By Joe Rector
That Thursday night was a rough one. I got out of bed about 2:00 a.m. to do what we older guys have to do. Immediately, the room spun, and I pinballed down the hall to the bathroom. Once back in bed, I lay on one side, hugged a pillow, and prayed that my world would stop spinning.
No, I was not under the influence of anything. Instead, a chronic inner ear problem reared its ugly head for the first time in years. My first encounter with vertigo occurred during my rookie year of teaching at Doyle High School. Amy had to come to the school to get me. After a trip to the emergency room, I remained in bed for a week before my world straightened out again. Another bout with the stuff hit a few years later when I was cleaning a bank in the back yard of my mother’s friend. I was “laid up” for about three days; relief came from the doctor in the form of a suppository, a first for me.
Dizziness is not something I’ve ever enjoyed. As a child, I would play with others during the summer. We’d roll down hills or turn in circles until our worlds spun. I discovered that such activities weren’t for me. Only one ride on the tilt awhirl at the fair was enough to forever keep me off the ride.
As a teenager, I was somewhat of a slow learner and several times over indulged in drinking alcohol. Every episode ended the same way. I would lie down and feel the spinning begin. Closing my eyes did nothing. Friends told me placing one foot on the floor while lying on the bed would stop the dizziness. Wrong! The cure for me was throwing up until the dry heaves took over. My prayers to God for relief with the added promise to never do such a stupid thing again were thrown in for good measure. My last bout with such a ridiculous activity came during the summer of my senior year in high school. To this day, I don’t understand the fun in getting drunk.
I finished off a prescription of Anti-Vert but still felt lousy. My doctor, the greatest one ever to practice, Dr. Cathy Mathes, told me that I should perform an exercise a couple of times a day until I was better. It is called the Epley Maneuver. A person first turns his head at a 45-degree angle. Then, he quickly lies back on the bed while maintaining the same head angle. After 30 seconds, the person turns his head 90-degrees the opposite way. In another 30 seconds he moves 90-degrees on his side. After 30 seconds, he then sits up.
The drop to the bed begins the spinning, so having someone to track with the time is important. Amy was my helper. I performed the maneuver one time, and upon sitting up, I was better. The crystals in my inner ear reset, and life was again good.
I hope and pray that this vertigo never returns. However, if it should come for a visit, I now know one thing that might reverse the terrible effects. If you are ever waylaid by this problem, give the Epley Maneuver a try. The rest of you folks who love dizziness can go ahead and drink up. Remember to toast those of us who are living in our spinning worlds.