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Famous Dizzy People
Well-known people describe the impact of living with:
- acoustic neuroma
- benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV)
- Ménière‘s disease
- post-traumatic vertigo
- vestibular migraine
- vestibular neuritis
- undiagnosed vertigo
And read about those who helped – doctors and other scientists who have advanced our knowledge and treatment of vestibular disorders.
Mark Ruffalo, actor
“I woke up one morning with the knowledge that I had a brain tumor. It wasn’t so much that I dreamt I had a brain tumor; it was like someone just poured the knowledge into my head. It wasn’t an image; it was just like knowing. It was so weird, which is why I paid attention.” ~ Mark Ruffalo
Arthur Black, writer and former CBC radio host
"[It was] like chug-a-lugging two vodka martinis without the euphoria. It was really bad. If you moved suddenly in any direction it just felt like you were on a ship in the middle of a hurricane... Even lying down you could feel this thing going on in your head." ~ Arthur Black
Lebron James, NBA
"I just wish people understood the [benign paroxysmal positional vertigo] illness that I have, and not rush to judge LeBron James so quickly.” ~ LeBron James
Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway
Ryan Adams, singer and song writer
“Having to play was like having a panic attack, and the panic attack would make me have a Ménière's episode. And the Ménière's episode would make me forget a lyric, or I would feel like I was going to fall down on stage. So there was a great amount of psychological damage that it did, there was a great amount of stage fright that culminated from this.” ~ Ryan Adams
Kristen Chenoweth, singer and actor
“...it’s really frustrating to have and it also causes hearing loss which I have a little in my right ear. So next time you see me I may be wearing a hearing-aid. But whatever it takes, you know. It’s frustrating as a singer, as an actor, to go on Broadway and sort of be off kilter.” ~ Kristin Chenoweth
Martin Luther (1483-1546), inspired Protestant revolution
“...you don’t know what a horrible thing this vertigo of mine is... I have not got beyond more than three or four words [of the Psalms] when buzz, buzz! The noise begins again and often I am near falling off my chair with the pain.” ~ Martin Luther
Les Paul (1915-2009), inventor of the electric guitar
“There’s a way out of everything. You just have to have the determination and will to go in there and fight.”
Read more about Les Paul here...
Chris Potter, saxophonist and composer
“I got Ménière’s disease in my mid-20s. I’ve lost pretty much all my hearing in my left ear—there’s just ringing. It was absolutely terrifying. I was getting episodes of dizziness, and my hearing would go up and down. In the meantime, I’d have to wake up at 5 am and take three flights to get to a performance that night – when I didn’t even know if I would be able to stand up. It was very stressful, as was not knowing if it would happen in both ears, but I somehow made it through. It’s something you get used to. But the vertigo alone is life-altering. You don’t feel comfortable making plans.”
Alan Shepard (1923-1998), astronaut
“I was delighted when I was assigned command of the first Gemini flight with Tom Stafford as my co-pilot, but it was shortly after that I developed a disorientation problem in my ear, and NASA grounded me. I was grounded for almost six years. I didn’t like it at all.” ~ Alan Shepard
Read more about Alan Shepard here...
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), writer
“For poetry he's past his prime; He takes an hour to find a rhyme . . . Poor gentleman, he droops apace; You plainly find it in his face; That old vertigo in his head; Will never leave him till he's dead.” ~ Jonathan Swift, from Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift Written by Himself
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), painter
“My health during the intervals [between “vertige”], and my stomach are so much better than before, that I believe it will still take years before I am quite incapable [incapacitated] which I feared in the beginning would be the case immediately. In the beginning, I was so defeated, that I had no desire even to see my friends again and to work, and now the desire for these two things is stirring, and then there is the fact that one’s appetite and health are perfect during the interval.” ~ Vincent van Gogh
Read more about Vincent van Gogh here...
Sidney Crosby, hockey player
“I tried to go to a meeting, actually, with our team a month in and just watching video was something that felt like it was really stressing my system – I had to work so hard just to concentrate on that.” ~ Sidney Crosby
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), composer
“...I sometimes had a buzzing and tingling in my ears as if I were standing by a huge waterfall. My condition changed frequently until the end of July, when it became a permanent state and I had attacks of giddiness, which made me stagger to and fro, so that I could only walk straight by concentrating hard. I had a wretched holiday.” ~ Ludwig van Beethoven
Marie Curie (1867-1934), physicist and chemist
“As for the ears, an almost continuous humming, sometimes very intense, persecutes me. I am very worried about it: my work may be interfered with – or even become impossible.” ~ Marie Curie
Charles Darwin (1809-1882), naturalist
In 1864 Darwin wrote in a letter to a friend that he was no longer vomiting daily and his head hardly bothered him except for “ringing in the ears.”
Read more about Charles Darwin here...
William Shatner, actor
“It was like listening to the hiss of a TV that’s not tuned to a channel. I thought I’d go deaf or nuts.” ~ William Shatner
Read more about William Shatner here...
Janet Jackson, entertainer
"After a thorough medical evaluation, it has been confirmed that Janet’s symptoms are being caused by a rare form of migraine called vestibular migraine or migraine-associated vertigo for which she is currently receiving treatment." ~ Kenneth Crear, Jackson’s manager
John Kucera, World Cup alpine ski racer
“...visual cues, motion and speed give you the feeling like car sickness. You start getting a little nauseated. When you move your head too quick, you just feel a little out of it. It’s almost like a fog.” ~ John Kucera
Andre Rieu, violinist and composer
“It happened at night. I was in bed and I woke at 3 am, opened my eyes and the room was spinning. It was a terrible feeling and I couldn't stop it. I didn't know what was happening. In the morning I felt I was broken.” ~ Andre Rieu
Patrick Stewart, Actor
“I have seen seven doctors and I am now in the hands of a professor of neurology in London. We are trying to literally reprogram certain little aspects of my brain, [which] receive signals from my eyes and my ears and my body. It doesn’t make sense. And quite why it's come about, they don't know. The only good thing is that it goes away when I'm horizontal, so I sleep beautifully. And when I drive . . . I'm no longer dizzy." ~ Patrick Stewart
...and Those Who Helped
Robert Bárány (1876-1936) – Austro-Hungarian otologist who won a Nobel prize in 1914 for his ground-breaking work on the physiology and pathology of the vestibular system.
Read more about Robert Bárány here...
John Epley – Portland, Oregon ear surgeon who developed the Epley maneuver, a simple and effective treatment for BPPV.
Prosper Ménière (1799-1862) – French doctor whose research ultimately lead to the recognition of Ménière's disease.
Pliny the Elder (23-79) – coined the term “tinnitus” almost two thousand years ago. Tinnitus is indexed in Pliny’s Natural History under “ears ringing and singing or having in them any unnatural sound and noise.”