Tag Archive | Dizziness

Upon Turning 80

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

I have found whenever I do something to just be a good person, I get back much more than I ever give. This is exactly what happened when I sent Joseph Tresser some information about vestibular disorders because he suffered with dizziness a few months ago — I know how scary that can be.

Little did I realize how much he would help ME get through a challenging, painful period in my own life. With wisdom and knowledge, encouragement, and a wonderful sense of the ridiculous, Joe helped see me through the long wait for and actual hip replacement surgery. His help has been invaluable.
Joe sent me this and gave me permission to share it with you.

MY GOAL IN LIFE — UPON TURNING 80

Joseph Tresser

Joseph Tresser

By Joseph Tresser

Having experienced ups and downs

Over many years

On a rapid train through many countries

From revolutions to hurricanes and shaky earthquakes,

I developed a simple formula enriching

‘My Goal in Life’ which states:

‘Live young, have fun, and arrive at your final destination

As late as possible

With a big smile on your face

Because this would mean

That you truly enjoyed the ride.’

You can’t go wrong, especially so

If you have made many good friends

Along the way.

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Coffee? An elixir of love?

Mom, thinking 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

Recently, another report on coffee was published in the American Journal of Cardiology. Researchers at the Sheba Medical Center in Israel reported on the benefits of drinking same. Coffee, they suggested, can prevent heart attacks and improve your circulatory system and then some…. I’ve also read coffee can help prevent type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and liver disease…. Is this all true?

I know for sure that if you have a hiatus hernia (GERD) coffee can give you heartburn. It did when I, myself, suffered with this very common condition. I refused to give it up. I’m stubborn and am addicted to coffee and often had heartburn as a result.

comic old lady

Vertigo, yuk.

Some members of the B.C. Balance and Dizziness Disorders Society (BADD), who have vestibular disorders, believe avoiding coffee helps prevent vertigo. Is this really so? I haven’t a clue, but there’s no way I’d argue with anyone who believes they’ve found something to help avoid what is a most unpleasant condition.

old man woman coffee

Chatting about coffee

The other morning, I ran into Murray at the coffee shop. We talked about the recent report on coffee — he’d heard about it on CBC radio. I expressed my doubts about all these reports.

‘Remember the one about oat bran,’ I suggested, ‘It was supposed to cure all your ills. Then the one which claimed men over 60 who drank coffee were more active sexually.’ (Maybe improved circulation????)

Oh, oh. I had unwittingly touched on a subject Murray and I had never discussed before. I was regretting I’d blurted out that particular study, goodness knows there have been so many conflicting reports about so many things I could easily have chosen another. Well, it was too late now.

‘Coffee???’ Murray said, ‘How?’

‘Ahem, well, yes,’ I cleared my throat, ‘Uh, coffee, it appears, uh, yup, it, uh, according to the study, it affects the….libido.’

‘Coffee, you say?’ Murray was incredulous.

Old man with coffee

Coffee you say???

‘Yes,’ I responded, trying to sound clinical and matter-of-fact. I read it in the medical section of the L.A. Times a while ago. However I don’t know that it’s really true — maybe yes and maybe no.’

‘It was in the paper?’

‘Yup. In the Times.’

‘Well, I’ll be,’ he mumbled, ‘My doctor told me to lay off coffee…’

Doctor 2

Murray, don’t drink coffee

‘Oh, I’d listen to your doctor if I were you,’ I advised, ‘He probably had a good reason. You can’t believe everything…..’

‘But it was in the paper — in black and white!’

‘What does that mean? That it comes from God? Since when does being in the paper mean something is true?’

Murray wasn’t listening, his mind was no longer on what I was saying. He was thinking out loud.

‘That doctor. I had a funny feeling about him. I thought something was strange. I knew that guy didn’t like me. I just couldn’t put my finger on it.’ He thought for a moment longer. ‘He’s jealous of me. That’s it. He’s jealous — that SOB.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous Murray, why would your doctor be jealous of you?’ I meant well, but it wasn’t my day. I’d obviously made another mistake.

‘Why? Why?’ Murray was furious, ‘Why would he be jealous? Ha! A lot you know!’

Birds

What was it Murray couldn’t tell me?

Suddenly he calmed down and added mysteriously, ‘I can’t tell you…but I’m switching doctors.’

Hmmm. What do you make of that?

