I’ve had this for approx 5 weeks now. 

THE START

So after, 3 days of feeling constantly dizzy and nauseous and headaches I went to see my GP. I thought it was my Labyrinthitis returning. Last time I had this I couldn’t even walk down the stairs as it felt like I was plummeting to my death off a mountain!!! 

Usual tests were done, BP, ears checked etc and all ok. Then the fun started. “Can you follow my finger for me?” I tried my best. Delayed reactions followed. “Ok let’s get you to walk in a straight line for me”. I took 2 steps and said “I seriously haven’t had a couple of G&Ts before I came here tonight!”. I mean at the best of times I struggle to do a Tree Pose in yoga without crashing to the floor like a 3 year old !! I could see the nurse gently grab my elbow as clearly her idea of a straight line and my idea of a straight line were not the same!! She confirmed I had these ear crystals in my inner ear that can cause vertigo, tinnitus and nausea occasionally. The technical term is benigh paraxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV).  Please see the link below for more info on this as it’s quite complicated for me to explain properly. 

The nurse told me not to drive at all as obviously the frequent head turning could be dangerous and she prescribed me with some anti-sickness tablets to take. 

2 WEEKS LATER

So the anti-sickness tablets worked but still felt dizzy throughout and the cathedral bells still ringing in my ears 24/7. A catch up telephone call with my GP resulted in us agreeing to me taking them for a week longer to see if it makes any difference. I’m not a big pill popper. If an illness can be helped naturally with essential oils or massage or acupuncture etc etc then that’s for me. I’m just not someone who wants to pop pills into me all the time to cure my ailments. Admittedly I do have to take inhalers daily for my asthma and I have terrible dust mite/animal allergies so I take an antihistimine daily for that too but I like to try natural remedies first…..

2 WEEKS LATER

I had stopped of my own free will taking the anti sickness tablets. I could cope with nausea as I said above but the dizziness was really worrying me especially as I couldn’t drive so was quite housebound. I mean it was lockdown anyway though….. Yet another catch up with my GP resulted in me making an appointment to see the nurse who would walk me through some head exercises that would help dislodge the crystals and “send them on their way”. The Nurse put me through some basic head exercises I can do to dislodge the ear crystals and gave me a diagram to remind me. 

Exercises https://www.boystownhospital.org/knowledge-center/treating-bppv-the-epley-manuever

I duly did the exercises for about a week, twice a day. Nothing. Bells still ringing for a wedding in my ears. Still dizzy. Still can’t drive. I called my GP for another catch up session as he requested. He agreed it wasn’t helpful taking tablets all the time and he was on the same page as me about wanting to get to the bottom of all of this. So I suggested a blood test to see if everything was ok. My GP said “That’s a good idea”……sigh. I should have trained as a doctor instead……

1 WEEK LATER

I got a call about my blood test. The GP was not my usual one this time. Blood test all clear so that could be ticked off. I went through my symptoms again with him and how the anti-sickness tablets worked when I took them but it was the dizziness I wanted to get to the bottom of. I suggested an appointment with Ear, Nose and Throat dept and really make sure there weren’t any underlying health issues like god forbid MS or some brain malfunction (my brain malfunctioned years ago anyway!) or something else. My aunt had 2 anaurisms in her 20s and multiple relatives have died from various cancers in our family so forgive me for being paranoid. More so because my father had tests and tests and tests for a symptom he had but all the tests returned clear! He was insistent his body was suffering from something so he demanded a colonoscopy (his GP said “you don’t need it your tests are all clear” but my father demanded it immediately) and they found he had lung cancer! God knows how all his tests came back clear!!! Sometimes you just need to keep plugging away as you know your body and how it feels. 

Anyway, the GP told me that due to lockdown the waiting list for the ENT on the NHS is about a year’s wait approx!!!!  So after a brief chat he prescribed some tablets for vertigo. I collected them and had a comical conversation with the pharmisict about taking them.  

Pharm: So take these 3 times a day with food and if your symptoms subside then you can stop taking them. 

Me: ok thank you. What if I stop taking them and my dizziness returns?

Pharm: well, just resume taking them

Me: oh ok. So I resume taking them, then the symptoms go away again and I stop taking them…what if they return yet again?

Pharm: well…..just keep taking them until the symptoms go then resume taking them if the symptoms return

Me: so basically I’m taking these on and off on and off on and off until ………….potentially forever?!

Pharm: you need to discuss this with your GP, sorry. 

I was exasperated. Anyway, I duly took them 3x a day, with food and yes the dizziness did subside briefly so I stopped taking them. Guess what happened when I stopped taking them?! Sigh. 

