Sunday, March 17, 2019

Not Again with the Vertigo

I thought getting the ear boogers out had fixed my vertigo.  Think again buffalo breath.

You might remember I postponed moving to DR in July due to having a bad dizzy spell with lingering vertigo.  Those symptoms have been manageable since, and I’ve been able to do much of what I want to do here at Dancing Rabbit until last Saturday.

Saturday was my big road trip down to Columbia, Missouri where my nephew Clayton is a sophomore at MU to see a basketball game with him and my dad.  The trip down was fine.  If 10 is being so dizzy and sick that I’m stuck in bed dryheaving and 0 is no symptoms at all then most days I’m about a 2 or a 3.  I have to take things slowly.  My field of vision constantly seems to be wanting to move.  I try not to jerk my head around too fast because I think that is what caused my most recent bout of severe dizziness at 4am a month ago.

I’ve had about 6 decent months between bad dizzy spells which I am grateful for, but the road trip to Columbia turned out to be too much.  It was the walking into the arena and something about the visual depth and angles of the inside of the arena that was too much for me actually.  A similar thing happens in the grocery store or other big stores.  I’m great when I’m driving or riding in a car interestingly.  Driving is the time I feel the most normal.

I was fine at the restaurant having lunch before the game.  We met and ate at a place right next to the stadium which was packed with black and gold clad Tiger fans.  We left in plenty of time to park closer to the arena.  It was a little stressful finding a parking spot, and we had a decent walk to get there.  I noticed a faint tingle in my lips.  No problem.  I’m fine.  I haven’t been getting out much lately so by a “decent walk” I mean 3 blocks.

Dad and I had already wondered how I would feel going into the arena.  Dad has been dealing with similar vertigo issues for 25 years.  For some reason, spaces like the arena tend to fire up the vertigo, and in my case, this time it did.

Going in the massive glass doors at the front of the stadium - fine.  Walking thru the turnstile and getting my ticket scanned - fine.  Finding our section and going down the cement corridor - still fine.  Emerging onto a landing with a full view of the arena -NOT fine.  Dad asked, “How you doin’?”  I said, “Fine.” 

I took a deep breath.  I steadied myself walking to our seats and did not look down toward the basketball court but stared right at the next seat in the row which I grabbed for balance.  (We had the wrong section on the first try and had to move.)  A couple weeks ago I did finally go to see my new doctor about these symptoms.  It does not seem like they are just going to go away on their own.  My doctor told me about a guy he had as a patient with vertigo problems who was a roofer.  The roofer would spontaneously throw himself to the ground thinking he was losing his balance when in fact he was not.  This is a problem if you’re roofing anything other than dog houses.  Lest I hurl myself over the stadium railing, I leaned way into the seats as I made my way up and down the row.

I eventually got settled in alright.  I looked around.  I kept telling myself, “You’ll be alright.  Breathe.  Breathe.”  Ever since my stroke a couple years ago my lips go tingly when I start to get anxious.  As the announcer got louder and loUDER! and the lights screamed just as loud my lips got to tingling.  “Try to make it to halftime.  You can make it to halftime.”  By the time I’m trying to just make it another minute I know I’m not going to make it.  Not one to suffer needlessly, I told Dad and Clayton I had to go, and I would give them a call when I got to my truck so they would know I made it okay.  I imagine they were surprised, not surprised.  I assured them I’d be fine and did not want to ruin the day for them.

I made it out of the arena and about a block down the sidewalk headed for my truck which was about 5 blocks away.  My legs got shaky, and I got woozier.  Shit.  Worse, I was afraid of getting dizzier and falling down or having to lay down.  I did not want to make a scene.  I’ve made enough scenes in my life, and I don’t like them.  Better not to make one.  I leaned up against the fence next to the sidewalk and took some deep breaths.  “I’m fine.  I’m fine.  I’ll be fine.”  My lips were numb.  “Relax.  Relax.  Shit.  Relax.”  I headed back to the arena without a plan except to get around people who could help if something happened.

I got to the entrance to the section where Dad and Clayton were sitting, but I couldn’t go in knowing things would get worse if I made it to the end of that concrete tunnel.  Not a chair in sight so I squatted against the pillar holding up the stadium and texted Clayton.  He came out.  I just shook my head.  Clayton went back to get Dad, but in the meantime, I needed to find somewhere to sit so I found an usher who eventually led me to Guest Services where Clayton and Dad found me.  I felt a little better sitting down and just tried to relax.  Inside the arena,  it was half-time.  Some guy made a half-court shot to win $5,000.  I’ve seen a lot of these half-time events over the years, but I’ve never seen anyone make that shot.  Just my luck.  The crowd noise celebrating the shot made me wince, but I was happy for the guy.  Dad and Clayton walked up, and Dad said, “A guy just made a half-court shot for $5,000!”  “I heard,” I said.

Clayton went and got Dad’s truck and pulled up close to the arena where I got in.  Oddly, again, I was much better riding in the truck.  We went back to the restaurant we had left an hour earlier and sat down to make a plan.  I felt bad for making us leave the game, but I didn’t have a choice.  I guess I sort of made a scene anyway.  Damn it.  Our decision was to leave my truck parked at Clayton’s fraternity house, and I would go home with Dad to rest up.  He could bring me back to pick up my truck the next day.

As it turned out, Dad brought me back two days later after resting up at the house with him and Mom.  I was fine driving, but I was very tired when I got back to DR, and I’ve been sleeping an inordinate amount which seems to have helped some.  In the last 24 hours, I feel like I’m back to that 2 or 3 on a 10-point scale I mentioned earlier.

MU lost the game at the end after having a big lead.  That guy did make the $5,000 half-court shot though which is cool.  If I could get back to mostly 1 or even 0 on that 10-point scale, I’d feel like I hit a half-court shot for $500,000.  It would be amazing.  I will be so grateful.  It’ll happen.  (And it is happening as I write this just 3 days later.  Don't worry about me please.  I don't want to make a scene.)

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