Well, some of you may have already suspected that I was sometimes a bit dizzy. But, I have a good excuse, and here’s my explanation.
At my recent annual medical, I told my doctor that for about the last two weeks the room had been spinning for a few seconds when I laid down or sat up. I could see her watching my eyes as I sat up on the examining table.
“Yes, your eyes are darting when you sit up,” she stated. “You have Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.”
I looked at her blankly so she explained that it’s fairly common, rarely serious, except for the risk of falling. My family doctor is excellent at explaining things—that’s why I go to her—and she treats me as if I’m smart enough to understand what’s happening—another reason why I like her. She also noted that it’s more common in people over 50, can be the result of a blow to the head, or, sometimes, it just happens. Even though I feel like I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to get this book through the publishing process, I really haven’t been head-banging. In my case, it just happened—being well over 50 might have been a contributing factor.
This is my interpretation of her explanation: The inner ear has three semi-circular canals that contain fluid as well as fine sensors that keep track of the rotation of our heads. Messages are sent to our brains about the rotation of our heads and our positioning. There are also crystals in the inner ear—yes, everyone has crystals—which are not supposed to get into those canals but should stay in their chamber. Well, sometimes those crystals move into the canal or canals and make us dizzy. The task is then to move those crystals back where they belong.
Some physiotherapists have training in the manipulation of the head and neck to get the crystals to leave the canal or canals and go back into their chambers. I located a physiotherapist in the Oakridge area in South Calgary. She started by showing me a diagram of the inner ear and explained what she was going to do.
First, she determined that the offending crystals were in my left inner ear. She did this by having me put on what looked like large swimming goggles, only these contained a camera. As she asked me to lie down and sit up quickly, she filmed and watched for the abnormal rhythmic eye movements symptomatic of the condition. No eyes darting about on the right side, but lots of darting on the left. Then, she manipulated my neck and head on the left side to try to manually move those crystals.
“I have a pail here if you need to vomit,” she reassured me. Although I felt nauseous for the rest of the day, the pail was not needed.
After one treatment, the dizziness seemed to be gone. The physiotherapist suggested I come back for a 48-hour reassessment which I did, and there were no darting eye movements observed. She demonstrated how I could do this treatment at home if it recurs although she noted it could come back again next week, in ten years, or never. I left the physiotherapist’s office armed with my diagram of step-by-step instructions for self-treatment.
Just for the record, I’m now officially not dizzy.