An Epic of Dizziness Part Four

It was here! The day had finally arrived when I could see the Physical Therapist! It was August 3rd, 2011. I was ready to get this dizziness problem taken care of. I was still nervous about the whole procedure, but ready despite the apprehension. You see, I had done some research and I knew that I would have to lie flat back on a padded table and I wasn’t liking that part very much. Knowledge does give you power, but sometimes it just makes you worry. I’d been feeling about 80% better the past two or three days so that helped keep my fear in check somewhat. So, my husband and I made a short 20 minute drive over to the Physical Therapist to try and get me fixed.

The Physical Therapist greeted us with a warm smile and a nice honest looking face. I liked him right off the bat. He seemed to be compassionate and when you’re having issues, don’t you need someone compassionate? I trusted him and felt pretty much at ease. He spent quite a bit of time talking to us. He said the good thing about BPPV is that it’s pretty easy to fix, but the bad thing is, about half the people have another episode within the first year. He asked me questions such as “How has this changed your life?” and “What are your symptoms?” It’s a good thing my husband was with me, because I was still nervous about how dizzy the procedure would make me and some things were slipping my mind. So, my husband piped in and helped me answer some questions. He told the PT that I hadn’t been attending choir, and I always did before. It was true, I hadn’t been attending a few weeks as I was still hesitant to drive much and feared getting severely ill out in public. As I admitted my fears to the PT I broke down and cried. I apologized as I was embarrassed to be crying like that, but it just came out and there wasn’t anything I could do to hold it back. The PT also explained the function of the inner ear and how the otoconia (ear crystals or ear rocks) can become displaced. He explained what procedure we would be doing and what I might expect during it.

I climbed on top of the table and didn’t realized that I was tightly grasping the sides of the table. The PT picked up on my nervousness and told me not to worry that he would keep hold of me during the whole procedure and I wouldn’t fall off the table. He proceeded to perform the Epley Maneuver for my left ear, which my ENT believed was the affected side. To my surprise, I felt nothing. We talked a bit more and he decided to do another procedure to see if he could evoke nystagmus which would show that I had BPPV. It is called the Gans Repositioning Maneuver. He watched my eyes closely as he did with the other procedure and this time he did notice some nystagmus and I felt myself going into a spin, but it didn’t last long. As we got to the end of the procedure he kept his hands on me to keep me steady as I still felt off kilter when the procedure was finished. It got better, though, and I felt more like I did when I walked in after a few minutes. He seemed less than convinced that it was indeed BPPV. Usually, he books patients for a follow-up two weeks from the initial procedure and performs it again. He explained it sometimes takes 2 or 3 times for the procedure to clear the crystals and put them in their right place. He told us that based on where the crystals or otoconia lodge themselves determines which procedure work. He explained when the otoconia are lodged in a certain place, the area I can’t recall now, but this particular location causes extreme dizziness when procedures are performed to try to correct it. Some patients almost throw themselves off the table and he has had to lie on top of them to hold them down. The patient has severe nausea as the spinning sensation lasts longer than normal and can result in vomiting. I could imagine that he has probably been in a bad location when a patient of his gets that sick as he is right there holding them down. What seemed to puzzle him was that I was having the sensation of movement when I wasn’t moving my head in any particular position and that was not usual for BPPV. He talked about how some people describe BPPV. They’ve told him their head feels like a snow globe where the fake snow is floating around. It was ironic because that is what I had told my husband that I was feeling just a few days earlier. So we left the office with a follow-up appointment for two weeks out. Still didn’t know exactly what was going on. Was it BPPV or something else? How come I don’t fit the typical pattern of symptoms? Many questions went through my mind.

The next few days were pretty much the same as before. I’d have days that I felt about 90% better and then parts of days that I’d feel 60% or so. Honestly, most of the time I would feel different each hour. Then one day in particular I felt an increase in pressure in my head. Storms were rolling into our area. I felt it coming before it did. The nasty rocking sensation that I was having really increased. I was still sleeping on the sofa, as I feared falling off the bed and I’d found a way to wedge myself in the corner so I wouldn’t roll over on my side as sometimes that made me feel bad. I had to take one of the first meds that they gave me at the Centra Care walk in clinic when I first started with the whole thing. I hated to, but I knew I would have been sick to my stomach most of the night. I already felt the rolling waves in my gut as the couch and room were moving around. I slept like a zombie, it was a fitful sleep. I awoke in the morning still zombified and remembering a very vivid dream I’d had. My pastor was in it and he was praying for me. He was praying intently as his hands grasped both sides of my head and they were placed over my ears. When he spoke it felt as if he were shaking my head in a jerking type movement, he was praying for healing. I wanted to be comforted by the dream as I knew people were praying for me and I’d hoped that healing would happen. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that. Who wants to be sick? The reality sunk in, though: I was still sick. I did feel a little better by about 3pm that day though, partially because the medication that robbed me of any possible productivity was wearing off and the bad weather was moving out of our area. I took note of the correlation of the weather and my symptoms increasing.

In the meantime I waited for my next appointment with the compassionate P.T. and I researched a lot! I found an organization called Veda. They had great resources available to educate me on the many different types of dizziness disorders and the symptoms. I tried to narrow down what I did or didn’t have. I continued to browse the message boards and took in a lot of advice from others. I was recommended to go see a doctor that had fixed someone with BPPV in our church. I didn’t make an appointment with him because I was already going to my PT. I kept his name in mind just in case. I was still piecing together a puzzle. Was it BPPV or was something else going on too? I still had the problem with my arm and shoulder. I hadn’t made it to the Orthopedic Doctor yet. I needed to get that checked out as well. How can all this be happening at once?

www.veda.org

An Epic of Dizziness (Part 2)

Gallery

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After my vital signs were tested, we were sent to the exam room. Of course, it was freezing cold and I was still shaking uncontrollably. My husband and I sat in silence, not knowing what to expect.  The doctor came in and … Continue reading