The short version of this story is that I have been diagnosed with a benign and treatable inner ear condition called “benign paroxysmal positional vertigo“. But diagnosing it required 911, transport by ambulance to our local St. Louise County hospital, lots of tests, and a 2-day stay. Care was wonderful, but it’s great to be back home. I have to temporarily use a walker for safety until we clear up the vertigo completely (which may just require PT, the next step is to go see an ear-nose-throat doc.
On Thursday night I woke up around 1 pm with severe vertigo and nausea. The room was spinning. I decided to go take some Pepto Bismol for the nausea, but when I got up I almost keeled over. I was unable to walk.
Nausea and dizziness are on the list of stroke symptoms so I became concerned and (literally) crawled over to my bp meter, and it read high, (171/80). My doc told me to take an extra 1/2 metoprolol if bp ever exceeds 150, so I went and did that (again on hands and knees). But I was getting concerned about a possible stroke, so I woke up my wife and asked her to call 911. By the time the Mets arrived, I had already vomited several times.
911 was a good decision-my first responder heroes verified the high bp then transported me to our great little local community hospital (St. Louise, in Gilroy). Bouncing down there road in the pouring rain, while everything seems to be spinning is definitely an e-ticket ride. For those of you that remember the TV show “emergency“, the crew responding turned out to be rescue 51! In the ER, they did some further stroke tests which were negative, but were concerned enough to admit me.
They gave me anti-dizziness medicine (Meclizine) as well as anti-nausea (Zofran). These made me feel much better by the next morning, although I was queasy enough to not be able to eat much of breakfast or lunch. The next morning the day-shift ran a bunch more stroke tests like MRI, cardiac, echocardior, and neck artery ultrasound, which were all negative. Extensive bloodwork and urine samples also ruled out infection (such as in the inner ear).
Barring stroke, one of the most common cause of severe vertigo in older adults turns out to be Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (bppv). So they had a wonderful physical therapist come check me out for that, and perform the most common remedy for it (see right side of picture above). I felt a lot better after that and was able to walk with her guidance at the elbow.
I still had to be kept the next night by the time all the tests were run.
The next morning the hospitalist (he was a great Doc) confirmed that bppv was the most likely diagnosis so he authorized releasing me. Trudy, my awesome PT came by and confirmed that I was safe using a walker, and ok to go up and down stairs, but not quite up to just using a cane yet. I was able to come home later that day.
The next step is home PT, and I also have a referral to an ear-nose-throat doc. Fortunately, I am also seeing my own Doc for a physical next week and I’ll get her wisdom on this. I’ll also see my cardiologist in January and see what he thinks about all the test results. Under the circumstances, I’ll upgrade that visit from a virtual visit to an in-person one.
So after this huge scare, it turns out I have a condition that starts with “benign” and is treatable. That I can work with!
It’s also good blog post fuel for the further adventures of a bionic old guy (although bionic is probably not relevant in this case, unless I end up getting inner ear replacements). So there’ll be lots more to come, perhaps more than you want to know, in the near future. You can always skip any posts pertaining to “more on bppv”. But I’m hoping that some readers might find this as interesting as a mechanical enginerd does. Also this was another major wake-up call with life lessons…