And on the 14th day, the vertigo returned.  Here’s what led up to it:

  • The day before I had looked under the bed for my cat & done similar head movements when putting felt pads on the bottom of our new file cabinet.  I had no symptoms and didn’t realize until later that this was my problematic head position.
  • My self-treatment regimen would have had me do the Epley’s that night, but I was distracted by the Fourth of July fireworks we could see from our 10th-floor hotel room window.
  • My wife told me that I spooned her—on my right side—in my sleep.  (Sure wish I had been awake for that.)  That’s the side I’ve been avoiding.
  • The next day I took a 20-minute power nap on a single pillow.  I’ve been sleeping up on two to minimize my symptoms, and being down on one was a mistake.

About 8 hours after the nap, I got vertigo when looking down and to the right to pull toilet paper off the roll.  I repeated the movement twice more to make sure it was for real.  It was.  (I had rolled over in my sleep a few nights ago and woke with a start, having felt vertigo.  At the time I wondered if I had been dreaming, but  I guess I wasn’t.)

Even though I felt unsteady, I made myself dinner and took out the garbage and recycling, then I told my wife what was up and did the Epley’s twice.  As I lay on the bed with my eyes spinning, I wondered if this was going to be my life – periodic vertigo messing with my plans.  I supposed to go to the rock gym the next day, for the first time in about two months.  My wife and I have climbed almost weekly for several years, and I have missed doing this activity with her.  This was to be my triumphant return!  And now I had vertigo.  Again.

This morning I felt OK, so we went rock climbing as planned.  My wife suggested I start with a 5.6, so I walked around the gym looking for easy routes.  In this gym, there are no 5.6’s – just 5.kid and  Great.  I managed a 5.6 nicely.  (Sometimes it is hard to climb “easy” stuff after you are used to doing more advanced climbs!)  I ended up climbing 6 climbs today: the 5.6, a 5.7+, and 5 5.7’s.  My arms got totally pumped on the first 5.7!  But I was able to look up at the wall while climbing without vertigo.  Hooray!  On my last 5.7, I had to stop and rest, which felt so very odd.  I was working hard.

I was safe to belay; however, I had the benefit of using our new belay specs (, which are small prisms that allow you to see a climber overhead without tilting your head back.  Both of us have old neck injuries, so we figured the specs would help us, especially as we age. The added benefit of using them now means I didn’t have to look up today, even though I could.  I didn’t want to risk triggering the vertigo while she was depending on me to belay her safely.

Clear, Crisp Optics

My wife cheered me on as I climbed and said she was proud of me.  I did my best to move normally and not avoid looking up and down.  Success!  I even got on the slackline, but I held onto a second rope to keep my balance.  I then was able to take 4 steps unassisted, although I had to focus with fierce intensity at a fixed point in front of me.  The extra effort of concentration worked!