When You Start to Spin


November has been a tough month. Mostly because when something is wrong, it’s my instinct to hide it. Ignore it and pretend it’s not happening. I’m incredibly good at rationalizing away whatever bad, scary thing is happening until it overwhelms me.

In early November, I stared having episodes of dizziness and lightheadedness. Feeling like I was rocking when I wasn’t–it reminded me of motion sickness. I thought it was stress. Then I blamed a virus.

I pushed myself to keep going because this wasn’t serious. I was fine. I was fine. I was fine.

The episodes grew more frequent and started interfering with my thinking. Everyday tasks became harder to perform. I had to focus to make breakfast. I started doing things out of order. I was mixing up words when I spoke. My short term memory was hazy. I felt like I was drunk without touching a sip of liquor.  My mind wasn’t mine anymore.

I didn’t say anything. Because if I said something that would make it real and this was too scary to make real.

Finally, I decided it had to be a bad ear infection. That’s how I convinced myself to go to the doctor. By telling myself it was simple and treatable. When I went to the doctor, he ran a few tests and ruled out certain things. Unfortunately, it’s not a middle ear infection.

Right now, we think it’s an inner ear issue. I have to wait two weeks for a test to determine what inner ear issue it is (there are over a dozen possibilities) or if it’s actually a problem with my brain. (They cannot treat the vertigo until they are clear on what is causing it.)

A week ago, things got really bad. I started talking slower and having trouble organizing my words into sentences. My ears started hurting–deep inside my skull. And ringing–constantly ringing.

I had trouble walking. The dizziness and lightheadedness and spinning feeling all became constant. The nausea was overwhelming. I’d forget to eat because I was so sick. Headaches became my daily companions. My scalp tingled and I got these weird rushes up the back of my head like I was going to faint, but I didn’t.

Right now, that’s all still happening.

If I sneeze, laugh, cough, or blow my nose, I lose all sense of balance. It feels like I actually move a foot outside of my body going either up or forward. I have to grab onto something solid or risk falling over.

It’s incredibly scary. So I wanted to be honest with you, my readers and my friends.

I can’t function like I used to. I can only be on the computer for limited amounts of time because it makes all my symptoms worse. It’s no longer just me spinning, the ground actually feels like it’s undulating beneath me and the room sometimes tilts.

The scariest part is feeling like I’m losing myself.

I wear sea sickness bands to cut the nausea down. I lie in bed and watch movies because that makes the world and me stop spinning. And I try really hard to do some of my normal tasks like dishes and laundry. They require so much more focus and energy than they ever have.

But I’m still here. And that counts.





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48 Responses to When You Start to Spin

  1. Oh Kourtney I am so sorry you are feeling so ill.. I know this kind of inner ear balance can be awful.. My nephew is still not right, and the name of the condition is so long I can not even begin to remember it.. But it has laid him out for over 6 weeks.. While investigations have gone on.. He like you started with dizzy spells and loud noises in his ears.. He has been really poorly.. And not able to get out of bed without help as the room just spins and he collapses.

    So do not worry about your blog friends. Concentrate on getting well, I hope they can give you the right medication to help.. I am afraid at the moment not much has helped my nephew except anti nausea drugs..
    So do not worry about replying.. Get yourself well..
    Please take care of YOU.. Lots of Love to you Kourtney..
    Love and Blessings as I will keep you in my prayers
    Hugs Sue xxx <3

    • Hi Sue. Thanks. It helps to hear that others have been dealing with this. I feel terrible for your nephew. That’s a long time. Mine came on gradually but kept getting worse. I spend half the day in bed. I do spurts of computer work. But it does make me spin. I refuse to give up. I just do it in smaller bursts. Then I rest.

      They won’t give me any medication until they do the test and figure out what is causing the vertigo. But they gave me something for after the test at least. I hope it helps.

      Love you! Thanks for all the kind words and thoughts.

  2. Sending you lots of good thoughts and healing energy! How scary for you. I’m the same with rationalizing things, or trying to, in hopes they’ll go away. Rest, heal, meditate to keep the stress at bay, and know your in my thoughts.

  3. Mayumi-H says:

    Hoping you get positive results from those tests, and that you’re back to feeling like your old self again soon!

  4. K. Lyn Wurth says:

    Kourtney, I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this. I hope they decide soon what it is and find a treatment.

    As someone who’s regularly “out of my mind” with chronic daily migraines, I sympathize with not feeling like yourself and being constantly at war with complex whole-body symptoms that can pin you in bed. It can lead to deep (useful) self-examination, (not-so-useful) self-doubts and reevaluation of many aspects of life. My main advice is to rest and trust that you’re still in there, just needing a break and care.

