Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Which Way Did I Go, George?


I'm not talking about the Alfred Hitchcock movie of the same name featuring Jimmy Stewart. George Bailey goes out on a ledge...this isn't.

I'm talking about the medical condition.

Anyone who has ever been diagnosed can attest to the debilitating qualities of this condition. If looking at the picture on the right makes you even a little nauseous, you might know what it feels like to experience Vertigo.

I was diagnosed in the last year with Benign Proxysmal Positional Vertigo which is a mouthful with no fun acronym (BPPV, really?) and I have a flair up on a semi-routine basis. The severity of these flair ups is the key to the misery.

Explaining what this is like to someone who hasn't experienced it is like telling the Pope about sex. Let's use some more common experiences to give you a general flavor. (Vertigo, not sex)

Being Drunk - ok, it is assumed that my readership is older and has experienced alcohol in their lives. I'm going out on a limb that people who have experienced alcohol, have also likely over indulged in the same. Frankly, if you've never over indulged, how do you kow when to stop indulging? I digress (but I do that). You know that feeling when you have had one or two (or seven) too many and you move your head and it takes a moment for the room to catch up? Now imagine all the room spinning, without the debauchery of enjoying the drinking. Ever have a friend who practiced drunk driving tests? Saying the alphabet backwards and walking a straight line for instance? If you have Vertigo, this practice may come in handy to get you to work.

Hitting your Funny Bone - it's not that funny is it? It feels strange, but I've never heard anyone chuckle. That feeling is because some sort of nerve connection has been disturbed between your elbow and your brain. Imagine now that the same connection has been broken between your eyes and brain.

Spinning under a light or in a merry go round - I can't more strongly warn my adult friends NOT to try this at home! Something happened between the days of my youth and my adult self. I visited a merry go round, not the kind with the horses and carnival music...no. I'm referring to the playground toy that spins. As a child, you might have run while holding said apparatus to get it up to speed, then as it was at the threshold of turning back time you would leap aboard and attempt to stay on... As a child, this was great fun and as an adult, such an adventure will result in dizzied walking and possibly a review of lunch. I can't make you imagine anything about this one, this is almost word for word part of the diagnosis.

Going over a hill and feeling your stomach dropping - I never really got the dropping feeling. It was more of a leaping and completely beyond my control...well other than the obvious slowing the hell down. Anyway, (shorthand for 'I digress' but I suppose it isn't short if I keep explaining it) that feeling in the pit of your gut is much like some of the experiences of Vertigo. You lack any control over the feelings.

Know that feeling you get when you Get Up Too Fast? Lightheaded and a bit dizzy, but if you stand there a moment, it gets better. Yeah, stand if you can, Vertigo doesn't pass. It doesn't.

Now, one of the worst parts of Vertigo is the jacked up behavior of your eyes. I only wish I could get a video of my eyes when I am experiencing an attack.

DVDs have just screwed up our lives for understanding Vertigo. I'm about to talk about two things that if you're in school, you wont know anything about... VHS tracking and Reel to Reel. Now with the former, remember when a tape's tracking was off the tape would stutter a little? Anyone remember watching a movie when a loop was created in the reel? You'd get a picture that rolled and hopped and stuttered. Your eyes would want to close until it was fixed. You'd want your money back if you were in a theatre.

Yeah, you aren't getting it back with Vertigo.

Here is a day in the life of Vertigo...

Awaken at 4am, likely not a life changing event, but whether Vertigo has done the waking doesn't matter, you won't sleep again.

Roll over and as your life flashes before you like some silent film on a reel to reel, you wonder how you managed to drink so much and not remember even starting to drink.


Nope, you don't feel better as up stumble sideways back to the bed trying to open your eyes only when absolutely necessary.

Email our boss to say you can't make it into the office. At least that's what you hope you typed because your words make Captcha look legible.

Realize that you aren't going to get to drink ginger ale and catch up on your DVR because having your eyes open is an unspeakable torture.

Get your spouse to drive you to the doctor, only stopping 3 times to puke and thanking the Lord that your doctor isn't more than 3 miles away.


The doctor shows you a picture of your ear and you debate that it's your eyes that are all fouled up. He shows you the following picture which is not helpful because it looks like Patrick from Spongebob with the way your eyes are floating around.


The doctor does the exam and he says "your eyes are kinda bugging out, I wish you could see them..." yeah, I wish I could see.

Turns out there are chunks of stuff where fluid ought to be in some part of my ear that no q-tip can reach and no water-pick can clean out (believe me, I've tried!)

There are to remedies, one involves re-orientation exercises that take about 20 minutes and if those are unsuccessful, it's the little pill. I asked about the pills ability to cure and was told... "it doesn't cure anything, it just let's you sleep through the worst of it!"

Yay me!


read to be read at yeahwrite.me



Hooking up with Yeah Write...I tasted a little victory last week if only in the eyes of one, I'm hungry for more.



