Sweat poured over my body as I gripped the edge of my bed in delirium, too afraid to open my eyes.
Five seconds ago I had been sound asleep, peacefully dreaming. But now? Now, I felt like I was being spun violently in a washing machine, the bed having turned to jelly, my head pounding as if it was about to explode.
Is this an earthquake? Am I drunk? … Am I dying?
Is this all in my head?
Driving my fingernails into my palm, I very slowly, and very cautiously, opened one eye. I waited for the room to focus, for everything in sight to stop whirling around me… Except it didn’t.
I forced myself to sit upright, trying to focus on the door of our guesthouse in Selcuk. As the room raced around my head uncontrollably, I realised that this wasn’t going to stop.
Am I having a stroke? A seizure? Is this a brain tumour?
I started to scream and paw frantically at Dave as I forced my head between my knees and desperately willed the world to stop moving.
As the spinning eventually slowed down, a brand new sensation took over.
Forcing myself to crawl out of bed, I staggered to the bathroom, where I proceeded to vomit uncontrollably. Resting my head on the cool porcelain would start off the spinning again and yet another round of vomiting would begin.
It was at this point I realised that there was something seriously wrong with me.
An hour later I was in hospital.
As the doctors ran test after test after test, checking for heart and brain issues, taking blood and putting me on a drip, I grew more and more nervous. When they put a stethoscope on my stomach and asked “how long?” I burst into tears, convinced they were telling me I was pregnant.
I hate hospitals at the best of times. I’m fortunate in that I’ve only had to visit once before — when I broke my arm twice at two years old. (I didn’t like the plaster cast they put on my arm the first time and somehow managed to break my arm in a completely different spot so I could drag my arm out and scratch it!)
Being in hospital in a small Turkish town where nobody speaks a word of English was terrifying. Without the doctors being able to convey much at all, they simply motioned for me to wait in bed and then left me alone to panic. This was not quite how I envisioned spending my Turkey holidays! However, by this point, I had realised that the spinning only seemed to occur whenever I rotated my head to either side, so at least the waiting wasn’t filled with dramatic room spins and projectile vomiting.
Three hours later the doctor came back with some medication for me. I was told to take it three times a day and to return in five days for an MRI scan if it hadn’t improved. Of course, I was supposed to be leaving Selcuk the very next day, heading to Fethiye for a two week yachting trip, which, if you know how seasick I get, wasn’t looking very likely right now. Still, I was exhausted and too tired to explain to the doctor that I would be leaving. I’d figure it out later.
I arrived back in the room and turned to trusty Google to try and work out what the medication was and what exactly I’d been diagnosed with. I instantly discovered benign paroxysmal positional vertigo and it made perfect sense. BPPV is when small crystals in your ear become dislodged, drift into your inner ear and as they roll around, ie, whenever you move your head, they brush against the hairs in your inner ear causing your brain to freak out, think that you’re moving, sending your vision crazy.
Sometimes it never goes away.
Most of the time, it will always come back every few months for the rest of your life.
However, I am absolutely delighted that after a horrible few days of sleeping upright and being unable to move my head, the vertigo finally subsided and I was able to sail around Turkey after all!
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this was an isolated event and it won’t be returning in a few months’ time…