    Rest and know that we, your readers and friends, aren’t going anywhere. We care most about you, not what you do or produce. Praying for you…


    • Thanks, Kelly. It’s frustrating how much time it takes to figure out what’s wrong. I don’t know how you do it. You are so strong. I keep thinking how did I get this? I tried to manage my work better this year. Clearly, I didn’t. And I realize how much I work and how little I make time for movies and my old hobbies. Thank you so much for these kind words and the insight. Truly I am blessed to know you. Hugs, Kour

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh Kourtney, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Must be very frightening (not to mention frustrating) for you. I hope they find the specific cause and can offer you relief. My thoughts are with you. Will I still be seeing you next Sunday at the craft fair? It’s understandable if you can’t make it. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you that day. You can send me an email if you like.

  6. Kourtney, I’m so sorry to hear about what’s been happening, it does sound very scary. I’ve had Labyrinthitis a couple of times, which gives some similar symptoms, but on a much milder scale. You’re in my thoughts and I hope that you find out what the problem is soon and are able to get help for it. On another note, I loved reading Highway Thirteen and I’ve just posted some reviews on Amazon and Good Reads. Hoping that you get well soon Kourtney.

    • Thanks, Andrea. That’s one of the possibilities for me. I really appreciate the support. Aw thank you that means the world to me. I’ve had to slow down so much with promo stuff now. Hugs.

  7. Lori says:

    Oh God, Kourtney. I feel so bad for you. I can tell you that I had something similar. The only symptom I didn’t have was slow or slurred speech. All the other symptoms you described though, I had, with the addition of a searing migraine and ear pressure. This happened in November 2011 and lasted until the end of January 2012 (2 1/2 months). I don’t want to bore you with all of the details. Plus, I don’t know if you have the same thing. But, at the time, and after tests, I didn’t really get a diagnosis other than vertigo. But since then, I still get minor bouts with vertigo. More recently, after we moved from Florida, I saw a doctor here who diagnosed it as vestibular migraine. Supposedly, it’s a migraine that emanates from the inner ear and causes vertigo. I’m not sure if I believe that’s what it is, but he described the symptoms of this diagnosis to me, and they were mine. I don’t know if you have this, but I understand how devastating it feels. It’s maddening.

    My heart goes out to you. You’re doing everything you can right now. Focusing only on the TV is what I did too (I preferred comedies to help lift my spirits). Also, the doctor used prednisone and valium to lessen the symptoms until it went away. I needed to keep lights bright, because it seemed that dim lighting helped to trigger it. Hugs to you my friend.

    • Thanks, Lori. That had to be so scary for you. Oh goodness that’s a long span to be having these kinds of things. Ugh. I’ve heard about the vestibular migraines as a possible cause. Those sound truly awful. Some days I feel like I’m living in Wonderland. The stairs move under my feet. The walls tilt. And I have to tell myself it’s not real even if it feels real. I can read books for short bouts but my mind is so foggy. It’s hard to focus. Yes, the light helps me too. If it’s dark, I lose all sense of the floor. Hugs!

      • Lori says:

        I’ll say a prayer for you, Miss K.

        • Thanks you so much, Miss L. I got your new book on Kindle. I have trouble reading on screens right now, but it’s definitely in my TBR pile.

          • Lori says:

            Thank you, Kourtney. I have yours in my TBR file too. Reading Carrie Rubin now, and yours is next. The print version of Whit’s End will be coming out in a few weeks. Since it’s my first, I have a big learning curve on publishing. I said a prayer for you in my morning prayers. Get well soon.

          • Thanks. 🙂 Carrie’s is fantastic! That’s awesome. I understand. It’s an experiment. You learn as you go. But it’s really an awesome thing to be in control of your work. Aw thank you. Hugs.

  8. Oh Kourtney, I’m so sorry to hear this. My father has experience something very similar for the past couple of months with the vertigo. He’s been to many different doctors and has been told it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. I’ll certainly keep you in my prayers that you’re able to get to the root of the problem. Take care of yourself. xo

    • Thanks, Jill. I’m so sorry to hear your dad has been going through this. There are dozens of things that can cause it. It’s like presenting with a sore throat–so many possible causes and sometimes doctors cannot figure it out. Thank you. I appreciate the prayers. Hugs!

  9. So sorry you are going through this. It took real guts to open up to the world (not to mention to yourself) about this. I hope that knowing you have fans and friends online will help in some small way as you work your way through this. Sending steadying thoughts and hugs.