  1. I can so relate to this! I have Vertigo too and it sucks. I don't get it as often, mostly when I'm really stressed out. or if I've slept "wrong" and get a kink in my  neck. I know, for me, it's related to pinched  nerves in my neck. I can almost make the vertigo happen on purpose if I tilt my head just the right way.

    It's no fun at all. None. At least for me it never lasts too long, especially if I remember to hold my head straight when it's acting up.

  2. Ugh, I'm sorry. I get motion sickness (not nearly the same) and I can't stand it. Can't even imagine full on vertigo.

  3. My mom had vertigo a couple years ago, and I sometimes get woozy feelings where I can't quite see straight and feel off-balance.  I hope it doesn't progress into anything severe.

    I'm very sorry you have to go through this.

  4. Ugh. When I was weaning off my anxiety medication I though the vertigo was going to kill me. It was by far the worst symptom that I had and it was absolutely debilitating. I'm so sorry you deal with this!

  5. I had an inner ear infection once. That single experience with vertigo was more than enough. I hope you are able to resolve the situation. 

  6. I had vertigo once due to a "virus in the ear". I have no idea how a virus ended up in there but that's what the doctor told me. He then prescribed a hefty does of antihistamine to dry up the excess fluid in my ear. It was by far the worst feeling in the world - having no balance, barfing, just trying to lay so still so that the room wouldn't spin. You have my sympathies. Blech.

  7. This once again proves that there is no such thing as too niche on the internet. A friend of mine has vertigo - we just thought he was a cheap drunk.

    Its not fun as being drunk, unless you are water.

  8. I am sorry you have to go through this. I have fibromyalgia. During a flare-up, my vision is absolutely horrible, but nothing like what you have to suffer through. During those moments, I am cranky. If I can't trust what I see, that will lead to paranoia, and it's best for people to run away from me.

  9. SisterhoodofthesensiblemomsMay 29, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    Ugh. Vertigo. We were actually just talking about it this weekend. When my husband and I were dating, a family friend who happened to be a priest came to visit and had a flare-up. My husband was the only one around to help him out, while the rest of my family was out. We were just recalling how scary it was for our friend and my husband. Good luck. Erin

  10. I get like this when heights are involved.  I'm that person that won't go up to the edge because of it.  I'm sorry you have to deal with this. 

  11. One of my sisters has this. It's awful, I know from her experience. I wish you good fortune in sorting it out. Nicely told as I'm feeling a bit nauseous from reading it.

  12. That sounds absolutely terrible. I never thought I would find something that made migraines look like a walk in the park, but your description was so thorough that I feel like I have good understanding of what vertigo feels like now.

    Next time I get laid up with a migraine I just might say a silent thanks that it's not vertigo.
    Thanks for taking the time to write this out, not that I enjoyed it per se (as it made me queasy), but because I had no idea that vertigo was so much more than "dizzy spells". 
    I wish you the best possible outcome with this!

  13. Lori @ The Lyons DinMay 29, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Gosh I feel for you. I have had BPV since 1991. Yes. Just a few weeks into my new job as a reporter. Lightning struck very close to my apartment and the thunder/percussion did something. I couldn't stand up for days. It got better, but I still have flare ups. Some TV shows mess me up. IMAX. 3D. Bleachers where I can see down to the ground below. I can't look up at all. Sometimes can't sleep on my right side. And low pressure systems in the Gulf of Mexico mess me up really bad. I am a walking barometer. There are many old wives tales out there. Ginger. Ginger Ale. Hold your nose and blow. Benadryl. I found that GIVING myself vertigo by doing the things that bring it on made it substantially better over time. Your brain does things to adapt, they say. I hope you find your relief. And thanks for helping to educate people. It does suck. 

  14. Oh wow, that sounds truly awful. Not completely related, but my boyfriend thinks I'm the only person in the world who gets lightheaded when I stand up too fast.

  15. My goodness - that sounds terrible.  It sounds somewhat like what I get before a migraine, but it passes pretty quickly.  I can't imagine it going on like that.  I hope you can find relief from it!

  16. Wow, that does not sound fun. I hope that you can get things under control. I've gotten seasick more than any person should and know how awful that is. This sounds much worse. Best wishes...

  17. Yeah, the neck part is familiar. The exercises really help, but sometimes it just dulls the sensation.

  18. I read this last night but then Little Leo wanted my attention and I never go back here to comment but hey I'm here now aren't you just so happy to see me here..............if not we can pretend you are over the moon at seeing a comment from me.

    Now you are wondering if I have anything to say about  Vertigo well yes, yes I do I have had one attack of it in my life and I hated it and it was considered to only be a mild attack...............mild my arse didn't feel very mild to me...........

