Sunday, 19 August 2012


Jalen has been feeling unwell for around five months now.   He was often very dizzy when he stood up and seemed to have no energy.  He was very pale all the time and had dark circles under his eyes.  He started to get very stressed when he started to have chest pains at times and lots of pain in his body.  I put a lot of it down to grief and stress, and possibly 'just' a virus that was going around but decided I'd better just take him to our GP to get checked out, because he started to get very stressed about it. 

Our GP agreed that he probably had low iron levels again (he had low levels about a year ago) and we started giving him an iron supplement and the chest pains and pain in his body stopped fairly quickly which was a good sign that his iron levels were going up.

Although he started to feel like he had more energy, he still felt unwell and started to feel nauseous quite a bit and was often dizzy.  It wasn't like gastro because he would be able to eat normally a lot of the time, but then now and then it would hit him really bad and he would even vomit.    He had a little bit of time off school and some days he would seem okay, and other days it would be back again. 

He seemed to be getting worse and has had so much time off school this year.  It's not like Jalen at all to have time off school, and I knew he wasn't faking because he would look very sick most of the time and he has settled into school really well now.  I often get calls from school during the day to pick him up as he has been too sick to stay in class. It's really hard now that I'm working to get him from school so much or to have him home sick, and it's even worse for him as he just feels awful a lot of the time.  Often I would have to pick him up from school and he would spend the rest of the day in bed. 

Things weren't getting better and we kept seeing our friend Marlo who is a bioresonance therapist and had treatments on her MORA.  The readings showed that Jalen had a lot of imbalances in his body (the readings are all supposed to be green) and he would feel okay for a few days after each treatment, but then go downhill again.

We headed back to our GP who agreed that it was time to do some blood tests.  I talked to Jay about his stress levels and whether he thought that was the problem but he said he didn't feel stressed. He is obviously grieving but he has been feeling much better than he had been, and he said he didn't think that it was that.

When he heard the words 'blood test' he freaked out.  I couldn't stop laughing at him as he googled 'how to be calm during a blood test' on his phone as we drove to pathology. I reminded him that Noah had scores of blood tests during his life.

He was so nervous but the lovely lady who took his blood made him as relaxed as possible.  It was funny as she even knew us as she said she reads my blog! He did well and afterwards she even gave him a little pathology bear for being brave :)

I have to admit that I was a little anxious about the results. I started to think the worse and silly thoughts ran through my head that he may have something like leukemia.   I kept thinking that two awful things had happened in the past year, so why not a third?

Luckly the blood results showed low vitamin D levels which we happy about as we knew that it would be easy to 'fix' by giving him a vitamin D supplement and trying to spend more time in the sun (which is pretty impossible during a Tassie winter).   After a month or so of being on a vitamin D supplement Jay still didn't feel much better, and was vomiting once or twice every few days, feeling very dizzy still and was still having a lot of time off school.

I rang to see his GP again but he was away on holiday so we saw a locum instead. She was a lovely older lady and after explaining the whole story to her, she straight away did some tests on him including an eye examination which showed he had nystagmus which is something Noah also had, but for different reasons (a rapid shaking of his eyes when looking in a particular direction).

She then said that Jay had 'vertigo'.  I had heard of it before and it all made sense and I was just so happy to finally have some answers.

Vertigo /ˈvɜː(ɹ)tɨɡoʊ/ (from the Latin vertō "a whirling or spinning movement" is a subtype of dizziness, where there is a feeling of motion when one is stationary.  It is often associated with nausea and vomiting as well as a balance disorder, causing difficulties standing or walking.

The definition of vertigo sounds straight forward but living with it is debilitating.  The way that Jay describes it reminds me a lot of morning sickness. Sometimes it's bearable and other times he can't do anything.  I feel so bad for him that he feels so sick all the time.  The doctor said that they don't give children any medication to help with the nausea as it isn't safe so the only thing we can do it give him natural remedies which I'm happy with anyway.

I went to the chemist to get him some ginger tablets and a lovely pharmacist asked if I was travelling (they are often for travel sickness) and if I needed any help. I told him why I was getting them and he asked how old Jay was. I told him he was twelve and he looked at me like I was an idiot and said 'he shouldn't have vertigo. The only reason he would have that would be from stress'.  I said 'yep! He's pretty stressed - his Dad died' and the pharmacist quickly agreed that he must have vertigo and then went on to tell me other things that can help including diet changes.  I didn't dare tell him that his brother also died. 

Our friend Marlo is treating him now on a different machine. She said she has had a lot of success with treating patients with Meniere's Disease which is more severe, but often it comes with big lifestyle changes including a complete change of diet.  Unfortunately telling that to an (almost) thirteen year old doesn't go down well.  I have given Jay the choice of whether he wants to change his diet and he knows that he will eventually (hopefully!) get better, but it will take longer without a diet change.

