Monday, June 22, 2009

Last Days Abroad

Our days in Portugal are, sadly, numbered. However, I am becoming eager (yes, I did just say that!) to move on. Though, it will break my heart to leave.

It is our last week in the place we've called home for nearly two years. Then, we move on to temporary housing for our last 10-days.

Olivia is spending her final days at school by going to the beach with class every morning.

Lila has been running around with me - tending to final move odds and ends. She's pretty easy to travel around with.

Matt is on his FINAL business trip. This time, Turkey. He's actually had some free time to explore and is really enjoying himself, albeit, busy working in between exploration jaunts.

Today was a good day, as far crossing items off our list. It looks like I sold our car (we can only ship one home and that will be the 4-Runner. We're buying a Prius when we get to Kansas), I was able to get something fixed on the 4-Runner, secure our temporary housing, make the dog's health certificate appointment (in order to fly back to the States), find shoes for the ball we are attending this weekend, schedule hair and nail appointments for the ball, get my lip waxed, pick up an outfit for a play Olivia is in on Friday and so on. I love being productive like this!

If you've been wondering why posts have been shorter over the past few months and comments on your blogs have gone down, and wonder why I am now eager to get back to the States, it's because I am in the process of being diagnosed with Meniere's Disease (see link for more info). There is so much I have to say about this and will post a lot about it when I am ready. For now, I am now eager to get back to the States for more testing and further, more pro-active treatment (possibly holistic on top of modern medicine etc).

As my first ENT here told me, "It's a very heavy diagnosis." I'm still in the fairly early stages of this chronic (life-long), disease. It varies from person to person. Some people spend their entire life with it suffering mildly, some suffer more severely, some are completely debilitated, some go through weeks, months, years or even decades of remission and for the rare, lucky few, it goes away and never comes back. The cause is really unknown though there are several speculations. Some of which may or may not relate to me and which I'll investigate when we get back to the States. There are several treatments. Some treatments work very well on some patients and some find that very little works. I believe my Meniere's started in Alaska, three years ago, with the now famous ear infection (all my friends in Alaska and my entire family and friends outside of AK know about that time period).

Admittedly, I am suffering from some reactive depression. I do not like not knowing what the future holds for myself and the impact this may have on my family. I'm also very concerned that I have it bilaterally as my left ear has started to bother me too (much more mildly, for now). So, there is the fear of losing my hearing bilaterally and suffering from very severe vertigo, eventually. However, being a self-admitted hypochondriac, I'm hoping that the left ear symptoms are there because my hypochondriac mind is playing tricks on me.

This disease is entirely unpredictable and that scares me. However, it just so happens that one of our babysitters has it and functions quite well. She has been a source of encouragement, as has a friend who's father has suffered with it for a couple of decades and, despite rough times here and there, he also functions just fine. In fact, he hiked the Grand Canyon with my father a few years back and my father never had a clue. He's never said a word about it.

So, I am only eager to get back to the States for further testing, care with doctors who speak fluent English and so on. I'm currently on a drug that is not FDA approved- it's been approved here for, I believe, two decades, and while I like it and have a six-month supply, I'm going to have to look into other options in the US. Or, buy it out of Canada. According to my specialist here, he very recently went to a conference in which the EU has declared that this drug, in high doses, does, indeed, reduce severity and frequency of attacks and he's a little pissed the US does not offer it to their patients. If there is any real great documentation and facts to their findings, I'm sure the US will dispute them.

As I said, when I'm ready to talk about it more, I'll blog about it. Talking about it too much upsets me and stress plays a big factor in the disease (as it does in most diseases). If my disease becomes very active, I'll probably start an entirely separate blog on the subject, as a therapy of sorts and probably private (meaning, I'll send out an email and you can subscribe to the private blog only if you want to. It will not be made public - I don't need hundreds of sufferers commenting with their success and/or horror stories for the time being!).

So, that's it for now. For the most part, all is good and the move is going fairly smoothly. I think, better than expected, so far. I hope it continues that way. We are eager to get back to the States and visit with our dear friends and family before settling in our new home!

We do have a little bit of time left in Portugal and we are going to enjoy every second of what has been a beautiful summer so far!


Jay and Amie said...

Nat - I am glad that you are starting treatment and that you sound level headed about your diagnosis. I'm sure you will find the care you get here in the states a bit easier due to the lack of language barrier. Hopefully being closer to family and friends will help too! We love you!

Oh - and I was in your new home state this past weekend. Kansas is beautiful! It really is. Nice & green and lush. No beach, but lots to do and see. I am sure you won't be bored! And the humidity might remind you of VT :) xoxo

The Dunns said...

Wow, Nat! I totally remember all the ear stuff you went through here. It sounds like you are off to a good start with your Meniere's, especially with the medicine you have received there that you probably wouldn't gotten in the states. But I'm sure you wish you had found out about it sooner. If anyone can take this thing on, you can! You are a fighter! And I'll bet all the diet and lifestyles changes you have made recently have helped. I'll be praying for you!