Cancellation Vertigo

Sometimes when I make an appointment for something I’m told that there’s no availability, but I’m offered the option of going on a list “in case there are any cancellations.”

I’ve always treated this option as tantamount to being told “there is no hope for you here; you might as well look elsewhere.”

But in the past month I’ve benefited twice from a real life cancellation situation, most recently just this morning.

I woke up today determined that this would be the week I took action on the vague-vertigo-like-senstation that’s afflicted me for two years, so I called Sports Centre Physiotherapy, hoping to book an appointment with the excellent Nathan, whose interventions a year ago achieved some success.

Nathan, alas, has left the building, and I was offered an appointment with Ellen instead. Except that Ellen had no appointments this week. Which would render my determination moot.

But I agreed to go on the waiting list “in case there’s a cancellation.”

And then, at 1:15 p.m., I got a call: “can you come in for 2:00 p.m.?”

You bet I can.

The excellent Ellen ushered me into the room-formerly-known-as-Nathan’s-room and led me through a familiar set of Q&A and diagnostic tests. BPPV was ruled out quickly. And “gaze stability” zeroed in on as a possibility.

I was given three exercises as homework (which I document here in part because here is the closest thing to “where I will always be able to refer to them” as I have in my life). The names are ones I made up, not official physiotherapeutic ones:

  1. The Static Dot. Put a sticky note with a big dot on it about 10 feet away on the wall, about 20º below eye-line while sitting. While focusing on the dot, and looking straight ahead, move my head up and down. Vary the speed and the amplitude. Stop when it gets to be too much. Three repetitions.
  2. Fingers Still, Gaze Up Down. Stretch my arms out in front of me, one on top of the other, forefingers extended, about 18 inches apart. Without moving my head, switch focus back and forth between the top and bottom finger, back and forth, back and forth, at a good clip.
  3. Stare at Numbers. On the grid of numbers that I was given as a takeaway, while focusing on one number, soften my gaze to drink in the numbers around it.

I’m off traveling starting a week from today for two weeks, so I have a follow-up appointment in three weeks where I’ll get a chance to check-in and see how things are going.

Although this wasn’t a resource that Ellen gave me, I found the brief Two Modes of Visual Processing to be helpful for understanding the concepts she outlined, the working theory being, in part, that I need to offload some of the responsibility that my focal system is taking on to my ambient system. We’ll see.