Why Dizziness Is Still a Medical Mystery
Balance disorders are often invisible to the doctors who treat them
One morning last August, while making my bed, my entire visual field shifted sharply to the left, as though I were watching a movie and someone had bumped into the projector. After half a second, my vision snapped back into position. I froze, pillow in hand and carefully looked around. The furniture in my room was still, apparently innocent of whatever had just happened. But I felt a lingering unease that my surroundings were not bolted down.
I went for a jog along the East River, in Brooklyn. Everything seemed to be in the right place—clouds above me, wooden boardwalk below. Still, the 7 a.m. sunlight seemed brighter than usual, and the water rippled in a disjointed way, like a film reel missing a few frames. My head was heavy on my shoulders. Confusingly, it also felt as though it might float away.
Back in my apartment, I rolled out a yoga mat and stretched. When I tilted my head to touch my foot, the room began to rotate like a carrousel. I'd had dizzy episodes before, but never anything this intense. I lay down, but the spinning only sped up. I curled up and waited—prayed—for it to end. When it didn't, I reached for my phone and called a friend who lived nearby.
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