Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Our Trek Through The Ridiculous

To say this trip has been an "adventure" is, well, a bit of an understatement. Let's hit a few of the high points, shall we?

~When we stopped for gas in Missouri, Russ accidentally stepped in a large puddle of water. Which, niftily enough, turned out to be a large puddle of diesel. Which we didn't realize until it had soaked the carpet in the van and made us high with the insanely pungent smell of paint thinner.

~We stopped at another gas station for about forty-five minutes to scrub Russ's shoes (repeatedly) and mop the carpet with many wads of paper towels -- which successfully removed 50% of the smell. HOWEVER, 50% diesel smell is still plenty enough to fry brain cells and make you hallucinate. So to keep from passing out while driving, we had to crack the sunroof for ventilation. Not so noteworthy in the summertime. Significantly more memorable when it's -2 degrees outside. We got more than a couple funny looks from passersby on the interstate and helped solidify Arkansas' status as a not-so-smart state.

~Sometime around this point of the trip, Russ's eye started giving him fits. It was tearing and twitching, red, and crazy sensitive to light. In a normal situation, a simple driver exchange would be in order. However, since the only other eligible driver in the car was dizzy and drunk-like (and hadn't driven in four months), we had to stop and ponder our driving options. We decided we had to either a.) turn around b.) sit it out on the side of the road until Russ's eye spontaneously fixed itself, or c.) switch drivers. For a moment I actually considered Option D: looking for a nice, grandmotherly-like hitchhiker/chauffeur. But I promptly snapped-to and pleaded with Russ to just "cut it out!" Which he interpreted as "cut out my eye?". To which I clarified: Ha ha, Funny Boy. No. OPEN YOUR EYES AND HEAL THYSELF. RIGHT.STINKIN.NOW. When neither he nor his eye cooperated, we switched drivers - deciding a dizzy person was more qualified for operating a moving vehicle than was a person with their eyes closed.

~I drove for a couple of hours - managing not to weave so significantly as to attract the law, when Russ decided his eye felt a little better and I relinquished the squeezed-to-death wheel to him. I'd white-knuckled it for so long, my hands were totally numb.

~Upon arriving in Minnesota we learned that "clear roads" do not mean clear as we perceive the word. "Clear" means "passable". A significant difference when you're from a state that basically SHUTS DOWN if so much as a snowflake falls. Here, not only do they NOT clear the shelves in every grocery store in a fifty mile radius of all bread and milk ("in case it's a big one"), they continue to function just normal as pie. They eat out at restaurants, they shop at Walmart, they ride their bikes (I kid you not!), and they drive on the icy roads EVERY BIT as fast as they would drive on the non-icy roads. Yes, we were "those people from out of town" creeping along at the speed of a snail, while annoyed locals whizzed past in a blur. Hey, people, if you only knew how unqualified we are for handing these particular road challenges, you'd thank us for poking along!

~That night in the hotel room, I checked out Russ's eye and diagnosed him with a corneal ulcer. (Yep. I have a tendency to diagnose upon sight. It's a gift of mine.) He thought I was nuts, naturally, but decided to humor me when I requested that he see someone. Mostly because, by this point, his eye was so sensitive to light, he basically had to hold it close to keep from screaming. The next morning we managed to get an appointment with the optometrist at Lenscrafters (pretty much the only place open and willing to take a walk-in this close to the holiday...other than the ER). Turns out, Russell has not one, but three corneal ulcers. The treatment of which is eyedrops every hour, even at NIGHT, for the next seven days. NEAT-O. I'm proud to say, Russ has been diligent in his drop regimen. Mostly because he agrees that a glass eye is not a good Christmas present for himself.

