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Dizziness, Disorientation, Fogginess

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Two Sunday nights ago (12 days now) I was hit with a sudden sensation of dizziness, disorientation and fogginess in my head shortly after finishing dinner. I went to bed early thinking it would pass and by the time I fell asleep it pretty much had.

The following Monday morning (between 6AM and 10AM) was the last time I felt normal. Around 10AM I was sitting in front of my computer at work and started feeling the same sensation so I decided to take a break from the computer screen and get some fresh air. I went to a local Home Depot to get a new door bell (which we needed at work) and while I was there I started feeling extremely uncomfortable. I started feeling very dizzy, very disoriented and as if I was seeing stars. I felt as if I was floating when I walked and like I was on the verge of blacking out. Luckily I did not and made it back to work and then ended up going home early.

Tuesday I woke up feeling dizzy, disoriented and foggy so I decided to make a doctors appointment. I ended up leaving work early on Tuesday and by 7PM (the time of my doctors appointment) I felt just as if I was in a daze. I wanted to talk to my doctor for some reassurance that were wasn't anything wrong with me with which I should be seriously concerned. He sent me for some blood work and then somehow on Wednesday I felt as if I was getting better.

Wednesday I experienced slight dizziness in the AM but was almost 100% in the afternoon-evening (this was my only full work day in the past 2 weeks). I went for the blood test and the results showed that my WBC (white blood cell count) was unusually high. It was 14.1 when the normal range is 4 - 11. My Neutrophils was high at 9.0 (normal range 2.0 - 7.5), my Lymphocytes were 3.9 (normal 1.0 - 3.5) and my Alanine Aminotransferase was high at 55 (normal is <50).

Thursday was one of the worst days as my symptoms had returned full force. I realized that I wasn't actually getting better (as I had suspected from my reduced symptoms on Wednesday). Again I felt very dizzy and disoriented, almost to the point where I wasn't comfortable driving (and I love driving). I left work early again.

Friday I called in sick (2nd time in 10 years) thinking I could take a long weekend to ride it out. Not so.

The weekend was rough. Dizzy, disoriented and foggy all weekend, periodically varying in severity.

The following Monday I was still dizzy so I made another doctors appointment to discuss my blood results. My doctor said I likely have a viral infection (due to the high WBC count) but also said there's a slight chance it could be bacterial. He prescribed me amoxicillan in case of a bacterial infection and advised me to rest and try to ride it out.

I was also checked for strep throat (negative) and did a second blood test for Mononucleosis (also negative).

Tuesday and Wednesday I felt as I was improving slightly, Thursday and Friday were worse again.

So here I am today...

The full list of symptoms are as follows: chronic dizziness (similar to a head rush like when standing up quickly after laying down), disorientation, fogginess in the head, occasional headaches (where it feels as if my entire head and face are swollen), slightly blurred vision, feeling of floating when walking, visual sensory overload when walking or driving, occasional fullness in ears/throat, seeing stars, looming feeling of a blackout, anxiety triggered panic attacks due to the fear of blacking out, and most recently, pressure behind the eyes and a chronic severe sensation that I can only describe as that feeling when you try to focus your eyes on something 3" from your face.

I am not nauseous and am able (for the most part) to walk and drive, so vertigo is ruled out.

One important factor is that these symptoms seem to come in waves. The dizziness is most or less chronic but the sensory overload, head pressure and panic attacks come periodically and last for maybe an hour and then go away, only to come again a few hours later.

I had a brain MRI (for a separate reason entirely) last Friday and while I am not a radiologist, the images looked clean. I haven't heard back yet and it has been a week so either the system is slow or there is nothing wrong there.

My plan at the moment is to ride out the weekend and if I still feel dizzy on Monday I'll visit my doctor again to have him send me for another round of blood tests to determine if my WBC is still high. I feel like the WBC count on the initial blood test could be disguising the real issue here. I can't fathom how a viral infection could cause these particular symptoms for 2 weeks on and off.

I do have a lot of symptoms from the 'Vertical Heterophoria' syndrome and plan to ask my doctor about that when I see him.

But I am desperate to get a second opinion from anyone who may have even the wildest idea of what I could be suffering from. Nothing is off limits.

