THE FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Up to this point from previous blogs you already know what happened: The fall, the drive to the clinic, the bouncing and blurry, the feeling of outer space, and a place of fear unlike any other. With all this in mind there also had to be a final diagnosis of what was really wrong with me. In December of 1997 the next stop was with an ear, nose and throat doctor, an ENT. So, with my Mom driving, off to the expert I went with an silent overwhelming recollection of the words I read just days before, ototoxicity, poisoning, permanent.
Once at the clinic my Mother helped me to the reception desk and we made arrangements that she would wait in the car. From there I was escorted to an exam room full of the strangest looking equipment I’ve ever seen. There was an exam table – that I figured out, it was the other equipment that puzzled me. Attached to the wall in front of the exam table was a black box. There were screens, things that looked like torture devices, and a mass of people waiting to use them on me. Have to admit, I was a little apprehensive about what was going to happen…
Escorted to the exam table and assisted to take a step up, I took a seat. The doctor stepped in and away we went with taking a deeper look into why I was the way I was. The exam began with a look into my ears. I was asked to follow the doctor’s finger left to right and up and down. I couldn’t track the doctor’s finger without my eyes wiggling in my head as if they were connected to Slinky springs. That I learned is nystagmus, the inability of the eyes focus to track anything.
I was instructed to lay down with my head hanging over the end of the table. The team asked me to sit up, then lie back down, then back up, then back down. What a scene that had to be because each up or down almost threw me off the table. I began to cry, I was so scared…
In a laying down position, again with my head hanging off the end, I was asked to move my head side to side and up and down. This set off the fall off the table alert.
Then the lights went out. I damn near fell off the exam table, there was nothing to orient myself to in the blackness that surrounded me. In the dark, with a white knuckled grip on the table and assistants holding me up I was asked to look at the black box on the wall. A stream of words began moving across the screen. I was asked to read the words as they moved left to right. I couldn’t do it – the Slinky on my eyes went back into action. I asked why they were doing this to me getting a response they were testing my eye movements. No shit Sherlock that I figured out, my question was why.
Then the strangest test of all. Lying back down with my head in the overhang, with a vomit bucket at bay, warm air was streamed into my ears. Nothing happened other than feeling the air in my ears. This was repeated with cold air, again, nothing. Then the test was repeated only this time with warm and cold water. Nothing happened so I asked what that was all about. I was told that if I had any vestibular functioning that I would have been so dizzy I would have thrown up, hence the readiness to catch it. I just laid there with that ominous feeling of dread closing in on me again.
The tests were over, I was escorted to a chair, and every one left the room. I was left alone wondering what just happened and needing to use the restroom. I got up and in my wobbling mess opened the door to see a nurse. I asked her where the restroom was and without an offer to assist made my way. When I came out I saw a bouncing blur of my ENT doctor. I leaned against the wall and asked him if he had any idea what was wrong with me. There standing in the hallway gripping the wall to stand as still as I could, I was given the worst news in my life.