Post-Op Appointment

by Rebecca J on 2012-10-18

This afternoon at 2, William and I went to my post-op check-up at Austin Ear Clinic. My appointment was with Andrew, the physicianʼs assistant, so I didnʼt get a chance to give Dr. Slater a hard time about how lousy Iʼve been feeling. The nurse took us back to an exam room, and I saw Andrew working on some paperwork as we walked back. He must have seen us walk by because he stuck his head in and said something to William about my being dizzy and then told the nurse to move us to an exam room with a table.

While we were waiting in that exam room, William told me what Andrew said. “I donʼt mean to pry, but are you holding her hand because sheʼs dizzy?” Interesting question. I guess that William and I donʼt give off the newlywed vibe anymore. I think it wouldʼve been funny if William had gone out of character and said, ”No, good sir, I hold her hand because she is the love of my life!” Ha.

So, we waited in the exam room with the table. The nurse had brought up my file on the computer and then left it open, so William went to see what was there. Sheʼd pulled up Dr. Slaterʼs write-up about my surgery, and William said, “I think Iʼd like to read this report.” (So, when we left, I got a copy of that report. It is a marvel of medical lingo, but I think it says that my surgery went well.) We waited and waited. William even played with their computer a little, long enough to figure out that the mouse battery was running low.

Finally, Andrew came in and started checking me out. He looked into both of my ears. My left ear has a hearing aid in it, so I light-heartedly told him that he wouldnʼt be able to see much. He didnʼt really think that was funny. (By the way, this happens so often. When I go to a doctorʼs office for ear trouble, they never tell me to take my hearing aids out. They just start looking and then seem surprised to see hearing aids in the way. It never fails. Sounds to me like someone didnʼt read my chart before coming in.) So, he looked at my ears and then at my incision. No problems there.

Then he started checking the dizziness. He asked a few questions about what kind of dizziness Iʼm having, spinning versus rocking motion. He had me lie down on the table while he cradled my head in his hands. He started turning my head slowly in several directions, which was supposed to help with the dizziness. He was talking to William about what he was doing, but I cannot read lips upside down and couldnʼt tell what he was saying. He worked with me for a few more minutes and then finally sat me up. Boy, my neck was getting tired.

Turns out I have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Hereʼs what I understood from his explanation. There are some crystals that normally are suspended in fluid inside the cochlea. During the surgery, some of the fluid and crystals flowed into other bones of my inner ear, which causes the vertigo. The head rotations that he was doing were supposed to help shift the crystals and fluid back where they belong. So, crystals in my head. Cool, huh? (Actually, I was having a hard time following him and started thinking about The Dark Crystal and what a terrible movie that was.) He gave us a really long handout with a much more technical explanation about the vertigo and possible treatments and then told me that I should not bend over or tip my head backwards too far for a few more weeks. When sleeping, I should sleep with two pillows to keep my head propped up. He actually said that sleeping in a recliner is ideal. (Obviously, heʼs never slept in a recliner.) In theory, all this is doable, but in reality, I have two small children and a house to keep up with. Weʼll see how well that goes.

Iʼm supposed to go back in a week for another vertigo check and possibly some more head rotations. I can hardly wait.

And while we were driving to and from the appointment, the first time Iʼve been in a car since my surgery, I noticed that I get dizzy and slightly nauseated. So, it looks like I wonʼt be getting behind the wheel for a while.