Honestly, the title says it all.
I wish I were being dramatic.
It all started on Friday. Our team traveled to an outlying city, about an hour away, to hold clinic. We hadn’t been to this particular city in quite some time because we simply didn’t have the patient demand, but for whatever reason the moons aligned, the stars sent a message, (I don’t believe in that stuff, by the way), and we had a small clinic’s worth of patients scheduled. We were going to outlying clinic.
I was stressed. Not gonna lie. We haven’t been to this clinic in quite some time and I knew that the location of this clinic had changed from the last time we had gone and I didn’t know what to expect, how it was set up, where the patients would wait, nothing. Not to mention, we were renting space from a competing hospital, it wasn’t even the same hospital that we currently work at so I knew we would have to take EVERYTHING with us, including a hotspot that sometimes, sometimes doesn’t, work.
But being the perfectionist that I am and determined NOT to let this situation get the best of me, I prepared the sh*t out of it. I got a contact number for our contact person, we emailed back and forth several times with her to find out what rooms we would be using, I called all of the patients ahead of time and got all of the information that I needed from them so that it would take no time at all to plug in their information and Dr. M and H, his mid-level, wouldn’t be waiting on me. I hate that. I never want to be the reason for something being done wrong or not at all. I had the team sign on to their computers before we left to ensure they would be able to establish a connection for their dictation/microphone thingie they use to write their patient notes.
I was ready, or as ready as I could be.
The day of clinic was perfect. The weather was nice, sunny, no issues there. Dr. M told us that he had to get back to town early because he had a meeting he needed to get to so I had called all of the patients the day before and moved their check-in times up but that meant we needed to get on the road super early. I got up at 4:30 AM, got ready, got to the hospital, clocked on and started the first two patient notes so that all I had to do was put them in rooms and get their vitals. I had loaded the company vehicle the night before so all I had to do was meet everyone in the garage and we would take off.
And that’s what happened. It was perfect. We were on the road at 7:00 AM exactly. Everything was going according to plan.
We get to the facility, we unload, we lug our stuff in and settle into our rooms. The hospital was actually really pretty and the rooms were spacious and we had plenty of room to spread out. Everyone signed onto their computers and established a Wi-Fi connection and again, everything was going according to plan. I roomed the first patient, handed her off to H so she could work her magic and then I roomed the second patient.
I was anxious but not really that stressed. At least, I didn’t feel like I was, to be honest. T, our nurse, brought bagels and I was looking forward to having a bagel in between patients.
And then, sh*t hit the fan.
I started feeling dizzy. I have no idea why, it just came on suddenly. I have had a few dizzy spells the past few weeks but they didn’t last long and I went about my day. This time, when it happened, I felt like I was going to faint.
We thought at first my blood sugar was low because I hadn’t eaten anything that morning and T dug out a bagel and I took a few bites thinking that might help. But then I started to feel faint, so I put my head between my legs to get the blood flowing figuring that would help and we could continue on our way.
When I came back up, I was suddenly transported to Funhouse Hell. I really have no idea what happened, but my eyes wouldn’t focus on anything and the room was spinning and swaying. I completely lost my equilibrium. T noticed it first and then H got involved. Dr. M was with a patient. I remember thinking, “oh thank God, this would be embarrassing in front of Dr. M.” It was embarrassing enough in front of T and H, but they are my girls and I knew they would help me get through whatever was going on.
I remember just sort of staring at the ceiling – it was fascinating in a way to see the room just sort of liquify. I knew I was experiencing Vertigo, but I had no idea why or what to do about it. I immediately started feeling nauseous and knew I was going to vomit. Like, BAD. Of course, this is the moment Dr. M. comes back into the room. At least, I think so, it’s sort of a blur.
H guides me out of my chair and into a reclining chair. She took my blood pressure – 173/105 with a pulse rate of 90 and I was sweating BULLETS. The movement of that transfer is what did me in. Luckily, a barf bag came out of nowhere, I don’t know how the girls found a barf bag so quickly in a room we weren’t familiar with, but it was thrust into my hand and I immediately lost the few bites of bagel and the water/coffee I had drank that morning.
I remember filling the bag up halfway. This barf bag looked like a giant condom and for some reason, on the level that wasn’t freaked out and spinning, I thought it was funny.
The things you think about in the midst of a disaster, I guess.
I started to feel very disoriented and I just kept puking. Dr. M. and H said we needed to wheel me down to the ER and the fact that I didn’t resist speaks volumes – I NEVER go to the ER unless I am dying and in that moment, I thought I might be dying.
Keep in mind, I’ve never experienced Vertigo before so I had no idea what I was dealing with or HOW to deal with it.
