Monday, December 21, 2009


I really hope this stops being a documentation of my crummy health some time soon, however today I have some (hopefully) good news to report. I'm not going crazy!

I went to an Optometrist today to see if I could get some answers as to why my eyesight felt all crazy. By some extremely lucky coincidence he had had a patient with Hydrocephalus before. He started off by telling me a big long story about some issues he'd had with treating her vision problems. We went through the usual tests, which were all fine, then he through in another test and, well hey, Houston we have a problem.

Turns out I have EXACTLY the same problem she had. He likened it to being vertically cross-eyed, as in my eyes aren't working together properly. It explains the strange visual issues, the unsteadiness, and even the neck issues. He guessed that I might be having a tendency to tilt my head to the right, and guess what? I am! Apparently that's an innate attempt to try to correct the eye problem, and it's causing my neck muscles to seize up.

Needless to say he's writing a letter to my GP, and I have an appointment with her tomorrow, and he's strongly recommending we get in touch with the Neurologist again. Of course now we're butting up against Christmas, so I may just have to deal for a couple of weeks. I have (don't laugh) a few tips, including covering one eye (and even a nifty wear-at-home children's eye patch) and he's bent my glasses to sit slightly crookedly.

It's nice to know that I'm not imagining things, but it's frustrating as all heck to have to deal with, especially when there is no quick solution. He can treat the eye problems with new lenses, but there's a bigger question as to whether I need more surgery.

So I'm not done with being a medical drama yet!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hospital Lesson Number One

The treatment for a lumbar puncture headache is caffeine. Lots of it. Two cups of coffee later, I was reminded again of how caffeine sensitive I am. I was wired, and not in a good way! I couldn't face any more that night, and only managed another two cups the next day.

Back at home today I'm feeling much better. We're planning Christmas and a huge calendar of weekends away over summer/autumn. It's good to be having something to look forward to!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Quick update

I'm home. I went into hospital on Sunday afternoon after three days of a crushing lumbar puncture headache on top of the other issues I was already having. The neurosurgeons decided the problems I was having weren't the result of anything they've done and I spent three terrifying days waiting for a neurologist. However, according to him there's nothing clearly wrong with me. Apparently this is stress manifesting in some bizarre and distressing physical symptoms. I'll write more tomorrow, but I just wanted to give you all a quick update. Thanks for thinking of me!

Friday, December 11, 2009

And more arghhh

Ok, I'll admit that I'm starting to feel a little sorry for myself now!

I put in a full day of work on Wednesday. I had lots of meetings to resolve lots of thorny issues. That night I ended up back at hospital again. My balance is going on me and I feel like I'm about to have a vertigo attack - all - the - time. So yeah, it's a bit draining.

I had a referral from my GP so went straight through this time with no waiting around. I had a CAT scan and was told it was fine. Given the option of a hospital bed or my own, I went home again and dosed myself up with a sleeping pill to get some sleep. It's impossible to drop off when you feel like everything's in perpetual motion.

On Thursday morning I was back at the hospital, where they admitted me to a bed back in my old ward. The woman in the bed next to me was regularly having some kind of full volume screaming fit, which led to me fleeing to the hallway each time. The nurses took pity on me and I was offered a room of my own which, of course, I took.

I was too far down the queue to have an MRI on Thursday and elected to stay in rather than head home again. Another sleeping pill and some medication designed to help with the dizziness (which made me groggy more than anything else). It took a while to drop off but eventually I managed it.

I spent a lot of today just sitting around waiting. Finally I was able to have the MRI. If you can imagine how it might feel to be constantly dizzy, then to have your head shut into a small tube and stuck in a loud imaging machine for 20 minutes then you'll understand what an ordeal that was. I was quite panicky and shaky by the time they were finished.

The MRI was fine as well, so then I had to endure a lumbar puncture. The worst bit was the injecting of the anaesthetic into my back. Boy did it sting! The actually drawing of cerebrospinal fluid itself was fine. Now that the anaesthetic has worn off though I feel like someone's kicked me in the back.

Surprise, the lumbar puncture was fine as well. So here I am at home, waiting on a referral to see a Neurologist. It seems like every time I think I've hit rock bottom I slip a bit further. Honestly, at the moment I don't know how I'm not a quivering, crying wreck.

During this time Hamish has been working 11 hour days, so I haven't even seen him. He's tired and stressed and I'm mentally and physically exhausted. I need a hug badly. I want someone to tell me they know what's wrong and how to fix it. I want all this to be over.

