Yesterday, I stood up from my chair and nearly fell over. Then I started to walk, and it was like the world was heaving and swaying all around me, and I nearly fell a couple more times as I walked down the hallway, clinging to furniture and walls to keep myself upright. Something was clearly wrong; was I having a stroke? A brain tumor? The aliens had used their mind control beams to take over, making me all herky jerky? I told my wife that it looked like a trip to the emergency room was in order, especially since all the spinning and heaving was making me acutely nauseous.
We got a lift from our neighbor, Ted — yeah, not even fear of my brain imminently exploding will motivate us to pay the bill for an ambulance pick-up — and made it to the emergency room to discover that Saturday, 16 February, is the day everyone has an accident and the waiting room was packed. Fortunately, presenting as an old man pale and sweating and swaying gets you bumped to the front of the line. Sorry, chainsaw accident! Sorry, broken bone! Sorry, ebola victim! Old dude privilege, coming through!
It may have been the fact that I looked like an imminent font of projectile vomiting, which I was, and they wanted to avoid the mess. As soon as they got me in an examining room, it all came up. I’d picked the wrong day to experiment with trying my hand at spätzle in the kitchen, because that stuff looks like a horror second time around.
Anyway, I got diagnosed: Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, or BPPV. My inner ear is messed up. Apparently this is fairly common in us old people over the age of 60, and treatment is simple: I’m taking seasickness pills, which are already helping, and there are some easy physical therapies that can lead to the problem going away in a few days to weeks.
So right now, I’m just sitting quietly, no sudden moves, and the world is mostly motionless. I’ll try to avoid abruptly standing up or turning around to make you all suddenly jump up and get shaken around. Also, no spätzle.