Live and Learn

Muriel from Blog

As time passes, I’ve had to change my mind on many issues — just one of which is wondering why otherwise intelligent people can throw money away on promises of unlikely cures. I didn’t understand, for instance, why people with cancer would pay thousands of dollars to go to some Mexican clinic to be given shots made of apricot pits. Did they really think it would work? Why, I thought, would they be so gullible as to believe charlatans and frauds who offer magical cures for whatever? (Thank goodness delicacy required me to keep my mouth shut on the subject at the time.)
You know I’ve dealt with dizziness, nausea and imbalance for years. Episodes in the past were awful, but less frequent. During the 1990s, they hit with a vengeance and tenacity I was unable to cope with. I, myself, became one of those “gullible” people. I now realize it is not so much gullibility as desperation.

The dizziness was so persistent, I was unable to cope

The dizziness was so persistent, I was unable to cope

I, who had flatly refused to take hormones, who questioned and refused just about every prescription any doctor tried to give me, suddenly accepted, bought, payed for, swallowed and did whatever my doctor or anyone else suggested might help. I wanted my life back!
Antivert didn’t help, so I tried SERC, then Dramamine, then, as recommended, I doubled the SERC. I tried a diuretic. I was willing! I was desperate! I was even ready to try inner ear surgery which causes deafness but “might” eliminate the dizziness. (I later did have that surgery, but whatever was causing the dizziness had by then also caused deafness in that ear, so there was nothing to lose.) It too did NOT cure the dizziness.
“We just got a brand new product in for nausea,” suggested my local pharmacist, who no longer had to ask my name. I bought it… It didn’t work.
“Have you tried acupuncture?” inquired a business associate over the phone.
“No, do you know someone?”
I didn’t know her, but I accepted her recommendation anyway.
“How about a holistic practitioner?” someone else proposed.
What’s his number?” I asked.
I was ready to try anything. If someone had promised the dizziness, imbalance and nausea would go away if I stood on my head and spit nickels, I’d have tried that too.

 Off-balance, dizzy and suffering with nausea, I would try anything


Off-balance, dizzy and suffering with nausea, I would try anything

As you can imagine, I wasn’t doing much cooking and jokingly threatened to turn my kitchen into a bedroom, but the shelves began to look more like a large medicine cabinet, lined with containers full of prescriptions and remedies that didn’t work. I thought I’d have to toss out some dishes just to make more space.
I popped pills, was poked by needles, swallowed vile-tasting, expensive Chinese herbs and solutions as directed, plus I obeyed and consumed nothing but cooked foods. My body had “too much dampness and too little energy”, and there was a heck of a lot of work to be done on my “spirituality”!
Finally, I came to the conclusion that what I definitely didn’t have enough of was — money, to pay for it all — I had become too ill to work.
Being desperate enough to grab at any solution myself, I learned an important lesson and was, once again, humbled. Vestibular disorders don’t kill you, but they can make you wish you were dead. So I now fully understand how others suffering from incurable and possibly life-threatening diseases can succumb to the hope held out by those bastards who prey on our vulnerabilities.
And, I’m still learning…..

To Family/Friends of Those with Balance and Dizziness (vestibular) Disorders

Muriel from BlogSince Dr. Graham Bryce and I started the B C Balance & Dizziness Disorders Society (BADD) 15 years ago, I’ve talked with hundreds and hundreds of members dealing with vestibular disorders. When our first Board met around my kitchen table, we discussed a name for our fledgling support group. I noted that “Balance and Dizziness Disorders” which was chosen, would probably have the acronym BADD, which might not look good. The response? “Well, it IS bad.” So “BADD” we became.

Balance and Dizziness Disorders ARE bad

Balance and Dizziness Disorders ARE bad

Through the years, members complain that nobody gets it. Not only do family and friends not understand how debilitating these conditions are, too many medical practitioners have no idea how difficult it is, at times, to function at all. These disorders are unpleasant enough to live with, but the lack of empathy from those around us can be devastating. With a broken arm, you sport a cast; if you are blind, you use a white cane; but stagger in the street (As I have from time to time) and people will look askance, consider you to be drunk and refuse to help you even if you request it. And, yes, that has happened to me!

Image used on BADD's brochure. We are always aware of trying to stay upright

Image used on BADD’s brochure. We are always aware of trying to stay upright

Not only do we deal with a scary, unstable world which moves in ways others don’t experience, with a balance system others take for granted which won’t work properly for us, but also the anxiety and fear of knowing that at any moment, often without warning, everything may begin to spin. When that happens, panic ensues, we find it impossible to keep our bodies upright. The feeling is terrifying.

I have desperately clung to street poles, mailboxes, garbage cans and strangers when suddenly hit by one of these episodes. I have courageously fought my way out of my apartment in stages after sieges. I’ve had to stop my car enroute to work in busy Los Angeles traffic, my heart pounding while my whole body trembled with fear. Not pleasant……

At any time, things can begin to spin

At any time, things can begin to spin

I have arthritis. It hurts. Unfortunately, after so many falls, a knee replacement didn’t work miracles. I deal with pain every day. I have, however, repeatedly said I can cope with the pain — as long as I’m not dizzy. Any day in which I don’t experience dizziness is a terrific day!