~My appointment at Mayo started with a series of vomit-producing balance tests (my favorite being a spinning chair in a tightly enclosed, pitch black closet - YES!), followed by a lengthy appointment with an ENT. After being at Mayo for seven hours, the doctor declared that my problem was not ENT related (!) and tentatively diagnosed me with "chronic dizzy syndrome". (Yes, I did. I looked at him like, "You've got to be crapping me.") After I burst into tears at another dead end, the doctor explained that to the best of his world-renowned knowledge, he thinks that "something happened to reset my balance sensations." More tears. He went on to say that he suspects something (in his words: a virus, a trauma, an overwhelming stress of some sort) messed up my balance. Seriously, stress? Yep, he said, possibly. And because it has been messed up for so long, the balance centers in my brain no longer know HOW to balance anymore. Thus, the "reset" part. In other words, I am now programmed to be dizzy.


Sorry, long day. That was me being a robot. Yeah. I know. It was a really long day.

~I have an appointment in the morning for Vestibular Rehabilitation. I'm not sure exactly what that is, but it seems to be, to the best of my understanding, a coping mechanism. In other words: It looks like dizziness may be something I have to battle for an unforeseen amount of time. To help (hopefully) improve my quality of life, they're going to give me some means for dealing with it. Learning to live with dizziness. That appears to be where we are. Which I can make peace with if they can help me restore some of my mobility and normal functioning. I just want to be able to enjoy life again. I'm tired of feeling like such a burden to my friends and family. Ugh. Moving on...

~Okay! To end on a cheerful note, Russ and I decided to brave the elements and leave our hotel room tonight. We are proud to announce, we did it! It only took two hours to make a six mile trip to get water and grapes from Sam's, and some Buffalo Wild Wings. Mmm. Totally worth it. Russ is currently on his fourth cup of grapes. ...Which is going to cause a whole new set of "issues" if he doesn't slow down a bit, if you know what I mean. But, you know, whatever helps distract him from the canker sores on his eyeball. It's all good.

Since we'll probably be on the road on Christmas Day and I won't be reporting back in for awhile, Merry Christmas to everyone! =)


Anonymous said...

Ugh...Sounds like it was definitely an "interesting" trip, for lack of better word. I am glad you made it there (and back) safe just in time for x-mas eve.

Also, I do treat people with Vestibular Rehab and have taken courses on it...call me if you want more info....


Robert (Bob) English said...

You know, you're the female version of the author Bill Bryson, one of my favorite writers. You should read A Walk in the Woods sometime...you'd probably laugh quite a bit.

Hang in there you guys.

Anonymous said...


I know the description of your trip is like a "#@%! Greek tragedy," but I cracked up at the series of unfortunate events. Keep trying to laugh so you won't scream...


therapydoc said...

I'm here because you were nominated for that 2008 Weblog award. So glad I stopped by!

Haley Nicodemus said...

You have no idea how good it feels to read about your situation because I've been dealing with the same thing for years! (Not that I'm happy you are dealing with it...you know what I mean).

My road ended with chronic vertigo (goes in and out) and one of the ENT's decided that the reason I feel like I'm in a tunnel all the time is because my Eustacian tubes always stay open. He recommended me to not have the surgery because there was a good chance it wouldn't help. Nice. After tons and tons of tests and MRI's and a lot of medical bills, I gave up and have pretty much just dealt with it.

No one understands, no one gets it so I don't even talk about it anymore.

My dizzy spells are the worst when I lay down...like to watch tv in bed or something. I get super nauseous and very dizzy - I just have to go to sleep.

The worse test I had to do was hang upside down in a chair while the dr. sprayed hot and cold water in my ear and then flipped me upright really fast. I threw up after that one.

Anyway, sorry to vent here. Just wanted to let you know that I understand how you feel!

Oh and by the way, your little Sophie is precious and I love your blog!

Russ said...

Just wanted to let everyone know, Kristy is a Weblog Awards finalist. Voting has started. If you would like to vote for her, you can go to:


Or just click on the badge that I added on her sidebar and it will lead you through the voting process. You can vote once per 24 hours and voting ends January 13.


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