I had the amazing experience of being on the Fall Dark Days tour this past month. Columbus to Vegas, Vegas to Denver, Denver to Houston, Houston to Austin, Austin to Dallas, and Dallas to Columbus... in four days. Yep. Six flights in four days, and for the first two I had a head cold that had dug in like virus claim jumpers on the high-profile real estate of my sinus cavities. Denver took care of the head cold, but it seems all the flights left a little something to remember them by...
... like a free floating calcium crystal in my ear canal.
I started feeling slightly dizzy on and off during the tour, but we were exhausted and I thought nothing of it. I chalked up the continued vertigo spells to more tiredness as I collapsed for the weekend once I returned home, but two weeks later I still wouldn't have passed a State Trooper line-walking test even if I was dead sober. Last weekend while trying to operate an apple-picker I ended up on my ass surrounded by bumble bees, and so I went with the logical assumption that I had a brain tumor and was about to die.
Which, honestly, makes a lot more sense than imagining that there was a free floating crystal in my ear canal, right?
I went to WebMD to plug in my symptoms, because that's what all the neurotic people do first rather than call an actual doctor. Ironically, every other time I've consulted WebMD it's informed me that I probably have a brain tumor, yet when I went to it with brain-tumory symptoms it let me know that there were floating crystals in my head.
Yep. Little calcium growths in your otolith organs (don't try to get in there and clean them out with a Q-Tip, we're talking way in there) can get knocked loose and fall even further into the murky depths of your head to your semicircular canal where it plops into the liquid that helps you keep your balance. It's kind like a level inside your head - except it isn't working.
So what do we do about this non-working head leveler? Funny you should ask. Basically, your doctor can perform the Epley maneuver, a series of movements designed to get that little calcium crystal out of your head-level-liquid and back into the inner ear where it belongs. But of course you can't see it, so you don't really know for sure if it worked.
I'm reminded of that one last penny rattling inside of a piggy bank, and all my shaking efforts to dislodge the damn thing.
Why am I telling you this? Because it's interesting, and because the human body never ceases to amaze me. We have all these complicated crevices with magical sounding names and ALSO CRYSTALS IN OUR SKULLS THAT LET US WALK.
What the hell?
Who needs fiction?