You may be wondering, “Hey, Todd, how’s your ear thing?” Well, tomorrow marks 3 weeks since my surgery. As I wrote in my last post on the topic, nearly a week ago, we’re into the stage of small, slow improvement. But there definitely has been improvement over the past week.
With the help of my friends, I got my home recording studio working again for the first time in several months. I’m in the middle of a project to downsize things, selling off a lot of old audio and computer equipment, and I didn’t leave it in a working state. But it’s working pretty well now. One of the first things I did once I got sound coming out all the audio monitors was to listen to a few songs that my ears know well. What I mean by that is that I know very well how the recording is supposed to sound in my studio. They’re reference tracks. They didn’t sound right to me, which just means my ears aren’t back to normal yet. But I can tell they’re getting better day by day.
For example, at some point in the past week my right ear (the one that was operated on) went from being very distorted to being good enough that I can now use it for phone conversations. At first, I couldn’t put the phone up to my right ear, because I just couldn’t understand the person on the other end of the line. But now I can.
Also related to that, for a while I was having an echo effect where the right ear was picking up close reflections and the brain was processing it as a separate input signal. In other words, my right ear would hear something a split second after the left ear. Normally, the brain figures out those are really just one signal and you only consciously hear one thing. But I was hearing it twice. Well, now I’m only hearing it once again.
I haven’t tried driving yet, but I’m going to do that tomorrow on an uncrowded street, with supervision. I have to prove to Beth I’m ready to drive myself before she’ll let me have the car, which is totally reasonable.
Yesterday, we went to the FlatIron Crossing shopping mall to walk around. It was cold, windy, and snowy outside, but I wanted to do some walking, so we went to the mall. It was really tiring on me. I didn’t expect how much sensory overload I’d get just from the shopping mall. But between all the shops, all the sounds, all the people moving in different directions, and looking at things on two levels (the mall has an upstairs and a downstairs) I got a little dizzy a couple times. By the end of our excursion I was more than ready to go home. But I think we should go back and confront the mall again until I can handle it pretty well.
As far as pain goes, I’ve found that if I use the computer too much, I get a headache and a stomach ache. I could understand the headache, but the stomach ache wasn’t expected. Strange. I guess when I reach my limits, it’s triggering some sort of nausea effects that seems to me like a stomach ache. I’m still occasionally getting headaches in the evening, and I don’t know how much of it is soreness of the muscle that the surgeon cut and how much is just from fatigue.
The past few days, I’ve been taking a one hour nap in the mid-afternoon. There was one day a few days ago where I didn’t have a nap, and didn’t feel any ill effects. I guess I had more energy that day, or maybe I didn’t do anything that taxed my brain too much.
I’ve noticed that my tolerance of cold is very low. Most days out of the past week, I’ve felt cold all day long and just can’t seem to warm up, even when I wear unusually warm clothes. A friend told me that must mean my body’s spending its energy repairing stuff in my head instead of warming my limbs. I guess that’s as good an explanation as any.
I’ve been having an issue the past few days with weird sensations in my bladder, of all things. I was feeling fluid emptying into it, and it really felt like it was squirting in, like urine from my kidneys was suddenly rushing in under pressure instead of just dribbling in at low speed. There was also some minor pain going to the bathroom, but also between trips to the bathroom. I had two guesses as to what might be going on. First, and most obvious, is a urinary tract infection. Since I was on a catheter for over a day while in the hospital, this wouldn’t shock me too much. My second guess is that it’s a side effect of the Diamox I’m taking to reduce my CSF pressure. According to the Wikipedia entry for acetazolamide (that’s what Diamox is), “Acetazolamide also increases the risk of developing calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate kidney stones.” I think I wasn’t drinking enough water when this problem was worst, and I wonder if I generated and passed a few small kidney stones because of it. So I had a urine test earlier this week, to see if it was a UTI. Given that I don’t have some of the other symptoms of a UTI (blood, for instance) that the results will come back normal. And since then I’ve been drinking a lot more water and the problem has mostly (though not completely) gone away.
I really hope I don’t jinx things, but I was expecting to have a few “setbacks” during recovery – days where I was seriously worse than the day before. I’ve had some days that were slightly worse than the day before, but most days have been better. And no really crappy days. Like I said, I hope I didn’t just jinx myself!
My surgeon wants me to go have an opthamalagist exam, which is now scheduled for Monday morning. Apparently, in some small percent of cases, changes in CSF pressure can have an impact on field of vision and other eye related stuff. So he wants me to have an exam as a baseline, now that my CSF pressure is (at least for the moment) in the right range.
Speaking of which, I brought up the question of whether we should be trying to find the root cause of my CSF pressure problems. Sure, I had some fluid drained and so the pressure is fine now, or at least it was when I had the spinal tap a couple weeks ago. But what caused it to be so high in the first place? And what’s to prevent it from getting high again? The surgeon gave me a long list of possible things that can cause a high CSF pressure, but they didn’t seem applicable. The only one that might be pertinent is sleep apnea. I do snore some when I sleep, but since I’m such a light sleeper, I almost always wake myself up immediately. So I don’t think I have sleep apnea, but the surgeon wants me to have a sleep test done now, just to be sure.
And that’s the latest in the “leave no stone unturned” story of Todd’s ears. It’s probably a lot of TMI (too much information), but I’ve already had two people contact me out of the blue because they found my blog and think they might have ear problems like mine. So apparently, putting all this info online is already helping other people, and that’s a good thing.