Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Mom Living with Vertigo

A few nights ago I was doing the dishes when my husband, Gary, reached his arm in front of me to move the faucet. That swift movement sent my head swirling. I was immediately nauseous and had to sit down. Usually these episodes are short lived and I can resume my regular activity in a few hours or even minutes. Not this time. This time I got it good, occasionally that happens. After two days, I was still in bed. It's been four days now, and I have been up for most of the afternoon.

Learning to live with vertigo has been a process for me and my family. Not an easy one either, but looking back I can honestly say it's been an important learning tool for all of us. 

The Symptoms
-The room suddenly swirls, whether my eyes are closed or open
-Light hurts my eyes
-Noises are torture 
-I am nauseous
-There is a ringing in my ears that makes me feel like I'm going crazy
-My body is overcome with fatigue
-My balance is completely off 
The Research
When I first learned this was going to be part of my life, my mom told me of a woman who goes down a few days every few weeks. I was shocked that someone could live that way. I asked, "How can she do that?" It seriously seemed impossible. My mom said that she just adjusted her life around it as she learned to live with it. It sounded horrible to me. There had to be a fix.
I spent years searching for answers as to why I had this condition. Each doctor had his/her own theory. Is it damage to the balance nerve in the inner ear left from my first major incident caused by an inner ear infection? Is it anxiety? Is it sleep and eating habits? Is it stress? Or is it allergies?  They all have their answers. I have mine. My guess is it's probably some of everything, but the reality is it's part of my life, and therefore I've needed to learn to live with it.

The Grief
Grief is a real part of any loss. Losing my full balance (or the Jack Sparrow Syndrome, as Gary calls it), living with tinnitus, and dwelling in a spinning world is frightening. That's all there is to it. I do what I can to laugh, but sometimes, even still, I let myself have a good cry. Yesterday when I tried closing my eyes to escape the spins, I ended up spinning in the dark. When I realized there was nothing I could do to stop it, I let the tears flow. There's not a thing wrong with that! In fact, I think it's healthy.

The Guilt
I beat myself to a pulp for years because I wasn't the care giver I wanted to be during these times. I almost let it stop me from adding our three Ukrainian children to our family, reasoning that no one would want a mom that goes down for days at a time. When I felt the answer come from God that these were to be our children, something inside me started to change. God would rather they have a low energy, dizzy mom than no mom at all. Hmm.... maybe I was okay after all.

Each episode is different. This one is passing me by. The vertigo is waning, the ringing is dimming, and the nausea is almost gone. I still hang tight to the walls as I walk down the stairs, and sudden movements throw me for a loop. I won't be able to drive for another day or two and the weariness may take weeks before I fully recover, but I am on the mend. :)

I do much better now enjoying the good days. I love it when I see clearly. I love being able to drive my children where they need to be. I love being able to do the grocery shopping. I am so grateful when I can play and laugh and enjoy my family without laying down or holding my head. Then when the days come when I can't do these things, I really try hard to fight the guilt. I use to let it run its painful course, now I try to be more patient with myself and also with my children when we are frustrated that I can't do something. When Gary or one of my children asks me if I need something, I let them do it. There is so much growth in them because of this. They have had to learn that sometimes it's okay to take care of Mom.

I have two college age daughters. Both of my girls work with the elderly and the disabled. They have genuine concern for those they care for, making them everybody's favorite. I can't help but think this was instilled in them as children when they had opportunities to take care of me. Each one of my children living at home have come unsolicited to my room asking what they can do for me. I can't help but smile as I realize how much I love who they are turning into through this whole process. Would I wish it upon them? No, I wouldn't, but can I see the good that comes from it? Absolutely. Do I know what it is that causes this? No, but I think little by little I'm learning why.

1 comment:

  1. Have you ever been evaluated for " A-Typical Migraine"? Its basically like a migraine with other symptoms like virtago. Do some research. My symptoms include virtago, and nausea, but I also have limb weakness and coordination problems and speech difficulty. I was evaluated at U of U Med.