An Epic of Dizziness ( Part 1)


Everything was going well in my life.  Nothing new, but just the same old day in day out chores and responsibilities that we all have.  Actually, a little boredom had set in.  I would soon long for a normal routine day.


July 16, 2011 was going to be a day in my life history that I would never forget.  I awoke suddenly about 3:30 that morning.  Something felt wrong.  I just didn’t feel good.  Being I was still groggy my brain wasn’t all the way awake.  You know the feeling of being in and out of dream land and reality? It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was feeling a spinning sensation.  It felt as if the room were spinning as I lay there on my back.  I waited for the feeling to pass.  It didn’t last long (maybe 2 or 3 minutes)- however, it felt like an eternity.  It was if I were laying still, yet the room was spinning around me. Starting to panic I nudged my husband awake.  “Honey, something’s wrong,” I said.  ” I don’t feel well, I’m dizzy”.  He was half asleep and said ” just sit up”.  I told him I was afraid to sit up.  I was shaking and the palms of my hands and my whole chest were covered in sweat.  Finally, I slowly rolled over onto my left side.  I was still feeling funny, but the room wasn’t spinning.  I finally worked up the nerve to sit up on the edge of the bed.  As soon as I did, It felt as if something was pulling me down, a force of gravity so strong I had no control over it. The force of being pushed, yet it was a pull downward onto the bed.  I was near tears.  It took another 15 or 20 minutes before I attempted to get up.  By then my husband was up and had turned on a small light in the adjoining master bath.  I was able to sit up and take a few steps to the bathroom.  I was so shaky and I couldn’t stop shaking.  I felt nauseous, but didn’t vomit.  I was praying, but all I could say was “Lord Help Me”.  I couldn’t come up with anything else.  The fear in my heart was so intense.  Even as I write this it is so hard to explain; unless you’ve ever had dizziness or vertigo like this before, it’s probably hard to understand how it feels.  I thought it must be something bad.  The only thing that kept me from going to the ER was the big bill we had just finished paying off to our local hospital.  I figured unless  I knew I was dying I wouldn’t go. The thoughts of stroke and tumor entered my mind.  My husband tried to get me to go back to sleep, but I couldn’t. I still felt sick and I was too scared.  I was scared to lay back down on my back because that’s how I was laying when the room was spinning.  So I stayed awake.  We made an early appointment to visit the Centra Care Clinic, making sure to take barf bags just in case. Nothing worse than getting sick on the road.  I was so tired and thought that was why I felt so spaced out.  It was like a cloud of fog was covering my brain.  I couldn’t concentrate.  I figured fear and anxiety were the culprit.  I’m sure that was part of the problem. but not all of it, as I would later find out.

I walked into the clinic looking and feeling like a Zombie.  I was never so happy to be at a doctor’s office in all my life.  I felt more secure.  At least trained medical professionals were around.  I noted that they could do an EKG and stuff like that.  I figured it was the next best thing to the ER.  I had to read a bunch of forms and sign my name.  I could hardly read.  I could make out the words, but it was so hard to read.  It felt like the lines were kinda moving and blurring.  My eyes were messed up somehow.  “Lord, help me sign my name,” I said to myself.  While waiting in the waiting room I felt an odd sensation as I looked across the room to the other side where chairs were lined up along the wall.  It felt as if the chairs were pulling towards me.  We waited for what seemed like forever for the doctor to call us in.  My blood pressure was about 20-30 points higher than normal.  “Do you usually have blood pressure that high”?  The medical assistant said.  “No, it’s usually really low.  Lower than what’s on the machines at the grocery stores.”  I was so scared, but the whole time I was so stoic.  I’ve always been one that could control my emotions during physical distress.  Heck, I gave birth without any pain medication, not even an aspirin.  I didn’t yell or cry out.  I moaned, but that’s not bad considering the pain of child-birth..  Playing the tough girl in the face of adversity: that’s me!  As this epic unfolds I would later cry rivers of tears, but for now I was just too scared.
Creative Commons License
An Epic of Dizziness (Part 1) by Melissa Jo Elliott is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

20 thoughts on “An Epic of Dizziness ( Part 1)

  1. I appreciate you have found the strength to write this all down – please keep it up! It will be VERY helpful with others going through similar experience. I just hope your symptoms go away and never come back, like mine continue to do after all these years. ..keep fighting it, and try yoga when you feel up to it – it helped me tremendously…

  2. Caren,
    Thank you so much for commenting. I really desire for this blog to be helpful to others that are going through balance issues. I don’t ever want to be defined by a disorder, but like you said “fight” to remain who I am despite any limitations. I will continue to update my journey with more parts to the Epic of Dizziness. God bless and wishing you many days of wellness!

