Health Update

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A sunset during my time in Chile because, well, it’s beautiful!

For those of you that don’t recall or haven’t kept up with my blog, I woke up with tinnitus the morning of June 5. The only possible thing I can correlate it to is multiple flights from Chile two days prior (you can read about SantiagoVina del Mar and Valparaiso, and Las Cabras). I felt like my ear was full of pressure or water and I couldn’t hear as well out of my left ear. My doctor prescribed a low-dose steroid (prednisone) and referred me to an ENT specialist.

The ENT doctor prescribed a high-dose steroid, which did nothing for my ear, so he prescribed a diuretic, with the idea that there could be fluid in my middle ear, which apparently is undetectable by exam. If I thought taking high doses of steroid was difficult, it was nothing compared to the side effects of this diuretic. I was exhausted, light-headed, and just felt terrible.

After I tried to go for a bike ride, I almost passed out. I started walking my bike home for the remaining half mile, but when I started to black out, I put down my bike and just laid in someone’s front yard until I felt like I could at least walk again. The next day when I was at work, my third day of taking the diuretic, I felt like I was going to pass out when I was just sitting at my desk, so I went to the health unit and the nurse had me lie down and drink water and eat some crackers. As soon as I got back to my desk, I called my doctor and told the nurse I couldn’t continue taking the diuretic.

An MRI was scheduled as the next step, to rule out things like tumors in my middle or inner ear. Holy crap that MRI sucked! I had to lay on a flat metal gurney-type thing, not much wider than the width of my body (and I’m not a huge person!), and the technician told me to lie absolutely still for the duration of the scan, about 30-40 minutes. The worst part was when they put a metal piece, best described as a baseball pitcher’s mask or hockey goalie mask, over my face, with only a few inches of space from my face. Then they told me to keep my eyes closed for the entire time, and the gurney thing slid back into the tube, and the scan began.

If you’ve never had an MRI, one thing about them is they are LOUD! Even with ear plugs in and padding around my ears, the noises the machine made were so loud, the sound seemed to reverberate through my entire body. At times, the entire metal thing I was lying on was shaking. Half-way through the scan, the technician came out and inserted a dye into my arm, so they could have scans with and without contrast. I tasted a metallic taste in my mouth and my arm hurt where the needle was inserted. Later, I had a massive bruise there and my arm was sore for more than a week.

And then I waited for the results. Waiting for news from your doctor is always the hardest part. Not knowing has always driven me crazy. I tried not to think about it, but it was always in the back of my mind until the nurse finally called.

And…my MRI results were normal! Hooray! No tumor! The bad part, though, is we have no idea what caused the tinnitus. It could have been the flights, or maybe that was just a coincidence and I would have developed it then anyway. Since there’s no obvious cause, I’ll never know. I have a follow-up appointment with my ENT next week, but I have a feeling we’ll discuss my MRI results then he’ll tell me there’s nothing else they can do for me. There’s pretty much no treatment for tinnitus when there’s no obvious cause.

So now what? I learn to live with it. I go on. I tell myself that I’m fortunate to be as healthy as I am and I appreciate all that I do have. I start training for my next half marathon next month, so I’m glad all of this happened when I was in-between training plans.

For those of you that haven’t connected with me through Twitter or Facebook, you can find me at both of those at runningtotravel and on Instagram at runningtotraveltheworld.  I’d love to connect with you there!  Donna

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Author: runningtotravel

I'm a long distance runner with a goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in the US. I also love to travel so I travel to other places when I'm not running races. Half the fun is planning where I'm going to go next!

21 thoughts on “Health Update”

  1. Sorry to hear that there’s no clear cut cure for the tinnitus. I hope it clears up soon. I can imagine that this is really aggravating.

    I’ve been inside an MRI several times, none of it for medical. I did research in neuroimaging for a while and we always needed subjects, so several of us grad students and post docs were each other’s subjects for various studies. We had to be inside the MRI for up to 2 hours.

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    1. It’s definitely annoying having the sound of white noise constantly in my ear and the hearing loss, but as far as I’ve heard about other people it could be a lot worse (one guy I read about hears the sound of nails on a chalkboard with his tinnitus).

      I can’t imagine being in an MRI for 2 hours! You don’t have to worry about being claustrophobic anywhere if you can do that!

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  2. MRIs suck. And I wonder if the diuretic was affecting your blood pressure? I’ve been taking a diuretic in addition to my normal HPB med, because the HPB med on it’s own wasn’t getting it done. I hate it. You have to pee all the time.

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    1. They really do suck. I had even sat in the same room with a family member who had an MRI a couple of years ago, but when you’re the one in the tube, it’s a whole different thing. Yes, the diuretic was affecting my blood pressure, and since my bp is normal, it was causing it to be too low. It wasn’t a good choice for me, but my ENT wanted to rule out some things with it.

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  3. I remember having my foot MRIed and it was such a pain. I was counting down each scan hoping it’d be the last. I hope you and your doctors figure out what’s causing it soon. 😦 I’m glad it’s not a tumor though. 🙂

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    1. I was also trying to count down in my head to figure out how much longer it would be (she would say, “This one is going to be 6 minutes, etc.”). I doubt my doctors will ever figure out what the cause is, or unfortunately be able to treat it. I have an appt. next week, but I have a feeling he’ll say, “Well, let’s just keep an eye on you and see you in a few months!” I think this is my new life as I know it and i just have to get used to it.

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      1. Yeah, that has to be extremely frustrating. After my MRI, they still couldn’t figure out what was wrong with my foot. They just saw that it had fluid in it and I was advised to rest for a few weeks. It still bothers me to this day that I don’t know what caused the fluid build up. 😦 Has the tinnitus affected your running at all?

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        1. It does suck when you have so many doctors appointments and go through so much and the doctors still have no idea what’s going on. Now that I’ve stopped taking that terrible diuretic, no, it fortunately hasn’t affected my running. This heat and humidity on the other hand, well that’s a different story!

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  4. I’m happy for you that the MRI didn’t show anything! That’s great news! And as long as you’re not dizzy, even better! But so sorry you still have the ringing. I can imagine it’s quite annoying.

    So what’s the next state then? 😉

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    1. Thank you! I felt like the news was bittersweet, because no tumor is great, but then well what now? I think when I see my ENT next week he’ll say, we’ve pretty much done all we can do at this point, so we’ll just monitor my hearing and make sure that doesn’t get any worse.

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  5. The world is a noisy place. Long exposure to loud noise – music, jet engines, crowds – sometimes leads to tinnitus. Unfortunately that is the first step to gradual hearing loss. I came back from military service with tinnitus and thought I was protecting myself later using hearing protection while working with a chain saw, etc. But my hearing continued to decline. I bought a digital sound meter and was surprised to discover even my car was hitting 92 decibels on the highway. Eight hours over 90 does damage. Now I use hearing protection even in a concert. The world is a noisy place. I am glad the MRI revealed no more serious problems but empathize with you on the one you have.

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    1. We definitely live in a noisy world. That was one thing that struck me when I was in a remote section of Chile recently- how utterly quiet it was there. There was no noise from cars, airplanes, people, radios blaring, etc. It was quite refreshing. I’m sorry to hear that you too have to deal with tinnitus. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!

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