Salt is Bad for you.. they say.
Diagnosis of a blood pressure disorder that caused unexplained fainting and dizzy spells. Cutting salt out of your diet is not always good for you. Caffeine abuse and hypotension don't mix...

Introduction

I was always told salt was bad for me. My mom was a diabetic, and for her an overdose of sodium meant swollen hands and feet. So, she avoided salt in all of her cooking - and generally discouraged its use at the table.

When I was about fifteen, I began to have dizzy spells. They would come on quickly and suddenly, sometimes well after I had gotten up and started to walk. It was as if I was suddenly on a merry-go-round and the rest of the world was moving but I wasn't. My vision would fog, with small white 'pinpoints' coming up from nowhere and eventually filling my entire vision like the static on an old television. Usually at this point my hearing would become distant and I would either catch myself on something or fall flat to the floor. Everything would equalize slowly and I would be able to see and balance myself again within seconds.

At the doctor, I was told it was 'growing pains', and to take more time getting up. For a fifteen-year old kid, that is not a good thing to hear. 'Whenever you get up, pump your legs a little to get the blood flowing. Always get up slowly and take time deciding where you are going in case you need to fall.'

Trying to "Live With It"

I felt like an invalid, and my mom was scared that her little girl was dying of some strange disease. Her already tight reign of control on me (she was always scared I was going to be hurt) became even closer to house arrest. I love my mom, but she was reacting with fear because we had no clue what was causing this. She didn't want me to move away from home, go to college, or even drive. I did put my foot down and get my learner's permit, and I did go to our community college, often by bike. I worked two jobs at times just to get out of the house, and had another job monitoring an online bulletin board on 3D computer modelling. I drank a lot of coffee to keep awake, and was always on the move. At times I learned to walk 'sideways' against the flow of the dizzyness until it became strong enough to require a rest.

The Real Wake-Up Call

In January of 1998 I had the worst fainting spell I have had to date. I was 19 years old, and still living at home. I slit the back of my head open on a sharp object on the wall and required 17 stitches. The fainting spell was a complete loss of consciousness, unlike any I had before. In fact, I wasn't even certain of the details of what had happened. I had the distinct memory of waking up on the floor feeling that my body was actually across the room, still in my chair. And yet, I was across the room, on the floor, bleeding profusely from the back of my head. It was the most surreal thing I had ever felt. It would take two days before I even remembered getting up out of that chair, stretching by the door and losing my balance near the door.

My own physician sewed me up at our small town ER. He started more tests. He found nothing. He told me the same things he had before. I asked for a new doctor.

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