While attending mass during a conference I was speaking at in Spokane, Washington all of a sudden my left ear became muffled and quiet and my right ear was engulfed with a high pitched buzz. The theater that mass was being held in started to spin and my breakfast asked permission to come out the same way it had entered just a few hours before but I declined it’s request. I sat down and made it through the rest of mass and then went to the speaker’s room and sat down very slowly. What was going on? I didn’t eat anything weird like blow fish or unknown berries from the Forrest. I had gotten plenty of sleep and had been drinking water. It’s not like I was nervous for my talk, I had already written it out and had given it once 2 weeks earlier and felt comfortable with it. I decided to lie down on the floor and once I was down, getting up just seemed impossible. My heart rate started to ba-boom ba-boom double time and I started to feel like the lights were just a bit too bright and shut my eyes for relief but that didn’t help because my world was spinning just as much in the dark. And that has been my story for the last 6 weeks.
Vertigo isn't just like being dizzy. Please, being dizzy is fun; vertigo is serious. How can I explain it...it's like going on the tea cups at Disney Land with the worst case of stomach flu you have ever had. Throw in the annoying symptom of hearing my own voice in my ear (kind of like when you get water in your ear but it won't go away) and you can understand why I have been such a joy to be around lately. It's not all bad. Oh wait, yes it is.
You never know how much you use one part of your body until it is rendered useless. Who knew watching TV, reading, writing, using the computer, surfing, golfing, hiking, and going to Costco were nearly impossible to enjoy with vertigo. I have only missed about 4 walking days through all this but now I walk a bit slower, a bit more side to side and with a stick (there are no walls to hold onto in nature).
Lately when people hear I have vertigo they have all sorts of advice. Everything from shaking my head to taking a certain kind of vitamin only found on Sesame Street has been suggested. People are only trying to help but after awhile it's almost easier to have people think I knocked a few back at the bar than to explain why I am holding on to the wall while I walk (because the floor keeps moving).
Things slow down with vertigo. Some words sound different to me than before so when people are talking to me it is certainly a trip and an effort to understand what they are saying. It’s made for some awkward moments as well when I misunderstand a phrase and take the conversation down a whole new path. The trouble is people think I am just being funny so instead of correcting me they just wait for the giant punchline of why I am now talking about gophers when we started out talking about what side up a penny should be in one’s loafers.
The words coming out of my mouth have not been that cooperative either. At times I know in my head what I want to say but what comes out is less than perfect. Once again this is why the rumors at church have started.
I never knew how many people nod their heads while talking to me and how much I use non verbal communication to agree with people. It’s a hard habit to break especially when I don’t want to interrupt a person but still let them know I am listening. So my conversations with people have become a real effort on my part. Plus I stare and seem like I don't care, but really, I am concentrating! I must now focus on their mouth when they speak and if they are rocking back and forth I must grab them by the shoulders and tell them to stop, which doesn’t work since while they are rocking back and forth I counter rotate with my vertigo and I end up grabbing the air and sliding down the wall. Once again, seeing this on paper makes me realize why the rumors have increased and why people keep giving me that look of empathy. The same look I use to give the slightly older puppy with a lazy eye thrown in with a bunch of cuter younger puppies at the pound.
After 2 weeks on prednisone and dealing with such fun symptoms as blurred vision, nausea, vertigo and the most unique one of sometimes instead of food going down it goes up and out my nose, my ENT ordered an MRI of my brain. This excites me for many reasons. Obviously I love spending money on medical tests, that’s a given. What I am really looking forward to is seeing not only the size of my brain but what kind of hamster is in the wheel that controls it. I hope to God the hamster did not die in there. But if it did we will replace it with a stronger, smarter hamster or maybe even a gopher.