Sunday, March 14, 2010

The World is Spinning

Warning: I probably included way too much detail in this post.

I occasionally have bouts of vertigo. Fifteen months ago, I had two bouts in a two-week time period after having gone, I'd guess, about 15 years vertigo-free. This, combined with other symptoms like partial hearing loss in one ear and tinnitus in both, is a lovely condition I seem to have inherited from my dad, Meniere's disease.
When I had those two bouts in November 2008, they frankly scared me silly and I was very careful to limit caffeine and salt, both of which can trigger attacks. I had gone back to my old coffee-drinking and food salting habits, though, within a few months being attack-free.

The first attack occurred at an otolaryngologist's office while I was waiting for an audiology exam. I'd gone in for an appointment because the ringing in my ears had spiked dramatically in the previous few days, apparently a foreshadowing of the upcoming vertigo. I couldn't move my head without throwing up. They finally called an ambulance and had me taken to a nearby emergency room where I spent about 8 hours alternating between holding my head as still as could be and violent vomiting when I didn't.

Almost two weeks later, on a late Sunday morning, I felt the symptoms coming on again. I got Skip as settled as possible as quickly as possible and went directly to bed. During the 10 hours or so of the attack, I only threw up twice, each time I got up to go to the bathroom.

While I'm having one of these attacks, I can feel the world slowly spinning. My sense of position is gone and it becomes hard to walk upright. I spend most of the attack lying on my side with my eyes open, staring at a fixed spot. Things slowly rotate around that spot.

Thursday night was different, though. Earlier in the week, I'd been having a bit of mild vertigo, nothing nauseating, just unsettling. Then, on Wednesday, my ears felt plugged up and I thought that was the cause of the mild vertigo. That day, hearing was very difficult yet I was hypersensitive to sound. Whenever I'd go in to help Skip I'd have to make her either turn down or turn off the tv because the sound of it was so annoying. Thursday morning, the pressure was gone and things seemed pretty normal. But in the early evening, the vertigo came on with a bang and I knew I was in for trouble.

At first, the vertigo attack started out as the previous two had ... if I kept my head still, I'd keep from puking. But a few hours into it, it was like a switch turned on and I couldn't stop throwing up even if I held my head still. Also, I couldn't close my eyes to try and rest as that made the spinning more intense.

Skip needed some assistance, so she called MJ, the aide from the private pay agency, and she came over to help out for a few hours. She mostly helped Skip, but it was wonderful to have someone come over with an extra blanket and to change the bowl I was clutching.

In the morning, I was able to sit up then stand up without too much discomfort. I felt washed out and weak but the world had stopped spinning. I took most of the day off work and spent a good deal of it lying down, sometimes napping. Skip had smartly arranged with MJ for her to come for 3 hours that morning, so I was able to completely focus on resting and recuperating.

I am hoping mightily that history does not repeat and I have another attack in 2 weeks! I've cut out caffeine and am watching my salt intake. Who knows, I might even go back to the otolaryngologist to see if there's something he can recommend! I'll have to pay close attention to any of the symptoms that foreshadow vertigo so we can have a little forewarning to arrange for help.


Patrick@Caregivingly Yours said...

It is sooo annoying to have an 'Achilles Heel' as a caregiver. I will not waste your time or mine to tell you to take care of yourself. Neither of us listen.

Instead let me wish you a speedy return to the 'best of possible health'.

Caregivingly Yours, Patrick

Cranky said...

Patrick - thanks! And, so true about the taking care of ourselves. My vertigo makes me think of your cluster headache. Well, actually, the headaches sound worse.

zoomdoggies said...

Cranky, this sounds incredibly awful. I hope you can head off a second attack, although giving up caffeine is a painful price to pay! Take care of yourself.

kmilyun said...

Yikes does not sound fun at all. Nag nag - take care of yourself!!!!

I dunno - gosh no caffeine? Hope it helps but wow no coffee?? I would be so sound asleep LOL


Cranky said...

Zoom and Jan - well, I must confess I couldn't last another day without coffee. I felt so logey (sp?) this morning. I couldn't be sure if it was the time change, no coffee or the aftereffects of the vertigo. I got online and read about coffee withdrawal. Decided I needed some! Had a cup. No vertigo. Phew.

awb said...

That sounds absolutely horrid! If it won't go away completely, here's hoping for another 15 year hiatus.


Cranky said...

Andy - amen to 15-year hiatuses!