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meaning i'm more unbalanced than usual

several years ago, i went to my idiot doctor, whose idiocy i only suspected at the time, because i was having trouble standing up. this had been going on for weeks and, in fact, it had occurred in shorter bouts for years. it most commonly manifested in the morning and therefore i attributed it to the fact that my body was conspiring to find ways to send me back to bed. but when i couldn't get rid of it and when i wobbled a bit too far one morning and cracked my head on the radiator, i decided that maybe my body was actually trying to kill me and i should probably talk to someone.

so i went to the doctor, who generally alternated between wanting to cure me by laughing and telling me there was no problem and wanting to cure me with sleeping pills. since she concurred, eventually, that falling and cracking your head was problematic and, after some discussion, was eventually convinced that this wasn't due to lack of sleep, she agreed to send me to a specialist, someone who might know what to do when something couldn't be fixed by laughter or sleeping pills.

of course, to this day, i've no idea what she told the specialist when she referred me, because when i got there, he spent forty minutes administering tests and at the end of it told me cheerily that i wasn't losing my hearing. i hadn't been aware that that was even in play. but he seemed to get a sort of enjoyment out of the whole testing procedure and i enjoyed getting away from the office a little early and in the end, it's sort of nice to know that you aren't going deaf even if you haven't asked. but i did think it was important to explain to him that i was subject to almost paralysing attacks of dizziness that made me feel like i'd been stuffed inside an operating dryer. his reaction, verbatim:

did you need this?
"well you can't be really dizzy, because you're wearing heels."

touché, sir. you are correct. i am not dizzy at this moment and i'd like to point out that i never said i was.

and considering i'd never said anything about going deaf, either, i would have expected him to take a broader view. but i did eventually convince him that i did, at other times, suffer terribly and that i was not wearing my only pair of shoes.

the diagnosis, delivered with a shrug and a smile, was that it was probably just that the tubes in my inner ear weren't connected properly. or something. he couldn't tell. he assured me that it was "no big deal" and i'm quite sure he sent a hefty bill to the canadian medicare system for all the work he'd done to show that i wasn't going deaf. he did give me a nasal spray and told me that would help.

and it kinda did. sometimes. to get rid of an attack when it started. but it didn't actually get rid of the problem, just the symptoms.



as it turns out, i have a form of vertigo, something i've learned through research on the internet and walking less idiotic professionals through my findings so that they could interpret for me. this may be caused by an imbalance in my inner right ear, which is sort of a catch-all way of describing things that cause vertigo.

to be fair "acrophobia" isn't a catchy title
thanks to alfred hitchcock, most people think that vertigo is associated with acrophobia, or fear of heights. untrue. others believe that vertigo and dizziness are just different terms for the same thing. it's a safe assumption that people who believe that have never actually experienced vertigo. dizziness is that lightheaded feeling you get when you stand up very quickly, or the disoriented feeling that comes when you spin around really fast. vertigo makes you feel that the whole world is a spinning top and that you are perched very delicately on top of it, trying to remain still and not get thrown off. it quite often causes nausea [although thankfully, i've never experienced that part] and it can be triggered by any number of things- virus or bacteria, respiratory infections, head injury, tumours, dehydration or nothing at all.

if you're in that last category, chances are you have something called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. this occurs when crystals from the part of your inner ear that responds to the rotation of your head get dislodged and start bouncing around the adjacent ear canal like pinballs on meth. 

now hold for 20 minutes
in order to diagnose bppv, there is a test called the dix-halpike, where you go from a seated to a reclined position quite quickly, tilt your head and apparently something really freaky happens with your eyes. i keep wanting to print the instructions for this i found on wikipedia and ask dom to grab a camera so that i can see the results for myself. who wouldn't want to see their eyes go all uncontrollably batshit?

to deal with bppv, you need to jostle the crystals in your ears back into position. since you can't just stick a q-tip in there and push [no matter how much you might want to], there are several maneuvers that allow you to get your microscopic pinballs back in their right place. some need to be performed by a professional, but many can be done at home and if you're having attacks of vertigo on a regular basis, i don't need to tell you that you probably don't want to wait the time it takes to talk to your g.p. and a specialist. you can also buy yourself a spiffy hat that will direct you visually on how to do the epley maneuver, still the most common method of addressing bppv.[ironically, the epley maneuver is a lot like the dix-hallpike test, which makes me wonder why, as long as they're doing the test, the doctors wouldn't just take the extra few minutes and cure you. kind of bitchy if you ask me. which no one did.]

all you need now is a big foam finger and an air horn


the down side of the "cures" is that once you've coaxed the crystals back into place, there's absolutely no guarantee that they'll stay there. most cases resolve within a few days or weeks. or they don't. or they do and then they come back. at any time. so once you've had it, you get to live the rest of your life in fear, never knowing when your ears might attack.

and of course, since the epley maneuver is performed lying down, there are other problems that can arise in my household. 

sir, you are taking advantage of my disability


most recently, however, i've found that recurrent vertigo can be caused by migraine. which shouldn't surprise me, since everything short of cancer and aids seems to be a sign of migraines, but i think it would be just hilarious if that were the case with me, since, once again, it's a symptom that doesn't actually cause me any pain [except for the time i hit my head]. you migraine sufferers can just go on hating me. and if you're not sure why you should, you can read about my bizarre migraine experience.

given that my experience wasn't all that positive last time, i'm not eager to go rushing back to the doctor to ask what might be the matter. but since i have a much better doctor now and i've had symptoms for most of the last three weeks, i'm thinking it might be time to relent. at the least, i'd get to be reassured that i'm not deaf yet.


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