A Matter of Balance

Did someone tilt the screen?  I’m standing still but the world’s spinning around me.

I’ve been battling an annoying case of vertigo for about five months now. Getting out of bed, looking up, lifting, bending down, reaching high for stuff, driving … ordinary, simple things that make me feel as though I’m upside down on a roller coaster ride. My hubby says it’s a cheap high.

dizzy cartoon bird

I’ve seen spin doctors, who eventually diagnosed Benign Positional Vertigo and recommended I do the Brandt & Daroff exercises daily. In short, they’re a ‘wonky’ but effective set of exercises that have helped immensely.

Contrary to popular belief, vertigo is not a fear of heights, it’s an inner ear condition that can hit anyone, anytime. It’s not serious but it’s not fun either. Nope, roller coasters definitely aren’t on my list these days.

dizzy-cartoon

Whilst I’ll still happily climb a mountain or a look out tower, or ride a twenty story lift I approach them with much more respect. Does anyone else feel this same wariness?

Still, if there’s a challenge in front of me, I won’t shy away. I’ll face my fear (mostly).

After all, if we’re really, really scared, it means we’re about to do something really, really brave.

I think exposure is a reasonable plan.

DSCN6233

Here I am on the suspension bridge at Tarra Bulga National Park last summer, high above the rainforest canopy. It’s a big drop but I figure, worse case scenario, if I fall it’s a cushioned landing. Notice how I’m embracing it all, AKA holding on for dear life.

Noojee bridge

Just a few months ago I climbed up this trestle bridge in Noojee. I was fine going up but at the top, high above the ground, the dizziness hit me again. A tip: look forward and not down.

Some places really test the steely nerves.

Who’d fancy climbing this steel beast of a fire spotting tower, just out of Warburton, with all of its open steps that look straight down? I remember it took all my willpower not to look down between the open steps and not feel sick in the stomach.

That’s how I felt last weekend as I cycled my bike high up above the overpass bridge across the freeway in Melbourne.

I’d already cycled through tunnels and tracks, over bridges and up hills, pushing myself. I’ve put myself in training for the Great Victorian Bike Ride in November and all was going well but this overpass nearly got the better of me.

For just a few seconds I was overtaken with panic and the sensation that I was going over the edge. It seemed ridiculous but I fought it and, hands sweating, heart pounding, I managed to ride my bike over and keep going.

Why does looking down feel like we’re falling?

I think as adults we feel more vulnerable because we’re more aware of what we have to lose, of our mortality. Perhaps that should be even more of a reason to live life to the full.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein

Whilst fundamentally true I beg to raise a point with Mr Einstein. Sometimes we do have to get off that bike to find our balance. It’s okay, and even necessary, to slow down, stop and rest.

A rest allows us to get up and go again, with renewed vigour. Trust me, I know.

After more than 50Kms of cycling, my still-to-be-conditioned legs felt like jelly and I was well and truly ready to get off that bike.

Maintaining balance isn’t just about staying on a bike or scaling heights effortlessly.

Yes, it’s about striving but it’s also about doing the best that we can and being true to ourselves.

“Like a ten-speed bike, most of us have gears we do not use.” Charles Shulz

Despite what we might think, life is NOT a race. However it can present us with different scenarios that require us to shift gear and think differently.

Select the right gear and life (and the ride) can be infinitely easier or more challenging. We can choose to ramp it up or slow it down as the scenario suits.

It’s about stretching ourselves, doing our best and being okay with that, no matter the outcome.

So go find the spark that gets you going, embrace the feelings of uncertainty and even the dizzy heights knowing that, even amongst the off balance moments, life is amazing.

Enjoy the moment wherever you are. You won’t get it again.

In light and love.


