New Year Tests

It was the first week in January and I was beginning the New Year with a visit to the hospital. Since my vertigo attack, and experiencing increased dizziness during the past few months, I had been referred to a Vestibular Audiologist to carry out some tests. The vestibular system is the inner ear balance mechanism, which works with our eyes and parts of our brain to stop objects blurring when the head moves. I was at the hospital to carry out some Vestibular Function Tests (VFTs) to determine the health of my inner ear balance system; in particular that of my right and only hearing ear. In preparation for the tests I was told to eat breakfast 3 hours beforehand; to not wear makeup or face cream; and to refrain from consuming caffeine or alcohol for the 48 hours leading up to the tests.

The first test was called a Video Head Impulse Test (vHIT). A friendly looking woman asked me to sit on a chair facing a wall. On the wall was a silver sticker that was the shape of a paint splodge. She fixed some goggles over my eyes, fiddling with an elasticated strap to make sure they were secured tightly; the plastic pressing into the skin around my eye sockets. She forced my right eye wide-open and trapped it in position with the goggles. She then sat to the left of me at a small desk with a computer. I began to realise that the goggles were making a high pitched noise that I could hear in my right ear. I wondered if they were making the same sound next to my deaf ear; undetected. I figured the glasses had a camera embedded inside them, and that the data would be sent to the computer and then interpreted through some software. I couldn’t look at the screen or what the woman was doing, as she told me to focus my vision on the paint splodge. I sat there for a while whilst I heard her gently tapping the computer keys.

After about 10 minutes she stood up and said something to me in Spanish that I didn’t quite hear nor understand. She held my head in her hands, and started to move it with small sudden motions. During this procedure I had to continue keep my focus on the splodge. She carried out this process in 4 short sessions, each one lasting approximately 5 minutes. My hair kept escaping from her grasp and individual strands fell randomly to my face. She kept moving them away and commented on how fine my hair was. After the third session her phone rang and she had a chat with someone who I gathered, from a few moments of concentrating on her Spanish conversation, were family. It was still Christmastime and the feeling in the hospital was more relaxed than usual. Whilst she was speaking I took the opportunity to look at the computer screen. There was a close-up photo of one of my eyes, and two graphs that were being plotted with what I assume were the reactions of my eyes to each movement. One graph was plotted in a red curve, and the other in blue. I could see, at this moment, that my left side had received a ‘positive’ result and my right side a ‘negative’. I wasn’t sure what this meant, and the test wasn’t over yet. Once the test was finished I felt a little dizzy.

Next was the Caloric Stimulation procedure. I was asked to sit in a chair, similar to one you’d find in a dental clinic. The chair was reclined so that I was lying down and comfortable. Then she fixed another pair of goggles over my eyes. These were bigger than the previous, and pressed forcefully onto the bridge of my nose. The woman explained that the googles had cameras inside to film my eye movements. She then put covers over the lenses so that I lay in darkness. Next she gently tucked what I assume was a towel, under my chin and around my shoulders. Then, what felt like a small bowl, was placed under my right ear. She informed me that she was going to put some water into my ear and that it was going to sound very loud. She instructed me to keep my eyes open once the water supply stopped. She was going to start by using cold water and would test my right (hearing) ear first. Well, I wasn’t really prepared for what happened next.

I had imagined that a small amount of water would be squirted into my ear; perhaps a syringe-full. First, I heard a mechanical-sounding Spanish voice, coming from a machine – I think it was stating the measurement of water or pressure that had been selected for the test. Then my ear was filled with a high-powered continuous stream of water. It sounded like a storm inside my head. The sensation of the water going in felt cold and as though I was having an intense ear-clean, though it wasn’t too uncomfortable. Once the water stopped flowing, I felt it start to drain out of my ear; trickling into the bowl. I forced my eyes wide open as I had been instructed, and then the dizziness began. The woman had left my side, and I assumed she was now at her computer checking the results. It felt like a mild attack of vertigo. I watched the blackness of the inside of the goggles swirl from one side to the other, and started to feel a little sick. I was aware that the woman was saying something to me, but with some water still in my ear, I was unable to hear her. When all the water had drained, I heard a small satisfying pop and I could hear again. I told her I felt a little sick and dizzy. Once she had the results she needed, she let me rest for a while with my eyes closed. Next she performed the same routine on my deaf ear. This time the sound of the water entering my ears was silenced; a muffled gurgle. The dizziness following the water spray was slightly more intense, and again I was allowed to rest with my eyes closed, following the taking of results.

