Vertigo

I have vertigo. Apparently people exist, a great MANY people, who have never experienced this horrifying experience. NNR is here to educate you. Recall, if you will, the last time you were seized with that “I’m going to puke. Now.” feeling. Most people have one. Mine is being overcome with heat and clammy sweat and feeling like my bowels lock up for a few seconds. Then combine it with the feeling of absolute certainty you’re going to pass out. Then make the floor tilt under your feet while your head feels as if it’s spinning in “The Exorcist.” Queasy doesn’t begin to describe this accurately. Nor do nauseated, dizzy, or weak. Inexplicably I don’t get seasick, but the descriptions seem to approach those of true vertigo. It is abject misery. One clings to the side of the bed to avoid being pitched off. Yes. One does.

My vertigo episodes occur about once a year and are caused by labrynthitis, an inner ear issue you can Google if you’re desperately curious. Seems people are either susceptible to it or not. Mine generally accompanies or follows a viral infection. Happily, the spells are relatively short and easily treated assuming I have a block of time during which I can sleep and not drive. Here are the magic tools in my antivertigo arsenal:

  • Antivert (meclizine): available over the counter or by prescription in the US. It’s an antihistamine and seems like strong Dramamine. Apparently, it’s used in Europe as an antiemetic, but it’s not enough for me, hence:
  • Zofran or Phenergan: Zofran for less drowsiness, Phenergan if I just need to sleep it off. Really, it’s best to sleep through this foolishness.
  • Valium: not just for anxiety or muscle-relaxing, this drug is FABULOUS for reducing vertigo.
  • Flonase and Mucinex: new tools in arsenal because some docs told me getting fluid out of my head would help even with inner-ear issues. I felt sick enough I was open to suggestion.
  • Tylenol: because puking makes my head hurt and I usually have a fever from the underlying virus.

Clearly with this combination you’re just out of commission for a few days. I left my last shift early because of my inability to walk without pinwheeling, etc. And then slept. A lot. And now my pupils are HUGE. But I’ll keep popping the meds as scheduled for another 24 hours because holy carp do I not want that awful feeling to return. Hopefully, this mess will be resolved by then. Normally it takes only a day or two. I have great sympathy for those who live with Ménière’s all the time.