    Now my eldest daughter had a server attack of it while I was in Melbourne on holidays and no one wanted to tell me so I didn't find out till I got home she was so ill with it that she was beside herself as nothing helped and she thought it was never going to end.......

  19. I don't know motion sickness. I get a little when I don't focus on the road.

  20. The severest attacks have been few and far between, more often than not I just stumble around a bit like a drunken uncle. For now...

  21. Thanks Delilah. Fortunately my worst attacks are infrequent.

  22. I frequently get symptoms following a sinus migraine.

  23. I'm sorry that you are dealing with Vertigo. My wife has had bouts of it and it is horrible. She did find a bit of help from a good chiropractor who did some kind of ear witch-doctor-ing. 

  24. I've been diagnosed with that also!  Although, it sounds like you've got it a lot worse than I do.  And I never got to see a cool picture like that.  Good luck getting a handle on it - not fun.

  25. Ladygoogoogaga2011May 29, 2012 at 10:36 PM

    Omg!! Hope u feel better soon!!!

  26. Shannon Vander MeulenMay 29, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    This sounds really terrible, a little like morning sickness but at least that was for good reason and there was an end in sight. I really hope there is for you soon as well.

  27. Shiftless MommieMay 30, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Vertigo is awful. My husband gets it occasionally and was prescribed "the pills" but apparently they knock you out so he won't take them. It seems to follow his allergy/sinus problems. 

    I hope the exercises work for you.

  28. Vertigo sucks. My mom has it. I'm going to show her your blog. (Will have to be at her house and pull it up for her because a link will not suffice.) She'll appreciate the commiseration. Sorry you have this. It is benign, but it blows chunks. Ellen

  29. Oh that is terrible instantly when I read this I thought it must have something to do with the inner ear.  I get slight vertigo when my sinuses are badly blocked.  I hope that you come across a miraculous cure or surgery that takes the vertigo away forever.

  30.  As one who has Meniere's Disease (same as BPPV but I have the ringing ear) as bad as he made it sound, its worse than even that. The first 24 hours I literally slept with my head on the trashcan unable to eat, drink or keep my eyes open. I had drop attacks that literally left me on the ground losing control of all muscles and vomitting violently.

  31. You managed to come close to how bad it is but its like you said, only people that experience it REALLY know what you mean and boy do I. I've got Meniere's disease and for years thought I was dying from some deadly tumor mine has been so bad. My attacks usually left me debilitated for 3 days total. A year ago I finally had it diagnosed and am on diazepam and fluid pills. My attacks are so much better and only last a day.  Last week I only threw up 4 hours and then started eating later that evening and back to work the next day yea me. Did you ever have episodes called drop attacks? There is no words to describe this. You just hit the floor, everything swirling so bad you can't see where you're going and vomitting violently wherever the attack hits. My doctor tried some motion patches (not good). They had their own set of issues. In between episodes I take dramamine. It used to make me real sleepy but I guess I've overcome that problem, lol. I could write whole story on this myself so I feel your pain.

  32. Oh and I was hoping I had BPPV because you can do something with exercise but there is no cure for Meniere's.  My sister has the best case scenario for vertigo (can't remember the name) and she still has as many sick episodes as I do so WTH????

  33. I will say one more thing about this because its the reason I have felt I no longer had a reason to live the past 2 years so its pretty close to my heart right now, I feel such a kinship with all those that I have come in contact with and read about that experience some form of vertigo especially BPPV and Meniere's. I never heard of it until I was diagnosed and started talking about it. I never realized so many people have it. I feel closer to you and to everyone that has commented on here that have it or knows someone that does because we are the only ones that know how bad it is. Sorry for carrying on so much.

  34. I have it too. I think mine is milder. And I came to realize at least one thing that set it off - turning my head to the left and back too quickly. Strange but true. I try to avoid that motion. But the odd time I just wake up with the dizzying feeling. It is AWFUL. I feel for ya.

  35. Perspective...

    I have it now. Some of you have perspective as well with this post and the responses.
    I'm sure I could have answered each and every comment personally as I normally do, but the message would be the same, "Thanks" or "I'm sorry" much as your responses have been.

    The number of people who have vertigo in some form is astounding and though my days with it are much fewer than many others that commented, those days are still quite a kick in the pants. I am fortunate that those days don't extend to weeks.

    Thanks everyone for your support.


  36. I have vertigo too, and the worst thing for me is being waken in the middle of the night by my own dizziness. I'm only assuming that when I toss or turn my vertigo kicks in. It makes me want to puke!

  37. Oh nooo hahaha. Sorry I'm laughing at your expense. My husband has Vertigo. He had a bad bout of it a couple years ago and was trying to explain it to me. I said "Oh, sort of like being drunk, but not happy, right?" He said YES! That is exactly what it is like!"
    Anyway - hilarious post. Good for you for making something funny about such a yucky situation.

  38. I'm glad that you saw my humor through it all.




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