What you should know about Vertigo.
It was a day like any other. I grabbed a tuna salad sandwich for lunch and continued working on an editorial for AND Magazine about Nelson Mandela's early life. About two hours later I receive a knock at my office door, I look up to address the visitor and I get a brief and very strange feeling of dizziness. It didn't last, so I didn't pay much attention to it, I went back to writing. About 10-15 minutes passed as I typed away, I got the swooning sensation again ' now I couldn't ignore it. "It must've been something I ate! THAT @#%^& TUNA SANDWICH!" That was my first thought.
I made my way to the bathroom with anticipation of evacuation. I stumbled down the hallway feeling like I enjoyed myself a little too much at a nightclub the night before ' room spinning, staggered steps, etc.
I stumbled into a stall and by now, it's really getting bad. I sat on the commode (not to use it, just to stabilize). I texted my wife because by now I was getting worried, the text read, "Dnt feel well. Dizzy - lightheaded. Slightly blrred vision. Hnds shakin. Hppnd suddenly. Gnna stay at ofc til safe to drive.
" No sooner than I hit 'send', violent vomiting, cold sweats and black-outs ensued. What I estimate to be about 25-30 minutes passed, by now I'm only dry heaving, but so hard that I could feel my ribs cracking and popping in my torso.
When I entered the restroom I noticed a gentleman occupying one of the six stalls lined to my right. He was an African gentleman loudly conducting business with an auto mechanic. My loud wrenching interrupted his call and he asked, "are you OK? Do you need someone called?" In between thrust I was able to mutter, "I'm fine' I think it was something I ate". He finishes his business and exits. In between bouts of vomiting, another gentleman entered the restroom and occupied the stall directly next to me. He never asked if I needed help, in fact he hastily exited without washing his hands after he heard me start to vomit again.
I got myself together (relatively) and stumbled back down the hallway toward my office suite. In my mind, I just wanted to get to someone who could help me because it was all too evident that I was not going to be "OK". I swiped my security badge to get into the office suite and tried to make my way to my office when I was so happy to see one of our security guards approaching in the hallway. I have a good rapport with our guards so when he sees me he pops to attention, throws up a salute with a big smile and says, "Good afternoon, Sir!" I replied "call ambulance" as I collapsed on a stack of box lining the hallway to my left.
The guard helped me to a chair and called the emergency personnel. Now I'm slumped in a chair with a handful of guards and co-workers around me. I feel my energy waning fast so I start to relay all that I could to the guards about what led to this moment, hoping that they would convey this information to the EMT's. I mumble to them that I ate a tuna salad sandwich at 1:30p, dizziness started at 3:30p, etc.
The EMT's arrived and starts to tend to me. They remove my shirt and start taking vitals and asking questions, "what's going on Sir?! You have to talk to me Sir!" I get the urge to vomit again and start flailing to get free from their grasp to find the waste-basket that had been placed at my side. One of the EMT's, a big guy, bears down on my back as I spit greenish-black bile into the can ' he was not helping me at all.
I'm getting weaker by the minute but I'm aware of what's going around until I start to black out. I recall being loaded into the ambulance and the female EMT on my left side trying to position my arm to stick an I.V. and directing me to "hold your arm still". Well, I couldn't. I didn't have enough energy to keep my eyes open, let alone stabilize my limbs. I heard her say "Jesus Christ, this f*cking guy!" As if I'm being unruly and uncooperative.
I passed out a few more times on the ride to the ER at the Virginia Hospital Center. I was awoken when we arrived in the hospital room. They had pulled the gurney alongside the hospital bed, jostled me to make sure I was awake and said, "Sir, we need you to get in the bed." Mind you, I was listless and weak, but I pretty much knew that I wasn't going to get any help from these two. I mustered my energy and rolled over onto the bed. I laid there on my face, caddy-corner across the bed ' that's where they left me. I blacked out again.
After 8 hours of tests and poking and prodding, the doctors and I were convinced that I was stricken with food poisoning, despite the fact that some key symptoms were missing, i.e., abdominal cramps, diarrhea, etc. I was sent home with medicine for nausea and instructions to stay hydrated and wait for the toxins (which were conspicuously absent in the myriad of blood tests administered) to work their way out of my system. They said it shouldn't take longer than 3 days to be "back to normal".
Four days passed and the double vision and dizziness persisted. My wife took me back to the emergency room for round two. This time they upped the ante and gave me two CT scans and an MRI, on top of batteries of blood and urine tests.
11 hours went by and with no definitive answer on what was ailing me; the doctor decided she would discharge me. My wife and I had both reached our peak frustration points, but they brought us to different conclusions. I was ready to go, I had given all the fluids I could, laid still in all the machines I could, took this, gave that, went here and there ' I was spent. My wife on the other hand, was not about the let the doctor off that easy. In rare fashion for my wife, she fervently demanded an answer from the doctor. By this time, the doctor was visibly flustered and excused herself for another hour. Apparently she went and consulted her medical manuals to give an answer to my wife who was all but foaming at the mouth by now. When she returned she did a series of maneuvers with my head and upper body, had me lie back quickly and look to each side, etc. Then she said, "I think I know what it is."
BPPV - Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. She then proceeded to tell me that there is no real "cure" for it, but that repeating the maneuver she tried, the "particle repositioning head maneuvers", there is a small chance that I can reverse the effects of what caused the disorder in the first place.
Before my episode, vertigo was just something you felt when you stood up too fast, not this debilitating disorder that has now had me in a continuous state of dizziness for over two weeks. The only times I don't feel dizzy is first thing in the morning before I start to move about, and when I'm sitting/lying completely motionless. Things that are usually taken for granted, i.e., driving, reading, a normal workday, walking around your home, cause a level of mental fatigue that I hadn't experienced since I was in the military.
According to www.vestibular.org
, BPPV is the most common type of vestibular disorder accounting for a large portion of vertigo cases. Dr. Travis Stork of TV's The Doctors
, says that "vertigo is one of the nation's top ten misdiagnosed conditions" and "50% of all adults will experience it in their lifetime, 70% them will be women".
I've had a lot of time to read up on my new condition (once the double-vision subsided) and I still don't know what to expect. I pray that in a few days ' weeks, I'll be past the dizziness and back to normal. In the meantime, this is one of the most frustrating and miserable events I have ever had to endure in my life, and I have been through some crazy stuff in my day.
I'll tell you like a good friend told me when I was dealing with the doctors trying to diagnose me ' "be your own best advocate!" This is good advice whatever your condition, but it is too easy to misdiagnose vertigo, so it behooves you to push until your doctor gets it right.
This can happen to anyone. For more information on vertigo, it's causes and sometimes cures, check out these websites that I found useful: