Not The Arm: More Medical Fun & Adventure

So, spent about four hours at the Mayo Hospital Emergency Room Sunday.

When I woke up Sunday morning, I sat up... and fell over.   I always thought "The room is spinning" was just a figure of speech.  No, it actually felt like the room was spinning.  And like I was being pulled strongly to the right while the world spun.

Over the years, I've had occasional instances of being light-headed, dizzy, or unsteady on my feet.  This was worse than any of those times.  At least an order of magnitude worse.

I fell back on the bed.  After a moment or two the dizziness and vertigo stabilized.  I tried sitting up again, more slowly... and the second wave of vertigo was even stronger than the first.  This time I had rising nausea to go with it.  Fortunately there was a plastic tub next to the bed that I was able to grab and dump the contents from to use as a catch basin; what I was having were not quite dry heaves.

The retching woke up Hilde, who asked me what was going on.  "I am having severe dizziness and nausea.  I think I need to go to the Emerency Room.  I am scared."   No joke about that last.  It was frightening to be that helpless.  If I'd been someone living alone, I would have had to crawl to the phone to get help.

Hilde called for Tabbi.  We used Hilde's wheelchair to get me out to the car, then Tabbi went back in and brought Hilde out.

What I was diagnosed with was "Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo".  That will not be the name of my next rock band.

What it is, is that small granules in the inner ear, otoconia. break loose from their usual location and travel into part of the inner ear where they're not supposed to be, totally throwing off your perception of position and balance.  The main treatment is a series of physical head-turning exercises that are intended to let the loose particles fall back into their normal area, where they can slowly dissolve.

from dizziness-and-balance.com
The head exercises I was put through at the ER triggered more vertigo and nausea, but which calmed down after several moments focusing on a fixed object.  Once I'd gone through them, there was a lot of subsequent relief.   (The exercises are effective in about 80-90% of cases.)  I was given several prescriptions for nausea and dizziness, and told I should not only continue the exercises at home if I continue to have problems, but make an appointment with the PT/Rehab department for further practive with the exercises.

I feel better.  Tired, and still a bit light-headed, but at least I can walk and move around (a little carefully, to be sure).  Probably shouldn't drive until I've recovered more.

One of the possible causes for BPPV is head trauma.  I didn't get a hit on the head, but Saturday was spent clearing out the room I'd used for my (rarely-used) office and making it able to move our son Chris, who's moving back in with us for a while after several years living in Las Vegas, into that room.  That raised a lot of dust and dander, and I spent the day wheezing and dripping and sneezing.  When I sneeze, I tend to sneeze hard, and I wonder if forty or fifty hard sneezes, along with at least a hundred noseblows -- I went thru three handkerchiefs -- might have added up to the same effect a smack up the side of the head might have had.

Just another fun day at Chez' Arthurs.  I could do with a little less fun of this sort.

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Saturday night, among the other stuff cleaned out of the office was a box of papers and corespondence that had belonged to Edna, Hilde's mother, before Edna's death about ten years ago.  We went thru it to see what should be kept, what trashed, and what sent to Edna's granddaughters.  I was struck that the commonest theme in letters from family and old friends, most of whom were around Edna's age, was to talk about the latest medical problems they or others were having.

It led me to wonder if I spend too much time on this blog talking about our own medical issues.  Let me know if I'm straying into TMI teritory, OK?

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