  3. I read your story in the VEDA newsletter and I am curious how you are doing after your saw the physical therapist.

    My story is very similiar to yours, but I did not have the crystals. My diagnosis was vestibular neuritis. It started the same way, severe vertigo attack in the middle of the night, extreme dizziness, nausea, nystagmus, the whole bag of horrors. I went for vestibular therapy which helped for awhile. Vision therapy also helped me tremendously.

    Unfortunately, this is a lifetime disorder for me. I will hit my 10 year “anniversary” on 9/2/02 when I was 46.. I have learned to deal with it, appreciating my good days. I was bed ridden the first three months of it. I can no longer drive or work. I am now on disability. My whole life changed. Last year, I had a relapse which took me a few months to get back to where I was. I am fortunate that I have a wonderful support system, my husband, two sons and fabulous friends.

    I am on a water pill which helped with the fullness in my ears. In addition, I am on zoloft which dealt with the depression I felt when my whole life changed. Xanax helps when I am having a very bad day. I see an accupunturist, which is a temporary fix.

    I hope that you are doing better.

  4. plainviewsue,

    Thanks for sharing your story with me. I’m glad that you’ve had improvement, yet sorry to hear that it hasn’t went away completely. I have continuing parts 2 & 3 to this blog and will be updating before long with part 4 so I will ask if you’d continue to read my blog with updates to find out my diagnosis. Many blessings to you! Your a warrior! I appreciate your tips as well! I hope you have many more “good” days than bad 🙂

  5. Hello Melissa, I am writing from South Africa – the other side of the world. What you described could have been me writing my own experience back in May 2012. I am 66 years old.
    My initial symptoms were feeling “not well” and I mistook it for a vaso vagle episode that I am prone to. Considering my cardiac condition (heart attack & pacemaker) I was first treated for a cardiac event. and subsequently sent home as there was nothing to find.
    But at 3:00 a.m. that night I woke with exacly what you described. To get to the toilet I had to go and hands and knees.
    A while later I started to vomit and that’s when my wife called the paramedics.
    The sad part of the whole saga is that the idiot ENT doctor didn’t or couldn’t do anything for me. He just advised that it’ll take a few months to come right and I must just sit it out.
    Fortunately I did my own research and found an audiologist who specialises is this rehabilitation, 6 months later I am mostly functional but not still very unsteady.
    There is no vesibulat support group in Johannesburg so I rely on my family who are very supportive and considerate.
    Plesae keep this going. I appreciate having you available, albeit very far away.

  6. Norman,
    Thank you for sharing your story. I know that must have been a very frightening time for you. Especially with the lack of knowledge of the Doctors you were dealing with.

    I will continue on with Part 5 of my story once I can find time to put it in words.
    God Bless!

  7. Hi Maryjo and all Vestibular Disorder Sufferers:
    I was taken back by the stories and for the first time in 5 months of having been stricken , it was nice to find people with similar issues. My Vestibular problem started in June on Vacation with my family (some vacation)… I know call it My Dizzney Vacation. I woke up dizzy after a full day before of rollercoaster riding and thought I was just adjusting to motion… by 12 noon I was in the ER describing what I thought was a stroke and the Doctor thinking I had a panic attack… Luckily , it wasnt a stroke and a horrible ear infection that took me two months to kick!!!… and after 3 doctors and a series of tests which I know everyone on this forum has had… Vestibular Neurititis and BPPV. Though gruelling… I went from taking medication for the dizziness daily to now just Vestibular Rehab twice a week.. This event has been life alterering … I went from a highly functioning adult, mother, wife and nurse who could function on minimal sleep to being challenged to just driving to the local store to food shop. I am stricken daily with chronic fatigue, fogginess , lightheaded and anxiousness.
    On a better note, I have educated myself to the illness and attempt to combat it with daily meditation, positive thinking and redirection. The mind is a powerful thing and the uninvited guest has overstayed its welcome. As all of you have noted, perserverance is key and work below your energy level… I am just wondering when it will all go away..

  8. Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing. I understand how you feel. It’s hard to have your life altered so suddenly like that. There’s always hope! Each persons experience is different, so don’t give up hope. Keep on trucking despite those bad days! Time may bring about healing. God Bless.