We get to the ER check-in desk and there was a female patient sitting there. It sounds like they are shooting the breeze to me and I’m now dry heaving behind her with Dr. M and H standing on either side of me.
I remember H saying to Dr. M., “you want to pull some doctor strings here?” And Dr. M. just sort of interrupts the patient and check-in girl’s conversation though to be fair, I think the patient went to sit in a waiting room chair by that point, and the girl asks for my name but I’m having trouble forming words because I’m thinking, “if I open my mouth I will most likely projectile vomit all over the place.” I didn’t know what I would projectile vomit, since I didn’t have anything else in my stomach, maybe the tail end of my small intestine …? So Dr. M., or H, I can’t remember who, maybe both, gave them my information and then the girl asked me for the last four digits of my social security number.
Social security number? My head was so fuzzy that I remember having to force myself to focus and to run my SSN through my head before giving her the last four digits. I was rather proud of myself for answering that simple question and I was disappointed Dr. M and H didn’t quietly congratulate me.
They wheeled me back to the room and everything and I focused on keeping my head as still as possible. Because every time my head moved even a millimeter out of alignment I felt like my head was going to detach from my body and land on the floor.
Wouldn’t that have been embarrassing. And keep in mind, I’m already MORTIFIED that this is even happening let alone that I barfed in front of everyone.
Oh wait, it gets better.
Even though I knew what was happening around me, it was like it was happening to someone else, or that I was living in a dream world.
I WISH it had happened to someone else. (Well, not really, that would be mean, I wouldn’t wish this experience on my worse enemy). I WISH it was happening to someone else and I still couldn’t believe it was happening to ME, even when we reached the ER room and I stumbled from the wheelchair to the table and then promptly dry heaved some more. (I had a new barf bag by that point – still don’t know where the second barf bag came from to this day – it was like H was a magician with those bags).
At this point, no one really knew what was happening. A tech/nurse, someone, female I think, came in to start placing electrodes on me so they could determine if I was having a heart attack. I didn’t feel like I was having a heart attack but hell, I didn’t know what was happening to my body at this point so I was like, “cool.” I think H stepped out of the room at this point, it’s a little fuzzy, but Dr. M. was close and I remember the woman saying something about having to lift my scrubs to place the electrodes and I was like, “Um …” and Dr. M. stepped out of the room to give us some privacy.
After the woman placed the electrodes she asked me to lie still so they could get a reading on my heart. NO PROBLEM. I never wanted to leave that table and that position ever again. She got the reading and it was determined I was not having a heart attack.
Cool. We could check that box off at least.
The woman left and H came back in. I could sense Dr. M was in doctor mode, (because he’s a kick-ass doctor after all) and assessing the situation. He asked me to smile, stick out my tongue, reach my arms out “to catch raindrops”, (thought that was a cute way of putting it and perfectly described what action he wanted – good job, Dr. M), then touch my nose with each hand. I knew he was assessing me for stroke-like symptoms but I passed with flying colors. I wasn’t experiencing any numbness and tingling in my extremities, just the damn Vertigo.
Cool. Not having a stroke.
H left to try and figure out a clinic that we, and by we, I mean ME, left hanging, (another guilt point for me), with T, who was by herself and likely doing damage control on, and another nurse came in to stick me to draw blood and give me Zofran, Meclizine, and Benedryl. Zofran is for nausea and the Meclizine is for dizziness. While I was waiting for the medication to kick in, I was hunched over on my left side because I was still dry heaving what little bile I had left in my stomach at that point and I was afraid. to. move. at. all. Any time I moved, I dry heaved. I was still sweating and was pretty sure I had wet spots on my scrubs by this time. Also, I had snot coming out of my nose and my eyes were watering so much I was crying.
Or I was crying, or both, I can’t be sure. I was a hot mess and did I mention this was all happening in front of Dr. M?
GADS – THE MORTIFICATION!
However, to Dr. M’s credit, he didn’t leave my side, which I thought was super sweet and I’m pretty sure we’re friends now because I feel like the working relationship zone turns to friend zone whenever you see the other person’s snot run down one’s face.
We’re friends now, whether he wants to agree to that or not. Ha!
Anyway, he’s still in assess mode because he places a finger on my eye lid, (because keep in mind I kept my eyes shut for the majority of this hellacious experience because it was easier for me to cope in the dark as opposed to try and make sense of the revolving world around me – and honestly, I’m getting nauseous just typing this out thinking about it), and he could feel my eye twitching.
