I haven’t written much about my health lately, only because I felt like I was boring everyone to tears, but it turns out that chronic ear infections and Ankylosing Spondylitis are linked. Plus I’ve receiving emails from friends and family asking for an update, so I figured I’d better provide one.
My hearing problems in Taiwan began almost a year ago (August 2007) this week. I still can’t believe the course it has taken over the past year. I swear, my doctors must be really happy to see me because I’m sure my bills alone keep them in business. I still see my ENT once a week, but my immune system is up and I’ve got my strength back.
I never realized before how sick I was until I was able to start comparing it to how I feel now.
My ear drum is healed but my ear canal is still a mess and the infection comes and goes. I still can’t get through a week on my own without seeing Dr. Mao. It’s always a huge relief when I walk out of his office after each appointment.
Last month, I started to get really worried, as this is taking months to clean up. I finally told Dr. Mao that I’m getting married in Mexico in December. I will be home in North America for seven weeks and I’m absolutely terrified of being away for so long because I can’t get in to see a specialist back home.
Then I made a few half-serious jokes about bringing him to the wedding.
Dr. Mao has been great, and he assures me that he will do his very best to send me home safe and healthy. He was also honest enough to admit that I need to get in contact with some doctors back home just in case.
On his recommendation, I called my home physician in Canada and had him try to get me on a waiting list to see an ENT when I get back.
My biggest news is that I finally came off the medication that I’ve been on since April.
Let me tell you, it’s a relief not to pop pills in the morning. (Ha! I had no idea I’d be taking 15 pills per day in less than six months after learning about my AS and fibromyalgia diagnoses.
The adverse effect is that I’m realizing how much discomfort the pills were masking. However, being off the pills means we’re finally getting somewhere, so I’ll do anything to stay off them.
Now I have to get my head around not being able to engage in any water activities ever again. Back when we booked our beach wedding, we dreamed about all the wonderful things we’ve always wanted to do together.
Two of my biggest dreams have been nixed this year. I’ll never scuba-dive and I won’t ever swim with giant sting rays. Things like snorkeling, swimming, waterskiing, jet-skiing, all these activities that I’ve enjoyed all my life are now things I can no longer do. Wearing ear plugs is completely out of the question. Washing my hair is a chore and we figure we should buy interest in cotton considering how much I have to use to keep my ears dry.
But I keep telling myself that this will all be worth it if I don’t ever have to go through what I went through back in April. I’m going to follow my doctor’s advice and be smart about all of this. Hopefully, by the time Christmas roles around, this will all be behind me.
Health update: It turns out that this was a warning sign of things to come. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and fibromyalgia less than six months later. Now we have an answer to why this keeps happening. These issues are a result of both diseases. AS and fibro often occur together.