    • Thanks, Audrey. My first instinct was to hide it and just go offline. But I already feel so disconnected from my life and my world. I didn’t want to disconnect anymore. And I thought all my friends and readers deserved the truth. You guys have been with me for years through thick and thin. Just talking about it and reading that others have been through it helps. Thank you so much for your support. 🙂

  10. carlamcgill says:

    I am so sorry that you are having these difficulties, Kourtney. I have said a prayer for you, and I hope that an accurate diagnosis and treatment are forthcoming. Thank you for informing us about all of the things you are experiencing, and I look forward to hearing about what the doctors suggest. Bless you, Kourtney.

    • Thanks, Carla. I truly appreciate the prayer. It’s hard being in this limbo of waiting. I’m a doer. I like to take action and feel like I’m making progress. I am hoping that once they know what it is, we can get a method in place to help me get rid of or adjust to it. Hugs, Kourtney

  11. Thinking of you, my dear. So sorry you’re going through such an awful time. Let me know if there’s anything I can do! Hugs!

  12. Maxine Kilger says:

    So sorry to hear this, especially at this time. I will be praying for you.

  13. Sheila says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this! I hope they’ll figure it out soon so that you can start feeling better. Maybe this is your body telling you to rest since you’ve been so busy lately. Keep resting, and I hope you’ll feel better. Love and hugs!

    • Thanks, Sheila. Me too. After last year’s respiratory issues, I really tried to moderate my author events and manage my time better. But releases always make me stressed out and even me pulling back is probably me still doing too much. I’m resting lots and trying to do a bit of work each day. It makes me feel like me to send an email or work on a synopsis for a bit. 🙂

  14. Thanks, Stephanie. I am so sorry for your mom. Just having a glimpse of what inner ear issue do, I have to say your mom is a very strong woman. I hope it’s a virus too. Something that can clear up.

    Oh that’s awesome to hear. I loved the mirrors and portals in your book too! Aw thank you so much!

  15. Stacey says:

    I hope you feel better soon. I know they don’t want you to use medication yet, but have they at least given you vestibular exercises to try to improve the symptoms? If not look up brandt-daroff-exercises and try them. Also, this is a basic rehab program for vertigo. http://www.cornerstonefamilyhealth.net/downloads/Dizziness_Exercises_6-02.pdf

  16. kford2007 says:

    Sending hugs your way. I’ve got some of your same symptoms. I’ve been putting off going to the ear doctor. I shouldn’t but I do. There are times it hits me at work and I have to put my head against the wall to make the feeling go away. And if a spell hits while I’m driving? I have to pull over and wait for it to pass. I pray they’ll find the cause soon and get you on the rights meds. I have friends who have had vertigo like this and they had the “Atlas” procedure done by a chiropractor and haven’t had a problem since. whatever the reason for your illness, I’m thinking of you and will be praying for a quick recovery. Love you, sweetie. Hugs.

    • Hugs! Oh no. I’m so sorry to hear that. I put it off too. I wasn’t ready to deal with it, but now I wish I’d gone in sooner to start this whole long process. Please make an appointment and get it checked out. With the holidays, it can take weeks to get appointments with doctors. That’s wonderful that your friend had such a quick fix. I’m not sure what caused mine. I did fly and go to the mountains in September and use earplugs. Any of those might have been a contributing factor. Thanks for the prayers. I’ll be sending positive thoughts your way too. Love you! Hugs.

  17. Oh no! I’m so sorry this has been going on in addition to all your technical troubles. Take care and do what you have to do to get through the day. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and check in again soon. *hugs*

    • Thanks, Gwen. It’s been a tough time. I pushed myself to get through revisions and I’m glad I did because my mind got mushy soon after. I’m having to delay work on The Girl’s sequel, but hopefully I can get going on that later this month. It’s horrible feeling like your mind is not yours. The less I do, the better I feel, but I can’t just lay in bed for weeks on end. Thanks so much. Hugs!

  18. Pete Denton says:

    I’m sending positive vibes across the Atlantic. Hope they’re able to diagnose and treat soon. Take care of yourself.

    • Thanks, Pete. Me too. It’s difficult to admit how little I can do in a day. I’m trying to read and watch movies to pass the time, but I hate feeling like I’m losing writing time.

  19. Just remember, Alice finally made sense of Wonderland. Movies are good! HUGS

    • Thanks. Movies definitely help. I’m able to read paperbacks but my mind has trouble focusing so I miss stuff. I’ve gotten into the series The Royals. Total guilty pleasure. Pure fun to watch. Hugs.

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