Help! College with MAV

I finally decided that I wasn’t going to let my MAV ruin my life, so I went back to college. I’m married, 28 years old with a 7 year old son and I have been wanting to go back and financially couldn’t do so before and now am able. Of course now I have MAV going to college with me. And it’s no fun! :x Just wondering if any of you are in college or completed college while dealing with your MAV? Any tips?

I missed my midterm last night because I was really dizzy and then had my first panic attack in the parking lot at school from it. Thankfully, I explained what happened to my teacher and she was understanding and is allowing me to make it up tomorrow. My other professors would not have let me, they have made their policy clear about absolutely no make up exams for any reason. I know there is this thing on every syllabus that says if you are student with a disability you need to register with the disability office for special accommodations. Wondering if this would apply at all for my MAV? Please don’t take this the wrong way, I wouldn’t want special treatment but just the ability to retake a test if I can absolutely not manage to take it due to a severe dizzy spell. This is the first time I’ve had this happen this bad at school but I’m worried about my statistics test tomorrow because it’s done by computer in the computer lab with the teacher. The fluorescent lights in there really bother me as do their computer screens that flicker. The last test in that class I was really dizzy and couldn’t concentrate or hardly read the questions. Then came the sweatiness where I had to almost strip down and ask the teacher to turn the heat down in the classroom and go splash water on my face in the restroom.

I am currently not on any prescriptions, just following the migraine diet plan (as much as possible but of course all the trigger foods are my favorite!). Last night I took half of 1 mg xanax that my mom had, that’s how bad it was. Made me way too sleepy so I’m thinking about trying a 1/4 xanax today(.25 mg) and if that works taking it tomorrow to ease at least my anxiety for my test. Then this weekend I am going to give in and try the prescriptions my doctor gave me a year ago, which are phenergan (promethazine) and klonopin (clonazepam). I have tried meclizine and imitrex in the past. Imitrex I had a really bad reaction to that almost sent me to the hospital and meclizine just really didn’t do anything.

I know this is really long but I would appreciate any insight/ tips from any of you. Thank you for taking the time to read this!

Yes, register your problems with the appropriate folks as a disability, yes!

I can sympathize with being embarrassed at the thought of asking for preferential treatment, maybe not wanting to stand out, but I want to fight that sort of idea. Why should you work with one hand tied behind your back, metaphorically?

Also, it’s not fair to the folks that will be evaluating you to not let them know what’s happening, so that your position can be evened up. Maybe you haven’t considered this, but teachers think about the effect they’re having, basing it on how their students respond–and that includes test performance. Why should your prof have to muse, “Gee, I thought she was interested, but either I was fooling myself that I got through to her and she didn’t really follow what I was teaching, or else maybe there’s some way in which the subject has gotten so threatening that she freezes up on tests. What the hell am I doing wrong?”

Now all that’s conjecture, fantasy, but I hope I can convince you that the fair thing to do is to set things square by informing the university of your situation. I regret that I have not been as forthcoming as I might, where I thought it wasn’t necessary. One consequence is that the head of a safety group I’ve participated in and for which I used to take meeting notes got fed up with me. See, one bad morning i just couldn’t remember the route to the meeting, and so I got there about an hour late (for a half-day meeting). Afterwords, I told him I had been unwell that morning, but it didn’t cut me much slack after disappointing him badly. I think that if I had forewarned him that when the weather’s weird, I sometimes lose a lot of competence, he would have been more understanding.

Gosh i hope you start feeling better and can continue school. Hope some meds help you. What i wouldn’t give to be able to take classes again. I started going back to school 30 years ago when this all started and i never went back. I wish i had a degree.

I have had to tell everyone at work about my issues and have to have special lighting and when i have an officemate they can’t wear any lotions or perfumes and the door has to be closed and i have an air purifier on. it makes me feel like i’m not a normal person but it has to be done.

I would want to report it too if you can do that like David said. If you ask me any kind of dizziness no matter what the cause is a handicap sometimes.

I’m still not positive i have MaV but i can tell you i’m sick of being sick with no help after all these years.

I hope things work out for you and you can continue with school!!!


Yes, you should register with your office of disabilities, but keep in mind that you may need to be seen by a doctor first. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It will just confirm the issues that you are having. That way, should you need to make up exams, or take them in special conditions, you will be covered by that office.

