Saturday, October 2, 2010

Finally, A Diagnosis and Treatment!

This post will be about Melissa's almost 6 month battle with nausea and dizziness, so don't say I didn't warn you!

Last March or so, Melissa starting complaining about her stomach. It hurt, and she couldn't describe the exact type of pain. Some nausea, some just not feeling well. Needless to say, this pain had a horrible effect on her gymnastics--she wasn't able to have consistently good practices, which in turn affected her meet results. She was still recovering from the ankle injury she suffered in October. The last time we saw the orthopaedic doc, she estimated she was about 70% recovered. Melissa was released from physical therapy, but continued with the exercises she was given, and still does them very regularly.

In early June, all of a sudden at practice one day she felt very dizzy. I brought her to the pediatrician for both issues. She decided to treat it very conservatively, in other words, rule out the most simple problems. She had some blood work done--everything came back normal. We increased her electrolytes and fluids, but that didn't seem to make a difference.

Back to the doctor (she had a physical scheduled). The next step would be to see the ear/nose/throat specialist. Melissa had her adenoids removed about 5 years ago, so we had a doctor that we really liked and made an appointment with her. I thought maybe a trip to the ophthalmologist wouldn't hurt (other than the fact that it is not covered by our insurance and cost us $186!). She received a clean bill of health, just as she had from the optometrist. However, this doctor thought she should have a CAT scan. After speaking again to the pediatrician, however, we decided to wait to see what the ENT said. (I'm really glad we did, because she felt it would have been a wast of time and money.)

The exam showed that Melissa's vision and hearing are perfect. However, she referred us to Central DuPage Hospital's rehabilitation center for Vestibular testing. It's hard for me to explain, but it has to do with the brain and inner ear and proprioceptor issues. I was SO hoping this was the problem, because next would have been an MRI of her head/brain. VERY SCARY!

We saw the physical therapist yesterday and received amazing news. Melissa has a vestibular issue, which means that her inner ear and eyes and brain are not working together properly. I honestly don't know what the term is for what she has. We also may never know what caused it. A very common cause is a virus that the patient may never have known they had, most likely with very little or no symptoms. Some how this affected her inner ear and consequently her balance, which resulted in the dizziness and nausea.

Evidently, this is something that occurs very often, but is very hard to diagnose. It is particularly difficult to diagnose on a gymnast, since their sense of balance is so much better than the "average" person. Very likely someone else with this problem would be so dizzy they might not even be able to walk straight or stand, and would experience extreme nausea and even vomiting.

Anyway, the treatment is very simple. Melissa has exercises to do at home that involve her eyes, a pencil, movement of her head, and a metronome. Sounds very weird, I know, but the therapist seems to think she should be feeling back to "normal" in four to six weeks. Hallelujah!

The moral of the story for me is this: as a parent, you have to know your child. Melissa is not a complainer; she is a tough kid. When she says she doesn't feel good, I always believe her and listen. The therapist told us that many children are misdiagnosed because parent/teachers think they are "faking" or just don't want to go to school, etc. Many adults are misdiagnosed for years as the symptoms are thought to be side effects of meds or other illnesses. As I said, it is very easy to fix, very hard to diagnose. I'm so glad we had a doctor who was familiar with this condition.

I'm also hopeful that Melissa will have a better gymnastics season. Last year was really tough. She will remain at the same level--not being able to practice and learn new skills over the summer really set her back. But she's not upset about it--she just wants to have fun, and enjoy what most likely will be her last year in club gymnastics. She will start high school next year, after 5 years of home school. It will be an adjustment. Plus, BHS does not have a gymnastic team, and I think doing club will be too much for her.

So, thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Enjoy your weekend. (It's already too cold for my body!)

Until next time--God bless!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Just Some Fun Stuff

It's sort of early, 47 degrees, and I'm not liking the cold. September has been a challenging month for me, to say the least. I started back on a medication for my RA that is really yukky. It makes me tired and sick for several days after taking it (I take it Monday night and usually don't feel real good again until Thursday p.m.). The cold plays havoc with my body. Before RA, I wouldn't have thought twice about riding in 40 or 50 degree weather. way. I really need 60's or better. So....I skipped my ride yesterday and had a nice, long indoor workout.

Oh, and I did a 5K on Saturday! My first race of any kind in over a year. It was a new race, sponsored by the private school my kids attended. The proceeds were for a scholarship fund in the memory of a young lady who passed away at a very young age. She was the sister of one of my son's classmates, and I felt I just had to go to support such a great cause!

