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Patient Profile: Edie's Story

Hello everyone! It’s Kam and Amber back to give you more reading material, and this time we are bringing you all a new patient story to kick off the year.

We are extremely grateful and excited to be given the opportunity to interview patients as this gives us the chance to hear their stories and then share them with you all!

Today, we would like to introduce our first interviewee, Edie. Edie was absolutely amazing. She told us before the interview that she knows the importance of honesty in helping us to understand her experience, and was willing to answer all questions asked. We absolutely loved talking to Edie and her husband Chris and hearing their story, and we are happy to share it with you all.

Edie lives in Pincher Creek, Alberta with her husband Chris. Fifty-three years together and still going strong! Together they have two daughters and 4 grandchildren. Both of their daughters live more than an hour away from their home, so they don’t always get to spend time together, but every summer for the past 40 years, the families go up to their lake house in Idaho.

Edie loves to bake, cook, clean, sew, knit and travel. When she is cooking or baking, Edie loves to put on music. She also loves to organize and have everything clean - she has even alphabetized her spice rack! Another interesting fact about Edie is that she loves to collect rocks! She picks one up everywhere she goes, and has a massive collection. Edie and Chris also love to travel. One of Edie’s favourite travel destinations so far has been Australia, where she scuba dived on the Great Barrier Reef.

Edie’s positive mindset is what brought her to Tele-Rehab. She initially heard about our study from her physiotherapist Alec, who is a remote clinician in our study. Edie instantly said yes and was willing to be a participant, not only to help herself, but to help others in the future. Through her experience in Tele-Rehab, Edie has found many benefits. She discussed with us that to normally receive treatments like ours, she would have to drive into Lethbridge. Lethbridge is about an hour away, and the road conditions can be very bad. Edie also discussed her enjoyment level with the treatment. Sheelah, our vestibular therapist, has been so helpful to Edie.

Let’s backtrack a little bit on why Edie even required treatment in the first place. December 26th, 2020 began like any other day for both Edie and Chris, until Edie felt her body fall to the left. She had lost all control of her body. Chris was not with her, but when he heard a fall, he made his way upstairs to Edie and found her on the floor of their bedroom. They don’t know if Edie was unconscious at all, but she was conscious when Chris got to her.

For 15 minutes, Edie did not say anything. She was upset and could not figure out what had happened. The only symptom she could recall was a spinning sensation, and did not realize she had hit her head. Chris had also not noticed any bruises or bumps and was focused on making Edie comfortable. It was not until their daughters, who were taking turns coming to the house to help out, noticed an indent in the wall where Edie fell and a bruise on her forehead that they realized she likely had a concussion. Edie then went to the hospital where it was confirmed that she had a concussion from her fall. She then had to complete more tests, including a CAT scan and an MRI.

A diagram of the vestibular system.

During this time Edie was also diagnosed with vertigo. When she first experienced the symptoms, they were extremely violent and she was not able to hold onto anything unless it was with a tight grip. In every direction she moved (walking, sitting and even laying down), the spinning sensation would be present along with rapid eye movements (also in all directions).

Nothing made her symptoms better other than being in a moving vehicle. You would think that the moving vehicle would make symptoms worse - but instead, it was the only thing that helped, until receiving treatment through Tele-Rehab 2.0.

With Tele-Rehab, Edie was able to receive a full vestibular assessment, and has received 4 treatments already! She always looks forward to her treatments as she knows it will provide her with some relief. It took a few sessions before the vertigo began to ease, but with the convenience that Tele-Rehab offers, Edie was able to come in regularly to receive her treatments.

Part of Edie’s treatment involves using vestibular goggles - and we recently got new ones from Vestibular First! These goggles help us see the patient’s eye movements, using infrared cameras while the patient is immersed in darkness. When the body experiences vertigo, it believes it is moving; therefore, the eyes move in the direction the brain perceives the body to be moving. By observing this, Sheelah (our vestibular therapist) can determine which of the semicircular canals in the inner ear are affected, and treat accordingly. Edie prefers the new goggles, saying they are much more comfortable.

Edie says that she would 100% recommend Tele-Rehab 2.0 to anyone that requires help, as she has not found the virtual appointments any different than in-person. She definitely thinks that telehealth would be beneficial even after the pandemic is over, and would especially be beneficial to those in isolated, rural areas of the province. The one thing Edie mentioned was that she found scheduling a challenge and would prefer a shorter time frame in between appointments if possible. This is something we’ll be able to solve when Tele-Rehab is adopted into regular practice!

The assessment team - left to right, Chris, Edie, Sheelah (on the Double Robot), Alec, and Emily, Kam, and Amber.

Edie would like our readers to know how vertigo really affects and changes a person. Normal does not feel like normal anymore for her. Now she is extremely fussy about things, such as the way the house looks. Chris and Edie changed everything up in order to accommodate her new needs, especially her motion sickness. Everything had to be rearranged as she had to use a walker just to maneuver around the house on her own. She had never used a walking aid before but had to due to the vertigo. Just recently she has stopped using it and feels great about it. Before the vertigo started, Edie was a very active individual and did everything around the house without any help. But ever since the vertigo, she cannot do simple things like picking up her dishes.

Chris has stepped up to take over the majority of household tasks. Daily activities such as brushing teeth, doing hair, showering and getting dressed have all been altered to not aggravate the vertigo. All activities she once did on her own cannot be completed without extra help. Edie’s daily activities changing have also resulted in Chris’s day changing as well. Chris is always by her side, reminding her of the instructions she has to follow in order to prevent her symptoms from getting worse. He says that Edie is his priority and everything else comes after that (everyone needs a Chris!).

Edie is extremely grateful for her daughters and especially Chris being by her side. She doesn’t know how she would be able to deal with everything if she was alone. Having family and social support is very important when dealing with health concerns as it can help individuals cope with setbacks, solve problems, improve self-esteem, and manage stress.

Both Amber and I are grateful for Edie and Chris sharing their stories and experiences. Having these one-on-one interviews helps improve both of our communication skills and is a great opportunity for us to understand what life is like for real patients. Stories like Edie’s are extremely vital for the Tele-Rehab 2.0 project as they provide insight on what could be done better for next time.

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