Jan 2016: Vertigo – Tripping on Quaaludes
Tinnitus Richter Scale: The tinnitus doesn’t fit onto a scale of 1-10. It is an avalanche inside my head 24/7 with no respite. There’s a sporadic loud cracking sound like two industrial electrical wires bashing together and they send sparks flying deep within my skull. I jump out of my skin every time it happens.
Three days after becoming unwell I have an emergency appointment at the Ears, Nose and Throat hospital in Kings Cross.
I take a few essential items as I’m convinced they’ll admit me, I’m so unwell that I shouldn’t be at home. Getting to the hospital with vertigo feels like mission impossible. I can’t lift my heels off the floor and every step feels like I’m walking off the edge of a skyscraper but somehow I shuffle out of my flat and into a taxi. The appointment is in the basement of an old Victorian building, there are so many corridors to walk down and I’m a jittering wreck by the time I reach the waiting room.
I see a doctor and he diagnoses Sudden Onset Hearing Loss. Some doctors compare this to a heart attack or a stroke in your ear and it is caused by a long list of things with complicated medical names none of which seem to apply to me. I am visibly unwell with a temperature and it is decided that it’s been caused by an unknown virus.
The doctor asks if I’m stressed, I say there is a situation at work and he gives me a knowing look. He keeps me on the anti-virals, increases the steroids and tells me to come back next week.
Shopping with vertigo & dizziness
On my way home in a taxi I make the bizarre decision to be dropped off at the local Tesco’s. Unable to walk properly, I stagger around the aisles like Quasimodo using a shopping trolley as a zimmer frame. It feels like I am tripping, the lights are too bright and the whole of Tesco’s is spinning around me. I become paranoid about a couple who are simply trying to do their shopping but I stare daggers at them and mutter evil things every time I see them. It’s like I’m spoiling for a fight.
I need food in the house but I have no idea what I should buy. What does one eat when you have vertigo and a deadly sound roaring in your ear?
A cauliflower cheese ready meal catches my eye. Yes, cauliflower cheese, yum. In my altered state I’m appalled that it costs £2.50. I have a perfectly good cauliflower at the bottom of the fridge and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall would not approve of wasting it. So I decide to buy the ingredients to make cauliflower cheese which cost significantly more than £2.50 and weights a ton as I lug the shopping up the hill to my flat.
Cooking with vertigo & dizziness
Quasimodo tripping on Quaaludes should not be cooking. It’s a fire risk and the food will be gross. As I can’t stand up, I wedge my knee against the oven to prevent me from falling down. My head doesn’t want to stay on my neck so I lean it against a kitchen cupboard. I drag myself around the kitchen looking for important ingredients like peppercorns to flavour the milk and mustard. I attempt to stir the sauce but most of it splashes onto the hob.
The end result is a lumpy, flavourless meal which is easily one of the most repulsive things I’ve ever cooked. All the food I make over the next few weeks is disgusting. It begs the question – what exactly is wrong with buying a week’s worth of ready meal?
Oh the decisions we make when we’re ill.