Please let me off this ride

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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.

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15 thoughts on “Please let me off this ride

  1. I have had vertigo and it is scary. I took my Dad to the hospital years ago for it and back then, they gave him Actifed, which I believe is an antihistamine.
    When my sinuses are bad, I can sometimes get dizzy spells. They don’t last for long. I take decongestants (just plain Sudafed, over the counter), drink plenty of water and it usually goes away.
    I hope your case is mild. Are you prone to sinus or allergy problems, by chance?

    • I was sick with a head cold, sinus-y kind of thing the weekend before…maybe that’s what caused it??? The medication that they gave me is an antihistamine, so that makes sense that Sudafed would work. And I’ve heard that dehydration is a cause…so you are right on both counts! Medicine and plenty of water. That’s my get well plan.
      Thanks for commenting!
      ~Jami

  2. Very scary! I had serious dizzy spells when I was pregnant with my son but they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. They tried to tell me I was having panic attacks but I knew better. I’m glad you found out what was wrong and I hope your healing is speedy!

    • Thanks, Karen. It was so scary!! I really hope that it never happens again! I’m feeling a whole let better today and I am over my embarrassment at having to be wheeled out of work in a wheelchair. 🙂

  3. I have had vertigo also, as a 12 year old. It lasted for a week and all I remember was that the world was spinning and I literally could not get up off the floor and had to crawl. It was terrible!! I think they said it was some kind of inner ear virus. But my mother has also had it off and on for years. Sometimes if she gets carsick it will kick in the vertigo and she will suffer for days on end. It is pretty scary but usually not a sign of something worse, although it’s good to rule out other causes like brain tumors, etc. Sometimes a medication like dramamine or bonine can help temporarily. You might try acupunture or a chiropracter as well, sometimes I believe that there may be an imbalance that can be helped by these alternative therapies. Good luck and hope you shake it soon!!

    • Thanks so much for your comment. I can’t imagine having vertigo as a 12 year old!! That must’ve been terrifying. I was glad that the ER did enough tests that were able to rule out anything serious, because I really thought that I could’ve been having a stroke. Thank God that wasn’t it! I never thought about a chiropractor or trying acupuncture…but if the vertigo persists, I will definitely check it out.
      Thanks again,
      ~Jami

  4. My sister had a really bad case of vertigo, but she was going through menopause at the time. And I don’t think you are even close to that! Being dizzy sucks though. I’m so sorry you had such a rough day. I hope they find the reason and can get it cleared up pronto 🙂 xoxo

    • Gosh, I hope it’s not menopause…although my mom was only a few years older than me when she started going through it, so I guess it’s possible. I know my grandma had vertigo, so maybe it’s genetic…?? I don’t know. I am just praying for it to be gone for good. 🙂
      ~Jami

  5. Jamie, I experienced that same thing right before Christmas. Same exact symptoms. After 2x in the ER, they determined that I had vertigo, and internalizing my feelings. (anxiety). I am been sober over 10 months and 9 months at the time, and I shared that while I was in ER, after all the testing, scans, oxygen levels.. that is what they came up with and said, I should consider talking to someone, deeper than a sponsor. They stated that I didn’t have a crutch anymore. you are NOT alone with this. Just sharing 🙂 I hope that you are feeling better. Hugs to you. Chantal.

  6. I never had vertigo, but how you described your symptoms almost sounds the same that I had before I was diagnosed with Agoraphobia with panic disorders. I find it interesting they didn’t look in that direction. I feel just the same before an attack comes on. I also get hot, sweat on my forehead, like having a hot flash. I’m happy they found you were OK and nothing real serious. Let us know how the meds work for you? Hugs! *Catherine*

  7. I developed vertigo about 1-1/2 years ago. I know what you mean….it can be scary! It can also be embarrassing! I was at work one day with several of us standing around a table looking down at some papers and, all of a sudden, I became so dizzy that I grab the table and said, “Wooo!” I felt a few strange looks come my way but I was so relieved when it stopped that I could not have cared less what they thought of the episode!! And I really don’t feel like explaining it to everyone I come in contact with!

    The doctors cannot come up with a “reason” for my vertigo. Like you, when I discovered what it was, I thought WHAT???!!! I became a little depressed about it because it does affect your thinking more than people may realize. I felt so frustrated because I felt out of control. Light bulb moment!!!! Perhaps that was God’s lead in for me HAVING to accept that, in fact, no, I do not have control (in terms of us overachievers with our control issues!).

    I have noticed that there are times when it is worse for me. If I’m short on sleep or not eating regularly or healthy, I noticed it’s more intensified. So, maybe that’s the up side of having vertigo, you can have somewhat of an impact on it.

    GOOD LUCK!!

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