Tomorrow I'm seeing a doctor -- a GP -- for the first time in, like, two years. It'll be the first time I've seen a doctor since my vertigo started -- this was something I meant to do right at the start of the summer.
I want to take a moment to gather my thoughts, on what exactly it is I'm going in to talk about, since it hasn't happened in a while.
I have, to varying degrees, constant tinnitus in my left ear, usually accompanied by some amount of hearing loss. The ringing and hearing loss seems to be worsened when I spend a lot of time around persistent loud noises.
Sometimes, the issue escalates, first to pressure, then to vertigo: room-spinning dizziness. When that happens, I get very sick, and usually need to throw up. Moving becomes extremely difficult. I usually stagger to the bathroom as soon as I realize it's getting bad, and I stay there for the whole night.
During winter break last year, I had vertigo almost every night. Prior to that, I'd had it frequently during the summer. For those reasons, I thought that it was environmental: that it had to do with the room I was staying in at home. We got a carbon monoxide detector, which came up zero.
I had a bout of vertigo during my last week on campus at Hampshire this year, when I was experiencing a lot of anxiety, and not taking very good care of myself. For that reason, my leading theory now is that the escalation is triggered by a combination of psychosomatic responses and poor self-care, especially moving very little, not eating or drinking, and taking my medications at an irregular schedule.
Last winter, I used an earwax removal kit, which decreased the severity of the attacks. Starting in the last week of school, I've been taking meclizine, a motion sickness medication that works by interrupting balance signals from the ear to the brain. This seems to work consistently. I now always keep some in my pill case, and I take one whenever I feel the slightest bit like I might be getting vertigo. (Meclizine takes an hour to kick in, and I don't want to risk needing to drive or something during an episode of vertigo.)
Because of that, I don't know whether I would be having episodes this summer without the meclizine. But several factors are different: I'm no longer staying in that room downstairs; I have a job for the summer, which gets me out of the house at least every other day; the most severe stressor at home, my older brother, no longer lives here; I've been eating and drinking much more regularly.
The tinnitus and varying partial deafness have been a problem over the course of the summer, rising to the level of non-trivial inconvenience.
I've brought up my issues with my ear in a few medical contexts: The last time I had a medical checkup, the doctor flushed a huge amount of earwax out of my ear. At school, I saw the campus nurse practitioner, who examined my ears, and said, oddly, that the left one seemed fine but the right one (the one I've never had a problem with, at all, ever) appears to have either ruptured or been operated upon at some point in the past. I've also talked about it with my psychiatrist, discussing the possibility that this could be a side-effect from one or more of my several medications. In particular: Zoloft withdrawal or irregularity has caused dizziness for me before, but it's a different kind of dizziness. I don't know whether that's related.
TL;DR: My ear's fucked up, hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to get a little bit of answers.