Last week he had a couple of days off school as he was so bad and Kobe decided that he was going to share his 'snuggles' with him to make him feel better. I'm not sure whether it worked or not.

It's been a long five months of trying to work out what is going on, and to get him well and I think it's going to be a long time before he feels normal again. It's going to just take time (and maybe some diet changes!) till he feels normal again as it can often just pass after a few months or longer.   I know a lot of it is also contributed to grief and that is something that you can just wish to pass either.  I feel so bad for him as he is often upset and says 'I just want to feel normal again'.  I can't wait for that day either. 


  1. We hope you feel a lot better soon Jalen!

  2. I woke up this morning with a bout of vertigo, and could not, for the life of me, walk straight! So I went back to bed. But seeing the title of your post just now I had to have a look.
    The first thing I thought when reading about Jalen was glandular fever, because I had that for a long time when I was about 11, with similar symptoms. Just thought I'd put it out there. I also got my glasses around the same time, because funny things happen to your eyes with glandular fever, as they do with morning sickness, as you said. Funnily enough, very sweet soft drink can help with eyesight issues, so maybe try that when Jalen has a dizzy bout. Sounds like hocus pocus I know, but an optometrist told me that! Good luck with Jalen's recovery. Such a difficult time you have had! Take care. xx

  3. so glad that you now know what it is...that is half the battle knowing ..there is mostly something you can do when you know how to treat it...Love ya Jay...nettie hugs and kisses coming your way XXXXXXX

  4. Poor Jae,
    At least with morning sickness there is something to look forward t o at the end.
    It must be so hard at his age when all you want to do is get on with life.
    That was interesting to know about stress and Vertigo..give him a big Grandma hug from me.

  5. Hi Lisa,
    try crystallised ginger instead of ginger tablets, it helped me a great deal. You can also try gingko tablets which would improve any inner ear circulation problem Jalen might have (which is often brought on by stress). Other things to check out might be his electrolyte levels, blood pressure or maybe slight hypoglycemia (this is why soft drinks, as suggested above, might help).
    I hope Jalen feels better soon!


  6. Poor thing! Hope he starts feeling much better soon.

  7. Poor thing! Hope he starts feeling much better soon.

  8. hey Lisa can you either post the changes in diet that were suggested to you or email/fb that info to me? Our stake president's daughter has been suffering from the same sounding thing and is very discouraged (she's 19)and is feeling awful. She is having trouble staying at work etc...her mom just called us about it last night and I'm thinking i could share the change of diet suggestions with her...thanks very much!

  9. I never had vertigo until I suffered a head trauma and then I was confined to bed due to the horrible issues with vertigo. AFter being tossed from doctor to doctor I finally came across a doctor who said that I needed to go and see the "vertigo lady" and get my ear crystals fixed. I went to see her and she did testing on me and after 2 visits I was 50% improved- after 2 more visits I was able to drive again and was no longer felt nauseous all the time- after 2 more visits I was able to watch tv again- and then after 2 more visits and I was back to work. She said it stems from the ear crystals not being in the correct place and therefore causing a total imbalance in your body. She put glasses on my eyes and could watch the movement of my eyes on the tv and she knew which way to tilt my head for certain periods of time and then would abruptly stop and tilt my head another way. All based on watching my eye movement. She was guiding the crystals back into the correct place in my ear. It works. I have now met a ton of people who have gone to see her. I am hoping that there is someone trained in your local area that can do this- because he shouldn't have to be suffering like this- especially when there is a "quick" fix. I am going to attach a weblink to the woman that I saw here in virginia and you can see the glasses I am talking about and maybe you could contact her for info. in hopes of finding someone in your area. Good luck. I hope he is back to being a happy healthy boy very soon!

  10. Wish I could offer helpful remedies like the people above but just wanted to say sorry to Jalen that he's going through this - it really is amazing ( and I don't mean 'amazing' in a great way) stress effects our physical selves. I really hope he feels improved soon.

  11. Poor Jalen :( He's had so much going on. Vertigo is awful, I suffer from acute attacks of labrynthitis and I can't move my head without the world spinning and constant nausea. The only other thing I can suggest is good old ginger beer sipped slowly can help ease the nausea.

  12. awww feeling for the wee guy! I'm interested in the link between stress and vertigo too as my husband was diagnosed with vertigo a couple of months ago (we are from shaky Christchurch) but there was not much else about it, he got some pills but still hasn't felt 100% since, so I'm going to look more into diet changes too, thanks.
    Praying Jalen recovers soon xx

  13. Just wanted to share another idea that might help: Acupressure wristbands that are used to treat nausea from motion sickness. I have been using them to help with morning sickness, and have found that they really take the edge off my nausea, so I don't feel like I need to lay on the couch all day. They have a little button in them that puts pressure on your wrist, and the effect comes within minutes of putting them on for me. Mine actually have a little magnet in them, so maybe that is more effective too. It is a very simple, inexpensive, natural treatment. You can buy them online, or from drugstores, I think. Hope he feels better soon!