Thank you everyone for your replies! I have been being seen by a doctor but haven’t been since before I started college so he has no idea yet. I plan to make an appointment for next week and am going to explain to him what’s going on and get something from him to turn into the office at my university. I have decided to put my embarrassment aside. :oops: You guys really helped me move forward with this. Thank you!!!

I started getting problems with my balance during my undergraduate degree, but I was lucky that it was intermittent then and never at a time I had exams, and it didn’t affect my results. However, I started having almost constant problems about halfway through my PhD, and was diagnosed with MAV. It’s not been as hard for me, as I’ve been lucky that I’ve never really had any panic attacks, and also I am a research-based PhD student so don’t have classes to attend or exams to take, so I can manage my work around how I am feeling, e.g I do lab work on good days but can work at home writing/reading on bad ones. Although recently thanks to medication I have largely got my life back. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that another MAV sufferer has managed to complete their degree and I am sure you will too :slight_smile:

I think you should definitely get any help that will make things easier for you. I know it’s hard to ask for help, but you are entitled to appropriate support if you have a disability or long-term health condition. This is an ENTITLEMENT. People who have more obvious or well recognised disabilities get help, so it shouldn’t be any different for you.

Good luck with sorting it all out and let us know how you are getting on with your course.

Hey Bankston,

I am actually in your same position pretty much. I am in college and struggle with dizziness everyday. I try to mask it the best I can because I don’t want to feel like a “burden” on people so I try to deal with it all myself. Most of my classes are ok but there’s one where its in an all flourescent room and I can barely handle it. I hate going to that class. My dizziness is like a rocking, motion type of feeling. It’s so difficult to struggle with it in class.

Another thing is the anxiety that comes with it. I feel like this may be exacerbating a lot of your symptoms because I know it does for mine. I can totally relate to the panic attack feeling before an exam. It’s the worst

What have you done to make this easier while at college? I foudn that exercise 6 days a week is amazing for me. It gives me strength, both emotionally and physically, and I feel like it helps get me through each week. I would definitely recommend this as high as I can because I feel like it has made a huge difference for me. Let me know what some of your specific college-related dizziness problems you have.

Beechleaf - Thanks for the encouragement! Congratulations on your accomplishment, that’s amazing. Hopefully I will also be able to encourage other MAV sufferers in the future with my story. I did great on my dreaded statistics exam (the one with the horrible computer monitors and bad fluorescent lights in the room). I got a 100%! I did take .25 mg of Xanax prior to decrease a little of the anxiety. I still had a little anxiety but it wasn’t as bad as usual.

Coug - I’ve been thinking about reintroducing an exercise program to my body slowly. I used to exercise all the time before my MAV, I loved to run. I gradually stopped exercising alone at the gym or running by myself because of the fear of passing out. Thankfully I am naturally thin and have pretty good eating habits. But exercise is important for everyone mentally and physically, so I am excited about hopefully getting back into a routine. Maybe it will lessen my symptoms. What kind of exercise routine do you do? Do you have any dizziness afterwards or during? Also, what’s your major in school?

I’ve been dismissing prescriptions since dizziness started in 2006. I finally gave up this week. Hopefully the prescriptions will make me at least 50%. It has to be a better quality of life. I’ve just been dealing with the MAV on a daily basis, I have two online classes and one regular class this semester. But the online classes I still have to go to school to take the tests. For me, I had always been a happy, optimistic, person my whole life. I was one of those people who thought that people that have panic disorders/ anxiety should have to learn to deal with their anxiety attacks and that it was all a mental thing and in their head. I got my anxiety after having dizziness for about 3 years. Of course the anxiety makes the dizziness worse, so it’s a double whammy. I just felt defeated. I am only 28 and a mom to a 7 year old and a wife. It’s depressing not being able to watch your son play soccer or take him places alone. The worst time was when he wanted me to chaperone a field trip that was 45 minutes away. I knew I couldn’t do it and he couldn’t understand why because all the other moms were going. It broke my heart! I was trying to do things the natural way and my quality of life was not very high and was affecting my family. My anxiety has gotten worse over the years to the point where I had my first panic attack this week. I have to say the panic attack was the scariest thing that has EVER happened to me. I can’t have that happen again and will do what I have to do to keep it from happening. Although, I don’t want to be on Xanax permanently, it worked for this week after I had my panic attack. Otherwise there is no way I was going back to school, I was freaked out after that. I don’t plan on taking it anymore now that I have finished my tests. On a more positive note, I am hoping to be one of the success stories where medicine can help me get to 100%. It might be trial and error but as long as I get there that’s all that matters.