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125 thoughts on “A Matter of Balance

  1. Oh Miriam I had vertigo full on once, woke up during the night on the worst show ride of my life and no way off. Ended up with a trip to hospital a night in emergency and some drugs to bring me back to normal. Scared me so much but thankfully hasn’t happened again. But I’m with you about steps that you can see through the treads to the ground below, they make me freeze unless I look ahead and just keep going. So here I am just home from Zumba enjoying your blog and feeling all jelly legged before the stiffness sets in. 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds very uncomfortable, Miriam. Isn’t it weird that it can hit you just like that? Sometimes life feels all about dodging bullets! You’ve battled gamely on and said nothing. I’m full of admiration, hon, and I hope the exercises can help you beat the condition. 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jo, you’re sweet. I had it last year too and it passed fairly quickly. This year it kind of snuck up on me after a cold and hung around, but mostly I’ve just got on with life. That’s all we can do. xx

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  3. I had a touch of vertigo while standing at the top of a popular rock climbing face in Ontario called “Old Baldy.’ First time ever. Can’t say I liked it. Nevertheless, it hasn’t slowed us down one little bit. And life is a race, sometimes it can’t be full out, while other times it can. For us, the exhilaration comes from trying new and exciting things whether they by outdoors or something else in order to stretch and push the edges of the envelope slightly or a lot. lol

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Effortless and beautiful words. I sincerely hope you are doing well. Loved the parallels drawn. Life is really simple and it pampers you, if you let it to. On the contrary we prefer making it as complex as it can get 😛 .

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  5. I know as I get older when I face a hurdle I stop and appreciate the life I have. I’ve been battling leg injuries all year. My wife and kids have labeled 2018 the year of the pain. But instead of moaning and groaning…..trust me, I really want to…..I see the good things in life and how luck I am.

    It looks like you’ve done the same. Vertigo sucks but at the same time you’ve learned to deal with it and have a sense of humor at the same time. It doesn’t call the shots, you do.

    Plus, you get to do exercises called Wacky. How cool is that!

    Hope you have a great week. This will pass. I promise!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bryan. Sorry to hear of all your leg injuries and pain but I love your positive attitude. That’s how I feel too, blessed and how lucky I really am. Hope things pick up for you.
      Thanks again for your encouraging comment. Now, I’m off to do my wacky exercises. 🤣

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  6. Sorry to hear about that annoying spin. I have had it before and it’s not nice. Try this, it has helped me tremendously, but your head will spin at first, then (for me) it 99% went away. I only had to do it twice within a 3 month period. https://youtu.be/mQR6b7CAiqk My PT did a test to see if it comes from one or both ears. Lay the neck (head facing up) just over edge of your bed, then slowly turn left, then right. Whichever one makes you dizzy-that side is the culprit. (But the exercise took it away.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sending me the link. I’ve just watched it, and done the exercise. It’s similar to what I’ve been doing though a bit more specific. Thanks again, very useful and I appreciate it.

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  7. Hi, Miriam – My husband also suffers from occasional vertigo. I completely agree with your assessment — it’s NOT fun! I too admire your positive attitude, and your ‘Exposure Plan’. You are a wonderful model of living life fully, regardless of challenges thrown your way!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You’ve definitely embraced the philosophy of ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ haven’t you Miri! 50 kms – that’s impressive and no wonder your legs were wobbly at the end of it… What a great and inspiring post Miri. Fear of falling is one of the fears we’re born with so maybe it’s that ‘fall reflex’ that kicks in when we look down. It makes me feel like I want to jump off when I look over the top of something very high – maybe it’s my ‘inner Lemming’ coming out!! I hope you’re feeling better very soon and I’m glad the new exercises are helping… xxx

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    1. Thanks Wendy. And wow, I’m impressed. You look over the edge and want to jump off, to me that sounds like you’re ready to fly! Way to go my friend! xx 🙂

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  9. I’ve experienced vertigo just before a flight to Mexico…a visit to my local clinic helped to calm my fears along with an over the counter medication for combatting motion sickness…I didn’t feel like my usual self at all but it taught me to slow down and rest. I hope you continue to gently push the boundaries, seizing the juicy part of life when you can, Miriam!

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  10. BPV ain’t one bit of fun! So sorry you are going through this, and hats off to you for the determination and hard work to go on and retrain your inner ear to manage positional changes without going all freaky-sky-is-falling on ya. … You are doing the right thing: doing the exercises, moving, pacing yourself, listening to your body, doing things that matter to you.
    It does get better.
    Na’ama (with an Audiologist hat on).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Miriam, I am so sorry to hear about your veritgo. But I am not surprised at all to hear that you are facing the challenge with gusto and courage. I always love seeing the photos you use to accompany your stories. Thanks for shining your inspirational light. Keep it up.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. A friend of mine had a severe case of vertigo a month ago. I hope you’re feeling better now. It must be difficult with the spinning, I hate that feeling. 😦 I always confused vertigo with a fear of heights. 🙂 I’m never good with bridge crossings on our bikes. So, I walk with my bike. It’s crazy, but that’s the only way I can cross it. Sending you warm hugs from a moody, grey Seoul! Get well soon! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. Yeah, I think next time I reach a really high bridge I might do the same thing and walk it across! Feeling pretty good today and the sun is shining now after a very cold -2C start to the day. xo 🙂

