also developed this “smartness” in avoiding getting sick. I’m quicker to sense when the air is getting colder on the evening in the late summertime/beginning of fall. I know my own body better and treat it with more respect than ever before.

ist2_2899227_welness_massage_stonesI do exercises on a daily basis to prevent back and neck-pains. I have gone a few rounds with my physician, and have been able to determine that my right knee has a injury to it that needs closer attention. I guess I’m simply more bodily aware than ever before, and that is a good thing, because I need to optimize (compensate) for the secondary impacts of my near deafness on my body.

For example, my back pains originate in the fact that I use my neck to protrude my head when I have trouble hearing (you know; putting my ear out to signal that I do not hear properrly). Over the years that have resulted in a neck that does not harmonize, thus straining my back further down, causing secondary symptoms.

A course with a psychomotoric therapist and advices from my girlfriend has taught me this.

The exercises I do now really feel beneficial to me. Amount of back pain is reduced to almost nothing. Headaches caused by stiff neck and stress is reduced. All because I won’t stop trying to figure things out….

Link to Spine-Health, about common cold and hypochondria

In sickness and health

Coming from a lot of resting and relatively no stress I can feel somewhat energized. But the feeling of fatigue is less than one hour away still, and that can be frustrating. But I have come to terms with the fact that this is how it is – for now anyway. And I feel that I’m getting better a little at a time. I hope it’s not just wish-thinking…..

Yesterday I came down with a regular cold. Comes with the season, and especially when you have kids roaming in germ factories like schools.

All hearing aid users probably know this: being hard of hearing makes you a extra deaf when being “stuffed” and having to blow your nose every ten minutes or so… But for people who do not know how it is to be hard of hearing and use hearing aids, it’s virtually impossible to understand the impact of a common cold on hearing aids users. This is what I want to try and explain now.

When common cold occurs, one is likely to get an increase in internal pressure in the neck/throat region due to various swollen glands. This in turn puts pressure on internal organs in the head, hence headaches, light-sensitivity and REDUCED HEARING. When the cochlear has more internal fatigue-736871pressure where the hair-cells are situated, the gel-substance that carries the sound waves to the hair-cells is a little less sensitive. That means that the overall amount of energy that reaches the hair-cells in cochlear is being reduced.

Then there’s also the impact of all the fluids that forms in the sinuses.
With reduced hearing in the first place, such an reduction on the hearing gives a larger effect on hard of hearing, thus making us more deaf.

Aside from the normal symptoms of common cold that makes you tired, feverish and so on, it also makes near deaf’s have to put even more energy into the business of communicating.

I propose that near deaf need an extra low threshold for sickness leave from work etc. It is also important that the employer understand the fact that common cold has a stronger impact of people with hearing disability.

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Battling tinnitus, headaches and fatigue

While living my life, with the absence of the working life strains, I still have to deal with stuff that is quite heavy.

First out is the tinnitus. Coming on strong in the evening and especially before sleep, I can feel the phase-shift as I have taken out my BTE HA (behind-the-ear hearing-aid) and the sound-world has disappeared.
After only a few minutes the concert starts with mid-level frequency sounds (where I have never ever had a sound chart reading above 110 Db) trying to find the right tune, just like violinist warming up before a show. The level of sound varies a little, and I have different sounds in the right ear from left ear. In short: a cacophony just as a whole orchestra is warming up before a concert…
Sometimes I get a spike of sound. A sound very distinct almost like the ping sound a submarine uses in it’s sonar just lasting a little longer. And that sound startles me every time, since it’s very loud. And it pops up in both left and right ear totally randomly.

Then there’s headaches. I get headaches almost daily for what feels like very different reasons. Sometimes it’s the overload of sounds either in loudness or in durability. Other times it’s strain headaches from stress from various situations, or just plain stiff neck. And the wintertime low sunshine on clear days can also induce headaches. Seems like I have a low tolerance for headaches. Just checked my brain with MR and x-rays and all results came back negative, which is good news. One less thing to worry about.
I have taken some actions to fight the headaches, and I think I’m on the right path. I have started doing exercises for my neck. And I’m doing it very slow and careful now in the beginning, as I get headaches from doing these simple exercises.
Most HOH and near-deaf people have one thing in common: we move our head forward as to signal to anyone that we need to hear better. I think it is also an instinct in order to make the distance between us and the source of sound as short as possible.
My neck is  very agile going forward, but back and to the sides, it’s as stiff as a stick…. So these exercises, bending my head back and forth, from side to side, and rolling my head slowly around are having an impact… I can feel the cracking of neck-bones and the headaches come bad right away, which I think is the rush of blood extending the blood vessels in my head. And my head isn’t used to those extending blood vessels, thus giving me headaches… I hope it’s temporarily, because if it is, I know I’m on track of doing something that will improve my day to day shape.

