What Living with Vertigo Has Taught Me About Emotional Resilience

I had a vertigo attack today. I was not expecting it. (No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition!) I’d gone to the gym, had a great cardio workout, had a good breakfast, drunk all my green tea and was on to my seltzer and was working on my keynote for next week, when I started to feel funny.

I had trouble keeping my vision straight—my second monitor is to my right, so I started fixating up and to the left, which is my fixation point for my nystagmus. It got worse. I started feeling queasy. I closed my eyes. I thought I would go upstairs and lie down.

I had waited too long. When I opened my eyes, the world was whirling. I went to the bathroom, not upstairs. After I vomited several times (how can people be bulimics?), I finally made it upstairs, where I proceeded to empty my already empty tummy. Then I slept for three hours.

When I awoke, I was fine. Tired, a little dehydrated, a little shaky from insufficient calories, but fine. No more whirlies.

Al Siebert, in his book, The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure, and Bounce Back from Setbacks, describes five levels of resiliency:

Level 1: Optimize your health and well-being
Level 2: Develop good problem-solving skills
Level 3: Develop strong inner gatekeepers
Level 4: Develop high-level resiliency skills
Level 5: Develop your talent for serendipity

Today, I used Levels 1 and 2. I solved the problem: Oops, I have the whirlies. Don’t ignore it. Take care of it. I took care of it by optimizing my health and well-being, first by sleeping, and now by drinking water. Soon, I will drink a low carb shake, since that is easily digestible, and will put little stress on my tummy.

I also called Mark to ask him to call Esther to call the right people to cancel my 2pm Skype call. I could no longer see the monitor to cancel it myself. I could not see the fast dial buttons on my business phone to call Esther myself. No, I don’t have Esther’s number memorized, that’s why I have the fast dial buttons!

My most recent whirling vertigo attack was more than a year ago. I hope the next one is at least a year away. But the lessons I relearned from today are these:

  1. Know your limits
  2. Ask for help
  3. Take care of yourself: first, last, and always. You cannot do anything unless you take care of yourself.
  4. Drink lots of water. Staying hydrated is an answer to many health issues.
  5. When in doubt, take a nap. If you’re overtired, your judgement is at risk.
  6. Recognize which problems you are solving when. Solve the first one first. Don’t try to solve the unsolvable ones.

There are plenty of researchers trying to find an answer to the problem of vertigo. If they find an answer, it won’t be in people with a broken semicircular canal, such as me. I’ll be last on the list. The problems I need to solve are living with vertigo and maintaining my emotional equilibrium.

P.S. One more thing: does breakfast count, if I’m counting them? I bet they do. Darn it!

1 thought on “What Living with Vertigo Has Taught Me About Emotional Resilience”

  1. Pingback: How to get your vertigo back | Vertigogo

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