The sudden sensation that you’re spinning

I have this thing called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo that comes and goes at strange and unpredictable and always unwelcome times, like (for example) 3:40-a.m.-ish this morning. It sounds stupid—vertigo, come on, it's two-thousand-fif-teen already—but it's a legitimately terrifying feeling: one minute you're deep into stage 3 of a REM-approved sleep cycle and the next you make the innocent mistake of flipping over from your left side onto your right—a maneuver you have performed successfully no less than eight billion times before in your life—and BAM! it's like your head stepped onto a merry-go-round going 95 miles an hour and left the rest of your body behind.

So that woke me up. I laid there in the dark for a minute, groggy and stupefied (it's been over a year since the last episode) and tried to wish it away but that never works. I'm not five. I don't actually believe in fairy tales. And it's not serious in any way, this thing, it's just a fact, it's just what is, like Wednesday or having freckles or hating broccoli. Some tiny gravitational-related calcium crystal—I'm not making this up—cuts loose from whatever inner ear sanctum it's meant to occupy and moves into the wrong canal and you're screwed. Momentarily.

You're not going to die from this thing, although you might puke, and you try to remind yourself that you've seen this all before and are not, in fact, having a stroke. (Isn't that the nightmare? YMMV but my nightmare is a stroke.) Your head rolls and your stomach rolls while no part of you is actually moving, and you wait for it to stop. Eventually it stops, or slows down, or you have to get up to pee. You turn on the light and hug the wall. Not a big deal. Just keep one hand on the wall and remember where the floor is. Try not to fall off the toilet.

And you don't have to be sleeping, by the way. It can happen at any time and for any reason. Or no reason at all! Just like a miracle. Hopefully not while you're driving, though. I wonder if anyone's thought about that.

You can take medication for the dizziness, depending on how much you like sleeping during the day, or you can go to the doctor. They'll have you lie flat on your back and dangle your head off the side of the table while they gently turn your noggin to and fro and side to side, in the hopes that this magic idiot crystal will eventually get the picture and evacuate. And it works! Usually. Sort of! Mostly. Until the next time! BRAVO.