Vertigo is the latest player to join the drama that is my health. She was uninvited, unexpected, and made a very sudden and dramatic entrance.
Two Sundays ago I woke up feeling shaky and off balance. I thought I was having a bad reaction to allergy medicine (I’m very sensitive), and that I just needed to eat something.
As I was eating breakfast, the vertigo came on in a rush. It was a sensation I’ve never had before. It was difficult to remain upright. I had the feeling I was in motion when I wasn’t, and I felt that if I moved my head even the slightest bit to either side I would hit the floor. Hard.
It was a Sunday morning, so we headed to the ER, where we got the vertigo diagnosis. The photo above is after the ER visit, and I remained in that position more or less for the remainder of the day. When I was laying there I felt like I was on a boat. Rocking, rocking, rocking. It was really strange.
Turns out vertigo doesn’t go away overnight. I was more or less out of commission for the first week, and have been semi-functional the second one.
This whole thing came on just 12 hours after arriving home from vacation. As you can imagine my re-entry did not go as planned. Instead of doing my usual routine of laundry, bills, fridge re-stocking etc., I was doing not much of anything.
While I wasn’t tackling my to-do list, I had plenty of time to think about what I was learning from this little detour to the land of dizzy.
- Many things I deal with can be “powered through” when necessary: stomach aches, feeling painfully full, fatigue and generally not feeling well.
- Vertigo cannot be “powered through”. It’s a selfish master. When it strikes, surrender is the only option. Often it’s not enough to just sit down. You have to close your eyes and be still. Any motion magnifies the problem a hundred times.
- Vertigo helped me put my usual struggles in perspective. They are unpleasant, but more manageable than Vertigo. Suddenly, I realized my lot could be much, much worse, and I was grateful for the hand I was dealt (pre-vertigo).
- I realized how useless it is to worry about most of the things I worry about. While on vacation I was concerned about several things on my calendar in the first few days I’d be home. I can’t always count on having good energy, and I was afraid my calendar and to do list would be unmanageable. Turns out not one of those things became a problem for me. Either they got cancelled or somebody did them for me. I never worried about Vertigo, and that ended up being a much bigger problem than any of the little things I was worried about. Geez. What a waste of energy.
- I pray for people with intractable Vertigo. It’s really that bad.
- The worst thing about Vertigo is not how badly it makes you feel. The worst thing is the utter unpredictability of it. It comes and goes. As soon as you think you have it licked, here it comes again. When it’s bad you can’t drive. It’s hard to make plans when you are not sure if you will be able to drive. Or be upright.
- I learned the importance of surrender. When vertigo was at it’s worst, all I could do was sit in my chair with my eyes closed. I had to let go of all plans for that hour, afternoon or day. I also had to let go of any anger about this sudden change in circumstance. Being angry about it wasn’t going to help me feel any better. In fact, it would have added to my suffering. I found a sort of freedom in simply being with my situation as it was, versus putting energy into trying to change something that was un-changeable.
Knock wood, I seem to be through the worst of it. I would say I am 90% better. I have periods with no dizziness, and others where I feel “motionish” as I’ve started calling it. I have slight sensations of being in motion when I’m not, but it’s not debilitating. I am still making time for rest each day, but I’m also able to participate in life.
Speaking of which, we leave for a family wedding on the west coast in two days.