I thought a good way to start out here would be to describe my first experience with severe vertigo. It happened 3 years ago, when I was studying in graduate school.
I was under a great deal of stress, in my job, my relationship and at school — with the added pressure that I now was graduating and needed to find a permanent job. When I think back on it now, it was an incredibly difficult period in my life.
At the time, I was drinking what I would say is an above average amount of alcohol to deal with the stress, smoking too much, not to mention eating poorly and not getting any exercise. My lifestyle had really hit rock bottom, and I was rewarded with an upper respiratory infection that lasted over a month.
I quit smoking during the respiratory infection (I was far too sick to smoke), but kept going to work and started drinking again as soon as I was feeling somewhat better (although I knew I should have gotten back to 100% before drinking again).
After making what I thought was a complete recovery from the respiratory infection, I went through about a week where I was drinking more than usual and consistently not getting enough sleep. On the Friday of that week, I went out for a beer with a friend.
After one sip of my first beer, I started feeling that something was not quite right. I felt like the room was spinning, and that the feeling was getting rapidly worse. My friend quickly paid the tab and we left the pub, but by this time I was barely able to walk.
I went home and the vertigo became much worse — to the point where I couldn’t get up off the bed. My girlfriend at the time called an ambulance, and I went to the hospital, where the doctor told me I had simply been drinking too much that week and to go home.
I went home, and started to feel fine for several hours. Then the second wave of vertigo hit me — and it was worse than the first. I went back to hospital, and was again sent home, since the doctor could find nothing seriously wrong with me.
The third wave of vertigo then hit, and was the worst of all. I didn’t go back to the hospital, since I thought I would simply get sent home again.
This round of vertigo was accompanied by severely blurred vision, vomiting and profuse sweating for around twelve hours (which if anyone experiences, I would highly, highly suggest ensuring that you go back to hospital).
Months later, i had an ear, nose and throat doctor tell me that what I most likely had was vestibular neuritis, which as usual, I’ll give you the Wikipedia definition of:
Vestibular Neuronitis, also called Vestibular neuritis, can be a paroxysmal, single attack of vertigo, a series of attacks, or a persistent condition which diminishes over two weeks. It may be associated with nausea, vomiting, and previous upper respiratory tract infections. It generally has no auditory symptoms, unlike labyrinthitis. Vestibular neuronitis may also be associated with eye nystagmus. It is caused by inflammation of the vestibular nerve, the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.
All in all, it was a terrifying experience from which I feel I’ve never fully recovered, and one of the major reasons for this site. I think getting out how I feel about this experience will perhaps provide me with some kind of closure.