There’s something I wasn’t expecting, though it makes sense now. My eyes were in constant motion. It’s because my brain was trying to make sense of what was happening and my eyes couldn’t keep up with the movement. It was like I was reading, but I wasn’t reading, if that makes sense. Kevin actually took a video of my eyes twitching, I haven’t watched it yet, I’m not ready to relive the nightmare quite yet, but he said my pupils were pinpricks and with the twitching, I looked possessed.
Well, isn’t that special. Kevin wasn’t there yet, I’m getting to that part.
I remember thinking, “Damn, Dr. M’s fingers are COLD.” Like ICE COLD. But it sort of felt good because I was so sweaty. Then he asked if could look in my ear and I’m thinking, “you know what buddy? You are seeing me at my absolute worse, what’s a little ear wax between friends?”
He looked into my right ear because remember, I’m hunched over on my left side and you could have offered me a million bucks to move and I would have said, HELL NO, because at least if I didn’t move I wasn’t dry heaving, and he asked, “do you clean your ears out?”
Now look, sir, I don’t need your judgement right about now. I almost laughed and said something stupid like, “really? You’re going to comment on my ear wax build up right now?” but of course, the funny part of me was buried DEEP inside my horrified, embarrassed, scared self and I simply said, “well, not as much as I should, I guess.” He said, “hhm, you have some dried blood in there,” and my very next thought was, “great, I’ve busted a blood vessel. Was it an aneurysm? Wouldn’t I have blood coming out of my ear if that was the case?”
Again, add that to the mystery of my life right about now.
Nothing more was mentioned about the dried blood but if I had a penny to give him for his thoughts, I certainly would have given it to him in that moment. Well, maybe not in that moment since the thought of moving even one muscle made me want to holler like a crazed banshee.
Dr. M does mention possibly getting a head scan and I’m thinking, “awesome, let’s stretch this hellacious highway out a few more miles, shall we?” The ER doctor comes in, diagnoses me and then starts explaining what BPPV is.
BPPV stands for:
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is one of the most common causes of vertigo — the sudden sensation that you’re spinning or that the inside of your head is spinning.
BPPV causes brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness. It is usually triggered by specific changes in your head’s position. This might occur when you tip your head up or down, when you lie down, or when you turn over or sit up in bed.
Although BPPV can be bothersome, it’s rarely serious except when it increases the chance of falls. Source
He explains that the crystals in my ear have come loose and I likely have one in a canal it’s not supposed to be in. This disrupts the fine hairs in my ear that control equilibrium, hence Vertigo.
My rocks are loose. (Oh – so many comments to THAT one, eh?)
He then goes on to tell me there is no cure for BPPV and it’s more likely to occur in people who have had it before. BPPV can last from a day to a week.
When he told me that, I honestly thought I was going to cry. And I would have cried if Dr. M hadn’t still been in the room. Dr. M. didn’t say anything while the ER doctor was in there but I could sense he was still there and I caught a peek of his very stylish loafers beside me at times. (He was sitting on my left so he had a front row seat to my many, and very attractive, dry heaves. KILL ME NOW).
However, the ER doctor said there was something called:
The Epley Maneuver for BPPV
BPPV with the most common variant (crystals in the posterior SCC) can be treated successfully — with no tests, pills, surgery or special equipment — by using the Epley maneuver.
This simple, effective approach to addressing BPPV involves sequentially turning the head in a way that helps remove the crystals and help them float out of the semicircular canal. Several repositioning maneuvers performed in the same visit may be necessary.
The Epley maneuver and other bedside physical therapy maneuvers and exercise programs can help reposition the crystals from the semicircular canals. Recurrences can occur, and repeat repositioning treatments are often necessary.
After Epley maneuver treatment, the patient may begin walking with caution. He or she should avoid putting the head back, or bending far forward (for example, to tie shoes) for the remainder of the day. Sleeping on the side of the affected ear should be avoided for several days. Source
He actually put me through these exercises while in the room. Did they help? Not one bit. In the moment. But who’s to say it didn’t help lessen the length of my Vertigo? I will choose to believe that because being flipped around on the table only made it worse and my dry heaves started back up again. But this exercise is good to know for future reference because there is a good chance this could happen to me again. I pray to God it doesn’t, but I’m a realist.
By the way, the Zofran was helpful with my nausea, well, marginally, but the Meclizine didn’t help at all. I have since discovered that Meclizine is Bonine, which is a motion sickness medication, and which I’ve taken and had zero success with. However, I do have some Dramamine and I will take that in small dosages so that I don’t pass out somewhere with drool dripping out of my mouth as Dramamine has a tendency to KNOCK. ME. OUT.
So – at this point, nothing has been helping, my world is still spinning, the medication they are pumping into me is not working and I find out that there is no cure for BPPV but that it’s very likely it will happen to me again in the future.
