No, this is not a joke. It isn’t a set up for a routine or comedy. It is a real title for a very real and nerve wracking experience I had.
On May 20th, 2015 I was in New York City. Like I love to do on a nice day, I took a long walk through the city. When I say long, I mean long. From Columbus Circle down to the Alphabet Streets and back. My step count was through the roof.
I got back to my apartment, showered and soon after I had a headache. I rarely get headaches so I thought maybe it was dirt and grime and whatever that had accumulated on my contacts. Took them out. I was tired. So I went to bed. Expecting to feel better in the morning after a good nights sleep
May 21st, 2015. I woke up dizzy.
My initial reaction was that I had a form of Vertigo.
I had experienced Vertigo multiple times before. Once when I was staying in Manhattan Beach, I woke up with Vertigo, thought we were in the middle of an earth quake and rushed to alert my neighbors. All of whom made it clear that there was no earthquake. There hadn’t been an earthquake. And maybe I had too much to drink the night before.
My most recent Vertigo experience was a good 10 years ago and with a trip to the doctor I was given a few pages with a series of head movement exercises. By the next day I was fine. It was as if nothing had happened.
So on May 21st, 2015 my expectation was that all would be fine shortly. I did my exercises. Unfortunately they didn’t work. At the end of the day I was still was what is easiest to describe as being dizzy, but it was far more than that.
My brain was in a fog, I felt hungover. I felt some nausea, without having had a drink. My face and ears felt full. I can’t fully describe it or give justice to just how off I felt. My balance was fine. My body below the neck was fine. I never felt better. But inside my head something was definitely wrong.
I headed back to Dallas still believing it was Vertigo related and I was just missing something.
I visited my doctor who suggested I get more electrolytes and see if that helped. It did a tiny bit, but not much. After which I started “the rounds”.
He sent me for an MRI of my head, nothing. My neck, nothing. An MRA, nothing. All of which was obviously good news at the highest level. It didn’t appear to be anything life threatening.
Then I made the rounds to Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctors. Nothing. I was in tip top shape. Then my doctor suggested I visit a Neurologist. She immediately concluded that it was not physical and was completely stress related and that I should see a Psychiatrist, but first here is some Klonopin for you to take to help you.
That made me even worse. I would take dizzy and nauseas over how the klonopin made me feel any day and I knew it wasn’t a psychological issue. So I got off of those meds quickly.
Then I found another Dr who had more experience in treating Dizziness and related issues. To his credit, he pushed me to do the full battery of tests that are normal for these types of issues, but unfortunately it was now the second week of June and I had to head to LA to start shooting Shark Tank in a couple days. I don’t remember how we got to it. but he suggested Valium.
Boom. It worked. Mostly.
I was no longer dizzy. I actually felt alright. When I took 9mg of Valium. The problem of course is that I always wanted to lay down and take a nap.
But it got me through the first shooting pod of Season 7 of Shark Tank. So when you are watching, if you notice I look really, really relaxed and maybe a little tired or sleepy, now you know why.
While the Valium certainly helped, it became obvious to me that taking 9mg of Valium a day was no way to go through life. So I began trying to reduce my dosage. I got it so that within a couple weeks I could take half a mg in the morning and half in the afternoon and get to an acceptable state. I also found that the busier I kept myself, the less I thought about it and the better I felt.
Of course the doctors were sure at that point that if valium worked (as did drinking. Drunk felt like every drunk night before it ), that it must be stress. It wasn’t.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was concerned as my family headed off to Southern California for a vacation. I didn’t want to drive with my family in the car. Every terrible possibility I could conjure in my head as a problem, I did. I read everything and anything that I could about dizziness. Unfortunately, dizziness is a symptom for almost everything. I found nothing.
I was miserable. Valium was not a solution. Not a way I wanted to go through life.
Then I stumbled onto a website, http://www.dizziland.com. It claimed to cure 95% of patients who come in with dizziness. I was desperate. It was a 30 minute drive from where we were vacationing, so I made an appointment. It was for first week of August.