I miss my life and I want it back!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


I walked into the doctor's office today (not my usual doctor, as she wasn't available, but a guy I have seen before) and asked for help. I'm sick of this. I'm sick of this pulsing, tight head. I'm sick of the pounding every time I stand up or move my head the wrong way. I'm sick of not sleeping, of feeling like I'm about to have a vertigo attack, of having no appetite. I want to be able to run and cycle and enjoy my life and to have it back again.

Thankfully the doctor agreed with me. I got told not to worry about taking the sleeping pills. I could worry about getting off them when I was feeling better. He wrote to my neurosurgeon to ask him to look at my case again. He was wonderfully sympathetic. He even suggested anti-depressants to get me through this patch. He suggested I might have a cerebrospinal fluid leak, but also that I'm still getting used to having normal brain pressure. How long that might take to get over, well who knows?

So I snivelled a bit, felt grateful to him for letting me feel sorry for myself, accepted the prescription, and went home to hide. I even skipped the celebratory party I'd been invited to at work.

There's a part of me that wants to scream that this isn't fair. Two months ago I was feeling great and enjoying life, other than that niggling little headache that seemed to be getting worse. Of course life isn't fair. Some people have horrid things happen to them. Chances are I will eventually return to normal, pick up the pieces, rebuild my muscle and ditch the weight. If that happens I will really, truly, be grateful for every chance I have to don my running shoes or jump on Cleo for a spin around the Bays. Right now though I've lost perspective. I can't really see a way out of this.

So in the meantime I'm doing what I can. On Sunday that was a 4k walk/run round Belmont. I ran little bits, walked the big hill. Afterwards my left eye started to do something funny on me and I started to freak out. Thankfully after around ten minutes it came right again. For the rest of the day the pounding in my head was even worse. Having managed to get around five hours' sleep the night before without a sleeping pill, on Sunday night I was feeling too demoralised to try to sleep without the sedative.

Yesterday I decided to go for a walk. From Tawatawa Ridge at the Southern end of Kingston I dropped onto the City to Sea walkway in reverse. All was going well until the path turned into the steep descent of doom. With only loose dirt and gravel underfoot I slipped over three times, grazing and bruising my left hand. I battled anxiety and threatening vertigo the whole way down the slope.

Eventually, and with a huge sense of relief, I reached the Berhampore golfcourse. My relief was shortlived as the path I was following took me through the course itself. I ran the gauntlet of the many golfers out on what was a stunning evening. One young guy whistled, as if he were calling a dog. Not realising he was trying to call to me (he didn't appear about to swing a club any time soon) I kept walking, only to have him mutter something to his companion about someone (presumably me) being completely oblivious. In my already fragile state I was completely demoralised. If he'd just called out to me to ask me to wait a few seconds I would have done so.

All up I was out for an hour, and really it was good to be out in the fresh air. I discovered a whole network of trails I hadn't even realised existed, and some lovely old streets and houses. However it wasn't the same as going for a run. It also didn't relieve me of the need to take a sleeping pill that night.

So sorry, the pity party's still firmly in place here. I just have to accept my current state and try to have faith that things will improve. I still can't quite believe that this has happened, to be quite honest. I'm scared I'll never return to normal. I still want to be Pip. I don't want to be this strange shadow of myself. I need your cyber hugs and good wishes, and hopefully I will soon be able to be updating you with the news of my recovery.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Guess what I did today?

Walked for five minutes then ran eight sets of one minute slow jogging intervals, with ninety seconds of rest in between. I then went on to walk for at least another half hour.

I could have run more but I wanted to start out with a Couch to 5K run just to make sure I wasn't going to do myself any damage. I was running so slowly that I never broke a sweat, despite it being really warm out there. My legs however - boy am I going to have to start hitting the lower body weights.

I still have the same issues with a tight, pulsing feeling in my neck and head and I've been letting the anxiety get the better of me. I'm still having the same problem with standing up or moving my head too quickly and I'm still taking sleeping pills. I hate having to do so but I need the sleep. However the more I get up and do the better I feel. Sitting around thinking too much makes things worse.

I have to hold onto the hope that I WILL get better. I'm seeing a physio, accupuncturist, massage therapist and cranial osteopath. However nothing much is happening at the moment because I'm so stressed I spasm up again as soon as I walk from the therapy room. I really just have to give myself permission to relax and to get better, but that's not as easy as it sounds!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to walk/run a 10k race in Belmont. Unfortunately it looks like the weather's going to turn bad before then. Today it feels like summer here for a change!