Falling Over

For many years now, I’ve suffered from a mild form of vertigo — a feeling of dizziness felt especially in high places, but not necessarily just there either.

The first time I felt it was when I lived in Chicago. I had a bad cold, I’d just had a hot bath, and when I got out, I nearly fell over. I thought the feeling would pass, but the dizziness didn’t go away, and I started to feel really bad. I was alone in the apartment — The Mrs. had gone shopping with the kids — so in a panic, I called 911 for an ambulance. As luck would have it [sarcasm alert], The Mrs. arrived at the lobby to the apartment block precisely at the moment I was being wheeled out in a stretcher. You can no doubt imagine her reaction.

Anyway, I had all sorts of X-rays and such at the hospital, and they found nothing wrong with me, and to add to the irony, I felt much better — so much so that I checked myself out and went home.

The next time I had a similar experience was much later, in Texas. Same thing, except I didn’t have a cold and hadn’t just had a bath. I was getting out of bed and couldn’t stand up without falling back over onto the bed. By this time, The Mrs.’s health had deteriorated to the point of being essentially bedridden, I didn’t want to pay for the EMS guys to carry me the few miles to the hospital, so the Son&Heir took me.

(Some background: I have a family history of heart disease — it’s killed several on my mother’s side — so I’ve always been wary of anything untoward happening because I’m generally in very good health. Hence my excessive caution, and going to the hospital in both cases.)

Anyway, on this occasion, the same thing happened in Plano as had happened in Chicago: tests, X-rays, MRI etc., and nothing bad had happened; that, plus the fact that I was (once more) feeling fine by the end of it, meant that I checked myself out again and went home.

A couple of years ago, you may remember that during the U.S. Open golf tournament in Chambers Bay, Oz golfer Jason Day had a severe attack of vertigo which almost caused him to withdraw from the last round. Greg Norman, one of the TV commentators, did a little research on the ailment and described the symptoms — and to my astonishment, it was like reading a list of the things that had troubled me in the past. (I should point out that my G.P. has checked me out very thoroughly, and concurs with my self-diagnosis. I should also add that my annual check-up always ends with him telling me to bugger off and quit wasting his time because he has really sick people to attend to. Apparently, when I do die, he’ll have to beat my heart to death with a stick.)

Now, as I’m getting older, I’ve since had some more mild vertigo attacks, but nothing serious: an occasional wobble if I make too severe a turn while walking, or I might lose my balance momentarily on a staircase, and so on. In each case, I pause for a few seconds, my balance reasserts itself, and on I go.

As a condition, vertigo is suffered by 5-10% of the population, is mostly caused by a malfunction of the inner ear balance mechanism, and occurs more frequently as one ages. (For a fuller description, the Wikipedia entry is as good as any.)

And yes, I also have fairly severe tinnitus caused by a lifetime spent shooting guns without much hearing protection (until fairly recently) and by a youth spent playing loud music in a rock band. Cliff Notes: my ears are fucked.

Anyway, I thought I’d just mention this issue in case some of my Old Fart Readers get dizzy and can’t figure out why; this may be the reason, but in any event, get yerself checked out by a doctor just in case.

As I’ve often said, this getting old shit is not for young people: you need to be tough and cynical (as brought on by age) in order to get through it.

This post does require a pitchur to help get the idea across; so here’s another Kim, ├╝ber-hottie Kim Novak, getting directed by Alfred Hitchcock in Vertigo: