I am now just starting Week 6 on the Labyrinthitis trail so I thought I would write a quick update.
Things are still continuing to improve – I’d say I am about 80% now. The world still bounces up and down when I walk around but it is becoming less severe. I can actually go outside, and do normal things like shop in a Supermarket without it being a huge problem. Supermarkets are actually the worst thing for me – especially when they have really patterned floors. There is so much stimulation visually that it is hard to remain focused and stop yourself from spinning out. But stopping for a moment and focussing on something helps with this. I still feel nauseous after a trip to the supermarket but it passes off almost as soon as I am outside.
Tomorrow will be my first day back at work. My manager and employer have been really great, and I am returning on short shifts for now, working up to my full hours hopefully as soon as possible.
I had my first Physio appointment
I was very stressed about this as I’d heard it was horrible – however it was not as bad as I had anticipated and thought I’d blog the experience for anyone else out there dreading it and frantically googling for information.
They take a full history of your current problem and any other existing medical conditions you have, medical history, how you have progressed so far, and how you are feeling at the present time.
The physical assessment involves tests to ascertain which ear is affected, how much your balance is suffering and what brings on symptoms. These are basic – standing on one leg, marching on the spot with your eyes shut, getting you to walk in a line moving your head side to side and up and down. This sort of thing. They may also perform the eppley manoevre. These tests will bring on symptoms so you should be prepared for that, but quite honestly, it won’t be anything worse that you have already had so try to avoid working yourself up
Once they have assessed you they will give you some Vestibular Rehabilitation Exercises to do at home. This helps train the brain to ignore the abnormal signals from your damaged ear.
There are a lot of self help things you can do as well as the exercises and here are some I have found the most helpful for me:
Drink lots of fluids – water, herbal teas, etc. I do drink normal tea, but I avoided coffee as caffeine is not supposed to be helpful with this. I drink Raspberry and Echinacea tea which tastes great but also has the immune boosting echinacea to help fight the virus. Keeping well hydrated is good for the inner ear.
Avoid alcohol. This was hard for me because I do like a glass of red wine. But, apart from half a flute of champagne on my husband’s 50th birthday I have avoided booze completely. It is dehydrating which can effect the fluid balance within the inner ear, and also effects balance anyway (as proven once you have had a few glasses!) I also lost weight which is a big plus.
Treat Nausea I found that peppermint and nettle tea was soothing for nausea. Also it meant I could lay off the stemetil earlier rather than later which again is supposed to speed recovery.
Moving around – as much as you are able and is safe. This is hard because it is really tempting to just sit and be still and avoid the dizziness. However, the less you move about the longer recovery will take. Your brain needs to experience the problem and learn to ignore it. After a while I moved as if I wasn’t dizzy. This was very destabilising at first but it did seem to bring good results over the course of the day.
Doing normal tasks – doing normal things helps the brain to compensate more quickly for the damage to the inner ear.
Rest – don’t overdo things and get really tired. For the first couple of weeks I was sleeping an awful lot: about 10 hours a night plus an hour nap in the afternoon! As time went on I found it helped to just sit down between tasks and recover. Your brain is using a lot of energy just trying to make sense of the conflicting information so be kind to yourself and rest when you feel you need to. I will still lay down for 10 minutes just so I can feel normal for a while. Then felt more able to continue to tackle things. Prioritise what you do, you can’t do everything.
Get help – you may need to remind people that although you look normal you certainly don’t feel it. This is the case with many invisible illnesses so when people ask how you are, take the chance to say that you’re feeling better but the world is still moving around somewhat. Let people know that you may need to take a ‘time out’ periodically.
Keep moving forward and remain positive – the vast majority of people recover from this completely within 6-8 weeks. I am hoping I am one of these!