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  13. Hi Miriam,I hope you feel better soon. I remember having a middle ear infection when my children were young. I couldn’t move without the world spinning and it was an awful experience. As for the heights and riding a bike – I’m not a fan of heights and I’ve never been able to get my balance on a bike. That is one thing I want to master before I die! Have a great week xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hope that vertigo sods off. I had one viral batch of it years ago and it is absolutely horrid. Luckily because it was a virus some drugs helped the upchucking and dizzy. My Mum suffers sporadically and yes, those exercises do help.
    Sorry, not going up heights even to conquer fears – some things just are, but admire you for doing so.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m sorry to hear about your case of vertigo Miriam!! I don’t like heights on a good day, but I will brave them and always feel a sense of accomplishment when I’ve conquered them. I always love your analogies. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I love the way you used your vertigo as a springboard for a post about balance! Yes, balance is very important, whether it comes to challenging ourselves to face our fears or our physical limits, or simply trying to juggle all of life’s daily demands. Go too far to either edge, and we can indeed fall off. The key is to keep everything in the balance that feels right to us, I think.
    And I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering from vertigo for so long! I get bouts of that every now and then, and I know it can be very hard to deal with. I did those exercises, too, and they helped a lot. But my episodes usually only last a few days…I can’t imagine dealing with it for five months!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re so right, balance is important in every aspect of our lives. And, being a typical Libran I’m not happy when I’m out of whack for a long time, but it’s gradually easing, ever so slowly. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Ann.

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  17. I get this every once in awhile too Miriam. I admit, it is weird to hang your head over the edge of the couch and try to realign those calcium crystals, but it does help eventually!! I do hope you are doing better now😊💕

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  18. Hi Miriam, I had vertigo for a period of time as well. I’d wake up in the middle of the night and every time I rolled over the room would spin and I felt like I was falling off. It was horrendous!! Then one day, it simply went away. Go figure. Lovely post, cheers Nicole

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  19. Oh Miriam, I love this so much! What great tips for living life to the fullest — including doing our best AND taking a pause to rest. This is so self-honoring and compassionate. And the photo of you taking a rest is so adorable. Your feet are cute!

    You are so courageous – look at all the things you’ve done. I really acknowledge you for facing your fear and being really good to yourself. I’m inspired to share this for #ForgivingFridays. Is that ok?

    I’m reminded how forgiveness too takes courage, to jump off the cliff of the familiar right and wrong and open to the divine.

    Anyway, you’re welcome to do a pingback, up to you. I love you, my friend!
    Blessings,
    Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Debbie. Your comment made me smile (especially the bit about my feet!) 🙂 But seriously, thank you and you’re always welcome to share my posts. I tend to forget about the pingbacks when I’m writing, as I’m usually so engrossed in my writing but I love that you find them relevant. Blessings and hugs back xx

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  20. Vertigo is by far one of the worst symptoms I get from migraines, thankfully it’s rare for me. I can’t believe how much you accomplished, all I do with vertigo is lay on the couch feeling sorry for myself. You’re an inspiration. 😁

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  21. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten warier of heights. In fact something I did as a kid comes back to me some nights as I’m trying to sleep and makes me shudder.

    I agree with you, Einstein failed to mention the need for rest now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I my little group of university friends and I used to get drunk, climb to the rooftops in campustown, and then walk along the edges of the buildings on those little foot wide ledges old buildings have. The plunge would have been about fifty feet to the sidewalks below. It was a foolish stunt, but kids.

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  22. Oh Miriam I feel for you! I don’t think I have vertigo as such but I do get scared at climbing up or down. I do hope you can cope with it, as it must be very uncomfortable at times. I’m very impressed with your bike riding challenge! Go you. All the best as you continue training. xx

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  23. Hope things get sorted out soon Miriam. I never faced it but fleeting dizziness from time to time. Perhaps, meditation can also help. I love the positive energy you exude in the post in the face of issues. Spread love and cheerz!

    Liked by 1 person

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