This is a hard topic to talk about. One, because I hate admitting that there is something wrong with me and two: because I’m always a bit reluctant to talk about health issues online.
There are plenty of times when I see people comparing illnesses, it’s as if unless you have it worse than everyone else, you don’t have the right to complain. I’ve always found that frustrating, like the time someone compared depression to cancer on Twitter. You can’t compare someone’s experience of cancer with someone’s experience of bipolar with someone else’s experience of MS or someone else’s experience of being paralysed. They’re all devastating illnesses that can impact the life of the sufferer and the sufferer’s family in a big way. So without meaning to compare what’s going on with my health at the moment to anyone else’s health issues, I want to talk about my health and how it’s making my life hard.
Vertigo is ruining my life
I’m 30 years old. I have a job that involves me walking around and being on my feet 80% of the time. I love going to the gym and running, cycling and being active. It’s important to me because it helps me feel better about my body to keep myself healthy. I like going out for meals, nipping into the shops by my gym and pride myself in being fit and healthy so I can use my body to do the things I enjoy.
How my vertigo started
Just over a year ago I started feeling odd. I kept feeling like my brain would just stop for a split second. As if I would fall over and have a fit.
I’ve never had a fit, but that’s what I imagine it to feel like right before. Like someone pressing down on my brain. Not my skull, but my actual brain. I thought I was just tired and drinking too much coffee.
It went on for months.
One day, it got really bad. I had to sit down in the canteen at work and I couldn’t walk or stand. Even sitting was a struggle. It felt like everything was moving and I was on the verge of passing out. I couldn’t shift the feeling. After about an hour I had to go home.
I booked a doctor’s appointment the next day. I remember the receptionist down the phone telling me there were no appointments and I cried and said I couldn’t cope. She asked if it was a medical emergency. I doubted myself but said yes.
As I had no idea what was wrong with me, I had built up in my head that I would be rushed straight to the hospital for a brain scan. I prepared myself not to come back home. I know that sounds dramatic, but the way I was feeling was terrifying and intense.
I’ve you’ve ever felt like you are not in control of your consciousness, then I’m sorry. It’s scary to feel like any moment, you’re just going to go.
When I went to the doctor she listened to my symptoms and diagnosed me with vertigo. I was given some tablets to help the dizziness and told to rest. Recovery time? Could be a day, a week, a month. Who knows?
I had four and a half days off. I went back to work still not feeling 100% but was able to walk.
Over the past years, I’ve had incidents where the vertigo has played up. I would just take medication and sit down for a bit and most of the time it would be gone within the hour.
Over two weeks ago, I had a flare-up at the gym. I stopped exercising and went home. The next day I felt fine. Went to work, to the gym and again, the vertigo struck. The next day I wasn’t working but still had vertigo during my day off – unusual to say I’ve not been moving much.
The next day, work was hell. I had to get someone to carry me to my car to get my medication and it just wouldn’t shift. Eventually, it got a bit better so I could carry on until the end of my shift. On my next shift, it was so bad I had to go home sick. It’s been over a week since I went off sick. I tried to go back last Thursday but just walking into work made me ill. I managed three hours of utter pain and anxiety before I had to go home.
I don’t usually suffer from anxiety. I’ve had around 3 panic attacks in my life – all triggered something terrible – not because I’m an anxiety sufferer. I sat in the canteen at work and had that feeling. My legs go numb, my arms and face tingle, my stomach feels like it’s fighting to get out. I was feeling this because I was worried about getting back to the office only 10 feet away. I was getting this because I was worried about going to the toilet in case I couldn’t get there without passing out. I couldn’t even stand up to get myself food so had to ask someone to get me some crisps out of the vending machine.
I went to the doctors the next day and they told me what I had been told before. Just rest and take pills.
JUST REST AND TAKE PILLS DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?
I do not feel any better. Each day, the feeling is the same. I try to go to the supermarket and have to leave in a panic. There are people in the way and they won’t move fast enough but I need to get back to the car ASAP.
I spend days sitting on the sofa, as advised. I feel no better.
I get up and wash the dishes, change the bedsheets and I feel it in my head. It’s there all the time ready to hit me bad when I walk longer than 5 minutes at a time.
I don’t even know what the point of this post is. I’m just venting, I guess. I feel utterly useless and I can’t shake this fear that I’ll never get better. No improvement after two weeks. None at all.
I finally have an appointment with the Ears, Nose and Throat specialist for the end of January. I had my medication changed yesterday so will hopefully see an improvement. If not, I may look into physical therapy.
All I want is to be able to go to work, finish a shift, go to the gym and then come home and enjoy a glass of wine.
I never realised how lucky I was to be able to do those things without vertigo ruining my life.
How I manage my veritgo – May 2019.
I wrote an update about my vertigo in August 2021 here.
Update May 2023
Just wanted to do another quick update as plenty of you lovely people are still finding this blog post from Google. Firstly, I’m sorry that you are also suffering from vertigo.
I still get it from time to time vertigo is not ruining my life as much as it was. I stopped drinking caffeine before Christmas and that seemed to help a lot. I’ve always known coffee was a trigger for my vertigo. I stopped drinking a few times and then stuck to the rule of just one coffee in the morning. But since having a baby I’ve suffered from sleep deprivation and that lead me to have more coffee, I was up to about 3.
I was at my son’s Little Gym class one day and I felt particularly bad. Then I remembered I had rushed two coffees quite close together and I started with the hot flushes, veritgo and feeling sick. That’s when I decided to stop drinking coffee.
I still get dizzy spells but it’s not as bad. I stopped getting the random hot flushes which triggered my veritgo. It was quite easy for me to get rid of caffeine as I just switched to decaf. I have a decaf coffee in the morning and then decaf tea during the day. If I go out, everywhere has a decaffeinated option but I usually opt for a hot chocolate.
It’s only a small adjustment and makes a big difference. I did have headaches midmorning for about a week but when that went, I started to feel better. I’d recommend giving it a go and seeing if it is also a trigger for you. Of course, we are all different. But it’s worth a shot
Do you suffer from veritgo? Have you figured out how to get rid of veritgo? I’d love to hear your experience!