To say I was feeling bleak and sorry for myself would be an understatement.
In the meantime, the lovely Ms. T, our nurse, called Kevin and briefly told him what was going on in a voicemail and asked Kevin to call my phone, which H had in her hand in my room. H is like an angel – she just sort of drifts in and out of the room at various points in time most likely keeping tabs on me and T at the same time to give T an update and to help manage the disaster that
is was our clinic at the time. (The clinic I painstakingly pieced together, by the way. *sigh*).
My Garmin tracker goes off and without moving a muscle, I mumble, “There’s Kevin.” I knew without looking it was him calling – who else would it be? It’s not like my address book is full of friends that randomly call me on a work day.
H answers my phone and speaks to Kevin for a bit. Honestly, I think I sort of black out a bit because I don’t remember any of her conversation. But in essence, she tells him he needs to come get me and how to get to the hospital because, again, it’s in an outlying city and I know Kevin has never been to that hospital before.
When she hangs up, I think I say something to the effect of, “you guys can go back and finish clinic if you want,” and Dr. M says it’s already canceled. Now I’m imagining poor T having to juggle confused and likely annoyed patients by herself and my guilt meter goes up to about 10,000.
I dozed off, (I know this because Dr. M doesn’t leave my room and tells me later that I was snoring – KILL ME NOW), and before I know it, Kevin is popping his head in the door and then Dr. M. leaves. I still think it was so sweet that he wouldn’t leave me alone until Kevin got there to take over. Am I lucky or what?!?
Also – KILL ME NOW. I’m going to have trouble looking him in the face when I go back to work because now he has seen me at my most vulnerable. I don’t do well with that kind of stuff – I like to pretend I’m otherworldly and I don’t fart, have snot running out of my nose or throw up in front of people I admire and respect. If I don’t admire or respect you, all bets are off, I guess. Ha!
A nurse/someone comes into the exam room and they are going to let me go. Keep in mind, I’m still stuck in Funhouse Hell, still have Vertigo, still want to die and am still dry heaving but hey, at least I can be tortured without an audience at home. I remember the nurse/someone asking me if I wanted a wheelchair to get to Kevin’s car.
No thanks. I want to stumble into walls and make an absolute idiot out of myself in front of everyone while I crawl to the car. OF COURSE I WANT A WHEELCHAIR. Sheesh.
Someone, no idea who was pushing the wheelchair, wheels me back to the office so I can give my ID and insurance card to the desk and I remember having to tune everyone out so that I could focus on trying to figure out which wallet pocket was the real wallet pocket to dig my cards out of. No easy feat, let me tell you. I can hear Dr. M and Kevin talking but honestly, I was stuck in my own private hell zone and all I wanted at that point was to just go home and pass out without an audience present.
(I also remember thinking: I wonder if my lashes are still on? I wear fake eyelashes because my eyelashes are pretty much non-existent since I’ve gone through menopause. Oh – and that’s another tally to note on my humiliation punch card – one of the nurse’s asked me about my last period and I had to admit, out loud, that I’m menopausal. It’s not a secret, everyone I know knows I’ve “gone through the change,” I joke about it all the time, but still, to have to say it OUT LOUD and under such serious circumstances…. KILL ME NOW). The random crap that goes through your head when you’re under stress, I tell ya.
OH – another thing – they asked how much I weigh IN FRONT OF DR. M. – I HONESTLY WISHED I HAD PASSED OUT AT THAT TIME BECAUSE I WAS SO MORTIFIED.
They wheel me out to Kevin’s car and I get out of the wheelchair and literally fall into his car, luckily, ass first. But I hit it hard and I’m sure the whole car shook.
And I promptly throw up the pill and the small amount of water I drank. I’m telling you, that barf bag and me – we were CLOSE.
Kevin takes off and I close my eyes to solely and only focus on staying as still as I can possibly be while riding in a car with a stick shift. I do remember, “oh good, maybe me hitting my head on this headrest will knock the crystal out of my canal so that my life can get back to normal.” It might have helped, I don’t know. I remember seeing the company truck as we were driving home a few times so it looked like the team all finally packed up and followed us home. I later learned, from T, that they purposefully stayed close in case Kevin had to pull over and needed help. When T told me this my heart melted – I WORK WITH SUCH GOOD PEOPLE!!
We finally got home about 12:00 Noon. I promptly went to bed and stayed in one position for long periods of time to avoid rocking my world, again, and had to psych myself up into moving to go to the bathroom. Kevin came in to check on me and when he saw my eyes twitching, he had to immediately take a picture and film it. Ha! He still comes up to me at random times to look into my eyes, I guess to see if the “demon” is back. He was strangely fascinated by that little Vertigo by-product. Glad I could entertain him! Ha!
