I have been dealing with this off and on for the past few months. At first, I chalked these incidents up to panic attacks, even though I don't actually have a history of them. In picking the problem apart, when it happens it's just so unsettling and scary that I panic over the possibility of losing control specially in the freeway (though with the ever present worry that an episode might hit) but it came back as strong as ever last week (3/15/13).
It is definitely worse at night, most likely because I am much more tired at night
Never an issue when I am the passenger
I spend at least 8, It seems to be worse at this time of year January and March, and now it even happens on slower side streets.
I can’t stand the lights (such as sunlight or headlights flickering through a guardrail), If I flip down my rearview mirror at night and adjust my side mirrors so that they don't reflect headlights, the issue is reduced, but not eliminated.
What it feels like specifically: Like I am falling, just a gradual fading of feeling. It feels to me something like I am falling asleep, and get a jolt at the last second. If you have ever fallen asleep and had a dream that you were falling and "snapped" awake at the last second, it feels like a milder-yet-scarier version of that.
The worst part is definitely the fear that accompanies each episode. I have to force myself to breathe through it. When an episode strikes, it helps if I turn down the radio, roll down the windows, and remind myself that nothing has ever happened before, and that if I can keep my fear in control, I will be okay.
I would love for someone to be able to figure out why this happens to us and how we can stop it
If your oxygen levels are going down too low and too often at night, it would explain many of your symptoms. A sleep study might be needed.
You can actually buy a pulse oxymeter for around a hundred bucks, that will record your O2 levels while you sleep, and then you can load them onto the computer, and print a report. Your doctor might pay more attention to you then.
I suffer from vestibular migraines. For years my symptoms were more mild, I couldn't drive at high speeds on the highway. But in the past year it has gotten to the point that I couldn't even drive at low speeds in town due to the motion sensitivity. Also lighting in stores effects me very badly and I couldn't go into a lot of stores or I would have spells where I would feel like I was swaying in a boat. If the spells escalated I would have slight shaking in my hands, involuntary jerking in one limb, tingling in my limbs, confusion and disorientation, slurred speech, aura's, and sometimes see spots that weren't there. My neurologist could not find anything wrong so he send me to Mayo Clinic where I was diagnosed. I have recently begun medication and have started driving short distances again. I am shopping in all stores again and I am going back to work next week after being off for 5 months due to the severity of my spells. Some people can even have temporary paralysis with vestibular migraines and they are mistaken for strokes. You can have them with or without headaches. I had them with infrequent, minor headaches (more like a sinus headache) for years before I developed full blown migraine headaches. Some people have no headaches at all. If you have symptoms similar to these it is certainly worth checking out and if your neurologist can't diagnose it ask for a referral to a top hospital like Mayo Clinic, UCLA or something similar.
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