Hi. This will be long so grab a snack…
I am an otherwise normal and healthy 45 year old woman, but have been struggling with vertigo since December 1, 2010. In November 2010, I started having pain in my right shoulder that didn’t respond to anything—I thought it was from kickboxing classes I was taking. At the end of November, I just felt “off” all the time—kind of bouncy, like I bounced when I walked and my head floated several feet above where it should be. Early in December I had my first vertigo attack in front of my computer screen, and a second one several days later while I was driving. I only had a few other true vertigo spells throughout the rest of that month but continued to feel lightheaded almost constantly.
By the time I saw an ENT in early January 2011, my symptoms were subsiding. The ENT plucked a wad of wax out of my ear (sorry, gross) and then wanted to do some table tests that were going to cost me $1,200 out of pocket. I don’t have that kind of money, so I opted out of the tests and he diagnosed me with BPPV and told me to come back if it got worse. I never felt 100% after that, but I found I had decent days and not so decent days, and I managed to manage the not so decent days okay. Vertigo spells came back in the spring and on and off in the summer, and a headache started to accompany the vertigo sometimes (I have rarely had headaches throughout my life)—again, I managed and just dealt with it, even though by this time the spells were worse (sweating, vomiting, feeling like I was going to die, and then afterwards pure exhaustion). I work at home, so I can rest when I need to most of the time. I felt pretty good throughout the fall of 2011 and even through the holidays.
Then in January 2012 things got markedly worse. Constant light-headedness, some degree of vertigo spins every day, near constant headache, face ache and/or neck pain. I’m not managing the bad days very well anymore. I have two teenagers, a full time job, a part time job (thankfully both jobs are done from a home office), and I’m taking a class (thankfully also online). But, I have always been fiercely independent and this crap is making me considerably less so. I’m a runner, too, and my running and general fitness has suffered tremendously. I am 45 and feeling like this is all brought on by hormones/perimenopause. It’s beyond awful around my period, completely unmanageable. I’m still trying to get out for a short run most days, at least when I’m not too nauseated, and oddly sometimes running is the only time I feel okay. Television, computer and driving at night seem to be setting the vertigo off lately.
So, I don’t have an actual diagnosis, but I have been researching my symptoms for over a year and identify most closely with MAV. I know there is much danger in self-diagnosis, but I cannot afford to go through the gamut of testing and doctors. I live in the U.S. and I have medical insurance, but the amount I have to pay out of pocket is preclusive—I’ve got a kid starting college next year and another kid in high school sports. I’m simply not going to spend thousands on myself right now. I do have my annual gynecologist appointment in a week and will have my hormones worked up to see where I am. I don’t like drugs of any sort but have had some success with Excedrin Migraine to knock the vertigo with headache to a manageable level. I am trying magnesium, vitamin B2, a multi-B, gingko, CoQ10, just added in the magnesium and B-2 yesterday.
Thanks for letting me share. I’m reading and learning a lot here. I think my next step is a neurologist after my hormone workup, but I am really hoping to figure out how to manage this on my own without jumping into pharmaceuticals, although I will take that plunge if need be. I don’t want to live like this much longer.