About quarter past midnight last night, feeling absolutely fine, I went to bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow the room started to spin. Not a gentle start, a switch. Before getting in bed: fine; after getting in bed: wheeee!
I scrabbled for the light switch, sat up, wheee! All of a sudden any head movement just sent the room circling. Not surprisingly I began to feel nauseous. And a little scared.
I sat on the edge of my bed, a light sweat forming, and focused on something in front of me. Keeping my head still brought things under control. Experiments suggested, though, that it wasn’t fixed. All sorts of things went through my mind.
Nausea prompted me to make my way to the bathroom, just in case. I took my mobile with me, just in case. After twenty more minutes, nothing had changed. I hadn’t thrown up – it didn’t seem like food poisoning – but I hadn’t improved.
I rang my brother. He found the number of NHS Direct (I wasn’t in the mood to look for it myself right then), which is 0845 46 47 by the way, and I rang them. They took my details, told me all nurses were busy right then, and promised to ring back in no more than about twenty minutes.
Much to my surprise, they did. A nurse went through her checklist. No rash, no chest pains, no numbness, no bumps on head, no confusion, no headaches, no vomiting, no diarrhoea, no alcohol… After a discussion she suggested I call my GP’s surgery.
I did, and found myself talking to someone at the CAMDOC overnight service. She took my symptoms again, and said someone would call me back in a few minutes. Again, they did. It was another nurse, who took my symptoms again. The doctor on call was on a visit right then; it sounded like I should see him. He could come to me, or I could go to them. I decided to go to them.
She told me I shouldn’t drive, so I rang my brother once more (who was waiting for me to call back and tell him how I’d got on). He biked over and drove me to the surgery, in Chesterton. That was a white-knuckle ride – sensory overload – but I managed not to throw up.
Surgery was empty except for staff, not surprisingly post-2am. The doctor saw me straight away.
Diagnosis was ultimately pretty straightforward: something called labyrinthitis. It’s an infection of the balance organs of the inner ear, not that uncommon. He said it lasts for 2-5 days, during which you can’t really do anything productive; he suggested bed rest. They don’t know what causes it (it does often come on suddenly), and they don’t have a magic cure, but they do have pills to reduce the feeling of nausea.
Another fun drive home. My brother stayed the night, since it was by then 3am and he didn’t need to be at work until lunchtime anyway.
No real change come the (late) morning, or afternoon as I write. Of the three traditional axes of head movement, yaw (left-right) is not bad, pitch (up-down) is worse, and roll (emoticon inspection and phone-cradling) is nasty. The really annoying things are sudden noises that make me turn my head involuntarily. Other than that I’ve spent the day so far in slow motion, and I guess that’s the plan until I recover. Borders will have to survive without my presence.
Someone can make a joke about an ex-SCO employee having a virus if they wish. It would make a change from “never mind that, what about my present?”…