Kansas writer

Debra Guiou Stufflebean


In 2015, I awoke and crawled out of bed, because my husband was having a fit over spilling something on the floor. I assured him it wasn't that big of a deal and immediately bent down to start cleaning it up. Then "no big deal" turned into a "really big deal" when I lost my balance and fell to the floor. As I attempted to stand, the entire bedroom began spinning out of control. With his help, I navigated back into bed. I was so nauseated, I threw-up. I turned over and laid face down into my pillow, willing the dizziness to stop! Anyone who has had vertigo knows how horrible it feels to have your equilibrium malfunction! I couldn't raise my head, let alone sit up or walk! I didn't know it was vertigo. In fact, it was a relatively short, but violent episode. I stayed in bed an hour until everything subsided. I can't recall if I fell back to sleep for a while but when I did get up, I felt like my old self. I got dressed and went to work.

Later in the afternoon, I had an appointment at a salon for my daughter to cut my hair. I was telling her about my crazy morning while she was giving me a shampoo. She put a towel around my hair and raised my head from the basin, I blacked out and wound up on the floor. When I came to, the shop was spinning, I threw up, my teeth chattered, saliva ran from the side of my mouth, and I didn't want anyone to touch me. At that point an ambulance arrived. I couldn't stand to be moved. Being put on the gurney, or feeling the ambulance race down the street, all I could do was heave and beg for it to stop. Emergency staff did an MRI, thinking I was having a stroke. This time it took longer for me to come out of it and I was sent home with the diagnosis of severe vertigo. Oddly enough, almost four years later there had never been another episode.

March 2019, I had laser surgery twice on each eye. Without a doubt, right up there with childbirth as one of the most painful things I've ever had done. More on that later. Each time I was confined to bed afterwards for a few hours and each time, I felt swoony, dizzy, upon awakening, but nothing more came of it. A couple of months later, I had the cataracts removed from my eyes. After the first eye was operated on and I was asked to sit up on the edge of the gurney, I was very dizzy. Too dizzy to walk, they laid me back down for about 15 minutes. After the second eye was operated on for cataracts, the medical staff took great care, delaying laying me down until just right before surgery, wheeling the cart very slowly to and from the operating room, having me lay on my side for a while before sitting up. The precautions worked and things went fine.

Over subsequent weeks, however, I've been having dizziness in the reverse of what one expects. If I lay down on the couch to watch some television, my surroundings will swoon for a few seconds. When I lay down in bed, the same swooning sensation is present. Last night I got up to use the restroom, went back to bed and when my head touched the pillow, the bedroom began spinning. I held my eyes shut tightly and prayed for it to stop. After a few minutes I must have fallen back to sleep. The eye surgeons are certain that the procedures, themselves, could not have had a bearing. Afterall, they say, Vertigo is caused by the rocks in the inner ear. Then why? Why has this all started again? If it wasn't the eye surgeries, then what else is going on with my head? Was it really Vertigo in the first place? Why don't I Google to see if there is any correlation between Alzheimer's and Vertigo.

Dizziness could be an early sign of Dementia by Dr. Ananya Mandal July 25, 18 journal of Neurology

A new study has found that people who feel dizzy when they stand up from lying down or sitting positions, are more at risk of developing dementia or stroke. Hypotension occurs when the blood pools in the lower extremities and the brain is temporarily deprived of oxygenated blood causing light headedness. This study explored the connection of hypotension with brain disorders like stroke and dementia. Dizziness itself was not an indicator of a disease, but findings were statistically significant in that almost 10% of the 11,709 study participants went on to have dementia and 7% went on to have strokes. Repeated episodes of orthostatic hypotension has been linked to impaired blood flow in the brain.

 I'm warry about starting the Aricept as it says on the prescription that dizziness can be a side-effect. Even if I become dizzy, I may be unable to determine whether it is drug related or caused by the changes in the past few months which may or may not be a symptom (or cause) of changes in my brain.

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