Saturday, March 12, 2011

Off To Get An MRI

When you read this, I will be getting my brain scanned at North York General.

The problem is that, over the course of the past 12 months, I've spent about four or five of those months feeling like I'm walking down a pier. Mild vertigo, in other words, accompanied at times by mild tinnitus. Very persistent. Day and Night. Tiring, sometimes, although the Novo-Betahistine pills take the edge off. And then it goes away for weeks or months. And then it comes back.

I've had all the normal tests--X-rays of the skull and etc. and nothing has come up. The neurologist I was sent to (Levitan--quite good) doesn't think its too serious. He (and my regular dr. as well) suspect high blood pressure. In fact, Levitan gave me his standard lecture on cutting down the sodium in my diet. And its all totally rehearsed: he whips a can of Campbell's soup out from underneath his desk, and a box of crackers: "Look at this! Just ten crackers...390 milligrams! And this can of chicken soup...canned soup is the worst..another 320!! And at first glance it looks like a pretty healthy meal!!"

So while I've been waiting for my MRI the past month or so, I've been trying to cut back. For example, I've replaced my potato chip breakfast with fruit. And, while I've always publicly advocated eating more fruit, its only now that I've had to do it myself that I realized how much fruit tastes like bland bullshit. So its been difficult.

And I may be thwarted in one of my most important life goals, which is to eat 2,000,000 fried chicken wings at a 1,000 different sports bars. If I stop right away, I will come up about 112 wings short.

So if anyone wants to suggest a few low sodium recipes in the comments that taste a bit more flavourful than plain tofu, I would appreciate. But be warned that anything that actually involves tofu will be rejected. Tofu is a culinary dead end. I've had tofu sandwiches flavoured to taste like egg or pork or whatever, and it doesn't work, so don't go here.

Plus you have to keep your tofu at a certain temperature and under certain conditions for it to grow until the point that you want to kill and eat it, so in the end its like you're murdering a pet. No. The Asians are right about Dim Sum, right about Sushi, and definitely right about nunchakas, but with tofu they fucked up. It happens to everyone occasionally. Look at the Scots and the bagpipe. This is the same, but culinary.

Anyway, see you on the other side.

Update: Am back. MRI's are loud and make all sounds of buzzing and bloopy noises. A bit like listening to the late Kraftwerk. The only discomfort I felt was afterwards when I had to pay for parking. Hearing tests are set for May.


Rob said...

Go to an ear specialist. I went through same diag route until my ENT diagnosed meniere's. Salt reduction made the difference. Robert Miller is great (416) 498-7874

Omar said...

2 million chicken wings? Potato chips for breakfast? Despiser of tofu? I'd share my secrets, but I think it might be akin to having a conversation with Stockwell Day about the Origins of Species. Bonne chance, mon ami!

Skinny Dipper said...

You are correct about the Kraftwerk sounds while laying in the MRI machine. The thing that kept me sane was imagining myself listening to different dance music with its techno-beats. Da DA Da DA Da DA!

Michael said...

All politics is fleeting, but health is everything. Good luck!

Jymn said...

Like Rob said.

Did this last year. All clear so diagnosis is Meniere's Disease. In my case, bouts of vertigo accompanied by vomiting, loss of hearing in one ear and accute tinnitus in same ear. My hearing starting going about ten years ago but only about a year ago did the tinnitus start.

A huge study in Japan has found a great majority of Meniere's patients (of which a likelihood is you are one) respond to anti-viral medications. There are also tintitus retraining therapies (successfully undertaken by about 80 percent of participants, including promoter William Shatner) that tells your brain to ignore the noise. I can be a little expensive (not covered by OHIP) called TRT.

You will most likely undergo a balance test, too. This unloved procedure involves the simulation of vertigo but it will tell you the levels of your hearing loss and balance disorder.

Low sodium diet is the way to go. Also Magnesium supplements might work. A year-long study is being undertaken by the Mayo clinic on the effects of low Magnesium and tinnitus.

Most importantly, you may be told after all the tests are done that nothing can be done. Doctors are not very 'up' with the latest news or very optimistic. Don't listen to them. Be vigilant and do your own research. (Then again, you might have BPPV, which can be treated. However that condition is vertigo and not tinnitus.)

Drop me a line at and I can provide a little more info. I'm relatively new to this, too. I was deeply affected for much of last year and quit my job over an embarrassing episode of vertigo. So remember there are plenty of support groups that can help a lot.

CK said...

Good luck with the tests as well as your efforts in eating healthier.

Jymn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jymn said...

Sorry for the TMI (Too Much Information) comment above. You sound like the vertigo and tinnitus are mild and consistent over the past year. So, your prognosis is good. As to sodium - avoid processed food. Vegetables taste better over time. ;)

Omar said...

Speaking of Stockwell Day, another rat jumps ship.

bigcitylib said...


No prob. Meniere's I've read about, BPPV not. So that was good too find out about

900ft Jesus said...

hope it's nothing serious and can be managed easily. I get massive vertigo and other things I won't get into but sounds similar, seems mostly diet related so I can relate to your fruit comment. Looks pretty on a plate, but does shit for that salt craving.

Best to check everything, though.

MgS said...

For low sodium cookbooks, grab one of the American Heart Association cookbooks - they're low sodium recipes with lots of great suggestions and variations on good, basic foods.

Low/no sodium cooking doesn't have to be bland. Techniques like broiling stew meat before adding it to the stew do wonders for it; spicier cuisines like Indian and Middle Eastern use very little salt but are very tasty because they use a rich range of spices.

I've been doing the low sodium thing for years now, and I've found lots of great recipes ... but I also enjoy cooking.

Cara said...

Maureen Tilley's recipe book, Hold the Salt, is one place to find no/low salt recipes.

firebrand said...

Try pepper, mustard, hot sauce or other spices. I haven't used a salt shaker for years.

Holly Stick said...

An apple with cheese tastes good; orange with unsalted nuts; banana with peanut butter and/or chocolate chips.

I had a brainscan decades ago: they didn't find anything, hyuck, hyuck,

Marlowe Johnson said...

get an infrared sauna and sweat it out. that way you can have your wings and still bring your sodium levels down :)