I’m not gonna lie. Today I feel physically and emotionally down.
I had a lot of plans for this week – some of which I’d been looking forward to for a long time and I’ve had to cancel all of them one by one.
The reason? It seems that my head’s sudden fascination with vertigo doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon.
Yesterday it unexpectedly reared its ugly head once again.
Monday initially started well enough – although in retrospect I might have missed some early warning signs when I awoke – because I immediately noticed that I was really congested and had earache.
Not a problem right? I’m a big boy.
Just get up and get on with it.
Two cold and flu capsules and some ibuprofen later I was dressed and heading for the train station. The plan for the day was to meet a friend for coffee (something we don’t get to do very often) in Solihull and I was really looking forward to a good catch up.
I purchased my tickets and sat in the cool of the waiting room at Warwick station. It was marginally warmer than sitting on the platform – but not by much.
I looked around for a heater that I could sit closer to but there didn’t seem to be one, so instead I picked up a copy of Warwickshire Life that was on the nearby table and sat on a bench to skim read it while I waited.
I was really cold – but everyone else around me seemed just fine…
Before long though the train arrived and it was here that I realised something was amiss. As soon as it had begun to move the carriage seemed to become instantly stuffy, warm and airless – which reminded me of something.
My initial attack of vertigo a week and a half ago had been while I was a passenger in a car coming back from the Slimming World ball. The exact same sensations had been apparent then and I’d become increasingly uncomfortable as the journey progressed until I could no longer bear it.
By the time I reached my destination (thankfully it was an express rather than local train) I was coping but not feeling too great. I noticed that I was covered in goose pimples and more than usually cold. Furthermore my nose was running like a broken tap.
Just get on with it.
I’d arrived a few hours early so that I could make the most of the day and do a bit of browsing around the shops. If nothing else my cold hands would be a good excuse to buy a cheap pair of gloves and maybe a cardigan to go under my jacket.
I walked slowly and carefully from the station into town and one by one started wandering in and out of charity shops.
Although there were lots of cheap gloves i couldn’t find a single pair that felt right (I have unusually small hands for a man) so I continued mooching until I found myself in the British Heart Foundation.
Hanging on the front of the rack as I walked towards the rear of the shop (do any other guys get really miffed that small amounts of men’s clothes are always buried behind acres of women’s clothes in every single shop ever?) was a really nice – and seemingly brand new – Taylor and Wright grey waistcoat in my size.
I wasn’t really familiar with the brand – but after a quick google I found that it was something from Matalan and that their waistcoats usually retailed at around £25.
I’ve slowly become a fan of clothes that are a little more fitted as my level of body self confidence has grown. This trend began when I won the MOTY award in July and had the benefit of spending a couple of hours with a stylist and personal shopper in London (link).
The really nice lady who helped me choose an outfit for the occasion made me understand just how biased I was towards really roomy clothes. By showing me experimental alternatives (in a non judgemental and supportive space) she underlined to me that I’d been choosing things that covered rather than flattered my shape for so long that I that no longer had any idea I was doing it.
As a consequence of that experience I now go for the snugger fitting 42inch chest in jackets and waistcoats rather than the looser 44’s.
Both work in truth – but oddly (and I never thought I’d say this in a million years) I rather like the ‘close’ feel of a waistcoat that fits perfectly without any margin for error.
Since it was a steal at only £4.75 I bought it immediately, pulled the tags off, put it on and buttoned it up.
With it and my jacket I at least felt a little warmer.
Or did I?
Now I was hot.
No. Wait. I was COLD.
I stepped outside and continued to walk, hoping the sensation would go. Until I walked into what appeared to be a furnace on the upper floor of TK Maxx.
Initially I rather enjoyed the sensation of warmth when I walked through the door and walked up the stairs, until that is the room started spinning and I had to hold onto the racking to steady myself.
I quickly went back down the stairs and stepped outside to sit on a bench.
My nose was streaming, the world was spinning, my head was bursting and all of a sudden the world had become oppressively bright.
I pulled the peak of my cap down over my eyes and hoped the moment would pass.
But it didn’t.
After fifteen minutes I was becoming worried. Unlike on the previous occasion when I’d been surrounded by people that could look after me, yesterday, sitting on a bench in the middle of Solihull I was suddenly hyper aware that I was alone.
I immediately texted two friends (one of whom was on the way to meet me already) told them what was happening and where I was exactly – just in case.
After a while I was shivering.
I think this was because it was genuinely cold outside (later that day in Warwick there was hail and sleet) but by then I simply couldn’t tell.
There was a Boots Chemist nearby so I went inside to ask the pharmacist if there was an over-the-counter remedy I could buy.
‘It’s prescription only.’ She said looking at me with sympathy.
‘You could go to the walk in clinic at the hospital up the road?’ she helpfully suggested.
‘OK thanks.’ I replied, and headed for the exit.
I didn’t fancy another six hour stay in a hospital A&E department with the smell of (my own) vommit in the air. Hopefully the moment would pass.
I retreated over the road into the warmth of a nearby Costa coffee shop, and without buying a drink headed for the nearest available seat, sat down and tried to breathe slowly.
Before long I had my head in my hands and could barely move. The world was increasingly oppressive and painful with every passing moment and I couldnt lift my head up. Noise, light, vibration and temperature were all combining to assault my senses and the only respite came from closing my eyes, putting my head in my lap and cupping my ears with my hands.
I wanted the toilet desperately but couldn’t get up to go.
After an hour or so I marshalled the strength to call my doctor and beg the receptionist for an urgent call back from a doctor at the practice rather than an appointment. After around 20 minutes (much to my surprise) a doctor did call me – and I told him that the same problem had happened again. I needed an emergency prescription of the same medication I’d had before (Betahistine) sent electronically to Boots immediately – otherwise I had no alternative but to go to A&E.
He agreed to do this as long as I came into the surgery later that afternoon to be re-assessed.
I replied that I’d be more than happy to attend any social event of his choosing as long as he would give me the medication ASAP.
Within ten minutes I had the pills in hand, had taken one and was sitting quietly in Boots waiting for it to take effect. Shortly after this my friend arrived – and a few minutes later (whether it was the drugs, a placebo effect or a just a natural improvement) I began to feel like I could move again.
Ultimately after two hours trapped in the open and virtually incapable of moving or interacting with anyone I made my way home again on the train and went to see my GP as we’d agreed earlier on the phone.
After much questioning and examination (he wasn’t the same guy i’d seen earlier in the week, or that I’d spoken to on the phone) the doctor confirmed my original diagnosis (vestibular labyrinthitis) and said that it should clear up naturally.
I needed (he said) to keep taking my newly prescribed second course of betahistine, carry on with my ear spray and also use a decongestant such as olbas oil to relieve the syptoms of my blocked ears nose and throat.
It’s not been completely plain sailing since.
I nearly fell down the stairs last night after going to the toilet when I lost my balance – and I’ve stayed indoors all day. This is partially because I’m a bit nervous about what will happen if I go out and also because I’ve been lurching between feeling absolutely fine (I do at the moment) and absolutely awful.
So – I’m a bit glum.
I’m really hoping this is gone soon – because if it isn’t the next step is a brain scan – and I really don’t want that.
Sigh. The last few weeks have been a real mix of highs and lows.
Here’s hoping things improve soon – I much prefer stability in all senses of the word…