I am not myself and I just need some reassurance that I will get better.
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replied November 30th, 2016
So just to provided an update. I am still experiencing dizziness, fogginess and disorientation in waves and on a daily basis. Some days are worse than others. Overall I have been better (able to drive without issue) but I am still not well. I am also now experiencing eye soreness and head/face/neck aches.

I went for a follow up blood test on Monday (two weeks into symptoms and one week after initial blood test) and everything was within the normal range. I am now looking into alternative possibilities. One of which I thought could be Vertical Heterophoria (a condition where a misalignment of the eyes can causes eye strain and dizziness). I do have slight asymmetry in the face. I felt as if the VH could be causing the initial dizziness due to eye strain and then anxiety could be exacerbating these symptoms. I have cut out caffeine over the last two days which so far has prevented any serious panic attacks.

Last night I visited an optometrist and did a full eye exam. He prescribed me mild prism lenses for a slight 'horizontal imbalance' which is like Vertical Heterophoria but horizontally instead. Unfortunately I have to wait up to 10 days to get these glasses so see if they will even help. I pray that they do but I still have my doubts.

These episodes of dizziness seem to be more prevalent after a long duration in front of a computer (which is what I do for work as a graphic artist).

My doctor received my MRI results and has not contacted me yet. There was some confusion as the nurse assistant to the doctor called and said my doctor wanted to send me for another MRI. I explained that I just had one and she then said he still needs to look at it. I hope to get a clear answer on that in the next day or so. I advised the nurse that I was seeing an optometrist and that I would be back in to investigate further (heart and central nervous system tests) if and when the glasses do not help.

The white blood cell count is down. If my MRI is clean and my glasses don't work (both of which are yet to be seen), the only other thing I think makes sense is PPPD (Persistent Postural-Perceptual Dizziness). My symptoms are closely related to this syndrome.
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replied December 28th, 2016
The white blood cell count can be due to an infection or anything affecting your immune system.

To me your symptoms sound like vistibular migraines. The headaches and dizziness are the symptoms that stand out.

Try doing some meditation and reducing stress triggers. Avoid caffeine or energy drinks and do some light exercises.
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replied January 3rd, 2017
Chiefjm, thank you for your reply. I have mentioned this to my doctor.

I'll start this new post by filling everyone in on what has been going on the past few weeks.

I got my glasses and wore them diligently for two weeks and did not experience any noticeable reduction in symptoms. While I like the glasses and they do help me see a bit better, they are not the solution I was hoping they'd be.

I had been having a few decent days where I felt fine to work and drive before the Christmas break. I felt as if the break (which was 11 consecutive days off work) would be just what I needed to relax, reset and be good to go come the new year.

Unfortunately this was not to be.

My son (who is 3) was having frequent nosebleeds at school so we took him to see the family doctor on December 23rd and I while we were there I updated my doctor on the dizziness symptoms. At that time I felt as if a long duration in front of the computer was triggering dizziness symptoms and I explained this to him. He advised to take the Christmas break to take a break from any and all screens (TV, Laptop, IPad, Phone) and see if when I returned to work on January 3rd my symptoms returned. Then to make an appointment with him to discuss.

I never got the chance really to test this theory out as December 24th, 25th, 26th and 27th were four of the worst days I had experienced.

Christmas eve is always a big (40 people) family party at my wife's grandparents house. I suddenly started to feel dizzy as we were getting ready (could have been anxiety). We were the first people to get there and I felt OK, but as more and more people arrived the ambiance and white noise in the house started to get to me. Once everyone had arrived I had become so dizzy, so uncomfortable and so sensitive to the noise in the house that I had to leave. I simply could not stand being in the house, so I went down the street to my in-law's and slept for the rest of the night.

Christmas day dinner and boxing day dinner were very much the same. I felt OK enough to go and be present but once we sat down to dinner I had to remove myself from the room and eat alone.

I had picked up a cold a few days before Christmas and it simply wasn't going away. My ears had never been so plugged and I became hyper sensitive to sound. I couldn't even be in the room when people were opening those 'crackers' to get their Christmas dinner hats.

After the three or four days of excusing myself from Christmas celebrations and dinners I decided to back to the doctor earlier than we had discussed. I explained to him that I didn't even get a chance to test out the no screen theory as my symptoms had taken a turn for the worse.

