Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dizziness and Nausea (No I'm not drunk)

Last week around 4am I rolled over in bed and felt dizzy and nauseous and I knew it would be a day with vertigo. Vertigo is a crazy thing to experience. The first time I felt it over a year ago, I panicked and my Google search resulted in all kinds of frightening possible illnesses, like Meniere's and MS. My primary care doctor listened to my symptoms (only dizzy when I rolled over, felt like I was spinning inside my head, but the room was not) and diagnosed me over the phone with Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).

I laid in bed all day and by the next day I was basically fine.

My vertigo returned in January of this year and again last week on Thursday. I missed work appointments on both of those days because I was too dizzy to drive. No one else I knew had ever mentioned vertigo to me, so I asked friends on Facebook and wow did I get a lot of information! Since I had only talked to a doctor over the phone about this and never seen a specialist, I took my friend's advice and went to see Dr. Hillman at Pittsburgh Ear Associates.

It's like Kennywood covered by insurance!
At their office, a woman named Lindsay conducted all these tests. She also took these photos for me. (Thanks, Lindsay.) Lindsay told me the first test would measure my brain and eye activity while she spun me around in this fancy chair inside a tiny, dark room. I never get motion sickness so I was not too worried.

"Name a girl's name that starts with A," she asked. And so on all the way to Z. She spun me around a lot. I had trouble with letters O and U.

"Now name a boy's name that starts with A," asked Lindsay. I kept spinning. I already knew I would say Zane for Z (from Ninjago) but I was starting to feel a little sick.

Then inside the room these black and white stripes appeared on the wall. Lindsay spun the chair or the stripes or both and told me to count them. Now I understood why they said not to eat 3 hours before the tests.

Then Lindsay turned out the lights again, spun me around and started asking me to name states. I couldn't think of a state that started with D, even though my parents live in Delaware. We got through a few more letters of the alphabet but by the time we got to P my mind was a blank and I was actually moaning I was so uncomfortable. I could not think of a single state that started with P. I was feeling very bad. I kept thinking, "Puke starts with P."

"You're in the state right now," Lindsay prompted with no sarcasm.

"Pennsylvania," I groaned. As I told my husband this later he suggested next time I say "Pode Island." He's helpful.

"I see you" (Sauron voice)
After the spinning chair I had to do another test where my head hung off the back of the bench and my eye activity was measured by a tiny camera embedded in a SCUBA mask. The image of my eye was projected onto the television in the room. Again, Lindsay did an awesome job taking photos. This test wasn't that bad and after it was done I was allowed to eat (finally).

Then I went to another office and had a serious hearing test and finally saw the doctor. Dr. Hillman was funny and very professional and confirmed that I have classic BPPV. He gave me some simple exercises to try if (when) it recurs.

He also confirmed what my husband and children already know: my hearing is perfect. I can hear everything.