Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo

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You may remember back in May when I woke up alive for the 3rd day running after smashing my head into a very low authentic Renaissance beam at Closerie Falaiseau that you are supposed to duck under to go into one of the rooms.

Well, this may just be the sequel.

It’s Monday morning. I wake up with a slight headache, get dressed and have breakfast. I read my emails and discover, to my great dismay, that I have MIXED UP the dates of the big family reunion in Australia and Black Cat and her Dutchman have just bought their tickets, missing the reunion by a couple of days.

I phone Black Cat to see whether the tickets can be exchanged. I suddenly feel terribly nauseous.  I feel so bad that I go and lie down. I sleep for a while and am woken up by the phone ringing in the office. I answer it. A client is asking for a deadline for an enormous translation and I try and concentrate. I actually feel fine. As the conversation comes to an end, I feel desperately nauseous again. I get up and my head starts pounding. I feel a little dizzy. I grab a plastic basin and head for the bedroom.

I sleep again and am woken by skype. The headache and the nausea seem to have disappeared. I go into my office and talk to Leonardo for a while, even phoning my accountant to answer a question about the French company he’s finally getting around to closing. The nausea suddenly hits me again. I make a beeline for the bathroom and, limp and hagged, make my way back to the bedroom.

After a while, the nausea disappears but the headache stays. When Relationnel comes home for lunch, I tell him I need a doctor. He phones S.O.S. medecins (normal doctors don’t do house calls any more and mine’s on holiday anyway). The doctor, looking young and spruce, arrives within ten minutes, which is totally unheard of. It turns out he was very close by. You usually have to wait for at least a couple of hours.

He asks me a few questions, examines me quickly and gets me to sit up. He forces my head suddenly in one direction, then in another.  He crosses my arms and PUSHES ME, almost without warning, on to the bed on my left side. He pulls me back up and asks me if I feel dizzy. He repeats the performance twice, once on my right side and once on my back. By then, the nausea has really set in. He gets me to stand up. The dizziness has disappeared.

He then explains that I have something called “vertige paroxystique” and explains that one of the little crystals you have in your ear to help keep your balance has escaped from its normal home and is causing the problem. Relationnel hears this from the doorway and thinks the doctor’s a complete fake. But I know that he’s right. He explains why he’s ruled out other possibilities – no fever, the fact that lying down improves the nausea and dizziness, etc. I ask how you get it and he says it is usually caused by a head injury, infection, or other disorder of the inner ear, or may have degenerated because of advanced age. I have no hesitation in eliminating the last reason and choosing the first!

He then writes out a prescription to see a physiotherapist and gives me something for the headache and nausea. Relationnel spends the next one and a half hours trying to find a physio who knows what he’s talking about, is not on holidays and is willing to make a house call. He’s about to give up, suggesting that it might improve spontaneously anyway, when he finds someone close by who says it’s his speciality. Bingo!

I sleep for the next few hours. A very friendly young man arrives at 6.30 and explains the crystal business in greater detail. He then does a few manipulations, nowhere near as violent as the doctor’s, and is a bit worried because I don’t seem to have a normal “clinical” case.

He finally leaves, particularly as the nausea seems to have abated and the headache and dizziness have disappeared, saying he’ll come back next day with his infrared glasses to test my pupils. He tells me that I should rest for a bit then get up and about. I do so and by the time Black Cat arrives for our weekly dinner, I’m able to prepare the meal with her help and eat.

Next morning, I feel tired, but all the other symptoms have disappeared.


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16 thoughts on “Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo”

  1. Poor you!! So wonderful that you have a caring Dr who visit’s your home, unheard of in the USA.

    My cousin’s father-in-law had a similar situation and I remember her telling me that he did a series of exercises, if you call them that, where he would throw himself on the bed in various ways ~ I thought she was joking, but obviously not. He eventually got better but it was truly an odd form of treatment!

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    1. The doctor was actually from an emergency service. Normal doctors rarely do house calls, though mine might have if she hadn’t been away. I’m fine now and am hoping it won’t happen again, but at least I’ll be prepared and can throw myself on the bed!

    1. I’ve discovered it’s more frequent than you’d imagine. The physio isn’t sure the doctor really knew what he was doing but it certainly worked! It knocked me flat but we’re going to Blois for the weekend and I intend to get some R&R.

  2. I hate when people say: “I’ve had that (only worse)!” But, I have had that – a total of three times actually. The last was when I was in Paris and walking out to dinner with you and JM. You might recall me weaving about a little on the footpath. Other times I couldn’t get up without becoming violently ill. A common feature for me is the way the room/world spins as if i was very drunk. I thankfully don’t get the headaches though.

  3. Oh, my goodness. Thankfully you feel better and know the cause of the nausea and vomiting. I’ve never heard of such a thing and REALLY hope that I never experience it.

    As for the SOS medecins, the doctor arrived within about 15 minutes, which was much sooner than we expected, when we called them in June. I haven’t seen a similar service in other countries and think that it’s a fantastic idea.

    Even though the symptoms have disappeared, take it easy until your strength returns!

    1. I can remember waiting more than 2 hours for the SOS medecins doctor to arrive, admittedly in the middle of the night so I was certainly thankful this one arrived so quickly. I’ve seen the physio who says I have no signs of anything now and am feeling much better.

  4. I’ve had BPPV twice…both times with no headache but with room-spinning dizziness if looking up or down. The right exercises made such a difference!

    1. Goodness I hope it doesn’t happen in B! I’m told the chance of it recurring is about 70 percent. Knowing what to do must help the second time.

  5. So sorry to hear about your vertigo. It’s a terrible thing. My husband had similar but from some infection of the ear. Even sitting up in bed made him sick. Eventually it got better but it was horrible while it lasted. Hope the physio is able to help get rid of it. Take care of yourserlf. Best wishes, Pamela

  6. Poor Fraussie! Think it is called benign positional labyrinthine vertigo here – probably caused by the blow to your head dislodging one of the crystals. As you found, the way to get rid of it is a bit like playing Twister – but it works. Hope you are feeling better – and next time, duck! Regards, Barb

    1. Yes, I saw it had a few names and wasn’t sure what was used in Australia. And don’t worry, next time, I’ll definitely duck! But I’m actually considering a strategically placed piece of furniture to stop it happening to anyone again.

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