So – that was the Friday from Hell. It started out great and ended up with me being Satan’s playmate for a bit.
I keep comparing this experience to “Funhouse Hell” because the Vertigo was EXACTLY like walking into one of those revolving tunnels at the entrance to a funhouse. You know, it spins around you while you walk on a stationary platform – disorienting but you can walk. Vertigo is like walking into that tunnel WITHOUT a stationary walkway which leaves you scrambling to not only get to the other side, but being tossed around like a ragdoll because it’s spinning faster than you can walk it. It was so real to me that it honestly astounded me that no one else was experiencing it with me.
The Vertigo finally stopped at about 6:00 AM Saturday morning. I know this because I got up to go to the bathroom and I could walk without slamming into walls. I was still very dizzy, but at least my world wasn’t being tossed around. I spent the remainder of Saturday seated with my eyes closed. I slept A LOT. I guess I needed it. I was still pretty nauseous and it was hard to eat anything and keep it down. I ate a lot of toast and drank a lot of water. I was able to keep some of it down.
Sunday I just felt hungover. Less dizzy, though still dizzy, nauseous but SO WEAK. I guess that makes sense when you have literally spent 48 hours barely moving a muscle. I had trouble looking at a computer screen and TV was out, but I did “watch” TV with Kevin Sunday night, only I sat on the couch and listened to it as opposed to actually watching it. I annoyed Kevin because I would try and guess who the bad guys were and what was going to happen. (For those curious, it was Tribulation with Gary Busey and it sounded super cheesy, I’m sure it was worse when you actually watched all of the terrible acting).
I tried to go to work today – I really did. I got up at the normal time, took a shower, (nearly puked), put on a full face of makeup, with frequent breaks, then sat down and had a real talk with myself – I just couldn’t do it. I was supposed to work Dr. M’s clinic today and I just knew there was no way I was going to be able to function around patients feeling like I’m walking underwater and every little smell or thought of food made me want to vomit. So – I called in.
It KILLED me to do that because I broke my “never calls into work streak” of ten years. TEN YEARS! I’ve never called in to work sick. Gah! This sucks! But, honestly, I knew it was best for me, for the patients and Dr. M because I didn’t want to ruin yet another one of his clinics.
And I’m glad I did. I was pretty dizzy and nauseous this morning but I think I have a handle on it now. I’ve had a constant headache since this whole nightmare started and I’ve been struggling to get a handle on it. I have both a sinus and a temple headache. Because I know me SO WELL, I knew that the sinus headache was because of the weather change – we had some wicked winds come through this weekend and it’s right on time – I usually have some pretty bad sinus headaches about the third week in October because Fall blows out and Winter comes in, and the temple headache is likely left over from the Vertigo and I’m likely dehydrated because I wasn’t able to keep any liquids down for nearly two days.
I’m weak but I forced myself to do a little housework today. I wanted to puke but I actually felt better afterward. I also made myself type up this blog post because I read somewhere you wanted to keep your brain active as that actually helps get things back to normal as well. You’re “re-training” your brain, or something like that.
Apparently, BPPV is common in women over 50. Swell. And once it happens, you’re more susceptible to having it happen again. Swell. But, at least if it happens again, I’ll know what I’m dealing with and can handle it. Not knowing what is happening scares me – one of my number one concerns is not being in control of my body. And this experience … I was definitely NOT in control of my body and I HATED. EVERY. MINUTE OF. IT. Not saying that people that experience BPPV enjoy it but for me, it was doubly upsetting because I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t see clearly, my body did not belong to me … it was truly awful.
However, I will say – it was heartwarming to see so many people around me be concerned and care enough to take care of me. Kevin was great, he’s always great, and I still can’t believe he got into town as quickly as he did, (T said he drove back home at breakneck speeds – lol), but the people I work with care so much, too. That’s all the more reason I went through Hell whenever I was trying to navigate the COVID vaccine nightmare – I didn’t want to leave them. They are my work family. I care about them all.
Not to get too sappy, but it’s the truth.
I had a lot of conversations with God while I was trapped inside my mind. Pretty sure Dr. M heard me pray a few times and give myself pep talks about not panicking, (don’t panic, it always makes the situation worse). I’ve been reading up on BPPV and though I know it’s not possible to fully prevent this from happening again, I think I know of some things I can change in my life to give me better odds of it not happening again.
Speaking of the vaccine mandate – I received an email about what I will need to do meet my religious exemption requirements. I’ll talk more about that when it actually starts.
Thanks for reading!
Stay safe and healthy, please!