Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Health OCD: To Google or not to Google

Disclaimer: This is a reassurance-free zone.

After recently being subjected to a high-pitched alarm in an airport, I was concerned some hearing damage may have occurred. After all, I'm the person who is afraid of food processors (are there others out there?) 

There was no time to determine if there were any initial symptoms to strengthen my hypothesis. My connecting flight was cancelled due to the radar being purple. Purple radar is not good. Definitely not cloudy with a chance of meatballs. 

I cried out of fatigue; I cried because I hadn't eaten in 10 hours (and if you know me, you know I like to eat); I cried out of frustration. The staff behind the counter paused, "ma'am, are you going to be okay?"

He went on to tell me the hotel they're putting us up in is where the queen stayed. I have to admit, it was a comforting tidbit. I asked how the ferry system to the city works and learned that I was "lucky, the tunnel was built two days ago." Like finished building as of two days ago or built in two days? Either way, I was going under. 

I then proceeded to cram into the shuttle bus which gave new meaning to a can of sardines. I had to position myself like a contortionist so the bus driver could see his mirrors. 

Upon arriving at the queen's Canadian abode, I saw a flight of stairs and began to cry (remember, my blood sugar was shot so some slack for all the tears is appreciated.) I asked the first person who walked in behind me if they could assist lifting my carry-on due to my back injury. 

We set up shop at the long queue at the registration desk. Various ladies ahead of us asked if I was okay, if it was my first time travelling alone. I was ready to tell them I was 21 if asked. I don't know that a crying 30-year-old would get as much sympathy. But I didn't need to lie. They were more curious about where I had flown in from.

"The OCD conference."

"Me too!" 

Wait, what? I turned around and the man who had assisted with my carry-on had been at the conference!

While heading to the elevator, my fellow conference attendee yelled my name. I turned around and he pointed to my carry-on I had absentmindedly left in the lobby. 

I called my husband who insisted I get food. Entering the elevator, I could have sworn I pressed L for Lobby but somehow ended up on a floor with a wedding reception, bride strutting by and all. Okay so not the lobby. 

A security guard provided me directions to the nearest Tim Horton's. Ten minutes later, he found me in another area of the hotel. He chuckled and escorted me to the coffee shop. 

This is why I don't remember when the symptoms started. The symptoms of hypersensitivity to sound, ear popping and intermittent faint ringing in my ears. I wasn't in a state to remember any of this, to notice any of this. After all, I had just about joined in on wedding festivities  

When you have OCD, making the decision to go to the doctor is difficult. I gave myself a few days then caved. My prescription was to see a hearing doctor if it doesn't go away or worsens. 

I later reflected how long exactly is "if it doesn't go away?" What are we working with here? I called a hearing clinic hoping to find the answer to the elusive timeframe and was informed what I'm experiencing is "not normal" and that I should have been seen after 24 hours. My response? 

"Am I going deaf?"

"You might be."

I MIGHT be? 

The health OCD latched. And it latched hard. 

To complicate matters, I had increased my Zoloft as planned on my second day home, right after the siren situation. Doubt came flooding in: maybe the siren had nothing to do with your ear symptoms; maybe Zoloft is causing your hearing loss. 

It was imperative I saw an audiologist. Stat.

I was ready to fail. 

I passed with perfect hearing. 

It was explained to me that my ears were "bruised" from the siren. But to check with my psychiatrist about the ringing. 

I then did what is the worst thing to do when you have health OCD. I googled. I learned that SSRI's can cause ototoxicity. What a horrifying word! That was it, I was going deaf. 

I realized I was in over my head. I realized I needed help. I realized a missing puzzle piece from my treatment history: never had I received one-on-one individualized treatment with an OCD specialist where I stuck it out. 

It was time...

But for now, here's the surprising "view" from my room.


Brandon said...

What a wonderfully written, informative, view into the awful world you sometimes live in! So proud of your bravery!

Melanie Lefebvre said...

I love you! I'm so grateful to have you rooting me on and staying by my side even when the OCD gives us a run for our money.

Hannah said...

What a wild post conference adventure you have been on. This makes slaying dragons look simple. I am so inspired by your bravery and perseverance. This is your fight song!
I love you!!

Melanie Lefebvre said...

Helga! Referring to it as a dragon slaying adventure helps with viewing the experience from a different lens which is helpful.This is OUR fight song! I love YOU and your support and your bravery.