Vertigo is a condition which affects many people for a variety of reasons, most commonly being the result of an inner ear problem – the location in our bodies where our equilibrium is managed. However in my case, nerve function is the problem, and the feeling that my equilibrium is off is the correct symptom to the wrong problem. You see, MS does that as a matter of routine – MS creates symptoms for problems that are non-existent. Sounds like a good time right?
For me, vertigo has triggers such as getting a fever, riding in an elevator, looking in a mirror, or simply looking up. As a rule, I won’t attempt anything with significant destabilizing factors (such as a rollercoaster), because experience tells me (and one experience is enough), that these sorts of high-speed fun activities, are no fun for someone with vertigo.
It’s impossible to explain to another person what vertigo is like, but I am going to attempt to paint a picture. Although I have had some very severe vertigo in the past, currently the way I experience vertigo is mild, yet I do, in fact, have it at all times, and these times are heavily affected by the “triggers” I mentioned before. Therefore, some of the time, my vertigo is more mild than other times.
Over the weekend we got our Christmas tree and immediately began to decorate it as soon as hubby had it in the stand. We have a silly tradition around here for no reason other than it makes my life easier: I put on the lights, and hubby takes off the lights. I’ll add that many years ago he learned how to take the lights off in tidy little balls that keep the lights from tangling and make a simpler installation for the next year, so he’s been stuck with that job ever since.
So as any person who has put lights on a tree knows, this task requires walking slowly around the tree in circles until the job is complete. I was only one light set in when I felt the tell-tale signs of my vertigo increasing. Seriously? Yes, seriously, walking in slow steps around my Christmas tree was a trigger for me. But, because I am a ridiculously stubborn person when it comes to how I feel physically, I continued. Would you believe those lights completely wrecked me?
As soon as I was finished, I sat. Being motionless is sure to bring some relief to the illusion that I’m in motion. And then the kids validated what I could already feel. “Wow, Mom, your cheeks are really red!”
I don’t know why this happens, but extreme vertigo always causes my body to react in strange ways, hence the flushing. Additionally, and much more bothersome, is the exaggeration and agitation of all of my senses, especially my sight, because even while still, everything and anything that moves within my vision becomes equally as painful as if I was actually moving. My hearing is heightened as well, and is almost as uncomfortable as my eyesight. It’s as though every noise bounces off my equilibrium as its own individual intensified movement. Sounds become a source of nails-on-a-chalkboard like pain, and my eyes instinctively squint as a means to shut out the piercing sense of everything. So essentially, one with vertigo doesn’t have to be moving at all in order to feel the effects of the nauseating movement.
For many who experience vertigo, even lying down and having closed eyes is a problem, because our bodies continue to “move” even while still, usually causing nausea. Similar to being on a boat, in fact, vertigo is quite akin to the motion sickness experienced on the ocean, tossed by the waves. However, this is rarely a problem for me, for reasons I can’t explain other than I fall asleep before I get too nauseous and lying down in the dark with my eyes closed usually brings me much more relief than the alternative.
For those who suffer from extreme vertigo, it is debilitating. From my experience, something as simple as showering is impossible with vertigo, and necessities like driving, forget it. Thankfully, this time, after a good night’s sleep, my senses relax and the vertigo subsides – until the next trigger.
And yes, I’m sure I’ll do the lights again next year….Ahhh who will save me from me!?