Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…

vertigo personalI woke up this morning with vertigo. When I sat up, the world starting spinning around me, and I had the sensation of being pulled downward to the right. This time — because I suffered vertigo for four days only a month ago — I had an arsenal of exercises — OK, one set of exercises — my doctor had prescribed for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV). It consists of sitting on the side of my bed for 30 seconds, then lying on my right side and tilting my head upward as if I were looking at a 6-foot person beside me for 30 seconds, returning to the seated position for 30 seconds, the lying on my left side and tilting my head to view this 6-foot non-existent person who surely would be thinking I was crazy; my cat certainly did. (She kept changing positions with me and found 30 seconds far too short for even a catnap.)

I am to repeat the sequence five times, three times a day for two weeks or the dizziness stops. BPPV is caused by a malfunction in the inner ear, when the crystals embedded there get loose and migrate where they do not belong. The exercises are supposed to make the crystals move back into the correct position.

My husband, who managed to sleep through all my antics this morning, enjoys telling people, “My wife has rocks in her head,” his take on my jostled crystals. I prefer to think of them as diamonds trying to make their way to my earlobes. Hint, hint.

The first time I had vertigo, I simply got out of bed, as per usual, and began walking to the bathroom only to find the world spinning and me falling. Lucky for me, I fell back onto the bed, startling my husband awake, as I landed on his legs. Mostly a soft landing. Once I was up, I felt a bit dizzy and “off,” but the dramatic spinning sensation disappeared. It reappeared when I went to lie down that night and again the next morning and then, as quickly as it had begun, it stopped. Four days later it returned, somewhat worse. The world spinned when I got up and when I went to lie down — and it seemed more intense. It was positively frightening, especially when I heard that some people live with this constantly. Even with my episodes shorter than a minute each, I missed a few hours of work for a couple of days and finally dragged myself in to see the doctor.

It was a thorough and intriguing exam — including testing my blood pressure seated, lying, and standing; an eye movement test; a tissue touch test; a tuning fork stuck to various places of my head test; and others. Basically, my doctor ruled out major health issues and narrowed my diagnosis to BPPV. I felt better immediately. (Seriously, I went home and did the exercises she’d prescribed, slept with my head elevated on a couple of pillows as she’d advised, and woke up perfectly fine daily until this morning.)

This morning, lying on my right side made the vertigo return, and I knew to remain in that position until the spinning stopped rather than the suggested 30 seconds. After  the 10-minute prescribed exercise regimen, I sat upright, got my bearings, and then began my usual routine, wondering if the swimming I’d planned for the morning exercise would be helpful or harmful. (Internet advice? Try it. If it makes you dizzy, stop.)  I even considered skipping exercise and work, but I knew I had a whole day with no scheduled meetings, perfect for actually completing work. Since I only had issues when changing position from prone to upright, I figured work was a safe bet. So to the health club I went, habitually my first stop on my way to the office.

In the pool area, I warned the man who offered to share his lane with me that I had vertigo and might drown. (Just being cautious and proactive.) That triggered his stories of friends who had had vertigo — for months — unable to drive or work. I was thankful mine is triggered by changing positions and determined not to lie down on the job today. Literally. (Wait, swimming is rather like lying down, isn’t it?) I was fine, however; the backstroke, recommended by Internet medical gurus as it doesn’t cause a lot of head movement, was the only dizzying factor of the swim, and then only when I go off my back to do some freestyle.

The swim was uneventful, but when I mentioned to a friend in the locker room that my vertigo had returned, all conversations in that area turned to vertigo. A woman I’d never seen before told me she’d had it, thought it had been triggered by the pneumonia shot. She was quite relieved that someone as young as me had gotten it, seemingly at random. (I liked her at “as young as you are,” but knowing someone else had experienced something similar was eerily encouraging for both of us. I guess misery really does love company.) We started talking about the exercises — she seemed to have the exact same article my doctor had given me. It seemed to have worked for both of us.  (I hoped it would work again for me.)

Another woman told me her Canadian doctor suggested she lie on the bed and hang her head over the edge.

“It worked,” she told me, nodding. “I think you should try it.”

I thanked her as I hoisted my gym bags and made an announcement as I walked toward the door.

“Next time I have a health issue, I’m coming straight here for advice.”

Indeed. If my world has to spin, at least I like the people who spinning past me. And I just may try hanging my head tonight.


Posts for NaBloPoMo 2015:

  1. Why I love my hairstylist…
  2. To NaBloPoMo or not to NaBloPoMo? That is the question…
  3. No AC November…
  4. That dubious gift of an hour…
  5. I can’t wait to be discovered…
  6. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…
  7. Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…
  8. When you replace people with possessions…
  9. Do what you know is right…
  10. When your eyes are bigger than your weekend…
  11. Attempting “The Glad Game”…
  12. When the Christian life is a bit too much like a political debate…
  13. Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…

8 responses to “Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…”

  1. Susan McGuire Finch Avatar
    Susan McGuire Finch

    Hi Sara, I had crystals in my left ear about two years ago. I went to an audiologist and he did the same odd movement therapy you described. The therapy worked for me and (knock on wood) has not come back. Good luck to you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sarahas5 Avatar

      Thanks, Susan. How long did you do the therapy? Until the dizziness subsided or for the full two or three weeks (depending on if you did the exercises twice or three times daily)? I’m hoping it works for me permanently this time! 🙂


  2. ghostmmnc Avatar

    Sorry you have to deal with the vertigo, but glad the exercises worked. I’ve had this same type of vertigo for years. A couple of times it lasted quite a while, before I’d tried the movements. Now, it’s not bad, just when I look up or down too fast. I enjoyed reading your description of the sensations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. sarahas5 Avatar

      Thanks, ghostmmnc. I’m sorry to hear you keep having issues with it but am glad to know the exercises work. I appreciate your comments. I wish you the best! -Sara


      1. ghostmmnc Avatar

        Thank you Sarahas5… I’m pretty used to it by now. They never said I could do any of those movements at home, though. Well, hope you’re feeling better, and I wish you all the best, too!


      2. sarahas5 Avatar

        Hi! You should probably check with your doctor, but I found this info on WebMD, and it appears to be the same as the ones my doctor prescribed for me to do at home:

        Liked by 1 person

      3. ghostmmnc Avatar

        Thank you for the information on these specific exercises to try at home. If I ever have another bad spell of vertigo, I should go back to the doctor, though. 🙂


      4. sarahas5 Avatar

        Definitely! I am not a doctor and have only my own experience to go by. Check with your doctor before you try the exercises. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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