Dr. Mango and his crew put me through about 5 hours of tests. From what I understand they were traditional, for the most part. I got spun, turned, twisted, ballooned and then they put me in a dark room, strapped me in to a chair and asked me to use a joy stick to demonstrate that I could align a red line absolutely vertical, and absolutely horizontal.
My vertical was no problem. Horizontal? I was convinced I was laying the line down so it was absolutely flat. As it turns out I wasn’t close. I was off 38pct. That was good.
The audiologist, Dr Pearce, told me that was the information they needed. She was confident she could get me back to normal. When I asked what caused the problem. There was no answer. It could be an inner ear infection or something else. But she was fairly certain that an Otolith in my vestibular system had been damaged.
The way she explained it, and I’m paraphrasing, I was dizzy because my eyes, the otolith in my vestibular system and brain were out of whack. My damaged otolith was telling my brain I was falling or off balance, but my eyes was saying everything was normal. So my brain was confused and working overtime, resulting in all the problems I was experiencing.
Obviously I was thrilled. But getting back to normal wasn’t a quick process. Below is a video I asked to do for Dizziland to tell people who were experiencing what I was experiencing that there was hope.
What you can’t really see is that I’m in front of what is called an Epley Chair.
If you watch the video below, you will see the spinning chair. For my case, the chair was in a dark enclosure.
Dr. Mango had created the special enclosure for the chair, but more importantly, he created a protocol of videos that would be projected against the walls. While I watched the videos there were cameras looking at my eyes, measuring the response of my eyes. It was a solution that he had integrated and it was working.
In the dark room, the protocol would sometimes show star like objects projected against the walls of the room. Sometimes I would be still. Sometimes I would be moving. Sometimes they would be slow, sometimes they would be faster. All in all I would be in the chair about an hour. Every day.
I was making progress. But my time in Southern California was coming to an end. I had to get back to Dallas. Which was a problem because my brain really benefited from daily treatment.
There were not chairs available to me in Dallas. There were only 20 in the entire country. Almost all in Veteran’s Hospitals where they were used to treat servicemen and women who had suffered various types of head trauma resulting in dizziness. The closest to me was in San Antonio and it did not run the protocol Dr Mango had created.
I literally was desperate.
I was making progress. I was getting closer and closer. So I looked into buying my own chair and enclosure and hiring one of Dr Mango’s audiologists to move to Dallas to start a Dizziland branded office in Dallas. It would help not only me, but also others who could benefit from the same therapy.
It was September going into October at this point and I was at what I would call about 60pct. But unless I could just go back out to Southern California and stay until i was fixed, I was going to have to wait several months to put all this together.
To try to mitigate the problem and buy time, the Docs gave me videos to watch on a laptop screen in the dark. It didn’t help. I wasn’t getting better and on some days it was much worse.
Then it hit me.
Why not put the videos on my phone and look at them in the Samsung VR set I had bought just to try to learn more about VR.
I started using Dr Mango’s protocol in the Samsung VR Glasses every morning and every night and started making progress nearly every day. Day after day, night after night I was in my bedroom or a hotel room with my Goggles on watching white boxes on a black background scroll past my eyes. My doctors had me standing sometimes. Laying down sometimes. Standing on a pillow in the morning, rolling side to side while watching at night.
By November I was 75pct, by December 90pct. By the end of January and in to February I had days where I felt completely normal. I was able to reduce my use of the googles to every 3rd day. Then every week.
Today, I use them for maintenance every couple of weeks just to play it safe, but I’m back to normal and happy.
Virtual Reality along with Dr Mango, his protocol and some amazing Audiologists in Dr Pearce and Dr Nava gave me my brain back. I can’t thank them enough.
VR worked so well, Dr Mango and I are now patenting the entire protocol and program and he is already testing it with great results with some of his other patients. Hopefully it can have the same impact on others that it had on me.