Last Thursday I was sitting and having lunch in the breakroom at work. I was talking to a friend, when I started to feel funny. I was just finishing a piece of pizza when I began to think that I might faint. I have fainted before, every time I have to give blood, so I know what that feels like. But, unlike the times when I have fainted, the darkness around the edges of my vision never came. The dizziness and unease just stayed. I felt like a car that was out of alignment, pulling hard to one side. I didn’t say anything until we got up to head back to work, then I told my friend that I was feeling weird and that if I passed out to please try to keep my head from hitting the ground. She wasn’t really comfortable with that, so we stopped in a classroom for me to sit on the way. Luckily, I work at a school that teaches various medical programs. So one of the instructors came to check my blood pressure (it was fine) and give me the once over. I could see the concern in her eyes, but after a few minutes I felt better and I went back to work.
As I sat at my desk, I was afraid that there was something really wrong with me, like I was having a stroke or that I had a brain tumor that had been quietly growing and was just now starting to cause problems. I can always count on my alcoholic thinking to come up with the worst scenarios! My coworkers kept a close eye on me throughout the afternoon, and I tried my best to put on a brave face, and to act like everything was ok, that whatever had come over me was some sort of fluke and that it wouldn’t happen again. I even made jokes about it, trying to minimize the catastrophizing that was going on in my mind. I was really worried though.
I made it through the afternoon, only having a couple of minor “episodes” of the dizziness. Each time, I would feel a pulling to my right side and I would feel like I couldn’t sit or stand up straight. It felt like the room was moving and that I wasn’t ale to keep up with it. Fortunately, I was sitting down when it happened. I thought that I would make it through the rest of my work day, it was almost 5:00, when the mother of all dizzy spells hit me. I panicked. I didn’t want to yell across the administration area for someone to come help me, so I started trying to dial the extensions of various coworkers, all while I felt like I was going to fall out of my chair. I couldn’t concentrate on the buttons on the phone with my vision, because I was seeing double, I had to go by feel. Finally, after several attempts, I got someone and she came running. It wasn’t long until I had just about every medical program director surrounding me in my office. I was too dizzy and disoriented to be embarrassed over all of the attention (that would come later, as I was pushed out of the school in a wheelchair), I was absolutely terrified. They took me into one of the labs that students use to practice their patient technician skills and gathered around me. Now I really saw looks of concern. Again, my blood pressure was fine. They checked my blood sugar, it was fine too. I was near tears, wondering what the hell was wrong with me when my husband got there. It was decided that I better go to the emergency room.
My friend that I had been having lunch with earlier and my husband went with me to the hospital. After waiting for about 3 hours, I was finally taken for a blood test and put in a room, where they started me on an IV. They did an EKG, and it was fine. And then they took me for a CT scan, and it was fine. I was starting to feel a little better, it looked like I hadn’t had a stroke and that there wasn’t a brain tumor. The doctor came to see me and did some examining, testing my motor skills and such, asking me to stand, balance on one foot, etc. with my eyes closed. After a bit, he determined that I was experiencing vertigo.
VERTIGO!!! Wtf? I thought vertigo was something that little old ladies had from time to time. Something that made them a little off balance, but that wasn’t really that bad. I remember my grandmother saying that she needed to take her “dizzy pills” sometimes when I was a kid, but I never remember her being crazy dizzy like I had just been. I guess I should be thankful that her dizzy pills worked, because the doctor prescribed the same medication for me.
This week I have to go to a balance clinic, so that they can try to determine the cause of my vertigo, and come up with a plan to treat it. I am not looking forward to it as I understand that in order to determine the cause, they have to induce the vertigo, and I really don’t want that. But I will put on my big girl panties and go. I just hope that they can fix it.
The good news in all of this is that I really felt how much everyone at work cares for me. I was terrified and panicky and worried, and in seconds, I was surrounded by concerned friends. They took care of me and reassured me that everything was going to be alright, held my hands, tried to get me to laugh, and generally helped me through the chaos of the moment. I am so blessed to have great friends and for that I am very, very grateful.
I would really appreciate hearing other’s experiences with vertigo. I am concerned that I will have more episodes, and I am really scared. I have never felt so out of control of my body (and I’m a drunk, for crying out loud!), and I’m filled with anxiety that I will have to feel that again. Hearing your experience, strength, and hope about this would be really helpful to me.