Cold turkey times three

If at any time this week I seem a bit out of it, it’s because I’m in withdrawal.

I woke up Monday morning with a feeling like my right ear was full of water. But it wasn’t. I felt pressure, and sound was distorted — loud and distorted. Through it all was a loud ringing/rushing sound. I had trouble making out what people were saying to me.

So Tuesday, I managed to get in to see an ear, nose and throat doc when he had a cancellation. I figured he’d put a tube in my ear, and that would relieve the pressure. I figured it was an infection. But my ear drum looked normal.

After a hearing test, it turns out I’ve lost some ability to detect high pitches in one ear, and low pitches in the other. The doctor ordered some tests to figure out why I would have such asymmetrical hearing loss, along with the other symptoms. This is what I may have.

I haven’t arranged for the tests yet. I need to get on that. But I’m having some trouble getting it together the last couple of days, because I’m following the doctor’s orders:

  1. No salt.
  2. No alcohol.
  3. No caffeine.

It has something to do with all of those things causing fluid retention. There may actually be a problem with fluid, but deep in the inner ear, where a tube would do nothing to drain it.

The first two, I can do standing on my head. The last one is tough. Really tough. One day, the usual three or four BIG cups. The next day, nothing. Makes a guy feel pretty weird. Although today has been a little easier than yesterday.

But I’m very spacey. The symptoms are not going away. In fact, when I slipped up and finished a bag of chips I’d left open on my desk from earlier in the week, the ringing got louder. So maybe there’s something to the salt connection, although perhaps it was just the chewing action.

I talked to someone this morning who also recently gave up caffeine. As confused as I was, I forgot to ask the burning question: How long does it take before you feel normal again?

30 thoughts on “Cold turkey times three

  1. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    Strange. I’ve always heard caffeine and alcohol are diuretics. If you are having fluid retention, upping your potassium can counteract the sodium effects, too. Grapefruit, bananas….

    I’d try what my doc recommended to me–oxymetazoline nasal spray (Afrin) for no more than three days. Clears it right up.

  2. Brad

    Yeah, Steven, they might be hurtin’ as much as I am.

    Kathryn, this is beyond Afrin. The problem is apparently deep in the inner ear, nowhere near (I think) the nasal passages.

    Believe me, based on my long experience with allergies, this is way beyond nasal congestion.

  3. Silence

    It’s obviously discrasia, an imbalance of the bodily humors. You are probably suffering from too little black bile and the immediate cure would be a thorough bloodletting to get things back into balance.

  4. Brad

    I feel like Popeye trying to give up spinach.

    I was thinking about announcing that I would live-blog the veep debate tonight, but I’m not positive I’ll still be awake…

  5. Brad

    I keep telling myself that a spell without coffee would do me good — in theory, at least.

    For some time, I haven’t really been enjoying it. Not enjoying the taste as much, and not feeling that nice little burst of I-can-do-anything that I used to get from my first cup of the day.

    So it’s time to give it a rest, if I can just push through…

  6. Doug Ross

    I gave up soda cold turkey in May. I was drinking 2-3 per day. It was more of a habit than a craving. Just conditioned myself to ask for water every time. First week was tough, now I don’t miss it at all.

    And all those lost calories turned into a twenty pound weight loss (combined with walking and cutting out french fries as well) .

    Hope it turns out to be something minor.

  7. Brad


    Here’s my favorite bit, on the Wikipedia entry about this condition I may have:

    “Sufferers tend to have high stress and anxiety due to the unpredictable nature of the disease.[31] Healthy ways to combat this stress can include aromatherapy, yoga, t’ai chi,[32] and meditation.”

    Yeah? Really? Hey, I’m a westerner. Gimme a pill!

    For that matter, I find that a beer handles stress nicely. So does a cup of coffee…

  8. Scout

    My guess is that the recommendation to reduce caffeine has more to do with the stress factor than the diuretic issue. I hope you feel better soon. I was going to guess Meniere’s before I clicked your link. Hopefully, you will not have the vertigo part. I have given up caffeine for lent several times and have tried to reduce my intake in general in the past few years because of anxiety issues – I just have one cup of coffee now and drink caffeine free soda. Back when I drank more and then gave it up, I mostly felt tired and out of it for a few days. Hopefully you won’t get the headache withdrawal symptom. Once you acclimate to not having it, when you drink it again, it will really affect you. I used to be one of those people who could always sleep no matter how much coffee I drank. Now that I’m used to not having as much, even a little extra can keep me from sleeping well. Good Luck. Hope you feel better.

  9. Steven Davis II

    Speaking of the debate, it’s one like I’ve never witnessed. It seems Ryan is debating the moderator and some angry old man keeps interrupting him.

    I thought the first moderator was bad, this woman lost control as soon as Biden first opened his mouth.

