Saturday 12 December 2020

You Must Have Rocks In Your Head


Mascarade à la Grecque etching emphasises "on" more than "in"
Ennemond Alexandre Petitot, 1771

Nota bene: If you have come here only for some usual fare, Dear Reader, avert your gaze now as today there is something completely different: a bit of Real Life, and possibly Too Much Information.

Even a casual acquaintant with this blog will have noticed there is a doormat and umbrella stand at its entry, with which to leave the Cares of the World behind before setting foot within. Here you will find no more than allusion to Real Life, no heartfelt biographical truths or details about myself nor those in my colony, and you can be sure that if you poke about in my proverbial cupboards, the contents within shall be neatly folded, colour-coded and/or labels facing forward*.

We are all adults and understand that one cannot exist in this world without suffering its many indignities but I don't like to leave mine laying about like dog-hairs on the sofa for you to even inadvertently sit upon. Now that I also have rooms off to the side where you are free to wander, one of which so clean and white with just some words, and my Wunderkammer where I'm arranging my assortment of treasures, we especially don't need to drag about our muddy feet or poke the curios with grubby mitts. 

While I am more than happy to gently kick the autumn leaves about in the comments section of some favourite bloggers where chewing over the issues of the/ir day is their métier, I find my own to be tedious and do not wish to afflict you so. But I'm going to break my own rule today because I've had a bit of a Funny Turn recently and as it's not in the Dire Department, rather the Interesting, I'm going to give it an airing.

You see, the Rocks in my Head gave gone awandering. I've had a Case of BPPV - Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo - and have been reminded yet again why I'm not flinging about in low orbits in a spacesuit as motion-sickness and I are unhappy bedfellows. Which is where I'm at right now, mid-second week and happily on the mend, and able to put digital pen to paper again.

In Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV) dizziness is generally thought to be due to debris which has collected within a part of the inner ear.  This debris can be thought of  as "ear rocks", although the formal name is "otoconia". Ear rocks are small crystals of calcium carbonate derived from a structure in the ear called the "utricle". [Dr. Timothy C. Hain, via]

Queen Elizabeth II famously described one year in her life, 1992, as her annus horribilis. Latin and I are not on first-name terms so I do not know how best to describe five horrible years to date (rest assured, some goodly time will be spent with my useful friend Google Translate later), but we Pipistrellos feel as though we are part way through the penance from having broken the mother of all mirrors, which we neither can remember, and respite from which sent me to this part of the interwebs to skip about and strew some daisies.

So when I awoke ten days back with wild and shuddering vision and a sensation of walking on a waterbed (not that I've ever done such a thing but it just sounds so right), Mr. P called in sick for the day and we were straight off to hospital. If this sounds a little over-reactive, it is only because my life seems to be ruled by one Colonel March of Scotland Yard's Department of Queer Complaints**, and I thought we were in for a second round of something which reared its ugly head in Year 3 of the broken mirror penance, and even left my wedding ring at home in anticipation of some grim medical intervention.

Blessed are we in this roost that it was but twenty-five minutes later that I was being whisked off in a wheelchair to Acute Bed 13 in the Emergency Department of our fabulous local teaching hospital, told I was going to be "nil by mouth from now" when  I asked for some water (always a grim sign) and asked to change into the presented gown quickly and hop into bed as "I mustn't be alarmed, but rather a lot of people will be congregating about you in a minute". Which there was. A stroke protocol was being undertaken, then a CT-scan and MRI owing to my medical history and so the day unfolded.

Mr. P held up rather well, which is always hard when you're on the outside of the main action. The neurologist registrar was fairly confident that it wasn't a stroke but we just had to wait on the final report from the radiologist and attendance by the Professor of Neurology on duty that day, so there was just a lingering doubt about things when we were left just the two of us. I'd answered in the negative to boxer?, head trauma?, infection?, and though personally acquainted with the medical term "idiopathic", I dislike it.

Then we had another flurry of activity and my bed was on the move and we were off to a ward. We'd been to Ten North before, visiting an ailing octogenarian neighbour during the year, so it didn't seem to auger well when we sailed through swing doors with exhortations to keep them locked against wandering delirious patients, and then as I was parked momentarily beneath a wall of leaflets labelled so optimistically "Life After Stroke" &c, and the accompanying nurse said "she's a stroke patient", I think I aged the thirty years required for automatic entry into this world.