  9. Melissa, I felt every emotion in your post, I suffer from vertigo among many other things, usually now i keep motion sickness pills with me always. I felt like someone was holding me down the first time it happen, every time i would try to get up, it was like an invisible hand was slamming me back down to the bed. I had to crawl on my hands and knees to the bathroom, when i tried to even rise 1 foot above where i laid, i would not have any control. The worse feeling in the world, The motion sickness pills now help me whenever it happens. I pray you will never have to go through that again. Spiritual blessings and hugs my sister!

  10. Thank you for sharing your experience with me. Fortunately I haven’t continued to have that level of vertigo. I do have ongoing symptoms, but praise God it’s not taking my life over. The nausea is the worst isn’t it. Have you tried sea sickness bands? I use them ocassionally along with gin gin candy. God bless you!

  11. Hi Melissa – I am dying to know what your diagnosis was. I am reading this article and I could have written it myself along with the love of The Lord and believing in Him and trusting in Him. I was recently diagnosed with vestibular neuritis and I know God is working it out for good. It’s hard to have your life changed all of a sudden and not know what the future holds. I am not able to drive and I have small kids (6&8). It has been an incredibly humbling experience that I truly believe was ordained by God, but the day to day is hard. Thank you for making me feel like I am not crazy!!

  12. Irene, I know it’s been awhile since you’ve posted this and I apologize for not responding sooner. I was on a break from my blogging. I was eventually diagnosed with vestibular migraine. Yet initially vestibular neuritis. Not 100% sure that I didn’t start with the neuritis and end up with a migraine situation. I hope you’re doing well. It is very humbling and yet as a believer you know God is up to something! I am doing very well now and I hope that gives you comfort on your own journey. God Bless

  13. So Melissa it seems like this never goes away. There are days when I think it is gone but then it comes right. I do not have the dizziness anymore but more of the off balance feeling. I cannot believe in this day and age they have not found a cure for this.

  14. Unfortunately it can be a life long problem Gilda. Hope you’re feeling better. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  15. Dear Gilda, I don’t see where you come from, but greetings from sunny South Africa where we also haven’t found a solution. Don’t be surprised at the lack of a solution. From research and reading that I’ve done over the 3 years of my suffering I’ve concluded that a) this is not a life threating condition, b) finding a solution will therefore not win anyone a Nobel prize, c) there is no solution actually.
    We tried surgery about 18 months ago to block the lateral canal in one ear. It helped for a few months but then reverted to the original condition for no reason and that has baffled the experts.
    I’ve started going to Bio Kinetics to help with my balance and to gain confidence in my daily activities.
    I do have 1 interesting observation. Johannesburg is situated at an altitude of 6000 feet. Last month I was in Israel at sea level and even below sea level at the Dead Sea. I felt good and had minimum vertigo and balance difficulty. Explain this if you can!
    All I can say is that you must try not to get despondent.
    Lots of love
    Norman Davidson

  16. I so appreciate everyone’s comments. I feel like no one but my doctor understands. I sometimes feel like a hypochondriac, but the fact is I am still working full time at 69 and push on despite the vertigo. I too see a specialist and have treatment, do the exercises, and continue to live. This started for me 20 years ago. My first episode was just exactly like what Melissa described, but I thought I had a stroke. I was very sick for 3 months prior to a diagnosis, but I still went to work everyday for fear of losing my job. I should not have driven, but needed to work. Stress seemed to exacerbate the problem and exhaustion. I try to control both and am starting on a better exercise routine.

  17. It’s great to hear from you Norman- I also went through a long period with a lessening of symptoms only to have a flare up again. Although this time much less in intensity and shorter in duration and I felt better much sooner than my first onset of the syndrome. The latest diagnosis is Meniere’s – although I still feel it’s more likely Migraine with associated vertigo & some dysfunction of the inner ear fluids. Norman barometric pressure changes greatly affect me at times and occasionally seem to not have any affect. I wonder if the pressure change in the altitude from you home and when you visited Israel was causing a silent migraine when you were traveling. From what I’ve read people that have inner ear disorders are much more likely to start having issues with Migraine. Barometric pressure is a big trigger for Migrainer’s. Wishing you the best!

  18. Carol, I completely understand the reasoning behind thinking it could be a stroke. That’s just about what my first incident felt like. Stress does exacerbate my symptoms as well. Its hard to explain it to people, I’ve been fortunate to have a great support network and for the most part people accept and try to understand what I share with them about this disorder. Although I think one could never fully understand unless they are experiencing it as well. Just like anything else, you don’t know what the shoe feels like until you put it on. Best wishes to you Carol 🙂

Did you enjoy this post? If so share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s