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(Update) Travelling with bad vertigo

This might be long, and maybe no-one will care, but I just need to rant a little and get it out of my head.

I posted here a while ago about doing a solo travel trip with severe vertigo. I was suffering from a little depression about the impact this condition has had on my life, so I decided I was going to prove to myself I could be independent and challenge the hold this thing has on me.

At home I have a good routine where I get a lot of vertigo but it doesn’t impact my life too much. I wake up in the morning and run. Then I sit down at home and work for the day on the computer because that’s usually when my vertigo is the worst. In the evening I finish work and go to the gym, then I usually cook a nice dinner and watch movies with my family or play video games. 2-3 times per week I do something social with friends. Some days are worse than others but I usually manage to stick to my routine. Even though I have vertigo I know my heart and muscles are in good condition, I have a good diet, so I can rationalise to myself that I’m still doing ok health-wise. I’ve been getting a bit of depression though because I feel really stuck in this routine. Like I can follow my routine, but if something random comes up which breaks the routine I tend to have a horrible day with lots of symptoms and anxiety.

I figured the scariest thing for me right now is the idea of travelling alone across the other side of the world to countries with very different cultures to the west, where I wouldn’t have my usual routine or support network. My plan was to challenge myself with a 4 week trip visiting 7 countries (Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, and Belarus). I originally picked some more Western countries like Finland, but then decided it would be even more challenging to stay away from the culture I’m used to. The plan involved a couple of flights and a lot of overland travelling with trains and buses.

I went ahead with the trip and currently after almost 18 days of travelling solo I’m in Armenia.

I wish I had something super positive and inspirational to tell you all but honesty this has been a really difficult experience for me. Perhaps it’s the combination of jet lag, fatigue from little sleep, poor diet and exercise, but my vertigo, anxiety, and depression has been way worse while travelling. I had it pretty under control with a good routine back home, but since travelling I’ve been getting really severe attacks daily, to the point I have difficulty walking and standing up for hours at a time.

In Turkey I caught a taxi from my hotel to the Blue Mosque and was struck by some of the worst vertigo I’ve ever had. I could barely stand up and the adrenaline from the anxiety was making me shake. I would stumble 20-30 meters, lean against a wall for 15 minutes, and then stumble another 20-30 meters. Everything was spinning so bad I could hardly look in front of me as the world twisted and turned. I was fighting the urge to vomit from the spinning, and I had no medication or anything on me, no internet to distract myself with on my phone, and basically just nothing I could do. Even if I totally freaked out and I didn’t know the health system in Turkey or even the number for an ambulance.

I was leaning against a wall, and some police came up and asked in English if I had been drinking or if I was ill. I explained that I just had vertigo which was impacting my walking but I didn’t need to go hospital because it wasn’t a life-threatening condition. Despite their rough appearance and demeanour they were really nice once I explained what was happening, and they got me water and helped me get to a nearby bench where I sat down for about 3 hours. Finally I felt able to find a taxi and get back to the hotel. I was so intensely anxious for about an hour though I even wrote a note on my phone for my family in case I died or went crazy or something. I don’t think I’ve ever felt that helpless.

That was the worst vertigo of the holiday but I’ve had a lot of other severe attacks while walking around cities doing tourist stuff. I’ve had to spend a lot of time in hotels, and because of the worsening vertigo my enjoyment of activities is lessened. It’s not that fun to be at a museum when everything violently is spinning around you.

Now I’m considering cutting the last part of my holiday short and going back home in 2 days instead of going to Russia and Belarus. I’m just not having fun spending all this time by myself, and being so dizzy. I’m eating mostly junk food because I don’t feel up to getting nice meals out that much, and I’m sitting around instead of exercising. The thought of another 10 days of this experience fills me with dread.

I’m really torn because I have 2 voices in my head.

One voice is telling me: “Man up Nathan, people have it way harder than you and you don’t have a right to complain. Stick to what you started and don’t let this issue control your life”.

The other voice is saying “What are you trying to prove? You’re making your condition worse and you’re having a bad time. Just go home where you will feel happier and stop being stubborn”.

I don’t know what to do.

Anyway any advice is appreciated. I just needed vent a little so sorry for the lack of my usual positivity.

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I hope you don’t mind my replying since I’m new here. Anyway, I am sorry you are having a hard time. If you would feel physically and emotionally better, there is nothing wrong with going home. From what it sounds like, you’ve already put yourself through a lot and had many experiences traveling. On the other hand, you might consider continuing your trip but taking it easier such as spending more time in the hotel room and taking short walks outside, sit outside for a while and just take in the new scenery without feeling the need to visit many places.
I know you’ve probably already considered that. I hope you feel better. Try to do something fun for yourself.

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Hey Nathan, I’m really sorry you’re having such a rough patch when travelling, I know you had high hopes about this trip, I remember reading your post. I think only you can make this decision and go on your gut instinct. I can relate in a way, after my first initial attack over 2 years ago, 6 weeks after I had to go on a plane on a sun holiday with hubby and 2 young kids. Tbh it was the worst time of my life, the illness ramped and I cried and wished everyday to end so I could get home and this was in the presence of a supportive partner and in a country with a good medical system if I had needed it.
If this experience is not working out Nathan, that’s OK, maybe it just not meant to be now. Doesn’t mean you can’t do this again when you feeling better.
You must put yourself first and your physical and mental wellness perhaps phone some family or friends and talk it thru too.
I wish you well Nathan and hope your symptoms start to settle. I’m sure others will respond.
Take care.

maybe listen to your second voice? sure, other people have their own difficulties, some we might think worst than this, but that does not mean that your are suffering less. Maybe “Man up Nathan, and go home” :)?
And, are you on any med by the way?

