My friends – about a month ago I wrote a post, My Evolution of Dieting, Falling, and Getting Back Up, but little did I know how literal I was when I said I was falling and getting back up.
Within a week of writing that post I was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with vertigo. It was the worst experience of my life. My entire world was spinning.
I threw up for two days and the meds of AntiVert, also called Meclizine, and anti-nausea meds did nothing to help ease my suffering of spinning and nausea.
In my search for balance in my life I was literally thrown off balance and my entire world changed so quickly in the blink of an eye.
I've never experienced vertigo before and it's not something I would ever want to experience again. The ER physician said the vertigo would go away in 4-7 days, but after 5 days I was still seriously dizzy, sick, couldn't drive, and couldn't go into work. It was hard for me to focus on anything.
The ER physician referred me to a place called the Balance Center that specializes in vertigo.
After a series of tests at the Balance Center and another test with an audiologist, I was told that I had vestibular neuritis and I had permanently lost 79% of my balance in my left ear.
After hearing that I permanently lost 79% of my balance in one ear I was shocked at how this could have happened. I cried and was filled with so much anxiety and anger at this diagnosis. I felt trapped, I felt like my life was in chaos from the spinning, dizziness, lack of focus, and not being able to do most simple activities.
Just walking from one room to the other and feeding my dogs was a 30 minute task. I would have to put a chair in the middle of the kitchen so when I walked into the kitchen I could sit and breath until the dizziness had subsided enough for me to open the fridge and get my dogs food. Then sit down again and wait for the nausea to go away. Then I could put the food in their bowls, sit and rest, put the food back in the fridge, sit and rest, put their food bowls on the ground for them to eat, sit and rest, and then go back to bed or the couch to rest.
I'll try to explain in my simplistic terms of understanding of the diagnosis.
An inner ear infection that caused inflammation damaged the vestibular nerve. The infection usually would come from a virus typically in the form of a sinus infection or upper respiratory infection about two weeks prior to getting vertigo. Before the vertigo, I didn't experience any kind of pain, fever, or any symptom indicating I had an inner ear infection. The infection is caused by a virus, but to this day I have no idea how this happened. I wasn't sick before or after the vertigo.
Now I have to go through 8 weeks of physical therapy to retrain my brain to compensate for the loss. Thankfully it's completely fixable! The doctors say that I will have to continue the rehabilitation exercises for many years to come, if not for the rest of my life, to maintain the compensation.
I'm still in shock over all of this.
It took about two weeks before I started feeling a little better and during that time I was tired all the time from my brain constantly trying to figure out where I was in space. Forget about going into grocery stores without getting dizzy and nauseous. It zaps all my energy and I'm overcome with such anxiety just stepping into the grocery. My physical therapist said it has to do with the vestibular neuritis and the overwhelming amount of shiny and colorful things in my peripheral vision.
Now, 4 weeks after getting vertigo, I still get dizzy and have a slight lag when I turn my head from side-to-side or up and down. My dizziness, tiredness and lag is different day-to-day, but it seems I'm progressing in a forward and upward movement with some dips and valleys.
The amount of physical therapy takes a toll on my brain – which it's supposed to do – and if I don't walk every day and and complete my rehabilitation exercises I see a definite change in how I feel. I get more tired, more lag, more dizziness, and nausea.
There has to be something to learn from this experience. I keep asking that question, “What can I learn from this?” It hasn't escaped my notice that here I am meditating on balance in my body, mind, and spirit and then I get vertigo and vestibular neuritis that throws me off balance.
Coincidence? I somehow think not.
I've gone through so many ups and downs with my health and weight loss, my emotional eating, and now this. It leaves me super frustrated at times and admittedly I become overwhelmed and bawl my eyes out asking myself, “Why did this happen to me?”!!!
I see so many parallels to what I'm learning with my holistic health coach (which I haven't shared with you yet, but soon) and the experience with vertigo and the physical therapy.
My biggest takeaway from all of this, which parallels with what I'm learning about my body, is that small consistent changes every day leads to long term health and happiness.
As much as I've tried to take the easy way out with dieting all these years – which of course never worked – I tried to do the same with the physical therapy. I asked if there was something I could take to make it all go away or was there surgery to correct it.
This is the easy way out and definitely more invasive on my body – if there were such a quick method.
Turns out there's not and I just have to do the work! Hmmm….
Interestingly, the other parallel between getting healthy in my body and mind and the vestibular neuritis is that when I don't pay attention to my body, i.e. sleep too much, watch too much TV, binge, eat in an unhealthy manner, and don't exercise then I feel very tired, weak, unmotivated, emotional, depressed, and anxious.
So now, twice a day, I complete rehabilitation exercises that take about 20-25 minutes each time and then I have to walk at least 20 minutes per day. Small consistent changes lead to long term health and wellness.
Have you ever dealt with vertigo or vestibular neuritis? If so, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
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