A father of a member I spoke with insisted his son was not being diligent. He missed a business appointment when he was experiencing an episode. (The son’s attacks were so violent, he was unable to get up from the floor and would have to be taken to hospital by ambulance.)

Keep Going? I can't even get up!

Keep Going? I can’t even get up!

“I’ve had a heart attack. I’ve had cancer,” the father insisted, “You just keep going.”

When I tried to explain that I, myself, ordinarily very reliable, self-sufficient and hard-working, was unable to “just keep going” even though I was not financially ready to retire. He didn’t hear or understand.

“He had a friend fill in for him,” the dad continued, “Maybe his client will like his friend better and he’ll lose the client. You just have to……”

I failed to reach him. What can I say when members tell me their family or even their doctors don’t take their conditions seriously. Too many family doctors seem to know nothing about vestibular disorders. At times I despair.

Yes, we make dates and appointments we sometimes can’t keep. I was to be interviewed on television for my job when I became so dizzy on my way to work, I had to call in to say I had no choice but to take a cab home. They were not pleased. I was the only one working there comfortable with that kind of assignment. The cab driver, seeing how ill I was (did he think I was already drunk at 8 a.m.?) didn’t offer me any change. He took much more money from me than he should have. I was too sick to argue — but I still resent it.

I often feel like this, but I'm sure he's better at it than I am

I often feel like this, but I’m sure he’s better at it than I am

One of the most common causes of dizziness is Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV), often easily treated by a manoeuvre. Many of us with other vestibular disorders end up with BPPV as well. Sometimes a manoeuvre will work. Sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it makes you feel even worse. There are no easy, simple answers.

I plead with family and friends of people who experience balance and dizziness disorders to try to understand and forgive when we’ve made promises we can’t keep or a date we have to cancel.

I've gotta get out of here! Too many colours! Too many lights!

I’ve gotta get out of here! Too many colours! Too many lights!

We may feel a desperate need to immediately escape from a shopping centre because the bright colors are making things impossible. We’ll suddenly grab your arm to hang on to because the world has decided to play nasty tricks on us. We’ll ask you to walk farther to avoid walking on the grass because if there is a slight indentation hidden by it we may fall. It may seem unreasonable to you, but I am familiar with it all.

Yes, we do love you. Yes, we do want to see you. And, yes, please do not misread our distress — it has nothing to do with you and it is not a rejection of you. We need you in our lives even more than other people do.

For information about BADD, see http://www.balanceanddizziness.org

 

The Magical Maneuver

June 17, 2012

The Magic Maneuver

Last night I gave in. I did an Epley maneuver on myself. I hate doing it. It makes me feel so dizzy and ill during the process, and then nauseated for a time afterwards. But, I’m much better for it today. Whew!

For many years I’ve dealt with a vestibular disorder, which causes bouts of dizziness and problems with my balance. Often, an Epley maneuver can help dissipate the dizziness when it occurs, depending on what is causing it. Since the Epley is non-invasive and can’t hurt, it is worth a try, but I tend to stall because, in my case, it temporarily feels so awful. I’m a coward. I keep hoping the spinning will pass on its own. It usually doesn’t and I usually end up giving in. This week, it didn’t go away, so……

I didn’t do the Epley until I went to bed, so I wouldn’t have to do anything afterwards except concentrate on feeling miserable and sorry for myself. When I awoke this morning, however, and turned over to get out of bed, the room didn’t twirl. It worked! I’m so glad, because my son, his wife, and their little one are coming to visit and I don’t want to be feeling unwell while they are here.

The Epley maneuver, named for the doctor who discovered it, is believed to move particles in the semicircular canal of the inner ear out of the area where they are creating havoc. The condition it works so well for is called Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, (BPPV) and is the most common cause of dizziness. It is more likely to happen to people like me, who already have another vestibular condition.

One of the ways you can identify BPPV is if the dizziness occurs mostly when you move your head, like up or down, or roll over in bed. Physiotherapists who deal with vestibular disorders know how to perform the Epley, and most physicians today are familiar with the maneuver. I DON’T RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO IT YOURSELF. PLEASE CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN. I was carefully coached by my own wonderful physiotherapist, who did it on me so many times, she thought I could finally manage it by myself.

For more information about vestibular disorders, go to the B.C. Balance and Dizziness Disorders Society’s website: www.balanceanddizziness.org