Melissa Jo Elliott

I wanted to share my story with others, so no one would have to suffer the anxiety I initially felt.

July 16, 2011 was a day in my life that I will never forget.  I awoke suddenly at 3:30 am.  Something felt wrong, like a sort of spinning sensation. I waited for the feeling to pass; it felt like an eternity. I started to panic - 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 and 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. I was near tears.

It took another 15 or 20 minutes before I attempted to get up. I couldn’t stop shaking and felt nauseous.  I tried to go back to sleep but couldn’t.  I was scared to lie back down so I stayed awake.

I made an early appointment to visit my doctor. I felt sort of spaced out, 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 had to fill out a bunch of forms and sign my name but I could hardly read.  It felt like the lines were moving.  While 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.

After my vital signs were tested I was sent to the exam room. The doctor checked my ears and noted that the right one looked like there was fluid in it.  Then he asked me to lie back on the exam table. Anxiety rose up inside me; I was afraid to lie down. And for a good reason because as soon as I did the room started spinning. He sat me up quickly and held me steady while I sat on the edge of the table, still feeling woozy and coming out of the spinning sensation.  He didn’t say what I had, but gave me some steroid nose spray and anti-nausea medication.  I was told to get some rest and then follow-up with an ENT in a week. 

I spent most of the next four days sitting upright on the couch with a big pillow behind my head.  It seemed to help stabilize my head and lessen the feeling of motion I was continuing to have. Every few minutes I would feel a tremor or shaking sensation flow across my forehead or the back of my head. I tried to read to pass the time, but it was difficult to focus and it took so much of my energy.  Watching T.V also made me feel sick.  

After about four days on the medications I decided to stop taking them.  The side effects were just awful. I was asleep all the time.  I’m generally a very healthy person so being really sick was out of the norm for me.

There were times after the first few days that I’d feel better for a few minutes and I would get on the computer and research dizziness. I pieced together that I might have BPPV (Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo).  The only problem was I had other symptoms also, and that confused me.

The big day finally arrived! It was time for my visit to the ENT. He proceeded to lay me way back in this special chair while turning my head to one side. The room began to spin and I felt a funny movement with my eyes, like they were jerking from side to side.  He sat me up after the spinning sensation stopped then laid me back to the other side and I felt the same sensation, however it was less intense.

The ENT diagnosed me with BPPV in my left ear and said there is a procedure that a physical therapist can do to move the crystals in my left ear back into the right place. When I researched it later I found out that procedure the ENT performed to diagnose the BPPV is called the Dix Hallpike maneuver.

I couldn’t wait until my appointment with the PT.  I wanted relief and fast!  I called to make the appointment and was told it would be at least two weeks before I could get in.

Twelve days into my experience I decided to start a journal.  I felt like I was the only one on the planet with this type of problem and I wanted to share my story with others, so no one would have to suffer the anxiety I initially felt.

Read more on my blog.

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