Far be it for me to explore the uncharted grounds that google exposes one to (see MS SoftServe) but in this case I wanted to get more info about this vestibular test so that I can be more specific in this entry. It’s always interesting to read the variations of phrases that describe what MS is… of course how it reads depends on the specific slant…the angle. The one that turned up in this search contains some jewels.
Multiple sclerosis is a disorder of recurrent, inflammatory CNS demyelination due to underlying autoimmune disorder. The onset is usually at 20-40 years of age. Episodes begin over hours to a few days and last weeks to months. Typical symptoms include optic neuritis, ocular motor dysfunction, trigeminal neuralgia, sensorimotor deficits, myelopathy, ataxia, and bladder dysfunction. Vertigo, at times mimicking vestibular neuronitis, is a presenting symptom in less than 10% of patients. Dizziness or vertigo occurs at some point in the course in a third of patients. Few patients present with hearing loss due to brainstem involvement.
(I enjoy reading more scientific descriptions of the disease. I’m not sure if it is the high-level vocabulary or the lack of drama. I like that “trigeminal neuralgia, sensorimotor deficits, myelopathy, ataxia” Those are great words )
So I went for the test that would determine if my balance and dizziness issues are my MS, or not. (once and for all?) I was warned that it was likely to leave me dizzy and nauseas- so I made sure to bring my mom along to provide an escort home through NYC commuter subway traffic. We had no idea what to expect, and could never have dreamed up the elaborate reality of what this exam actually was. (Although a couple hours watching the sci-fi network may have helped! And so my film references begin… starting with Altered States.)
We were called in after the normal pre appointment- paper-work, sit-and -stare-at-your-feet-experience of the waiting room. After being lead through the maze that is Mt. Sinai, we were brought to a room that was large and had high ceilings. There was a simple looking examination table with an unusual cloaked apparatus above it. But that wasn’t where your eyes were drawn. (so to say) Instead they are immediately focussed on the cylindrical structure behind it. (Reminiscent of the orgasmatron of Woody Allen’s futuristic Sleeper) It was all white with a black chair that was hooked up to a mechanism that would allow it to spin. And to top it off was what appeared to be head gear.
Looks like we are starting with this most intriguing unit. I sat in the seat, with head-gear on that held a reflective glass in front of my right eye-a digital link requiring no light to transmit. (City of Lost Children comes to mind) In complete darkness, with the chair spinning slowly, I watched the red dot, flashing lights and total blackness. Sitting in the dark I was reminded of the book I recently finished (that my mom was currently reading) The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruku Murakami- in which the main character spent a period of time in a well- experiencing the darkness and other transcendental experiences for which Murkami is an expert descriptor. After a period of time with sensory deprivation, spinning slowly, look-at-red-dot, flashing-white-bars, don’t-close-your-eyes, how- can-you -see-what-I’m-doing-in- this-pitch-lackness, this stage of the test was complete. I exited the cylinder with a dizzy sense – trying to regain my earthly presence.
Next stop…tilted table with head up, darkness cloak, shoot-warm-air-in-to the-inner-ear-follow-the- red-dot-so that you feel nauseas and dizzy test. Then the other ear. Then the same with cold air. Then the other ear.
Then one more test in the cylinder. I’m not sure after all of this that it is reasonable for anyone to have vestibular stability.
So… it was determined that I am dizzy and nauseas and need a coke to soothe my stomach. Oh, and that all my responses are completely normal and that it is probably due to my MS. Thanks to Mom for being there to bear witness and steer me to that coke.
Oh..am I back to square one again?
Beep..boop…beep. “Dr Verter… can you squeeze me in tomorrow?”