Archive for April, 2014

A Man of Letters

April 9, 2014

Well, those of you who were living in fear of having to read another of my travel reports, this one to Cairo, Egypt, can relax. It didn’t happen. I’ll explain.

You may recall that a year ago I had cancelled a similar trip, one to evaluate a Department of Defense school in Bahrain. The reason for that decision lay in a sudden brief onset of vertigo, cause unknown, and a recommendation from physicians that I shouldn’t take the chance of having to seek medical treatment overseas in a foreign setting. Although whatever triggered that incident remained obscure, nothing more occurred until this March when I was in the process of eagerly packing for a school evaluation trip to Cairo.

I was exiting the driveway at our house on a Thursday when I was hit with an extreme attack of vertigo, and after stopping for a few minutes and calling my wife on my cell phone, I recovered sufficiently to turn the van around and return to the house. We spent the rest of the day and early evening in the emergency room at the local hospital, where I was probed, drained, and tested, with all results yielding only negative data. The ER doc suspected it might be a blood sugar issue, so he gave me one of those little gadgets that one uses to poke some area of the body and obtain a small blood sample to give blood sugar readings. I used it for the next few days and at no time was there any reading indicating a problem.

The weekend passed quietly, with transporting my wife to an airport in Cody for an early flight the next day. She was heading out for a preliminary review of a school in West Virginia, in preparation for an official visit later. On Monday, I was working on preparing documents for my upcoming trip when, in turning to look at the screen of the computer which I would be taking on the trip, I was hit with another blanket of vertigo. Managing to stagger to my bed, I was able to call a friend who took me again to the ER, this time to include a CT scan of my head (it revealed a brain but said nothing about its functionality). Again, no problem.

The next morning, I was scheduled for an echo cardiogram, to be followed by a check of the carotid arteries. Heart was doing what it’s supposed to do, and the examiner commented that a person my age shouldn’t have carotids that clear. Further recommendations from several physicians I had quickly called directed me to have a CT scan of the significant arthritis in my cervical spine, to be accompanied by scans of the four arteries in that area feeding upward to the brain, to see if some bony spur might be occasionally impinging on one of the arteries. Nothing evident.

So, what next? Well, in looking back to the original incident a year ago, and looking at my current state of health, I recalled significant congestion on both occasions, from all my allergies. I asked to be referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, and an appointment was set up for Thursday in Casper. To be on the safe side, since it would be 130 miles to that office, I asked a buddy to accompany me and off we went.

Within a half hour during my appointment, the nurse practitioner to whom I was assigned had correctly identified my problem and started me on the road to recovery! As has been the case for me these last several years, she provided a set of capital letters to describe the ailment. BPPV, or, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo; it is benign (I like that after having been dealing with the other stuff, the CIDP and MGUS), doesn’t need medication, and responds to simple exercises. Apparently, there are small objects referred to as “crystals” (there is a fancier name) in the semi-circular canals in the ear, and if they are dislodged from their assigned seats, they migrate to the area of the ear that determines balance. This unpleasant activity may result from a blow on the head (I have scars), infection, or unknown causes, and may in fact lie semi-dormant for years.

In looking back, I recalled other times when I had symptoms but didn’t know it. Fortunately, the occurrences generally only last severely for a couple of minutes, although some light-headedness may continue for awhile. As long as those crystals are not at home, quick turns of the head to the right or left, or up and down, can bring on another wave. But now I know how to deal with it and perhaps prevent recurrence.

And as for the exercise? Well, it only takes a couple of minutes and should be done several times a day until stability is reached, and it also offers an opportunity for spiritual enlightenment along with its medical benefits. After being introduced to the sequence of movements, it looked quite familiar and I realized I had seen similar actions five times daily on my trips to the Middle East. One starts in a kneeling position, back erect and head tilted backward until any dizziness subsides, maintaining that position for about 20 seconds. Then, lean forward until the crown of the head is on the ground and again hold the position for about 20 seconds after dizziness leaves. Instead of immediately returning to an upright position as would be done in Islam, my next movement is to turn my head to the side where the problem is (my left), still with the crown of the head on the ground and continue holding. Then, I rise until my back is parallel to the ground and my head is horizontal and still turned to the left. Finally, after the next 20 second pause, I am fully upright but still have the head turned. The whole exercise takes about 3 minutes and with the head in the various positions, uses gravity to move those crystals toward their appropriate locations in the perpendicularly-opposed canals. I wonder if devout Muslims ever get BPPV?

So much for the health issues, although spring is finally here and a suspect that some of these nasties will intrude on my golfing as I continue to seek perfection. I’ve played several nine hole rounds, and become aware of two things: I can’t hit the ball even as far as I did last year, and that’s when I think I’ve hit a good shot; and I don’t have enough stamina at this point to play an 18 hole round. And that’s using one of those riding carts. It looks as though I better get serious about my workouts and get back some of the strength lost during the winter.

Along with the emergence of spring, our new grandson is bringing a ray of sunshine into my life. I only wish I could visit him more often than a couple of times a year, especially now when each day reveals a new step in his development. Pictures and videos are a big help, and my lovely daughter-in-law “keeps those cards and letters coming”. Maybe I’ll get to see him again in May, after I return from my volunteer commitment at the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament in Charlotte, N.C., April 28-May 4. I had hoped to wear shorts at the tournament, but may reconsider—-when I stepped outside yesterday wearing shorts, a small child nearby screamed and said “Mom! That man is riding on a chicken!”

Finally, it’s time to decide where to go with all those frequent flyer miles. Do you know anywhere that will accept a man of letters, namely Ed.D., CIDP, MGUS, BPPV? At least it’s not DOA.

Aspire,  Be Happy!       To Our Youth Always