This past week was my first full week at the office since last November. Like last November, I spent half of it feeling like I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards and the other half on some kind of high (although this time it wasn’t produced by being on steroids).
A few weeks ago, I left my acupuncture appointment, got home, and was opening mail by my desk when the wood surface literally rose up to meet me. I have never fainted in my life. In fact, if there is a situation where a body could faint or pass out or black out or throw up, I will always throw up. Always. I wish that I were capable of blacking out — there are many an embarrassing or otherwise horrifying moment from college and my 20s that I would rather not remember. However, such is not my body. I’m a puker. Put me in the backseat of a car on a curvy road or a bouncy flight or the other side of a bottle of wine and I’ll prove it to you.
Therefore, when my desk started floating towards me, I suddenly felt both nauseous and afraid. This is not what my body does. I don’t faint. So what the hell is happening to me? I put my hand down to stop the fall and realized that it was all in my head. My body had not moved. Huh. I sat down and my head stopped spinning. I had a glass of water. I kept sitting. Still a little nauseous, but maybe something had shifted during acupuncture and I just needed to let my body deal with it. I had dinner, then worked out with my trainer, trying not to drop a dumbbell on my head or fall off the bench, then threw up. Then went to bed.
The next morning I was supposed to fly out to visit my sister and work on her farm. Damned if I was going to let a little nausea stop me from playing in the dirt with my family. But I had to get to the Hudson River Valley first. I woke up at 4:30 feeling better, had some breakfast, and went to the airport. Made it almost entirely through the flight before having to bolt for the bathroom as the plane descended into Newark Airport. This was a first for me. Usually in planes I utilize the handy little waxed bags in the seat pocket, but this flight did not have any. Puking in an airplane bathroom is not an experience I recommend.
Over the next couple of days, I began to feel better. I played in the dirt with my sister, I threw the ball for her dog, I ate without incident, and I slept through the night. Friday night, though, fifteen minutes after finishing dinner, my head spun and I found myself back in the bathroom. This time, I spent the night experiencing the symptoms of the norovirus that had swept through my sister a week earlier. And then, after lying in bed all day Saturday, the vertigo from earlier in the week came back. What. The. Hell?
Finally, by Monday, I’d had enough, and I texted my oncologist: “What do I do about non-cancer symptoms? Do I see you or my GP?”
“Either, but I’m in London, so try her first.”
MY GP, it turns out, still wants me to see my oncologist for a bit, just in case the symptoms are due to some weird chemo reaction. So I made an appointment with my oncologist’s nurse practitioner.
“I’m pretty sure that you have benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.”
“I have what?”
Turns out there are tiny little crystals in your inner ear and if one gets loose extreme vertigo can result. And you just have to wait for it to dissolve, or go see the “Dizzy Doctor” at Northwestern if it stays bad.
I thought he was joking. I mean, my mother spent my teenage years traumatizing me by becoming a hands-on-healer, only wearing white cotton, and rearranging all the bedrooms so the heads of the beds pointed east or south. I’ve heard of crystals. They just don’t hang out in your ear and make you dizzy.
I went back to my acupuncturist and accused her of shaking my ear crystals loose. She gave me magnets to put on my nausea points. Awesome. Then I went home and fervently prayed to whomever was listening that this was not what I would feel like if I ever have the chance to get pregnant.
By Sunday of this week, I still wasn’t feeling better. But still, come Monday morning, I got up, showered, put on some cute work-like outfit, headed down to the Loop, had conversations with exactly two people, cleared out my inbox, and left at 1:30 to see my oncologist, now back from London.
She looked at me, confused. “Ear crystals?”
“Hey, I’m just relaying information here.”
“Ok, I’m going to give you something to see if this is actually vertigo.”
“Cool, thanks. Why doesn’t Zofran help with the nausea?”
“Zofran helps with chemical imbalances. Vertigo is actually a neurological disorder. If this isn’t better by Wednesday, let me know.”
“OK, but what do I have?”
“I don’t know. My best guess is that you caught a bug of some sort a couple weeks ago and you’re just taking a long time to clear it. Don’t forget, I beat the shit out of your bone marrow last year.”
I went home, popped a Meclizine, and went to bed. Tuesday I still felt like garbage, but still went to work where I was obliged to have more than two conversations and was actually given an assignment. Unggggghhhhhhh.
On Wednesday, I woke up and the room didn’t lurch to one side. Finally. I had breakfast with a friend, worked for a full day, dealt with household finances, went for a walk, cuddled the cats, chatted with my sister on the phone, encouraged my husband to think about the less certain, but more interesting options, started meditating again.
Life. Full throttle.