Mumbai Memoir 132- Experiencing the ‘Vertigo’ Mumbai!
With the limited mobility of the COVID-19 pandemic, every fitness freak are WFH that is, ‘working out from home’! Being a fitness freak myself, I have chalked a diagonal path (36 steps through and fro) in my 450 sq ft apartment for my 45 mins non-stop walk & an area for my stretch exercises. I love hearing audio books, especially ‘inspirational’ biographies, while I walk. Its like when the physical exercise is taking care of the body, the inspirational content feeds the mind to exercise positivity. Starting from March, since the lockdown got imposed in the city, my ‘work-out from home’ started on a fairly regular basis. All was well, until 9th July 2020 when, after my routine morn exercise something unusual happened. As I got up from the floor, I felt dizzy and everything around was rocking and spinning. It was such a scary moment. I sat down for a while and then stabilized myself by electrolyte boosting liquids. After 5 mins I was fine and got back to my usual day’s agenda. But throughout the day I was feeling dizzy, especially when I was reclining and when I was getting up! Thinking its just extreme de-hydration I kept drinking water and oral hydrating salt-based drinks. By late evening second level of symptoms appeared of rapid heart palpitation and blood pressure fluctuation (sometimes high sometimes low!).
Finally, around 10pm I just couldn’t handle the restlessness and wanted to see a doctor. But in these lockdown times, very few medicos would visit home! So my kind neighbourhood friends Rehana and Zakira volunteered to drive me to a local doctor, who attended me and ruled out any serious threat to my health. Till the medicine dose lasted I was fine for 1 day, but after that the dizziness and blood pressure fluctuations became more persistent, thus giving me sleepless nights. Finally I approached my family friend Dr. Smita Nagaonkar, who is an E.N.T surgeon working with South Mumbai- based Reliance H. N. Hospital https://www.rfhospital.org/doctors/ear-nose-throat/dr-smita-nagaonkar She heard my condition over the phone and took the leadership to guide me further. As per her instruction, I approached the ER of H.N Hospital and got admitted for investigation of my condition. When the cardiac and de-hydration tests showed negative results, finally what was diagnosed was ‘Vertigo’!
Vertigo is a condition which puts you off balance. The dizziness experienced is like as if you are ‘rocking’ when you enter a small boat, or sometimes its like the entire world around you spins in 360 degree. Fortunately, I was just experiencing ‘rocking in the boat’ feeling, that too, while reclining and while getting up. The cause of Vertigo can originate from 3 sources, 1) Eye related issues 2) Ear issues or 3) Neck issues. Mine was a neck related Vertigo which is called ‘Cervicogenic Vertigo’, which is alternatively called Cervicogenic Dizziness (CGD).
I had developed a stiff neck since 9th of July. I later realized that the reason for the stiff neck was a stretch exercise, which I was completely doing incorrectly. The rotation of the neck while pulling spring based resistant stretching device was the actual act which was building up tension in my neck nerves and muscles since long. Besides that, bad posture while sitting in front of the laptop, as ‘work from home’ culture picked up from March and, also being mentally stressed & dehydrated by working almost for 18-20 hours daily (without boundaries) were precursors for the CGD condition.
An early symptom is headaches and watery eyes, which I did get but thought its just due to heat or too much reading. Finally, the vigorous exercise, on 9th July, thus was the trigger to the CGD, which was building up since 3 months! Very few people are aware that there are sensory receptor cells in our neck that keeps a track of our body’s balance and feeds the data to the brain. When these receptor cells get irritated or damaged, due to neck injury then the brain gets disoriented on helping the body to balance, thus resulting dizziness.
The blood pressure fluctuations are due to the wrong body balance data that the brain is calculating for pumping blood. Even if you are standing erect the body thinks you are falling, so a gushing wavelike feeling occurs when you move your head or neck! It was a relief to know that the healing of the neck trauma would eventually heal the CGD condition too! As I practice neck exercises prescribed by my physiotherapist, I am realizing few things. Firstly, certain self-initiated exercises have to be done only after consulting an expert trainer cause if one is doing it incorrectly then one can land up in a health crisis. Secondly how Mumbai, since the lockdown, too is experiencing a ‘Vertigo’ condition, since everything about Mumbai has gone ‘off balance’! The pandemic chaos, the threat of ‘Nisarga’ cyclone and recently heavy rains with gusts were few multiple ‘traumas’ which disrupted the ‘balance’ of Mumbai! But I am hopeful that Mumbai will bounce back in times to come with the help of its people, just like I bounced back with the help of angel’s like Dr. Smita Nagaonkar, Dr. Sunil Wani (Cardiologist), Rehana, Zakira, Jairaj (my cousin) & my mom!
Lastly, due to the Vertigo, my belief that, ‘balance is a key to life’ has got stronger now. I realized, no matter how good your heart, kidneys, lungs etc are functioning, when the balance of the body is lost, everything goes for a toss! Same applies for Life. Have a well-balanced life. Best wishes.
Photo Courtesy: Shraddha C. Sankulkar