Happy Monday, and hope you’ve all had a better weekend than me!
Arrrrgghhh. If you’ve been keeping up with our site, you probably already know how much I gripe about Murphy’s Law ALWAYS applying to me. No matter how hard I try to get ahead, “The Force” keeps pushing me back. It’s as if “It” doesn’t want me to succeed, in anything. One step forward, two steps back.
Well, this past weekend was no exception. But first off, a disclaimer- this is my experience and everything that happened pertained to me. My experiences or actions, or recommendations that have been given to me, should not be taken as advice for you. If you have any similar experience(s), you need to contact your healthcare provider.
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So Friday, I got up as usual, everything was normal. I got dressed, ready to do my workouts and 7-10 mile run. I put my oatmeal in to cook then sat down to check my email. All of a sudden, the whole room started spinning. This wasn’t just any regular dizziness, the whole room was spinning– unlike anything I’d ever experienced in my entire life.
Thinking this would pass, I tried to just stay still, but it didn’t go away. I tried to get up, but fell back down. Then I noticed I was covered in sweat, even though I hadn’t done anything, and everything was still spinning, so I got even more scared. I called Jerry at work, and while I was on the phone with him, I suddenly started vomiting and couldn’t stop.
Having had a CVA (stroke) a while back, this was scaring the $hit out of me. I was thinking another stroke, and with the dizziness and sweating, I was also thinking heart attack. Although I’m very active and eat healthy, anything can happen. After all, I did have a stroke at a young age.
Jerry came home, and not even he could move me, the vertigo was THAT bad. With my previous emergency surgeries, I walked into the emergency department. I never thought that I would willingly let someone call 911 and ask for an ambulance for me. But, that’s what this had come to- I knew something just wasn’t right.
EMS and the fire department arrived, and were extremely compassionate in loading me up- very professional and caring, and did a great job of reassuring me when I told them how scared I was. They noted the diaphoresis (sweating) and immediately did an EKG. They did a blood sugar check, put in an IV, and recorded vitals.
My blood pressure was LOW, it was 111/55, but the paramedic said it was most likely due to vomiting- which I was still doing. Blood sugar was 111, so it wasn’t a low sugar issue. When I heard them radio the hospital to give report and say, “…female with normal sinus rhythms…” I at least knew it probably wasn’t a heart attack. Now I started thinking nervous system. $hit.
As much as I hate drugs and taking medicines, I actually asked for them- I desperately wanted something for the nausea and dizziness. They gave me some Zofran, which eventually helped with the nausea, but I still had bouts of puking my guts out, even after arriving at the emergency department.
Once at the ED, I had a head CT scan and chest X-ray, and those came back clear. I was resting for, apparently, several hours, not wanting to move or even speak. Jerry, having nothing else to do, started researching all my symptoms (despite many medical professionals being annoyed by people doing this. Last time he did this for himself, a symptom program told him that HE was likely PREGNANT…lol).
After noting the tests were normal thus far, they decided to send me via EMS to another hospital an hour away for further testing. They noted nystagmus when looking at my eyes, thankfully it was only in one direction, which would make it less likely to be a “brain thing.”
When you have vertigo, a short ambulance ride sucks. A long ambulance ride REALLY sucks. When we got to the hospital (Rapides), they put me in a trauma bay, and I was like, “Oh $hit. Do they think I’m going to die?” Thankfully, I was reassured that it was because it was the only room open. Or so they told me.
Jerry arrived and explained what he had found about the nystagmus in a single direction- that this was a tell-tale sign of vestibular neuritis, a lesion on the eighth cranial nerve. The condition is diagnosed after other issues, such as stroke, are eliminated. This is almost always a result of some sort of upper respiratory infection. I had just started getting over a sinus infection, and took my last dose of antibiotics a couple days prior.
The staff at Rapides was amazing, just as they were when I was transferred there with appendicitis (my appendix ended up perforating)- very caring, friendly, reassuring, and professional. When the doctor came in, he apologized for the wait, and let us know that unlike our local hospital assumed, that they did not have a 24- hour MRI facility. He said they would work on getting me admitted and I would see the stroke team later on.
Wait a minute. The local hospital also noted the nystagmus was just one direction as opposed to both. Jerry and I brought up the prior sinus infection, and one-directional nystagmus, and the doctor actually agreed. Whoa. I can’t believe how good these people were at actually listening to patients. I’d had seemingly every test possible after my stroke, and everything came back completely clear. The most likely cause was a specific birth control I was using, and that has been changed, and my lifestyle is now much healthier. Given the previous results, the current CT and X-ray results, recent sinus infection, etc., he said he was comfortable going this route rather than the stroke route. Plus, Jerry would be at home all weekend with me in case something happened.
So, I was discharged early Saturday morning with official diagnoses of vertigo and a sinus infection, with medications following protocol for vestibular neuritis: prednisone (steroid), meclizine (vertigo), and antibiotics to clear up any infection that may remain. I was still dizzy, but had gotten up several times to use the restroom, with Jerry’s assistance. When I was discharged they asked if I wanted to walk or if I wanted a wheelchair. The treatment for this type of issue involves walking and continuing normal activities to retrain the brain. I opted to walk out.
Omg, that was a terrible walk! It was a larger hospital with an equally larger emergency department, and it seemed like the walk to get outside was a mile long. Then we had to cross a road to get to the parking lot, then walk to Jerry’s car. I thought I was going to puke the entire time, but I made it. The ride home wasn’t as bad as the ride there, because they gave me an IV, Decadron, Zofran, and meclizine in the hospital, and these meds had started to take effect.
The first night sleeping was really crappy. Every time I turned or moved, I would get nauseated again. As soon as the nausea passed, it never failed, I would have to go to the bathroom, or needed to turn over. It was a pretty restless night. The next night was quite a bit better.
After this happened, I was stunned by the number of others that have experienced this. I hate that loved ones have had to go through such horror, but it does make me feel a bit better that I’m not alone. Some people said the condition lasted for years, some months, some weeks, and for some, it has never gone away.
I’ll be updating very soon, so keep checking back. And again, HUGE thanks to the EMS/FD, and both emergency departments- I’m lucky to have received such fantastic care!
*Free ambulance clipart from clipartlord.com