Vertigo: the vacation spoiler


As I See It

Have you ever been on vacation then all of sudden you became sick and your much needed vacation was jeopardized? Well, it happened again to my wife last week while we were with my children and grandchildren during our 5-day Disneyland/Los Angeles escapade. The culprit? Vertigo! She was hospitalized for four days for the same sickness a year and a half ago while vacationing in Florida.

We’ve heard a lot about vertigo, the vacation spoiler, but how much information do we know? Wikipedia says vertigo happens when a person feels as if they or the objects around them are moving when they are not. Often it feels like a spinning or swaying movement. This may be associated with nausea, vomiting, sweating, or difficulties walking. It is typically worsened when the head is moved. Vertigo is the most common type of dizziness. It gives you the feeling that you or your environment is moving or spinning. It differs from dizziness in that vertigo describes an illusion of movement. When you feel as if you yourself are moving, it’s called subjective vertigo, and the perception that your surroundings are moving is called objective vertigo.

On our first day at California Adventure, my son Jayson suggested that my wife Delia, having a history of vertigo, use a wheel chair. With his brother Jojo, they got a wheelchair for my wife, so she can move faster and avoid being tired moving around. At lunchtime, suddenly while she was being wheeled by my daughter Tweety, she felt dizzy and started vomiting. With her medical history, I already knew she was having a vertigo attack. She had a nasty feeling of spinning and everything around her was in disarray and tipsy. She said she had the worst feeling ever, even worse than previous one, and it’s hurting her and she doesn’t want to be moved because it worsens her situation. It lasted for about 3 minutes but her condition was never the same again.

My other daughter May suggested she needs rest, so we went home to our rental house in Anaheim, about three blocks away from Disneyland, and have her take a rest. I know it is not life threating but it gives you the worst feeling ever and costs you all the inconveniences a normal person never want to experience.

NorCal-based The Global Urdanetanian (TGU) President Yvonne San Juan-Sera, a victim of vertigo herself, attest to this. “… it’s not life threatening but the worst feeling… mixed emotions… vertigo is K.J. next time, days before the bonding, take the medicine… actually walang medicine and vertigo. The anti-emetic only helps you calm down and sleep. I had my worst vertigo attack in the Philippines. Just to get up, I have to be supported by someone. Coz, umiikot ang palagid mo. Then I throw up kasi I moved…” she said. Kinjo Estioko from the Philippines through Facebook (FB) also commented, “I also had a vertigo attack a few weeks ago. Naku, the world turned around like a top. I stayed in the hospital overnight.” For his part, Redentor Yerro, a fellow homeowner from Cainta Green Park, Philippines said, “Sorry to hear this. I can’t drive anymore long distances because of this nasty vertigo”.

Wikipedia further states that “dizziness affects approximately 20%-40% of people at some point in time while about 7.5%-10% have vertigo. About 5% have vertigo in a given year and it becomes more common with age and affects women two to three times more often than men. Vertigo accounts for about 2-3% of emergency department visits in the developed world. Motion sickness is one of the most prominent symptoms of vertigo and develops most often in persons with inner ear problems. It is caused by problems in the brain or inner ear, including sudden head movements, inflammation within the inner ear due to a viral or bacterial inner ear infection or complications from diabetes”. My wife is diabetic and already taking insulin so this must be one of the causes that triggered her vertigo, in addition to the intense heat that day.

The following day was no different, so we decided to take her to an urgent care unit of Kaiser in Downy, California there being no urgent care unit in Anaheim and adjoining city, about 30-minute drive away from our rental house. Dr. Lee examined her mentally, going through coordination exercises of the brain which yielded good results indicating no stroke. After that, he discharged her and gave her sufran, in addition to meclizine.

Vertigo strikes any time within the 7-day period of occurrence. While our good friend Pangasinan Brotherhood-USA President Lino F. Caringal, Jr. was visiting, my wife was heating her spaghetti and she suddenly felt dizzy again and lost control of herself. She was lucky because Lino and I were just near her, so we were able to grab her preventing her from falling. That’s how treacherous vertigo is!

As for Rosemarie Catungal, also from Green Park, she said “lack of sleep… need more sleep to keep vertigo away”. Alvi, Jojo’s wife, said her children Kayla and Bibay, were very much concerned about their Lola suffering from vertigo. They just hoped for her fast recovery. They had a first-hand witnessing of how a victim of vertigo is suffering when they visited her in the hospital.

Going back home to Milpitas, which is about 8-hour drive, was a big concern for her. After checking out from our vacation house at 10:00 a.m., we heeded back to Milpitas. After two hours, we stopped for lunch but at the parking lot, she had a vertigo attack again. She doesn’t want to be moved, so we stayed in the parking lot and ate our lunch there.

Vertigo is diagnosed by a medical history and physical exam. The day after we arrived home, she again had an attack at 2:30 a.m. Friday. So I rushed her to Kaiser at Santa Clara. The doctors did CT scans, blood tests, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and electrocardiogram (ECG), to make sure there were no complications. All these resulted negatively but when she was ready to leave the hospital, he had another vertigo attack, so Dr. Turner decided to keep her in the hospital overnight for further treatment and observation. Her case was different… it lasted for seven days, which sickness usually last for a day or three.

“Last year, I also had that vertigo. I had it for a week, it would attack any time but most likely when you get up from sleep. What I did every time I would rise up from bed, move slowly trying to find out if it would hit me again. I did it every day and instead of medicine, I drink plenty of water. Nawala in due time. One time visit in the hospital, didn’t take the medicine they prescribed to me, I just rise up from bed dahan dahan. And I drank plenty of water… Remember water maintain balance and equilibrium in the body,” said former Philippine journalist turned book author now residing in Barrow, Alaska Romy Morales.

Well, Romy’s formula was great! Treatments for vertigo include self-care home remedies, medications, and physical therapy maneuvers which she had been doing and will be doing to keep her away from the nasty vertigo again!

Her doctor informed us that benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) is the most common form of vertigo and is characterized by the brief sensation of motion lasting 15 seconds to a few minutes. She had this but in her case, the sudden attack of vertigo lasted for 3 minutes. It may have been initiated by sudden head movements or moving the head in a certain direction, although, again, she was not aware these happened to her when she had it.

Vertigo can be caused by decreased blood flow to the base of the brain. A blood clot or blockage in a blood vessel in the back of the brain can cause a stroke (cerebral vascular accident or CVA). But tests conducted by neuro-physicians who examined her yielded negative results. No stroke occurred!

Vertigo is really a vacation spoiler!

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