Vertigo Suffering

By Katiedid Langrock

February 29, 2020 5 min read

As I lie dying, I have to admit to myself that I am in fact not dying, no matter how impossible that truth seems. I know I am not dying because I am in fact getting better. Better enough to write this. Better enough to sit up, turn my head and have recall. Better enough to recall that the last time I felt so sure that I was dying was when I was forced to read "As I Lay Dying" in 10th grade. A far more honest description would be, "As I lie spinning." Or a more medically sound description, perhaps, would be, "As I lie vertigo-ing." But seeing as spinning sounds fun and most people don't know what vertigo is and I have a flair for the dramatic, "as I lie dying" is how I will start this piece, because when my husband asked me how I felt, all I could answer was, "Death."

Vertigo, it turns out, is not what I thought it is — namely, just a momentary sensation of spinning upon sitting up quickly, a blip of off-balance that is quickly steadied. No. Vertigo, at least the vertigo that kept me from writing last week, is an all-encompassing, full-bodied whirlpool descending into hell as the earth spins mightily and unrelentingly around you with gale force for hours on end, coercing torrents of vomit to be released as you shake and shudder and sweat. Basically, it's what roller coaster engineers are going for every time they release a new ride at Six Flags. And to say it is the worst would be an understatement. At its Category 5 status, the vertigo storm never settles; it only dies down enough for you to grab a thought. If you so dare as turn your head ever so slightly, it whips up into a full frenzy once more, sending you spinning and puking for who knows how long. The fear of movement may be the worst bit. The fear of movement is what has me, even now, a full week later, typing with a barf bin next to me.

Perhaps there are many types of vertigo. Perhaps it is not like this for everyone. And seeing as I do like to feel special, when the symptoms started I thought that perhaps I was just the special girl who got a uniquely bad kind. When my friend took me to urgent care, I told the doctor that I had no idea vertigo could be like this. I told him I thought it's a momentary dizzy spell. He laughed at me while I sat there hunched over. I was white-knuckled from gripping my third barf bag and unable to make eye contact with him as he said, "Most people don't know what vertigo looks like. It looks like hell on earth. It looks like you right now."

So much for hitting on the cute doctor.

"Will I be able to make my daughter's ballet recital tomorrow?" I asked.

"Oh, sure," the doctor laughed, "watching a bunch of kids spinning in circles is exactly what you need right now. That's a no-go on the recital."

I went to the recital anyway. Luckily, in my 4-year-old's performance, there was more falling and standing around confused than spinning, so I could watch the whole thing. For the older girls' performances, I closed my eyes.

The doctor gave me a prescription for two types of anti-nausea pills, which I am to take three times a day. They have been a great relief, but I tend not to feel the effect until the second dose of the day.

"I don't see any crystals," my daughter said, poking into my ear. "I'll go get the flashlight."

Vertigo, as it was explained to me by Dr. Google, is when crystals that form in your ear roll into a canal where they are not supposed to be. Here they enter into a drum circle, playing the bongos on your nerve endings and sending your brain into wackadoodle mode. When I relayed this information to the doctor, he said, "Yeah, not exactly true to science. For one, there are no crystals."

So I guess I can call off my kids' search for treasure in my ears. Shame. Maybe this roller coaster of vomit would be worth it if I were to walk away with a shiny, sparkling prize compressed by my own ear canal to commemorate the event. Then again, I think I'd rather forget.

Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

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