Friday, November 30, 2007

In Which I Don't Have To Have Surgery and Other Interesting News So the lump in my neck will not require surgery. It isn't even going to need a needle biopsy. As it turns out, I have arthritis in my neck. Specifially cervical spondylosis. Degenerative, which is not good but it is good to have something (a lump) and a diagnosis. Unlike my vertigo which remains undiagnosed and uncured. I asked, "Could there be a connection between my vertigo and having a degenerative form of arthritis in my neck?" She admitted that nothing was jumping out at her so I came home, called my family and friends with the news about the lump not being even potentially cancerous. Then I googled arthritis and vertigo. What did I find?

Vertigo may be caused by damage to nerves in the neck. If these nerves are damaged, the brain has difficulty monitoring the relative position of the neck and trunk. This type of vertigo is called cervical vertigo. Whiplash injuries, blunt injuries to the top of the head, or severe arthritis in the neck (cervical spondylosis) may cause cervical vertigo.

There is more and you can read all about vertigo here. Still, all these months (a year now) I've been hearing vestibular vertigo. All of the testing showed nothing wrong with my ears and still it is looked at as vestibular. Not once did I hear about cervical vertigo. Probably because I hadn't been in an accident recently which, from what I can tell, is a more common reason for cervical vertigo than say arthritis in the neck! Would have been nice if someone had tested me for arthritis a lot sooner. In the meantime, I will be going to Emory to see if they can get me the help I need to be cured. In the meantime, my doctor is recommending that I start having massages for my neck and she is curious to see what the people there will say. Leave it to me to come down with something that would require my getting a massage. No wonder I keep saying my life is good even though I am not 100% healthy!


I found the following information about cervical spondylosis in the Merck website and wanted to put it here for further clarification of what I am dealing with.

Cervical Spondylosis Cervical spondylosis is a disorder in which the disks and vertebrae in the neck degenerate, putting pressure on the spinal cord in the neck.

Cervical spondylosis usually affects middle-aged and older people. With aging, the bone of the spine overgrows and narrows the spinal canal in the neck. As a result, the spinal cord or the spinal nerve roots (the part of spinal nerves located next to the cord (see Biology of the Nervous System:Spinal Cord) are compressed, causing dysfunction.


Symptoms may reflect compression of the spinal cord, the spinal nerve roots, or both. If the spinal cord is compressed, a change in walking is usually the first sign. Leg movements may become jerky (spastic), and walking becomes unsteady. The neck may be painful. If the spinal nerve roots are compressed, weakness in one or both arms may develop, and the muscles may waste away. The neck is likely to be painful. Nerve root compression may be accompanied by or progress to spinal cord compression.

Diagnosis and Treatment

When doctors suspect cervical spondylosis, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or myelography with computed tomography (CT) is performed. MRI provides slightly more information, but myelography with CT may be more available. These procedures show where the spinal canal is narrowed, how compressed it is, and which spinal nerve roots may be affected. MRI has generally replaced x-rays of the neck.

Without treatment, spinal cord dysfunction due to cervical spondylosis sometimes lessens or stabilizes, but it may progress. Initially, a soft neck collar, neck traction, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (see Pain: Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs), and muscle relaxants such as cyclobenzaprine may provide relief. However, when the disorder progresses or when MRI shows severe compression or collapsed or displaced vertebrae, surgery is usually needed. As a rule, surgery does not reverse changes that have already occurred, because the pathways in the spinal cord become permanently damaged unless the disorder is treated very early.

