Thursday, March 27, 2008

Time For A Break

When each of my boys reached a certain age, I took them on a trip. Just the two of us. The oldest, he and I went to Yellowstone. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

Toward the end of the trip I didn't feel well. Dizzy. Disoriented. I chalked it up to altitude.

A couple weeks later, back at home, I was getting ready for bed. Brushing my teeth. The room began to spin. I fell.

My Lovely Bride heard it and came to check. I was on the floor, trying to pull myself up. She called 911.

I managed to get to our room and lie down on the bed. Pretty soon the police were there and the firefighters and an ambulance crew.

"I'm fine," I said.

"I don't think so," said a firefighter.

"Really, I'm just tired."

"Your vital signs are stable. Do you want us to take you to the emergency room or can your wife drive you?" asked an EMT.

"I'm okay. I don't need to go to the hospital."

"Look at me," said a firefighter. "Now look at your wife. You're going to the hospital. The only question is how you're getting there."

I went to the hospital. The next day I went to my doctor. They gave me EKGs and EEGs and MRIs and blood tests and everything else. "I'm almost certain I know what the problem is," my doctor told me. "But, you're a young professional with three small children. You're getting the full boat."

My doctor's hunch was right. A viral ear infection. Not much to do except ride it out. I didn't collapse again, but for a while vertigo would hit me out of nowhere. My secretary at the time lived nearby and I convinced her to carpool with me. I didn't tell her it was so she could grab the steering wheel if need be.

Eventually the infection got better. The symptoms gradually went away, although occasionally I'd find myself dizzy and shaking without warning, usually when I was tired or dehydrated. Not unusual, the doctor told me. As the weeks and months and years went by, it happened less and less. It seems like forever since it last occurred and I rarely think about it.

This morning I was giving one of my standard presentations. The room was full, too full really, two hundred people jammed into a space without much ventilation.

And the room began to spin, a little, enough to throw me off. I stopped pacing, took the microphone and put it back in its stand. I finished a joke about hitting someone with a chair, paused and took a drink of water while the audience laughed. I grasped the lectern and focused on a spot in the back. It took me a minute to get my bearings, long enough that people began to look at me curiously, but I've given the talk enough times that I can do it by rote, and I continued, just loosening my tie a bit.

It was lunchtime when I was done and most of the crowd filed out. A few approached me with questions and I talked with them, after finding a chair and sitting down and closing my eyes and taking a few deep breaths. I'm tired when I have one of these times, the adrenaline I suppose, and for a little while afterward I worry that it will happen again even though it rarely does. I'm looking forward to being home this weekend with my family, instead of in a hot room full of strangers. I want to rest.


Jennifer said...

Take care of yourself, Snag! I hope you do indeed get some rest.

Would it have been better if you had been instead of being in a hot room full of strangers that it had been a room full of hot strangers? :)

Elmo said...

Hey man, get back to the doctor and make sure they got the diagnosis correct! Don't be playing this shit off! But get some rest and eat a good diet...

Chuckles said...

Whatever you do, don't try to drill a drainage hole. It doesn't work very well for skulls.

Kathleen said...

Kids help you dad rest this weekend! I recommend a three-part round of "Rock a bye baby".

Righteous Bubba said...

Usually I just have my fly down at those things.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen, that wasn't very nice. I recommend therapeutic seclusion, mabe some bourbon. Why don't you take TV to opening day?

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I think Snag has been possessed by AG. The symptoms seem right: dizziness, head pain, very large doctor bills....

seriously, get some R&R and hopefully extremely powerful drugs. In any case, listen to the parameds and/or Lovely Bride.

Anonymous said...

I second the powerful medication, and also the rest part. i suggest a mini-hibernation till spring has sprung

Anonymous said...

Doesn't labyrinthitis suck?

-- Fellow labyrinthitis victim.

fish said...

I find that powerpoint presentations induce vertigo all by themselves.