  14. Hope you are feeling much better soon Jalen. Not fun to be sick all the time :(

  15. Hope he starts to feel better soon :)

  16. HI,
    Please get your son tested for Coeliac disease as his symptoms sound like he may have this. Low Vit D and low iron as well as his upset stomach definately are symptoms for Coeliac!

  17. I would second the coeliac suggestion above. Sounds exactly like it to me. It may have already been covered in the blood tests you had but if it isn't I would seriously consider having him tested.
    I know that others have become symptomatic with this disease following periods of stress.
    Google it - but I think you will find it very similar to what you have described.

    All the best, xx

  18. Hi Lisa - my heart breaks for Jalen, I am so sorry he is experiencing so many horrible things at sucha young age. I too suffer from this - mine started after I had a bad car accident. I was diagnosed with something called BPPV - it's a form of vertigo that comes from severe head trauma. I went to an ETN doctor who did a manauver called the "Epley" manauver - it has helped me alot. here is a link for you:

    I hope he gets some relief soon. Hang in there Jalen.

  19. I have been following your blog since January. You have been through so much and the unthinkable twice. Your walk inspires strength for many reasons. It comforts me that you have your faith. My husband gets severe vertigo due to an inner ear disorder called menieres. Not that I think Jalen has that but vertigo itself has high treatment results with accupuncture. It has saved my husband's quality of life. He went weekly for a month and now every 3 weeks. I hope you consider this for jay if all else fails. We were desperate.
    With love, Jeffra Gay

  20. My mom suffers from stress-related vertigo at times. I am so sorry to hear that Jalen (and you) have to deal with this on top of all the other difficulties you face on a daily basis.

    I will be sure to keep him in my prayers.

  21. I hope you are feeling better soon Jay. xxx

  22. I was going to suggest treatment for ear crystals as well. Here in the U.S. an audiologist can do this procedure. It's medically sound and non-invasive. Hope you find a good solution!

  23. I am a teacher from San Diego and am also the mom of a special needs adult daughter. I have read your blog for quite some time. You are such an inspiration.

    I have suffered from vertigo for many years. It can be debilitating, as you know. I have been told that I have vestibular migraines, but I know I also have bouts of positional vertigo, as well. This is when the calcium crystals in the inner ear move out of their correct location. Many things cause this- not just a blow to the head. When it happens with me, turning my head to the left or up causes the vertigo. I was told once that the balance mechanism in my left ear is faulty. An ENG ? test revealed this years ago. The doctor does a procedure in the office that gives me immediate relief for positional vertigo. It pits the crystals back where they belong.

    When I feel vertigo coming on now, I take an OTC motion med. called meclizine. The drug is also found in the OTC med Bonine. People use it for motion sickness. It is slow to act-sometimes up to 3 hours- but it stops the vertigo! It also has an anti- nausea component which is wonderful. Since I am small (105 lbs.) I break the tablet into a small amount and it still works... Not the 2 tabs on the label. It can make me a bit drowsy, but I can handle that if it stops the vertigo!! I often take it in the evening before bed time and since it is effective for 12 or more hours, I am ready to teach the next day! I usually only have to take it for a day or two and them I am all better. Restricting salt intake didn't work for me. Again-the cause is unknown-stress, hormones, inner ear disorder, headache disorder, etc... But the most important thing is to treat the terrible vertigo and nausea so the quality of life is improved immediately. I feel so bad for your son Jalen. I hope this helps if you want to try the meclizine or Bonine.

  24. Lisa,
    My husband has Menuire's Disease - it's terrible... and causes horrible vertigo.
    We have found though - that Bonine helps - an over the counter anti seasickness med and he wears the seasickness wrist bands all the time. Let me know if you want me to get them for you and send them to you.

    My best to you and your darling boys.

    Jan R.
    Oak Park, CA

  25. My mother had vertigo for 6 months after she gave birth to my little brother. Hers was so bad that she couldn't get out of bed or do anything on her own. They did several tests and didn't figure out what it was for almost 4 months. After the 6 months she slowly got better. So I hope all works out for the best with jalen

  26. Oh my goodness! My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer around Christmastime last year and I had these same feelings for a couple of months and got all sorts of tests at the doctors but never figured out what it was. It makes so much sense that it would have been from stress. (though it was practically impossible trying to convince my family that it wasn't morning sickness...) I appreciate you sharing such personal things about your life although it might be hard, because among other things, you have strengthened my testimony through your words. Thanks for being so strong.


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