I fell going up the stairs today. I had felt a little wobbly and dizzy. Off-kilter as it was. Then just started with the internal vertigo and somehow ended up planted forward on my hands and knees. I got up and began to go up and slammed into the wall, which likely accounts for how I fell, to begin with… as soon as you get that falling to the side sensation your body ‘compensates’ poorly by flinging you in some random direction which usually makes the whole situation worse. Needless the say I was rather carefully holding the wall for the remainder of the climb.

This is the best image I have seen to show a person what it feels like to walk with vertigo. When you get a drop attack… the ground feels like it is gone beneath on leg and you just fall in that direction. And this is sort of the mild version of that type of vertigo… the ground feels like moosh. Like every step you take your feet are sinking into the ground just a little or a lot, and the ground is shifting a bit as you do. So it is very unstable. And you can lurch and stagger but either way, you are careful when you walk. And it is common for me to get this also when lying down so I feel this dropping sensation in a constant pulse… drop, stable, drop, stable. Drives me nuts and impossible to sleep like that.
But internal vertigo is more what one would expect when one hears the word. You feel spinning sensation in your head. So you turn or move, and your brain whirls. And you just stagger sideways. Sometimes unable to stabilize yourself, such as today, and just falling.
External vertigo is where the environment whirls when you move. So turn your head and the room whirls. I think a lot of people are familiar with this one if they have ever gotten drunk. So they can understand it is not pleasant. Even in the mild form, it is not pleasant as your eyes do not want to track properly and the world just moves a bit with your movements.
Then we can also experience things called ‘swaying’ and just like it sounds we ‘feel’ motion when sitting or standing still that causes us to actually sway. It can cause you to sway almost off your chair or sway backward when standing such that you again stagger to catch yourself from falling. Swaying though is very common and is just this constant sensation of motion. Most vertigo I find is triggered by motion but the swaying type is easily triggered by even a little motion. A very short car ride and I find I feel the motion of the vehicle after sitting or standing and will sway. More of a sensation the longer the duration of a car ride, but then more likely another form of vertigo will be triggered as well, like drop attacks.
My spouse is determined to put rails on the stairs due to my vertigo and falling issues. I’m just glad I didn’t fall going down. Usually, if you fall going downstairs you would automatically tip yourself back to your butt… but with vertigo you might ‘compensate’ for the sensation that caused the initial disorientation and toss yourself forwards instinctively. And that would be bad. I do know when it comes to slipping on anything I tend to compensate in the wrong way. I begin to slip and my brain gets vastly disorientated by the sudden motion of this and just completely compensates in the wrong way. It has led to some real nasty spills where I cannot fathom how I even managed it. It is like my body has no understanding of where it is in space. And if you have any sudden movement it is just vastly confused by this and just tosses you in the nearest direction it can think of. Rather than say trying to balance itself or the nearest soft surface.

See more on vertigo

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