Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


As the world spins...

Posted 6/23/15 (Tue)

Anytime a news reporter asks questions about a medical condition, they are denied, citing doctor/patient confidentiality.

And most often when reporters call hospitals in an attempt to retrieve this information, it has to do with an auto accident, a public figure or someone who has been in some sort of an altercation like a shooting or stabbing.

Yes, the medical profession gets a little wound up when reporters start asking questions. And I can respect that.

But there is nothing holding said reporter back from describing a medical situation he/she may be experiencing.

That’s why I would like to take this opportunity to describe to you a condition that has happened to me numerous times in the past 14 months.

Normally, I wouldn’t want to talk about a medical condition I have in the least. However, in this case, the more I talk to people on the street the more I’m finding out that I’m not the oddball out in the population with vertigo.

Apparently, there are about 20 million Americans who have vertigo, which is dizziness, generally followed by sweating, nausea and/or vomiting.

Calcium crystals inside the inner ear become dislodged and since that is the spot in our body that creates our balance, we feel dizzy. The brain later corrects itself and that’s what takes us back to normal.

Mayo Clinic calls vertigo “an illusion of motion.”

There are a number of people I have talked to in recent weeks from Kenmare to Berthold to Minot and Carpio who have either had vertigo or continue to suffer the effects of it.

In some cases it lasts for days. I met a woman at Minot Air Force Base who said she had it for two weeks and couldn’t get out of bed.

Most often it’s less than that. In my case, it’s usually about 30 minutes to an hour, it passes, then life gets back to normal.

One thing about vertigo that seems really bizare to me is that it feels like being severely drunk, yet the mind is completely alert.

What I mean by that is as the world spins around, I can comprehend lyrics of a song on the radio, I can speak coherently, I can rattle off phone numbers and know exactly what I’m doing. Yet, I’m totally imobilized and can’t stand up because there is zero balance.

The first time I had vertigo was right here at my desk at The Kenmare News. I was eating lunch and all of a sudden the trees in the downtown park and the Danish Mill started spinning in circles.

At that time, because I was eating a tuna sandwich, I assumed I had food poisoning. The hospital in Kenmare assumed it was a stroke and transferred me to Minot and after MRI and CT scans, a doctor determined it was vertigo.

OK! Since that time, this has happened off an on with no determining catalyst. It happens for no apparent reason. I’m tying my shoes, I wake up in the morning, I’m driving down the road or doing dishes.

It is believed that sodium may be a catalyst. With less salt in the diet we do not retain water and put pressure on the inner ear canal. On average we get about half the potassium we should and it’s possible that when potassium and sodium in the body are out of balance, dizziness occurs. And finally, i’m sleeping with the left ear up and the right ear down so these calcium crystals can’t move out of place.

After that incident in Kenmare last year in April, I went to see a VA doctor in Fargo. He prescribed valium, which is often used for motion sickness.

That’s a powerful drug, and it seems to work, but?

One day my wife suggested I see her chiropractor. So I did. He goes through this procedure called the Epley Maneuver which moves the head from one side to the other, then drops the body onto a table quickly and back up again.

I have to say that works too and I’m not medicated.

The VA doctor keeps telling me to continue the diazepam (valium) therapy, but in my own mind, it’s a powerful drug and highly addictive, exactly what I don’t want.

Since it was initially prescribed to me in December of last year, I’ve taken it all of a half dozen times. But I will say, it’s good to have that option if and when it is needed.

But the chiropractic sessions seem to work a lot better and keeps the vertigo at bay for a longer period of time.  

There are books about vertigo and meniere’s disease, which is something else related to the ear that causes vertigo.

Right now it’s a puzzle but I will connect the dots. After all, to defeat the enemy, you have to know the enemy.