My So Called Dizzy Life

My Chronicles of Vertigo, Nystagmus, Imbalance & Dizziness

In Spite Of

on October 21, 2012

I’ve blogged about this before, but after my first episode of vertigo I went to Urgent Care (where they thought I had Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo) and then I followed up with my ex-primary care doctor who COMPLETELY ignored my symptoms and decided that I was just depressed and had high-blood pressure. (You can read more about that here.)  It was after that doctor’s appointment, where my symptoms were disregarded and that I felt I had no voice, that I decided I would do whatever I needed to do in order to get a doctor to focus on my symptoms.  I *knew* something was wrong with my body and I was so frustrated & upset that I couldn’t get my doctor to believe me.

The fact is that I am a larger girl.  As a larger girl, when I go to the doctor, my weight is often what is discussed (although my ex-evil doctor did not bring up losing weight when I saw her).  After being discounted and disrespected by my doctor, I wanted to make a change.  I had no intention of going back to the same doctor.  I wanted to find a new doctor who would listen to me and take my symptoms seriously.  I also wanted my new doctor to be able to focus on what was wrong with me and not a number on the scale.  So I decided that I wanted to lose some weight.  I do not believe in crazy fad diets or diet pills.  I knew that the way to accomplish my goal was through exercising and a change in my eating habits.  I decided to cut caffeine out of my diet and to lower my sodium intake.  I’m not a fast-food eater, but I did cut out things like pizza (unless it’s from Mod Market) and smothered burritos.  It wasn’t rocket science; Erik and I just made healthier decisions when it came to what we were eating.  I was on this new healthy path when I ended up in the hospital, less than 2 weeks after the appointment with my ex-primary care doctor.  It was in the hospital that I was diagnosed with Vestibular Neuritis.   Later I would be diagnosed with uncompensated vestibular neuropathy.

Losing weight and changing your lifestyle is not easy for anyone.  It requires commitment, willpower, motivation, patience, support, and a personal desire to change.  I believe that there is a huge difference between someone wanting to lose weight/knowing that they need to lose weight and actually trying to lose weight.  I have personal experience in this.  You need to be motivated and actually willing to make changes.  You can’t just talk the talk, you must be willing to walk the walk.

Having a vestibular disorder does not make losing weight and changing your lifestyle easier.  When you have vertigo, or dizziness, or disequilibrium, it does not make this easier.  When you always “feel off,” it does not make this easier.  It does not make exercising, sticking to a new way of eating, or losing weight easier.  It does, in fact, make it harder.  Especially when you are prescribed medications that cause weight gain.  Would you feel like exercising if you felt dizzy all the time?  No, of course you wouldn’t.   When you have a vestibular disorder, although it may be beneficial to be active, the last thing you feel like doing is exercising.   If your world moves all around you, staying still is more appealing.  Constant motion sickness, feeling like the ground is spongy & moves beneath your feet, unsteadiness, and dizziness are not good motivators.  But I was determined.

I couldn’t exercise at all after getting out of the hospital.  I was too fatigued and too dizzy to workout.  (After all, I needed a walker to get around!)  My only form of exercise was my Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy.  I could, however, still stick to a new, healthier way of eating.  It helped that Erik was 100% on board with all of this and he eats what I eat.  And my sister was very encouraging.  Having a strong support network is so helpful.  I tracked (& continue to track) the food that I was eating.  I track things like calories, fat, carbs, protein, fiber, potassium, and sodium.  My goal is to eat a balanced, healthy diet.  I have not felt deprived; I still eat food that I like (including chocolate!) but I watch the portions.  My diet includes having sushi once a week!

Once I grew stronger and was no longer using a walker, Erik & I started going for walks at our local state park and I used my awesome trekking poles.  Since August I have logged many miles.  Now that the weather is cooler, we have joined a rec center that has an indoor track.  Staying active hasn’t been easy.  I am back to work, which is exhausting in itself.  And I still do my Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy exercises every day.  It’s hard to find the energy to exercise, but I’ve been doing it.  Some days I am still too dizzy to exercise.  Just last week I could barely walk a mile at the rec center (instead of my usual 2 miles) because dizziness and nausea overtook me.  I’ve learned to cut myself some slack, while at the same time staying motivated enough to keep trying.

It took some time for anyone at work to notice that I had lost some weight.  One wonderful woman at work noticed and complimented me.  It made my day.  A couple other people noticed, but made comments that let me know that they assumed my weight loss was because I was ill.  Again, I feel I must stress that having a vestibular disorder does not make losing weight and changing your lifestyle easier.  A vestibular disorder isn’t a free pass to skinny jeans.  (Maybe I should get that made into a t-shirt!!)  I’m guessing that more people at work have noticed my weight loss but are too afraid to say anything because they, too, think that being dizzy means you lose weight.  And, of course, there were the few catty women who made non-supportive comments out of jealousy (Ladies, it’s so sad the way we treat each other sometimes…)

This journey has not been easy and I’m sure it won’t magically get easier.  When you feel dizzy and unbalanced, the last thing that you want to do is get off the couch.  As of today, my total weight loss is 52 pounds!!  52 pounds!!  Am I proud of myself?  Heck yeah!   I’ve accomplished this not because I’ve been ill, but in spite of being ill.

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6 responses to “In Spite Of

  1. redbingg says:

    WOO HOO! That is crazy wonderful fantastic!! You are amazing! 🙂

  2. Emily says:

    Thanks Nancy! You’re pretty amazing yourself. 🙂

  3. Keep up the good work! You are showing amazing progress, we see it every week, even if we don’t say it.

  4. Allison says:

    Emily,

    I am so grateful that you are writing this blog. I am expericing this the same “so called dizzy life”. I call it a life unbalanced. Started in June and got progressively worse until September 19th when my whole world started to spin out of control. I was in control of everything until then. Losing control or what I thought was control was actually a blessing in disguise. I have had time to focus on myself, my inner self and have discoverd a lot about me. I remain postive and stated each morning that I am getting stronger and more balanced each day. Vestibular exercises are a great help for me as well. I love my PT!

    You have planted the seed of using trekking poles; what a great idea. I ordered a pair so I can try some hiking; something that brings me great joy!

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how grateful I am that you are sharing this with others and on the sharing note I have found that keep a food log and how I feel after each meal has helped. Going on a low sodium diet 1000 mg has helped me. If I eat more than that is has a dizzy affect. I am eating whole foods, nothing processed and as much organic as I can find. No caffeine or wine and limited chocolate (once a week). I have also found that eliminating milk, wheat and corn has greatly improved my dizziness.

    Thanks again!

    Your friend in finding balance 🙂

    • Emily says:

      Hi Allison,

      I’m so sorry that you have to deal with this dizziness too. I can totally relate to this being a blessing in disguise. It does force you to slow down and focus on yourself and your life. I had been putting off and ignoring so many things that I knew that I needed to change or look at and this dizziness has given me an opportunity to cut negative things out of my life and to focus on being more positive and healthier!

      I love your idea of a food log. I have already been tracking what I’ve been eating (as part of my weight loss goal), but I never thought to track how I *feel* after my meals. What a great idea – thank you for sharing!!

      Emily

      P.S. You will *love* the trekking poles! I’m glad you ordered a pair! 🙂

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