I had a wonderful time seeing so many old friends. It was the perfect day for a run--in the 50's, some sun, some wind. I had a very realistic goal--under 29 minutes would be just fine, thank you very much. I did not run the entire months of August and September due to pain (I hate to say injuries....) and only started running a couple weeks ago. I vaguely remembered what it is like to run a 5K without coming off a bike ride--I do much better after the ride. However, I have to say I did OK. My time was announced as 27+, but my watch said 28:17, which is just over a 9 minute pace. Hey, for me, that's not bad! It was my first race in the 55-59 age group--there were two of us there. (I did finish first.)

After the race I drove over to Lifetime and had a really nice swim before picking up Melissa at the gym. It was a nice day. However, my quads were sore the next day from running HARD on concrete--something I only do in a race. I stick to soft surfaces whenever possible. Makes a HUGE difference.

Running in that race made me wish I could race next year. Several things will have to happen. First, I really need to lose at least 10-15 pounds. I am fat and not in any shape to race. I tried really hard, again, this summer to drop weight: I trained 15-20 hours every week, but I admit I wasn't always careful about what I ate. I'm going to try again this winter. (Actually, every day I wake up and say: I can eat perfect today. I really try to do one day at a time.) Maybe the additional medication will help with my RA and I'll have more energy and feel better this winter.

Melissa is still struggling with dizziness. We're going to have a Vestibular evaluation on Friday. It's a relatively new kind of physical therapy. I really hope this helps, because the next step is an MRI of her head. Her gymnastics is very limited and meet season starts in December, so we're hoping to get this resolved as soon as possible.

I have decided that Facebook is amazing. I have been able to connect with old friends, and stay in touch with those I can't see on a regular basis. It's a great tool.

Many of my "tri" friends have had amazing races in the past weeks. Many still have their "A" race coming up. Good luck to all of you. Happy training! I hope the weather holds out for you for the remainder of the weeks you have to train.

Hoping to get out on the bike later--but it will have to get to at least 60 degrees with some sun. If not....I really don't want to put my bike on the trainer, because I'm hoping for at least one more long ride this Sunday. There's always the pool!

Well, until next time--God bless!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm Back...Well, Sort of

It's been a while I know, but I thought I'd post an update on what's been happening in my life. Three seasons have come and gone (almost) since my last post. I'll try to keep this relatively brief.

In a nutshell, I had a tough winter. I tried really hard to drop some weight--it didn't happen, and I'm really not sure why. Age, menopause, change of metabolism, not sure. I decided, for many reasons, not to race this season. I think it was a good decision. I had a good June, but had to stop running for most of July and all of August. I just started again, and I now know I will have to limit how much/far I run. But that's OK. The stairs and eliptical are OK for aerobic fitness, but nothing can replace the feeling of a good run--even if it is on the treadmill.

Lots of hours doing core and strength work hopefully have paid off. Maybe not in appearance, but in some ways I feel stronger than in the past. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I'm not in my 30's or 40's anymore, and I should be very grateful I can to as much as I can. Being a type A personality, however, I've always been really hard on myself and never seem to be happy with where I am physically. Always a work in progress.

I have put in a lot of miles on my bike this summer--more than ever before! And I just love it. Knowing I can ride whenever I want, whatever distance I feel like has been an amazing feeling. It's been warm and windy, but it sure beats cold and windy!

My kids are amazing. Melissa had a tough year in gymnastics--a couple injuries, major growth spurt, and moving up to the optional level made for some big changes. This will probably be her last year in club gymnastics. Bolingbrook HS does not have a team, and I would like to see her get more involved with school activities, which would be very hard with the practice schedule the team has. She turned 13 in August--an amazing young lady with a great heart and lots of spirit, in a very quiet package.

Ryan just started his Junior year at Bolingbrook High School. He had an amazing Sophomore year. He was inducted into the National Honor Society and received the award for Outstanding Honors Chemistry student for the year! I can't believe he will be 17 in October. He's not crazy about driving and is still working on getting his 50 hours of practice. We're not a hurry for him to drive. He wasn't able to find a job this summer, but kept busy with volunteer work and helping his mom around the house. This will be a tough year for him in school--two AP classes and two honor classes--but we know he'll do his very best and we are soooo proud of him.

I'm happy to say that many of my "tri" friends had/are having amazing racing seasons. They are an inspiration and have worked to hard to get to where they are. Several still have their "A" races coming up. Good luck to all of you!

I'm not looking forward to the cold weather.....I really would like to move someday to a warm, dry climate. But....I'll do my best to make it through another Chicago winter.

That's all for now--will try to post more often, maybe once a week or so, depending on what's happening in my life.

Have a blessed day and God bless!