APPROX 10 DAYS LATER

Yet another catch up call with my usual GP this time. I told him about the conversation with the other GP and how he prescribed me with the anti-dizziness tablets and how I didn’t want to take them for 25 years on and off! I asked him if he could write me a referral for the local private hospital and I would get some ENT tests done to see if everything was ok. He agreed that sadly as the NHS waiting list is so long then I was making the right decision. 

1 WEEK LATER

I got my friend to drive me to the local private hospital where I had made an appointment. Friends had highly recommended this hospital. I had never been. It was an absolutely beautiful historic building set in acres of woodland and grass fields. 

So I went along, explained the myriad of medications and treatment I’d had so far and he also confirmed it was definitely BPPV which is affiliated to Labyrinthitis but a milder version. The doctor also said once you’ve had Labyrinthitis it’s common for BPPV to come along repeatedly. Joy of joys I thought! He then had me lay down on the bench and he also put me through the head exercises twice to try to dislodge the crystals. He then told me that he wanted me to sleep either sitting up or at least on 3 pillows for the next three nights. I smirked and muttered consent. I’m a sleep on my side in the foetal position woman. This could be an interesting experience for me! I asked him why when I did the head exercises before they didn’t work. The doctor told me that the exercises are very specific. Perhaps if I didn’t do them exactly with the exact head tilt needed or the correct sequence then they might not have worked. The GP told me that if I slept sitting up then it was an 80% success rate and I’d be fine by the weekend. I asked about other tests and he told me to start with the sleeping first due to its success rate and that I definitely had BPPV. I left feeling optimistic and hopeful. And £200 lighter for the privilage!! Sigh. 

!!!! HUMOUR ALERT !!!!

So, that night, I set up 4 pillows in a semi-vertical bulk, made myself some hot milk with Horlicks in and stayed up until 1.30am so I would be exhausted enough to pass out vertically! It was successful for 45 minutes. Sigh. I was awake, sitting up, no longer tired. I yearned to be snuggled deep and horizontal in my thick, heavy duvet. Eventually, about 2 hours later I must have passed out as I woke with the tv still being on in the dark. It was 5.30am. I felt exhausted. I’d had about 2 hours sleep and was still vertical. I did actually feel mildly less dizzy but the tinnitus was still clanging its bells in my ear canals! 

I repeated the routine again tonight. It was much of the same. Sleep. Awake after an hour, still awake for about 2 hours then I must have fallen into a deep coma as the next thing I knew it was 9am and my doorbell was ringing!!! I had forgottten my handyman was coming over to do some jobs for me! I lept out of bed, threw on my dressing gown (we’re old friends so I wasn’t luring him in with my exceptionally soft charcol grey number!!). I must have been in such a deep sleep though that rooms were now spinning, I was umming and erring all over the place and I felt like I’d been run over! It was annoying because I really wanted to know if the sleeping vertically solution was working like it seemed to be doing the day before but because I had had another night of broken sleep sitting upright and then woken so abruptly from my coma-slumber, I now felt like I was back to square one! I felt nauseoous again, my dizziness was much akin to a revoltingly agonising hangover (thank god my drinking days are over now!) and I just spent the day wandering around like a tramp tidying up after my handyman’s visit. 

That night my friend lent me her horseshoe shaped pregnancy pillow as she said it was so comfortable and that it would help support me in sitting upright. I went to bed at about 9pm because I was so exhausted. I actually dreaded going to bed. I knew it wouldn’t be fun! I passed out with the pregnancy pillow and a small plethora of pillows supporting me as I sat upright. I woke up at 11.30. Sigh. I put my radio on and listened to the talk show phone ins which I do often – late night phone ins are hilarious, I love them! I must have passed out again but woke at 2.30am. I turned to my left side and decided I would try to sleep vertically but on my side. I didn’t get to sleep for about 1.5 hours as I lay listening to the radio. The next thing I knew I was awake again at 5.30am. However, sleeping vertically but on my left side I had gone and bloody pulled a muscle in my neck now!!!! FOR GODS SAKES!!!!! Now I wasn’t still exhausted but was also walking like a robot with a crook neck! Sigh. 

I have vowed to give it one more night sleeping vertically. Tomorrow is Saturday. I’m not sleeping vertically anymore. I’m shattered!! Meanwhile I have decided to resume the head exercises twice a day and I’m going to do tons of research on other people’s symptoms, solutions and diagnosis. I will post an update soon!!

If you have ever had BPPV or even Labyrinthitis please share your experiences with me and/or your solutions, would be great to hear your thoughts on how you felt x

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