Dizzy Dame
July 25, 2007

About two years ago, I had my first and decidedly non-Hitchcockian vertigo attack. It was weird, it was scary, and it went away. A few months ago, I had a few more attacks, which meant it was time to pay some house calls to a few specialists.

Here are the results: after my first MRI and 45 minutes of unpleasant testing during which I was intentionally induced to dizziness FOUR WHOLE TIMES, they still don't know what's wrong with me.

The good thing about that MRI appears to be, however, that it's not a brain tumor! WOOHOO! Celebration of non-tumorosity! I mean, I assume that's not the case since my ENT didn't call me within 24 hours of my MRI to be all George Brent to my Bette Davis about it.

After that, the next step was the Balance and Mobility Clinic where, I had been reliably informed, I would vomit copiously.

48 hours before my stint at the dizzy clinic, I couldn't have alcohol, caffeine, antihistimines, or pain medication of any kind. This was sort of bad. The alcohol and the caffeine I could handle, but there was a bit of a problem with the anithistimines and pain meds. See, it just so happened that while enthusiastically attending the Tour de Fat (sponsored by the New Belgium Brewing Company) on Saturday, I managed to get stung by a wasp for the first time in about 17 years. The little bastard stabbed me on the side of my ring finger and it immediately swelled up and got itchy.

For the next few days, all I could do was ice it and spread it with topical antihistimines. No oral antihistimines to take down the swelling and itching and no Excedrin, Advil or whathaveyou to take away the pain.


So, bright (well, it was Daly City and it was July in San Francisco, so it was pretty damn foggy) and early on Tuesday morning, I show up at the Balance and Mobility Clinic and expect the worst. From the stories I've been told, I'm bracing myself for both water and wind forced into my ears, combined with being put in the gyroscopic equivalent of an Aurora Chair where they twirl me around at NASA speeds until I vomit.

It wasn't that bad, but it certainly wasn't pleasant. All I had to deal with was having my vision shuttered by this big virtual reality-type visor, and I went through a few eye tests -- totally fine and not vomit-inducing in the least -- and some twisting and turning of my head while lying down to see if I have benign positional vertigo.

Nothing happened.

And then came the wind tunnel. The doctor stuck a funnel in my right ear -- visor still on -- and blew cold air down my ear canal. The dizziness hit. And then it got worse. I had to open my eyes and do a countdown while the computer analyzed my eye movements through the visor. After that, I was allowed to recover for a few minutes until the dizziness subsided. Then the same thing was done to my left ear with the same results. Another period of recovery and then the same routine in both ears but with warm air.

After the testing, my husband -- the Evil Dr. Mathra -- gingerly escorted me out to the car and we sat there, not moving in the cold, foggy-thickened air, getting me back to normal. Luckily, I had packed Belvoir Ginger Beer, sparkling water, Carr's Table Water Crackers, ginger nuts, and ginger chews to settle my stomach for the car trip home.

According to the doc, I was supposed to get dizzy. That's how a normal, working inner ear reacts when prodded into action. The analysis of my eye movements during the dizziness recovery was also normal, and all of that pointed to my recurring vertigo not being an inner ear problem.

So what is it? It still could be neurological, cardiological, ideological (which means, we have NO earthly clue what is wrong with you but we accept that you are having issues) or something to do with an ambiguous virus. We still don't know but I call my ENT tomorrow to get his reaction.

Basically, all signs point just to me being dizzy.

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