Hi! I wasn’t able to read through all the post, but I skimmed through. I’m 23 years old and going to college with MAV. It’s definitely a challenge, but doable if you REALLY REALLY have the ambition and drive to get through.

As the other people have said, sign in with the disability, it really helps. I’m on student with disability at my college and it does help. I have a note taker for my biochem class and excused absences. Professors are usually willing to help and are considerate.

Good luck! And don’t give up on it. You deserve it.

Lucille - Thank you so much for your post! I was wondering what kind of special accommodations they would give me or what I should ask for. Any tips are greatly appreciated! It helps to know that there are others out there that are going through this and making it through college. Anymore information you can give me on how you cope or what other accommodations your school offers you would be great.

Hi J,

I meant to reply to you much earlier but have been feeling like a train took me out for about 5 weeks. It feels like things are on the up and up again though. :slight_smile:

Anyhow, I wanted to encourage you to DEFINITELY get in there and get that college (university) degree done whether or not you have this MAV junk hassling you if you can manage it. I was mentioning previously that I got whacked with a monster attack of vestibular neuritis half way through my PhD which then landed me on planet MAV. I totally freaked out, it took me out of action completely for 9 months, I thought my life was over, that I would never finish, and at best, I’d be a vegetable knitting blankets (maybe) for the rest of my life. I got VERY lucky because the GP I was seeing really had no idea what was going on apart from the VN, however, I had anxiety that was off the charts and what did he give me to stop it? Cipramil (Celexa in the US). Turms out this med is an anxiety killer and a MAV killer (Baloh). And another stroke of luck was that I was able to tolerate it at a low dose for a few years (All other migraine meds apart from Paxil and Valium are no go for me so far).

It sounds like you’re doing all the right things with trigger avoidance and using the odd hit of benzo when needed. Klonopin and Valium are probably better to use given the longer half lives. Xanax tends to take you up and drop you like a lead balloon. Short half life and more likely causing dependence according to Dr Hain.

If I were you and you are struggling or just getting by through your degree, consider a migraine med asap. I held out for months trying to tough it out with brute force and will power. When I think back I really wasted my time and lost time as well with that approach. I should have taken Cipramil within 6 weeks of the initial attack. It may have prevented me from going down to the horrible lows and suffering I experienced.

Keep us in the loop and best of luck … Scott 8)

Thanks Scott! Makes me feel better knowing that you made it through. I’m definitely going to have to go through trial and error to find the right medication, I have officially given up on the “natural way”. I get so frustrated because I’m a straight A student, even with the MAV I’ve managed to maintain my grades. It’s just a lot harder than before when I was normal. I am definitely going to file for disability at the university office.

When I saw my gp doctor about a year ago, I stopped going because he tried doing what I think was supposed to be the epley maneuver just to see if it would work and do anything. It was his first time doing it to anyone but he said he had seen it done and researched it. After he did it I felt like I had a stroke or something. My speech was slurred and I couldn’t put my words together and I didn’t really know what was going on and what world I was in. Really scary! It didn’t work at all, still had my same old symptoms. I was scared to do anything else to my body after that experience and I am also medicine sensitive. I currently have a prescription for Topamax, Klonopin and Phenergan. Obviously they were not all given at the same time, I just never took them when I was supposed to before. I had decided I was going to try the Phenegran alone last weekend and then if I still needed something for anxiety then taking the Klonopin. Before I tried it my friend who is an ER nurse scared me. She said they use it to sedate their patients in the ER in the hospital and it can be very dangerous on some people. She gave 12.5 mg per a doctor’s instruction to a lady and couldn’t wake her up and had to call the doctor. She told me to be very careful and not alone when I take it because you can stop breathing. She also said I wouldn’t be able to drive. Well, that scared me pretty bad. But I think I’m just going to have to try a very small dose and see what happens. Just have to wait until my husband is home at the same time as me to take it.


