Sometimes when you are chronically ill and feel like a bag of steaming crapola all the time it is actually hard to tell if you have a normal run of the mill sickness. And sometimes it isn’t.

Symptom? Side effect? Or normal sick-sick?

When it is easy to tell you are normal sick

  • Hacking horrible cough from hell
  • Flu that causes aggressive bathroom adventures
  • Fever and chills that are more severe than your usual temperature weirdness

And at those times, well, we feel really run down and horrible because we are chronically ill and sick-sick and it is so bloody draining on our system to be both at the same time. We tend to get sick More often and it tends to last Longer. Not fun.

So there are symptoms of the illness like the flu… that then aggravate the symptoms of your disease, condition, or syndrome… making you SUPER-DUPER sick. MEGA sick. And you can’t tell one from the other in that tangled mess. All you know is that you are laid out by it sometimes. And it goes on and on and on.

But you don’t complain. Because it is just a common illness and temporary. And, hell, we are so used to not complaining we just don’t. Until oops its pneumonia and we didn’t do anything about it until it was that bad. Or oops its bronchitis for a month. Yippee.

Here is my story when it is very hard to tell you are  normal sick sick

  • First, started a new medication coincidently at the same time
  • Secondly, the normal symptoms of this normal illness… just happened to mimic my actual chronic illness to the degree that I had no clue I was actually sick at all.

What happened it this I started a new medication. And then I became severely dizzy. And so dizzy I was abruptly falling and instinctively catching myself most of the time… or a wall was or the couch was… but falling a Lot. I was getting headaches. Ringing in my ear. Had a spontaneous asthma attack from shortness of breath?


So the new medication I started is Aimovig for migraine prevention

which, by the way, is doing well in preventing migraines… I thought the headaches were the lesser form of a migraine. And sinus congestion also, which I had.

And I have a vestibular disorder.

So I thought a) my vertigo condition spontaneously got much worse so much so my medication wasn’t touching it or b) I was getting one hell of a side effect from the new medication. And the thought my vertigo was getting that severe that medication could not dull it at all, even a little, really disturbed me and freaked me out. A lot. No one wants to be laid out on the couch all day unable to do anything… where even sitting up for a few minutes is too damn much and standing… well that is just really not a good idea at all. It causes ringing in the ears. It causes severe dizziness. It causes falling and falling sensations.

The stupid ear

And then my left ear crackled, also happens with vertigo. Crackled all day. Did the whole loud ringing thing, which happens with vertigo. Then when I tried to relieve pressure my pushing on it… squishy sounds like there was fluid in there. So I checked with a tissue. And there was blood in there. So that isn’t normal at all. And then I remembered, yeah, my ear had been sore for the prior two days. I had this severe dizziness for four days at that point (and off for the week before that) but I had noticed soreness for two days. I had a bloody ear infection and combined with a vestibular condition already, it was giving my mind-blowingly severe dizziness.

So I went and got some antibiotic drops and started to treat it.

And the dizziness began to slowly diminish. Still have it today but to a much lesser extent. But underneath that dizziness… stuffed up sinuses, massive headache, fever… in other words I have a sinus cold I wasn’t really even aware of because I felt so horrible already and was so severely out of it I couldn’t have noticed anything else other than feeling so dizzy and nauseated.

So… now treating the sinus cold at the same time to help the ear to heal faster.

I couldn’t have known with my existing conditions and the potential side effects of a new medication

If my ear hadn’t begun to bleed I would not have known at all what was causing that dizziness. Not at all. Not with my existing vestibular condition… that without my medication causes severe dizziness Just Like That. How was I to even know? Symptom? Side effect?

I had even called the Aimovig representative and emailed my neurologist. Dizziness for that medication was a very rare 1-2% side effect. But not to the degree I had at all. And the representative said it sounded like my vestibular condition… and that worried me more. But, it rather turns out, I have typical normal side effects to that medication so far… very mild and within the range of normal aside from some severe fatigue for the first three days after the injection.

All I do know from this hellish venture of being laid out for days is that I have never been so damn happy to have an ear infection Ever. Because if it wasn’t that and my vestibular condition had gotten spontaneously that much more severe that my medications couldn’t even touch it I would be very low functionality for the foreseeable future. And it scared me. I am not doing well with the vertigo as is. It has been a rough ride. And I still do not know the cause. I still do not have treatment. The very thought I could be stuck like I was in the beginning all over again… for who knows how long, incapable of basic things, frightened me. I can do so little as is. I was freaked out. Really freaked out. And miserably sick. So Thank Goodness I am just normal sick sick.

It is doubtful an ear infection would have caused symptoms as severe as they were without my existing vestibular condition in the first place. And if these drops do not work then the infection is deeper in the ear and I will need internal antibiotics. I still feel much more dizziness than I should on my medication so we shall see.

It is curious

This isn’t the first time I have been sick and didn’t know it until it got quite a bit worse. Because some symptoms of normal illnesses… just are things we already deal with. Fatigue. Fever. Tired. Swollen lymph nodes even. Sinus congestion (common with migraine). Headaches (well with chronic migraine… yeah, all the time).  Then you figure it out when it gets worse or some unusual symptom occurs like… horrific constant coughing or something like that.

And the fact is, even when I know I have a common ailment…

I tend to ignore it. When I worked I would work through it and carry on… because what is temporary illness anyway? Bah! Nothing! Except my immune system sucks and I can get sicker and sicker. Then I have bronchitis. Or pneumonia. Ooops. And people at work would tell me to stay home and I would say I can’t because I used all my sick days for extreme pain days… that was that. Story of my life. Get sick at work. Worth through it. Get sicker. Spread it around the office because I can’t take any more sick days. Not a fun game to play at all. And then feel immensely guilty if I dare take an actual sick day. The audacity of it all.

Anyway, I do not seem to be recovering at the speed I desire. And still way too dizzy. Which requires a lot of rest. I do hope it gets better today so I do not have to go to the doctor for antibiotics. It would be rescheduling my upcoming vestibular test.

Either way, when you are chronically ill being sick really sucks. A lot. 

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