UPDATE: Where's Pete?

I won't bury the lede, here, so let me start by saying I have seen improvement since last Monday. Not as much as I was hoping - but improvement, nonetheless.

I can wobble around pretty well, now, although I might need a cane for a while. Apparently, two of the three things we need to maintain balance (ears and eyes) are pretty screwed up inside my skull.

My inner ear's vestibular nerve system is damaged. Basically, it keeps telling my brain that I'm looking and turning to the right. As such, my eyes keep looking that way. Then snapping back.

Looking to the right. Then snapping back.

Looking to the right. Then snapping back.


For a week.

But I can use touch to maintain balance, and I can walk along with a hand on a wall to totter around. As the days pass, I get a little bit steadier on my feet.

I was able to walk about 50 feet to the car unassisted this morning!

The debilitating nausea passed after about 72 hours, but the double vision remains. Focusing my eyes is still a real challenge, and I'm usually pretty wiped out after a simple task. For example, the other day I unloaded the dishwasher and promptly slept for about two hours.

The doctors say this is because it requires a tremendous amount of concentration to complete simple tasks. The muscle strain that develops behind my eyes gets pretty bad if I push it too much.

Thanks to a cancellation on Friday morning, I was able to get in to see the physical therapist.

She ran a series of diagnostic tests to determine what kind of vertigo I have. Apparently, there are different types that create varying degrees of incapacitation and general nastiness.

It appears as though mine is NOT due to any sort of brain issue (which I'm sure comes as a shock to a lot of folks). It seems like the vestibular nerve in my left ear got damaged by some virus that's already packed up and left the scene of the crime.

The "acute phase" of the vertigo runs about a week. And that seems about right. I am able to do more today than I was a week ago.

I now have physical therapy sessions scheduled for the next month, and I've been given some exercises to do (like looking at a spot, looking away, and then looking back at it). I'll just have to wait and see how I progress, and how well I can repair and rebuild that nerve. Hopefully it wasn't damaged too much, and I'll make a full recovery. The physical therapist seems pretty confident that this won't be a recurring thing and it won't leave me incapacitated long-term.

But the short-term has been rough.

Here's a photo Christy took of my test this morning. The image in the top left shows the major problem. The green lines show my head movement. The red line shows my eyes reacting. You can see in most of the other images how my eyes follow where my head is going.

But the top left image shows how my head moves and then my eyes realize it and try to catch up to where the head has already moved.

Basically, my left-to-right vision is broken.

I've been trying to keep up with current events here and there by reading some Twitter and listening to the radio. But I can't read very much - or for long periods of time - before getting a headache. And keeping track of what line I am reading is very difficult given the problem my eyes have moving left-to-right. For example, I've been writing this blog post in short segments since Sunday.

But I am still better than I was doing a few days ago.

Today WWNC will air a "Best of" show and Wednesday Dr. Bill Forstchen has generously agreed to come in and host the show (unless this winter storm wrecks those plans).

I'm indebted to all the people who are helping me through this. And I cannot express how grateful I am to all of the kind words of support everyone has taken the time to share with me over the last week.

It has really helped me stay positive and focused on getting better.

I am doing my physical therapy and working hard to return as soon as possible. As soon as I can show prep I'll be back.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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