Then we’re on to the fatigue… Tinnitus and headaches clearly attributes to the fatigue, no doubt. I have also recently heard about a phenomenon called “recruitment” that could explain the sensations I get from my ears and the following feeling of fatigue and exhaustion. Will read more about that later, and research it too. See link to the article I found under the heading: “Special Subjects”.
Depression is also a common factor resulting in fatigue… Am I depressed??? I really am not sure… Sometimes, yes I would say I’m depressed, other times I’m as happy as a lark in the sky singing away… So, you tell me…

Fatigue epiphany

epiphany

Just back from a session with my psychologist, where I dealt with the matter of fatigue. I learned something new about myself, and I guess this knowledge could be useful to many who are hard of hearing or near-deaf.

The state of fatigue is the subject that I want to raise here. Of course fatigue can have many reasons, both external, internal, material and spiritual. I want to discuss the mental aspect of it that became very clear to me today: When I get the notion in myself, that I’m tired, it starts a whole range of other reactions:

Emotions:

  • anxiety (am I sick, is something wrong with me?)
  • stress (what did I do to become so tired??? why is this happening?)
  • sadness (the feeling of fatigue sort of disables me from being energetic, joyful and contributing to my surroundings)
  • hopelessness (damn, is this how my life has become? Is this how I’m supposed to live my life???)
  • and many more… (it is a little chaos of mixed emotions)

The emotions manifests into:

  • Stomach feels like a brick, hard and heavy
  • Neck becomes stiff
  • Sensations of pain are more prone (backache, headache, muscle and tendons)
  • A constant state of emergency (to put it short)

Last week, when I spoke with my incredifaboulofantastic girlfriend about this subject, we agreed that when I have the notion of being tired, I should simply say; “I need a break”.

This was the genius of it: instead of saying that:

“Oh, I am tired, I need to go by myself and be more tired” (thus pushing myself even further into the mental state of fatigue),

I can say, “Oh, my senses had a handful, they need a little rest, and then I’ll be fine again”.

By digging into the notion of fatigue, and really FEELING the weight of the emotions, I have also become more aware of what is happening to me in terms of thoughts, reactions and the results of those… This way; I can make a difference in myself by avoiding chains of thoughts that give me negative emotions and drain me even further of the precious energy I need to cope with the present situation of being near-deaf…

I hope this means something to someone, because it was an epiphany to me!

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Status update

Tinnitus is still there, disturbing concentration and sleep. The left ear seems to want to join the debate as to wether the hair-cells in my cochlears are about to wither and die or not… For the time being, the tinnitus is bearable because it’s inaudible during the time I wear my hearing aids (HA). But I have noticed times when the tinnitus breaks through even when I wear my HA. So the signs is that the tinnitus will not subside or fade, on the contrary…

Fatigue is still severe and limiting my activities on a daily basis. However, I have now organized my life in order to have less activities, and it feels good. I get more ability to initiate things I want or need to do. I still have to do a job regarding my own mentality towards the fatigue (how I cope with the feeling of being “empty”), but having said that, I have now eliminated most possible external causes for the fatigue.

Bilateral CI-operations are still my number one priority in the long term. In short term it is my son, girlfriend, family and myself. As for the CI, I do research, talk to people, evaulate back and forth. I have also checked out the status of stem-cells research of regenerating hair-cells in the inner ear, and the conlusion is that it is indeed exciting and promising, but not plausible to expect within the next 10 – 15 years. That rules out stem-cell therapy on my part. If I by getting bilateral CI-implants ruin the possibility of stem-cell regeneration of my cochlear hair-cells, so be it. I live now, today! That will be for the next generation of deaf and near-deaf.

Deaf I mentioned music in a posting yesterday; The music’s over – for now… Since I started this blog, the time spent listening to music has declined automatically and quite evenly as I started reducing the strain on my ears as an experiment. It requires too much concentration of me to listen to music anymore. Before I could get a kick out of music even when relaxing. Today I need to really focus and also have the lyrics in order to “get” something from the song I’m listening to… After a very short time it starts to feel like my head has been through the washing machine…

(Reminds me of “It’s all gone – Pete Tong” – a movie about a DJ who looses hearing)

Symptoms from too much sounds:

  • Pounding and pulsating sensation in head (brain?)
  • dizzy (I’m even getting troubles with balance if I overdo listening),
  • my counscious level is reduced (like I’m sleepy but I’m not),
  • concentration has diminished (harder to follow what people say to me, I concentrate harder),
  • cognitive skills reduced drastically (I know this thanks to my un-scientifically measurement method using Su-Doku)

and…  I suspect I’m getting mild migraine from time to time, even though that could be related to the fact that I quit nicotine permanently 18 months ago. My brain is perhaps still adjusting to the fact that my blood-vessels are getting sound and healthy again. The migraine-tendency could be caused by dilated blood-vessels in my brain, and if this is the case, those pains will subdue soon… Prone to light-sensitivity, I also turn down the intensity of lights.

On a personal level, my life is good, I enjoy being a father, and have a wonderful girlfriend with whom I can spend time. My family is close to me, and somewhat engaged in my condition. Friends still keep in touch with me. I’m feeling active and engaged, working on several “projects”, including this blog and fixing up my apartment and helping my mother and stepfather with their recently aquired small-farm. I keep in touch with former employers, and have moral support from them, have several contacts in the near-deaf-community and so on.