Too cold for Towl Park, so once again I am trolling for an interesting place to write. I decide to go to the medical building on 92nd and Dodge where the man who saved my life works.
His name is Dr. Britt Thedinger and I've been his patient for over two decades. We've both lost some hair during our time together. He more than me, but I won't split hairs....
I say that Dr. Thedinger saved my life because he sort of did. Over twenty years ago, I started waking up in the middle of the night with vertigo. I didn't know it was called vertigo back then. I just knew that I was very dizzy. Sometimes the vertigo would only last for a half hour. Sometimes it would stick around for twenty four hours, causing me to call in sick at work and wonder what was happening to me.
I went to an ENT doctor. He checked my ears and told me to come back when I was having "an episode." After nearly a month, I awakened (it always started in the middle of the night) and called his office as soon as it opened, trying not to throw up as the room spun lazily around me. His nurse said to come in. I had Therese come home from work to take me in to see him. He could find nothing wrong with me but gave me some ear drops.
After two more episodes, I began to make my rounds to one ear doctor after another. Not one could find anything wrong with me. The last one I saw actually sneered at me and suggested that I might benefit from seeing a psychiatrist since I seemed to crave attention. I was humiliated. I was also terrified. What if he was right? What if I was mentally unstable and imagining this to get attention? I went home discouraged and suffered through two more episodes. Then, I took a deep breath and decided to try one more time to see an ear specialist. If this one also found nothing, I would make an appointment to see a shrink.
I saw Dr. Thedinger on a very hot summer day. He listened carefully as I told him my symptoms:
1) I woke up dizzy often in the middle of the night.
2) The episodes lasted anywhere from a half hour to twenty four hours.
3) My ears were constantly ringing.
He examined my ears and then told me that he wanted to do some further tests. I did one test, called an ENG, where water was poured into one ear and then the other while I tried to say all the girl's names that I could think of that started with the letter J. I had extensive hearing tests, a CDP and lastly, a MRI.
I arrived at Dr. Thedinger's office the day after all of my tests and sat in the waiting room prepared for him to tell me that I was fine and to get to a shrink asap.
Instead, he told me that he was fairly certain that I had Meniere's Syndrome. That it was treatable, but there was no cure.
Meniere's Syndrome is an inner ear disorder caused by fluid build up. No one knows why this happens. Dr. Thedinger told me that Meniere's Syndrome was an autoimmune disorder and that people who had it often also had other autoimmune disorders such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. I told him that I had none of those. Within ten years, I was diagnosed with both diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis as well as pre-lupus.
He gave me a diuretic to help drain the fluid and put me on a small dose of diazepam and said to come back in two weeks to see if they were working.
I was pretty much cured after being on the medications for just a few days. Since then, I have had an almost constant ringing in my ears but have acclimated to it so well that it doesn't bother me anymore. Best of all, NO more vertigo. The few times that I have had an episode of dizziness were on the nights when I've forgotten to take my diazepam. And even then, if I quickly took the diazepam and managed not to vomit it back up, the dizziness went away within an hour.
I go in to see Dr. Thedinger once a year now for a check up and that's it. So, yes. This man pretty much saved my life because he took the time to carefully listen to me and took my symptoms seriously.
Today, as I sit in this medical building, I feel grateful and I also think hard about the quality of being a good listener. I realize that this is not one of my attributes. At my funeral, no one will say that I was such a good listener. It is a rare quality in a person, I think. We all are so sure of the sound of our own voices that we forget to listen to the sounds of other ones.
Just another one to add to my list of New Year's Resolutions:
1) Do not allow bigots into my life.
2) Wake up every day and be grateful.
3) Don't try to change anyone. Concentrate on being a good person and let others be who they are or need to be.
4) See more movies.
5) Be a better listener.
Thank you, Dr. Thedinger.