In January 2013, just as I was ramping up my triathlon training and choosing my races for the season, I got Benign Positional Paroxysmal Vertigo.  I had experienced two episodes of BPPV about four years earlier, but this time it was different.  It was worse.  It didn’t go away.  It didn’t follow the rules.

I searched online for people who had maintained their physical activities and fitness training despite having vertigo — I needed advice, I needed hope.  And since I didn’t find much, Vertigogo was born.

The vertigo was bad in 2013, not as bad in 2014, and became intermittent and tolerable in 2015. By 2017 I was basically out of the woods. Over this time, I gradually reintroduced activities (such as biking) that I hadn’t been able to tolerate. If you’re reading this then you might have vertigo yourself, and if so, I hope you find my blog interesting and helpful.

The Nitty Gritty Details

Here’s an overview of my most recent episode of BPPV:

  • end of January 2013 – very mild vertigo triggered by THAT head movement in yoga class.  Happens almost daily just after I get in bed, but is so mild that come morning I completely forget about it.
  • end of February 2013 – typical BPPV triggered by a fast roll (not a flip) while swimming.  Bad enough that I vomited and missed two days of work.
  • March 2013 – typical BPPV all month
  • April 2013 – oscillopsia begins, often experience disequilibrium instead of BPPV
  • May 2013 – improvement with vestibular physical therapy, but then I converted myself to horizontal canal (HC) BPPV while on vacation.
  • June 2013 – a horrid mix of typical BPPV, HC BPPV (which makes me feel nauseous), oscillopsia, disequilibrium, the works
  • July 2013 – back to typical BPPV mixed with symptom-less days
  • August 2013 – after I had 13 consecutive days without any vertigo, it came back (similar to March) after a series of THAT head movements during home maintenance projects.  Things were wobbly for almost two weeks.
  • September 2013 – I am almost as active as I used to be and enjoyed 21 consecutive days without symptoms.  But I did get vertigo on September 7.  It was mild, but it was horizontal canal, which I was unable to clear for three weeks.  After an unusually bad day of constant oscillopsia, it finally cleared.
  • October 2013 – Episodes usually last less than 24 hours and are relatively mild.  It seems to be a chronic but manageable problem at this point.
  • November 2013 – chronic but manageable
  • December 2013 – a few episodes of tinnitus and a few episodes of sudden vertigo while walking, plus four days of nausea toward the end of the month
  • January & February 2014 – no symptoms for all intents and purposes. I am still making modifications in my sports and sleeping.
  • March 2014 – Things are bit dicier but still relatively good.  One sudden episode of BPPV while sitting, and a new experience: multiple bursts of BPPV while walking.
  • April 2014 – triggered BPPV by lying back. I had to scale back in yoga and modify or limit other activities, but over 3-4 weeks I gradually recovered.
  • May 2014 – like February
  • June 2014 – like March. A lot more vertigo in bed — not full on nystagmus but not “only in my head,” either.
  • August 2014 – still under control, successfully rode my bike
  • September 2014 – triggered a 24-hour episode of BPPV early in the month, but completed a sprint triathlon a few weeks later with no symptoms. I started a group exercise class (core + strength) and a new yoga class and have to make modifications in both. I stopped running. Tinnitus started.
  • December 2015 – I stopped taking the yoga and strength classes.
  • January 2015 – I have a little bit of vertigo every day…a wobble, a wave of nausea, or something similarly mild that indicates there is still a problem, but otherwise I am feeling fine and able to do some movements (like looking up), sometimes, and be OK. Tinnitus continues.
  • February 2015 – Like January. I went swimming a few times but stuck to breast stroke. I tried crawl stroke with a snorkel.
  • March 2015 – I experienced a major life stressor but had no flare up of BPPV.
  • May 2015 – I started doing a 30-minute exercise video every day. I feel some nausea and disorientation when I lie flat on my back.
  • June 2015 – I can look up and do some other more unusual movements with my head without triggering vertigo. During June & July, the tinnitus dies down and then stops, and I can lie flat on my back without vertigo.
  • August 2015 – I am no longer having a little bit of vertigo every day. I make almost no modifications with my exercise program and daily movements.
  • through 2017 – Most days I have no vertigo symptoms. At least once a week I experience something mild – a quick spin when I turn my head in bed, a balance check, a bounce off a wall. Once a month or so I have a worse symptom like feeling nauseous for a few hours, feeling unsteady on my feet, or needing to take off my sunglasses on stairs for several days in a row.
  • 2018 – About 10% of the time I get a quick spin when I turn to the right in bed (compared to 100% for the past 4 years). Now and then I find myself running into door jambs, ricocheting off walls, and tilting to catch my balance, but this is the only indication that my vestibular system is struggling. I usually do not know what the trigger is–maybe allergies, maybe stress, it’s not clear. I stopped exercising and doing extensive hiking in January, which means I am not challenging my system as often as I used to.

During 2013 I posted some things retroactively — I felt too ill to get the blog going in the early months, but during that time I journaled and took notes, which I later used for blog posts.