On Tuesday morning I mentioned to my wife that i felt a little dizzy, and eventually called into my doctor for a video call visit. I talked with him through some diagnoses and left it at that. It wasn't a massive concern, I didn't feel terrible, and the quick set of diagnostic exercises and existing symptoms seemed to eliminate the more serious potential causes and concerns.
Fast forward to 4 a.m. Wednesday morning. I get up and realize that I can barely walk--and then only by holding onto the walls while I do so. I begin vomiting almost continuous every thirty to forty-five minutes, and if I open my eyes, the world is jumping around completely out of control. And I almost never vomit--if that's not TMI.
We call the emergency advice nurse at 6:30, who calls in a couple of prescriptions. And by 9:30 we know that there is no way for me to keep those in my stomach. Another call for help, and this time we are directed immediately to 911.
We live only two blocks from the fire station, so I can literally hear the sirens going off before my wife finishes up on the call. They are here within seconds, and now confront the challenge of getting me down the twisting stairs of our old Victorian house. Which they did, all the while wearing masks and asking me about Covid19 symptoms (none.)
I am disappointed to note that they did not turn on the sirens on the way to the hospital.
Once there I am immediately given an IV and rushed into an MRI to determine if had a stroke. Meanwhile, they are trying to replace some of my fluids, and also get some motion sickness medication and anti-nausea drugs into my system.
By late that afternoon the MRI has revealed no evidence of a stroke. But i am still unable to move or open m eyes without the world going haywire. More drugs.
The next morning I am significantly improved. I get another consultation with a doctor, and then a session with a remarkable physical therapist who eliminated one thing after another until she announced that it was a problem in my left (!) ear.
--Great backpacking connection here: her dad is about my age, loves to backpack, and when his wife can't join him he does trail crew work to get out in the mountains. As do I--
The good news is that I am now home, and can more or less take care of myself, with the enormous help of my loving wife. And I didn't have a stroke.
Bad news is that I am still suffering from serious vertigo. When I sit still, the whole world slowly revolves to the right, which is quite disconcerting. I can walk, but I have to pay attention to every step. And if I turn my head quickly, all bets are off.
That takes some getting used to.
Yesterday we went for a walk for about 40 minutes. I survived, but I can't really say that it felt great. And apparently, there is no immediate prognosis for quick recovery. These things take time, and it could be days, weeks or even months.
Which not only makes the world look like it is moving a bit more than I should expect, but also that any plans for this summer might well be on hold--vertical or horizontal.
Loc: Portland, OR
My mother had a similar vertigo at age 91, so I'm aware of the phenomenon. Apparently the fluid in the part of the ear that controls your sense of balance can develop tiny crystals, which play holy hell with your balance mechanism until they dissolve and are reabsorbed. It's not preventable and only moderately treatable, but you should have a full recovery. Get well soon!
Mine isn't caused by the crystals=---that possibility was eliminated by a series of exams. Mine seems to be an ear infection or inflammation. But the prognosis is the same--it is survivable and should improve over time.
I now have a series of PT exercises for my eyes and ears. And I am doing them with great "discipline." Probably because I know I have a finite number of years left on this planet, and I don't want to spend them wandering around in a dizzy haze, worrying about whether I am going to topple over or not. (That will come soon enough.)
So my exercises now are to put a sticker on the wall at eye height and stare at it from an arm's length while moving my head from side to side quickly. When I move to the right, all is normal. When I move to the left, the whole world looks like its sheet feeding to the right. Which is disconcerting. But I can live with that. I may have to. And this exercise is teaching my brain to adjust.
Second exercise is to go stand in a corner with my feet tight together, arms folded. Balance there. If I get good at that, try it with my eyes closed. Or put one foot slightly in front of the other--you'd be amazed at how big a difference THAT makes.
And third one is to walk a straight line while moving my head to look at things from side to side, forcing my brain to adjust to the new me. That's fun. Disney should sell tickets.
I'd write more now, but I have to go do my exercises...
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