An Uninvited Pest

Among all the quirky health issues that I have in my life, one is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, which was diagnosed in early 2002.

Back then, when it first hit me, it was scary to wake up at 3 in the morning. I needed to use the bathroom, and was feeling like I was going to vomit. I was having this sensation that my head was a lead weight, all the while feeling like I was on a merry go round that was spinning at triple speed. How I made it into the bathroom without major injury (gouged my index finger really bad that morning) I'll never know.

While I somehow got there upright, I ended up on the floor-and stayed there. I can't remember whether I actually did vomit, but I held onto the toilet for dear life for a while, then crawled back to bed on the other side of the room. I just realized, and I don't know why, but Ed and I seem to swap which side of the bed is ours and he always seems to take the side closer to the toilet. Weird.

Somehow, later that morning, the episode wasn't nearly as bad (I could stand upright somehow), so I drove my butt to work 45 miles away. The main reason for the insanity is that my store manager had just started her vacation the day before and I could not call out sick to work. However, about an hour into the workday and I realized working was an impossibility. I camped myself at the corner of the cash wrap, because walking was really, really difficult. A call down to our closest store found that they were operating with a manager and a lead and the lead would come up to my store until our lead's scheduled 6pm start. I drove home and camped out on the couch, afraid to move.

That week while my boss was in Puerto Rico was horrible. The next day, I drove over a curb making the right turn to exit the neighborhood-and immediately drove back home. Poor Jenn got stuck with a 14 hour day. Thankfully, I convinced Ed to drive me to work the next two days and somehow, muddled through.

Yes, my luck was having this happen on a holiday weekend. The doctor's office opened on Tuesday morning and I got my butt over there. "This is vertigo," I was told and given a prescription for meclizine, the same stuff they use for sea sickness. It didn't work AND gave me a lovely case of the hives.

For three months, it went in waves. I saw a neurologist who ordered an MRI and that's how I got the BPPV diagnosis, because they couldn't see anything that was causing it. I have those MRI films, and my cerebellum is not visualized on it-rather interesting, considering that Vertigo is a large part of Chiari I. Fortunately, the worst of it was gone in a couple of weeks, but I was left with what GameTeen dubbed 'the spinnies' and we still call it that to this day.

Since that original hellish weekend, I do still get minor episodes of 'the spinnies,' but they're closer to what would happen to most people if they were spun on the merry go round. Each night, when I lay my head on the pillow, the room rotates between 16 and 33 1/3rpm. If I tilt my head more than 15° above midpoint, I'll spin. There are other ways it happens, but I'm more susceptible when tired.

Still, episodes like that first time aren't bad. If I were to use a Richter scale to grade them, the everyday spinnies are around a 2.5, the initial episode was a lot of tremors in the 6.5-9.0 range. I've had a couple of 5's when I've been camping, probably related to laying on the ground and/or being cold.

Then last night happened.

I went to bed around 2am and was trying to drift off to sleep. My head felt much heavier than the rest of my body. I started to feel nauseous and needed to use the bathroom, so I sat up. Dizzy, but not too bad. Then I stood and the world went nuts.

This one was about a 7.0 if I were to rate it. The room felt like I was on a Tilt a Whirl without being strapped in. I quickly sat back down and then tried to lay down, but the nausea got worse and I feared vomiting in bed. I got up again, this time waking Ed because a panic attack seemed to be starting,too.

I finally got to the bathroom, spinning the whole time. Then, it started to ease up. I made it back to bed with a lot more ease than just moments before, but the room still felt like a carnival ride.

Fortunately, I have an appointment with the Neurologist at the end of the month. The Chiari I diagnosis has earned me annual MRIs to check for changes. This time, though, I'm asking for the medication they use to calm people down to get into that loud coffin-like contraption.

Frankly, I'm scared that this is happening again. I didn't invite this pest back into my life and I want it to go away.


meghan said…
With the 'spinnies' I had last month, I can imagine how scary your episodes can be! I don't think mine were as bad as yours, but the sensations are scary and you feel out of control. I really hope this resolves itself because I want you to kick ass in school this semester. :)

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