Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Sat morning as I was talking to Mother-in-law and drinking coffee at the kitchen table I felt the onset of a 'vertigo-like' spell. I excused myself and went to the bedroom and laid on the bed. That's pretty much where I spent the rest of the day, with the exception of a few trips to the bathroom to puke.

The 'vertigo-like' spells don't happen very often (thank god) and over the years they've gotten less severe. The one this past Sat was not that bad. Its just a little worrisome because I never know when one is going to happen, nor do I have any idea what causes them.

The first one happened in 1984 (I think) while I was on a cruise with several friends. I happened to be alone at the time, when all of the sudden I felt flushed, dizzy, and nauseous. Thinking I might hurl at any minute, I went into the closest restroom, which happened to be near a lounge. With perspiration pouring off me, I sat on the bathroom floor with my head over the toilet and puked until my stomach was empty, and then I puked some more. I figured I must be sea sick. Then I noticed a tingling sensation in my hands and feet. Still hot, dizzy, and nauseous I continued to sit on the bathroom floor, waiting for it all to subside. Instead, the tingling sensation spread up my arms and legs. I realized I was unable to stand up. It was as if my legs and arms were paralyzed. The next time someone came into the bathroom I asked them (from my stall) to get some help. I was taken to the 'sick bay' where a doctor asked me 100 times if I'd been drinking. He placed a pill on my tongue and had me take a sip of water to wash it down. I repeated to him that I'd been throwing up, but he said the pill should help. Less than a minute later I threw up the pill and water. The tingling spread throughout my entire body and I had difficulty breathing so they put an oxygen mask on me to make breathing easier. Still, the sweating, dizziness, and nausea continued... for 30 hours. When my symptoms finally began to subside the oxygen was stopped and I was moved back to my room, and my friends took turns checking in on me every hour. Eventually all the symptoms were gone.

The next time I recall having a spell was in 1992. I was eating a late dinner with friends at Denny's when all the sudden I was struck by that heat flash, dizziness, and nausea. My balance was so bad off that I thought I was falling to the right, so I tried to compensate by leaning to the left, which resulted in me falling out of the banquet and onto the floor. I told my friends I was going to be sick and to help me to the bathroom. They did, and I puked like crazy until my stomach was empty, and then I had dry heaves for a while. Again, the tingling and numbness started to make my limbs useless to me. I got my friends to carry me to the car, drive me home, and put me to bed. One of my friends stayed overnight, just in case. The next day I was back to normal.

The third time was in 1994. The alarm had gone off and I was getting out of bed when all of the sudden I felt the flush, dizziness, and nausea. Again, I puked in the bathroom, but did not have much of the tingling sensation this time; I never lost the ability to walk or move my hands and arms. This was much less severe than the first 2 times. I stayed in bed all day and by dinner time I was able to eat and keep down a little soup and crackers. The next day it was if nothing had happened.

The fourth time was in 1995. I was on vacation at the Outer Banks of NC, lying on the sofa watching a movie one night when the symptoms started. This was much like the third time. After puking I went to bed, and the next day I was fine.

This last time was similar to the 3rd and 4th time. I'm basically wrecked for the day, but feel completely fine the next day.

After the 1994 spell I went to the doctor and described what had happened. The doctor didn't seem to match my symptoms to any known illness or condition but said he'd take a blood sample and see if any levels came up abnormal. He later reported that all levels were normal, and suggested I come back the next time a spell occurs so I could be checked then. This is rather impractical since there's not much chance I'd be anywhere near the doctor's office the next time it happened.

In 2005 I had my first routine physical in many years, and took the opportunity to tell my new doctor about the spells. I was really surprised that she didn't seem to think much of them. It seemed as if I were reporting some 'inconvenience' rather than a possible treatable medical condition. Every friend or family member I've told about the spells has been much more concerned than either of my doctors. One friend suggested vertigo so I'm going to research that. But I'm also going to make an appointment with a new doctor, here in DE, and discuss it with him/her.

Drag Queen name of the day: Phyllis Inn

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