An Age Reality Check

This week, I have the exciting new experience of positional vertigo, or BPPV. No clue what caused it, but I was at Pilates yesterday and when I went to get up I got real dizzy, the floor seemed like it was coming up towards my face and everything was tilting and spinning. It felt like I was either a) horrifically drunk or b) on a ship that was in the middle of a terrible storm. 


But then, later in the evening, I was stretching out my hips by lying on my back and then twisting to one side, then the other. Left was fine. Right...had the room spinning again. Like, major visual disturbance -- I was looking towards my brick fireplace, which is two-sided so I could see through to the dining room, and it was literally spinning. I sat up and held on to the floor for dear life. It subsided, and I pretty much couldn't tilt my head to the right on the floor or the bed for the rest of the night without some major Inception-style mindfuckery. 

I googled it, which is always dangerous, but in this case it assured me that I am NOT dying, that it's NOT a tumor, that it's just little displaced crystals in my inner ear wreaking havoc on my spatial awareness and balance. 

I had PT today for my shoulder (two more visits to go!), and I mentioned it just because sometimes we loosen my neck and do some tilty things that I was pretty sure would result in me a) on the the floor and/or b) vomiting. He said it was pretty common, and if it doesn't resolve naturally he'll do this thing called an Epley Maneuver that tries to resettle the crystals and usually works. 

But then he said, "I've seen this a lot actually, it can be caused by stress, or an ear infection, but also it's never young people." 


"It's always middle-aged and older." 


I know I'm not exactly YOUNG, but "young" is relative and I have a hard time with "middle aged" as a concept. I think that was the first time SOMEONE ELSE labeled me as such. It makes sense -- I'm 46, which is half of 92, which would be a nice long life and so yes, I am middle-aged. It was just weird to be classed so nonchalantly. 

Later, at Pilates again (can't go tomorrow so she fit me in to a class today, two days in a row = super sore!), my teacher said it a little kinder -- "I've had a lot of clients in perimenopause or post-menopause who have that. I wonder if there's something to that..." 

I know I am middle-aged, and I know I am perimenopausal thanks to hot flashes and other sneaky clues since removing my uterus makes it tricky to know in other ways, ha. I feel like being labeled perimenopausal was less ouchy than middle-aged, though. Not sure why!

Maybe it's because although hot flashes and irritability and stomach bloating/weight gain suck, but I'm perfectly happy to lose the cycles that never worked properly in the first place. It's more sobering to realize that I am teetering on the downslide of my life cycle. That I would be fortunate to be halfway, especially given the precarious state of the world.

It stuck with me throughout the day. Thankfully, the spinning has lessened today, although dizzy spells where I have to grab on to something to steady myself have not. Fingers crossed that I can stay upright or at least be near something soft if I upend my middle-aged self -- I can't afford another injury! Quite literally, as my insurance only covers 30 PT visits PER CALENDAR YEAR, not per injury or script, which is some bullshit for those of us who are accident prone. I have two visits left before I would have to cash pay, which is $80/pop, which especially in the summer when I have no paycheck is a NO GO. 

This experience keeps underscoring how the way society is puts everyone an accident away from financial disaster, especially if you're on shaky ground to begin with. (Slight tangent.) Anyway, age is just a number (but does actually mean SOMETHING), and I'd far rather be middle-aged than have to do "youth" over again! 


  1. My husband got vertigo in his 40s and 50s, but so far not in his 60s (touch wood). here was an incident in South Africa (pre-Epley) that is too awful to recount online - he tends to get it for about 12 hours non-stop, then recovers. He then read about the Epley manoeuvre online, and tried it when he felt the dizziness coming on during subsequent travel, and it fended off an attack (which was good, because it was before a four-hour car trip). It's very gentle. And he hasn't had a bad episode of it since. Touch wood again! I hope yours clears soon! And take care in the meantime.

    Also, I bet your PT is young, is he? He must be, to use that description so blithely. He'll change his methods the first time someone points out HE is middle aged! lol

    PS. Do you really get no pay-check over summer? That doesn't seem like a fair system.

    1. Oh good gracious, that sounds horrible. To have vertigo at all is gross, but while traveling and having to be on car trips and planes? Ugh. Glad he knows what to do with it!

      Ugh, the idea of "young" keeps changing... I guess so, I would put him in his early 30s maybe? MAYBE 35? Which now in relation to me is young. Glurrp.

      PS reply - Yup. So, I get paid twice a month for 10 months. I am a "ten month employee" which means my salary is supposed to be for September - June. It's divided into 20 paychecks. I have the option to have them reserve money and give me a smaller paycheck for 19 months, then a bigger one that's supposed to last for July and August on the last paycheck of the year, but why should I give them the money to manage when I can do it (in theory)? And then I have it if there is an emergency of some sort. I didn't start with that because I taught summer school in the beginning, and then I also didn't want to give up the larger regular paycheck. Teacher compensation in the U.S. is a whole other topic that we could wax poetic (or ragey) forever on. :)

  2. Oh yikes. That sounds scary (but at least it is not something very serious). A while ago I noticed that when I squatted I would start to get dizzy, or if I changed levels too quickly (like doing burpees or something). But it seems to have gotten better. A barre workout that I was doing regularly up until I got sick for weeks might have helped. I don't know but I noticed that changing levels during the exercises wasn't bothering me anymore. Reminders of mortality aren't fun but I agree I do not want to do youth over again! Being young is way more stressful in a lot of other ways.

    1. Yes! Thank goodness it wasn't serious, but man it was disconcerting to feel like my brain had just...broken. I definitely notice a change in how I handle motion -- I can't do swings anymore and reading in the car is dead to me, I get too dizzy/nauseous. Oooh, I love barre! And yeah, young is overrated. Some things are great (an actual metabolism comes to mind) but others...NOTHANKYOU. :)

  3. UPDATE: It was short-lived! Thank goodness. I did not have to have the Epley Maneuver, and I stopped feeling like someone had slipped me psychedelic mushrooms. Success! Although good to know if it happens again, I know what it is and what to ask for.

  4. This happened to me a few months back in yoga. My friend on the mat beside me has struggled with vertigo, as well, and she told me about 2 things. The first was possibly the Epley maneuver, or something one can do at home to get the little crystals back through the loops where they belong. The second was Vitamin D. I tried that first, and have not had any further problems. May we both be in the clear!