Last full review/revision February 2003

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In Which the Year is Coming to a Close and It is Time to Choose Last year Saila and I agreed to explore a single spirituality for six months. I believe that our time is already past when we should have finished what we were doing and moved onto the next but time is relative and I am still reading John of the Cross so I am not eager to leave Catholicism behind just yet. This is also not the best time to try to start something new. However, now is a good time to look at my option and make a commitment to one course of studies for the following six months. I have several options, all of which have merits and appeal. Some more than others. Buddhism mostly because I have accumulated so many books on Buddhism and recently grocked what a koan is. I have also noticed that a lot of the writers I admire, as it turns out, are Buddhist. Also, Rob has noticed that when I meditate it helps me cope better with my vertigo. I could easily approach Buddhism by taking my books and making a pile, working/reading my way through them, taking notes, as I have done with Catholicism. Yoga, specifically Tantric Yoga. Usually I approach my spirituality from an intellectual direction. Tantric Yoga is all about experience rather than intellect. Given that I am feeling very disconnected from my body because of the vertigo, exploring a spirituality that emphasizes this mind-body-spirit connection would be especially interesting. Again, Rob has noticed that when I do my yoga practices my vertigo is lessened. Choosing this path would stretch me both physically and spiritually. A Course in Miracles offers a merging of both worlds. Intellectual stimulation (through the writings of the Text and Manual) and experiential stimulation (through the workbook). It would be especially interesting to do this on the heels of rereading some of the Bible, remembering the traditional Christian teachings in light of newer interpretations. Also, the teachings about the body might be a blessing for me at this time and going into the new year. There are other paths I hope to explore--Islam and Mormonism both are of interest. But these are not as imperative as the previous three. Those feel like the right choices and now I have to feel my way into narrowing the three down to The One. Six months of commitment and if I wish to continue after those six months I shall. For now, I have a few weeks of journaling and meditating and thinking to do and I will make a choice before the end of 2007.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

In Which I "Celebrate" Having Vertigo for One Full Year! Ahhh . . . who knew I would ever reach this moment, the day when I would be able to say that I have had vertigo for a full year? Not I, surely. A year ago I assumed I would wake up tomorrow and feel better. A year ago I still had hope that I would be cured tomorrow. Three hundred sixty and four tomorrows later it is hard to still have hope. I tried to write something spiritually deep in which I explore the many blessings I have experienced through having vertigo. A year later it is hard to still believe that any doctor will get to the bottom of why . . . Why I was unable to sit in meditation today and had to lie down. Why I have nights of "insomnia" because the bed feels like it is constantly moving. Why I still can't move my head or my body quickly because I will fall. One year of waiting and hope fades. That's a fact. And there are blessings in this. Truly. I am more aware, more conscious about what I choose to do each and every day. I move with more mindfulness. I fill my life with silence, not activity. C S Lewis says "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." I have a body but it is not my body. My body was New York fast and loved to dance. My body bounced and bounded from point A to point B with a fury. My body was afraid of heights but loved to rock climb. My body defied gravity and age and reason. The body I have today doesn't make sense to me. It feels things that are not real. The floor is not swaying. The chair is not being pulled out from under me. The mattress on which I lie is not a magic carpet ride. No matter what my body feels it does not feel the truth. The body I have today is heavier than it was a year ago but my skin is still soft. The body I have today is not as flexible as before but still loves to do yoga. The body I have today can no longer balance but can be pushed as ever before. I get tired sometimes of people asking me how I am because I know they really mean, "How is your body today?" My body is the same. But my soul . . . My soul has taught my body to find the blessings. Live mindfully as we move through our day. Choose consciously what will best fulfill our intentions. Believe and hope but also accept that tomorrow truly may never come. Yes, I resent my loss of independence and I still hope that tomorrow will come. Until then I do the only thing I can do--live today as best I can. This is different from one day to the next. Today I cannot sit in meditation so I lie down to meditate instead. Tomorrow I may be able to sit at my computer and write for three hours. Today I spent most of my time in bed, reading. Tomorrow I may not even be able to focus on the page without feeling nauseous. I don't know what tomorrow will bring me. How am I? Today, I am fine. Today, I am learning. I am not my body; neither are you. And today I "celebrated" my first anniversary of having vertigo.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In Which I Really Don't Have A Lot to Say Because I've Been Busy Relapsing
I'm scared.