Vertigo – Not For the Weak of Heart

3 Jun

If ever in the small hours of the night, when everyone else is either snoring or rolling over, you find yourself waking, spinning into the darkness,

staggering to the bathroom while smacking into walls, grabbing the bucket or watering can you’ve left sitting next to the tub to remind you the plants are thirsty, but then peeling off your  jammies because the heat has suddenly become unbearable and sweat is dripping down your sides while your skin turns cold and clammy, using that bucket to hold your head because nothing is forthcoming, and you can wish that someone would hit the EPO on the gyroscope that spins behind your eyes, sending them skittering side to side like a manic carriage of a long-forgotten typewriter, and you also wish for a mute button to silence the incessant ringing in ears that for a time can’t hear the low frequencies of the white noise generator but can hear the higher pitch of someone breathing–only then, my friends, will you know how I feel when I have an attack of acute vertigo.

Image: 123RF

Two major twirls and one minor merry-go-round in the past month. The attacks usually last a couple of hours, but the return to equilibrium takes a day or three. Have scheduled appointments with an audiologist for a hearing test, balance tests, and an ENT. Hope to discover the cause and nip these suckers in the bud.

My posting has been (and is going to be) more sporadic, since I’m doing “real” work first, and I can never tell when the gremlins are going to take me for a spin.

I’m reminded of Virginia Woolf’s essay, “On Being Ill,” where she writes: 

“Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, what wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to light…it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature. Novels, one would have thought, would have been devoted to influenza; epic poems to typhoid; odes to pneumonia, lyrics to toothache. But no; … literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear.”

24 Responses to “Vertigo – Not For the Weak of Heart”

  1. Letizia June 3, 2013 at 2:21 pm #

    I didn’t realize vertigo episodes could last so long- how awful! I do hope you find the cause or at least find some relief soon. Woolf is correct, it’s a wonder more stories aren’t dedicated to our illnesses. Or perhaps many are but only unconsciously or indirectly.

    All the best, Jilanne!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann June 3, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

      Thank you! Maybe I should do a study on “illness-inspired” writing. :o)

  2. FictionFan June 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Sounds awful, Jilanne – like Letizia I had no idea that vertigo attacks went on for that long or had such after-effects. I hope they manage to find the cause and deal with it quickly.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann June 3, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

      Thank you, and I’m planning to be up and running with new and improved parts here, shortly. There was a fabulous article in the NY Times about the Russian entrepreneur who’s planning to turn us all into mechanical-system avatars. Me? I just want a new inner ear.

      • FictionFan June 4, 2013 at 5:03 am #

        Why settle for that? If the option’s open, I’d like a nice new 21-year-old body…

        • Jilanne Hoffmann June 4, 2013 at 8:18 am #

          Now that you mention it, I’d take advantage of that option, too!

  3. heylookawriterfellow June 3, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

    Holy cow. I, too, had no idea how debilitating vertigo could be.

    Take care, my friend. You’ll be in my thoughts. And once your better, I’ll come up with some stupid Jimmy Sewart jokes, ‘kay?

  4. Laurel Leigh June 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm #

    Wow, I hope you find the source soon. One of my friends was having severe attacks and it turned out to be an ear infection. Take care of yourself!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann June 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

      Will do. It keeps coming and going, an evil shade intent on driving me crazy! I hope it turns out to be something like that.

  5. m lewis redford June 6, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    my sympathies

    • Jilanne Hoffmann June 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

      Thank you. I’m off the audiologist today. The balance tests are next week. They tell me it’s similar to torture. Can’t wait!

  6. Karina Ter Photography June 7, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    Wish you luck for your appointment, it’s nothing short of torture indeed. I’ve been having these attacks ever since I’ve come of age – even thinking about it now makes my head spin.

    • Jilanne Hoffmann June 7, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Thank you! It was disheartening to have the audiologist tell me that if it’s Meniere’s Disease, the best “treatments” are to find what triggers the episodes, like sodium and caffeine intake and then avoid those things. I’m already wheat-free, so additional dietary restrictions are not sounding like fun, especially since I love the restaurants of San Francisco!

    • Jilanne Hoffmann June 7, 2013 at 10:55 am #

      Were you diagnosed with Meniere’s?

      • Karina Ter Photography June 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

        I’ve never been diagnosed with anything. They checked everything – my eyes, my ears, my brain, my spine, repeatedly. Told me that sometimes women get these spells of vertigo for “no reason” or at least for no known reason. Nowadays whenever I feel one coming I take something with Dimenhydrinate in it, crawl into bed and try to sleep it off.

        • Jilanne Hoffmann June 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

          Interesting that they specified “women.” I’m sorry you can’t even put a finger on what causes them. After my experience from the past month and a half, I would feel extremely frustrated at not having a “plan of action” for identifying and getting rid of or at least “controlling” the incidents. You have my best wishes!

        • Karina Ter Photography June 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

          Yes, apparently it is something that occurres almost exclusively in women. It it indeed rather frustrating, but one gets used to it as one does to pretty much everything in the world 🙂 It’s manageable. Wish you all the best!

  7. Margarita June 7, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    I suffered with vertigo for decades starting in my twenties. Tried many remedies. Regular chiropractic adjustments for about a year permanently cured me. Congratulations on the paying gig and feel better! xoxoM

    • Jilanne Hoffmann June 7, 2013 at 10:57 am #

      Very interesting. I will talk with the docs as UCSF about that option. Were you diagnosed with Meniere’s, or was it something else?

      • Margarita June 7, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

        My then-GP (yes, it was so long ago that GPs still existed!) called it “middle-ear syndrome.” I suffered with varying degrees of vertigo for many years. In my mid-forties, after several months of prophylactic chiropractric sessions (I had no problems with my back, just wanted to improve well-being), I experienced a particularly virulent vertigo episode which was ameliorated by another chiropractic session. A few sessions after that, I stopped regularly scheduled chiropractic treatment and never experienced vertigo again. I still use chiropractic as an overall tune-up!

        • Jilanne Hoffmann June 7, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

          So glad it worked for you! We’ll see what the torture tests this coming week discover. Stay tuned…

Go ahead, drop a thought into the well and see what happens...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: