I thought that, for my first blog, I would just try to sum up my story thus far as briefly as possible, to catch anyone who may be interested up to this current point.
About 7 weeks ago, I began to have dizzy spells at work. These would occur every couple of days, and were vertigo – a feeling that the room was spinning around me. They would last for a few minutes, and then go away. The worst one that I had was while standing at a table speaking with a regular customer (I am a waitress). I was listening to him talk, and the vertigo hit. It was very bad, and I remember grabbing the table to keep from falling, and then I felt lightheaded as well, and everything began going black for a couple of seconds. Then, everything returned to normal, except that my anxiety was very high.
I had not suffered much from anxiety before these dizzy spells began, aside from an occasional mild anxiety attack. And by "occasional," I mean less than five in my entire life before I got sick.
On Sunday, November 24, 2013, I was at work around noon, and the vertigo hit and did not go away. With the world spinning around me, I left work and drove across the street to the nearest urgent care center, where I was prescribed a painkiller for a persistent headache and told to try an antihistamine. After trying the antihistamine, the vertigo became much worse. I was also feeling nauseated and terrified, with extremely high anxiety. I couldn't even leave the pharmacy, I had to call my parents to come pick me up, and I sat in my car and sobbed and told myself repeatedly, "You're going to be just fine, you're going to be perfectly okay."
The vertigo did not go away for several days after that; it was constantly there. I stayed sitting or lying down as much as possible, but I couldn't lie flat, because the vertigo would get much worse.
On Wednesday, November 27, I went back to another urgent care center, where they did blood work, told me everything was fine, and sent me away feeling even worse than when I had gone in, after charging me over $600 and prescribing me an anti-dizziness and an anti-nausea medication. I began taking the anti-dizziness medication fairly regularly – every six hours while awake. It helped the nausea quite a bit, but I don't know if it really helped the dizziness at all. Mostly, I think I was taking it because it was making me feel less anxious.
The constant dizziness combined with frustration with doctors who wouldn't help me and would hardly listen to me, as well as now being completely broke after two doctor's visits and still having no idea what was wrong with me, was really triggering my anxiety, and I've spent every day feeling as though I were on the brink of a panic attack. I had a couple of mild panic attacks during this time.
On Tuesday, December 3, I went to a free clinic where they performed a thorough physical, and then told me that I had a lot of nasal swelling and probably just suffering from sinus congestion. For days afterward, I loyally used a saline nasal spray, drank hot tea, gave myself sinus massages, slept upright, took long hot showers, breathed in steam, did yoga that was said to help sinus congestion, everything I could find online that supposedly cleared out your sinuses- and nothing helped, because I didn't have any sinus congestion.
After suffering a couple more anxiety attacks during this time, my mom wound up calling a local company called Mobile Crisis, and they sent a therapist to my home to "assess" me. After visiting with her, I wound up in a Crisis Stabilization Unit for a week, seeing a counselor every day, having my vitals checked three times a day, eating hospital food three times per day, being woken up at 6 am, not allowed to have a cell phone or any sharp objects. I was put on an antidepressant, and Vistaril was made available for me to take as needed. After a few days, the dizziness was still present, but I was feeling much better emotionally and mentally. I was more hopeful and encouraged and happy, and ready to get better.
Upon returning home, I found that I couldn't afford to fill my first month's antidepressant prescription, because it was over $70 and like I said, I am now completely broke from doctor's visits. I ran out of antidepressants and have been suffering the effects of coming off of those for the last few days. I also have been to see the therapist that I was set up with upon discharge four times already, and each visit has been nothing more than paperwork and a drug test. That has been extremely frustrating for me.
Also frustrating has been the fact that I am still broke, have no insurance, and I am still dizzy. The Vistaril seem to make the dizziness worse. The best that I can conclude, through personal research and one doctor's suggestion at the CSU during my physical, is that I have/had Labyrinthitis. This virus can take 2-3 months to go away, and occasionally leaves behind permanent damage to the inner or middle ear, causing the brain to have to re-train itself to balance. The thought of dealing with this for the rest of my life has been terrifying for me.
Also terrifying has been the anxiety. The anxiety attacks genuinely seem to appear suddenly and out of nowhere. Last night, I was just sitting in a chair in the living room, and suddenly, out of nowhere, I sat up, felt terrified, my heart was racing, and I was hyperventilating. I don't remember what I was thinking about, but I don't think it was anything really significant. How can you combat anxiety attacks that come from nowhere? And how can I reason with myself on things that I know nothing about, like my sickness?