Fortunately, there was a student nurse who set us to rights. It seemed Acute Bed 13 was needed for another and they needed to put me somewhere handy for the consultant to find me and apparently all suspected neurological patients get parked in with the stroke victims when the emergency department fills up. Mr. P and I laughed rather heartily when she departed, anguish falling away, and an involuntary tear of relief was shed by my stoic self. The look on my face was priceless, he said, when he watched me absorbing the wall of brochures earlier, himself contemplating the next decades with a disabled wife.

The neurologist*** was not long after, with a half-dozen earnest registrars in his wake, and he sent me home with the diagnosis of BPPV and an invitation to come and see him and/or a vestibular therapist (next week for that) if needed, and told I should be my old self in a few weeks. I actually got worse the next few days, when the nausea kicked in, but apart from the usual wishing for death at that point, all has been okay. 

And that's it for a glimpse behind the curtain of Flying With Hands, and normal programming will be resumed with the next post. Cheerio!

On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog

* Yes, it is true. In Real Life I am messy chaos on the surface but everything must be just so when put away in its rightful place. A perfect yin to Mr. P's yang in the housekeeping department.

** Thanks Bruce P-P for alerting me to this dapper eye-patch wearer on his blog, Eclectic Ephemera.

*** And throughout the day we learn some new vocabulary: nystagmus (involuntary eye jumping); otoconia (a.k.a. our ear rocks); Eply manoeuvre (a sometimes-working system of shaking the ear rocks into the Dark Cells of the Labyrinth); The Dark Cells of the Labyrinth (excellent name for a book).

Image credits: 1: LACMA via Public Domain Review; 2: Archives NZ via Flickr


  1. Thank you :)

    What is the Hebrew text on the Mascarade à la Grecque etching. I cannot quite make it big enough to read.

  2. Hels: I'm not sure about the inscription. Even the Harvard Art Museum website describes it as illegible Greek or Hebrew on their copy.

  3. Well I struggled through to the end and it all sounded quite like fun really but I suppose it wasn't at all. In conclusion all I feel I can say is Get Well Soon but as you have left a fairly recent comment on my last blog post I have a feeling you have already Got Well Soon. I apologise in advance if there is anything I have misunderstood. xx

  4. Rachel: Yes, quite getting to my old self and able to construct sentences about the place again. Thank you! xx

  5. Ouch. But funny too.
    Good for you for finding some grim humor in it.

  6. Ur-spo: Thanks. We can only but laugh about our flawed and fraying selves!

  7. Hearing 'she's a stroke patient' could not have been less pleasant, I would imagine. I'm glad that that was not the issue!

    Be safe and well,

  8. Glad to hear it was just a (let's call it minor) ailment. I get mild forms of vertigo every now and then so I can vaguely imagine how you were feeling. But dizziness is preferable to your other, mistaken, diagnosis. Hope you are now feeling much better.

  9. Bea: Ho-ho, no! I think it may have been for "administrative purposes" that I was labelled so. Did not like to probe! I daresay I've a few more grey hairs about the ol' head after that little jolt. All good now, thanks!

    Loree: Thank you, Loree. Yes, all heading back to normality now. But these annoying things that our person is subjected to can be so trying sometimes!

  10. I read this with some concern, then realised that it was written with your usual brio and relaxed somewhat. Like you I don't tend to mention the reality that I am slowly falling to bits. I hope that you will soon be back onto a stable footing!

  11. Rosemary: Thank you, all is it ticking along nicely and I shall be pirouetting about the place in no time, at this rate. Fraying at the seams is how I look at it!

  12. A couple of my friends have been through this ear thing. It seems that you can go to a specialist who can turn your head and make the crystals float out, but they have to know what they're doing--so the crystals float in the correct direction. I guess it takes two or three manipulations.
    Must say that the idea of lying down while somebody takes my head in their hands and turns it this way and that is rather enticing.

  13. ToF: It's a pest of a thing but luckily plenty of GPs know the manoeuvres and I also went to a neurosensory physiotherapist last week with magic hands and a wealth of knowledge about this tiny part of our anatomy. Listening to her spiel about the whys and wherefores was like being a live studio audience for one of those fantastic medico-science documentaries. Full of factoids and thus so appealing to my pedant self!

  14. Oh... Not nice, but much nicer than a stroke. But whatever you are writing about you have a lovely and rather unique way of doing so. Good wishes.

  15. Andrew: How kind of you to say, a great compliment from one so accomplished as yourself.


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