Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hairballs and Spinning Rooms

Have you ever had Vertigo? It is exactly like that unwelcomed New Year’s Day after an eve of hard drinking and menthol smoking, just seconds before you make that fervent wish for a new identity and the auld-langxiety sets in. You open your eyes and the bedroom starts to spin. The only difference is with Vertigo; there is no night before full of regrets. You remember the movie you watched, the company you kept, the popcorn you ate and the last paragraph of the novel you were reading before drifting off into a pleasant sleep. If you are anything like me, your first thought will be, I’m dying and it isn’t going to be pretty.

Vertigo slams into your head like a speeding bullet, a bus out of nowhere, and full of maliciousness in its pursuit of a wobbly gait. I slapped my hands over my eyes. Literally. The darkness helped but my stomach informed me we were still in motion. Should I say something to my family or lie here indefinitely with my hands over my eyes? Every time I peeked through my fingers and opened my eyes the spinning would be in full play. Deep breathing ensued, along with the prayer I hadn’t said in over forty years. “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” I think I heard the Lord speak back. “You should talk to me more often, not just at these uncomfortable times.” He was right of course.

“Anyone want bacon and eggs?” My husband called up from the kitchen.  I could hear my mother-in-law and brother-in-law laughing; even my granddaughter was beginning to stir. Of course, the typical time for something to go wrong is when you have a house full of guests. I held on to the banister with both hands as I descended the stairs resting briefly at each step before taking the next. I made it to the dining room and took a seat.

“Toast?” My husband offered the plate.

I shook my head and slapped my hands over my eyes.

“I thought you liked sourdough toast.”

I offered a half-hearted smile in his direction and slowly lowered my hands. “I woke up dizzy.”  My eyes seemed to be reaching out with invisible hands trying to grasp something, anything to hold on to.

He took my face in his hands. “Your eyes are moving fast. They look funny.”
“It’s hilarious from this side,” I joked.  The dizziness slowed and I found if I kept my head very still the whirling subsided.

My granddaughter looked at me with concern. “Are you okay, grandma?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” I lied.

I made it through the day with the bare minimum of movement and by the next day, Sunday, the symptoms hadn’t changed much at all. Everyone left that morning and by afternoon I finally surrendered. “Let’s go to urgent care.”

The doctor smiled when I told him my symptoms. “I get a case of Vertigo at least once a week.”

“Well I don’t,” I replied bitterly. “Are you sure I don’t have a tumor? Shouldn’t you scan my brain or somethin’?”

He went on to explain that in the inner ear there is liquid and thousands of microscopic hairs that are topped off with crystalline balls.  When you move, so do they and in one second they send messages to the right muscles so you can keep your balance and also lets you know which end is up meaning where gravity is coming from.  If the balls break off the hairs, your brain gets confused with mixed signals and you feel dizzy. 

It stands to reason that if you have a lot of balls rolling around in your head like marbles, it would make you feel crazy or dizzy. Maybe that’s where the saying, “she’s lost her marbles,” came from. 

“Where do the balls go?”

He shrugged. “Your body absorbs them and you grow more.”

“What can I do to stop busting my balls?”

He gave me a prescription for dizziness and then said I probably had a vitamin B12 deficiency and advised me to take Lipo-Flavanoid, which is a vitamin supplement. It took another bout of Vertigo for me to follow his advise and trek over to the drug store to buy them.  I usually take vitamins and put them in a drawer. I actually swallow these and I haven’t had Vertigo since. All it takes is being threatened with the feeling of riding a tilt-a-whirl for several hours for me to follow directions.  Oh yeah, and thanks Lord.