“Living with Vertigo” story transcript
Marcela Sifuentes: She was spinning. She was spinning, but how? She was just grabbing a drink of water. Confused, she looked at the family photo that she noticed slowly… slowly became distorted. The room – the room was spinning. The door, the other pictures and trinkets used to decorate the plain walls were all spinning. She shuddered at the sudden ringing, piercing through her ears, as she tried to block it with her hands. While covering her ears, her balance was stripped away from her, as she began to tumble to the ground.
Forty percent of adults will experience this, with women being more likely to. This is vertigo, and just one of the many experiences that come come from vertigo and vertigo associated diseases.
Hi, I’m Marcella Sifuentes and today we’ll talk about vertigo which almost half of the U.S. population will or have most likely experienced.
Vertigo is a sudden sensation of spinning either internal or external, mostly triggered by sudden head movements. The most common is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which is associated with migraines, head injuries, and inner ear damage. There is no direct cause, only underlying conditions that can cause vertigo or vertigo associated diseases.
Graciela Sifuentes, an 82 year-old woman, tells her story through her son, Juan Sifuentes. She migrated to the U.S. over 40 years ago, with her husband and two sons, Juan and Nino.
With her husband deceased for over twenty years now, and her low-comfortability with English, Juan has offered to translate. I will provide a small snippet of her talking, and Juan will translate for us.
MS: So for the first question, I wanted to know, what were the episodes like?
Graciela Sifuentes: *Speaking in Spanish.*
Juan Sifuentes: They would come out of nowhere, and she felt that she was elevated and floating, and she would get very scared because of the instability.
MS: Since her diagnosis of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, what has been some things she has not been able to do? What has changed since then?
Graciela S.: *Speaking in Spanish.*
Juan S.: She said that she used to do everything, Now, she’s limited to what she can do. She does some with a struggle, but the gardening, the cooking, taking care of her pets, uh, cleaning the house. Uh, today is a struggle for her to do it because she never knows when it’s gonna hit her.
MS: What is also something that has changed for you? Or how have you stepped in, and what have you learned from taking care of your mother?
Juan S.: Well, mom has become dependent of us, uh we had to constantly keep in touch with her to make sure she’s OK. Uh, keeping tabs, making sure she hasn’t fallen or anything like that at her age, and living by herself, that’s an issue.
Juan S.: Uhm, another thing is, yes, she has appointments, but you know, her condition still remains but it just comes and goes. Uhm, there is no medication, the only thing she can do is certain exercises to realign those pebbles inside of the ear for the benign vertigo, and it just… it turns out to be like you’re constantly watching her because she’s changed her ways of doing things and at times she not… not very cooperative.
MS: Juan mainly takes his mother to her appointments and is the main person she calls or contacts when she is unwell or when an episode occurs. Although Nino resides in New Jersey, he makes sure his mother is cared for by having her groceries delivered as well as buying certain appliances for her to help with her condition.
Juan S.: The only thing I learned more is, in detail, what that condition does and how it affects people’s mental and health stage by becoming more secluded, and refraining from doing things that they did during their daily life. There is some medical treatments for it, but that’s an extreme case, but there’s also physical therapy that will help you realign, like I said, those pebbles in your ear that helps you keep your balance.
MS: What were your initial feelings when you were first diagnosed?
Graciela S.: *Speaking in Spanish.*
Juan S.: She felt happy because it wasn’t anything major. It was just episodes of the benign vertigo.
MS: She has other underlying conditions, such as diabetes, which is why she feared the worst; however, with her family by her side and her adorable chihuahua, Dulce, she feels at ease.