Wednesday, April 3, 2013

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby

"....right round, like a record baby, right round round round."

Okay, I have to disagree wholeheartedly!  I'd change Dead or Alive's lyrics to, "You spin me round and I hate it baby."  I know that may sound funny, and it is meant to be, but I do mean what I said in all seriousness.  To completely understand what in the world I'm talking about, let's start at the beginning.

A few weeks ago, I experienced these really weird dizzy spells.  I really don't have much experience with dizzyness aside from the occasional merry-go-round, or you know, my beloved Teacups ride at Disney.  Either way, it's been years since I've done either of those things, so I really don't have much personal experience to go on.  The first time, it was like a constant state of semi-dizzyness and I chocked it up to allergy season being newly upon us.  Hey, I did have pretty strong sinus pressure in my forehead, so I thought that simply must be it.  The only thing that concerned me was that I'd never experienced dizzyness with allergies before, and it got so sketchy once that day while driving that I felt it best to pull over.

Then, I was good for awhile.  A week or so later, it happened again, only this time was much more scary!  I literally got so dizzy that I almost passed out, and again I was in the car and had to pull over.  I got so shaky and I tried to drink water and eat the chocolate that I just so happened to have in my car, and that did help after about 20 minutes.  By this time, though, I was convinced I had some sort of crazy brain tumor that was affecting my world!  I did the best thing I could think of and called my doctor - I had to have an appointment that day!

The only way I could describe this dizzy feeling I was getting is this:

Yes, that is your Chicken Wing (and the mandatory "We got cows." graphic) in a tornado.

Ridiculous, yes.  As accurate as I can be without actually having ever been in a tornado, also yes.  After several tests at the doctor's office, it was determined that I was suffering from BPPV, or Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.  We call it just vertigo around these parts, to keep it short.  Basically, it's an inner-ear issue that can pretty much pop up and affect anyone. 

There are calcium crystals in your inner ear that dislodge from their normal places and begin floating through your ear canals (you have three in your ear, and they're called the Labyrinth).  While you always have fluid in these canals, the crystals aren't supposed to be floating along, too.  Ultimately, the example my doctor gave me was this:  In a normal circumstance, if I turn my head to the left, fluid flows through the canals and hits the little fibers in the canal.  This sends a message to my brain that says, "Hey, guy, I just turned my head to the left.  In case you needed to know."  (Or something like that).  In BPPV, the crystals slam into the little fibers, and the vibrations that causes are so intense that too many signals get sent to your brain at one time, and your brain has no idea what you just did.  So, you get really dizzy until your brain can figure it out. 

Is this fun?  No.  Does it make you nauseus?  Um, yeah.  Did I find myself army crawling across my bedroom floor at certain points?  You betcha, Sir!  I had to miss two days of work!  That's how you know how terrible it is!  My treatment period of crystal-moving exercises and anti-motion-sickness medication is two weeks, and I'm hoping that I'll be back to 100% after that!  I surely would love it!  The only bad thing about vertigo is that it can reccur later, and there's really no way to know that it's going to hit.  :(  I guess the silver lining, though, is that at least I should know what it is next time, and I won't go straight to panic and fear!

So this has been my journey with something totally random that simultaneously scared me to death and made me feel like a completely crazy person.  I've been shocked at how many people have reached out to me who have also experienced vertigo!  Some folks had mild cases, others had it so bad they couldn't drive for a MONTH, but everyone could easily agree that it's miserable and horrible. 

My PSA to all of you readers out there:  If you're feeling any of the symptoms I did (and am), please make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out.  Then, do the exercises and take the medicine as directed, and please, don't try to be a hero!  Pull over your car if you feel like this!  My doctor said he was so proud of me for not risking my life and the lives of others because your vision and ability to adjust to your surroundings are severely compromised with vertigo!

Have a happy and healthy week!

Until next time,

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