“My wife’s dizzy,” I heard Phil say from the phone in the next room.

Oh, great, I thought. My husband is telling everyone I’m a dingbat.

But in actuality, he speaks the truth. I am dizzy and have been for days.

Not in the metaphorical sense — although I’m sure there are those who would dispute that — but in the literal.

I am suffering from this horrible vertigo, the likes of which I hope never to experience again.

It started insidiously, in the middle of the night. I woke at 12:21 a.m., feeling as if my brain were floating around in my head. I had been lying on my right side and when turning to my left, felt a sudden jolt of vertigo.


I quickly turned back to my right and began to regain some equilibrium, but getting to the bathroom was a monumental challenge.

With my head tilted sharply to the right — the only position that afforded me a modicum of stability — I crawled precariously down the hallway like a crab, close to the floor, hands grasping the walls for support.

If ever there was a thing called hell, this was it.

Seriously, it’s no fun.

The first day, I lay in bed on my back, head propped slightly forward on a pillow, staring straight ahead.

I was OK if I didn’t move. But trips to the bathroom, however infrequent, proved something out of a horror movie.


The second day, suffering from excruciating back pain from being in bed so long, I ventured to the living room where I managed to crawl onto the couch.

Then, as is my MO when I’m trying to figure something out, I started asking questions.

I learned from talking with people who have had it that it can last a few days to several weeks. Some suffer with it, on and off, for years. Egads, please don’t let me join their ranks.

I called my sister, who also has had the misfortune of experiencing vertigo. She advised that I get medicine for motion sickness and never turn my head quickly.

“Whatever you do, don’t lie flat,” she said.

A friend told me about a maneuver where you lie flat on your back on a table and hang your head over the edge, turning it incrementally in five positions and holding it still for a minute at each point.


“My doctor told me about it,” he said. “You won’t be able to get up right away and start roaming all over the place, but it helps.”

I tried it on the coffee table and did fine until I hit the three-quarter turn, at which point my world turned violently upside down. I abruptly ceased that effort.

Another friend said she didn’t want to scare me, but a woman she knows got vertigo once while teaching a class and passed out flat on the floor in front of her students.

“How long did she have it?” I asked. “A few days?”

No answer.

“A week?”


“Uh, it can go on for a long time,” she said.

While honest, her answer did not serve to ease my growing dread.

I spoke to my brother, whose wife has suffered with vertigo for years. I asked him how she deals with it.

She takes medicine, he said, and sleeps while sitting propped up on pillows.

“Every night?” I ask.

“Every night.”


After a week of sleeping on the couch, half-sitting, half-reclining — and waking in the mornings feeling as if I’ve been run over by a truck — I finally had the brains to visit my doctor.

The good news is, I now know I’m not going to die from vertigo, which in my case apparently is caused by fluid in my inner ears that is affecting my equilibrium.

My doc tells me I’m not alone  — that a lot of people get it (my sincere condolences to you all). She prescribed medicine, referred me to a physical therapist and neurologist, and said I should be OK, bless her heart.

But you know the darned irony of it all?

Two weeks ago I ordered the movie “Vertigo” from Netflix. The 1958 Alfred Hitchcock thriller stars James Stewart who portrays a former police detective suffering from … you guessed it.

Needless to say, I’ve decided to strike the film from my Netflix queue.

I’ve had enough vertigo for one week.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her  column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]

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