One of the side-effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is that whenever anyone has any sort of issue, they can’t help but immediately assume the worst and jump to conclusions that they have contracted Covid-19. It’s just part of the paranoia that the pandemic has unleashed. The paranoia is so strong that it even affected me.
On Saturday, March 14, 2020, my alarm clock went off, so I hit the snooze and rolled over to stay in bed for nine more minutes (for some reason, my alarm clock’s snooze is set to nine minutes 🤔). As soon as I rolled over, I was washed over with a wave of horrible dizziness. I felt like the world was spinning and felt horribly nauseous.
Over the next week, I did some research and determined that:
- It’s definitely not Covid-19 because dizziness, which I had, is not one of its symptoms, and conversely, I did not have either of the two key symptoms (fever and cough) that Covid-19 does have (if anything, I was ~0.5°C below normal—not low enough to be a concern, but still, clearly not a fever)
- It’s one of three things. It could be an inner-ear infection, a sinus infection, or BPPV. I did the Dix–Hallpike test and it was absolutely positive; doing the move resulted in extreme dizziness and my eyes jumping all over the place, trying to get a fix on the world as it spun (in my case, the nystagmus was vertical instead of horizontal).
BPPV is really nasty. Imagine spinning around in a circle for a couple of minutes, then stopping. That sense of dizziness, nausea and vomiting, falling over, and inability to see because it looks like the world is spinning around you is the same vertigo that people with BPPV have, all the time. Imagine feeling like that all the time; it’s excruciating, and arguably worse than having chronic physical pain. 😵 🤢 🤮
The typical onset of BPPV is from 50-70 years old, but with my luck, it makes sense that I would get it early. Worse, the condition usually clears up after a few days to months, and may recur for some people. Again, with my luck, I fully expected it to last months and recur, if not just be a permanent thing I have to suffer with.
I wasn’t sure it was BPPV or an infection. Even with the Dix-Hallpike test, the only way to diagnose it, is to perform a differential-diagnosis to rule out other causes like an infection, which I couldn’t do. I considered going to the hospital to have them check, but with the pandemic, I knew that if I went, I would likely end up having to wait for many hours in the waiting room before being seen, and also increase my chances of contracting Covid-19, so I didn’t want to go. (To make things worse, the longer I avoided going, the more the ER would fill up and the more Covid-19 patients would end up there.) But, like I said, with my luck…
There are a few maneuvers and exercises that are supposed to help with BPPV, but they actually trigger the dizziness and nausea, so they were very undesirable and I kept delaying them as long as I could when I tried doing them. It’s as though a treatment for the pain of a broken arm is to punch the broken arm and cause it to hurt. 😕 Regardless, they didn’t work and I still had the condition.
I held out hope that maybe it was just an infection (preferably sinus over inner-ear since that’s easier to resolve, with fewer side-effects, and also, I did feel a pressure behind my nose and eyes, so it was a possibility). I ate a lot of onions and garlic and citrus and hugged a hot-water-bottle, huffed Vic’s VapoRub (I love that stuff, it’s so refreshing; I’m baffled that some people don’t like it 🤨), and pretty much every other home-remedy you can do for a cold/flu/infection/etc. in the hopes of clearing it up sooner.
Unfortunately, after 4-6 days, I was starting to lose hope of it clearing up and starting to worry that it was going to be chronic. I tried my best to avoid moving at all because any movement could trigger it, but even just stretching could cause it (that’s actually what caused one of the early episodes that caused me to really worry).
Every now and then, it would feel like it was over because I hadn’t felt dizzy in a while, and I crossed my fingers and hoped it was cleared up, but when I tested, it was still there. :-\
On Friday, March 20th, sometime in the afternoon, I felt like it had been a while (several hours) without an episode, so I cautiously did a test, and… nothing. I assumed I was too cautious and didn’t trigger it, so I tried again, and still nothing. I tried to convince myself that it was over, but I was too scared to believe it. But, it turned out to be true. It was over, it wasn’t happening anymore. After 6.5 days of agony, it really was over.
(Update: Whatever the condition was, it’s been over for two weeks now, and I’m desperately hoping it doesn’t return. The strange thing is that it’s been two weeks already but it doesn’t feel like it, and also, I already started taking for granted living without the horrible symptoms very soon after it cleared up instead of really enjoying being healthy and not miserable. 😕 I guess that’s normal; people who have near-death experiences say they feel changed and want to make the most of life, but that never lasts long, they go back to normal life pretty quickly. :-|)