Carol S. is someone who likes to keep busy. At 76, she works part-time in her daughter’s home office, is a retired nurse and is an avid wood-worker. “I’m active and I love being outside,” says Carol. A devoted mother and grandmother of seven, Carol says she enjoys spending time with family. “They are everything to me,” she says.
In October 2015, Carol began to feel light-headed and slightly dizzy. “It happened a few times, and I just thought I was tired or dehydrated,” recalls Carol. Then, on October 24, 2015, she said she was in her office about to start a work-day and she immediately began to feel dizzy. “The room was spinning, I was nauseous and I couldn’t stop the swirls in my head. It felt like I was on a carousel, and there was vertical spinning,” remembers Carol. “I called my daughter on the phone, and she came down to help me. I told her to call an ambulance and they took me to our local community hospital.”
Carol was admitted and spent five days in that hospital. She was given several diagnostic tests including a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), MRA (magnetic resonance angiogram), and CT (computerized tomography) scan. “I was told by a neurologist that he suspected I had a stroke. It was later determined that it was a frontal lobe stroke. I knew that a stroke in that part of the brain wouldn’t cause this type of dizziness. I am a nurse and it just didn’t make sense. They sent me home with vertigo and I spent five more days lying in bed at home. Then, on the tenth day, I woke up and the spinning had stopped. I still felt very faint,” shares Carol.
As part of Carol’s follow-up care, the treating neurologist referred her to a local ENT. Some more tests were conducted, and Carol was told she had 85 percent loss of her right ear balance center. “I was told to go to physical therapy to try and train my brain’s other side to compensate for the loss,” Carol says. “After six weeks, I was still searching for answers.”
Searching for Answers
Because of this frustration, Carol said she needed to take some action. She Googled ‘vertigo specialist’ and ‘Philadelphia’ and a doctor at Temple Head & Neck Institute appeared in her results. “I saw the name Natasha Pollak, MD, an ENT who specializes in balance disorders, appear in my results and I started researching her credentials. I was impressed. I had also seen Dr. Pollak’s name mentioned on message boards of others who were living with vertigo and dizziness. I decided that I would give Temple a call,” she adds.
Carol says from the initial appointment with Dr. Pollak, she knew she found the best doctor for her. “She immediately understood my story; she understood my situation and listened to me. She also validated my concerns. Dr. Pollak was thorough, compassionate and caring. She sent me for several tests and I was impressed that she acted so quickly,” says Carol.
During three hours of testing, Carol was given a Cervical Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potentials (cVEMP), Electrocochleography and Videonystagmography. “I appreciated that the tests were able to be given in the same day,” says Carol. She said her experience regarding vestibular testing was very positive. The practitioner who she did testing with was Maria Pomponio, Au. D., at the Temple Head & Neck Institute. “Maria was so nice and made the experience comfortable. She explained everything that she was doing, and she was so very patient. I was very glad I had such a caring person giving me these tests. I was very satisfied with my experience at Temple,” says Carol.
A Correct Diagnosis
It was determined that Carol most likely did experience at least one mini-stroke in October. Also, Dr. Pollak determined that Carol had experienced 100 percent loss in her balance center of her right ear. “I was disappointed to learn that diagnosis but I was hopeful that now that I had a correct diagnosis. I hoped I would be treated more effectively. Dr. Pollak suggested that I learn ways to strengthen my left balance center,” Carol adds.
Carol says it’s been several months since her testing and she’s feeling a bit better. “The days are not easy but I do my best to have a good attitude. I feel good if I am sitting in a chair watching TV. I do get dizzy if I turn my head but I try and keep busy to keep my mind off of it,” says Carol.
Part of Carol’s treatment plan is for her to exercise to improve her focus and health. “I walk three miles a day and while I am walking I do my suggested exercises of turning my head and focusing. I feel good when I walk and I enjoy being outdoors,” Carol says.
Carol is so happy she found Temple for her care. “I hope my story inspires others to choose Temple Head & Neck Institute. Dr. Pollak is a specialist who understands this condition. I think everyone deserves the chance to feel better: Dr. Pollak gave me that opportunity.”