Rosalie Ungar is the author of IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
Life is so much better without the worry of going into atrial fib in the last 11 years. So much so that the seriousness of any other health problem is diminished. I tend to ignore or justify other issues that go wrong. That was the subject of the recent blog, Lessons Learned Part 1 about carpal tunnel and the surgical procedure I waited too long to have.
Now I’ll reveal another mistake I made resulting in an issue I encountered recently. It has to do with balance. Exercise is a key to solving many health problems. I owe exercise to be partially responsible for repairing heart muscle damage from my 2 heart attacks. Balance training was a big part of my workout. Most of the women in my work outs had a similar problem, more or less. Read about it: IN A HEARTBEAT: The Ups & Downs of Life with Atrial Fib.
As time went on my walking began a slight winding path like weaving. It wasn’t all of the time but enough that I noticed it and so did others, especially those walking behind me. I justified it as an aging symptom and treated it by being very careful using Ed for balance when we were together. I was in denial about getting treatment.
On 2 occasions I woke up during the night, sat up in bed because the room was spinning around. It lasted only a few minutes or less, then I went back to sleep. In the morning I was fine so I didn’t do anything about it until the next time which came sooner, not later.
I called my primary care physician who had me come that day. He put me through several tests. He had several suggestions and asked a lot of questions suggesting it might be a neck or spine problem, a mini-stroke or could likely be an inner ear problem.
Our medical facility has a whole building devoted to ear, eye and hand problems so I was familiar with the geography. The appointment was made at the ear clinic and I was put through a series of tests starting with a test for middle ear problems where crystals may have formed. That wasn’t the problem.
An appointment was made for an inner ear test taking 90 minutes of unpleasantries including equipment that blew 1 minute of warm air in each ear, then 1 minute of cool air in each ear. Eye movement was tested and retested and finally our consultation with the physician revealed that I flunked the inner ear tests, diagnosed with vertigo and 49% imbalance on the left side with similarly 25% on the right.
Now what? For now it was explained that I would be prescribed entry into a rehab program for ‘vestibular’ therapy twice a week and instructed to use a cane 100% of the time for balance to keep me from falling. The good news: no pills, no surgery and the rehab center is 5 minutes from my house. The handicap placard I was issued for my car is only good until March. This means I should be cured by then.