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!