I was now experiencing the following symptoms:

Dizziness (chronic but varying in degree)
Disorientation (chronic but varying in degree)
Head fogginess
Feeling like I am in a constant daze
Ears very plugged
Hyper sensitive to sudden or loud noises
Blurry vision (some of the time)
Anxiety (either triggering or worsening dizzy symptoms)
Pressure in head (like my head was going to explode)
'Crossed-eyes' sensation (in, around and behind the eyes)
Panic attacks

He said he would arrange further tests with some specialists and I am currently waiting for those dates.

December 30th was the worst episode I had ever had and I believe it was due to anxiety and a panic attack. I was making dinner and my wife had just arrived home from work. Suddenly I started to feel dizzy for no reason I could determine. Over the next 30 minutes I began to feel very anxious that I had to lay down. I could barely eat and ended up not finishing my dinner. I felt so dizzy, my body was heating up and my head felt as if it was going to explode. I was so scared that I decided to go to the hospital.

While waiting in the triage line I felt as if any moment would be the one where I collapsed. Luckily I did not and we eventually sat down and waited 3.5 hours.

By this time my wife (who is 7 months pregnant), my son (who is 3) and I could barely keep our eyes open. Seeing as I felt a bit better by this point we just decided to leave and go home.

The next two days were rough. Very dizzy. My ears were very plugged and still sensitive to loud noises. And the ever-present (from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I close my eyes at night) pressure in my forehead and around and behind my eyes was worse.

Today I am back at work. I dreaded coming back to work after the break but hate staying home all the time as it quickly becomes depressing.

I am still reaching out to anyone who may have any suggestions of what this could be or what I could to help.

Please, I am desperate.
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replied January 6th, 2017
Another quick update.

I feel as if my symptoms have changed slightly. Not necessarily for better or worse. I have not been in as much of a daze over the past three days but my head aches are becoming more prevalent.

I feel as if I have this almost tingling pressure sensation behind my eyes and in between my temples. The best way I can describe it is the numbing sensation of crossing ones eyes, coupled with a head ache and overall head pressure.

I have been able to work but I am still dealing with chronic dizziness and pressure in the head.

To reiterate, I had been for an MRI last month and it was clean.

After my last doctors appointment he referred me to a local ENT doctor. I called this specialists office to inquire about when my appointment would be and they advised that it was in June....5 months from now.

I couldn't believe it. I am struggling every day with this dizziness and now I have to wait 5 months just to see a specialist that may end up telling me that my ear/nose/throat are not the issue? For the first time I have become frustrated with my doctor. I don't understand why he ONLY referred me to ONE specialist...Is this typical protocol? He explained to me that dizziness symptoms have a very broad range of possible causes. So why not refer me to ALL those specialists and then cancel the remaining appointments if one ends up being the solution?

I cannot wait five months to see one doctor to find out there is nothing he can do, to then go see my family doctor again to have him refer me somewhere else and then wait another five months to see that specialist.

I have been doing some light exercises (walking, pulling my son in his toboggan), I have quit smoking (1 week now), I have been eating very healthy meals, I have been drinking more water, I cut out all caffeinated drinks, I have been taking evening primrose (as recommended by my mother who takes them) and I have been getting a lot of sleep.

My ears are still plugged from time to time (since getting my cold) but they are almost back to normal. Whatever is happening to me feels like it is happening in my forehead, behind the eyes and in between the temples. I have my doubts about this ENT and whether he will be able to help.

What should I do?
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replied January 13th, 2017
The pressure in my head is now the main symptom I seem to be experiencing. For the past two weeks it was a tingling and numb pressure in my forehead but lately I have also felt it at the back/base of my skull where it meets the spine.

When the pressure increases the dizziness increases. I feel as if my head is tingling at times and the more severe it is, the more I feel like I am about to pass out. My head almost feels like one would describe restless leg syndrome. That ants in your pants, tingling, vibrating sensation that can only be cured by movement. Except movement of my head does not work for me.

As bad as it can get, I still seem to have moments where I feel almost 100%. Last night from about 4PM onward I feel great. This had been the case the day before as well. Only to show up to work this morning and around 8AM suddenly experience an episode of severe dizziness and head pressure. It felt as if a balloon was inflating in my head.

I still cannot determine what, why, when or how the episodes appear.

Luckily I managed to get an appointment to see a neurologist next week and I am also going for vestibular testing (in prep to see an ENT) as well.

I am still holding out for a diagnosis.
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