As I rolled over in bed early Friday morning, my old nemesis vertigo re-emerged. I was hoping the feeling was fleeting and that by the time I woke up to get ready for work, the sensation would resolve itself. Alas, my hope was extinguished when I tried to pop out of bed with my alarm only to be met with overwhelming, nausea inducing waves of vertigo, which sent me right back to lying down. After several attempts of trying to slowly get out of bed, my husband woke up. He was able to get me into the bathroom at least. And that was that. No working for me Friday. I’ve spent most of the weekend on the sofa, sadly. No running. Not much of anything at all.
I’ve definitely succumbed to BPPV, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. This is when calcium crystals dislodge in your inner ear, settling in your ear canal, exciting parts of your ear that detect movement. The crystals give your vestibular system false information about where your body is in space, eliciting that lovely room-spinning sensation. Unlike last time I had vertigo when my eustachian tube was clogged, this time is worse, and definitely more persistent. I’m certain that I had a mild case of BPPV last time in addition to the tube issue.
I had so much planned last weekend. Work on Friday. My daughter’s birthday celebration that evening. 9 mile run Saturday. Running some errands. Enjoying the snow Sunday. My time on the sofa was spent watching the rest of Schitts Creek and lots of college gymnastics.
I talked my husband through the torture that is the Epley maneuver, one of the treatments for BPPV. We tried the left ear first, since that was the culprit last time. No symptoms until he flipped my head to the right. Oy. So much vertigo! So I had him try again the next day starting with the right. Then I got symptoms both initially and again when he flipped my head to the left. Sigh. I should have known to do the right ear first, since turning on my right side when sleeping brings on the vertigo, indicating the symptomatic ear. After the second Epley, I just felt like I was floating on a boat in the middle of the ocean. And then, predictably the next morning, the vertigo returned.
So what does a PT do when her knowledge of her medical issues is exhausted? She reaches out to colleagues who know more about the topic than you. I have a classmate who is a former collegiate track and field athlete who I reach out to for ortho/running issues. But for this? I asked my friend Melissa, who is a vestibular specialist. Vestibular issues require a special set of skills that are really in a category of use it or lose it. They are not difficult to learn, but so easy to forget if you don’t use them frequently. She gave me a different maneuver to try for BPPV. I was hoping this would fix it, but I again woke up this morning with terrible vertigo.
I tried to work this morning. My drive there was OK, until I got out of the car. I was nauseated. Too much head movement. It did resolve, but I ended up abbreviating my schedule, and a colleague did another Epley on me. Everyone got to see nystagmus who wanted to. That was fun.
Here is the great debate in research for BPPV: do you stay upright after treatment, or is it safe to lie down? In my personal experience, I think I’m going to try sleeping sitting up in a recliner tonight, as I seem to be re-settling the crystals every time I sleep in my bed. I think (I hope) that between the Epley and that, I will feel better soon. Because if I wake up again like this tomorrow, I’m going to have to pay money to see the doctor. And that is something I don’t want to do!
I do have good news to report. My in-laws were able to get vaccinated for Covid-19 this weekend thanks to the Hanover NAACP. They helped to align those who qualified for the vaccine in Hanover County with appointments for a clinic on Saturday. So grateful for them! My own mom was able to get her first dose last weekend through a clinic that her primary care doctor held. That’s one benefit of being a part of a big medical practice, for sure! We’re still waiting for my dad, who is supposed to get his through his dialysis clinic. I feel a bit of relief that at least ¾ of my elders have their first dose.
And Sunday, we got more snow, sandwiched between two episodes of very cold rain. And, of course, there was that little football game. I hope your weekend was better than mine!
Did you do anything fun last weekend? I’d love to hear about it! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.