To be honest I think your friend has well and truly blown the Phenergan thing way out of proportion. While I don’t doubt that person may have had a bad experience on it, here in Australia we can buy it over the counter. I think that should put it into some sort of context. It’s just a regular old antihistamine with some good effects for some migraineurs. Just follow your own doctors lead and don’t listen to the fear-mongering about meds. At the end of the day aspirin can cause a mess for some people but that wouldn’t phase most people. People fear flying in a jet so bad they go into a complete meltdowm yet if you look at the statistics – the evidence – you soon see that the chances of being killed in a regular car trip is orders of magnitude higher than jumping on a jet yet no one thinks twice about a car trip or has a panic attack going to the shop because of a fear of cars.

I think trying Phenergan is a good safe start. Kelley has used it lots of times with good results. If I recall you can start on 5 or 10 mg.

Also the Epley thing is something you can do at home yourself (called the Modified Epley Procedure or MEP) but only useful if there’s BPPV going on. Innthe early days of this post VN, I tried a few Epleys as well and man did it ever make me feel sick. It’s harmless though …

Best … Scott 8)

wow interesting i never knew Phenergan was an antihistamne. I always thought it was used for severe stomach flu and stuff like that - my mother had some that was suppositories. thought it was strictly for nausea. I wonder if it would help me with my dizziness. i guess it’s a prescription here. similar effects to bonine - (medlizine??) ive taken that before when i’ve been super sick - it just kinda knocks me out. couldn’t take that for work.

I think there are other drugs out there that i could be trying too.


I agree with you Scott about my friend, it just put a little bit of fear in me.

Anyhow, I took the Phenergan finally. I took 1/4 of the 25 mg pill. Instructions said 1/2 to whole pill every 4 hours as needed. I waited a couple hours after taking it and decided I wasn’t having any bad side effects so I went to the local fair with my husband and son. Bad idea! I felt really weak like I was just going to collapse and was really tired along with my regular dizziness. I tried seeing if it would pass but after almost a hour I gave up and had them bring me home and went straight to bed. I went to sleep off and on and decided to try another 1/4 of the pill (6 hours after the first). I have slept at least 14 hours in the past 24 hours and am fighting to stay awake now. Even if I gave this pill longer to work and see if it’s effective, I can’t be sleeping this much. The weird feeling I got at the fair could have been just my regular stuff at one of its worst moments because its close to a certain monthly time. So I guess the only really bad side effect has been drowsiness. I feel better knowing that my body isn’t having a worse reaction. It gives me hope for another medicine. Just wondering if I should try to tough it out and keep giving this medicine longer to work. My husband will be out of town for 5 days starting the 20th so I don’t see any way possible to take the Phenergan and take care of my son while he is gone.

try taking the phenergan just at night time - that’s what I do and it helps me sleep and I wake up fine in the am - mine is only a low dose one though - not sure what strength your pills are

Hey, I wasn’t able to read all your post. But for me, the accommodations I have at my school, (I go to LSU),

  • A note taker
  • I can take the exam at the Student with Disability Office, where I am given a reduced distraction environment.
  • Time and a half on exams
  • Excused absences

They help somewhat, but of course my main problem is memory, concentration, cognitive problems, and extreme fatigue upon mental tasks. So, it does help somewhat. But of course there is not much they can do for the memory problems. It’s really something you just have to really want and to really work on yourself. I’m in a very similar situation myself. I was a straight A student and school use to come as a breeze and very natural to me. Now, I feel like going to school for me is like asking a person with broken legs to run a marathon. It’s not easy. Just remember that. But remember it’s worth it! Also, I feel encouraged that by the time I do receive my degree (I’ll get it no matter what it takes), it’ll be more than just a degree, but something very meaningful. It could have came easy, but no for us it’s very hard. Sorry, I don’t get on here very often as I use to. Usually school work takes everything out of me mentally everyday – so it’s hard to come on a message board and read and respond. I wasn’t even able to read all the posts. If you have any questions, or anything at all – message me. I’ll be glad to answer anything. I can give you my LSU email which I use more often.

Good luck!