I hoped the test was over, but she informed me that she would now repeat the procedure on both ears; this time with hot water. The hot water was a little more uncomfortable than the cold had been, as it entered my ear. As soon as the water began to trickle out, an intense wave of dizziness overtook me. I tried to control my breathing. I started to sweat. I told her I felt really sick. I managed to control the dizziness and the nausea, and was allowed to rest a little longer with my eyes closed. I was also instructed to keep my eyes closed as she performed the hot water test in my left (deaf) ear, but to open my eyes wide again once the water stopped. There was some discomfort as it streamed into my ear, accompanied by the subdued sound. I opened my eyes widely once the water pressure had stopped, and I was immediately hit by a surge of strong vertigo. I wanted to close my eyes. I wanted to sit up. I was told to keep my eyes open for a few more seconds whilst the results were being taken. I was sweating more. I became aware of my heart beating wildly in my chest. I focused on controlling my breath; breathing out deeply with my lips puckered tightly into a circle. I held onto the side of the chair to try and keep myself stable.

She rushed over to me and carefully brought the chair back up into a sitting position, and placed what looked like an adult nappy across my forearms and under my chin. She told me to breathe and relax. My stomach cramped as though I was going to vomit, and my head jerked forward. Nothing. I realised why it had been necessary to fast during the three hours before the test. My arms and fingers were tingly and weak; the feeling I used to get as a child from carsickness. I breathed in controlled breaths for some time, as the woman continued to do things at her computer. I started to feel better.

A familiar face appeared in the doorway – it was the specialist who I had consulted with when I first lost my hearing. She recognised me and asked me if I was OK, and she wished me a Happy New Year. The woman made me wait a little while longer after feeling better and then she gave me a sealed envelope, addressed to the ENT department, containing the test results. I would take these with me to my next consultation to discuss with a specialist.  I was then allowed to leave the room and go to my boyfriend who was waiting for me outside.

Author: myhearinglossstory

Hi, My name is Carly. I am 37 years old and I am currently living in Spain. I am originally from a small seaside town in Yorkshire called Bridlington, and have also lived in China and Thailand. I am an Early Years primary school teacher, and have been teaching for more than 12 years. I love walking in the countryside, getting lost in Madrid, going out for breakfast, taking photos, listening to music, storytelling podcasts, baking, running, drinking wine, and eating spicy food. In August 2016, I experienced sudden sensorineural hearing loss in my left ear. I started this blog as a way to inform my friends and family about my progress, for anyone else who is going through a similar experience as me, or for anybody who is interested in learning about this type of hearing loss, and the way it can affect everyday life.

29 thoughts on “New Year Tests”

  1. I’m so sorry, those tests can be torture. Especially the caloric test. I’m eager to hear the results, it’s obvious you have vestibular issues. I can’t remember my numbers now, I have bilateral hypo-vestibular function. I get what you are feeling, and being deaf on one side, you have a lot of challenges my dear. I’m here if you ever need to just talk about it with someone who gets it. with love Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oops hit send, sorry.
        Not much more news here.
        I see an audiologist today to get my CIs mapped…that means the programming tweaked.
        I hope you have the best days possible.
        Wendy xo

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yikes! Bless you, Carly, for your fortitude in all you have had to endure over these past douple of years and especially this . Good fortune must surely await you at the end of all this. I guess you have to know exactly what the problem is before you can fix it. You’ve got a ton of people in your corner, gal! Keep us posted by all means!

