Sunday, October 3, 2010

Seeing a Neurologist

I have now had an initial consultation with a neurologist about my (self-diagnosed) problems with mal de debarquement.  He did a cursory neurological exam on me last Tuesday, September 28, and ordered blood tests and an MRI of my brain.  I had the MRI done on Friday, October 1, and I expect the neurologist to get the results of both the blood work and the MRI in a day or two.  Finally, I have another appointment with him in mid-November to run electrical tests.

All of this is a process of elimination, and if all goes as I expect, we'll have eliminated multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, brain cancer, etc. as causes of my condition.  Which will leave me in the same boat (no pun intended) I've been in since January, with an extremely debilitating malady for which there is no affirmative method of diagnosis and no real treatment.  I almost wish I had some fatal illness, as I don't want to live like this indefinitely.

The doctor's neurological exam did reveal some loss of feeling in my lower extremities, something I already knew about (and which pre-dated my dizziness), as I have a constant burning sensation in my feet.  I'm interested to know if the blood work will reveal the origin of this peripheral neuropathy.

[Update, 10/8/10: The results of the MRI and most of the blood tests came back.  The MRI showed no sign of a tumor or damage from a stroke, and the blood tests have come back normal thus far.  Just what I expected.]

The Stationary Bike versus the Treadmill

I've now been riding a stationary bike for my exercise, instead of running on a treadmill, since roughly the beginning of July.  This was a big change for me, since I'd run on treadmills since the early 1990s -- first at home in our garage and then, beginning in December 1999, at a gym.  However, two factors finally convinced me to switch to the bike: one, with a bike I constantly have five points of contact with the apparatus (compared to only one, or even none, with the treadmill while running), making it highly unlikely that that my mal de debarquement dizziness would cause me to fall off; and, two, the bike is much easier on my joints.  (I finally pulled an achilles tendon on the treadmill, which pull I aggravated every time I ran; the only way I could get it to heal was to do some lower-impact exercise, and the bike fit the bill.)

A big change for me was how I'd measure progress with a stationary bike; I mean, with running I'd simply count up the miles I ran, but a mile on a bike is a totally different unit of measure.  I quickly decided just to bike for thirty minutes on each visit and go as far as I could at a certain of level of resistance that is neither too easy nor too difficult.  And that's where I'm at.  My brother Kelly gave me a nice stationary bike that he was getting rid of, so I actually have a "home" option now, too, although (a) it doesn't have an odometer (making me "guess" about the mileage), (b) I had to go get a "gel" seat cover for it, since it has a "prostate punisher" racing seat on it, and (c) I generally just go to Planet Fitness with Dorine and Mike and Judy P______.