Untreated Shingles virus lead to vestibulopathy, imbalance, otolith disease, Labyrinthine dysfunction and Ramsay Hunt auricular syndrome

Life can change quickly.

Age: 62

Diagnosis: Labyrinthitis

Hi! My name is Cheryl. I’m new to VEDA. In mid June, 2022 I was in the hospital for 3 days. In retrospect, I believe I was exhibiting symptoms of extreme stress and anxiety and quite possibly signs of a panic attack at that time. But that’s what I’m just beginning to figure out now! My blood pressure was high, it was hard to breathe so I felt short of breath, and had some pains in my chest. I told them that I was dizzy, and unstable on my feet, had pain in my right ear, as well as some pimple-like blisters in my outer right ear. I was given Meclizine, (which has dizziness as a side effect), and without ever looking into my ear they told me that I had BPPV. My heart and lungs were checked for signs of a heart attack, which seemed appropriate at that time. Results were negative. A CAT scan of my head was negative for a stroke. They asked me if could walk down the hall to take a stress test, but I had to remind them of my dizziness and instability. I told them that I needed a wheelchair for transport. Besides, the thought of a treadmill (for the stress test), was out of the question. Again, I had to remind them that I was so dizzy that I would fall off of a treadmill. They offered me more Meclizine, but I told them that it didn’t work. So I had a chemically induced stress test that made me feel crazy. Thank goodness it didn’t last too long. Again, my heart was good.

At night the pain in my right ear was so bad that I asked a nurse for a pain med. She brought me a Tylenol. Wow, that didn’t do anything! I kept complaining of pain in my ear and of the blisters, and still no one examined my right ear. I laid there in my bed, chained to an IV, oxygen pulsometer, and blood pressure cuff for 3 days before I got a visiting doctor to finally look into my ear. He told me that I had Shingles in my ear. He said that by that time, it was already past the 72 hour window in which anti-viral medications should have been administered. I was discharged from the hospital with instructions for BPPV and they suggested a visiting nurse for therapy. (The hospital never acknowledged that I had Shingles nor advised on how to treat Shingles at the time of discharge, so the virus had it’s way with me.)

I went home and did my best to treat myself. A therapist performed the Epley Maneuver on me for crystal realignment; not only was that a horrible feeling for me, but it didn’t work because I didn’t have BPPV.

Next, I developed Ramsay Hunt Syndrome because the virus advanced from my vestibular nerve to my facial nerve. The entire right side of my face became paralyzed. I couldn’t move my right eyebrow or eye lid, cheek, nose, or the right side of my mouth or lips. Liquids and food would drop right out of my mouth if I didn’t hold my lips together with my hand. My right eye lid would pop open by itself in the middle of the night, so I had to wear a patch on it to hold it closed so that I could sleep. Fortunately, my Ramsay Hunt symptoms only lasted about 3 weeks. I also lost some hearing in my right ear and I’m still looking into my change in vision since all this began. Not sure what’s going on with that.

I had an MRI done on my head and my neurologist told me that 57% of my vestibular nerve is damaged. So, I’m left with a diagnosis of vestibulopathy of the right ear, otolith disease of the right ear, labyrinthine dysfunction of the right ear, and IMBALANCE. I’m now disabled with a huge handicap, that’s why my quote says that life can change quickly. I went from being a very healthy, extremely active and productive working individual to someone who needs assistance with many things and I now find that literally everything I do is more difficult for me. Something as simple as just moving my head (which we do all day long), causes a feeling like my brain is jumping around inside of my head and my vision jumps around like I’m on a cobblestone street every time I walk with my cane. I haven’t driven a car since the sudden onset because looking left then right makes my head spin. I feel like I just got off of an amusement park ride when my head moves. Even when I’m just riding in a car, I have to keep my head supported so that it feels minimal movement (I’m especially sensitive to braking).

I’ve had multiple falls. I have no stamina. Since I can’t move around like I used to my appetite is poor, and when I do eat I burp because I get an upset stomach. I get headaches now, that I didn’t use to. I’m always constipated, which I never was before. My hearing and vision have degraded. I have a super sensitivity to loud noises and a lot of movement around me. My startle response is absolutely HUGE; my cell phone will suddenly notify me of a message and it causes me to jump and yell back at it to STOP. Now I know what “anxiety” is all about, having never experienced it before in my entire life before my vestibular nerve was so severely damaged. I feel anxious every day, quite possibly when my vestibular nerve gets over stimulated or when I’m tired, I’m not sure. I’m still feeling all of these symptoms even after Advanced Vestibular Therapy in the office, as well as on-going at home therapy sessions that I do on my computer. When or will this all end? Does anybody know or have input?