Kathy’s Story

This piece is from The Dizzy Lounge Inner Ear And Vestibular Disorders Support site. It features the story of Kathy, a member of that online support community…

Hi.  My name is Kathy and I was stricken with vertigo eight years ago.  I was in work at the time and ran to get a book for an order.  I banged my head on a steel beam!  This was in a warehouse, mind you and it was 120 degrees inside.  After I bumped my head, I started to feel strange and off balance.

That evening after work…I took a shower and used a q-tip to clean my ears….. when I accidentally poked my ear with the q-tip stick, which did not have enough cotton on the end of the stick,  and I got what is called a perilymphatic fistula.  I was spinning, dizzy and nauseous for over one year, non-stop.

The next day in work, I ran to get a book for an order and I suffered the worst spinning vertigo in my life.  I thought I was dying.  I could not walk at all, or do anything for that matter.  I had to be carried away in an ambulance from my former job, yes former job.   After I became ill with violent vertigo, nausea, and loss of balance, I was fired.

The ground tilted to the left and I could not walk at all.   It felt as if I had no legs.  In desperation I went to local doctors and they all thought I had a panic disorder!  No one was able to help me at all.  I was given meclizine and my neurologist said I had an inflammation of the balance nerve called vestibular neuritis.  He was correct because I did bump my head on a steel beam at my former job. 

I started getting off balance and the moment I accidently pinched my ear with a qtip stick, I was a goner.  I had to go to NYC and get microsurgery to repair a perilymphatic fistula by a brilliant surgeon, Dr. Mark Levenson at earsurgery.org.  He saved my life.  God bless him.  Other doctors said the vertigo was somatization disorder and due to a panic attack.   Isn’t that mean?  I did not make this up.   Some doctors say the patient is mentally ill or anxiety ridden instead of having the necessary done to repair the tear in the oval ear window, which I had.  My middle ear was repaired with my own skin graft and laser.  It took me years to feel myself again and I find that paxil helps the spins go away, as well as xanax, when needed for the anxiety that can occur as a result of the vertigo, which can be frightening.  Vertigo is real, not imaginary, as some doctors think.  I thank my surgeon in NYC for helping me.   Now I can walk again, thanks to him.  Other doctors said I had vertigo from anxiety.  That is not true, as I was never dizzy a day in my life.  Never lift weights, strain yourself, bump your head, or you can get what I have….I can never lift heavy items, overexert myself, jump, and have to protect my ear for the rest of my life, so I do not end up in a wheelchair. 

Good luck to all of you and I hope you all find a good doctor like I did, as some do not know what it is like to suffer from vertigo.  This support group is wonderful and got me through the worst time in my whole life when I felt helpless and ridiculed by doctors for being dizzy and off balance with vertigo.  Never give up.  We are all here for you.  You are all my friends and I hope all of you get well soon.

Love, Kathy