Gave myself a bit of a fright this morning. Came across an old notebook from 2007 and read about my experience of labyrinthitis.
One day I had been having a doze in my usual chair, went to get up and the room started spinning round. Couldn’t stand, couldn’t walk, fell onto my knees, and then started vomiting.
Got up to phone the doc. Luckily there was a phone upstairs; I crawled across to it in the bedroom next door.eventually they answer. I explain I can’t possibly come in, can’t walk or stand, let alone drive. What can I do? Our dear Doc says he’ll come to me! Straight away!
Next problem: how do I let him in? Front door locked; side door locked; I am upstairs. Shuffle about on my behind, sitting on the floor, vomiting merrily as I struggle across to the stairs. Slowly work my way down the slippery, bare, wooden stairs, through doorway to front room, shuffle across to front door, and reach up to handle and Yale lock. Got it! Door open!
I shuffle into the front room and kneel at a table, writing my last will and testament – I thought my last hour had come. After what seemed an age, Doc arrived. Bless him. Large hypodermic needle appears and I am injected with half a pint of some Wonderdrug. He leaves a prescription for pills which somehow I have to collect. After taking each dose, I must be still as possible for half an hour. This goes on for a week.
There are no warning symptoms for this infection. None at all. It starts instantly. One moment you are sitting reading, dozing... the next instant you are on the floor, spinning with dizziness and retching. Labyrinthitis is a viral infection of the inner ear. Quite common. Even frightfully common people can get it.
What happens if you have an attack in a public place? I once saw an elderly gent collapse onto the floor at Victoria Station. A couple of station staff appeared. One bent over and smelled his breath. He nodded at the other bloke and they dragged him away like a sack of potatoes. For all they knew, he might have been dying. OK – so he may have had a drink. So what? You’re allowed a drink before you die, aren’t you?
I didn’t want that happening to me, so I wrote out a card which I carry in my easily accessible top pocket:
‘I have labyrinthitis – a viral infection of the inner ear. Causes dizziness and nausea. I am not drunk. Please get a doctor.’
I also carry the pills at all times. Or I did – it’s ten years ago now.
‘I shuffle into the room and kneel at a table, writing my last will and testament’