This story began in Part 1 with how I landed at The Balance Center on the last day of the year for the conclusion of my hearing and vestibular system testing. That was yesterday and I am still recovering . . .
My mood was in a major funk as I was running late for my appointment (struggling to function), trying to hold off any tic attacks whilst still getting ready and out the door. I am back into a 2-part fractionated sleep schedule to try and manage: 1) an increase in the nightly and morning convulsive episodes and 2) getting enough sleep. Usually there are at least 2 nights when the number of hours of unconsciousness barely exceeds FOUR; the night before the appointment was one of them! Eeee gads. But by the grace of God have I survived to tell the story so let us continue!
A very sweet technician named “M” was assigned to walk me through the procedures to be performed in three rooms, each equipped with various test equipment, computers, and some funny-looking masks. I’ll include some stock photos here to bring you into my world:
Generally each part of each test was completed three times. Most of the time “M” warned me about the challenge that was about to happen (except for the water-boarding shock that came later, unfortunately!). In the first room I stepped barefoot onto a cold, 3-walled compartment in which the floor moved independently of the walls that also moved. She harnessed me in with the same number of straps usually employed with bungee jumping! I remembered hearing professional dancers talk about focusing on one object as they spun around doing pirouettes so I decided that would be my strategy all afternoon to avoid up-chucking early in the game. It helped for a little while and I guess I did o.k. during phase 2 (with phase 1 being the audiology testing in October) although the dizziness, uneasiness, queasiness, and feeling of being lost-in-space began quickly. She allowed me to rest a short while afterwards and for this I was exceedingly grateful. My feet eventually started to warm up . . .
I hobbled to the next room labeled, “Rotational Chair.” Holy crap. I was doomed! I never liked the Merry-Go-Round at the playground as a kid and now was the time to find out why. You know what happens to the kids too scared to jump off, right? This is probably why The Balance Center instructs you to eat only oatmeal in the hours before your appointment! So with fear and trembling I stepped into what looked like the anti-gravity room at the Nassau Space Center. The walls and chair in the “space capsule” were black, equipped with even more straps that comprised the harness and seat belt configuration. This time my head was restrained as well with the mask pictured above affixed to my head. Then she closed the door. I was all alone in the darkness.
I wondered about trace specks of mold, fragrance, and other irritants from the travelers who had gone before me. Should I have been wearing my carbon mask all along to avoid trace exposures? My mind was so overwhelmed with the test procedures that day that I would not pull it out until the dire end. For now, I was to spin in circles and watch the little red dot ahead of me, make the line straight using the “Play Station” controllers in each hand, and hope that the fraction of light peeking through the hinge of the door would re-orient me enough to go on . . . My defenses were rapidly breaking down.
“M” asked me probably 75 questions total that afternoon, spread throughout all of the test procedures. Had I ever fallen? Hit my head? Gotten dizzy? What about headaches? Migraines? Chemical exposures? You get the idea. In the chair of the Black Hole, those questions made it impossible to focus enough to use the ballerina strategy to keep my act together. The nausea crept up inside me then miraculously never exceeded critical mass to prompt a return of my breakfast. (I took the nausea medication I had with me later anyways! It was the least I could do to calm things down!) I am now getting dizzy and light headed just writing about this experience.
When “M” opened the Magic Door and set me free from my restraint, I slumped forward with my head plunging into my hands. What the heck was happening to me? Low grade tic attacks erupted. I felt listless, unbalanced, disoriented, exhausted, sideways, unsteady even in my seat, like I was struggling to keep breathing (as if someone had pushed the air out of my chest), with increased ringing in my ears and a knife-like sub-occipital headache. The sinus headache had returned as a bonus. I asked if I could lie down. She agreed since there would be supine positioning in the next room and testing anyways. Great. I strained to hold myself together long enough to make it to the torture chamber just around the corner . . .
The usual nightmare met me on that treatment table. Violent convulsive episodes displayed their wretched glory with deep vocalizations that I could not control. On and on with no end in sight they came as I lain face down in the position I have discovered that causes the least amount of trauma to my banging neck and head. My legs were cold. My hands were cold. The room was darkened yet the bright desk lamp next to the technician’s computer was too bright for my eyes just 4 feet away. I struggled to raise my arm to shield my eyes and held on for dear life.
Why was I going through all of this anyways? Would all of this trauma really yield anything useful beyond yet another human version of a “lab rat” experiment to tell me that something was very, very wrong. NO KIDDING SOMETHING IS WRONG!!! I asked for my purse and awkwardly donned my face-mask when I could get my hands to work together enough to do so. Probably 20 minutes passed before the overt symptoms stopped: the ones you can see, that is! Inside I was seemingly beyond repair. This was going to take a long time from which to recover. I wept. The more I write about it, the more I experience a slight flashback of symptoms. I will pause here for a little cry. More later . . .
Continued in Part 3