Cathy Hughes

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Diagnosis: Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)

Sunday, November 26, 2017, I was in bed, when I turned over and noticed I felt a spinning sensation in my head. I sat up to get out of bed and the room started spinning so fast that I could not even stand up, I had no control of my body and was freaking out. I was with my husband and before I knew it I was crying in his arms and then started vomiting. Once the spinning stopped and I got my bearings back, I thought, “what in the world is happening to me.? “ I immediately called my sons who are paramedics; they came over and at that point I was in a full-blown panic attack. They gave me something for the nausea and panic attack and sat with me until I was able to calm myself down. After about an hour I was able to regain my composure. I was exhausted and thought I would lie down and rest, but realized that was not going to happen. I leaned back in my recliner, closed my eyes, and suddenly the room started spinning fast and out of control. I shrieked out loud, sat up and started crying thinking “what is going on?”, To top this all off, I suffer from Crohn’s Disease and every time the spinning started it would put my Crohn’s into overdrive. Attempting to get to the bathroom while my head was spinning out of control was a horrible experience.

My sons told me that I was suffering from Vertigo and that it was necessary to see the doctor right away. All day no matter how hard I tried I could not shake the feeling that I was not in control of my own body. It was a very long and trying day, and little did I know how much worse it was going to get. Upon going to bed that evening I fell asleep laying on my left side and seemed to be okay,; however, when I turned over in my sleep to my right side, I woke to the room spinning fast and furious. I immediately sat up and when I finally had control of myself I got out of bed and did not return to my bed for 8 long weeks. I slept each night on the couch with a pillow behind my back to avoid turning over on my right side. If I slept like this I was okay, but this was an ideal.
Monday, November 27, 2018, I went to the doctor, and told him the events of the previous day. He checked my ears and found a heavy wax build-up in my right ear , so he referred me to an ENT. It took over 2 weeks for the approval from my HMO and then another week to be seen by the doctor. The ENT agreed that the build-up of wax in my right ear could be causing the Vertigo symptoms. He cleaned the wax from my right ear and did a hearing test that showed I was not hearing well out of my right ear. He then ordered a Brain CT Scan with and without contrast to make sure I didn’t have a brain tumor. How scary! Thank goodness the tests came back negative. At this point, which was now 6 weeks later, he suggested I see a physical therapist to treat for me for BPPV. It took another two weeks to get the referral from my HMO, but finally after 8 long weeks I was going to get the help I desperately needed. After being seen by my physical therapist, Denise Schneider, for 3 treatments, the Vertigo was gone. I still have twinges of dizziness when I look up but otherwise all is well in my head. This experience has changed me forever. It is funny how we take simple things for granted without realizing it.
Below are examples of things Vertigo robbed me of:
• Sleeping in bed and freely turning from left to right
• Washing my hair (ex. flipping my hair over and also leaning my head back– think this is one of the worst symptoms.)
• Looking up
• Bending down to pick something up or tie my shoe
• Intimate relations with spouse
• Dancing/Exercising
• Walking down stairs
• Walking the dog
• Driving
• Going to the movies
• Watching a train at the railroad crossing
• Going to my sons rock concerts—ex loud music with the special effects (this was heartbreaking for me)
The vertigo caused me to be overwhelmed in crowds, and induced panic attacks. Basically, my life was put on hold and there was nothing I could do about it. This was very depressing. In conclusion, I thank goodness for my physical therapist, Denise, who treated me for BPPV. She saved my life! She taught me what to do if this should happen again and that I should call her immediately if this does happen again.