    ypa

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That sounded truly unpleasant. I hope the discomfort leads to some meaningful test results that can lead to some relief. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Butch and thank you for reading and for your comment. I’m hoping the results will lead to more information as to how I can alleviate the feelings of dizziness.
      I hope you are doing well and have had no more fluctuations in your hearing.
      Best wishes
      Carly

      Like

      1. Hi Carly,
        My hearing in my “good” ear has been pretty good. I’m still convinced of the link (for me) between gluten and my hearing loss. I’m shopping for hearing aids to help with my bad ear and to improve my “good ear”. On my last visit to my ENT he had prescribed triamterene-HCTZ (a diuretic)…..I’ve had some fullness in my good ear that had me worried. I just got off the phone with with drug manufacturer and they e-mailed me this information:

        “Thank you for your interest in Sandoz. Below is the requested information about gluten. -It is important that you are aware that Sandoz does not certify our products to be gluten free, as we do not test for gluten. Please speak with your healthcare provider if this medicine is right for you.” I’m not sure how much of a positive effect the drug was providing but I’ll be checking with my pharmacist for a certified gluten free option.
        Best regards,
        Butch

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Butch,
        I’m glad the hearing in your good ear has been good recently, and also that you are able to manage this through cutting gluten from your diet.
        Interesting that you were prescribed a diuretic for the fullness in your ear. I tried two types, but didn’t have good results, so ended up stopping them. I also read that many types of medicines have gluten, so it’s good you found this out – I’m sure there will be a gluten free alternative. I would be interested to know if you have any reduction in your ear fullness when you have taken the new diuretic for some time. i hope so – this treatment seems to help many people with the pressure/fullness symptom.
        Best wishes
        Carly

        Like

  4. I have had those tests done twice. The water in the ear is awful. I was told that the stronger the dizziness reaction, the healthier your inner ear is. My technician said she wanted to see the dizziness reaction. I’ll be curious to hear your results to see if I am understanding what my doctor said properly. I also did a test where I was put in a chair that spun around wearing the same goggles you wore. They were timing how long it took my eyes to stop moving after they stopped the spinning. No vestibular damage was found in my ear. My dizziness has calmed down over the last couple of years. I am praying that you will have some relief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Terri and thank you for your comment.
      Yes, the water test is really unpleasant! It sounds hopeful that your technician said that a strong dizzy reaction means a healthy inner ear. Fingers crossed for my right ear!! I read about the chair test that you mentioned, but this isn’t one I was offered. I have started vestibular rehabilitation therapy and will write a post about this once I’ve completed the two week course. Have you had this therapy? I’m glad your dizziness has calmed down over the last few years. Do you notice that you are more dizzy after eating certain foods?
      Best wishes
      Carly

      Like

      1. For me, the dizziness (really it was more of being of balance) was not as debilitating as the tinnitus. I am also finding out that a separate issue I am having with tendonitis in my foot is contributing to my imbalance. Anyway, I still plan on trying CROS body hearing aid. It’s just been a crazy busy school year. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, I know how crazy the school year can be – they go by so quickly too! Best of luck with the CROS aid! Please let me know if it helps! – I have my fingers crossed for you 🙂
        Take care
        Carly

        Like

  5. Wow, what a procedure ! Heck, I am sure that you were glad when those tests were finished dear Carly. I know I would be. One thing I would like to say is that you are a brilliant writer and I was really drawn along with you. I am still dizzy 😉 I hope, because of what you went through, that these tests are another piece of the puzzle which finds a solution. Love from myself and Natascha xx ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ralph, and thank you for your comment. I hope you and Natascha are well? Yes, I was very glad when the tests were over! Thank you so much for your comment about my writing. One good thing that has come from my hearing loss is my love of writing, and maybe one day I will be able to do more with this 🙂
      Best of wishes to you both ❤
      Carly

      Liked by 1 person

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