Hi, I'm Lisa - new vertigo w/ nightmares, history of migraine, brief lapse of consciousness/focus while driving

I’m happy to have found this forum, though not so happy to need it! I’m a 54yo mom, with recent struggles with vertigo, not yet diagnosed, but a long history of chronic illness including ocular migraines, mold illness, chemical sensitivity, thyroid and adrenal issues, joint pain and cracking. I started writing this up for my doctor and thought I’d check in here and ask for your thoughts and observations.

Summary: 2 short episodes of vertigo several months ago, when I was getting up from lying on the floor after doing some muscle activation exercises. Currently, I’ve had 5-6 weeks of intermittent and increasingly worse vertigo with associated strange nightmares and recently tinnitus, after incident of “barrel roll” vertigo and vomiting upon waking. Have an appointment with my GP in two days to rule out infection, discuss seizure risk, or acute problems that could lead to nerve damage, Meniere’s, or hearing loss.

I’m 8 months post tongue-tie release surgery, with ongoing retraining of tongue and jaw function and anatomical changes to bite, swallow pattern, tongue position, and body posture. Coexisting TMJ which is improving, neck tension and joint instability/frequent cracking. Possibly unrelated incident 2 months ago of 2-3 second lapse of consciousness/awareness while driving. Have had chronic chemical sensitivity for years; ocular migraines, resolved by removal of dietary glutamate and sulfites, reccurs with exposure; and frequent cracking of many joints throughout my body which is improved but not resolved by avoidance of oxalate (the thing that causes kidney stones). Half sister has a mild seizure disorder.

8 months ago I had a tongue-tie release surgery and have been doing mouth exercises to retrain tongue/jaw position and swallow since then, as well as regular chiropractic visits, a couple of osteopath visits, and using mouth tape at night. This has improved my previous chin jutted posture, my breathing, and ongoing joint pain, but my neck and jaw cracks quite frequently.

Approximately 3 weeks ago after a restless night when my jaw and neck cracked particularly egregiously during the night, I turned over in bed and felt like I was in a rolling barrel, got up, 2 rounds of vomiting. Found and got relief from the half-somersault maneuver (similar to Epley) but I’ve had mild intermittent vertigo since then, probably 1 day out of 2-3.

It starts before waking after a stressful or over-active day. Usually involves my neck and jaw being out of joint/cracking earlier in the night. I wake to a sensation of shifting or crackling in my head– if so I only have seconds to sit up or it will turn into vertigo. I get weird dreams/nightmares prior to waking like this, or after going back to sleep when it happens. The last week my ears have been ringing the rest of the day. Last week a chiropractor said that my temporal bone on the left was rotated, and the next day I felt great, but then it came back. I have some exercises a friend gave me (following my thumb with my eyes and sometimes head in different directions) and they help a lot. I still am left with a heavy foggy head and low functioning the rest of the day. On a day when I have vertigo, even a stray stressful thought will often trigger a sea-sick feeling. It’s very stress mediated.

Also concerning is couple of months ago I had a scary 2-3 second lapse in awareness/ consciousness while driving back from an appointment an hour away (suddenly nearby cars were in a different placement). I had had these before but had gone a couple years without incident, but I got it even though I was on guard against it. I used to get these when my (now adult) son was young (during a period in which I was getting ocular migraines also), and again when I was driving my dad an hour away for medical visits. The dreams and these lapses feel similar.I can feel it threatening while I’m driving (it feels as if something is pulling at my consciousness, like getting lost in thought – I don’t feel as if I’m falling asleep, but it could be/probably is that) and I try loud music, fresh air, deep breathing, tapping my feet and nothing helps for long. (luckily I have a car that steers itself / adjusts speed on the interstate.) Since I get headaches, foggy thinking, and mood crashes reliably when exposed to chemicals< I suspected it was due to chemical exposure from a very heavily scented office along with diesel fumes. Now I wonder if it is all related.

The only med I’m on is Armour thyroid, which I had been dropping/lessening before the start of all this. I worry that going off the Armour for a month or two was the trigger, but that relieved a lot of anxiety. I also take lots of supplements and for years have uses some, shall we say, medically prescribed herbal relief, though very little since the vertigo started.

Thanks for reading! - I welcome suggestions, thoughts, and questions. - Lisa

Welcome to the forum Lisa.

Your description sounds like you have a lot going on at the moment. If it was me, I would ask your GP for a referral to a neurologist.

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You certainly do seem to have a huge amount of things going on most of which could have influence on your vestibular condition. Katherina summed it up perfectly. It’s way past time you saw the professionals to try to get an accurate diagnosis. Meantime I’d suggest you read Dr Beh’s book on Vestibular Migraine “Victory over Vestibular Migraine’ you’ve not already done so. You will find topics relating to it by using the search facility and it’s available on Amazon via a link from users recommended products that will add revenue to the site. Good luck on your journey.

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An interesting read indeed. It does sound like you have comorbidities here… bppv, VM, perhaps a seizure type illness or then again could be a micro sleep.

For your own safety driving, I too agree that you should see a neurologist. They could steer you in the right direction regards to diagnosis and treatment.

The good news is you should be able to manage it once under control.