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So sorry to hear how hard it’s been. Could you spend the last ten days having a different kind of holiday, with just relaxing about, I don’t know, swimming pool, spa, reading? It sounds like your body is struggling to keep up with the travelling stress and exertion. And you sound like you’re quite strict with yourself!

Dude i appreciate your courage. Its well proven that if you stick to a schedule your brain has no surprises and you have an handle on dizziness. I don’t know why you are’nt trying meds. My only advice is find a med and get your life back. Good luck and God speed.

PS: you are an hero in my eyes for doing what you are doing !

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Hi Nathan, there is nothing wrong with cutting a trip short if you’re not having fun. I did it once years ago (when I was perfectly healthy!) but just wasn’t having a good time.

You’ve been eating different foods from normal, probably have been on a different sleep schedule from normal, along with all of the activity and stimulation. All of that put together would be stressful on anyone.

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On the upside: think how much of a cinch it will be when you get home! :slight_smile:

Well done mate. Keep fighting the fight!

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Hey Nathan, I have the same two voices in my head all the time. Traditionally I would go with the first voice and push myself. In fact, I might have to into this whole mess because of that voice. Our society actually encourages this voice a lot actually. Push through everything! No pain no gain! On TV you see people in wheelchairs playing basketball and blind people climbing Mt. Everest, etc. It’s funny we don’t see people on TV doing much resting or relaxing with chronic conditions, hanging out with friends, maybe some tai chi… It’s sort of implied that we’re supposed to train like Rocky Balboa, just get up and do everything in our power to get better. Or pick impressive goals, like wouldn’t it be amazing to be dizzy and climb Mt. Everest!

No, if it were me I’d figure out how to find peace, relax somehow. Or at least reduce the suffering in some way. If that means go home then so be it. You gotta find a position of strength to get better in my opinion. I have a reminder on my wall to “never give up”, but the meaning can be lost sometimes. It doesn’t mean fight to get my old life back, it just means don’t give up on life in general - there can be peace and happiness moving forward no matter what condition we find ourselves in.

Just my 2 cents… but I do push myself once in a while. But if I regress more than a day I know I’ve over done it. That’s sort of my threshold - a day. Kind of like when I used to go out drinking, I knew the next day would suck.

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Thank you so much everyone. Your thoughtful responses meant a lot to me and made me feel a lot better. I’m really thankful for having so much support here from people who experience the same stuff that I do on a daily basis. I actually feel a lot less depressed now having read through this thread.

@dizzy3 to answer you question I’m not on any meds but I have a prescription to Clonazepam and Valium which I can use if I ever want it. I try to only take those pills if I’m freaking out so much that the anxiety becomes extremely physical (like I’m getting chest pain, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, etc), otherwise I tough it out. Those medications definitely help but they are addictive and the doctor said they become less effective if I do them regularly.

@LucyLabrador to answer your question I think that’s a good idea. I could definitely handle sitting by a pool and staying in a more resort-type holiday. I think maybe I need to be a bit less harsh and treat myself like I would treat someone else

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what about starting a preventive? benzos are a rescue med, but a preventive can help you calm your brain and get better.

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Do you know where I can get more information on my options? At this point in my life I’m willing to try new solutions.

I’ve tried exercise, VRT, meditation, dietary changes, rescue meds, psychological therapies, and generally trying to reduce stress. I’ve found all this stuff together can control about 40-50% of the overall vertigo, but I’ve sort of accepted at this point that my condition may be like this for a long long time.

http://dizziness-and-balance.com/disorders/central/migraine/treatments/migraine%20prevention.html

Best site I’ve ever found. Helen

Ahem :blush:

(But yes, agree)

That site is referenced several times in mvertigo’s user support wiki. Users should make sure they are familiar with both!

If you use mvertigo exclusively on mobile the wiki location is less obvious but easily accessed via the ‘hamburger’ menu at the top right under ‘Welcome’

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I have to say that you are so brave. I wouldn’t even chance doing any trips alone with my anxiety that I would have an attack. The plane, bus and train rides would have done me in and I would have been back on the plane back home. Your brain is so overstimulated. The site Helen recommended on meds is the best. Pat yourself on the back for trying but if that was me I would head immediately back home. I hope you do and feel better soon.

Good on you for trying! The plane would have put me in. Did you at least get any great pictures from the trip you’ve done so far?
I’m curious and interested to see your path from here especially with people giving you info about preventatives. I’m in the same boat of no meds (I’m highly sensitive and had fallout with anti histamines and some vitamin pills so I’m extremely cautious).

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I understand about sitting in public places for hours. I’ve had to do it a lot. I’m glad that the police were so kind to you.

I’m a bit scared about travel, but I have done it. I don’t go by an itinerary because I don’t know when I’m going to be ill. So, if I’m well, I do things in a self-guided way and rest other times.

My fears about travel are mostly about what if I’m too ill to get on the plane there or the plane home. So, I have to have extra money put aside in case I have to cancel a plane and stay in a hotel longer than anticipated.

I always research available medical help in advance. I did have to access a doctor once because I didn’t pack enough meds.

I don’t think there’s any shame about deciding to come home early. You did it! I know that takes some courage.

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I read your posts during your trip and was so inspired by your courage and honesty. It is just so hard to enjoy anything when you are ill with migraine and I hugely admire your bravery and sense of adventure. One of the worst things about this illness is how it limits your life so that it becomes smaller and smaller, and you actively took steps to counteract that, which is incredibly admirable. I felt for you so deeply when things were difficult. So I was just wondering what you opted to do and how you feel about the trip now, as well as how you are doing now (very well, I hope).

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