Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Does this disease make me look fat?


For those of you new to my medical rambles, or needing a "previously on..."

I get vertigo, ear pain, headaches. My entire list of tests/things that have been tested for:
Glucose tolerance/diabetes
Hyper/hypo thyroid
Iron levels/other various things in the blood
Sinus/ear infections
Meniere's Disease
Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
Brain tumor (CT scan)
Tumor in the sinus cavity (CT scan)
Epilepsy/partial seizures (EEG)
Brain tumor (MRI)
Aneurysm (MRI)

Those were all normal. So yesterday I had a spinal tap. It wasn't as horrific as I thought it would be, in that it didn't hurt. But it was very much like getting a tooth drilled--it didn't hurt, but I could feel the pressure, and it was very, very disturbing. Ick.

So...they measured the intracranial pressure of my spinal fluid, and it was "elevated." I HAVE AN ACTUAL RESULT! Basically the cerebral fluid in my brain isn't draining or being re-absorbed properly, so I get "pressure" headaches that last for months at a time, and the pressure bleeds over into my ear canals, causing tinnitus, pain, and vertigo. It isn't official, because this is just what the doctor doing the spinal tap said, but he named it "pseudotumor cerebri." I still have to meet with my neurologist again, though.
So I looked up this condition, and basically it means that I have all the symptoms of a large brain tumor, but without the brain tumor. Instead of a tumor pushing against areas of my brain, my cerebral fluid is doing it. And on the various web sites, the first thing they name as a cause is being obese. Now...I'm no skinny minnie. But I'm a size ten, which I consider reasonable for a woman in her mid-thirties. I eat well, and my job involves lots and lots of walking and hiking and being outside. But one website, in the same sentence it used the word "obese," added the detail "at least 20% above ideal body weight." 5'4", I'm guessing my "ideal" body weight is about 125. Which makes "obese," in their opinion, 150 pounds. Uh, yeah, I'm a little over that. Screw you.
ANYWAY, two things stand out about the results of the spinal tap. One is that it actually makes sense for me to be affected by traveling in a plane. I thought it was really weird that I seemed to be much worse after flying somewhere, but the high altitude would certainly affect me.


And looking up the causes of increased intracranial pressure didn't reassure me. "No brain tumor" sounds great, but if it's caused by Cushing's Disease, the underlying cause could be a tumor on the pituitary gland, adrenal gland, or in the lung. A tumor that releases hormones. Blearghch. Then there's all the stuff about going blind, which. Yeah.

But it could be one of those "for no apparent reason" things, and I'll get treated with medicine to make my brain pressure go down, and that will be the end of it.
So...end of chapter four. I see the neurologist in a week, and he'll tell me what's what.