Living with Vertigo – Wanda’s Story
If you have ever suffered from even a short bout of vertigo, you understand just how miserable it can make you feel. The symptoms associated with vertigo can include dizziness, loss of balance, and nausea. The fact is that vertigo is actually a symptom not a condition, and it can be caused by a lot of things. Something as simple as an inner ear infection known as labyrinthitis, or severe headaches like migraines can trigger vertigo. Other conditions, such benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) where certain head movements trigger vertigo, and vestibular disorders such as neuronitis which causes inflammation of the vestibular nerve that runs into the inner ear, can also be the cause.
For many people vertigo is infrequent, triggered by a roller coaster ride at an amusement park in 8th grade, or a head cold that must have affected the ears as well. Symptoms are terrible, but can be fairly short lived. Maybe lasting a day or two or three. Although, in the moment, a person would do about anything to make it stop. For some, vertigo is an isolated incident happening just once, never to rear its ugly head again. Unfortunately, for people like our friend Wanda Norma Hall, vertigo is something that has nearly consumed her life for over 20 years.
“I went to the ER in Perryville and was very sick,” Wanda told me as we sat on the mat at Mid America Rehab on a beautiful summer day. “Ryan (Ryan Buchheit, PT of Mid America Rehab), stopped in when I was getting discharged and he spoke with me and told me he thought PT could help my vertigo.”
As I mentioned before, Wanda told me she has suffered from vertigo for over 20 years. I would like to tell you this is one of the worst cases we have ever seen, and although it ranks up there, the truth is we see a significant number of patients in each of our clinics that have struggled with vertigo for years.
Wanda’s symptoms were preventing her from enjoying much of her day to day life. “I can’t roll over in bed without grabbing my head. Driving or riding in a car was out of the question. Sometimes vertigo would hit and I would be sick and down in bed for a couple days at a time.”
It’s difficult to truly describe the way you feel when you suffer from vertigo, but in Wanda’s words, “The sensation of vertigo is like you are losing your whole world. You keep going around and around and around. Your eyes don’t really focus and you just feel like you will fall over or you are going to be sick.”
Wanda has lived with this condition for so long, that when Ryan showed up and explained that he thought he could help, her reaction was skeptical to say the least. “I thought yeah right, I don’t believe that, but I’ll give it a shot.”
Wanda spent June 5th, her birthday, in the hospital. After being released she managed to take a trip to Iowa to celebrate her mother’s 100th birthday. When she returned in mid-June she began her treatment with Allison Kell, DPT and Mary Bachmann, PTA.
“I came in and Allison said she was going to try and help me, and again I was thinking and saying, yeah right.” Therapists perform a specialized series of exercises and maneuvers during treatment. Wanda described some of the treatments Allison Kell, DPT, used with her, “She got me to lay on a platform and she carefully tipped me backward. When that happened my arms were out and unstable. I had closed my eyes and Alli told me the keep them open. I told her, I can’t. Now just a few weeks later, we do that same exercise. I keep my eyes wide open and my arms and hands are stable.”
“When I laid down a couple weeks ago, I would watch these little hooks I can see on the wall across from the mat we work on, and to me they looked like they were all spinning. I know they weren’t truly spinning, but in my vision that is what they were doing. She held my head as I was lying down and said, keep your eyes open, and I kept them open until the hooks stopped spinning. It’s amazing, unbelievable.”
Previously, Wanda was given medications to help stave off and control her vertigo. “I took my medicine religiously morning and night, because if I didn’t, I was scared the vertigo would set in. It worried me because I am afraid I could fall.” In 1991, Wanda injured her leg making it almost impossible to get back up unless she has something to grab a hold of.
“Along with the exercises that we do for vertigo, we work on getting my strength back up and that has helped tremendously. After just a couple weeks of physical therapy, I haven’t needed to take my vertigo medication.”
I asked Wanda what she would say to someone that has suffered from vertigo for a lengthy period of time and has tried medications for the condition. Her response was, “If they think yeah right, they are wrong! Because it can happen, and it can help, and help it has!”
Wanda plans to continue to work with Allison and Mary until they feel she is ready for discharge. “It’s like everything else, there is no written guarantee as to how long it will last, but it’s going to last; and I know that if I start to have symptoms again, there is an answer, there is something that can help.”
Sharing her thoughts about her experience with Mid America Rehab, Wanda said, “My care with Mid America Rehab has been fantastic! They are all very kind, they are willing to help, and they stay with you. I’m excited because no one before Ryan had ever offered me an option other then wanting to do surgery and remove the crystals from my ears on one side and not the other. I said absolutely not. I’ll put up with it before I would let anybody do that. But absolutely nobody in all these years offered me this option. I have been to many doctors and many just said, here is another bottle of pills. No one told me there was a way to help me through motion, exercise and training at physical therapy.”
“If my story can help anybody I will be so happy. They need to come and give it a shot and see if it helps them, because it has most definitely helped me. It has changed my life.”
If you or someone you love suffers from any form of vertigo or the symptoms associated with it, please schedule a FREE screening at one of our clinics. Our trained therapists are eager to help resolve this life altering condition and help you feel like yourself again. Follow this link to view contact information and hours, or fill out the easy online form and we will contact you.