Vertigo

I don’t have any memories of the first part of the day; it started normally enough. Several of my coworkers and I decided to stay after school to use the weight room. It was January, and we’d made some resolutions that we were attempting to stick with.

I was doing dips when it happened. I started getting dizzy. It wasn’t that bad at first, so I just excused myself and walked back to my classroom. By the time I got there, I was so dizzy I couldn’t stay standing. The whole world looked like it was spinning around. All I could do was lay down on my classroom floor, close my eyes, and hope the spinning stopped soon so I could go home. Instead of getting better, it got worse.

Our second child was born the month before, so my wife was still at home on maternity leave. I managed to get to my phone to call her so she could come get me. Probably because of the motion of the car, I got sick soon after we got home. (I’ll spare you the details.) The dizziness finally went away…several hours later.

My doctor at the time didn’t have a good explanation for what happened or why. He checked my ears, gave me a steroid to dry me out, and did a pretty thorough check including having me get an MRI that came back negative. I had a couple more minor episodes over the course of the next few weeks, which seemed to leave my doctor a bit perplexed. My guess now is that he’d never really dealt with vertigo. He asked me at one point when I’d last been to the eye doctor. It had been a while, so I went, got new glasses, and that seemed to fix any issues I had.

That was almost exactly ten years ago.

About two weeks ago it happened again. When the dizziness started, I had students in the room. Fortunately, it was my last class of the day, and they were testing. Once they left, I laid down on my classroom floor, closed my eyes, and hoped beyond hope that the dizziness would just pass. It didn’t. It lasted for the next six hours.

I eventually sent a text to my principle, and, long story short, was wheeled out of my classroom to the nurse’s office to wait for my wife to come pick me up from school. The worst part of the whole ordeal was the feeling of helplessness…not even being able to stand up on my own…having three grown men help me into a wheelchair so I didn’t fall over.

I have a new doctor, and she seemed much more comfortable dealing with vertigo. She gave me some exercises to do to help keep the calcium crystals that break off in my inner ear from disrupting my equilibrium. She also gave me a prescription to take if I ever start feeling dizzy. It’s essentially motion sickness medicine.

When I asked what caused people to have these issues, she smiled under her mask and said, “Bad luck.”

She did give me more explanation than that. It could be genetics and/or something like Meniere’s Disease, which would help explain my hearing loss. That said, “bad luck” was just an easier way to put it.

My doctor was not surprised that there’d been a ten year gap since my last bout of vertigo. She said it will be seemingly random with no warning or explanation. I could have another episode next week, next year, or ten years from now. This is just something that I’m going to have to live with for the rest of my life.

That’s not exactly the answer I was hoping for, but at least now I won’t be caught completely off guard.