  10. bud

    My first wife has Ménière’s. Her’s was much, much worse than what you seem to have, if that’s what it turns out to be. She had dizzy spells so bad all she could do was crouch down on the floor and wait for it to pass. The good news is it is certainly not life threatening. The bad news is it cost her her hearing in one ear and about 90% in the other. She ended up having 2 surgeries that improved her situation dramatically. Hasn’t had a dizzy spell in a decade as far as I know.

    As for Afrin, it would probably do way more harm than good if that’s what you have. Good luck.

  11. bud

    One other thing you and my ex have in common. She has numerous food allergies. I wonder if there is a link between this and the Ménière’s?

  12. bud

    SD II the reason the moderator seemed to be so intrusive is simply because Ryan stubbornly refused to answer the question about what he would cut. It is an insult to the American people that the Republican ticket simply refuses to answer the very simple and obvious question about what loopholes they will close to pay for their 20% tax cut. The notion that they can trot out part of their plan without any mention whatsover of the huge elephant in the room, loopholes, being discussed is outrageous. All voters should be very afraid of this lack of transparency. Biden would have none of it.

  13. Kathryn Fenner

    Also, when doctors and other official types talk about a “cup” of coffee, they mean six ounces. Check your coffee maker. A small Starbucks is at least two of those, as is a small mug. My guess is you were drinking more like seven to ten cups. The widely recommended max is more like four, or twenty four ounces. Two small Starbucks….

  14. Steven Davis II

    bud – From what I saw, it was hard for Ryan to say anything without Biden cutting in and talking over him. As many others have asked, who was Biden’s debate coach… Chris Mathews?

    At least we got a good view of Biden’s dental work last night.

  15. bud

    I’m just speculating to some extent. Didn’t mean to sound alarmist. As I recall the standard drugs for ear infections were designed to treat diseases totally unrelated to the deep inner ear problems associated with Ménière’s. Taking a bit of leap of faith I just assumed using an ineffective drug for a specific ailment would still have the same side effects without the potential benefits. (Ever watch those drug ads with all the long and scary side effects). Hence it could do some harm with no prospect of helping the cause. It probably wouldn’t exacerbate the Ménière’s. But I’m neither a doctor or pharmacist. But I don’t recall any drug treatment that was useful for my ex. Surgery was the only salvation. Then again she had it really bad with severe, unrelenting and paralyzing attacks of vertigo.

    On the other hand if you don’t have Ménière’s then Afrin might be effective.

  16. Brad

    You know how I said I can do the first two standing on my head? Well, yes and no.

    I’ve found that food I used to really enjoy is unpalatable without added salt. It’s an aesthetic thing that my wife thinks is weird — I don’t care if you didn’t put salt in something cooking it; I like to add it because I like the sensation of the salt crystals on the surface of the food. I’ve always been able to indulge myself in that regard, because I have low blood pressure.

    Now, I haven’t touched a salt shaker in a week. Sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes it does.

    And after a long day of struggling to stay awake and focus without caffeine, a beer would be nice. That’s all I’ll say about that…

  17. Brad

    … except this…

    After not having had any beer at home for a couple of months (I had set a goal of not buying any until after my birthday), I had just restocked my beer fridge THE NIGHT BEFORE my doctor’s appointment last week.

    So it’s all just sitting there, waiting for me — and wasting electricity. But it’s too much beer to put in the regular fridge. And you know how, if beer has been cold and you let it get warm, it ruins it?…

  18. Doug Ross

    “So it’s all just sitting there, waiting for me”

    Hardly the communitarian sentiment… there are plenty of us villagers who would gladly relieve you of your burden.

  19. Silence

    1) Mrs. Dash
    2) I am currently providing a home for orphaned beers, as long as it is my favorite kind of beer. My favorite kind of beer is free. Always has been, probably always will be.
    3) Just think how great your blood pressure is going to be!

  20. Brad

    Perhaps I should make like my character, Sir William Lucas, and throw a ball for the village.

    That’s what he was known for, and really about all I have to work with with this character.

    Of course, he spent all his money on parties to the point that he couldn’t adequately provide for his daughter, causing her to have to marry the abominable Mr. Collins…

  21. bud

    Rather than abort the beer why not put them up for adoption. There are plenty of beerless homes out there who would love to take a good Bud, Sam or Heiny into their homes to nurture and love. Many beerless homes are indifferent between a domestic light colored Lager with a big head or a dark “skinned” foreign born Stout with a much smaller head. Afterall every beer is special and deserves to be loved. To allow any to go to waste would be a significant tragedy.

  22. Silence

    @ bud and Doug – I have already offered a loving home for the orphaned beers. Notice that I didn’t even ask about the beers’ heritage or country of origin.

    When the beer is free and cold, truly generous people like myself don’t ask about such things.

    My dad always told me that you never really own beer, you just rent it for a while. Words of wisdom.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *