I’ve been thinking about the consequences of having vertigo.  In my head, I call this “collateral damage,” but that’s probably not the best term. It’s things like this:

  • I can no longer swim crawl stroke, and because I’m not vigorously turning my head to breathe during swim workouts, my neck is healthier, and I’ve triggered fewer headaches. (No, I do not have cervical vertigo.)

So this is a positive outcome of having vertigo. Yay! I’ve also blogged about how my quads have gotten stronger, not only because I was taking a spin class, but also because I was squatting and kneeling more instead of bending over.

Of course, there have been negative outcomes as well. In early January 2013 I injured my shoulder. It was incredibly painful to sleep on, so I slept more on my right side. Once the vertigo was in full force at the end of February, I had to stop sleeping on my right side because that was the “dizzy side.” My left side still hurt, so I was stuck on my back at night. This did not make my body happy, and my sleep quality was affected. Collateral damage.

I started physical therapy to resolve the shoulder issue, but the vertigo limited my ability to lay flat on a treatment table and also to turn my head while supine. The PT worked around those limitations, and I made some progress, but after a particularly disastrous vacation, I stopped PT to focus on treating the vertigo. Months later, when the vertigo reached the “chronic but manageable” phase, I returned to PT and fixed that shoulder once and for all. At that point a little dizziness was worth it to end the twelve months of intense discomfort and pain I had experienced.

There were also subtle effects on my relationship. I could no longer spoon my wife in bed. Even though she knew I had to avoid the dizzy side during treatment, the reality of turning my back to her every night felt standoffish to us both. We were surprised at how difficult it was to ignore that body language. And as I mentioned recently, my stress-reducing strategies like massage and yoga are contraindicated for vertigo, so I struggled to find new ways to relax and take care of myself.

What are the positive and negative outcomes of the condition or challenge you are facing?

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