Friday, May 27, 2011

For Better Or For Worse, In Sickness And In Health

My first couple of months living with Meniere's were seriously a living hell. I had days where I could see nothing but darkness. I thought I was doomed to a life of constant misery. It was during those dark days that I started to realize just how fortunate I was to be blessed with a caring and compassionate husband.

My husband has been my rock throughout this journey. I never realized one could love another human being so deeply. He has stepped up to the plate so many times to help me through each vertigo attack. Doing all those unpleasant tasks that go along with an episode of vertigo (which I know I need not explain in detail). He has held me to comfort me when the room was spinning so fast that I felt like I was losing control. His words of encouragement to help me get back on my feet and start living my life again are to this day never-ending..What did I do to deserve this human being? Where would I be without him? When he said to me, "For better or for worse, in sickness and in health." he truly meant it. I never realized at the time just how much those words would mean to me now. I have fallen in love with my husband all over again and can't imagine sharing my life with anyone else.

I have much to be grateful for and this I now know to be true.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I'll Take "Baby Steps" For Five Hundred Dollars Alex

A willingness to show  perseverance and diligence in order to accomplish a task. "What is patience? Alex".

Yes the biggest lesson I have learned from having an inner ear disorder is to be patient. A word that was never been a welcome part of my vocabulary. I have always been the type of person who likes a world filled with instant gratification. After seven months of living with this disorder I can honestly say that instant gratification is no longer a part of my life. Meniere's has been like an annoying little brother constantly making me slow down and be patient. I used to get frustrated when I could not master something after a couple of tries but now I am quite content with taking baby steps to reach my goals.

A few months ago my goal was to be more active. My ability to stay upright without being dizzy was not good. Initially I started off with a twenty minute a day walk with my dog. Some days were easier than others and a few days I could not go at all because my balance was so unsteady. I persevered though and after a couple of weeks I was able to add a few trips to the gym for a cardio workout. Gradually every couple of weeks I increased the intensity of each workout and added in a couple of Zumba classes. Throw in a three mile walk every couple of weeks with my husband and that's where I am today. I still have to make sure I rest for a couple of hours after doing any kind of strenuous physical activity. With that said I am feeling much stronger these days. As an added bonus my symptoms have become more manageable.  They are never gone but they have reached the point where I have stretches when I don't even notice them.

Seven months ago this amount of physical activity would have been out of the question for me. I wasn't able to walk from the  living-room to the kitchen without the aide of walls and door jams. Had I not developed some patience during this time I  know I would not be where I am now. Learning to be patient and to take baby steps has been a valuable lesson. One that will serve me well on this journey to wellness.

Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states.  ~Carol Welch

Friday, May 13, 2011

My Ah-ha Moment

The diagnosis of Meniere's has been a mixed blessing. There have been both good and bad changes in my life. The bad is pretty obvious for anyone dealing with an inner ear disorder.. The constant fluctuations in my symptoms make it difficult to make any short or long term plans. Fortunately for me my friends are very accommodating and will go out of their way to always make me feel welcome. As for the good side, having Meniere's has been the catalyst that has forced me into creating healthy boundaries. Which is something I have always had difficulties doing.

 I have always put everyone else's needs before my own. I was brought up in a family that did not tolerate selfishness. Living with Meniere's has made me realize that not only do I need to be a little selfish about my needs, it is critical that I put my well being at the top of my "to do" list if I am to be of any service to others.
By setting boundaries I have discovered a new sort of freedom that I have never before experienced. I am more honest about my intentions. I focus my energy on the people that enrich my life and take a step back from those who drain it. Wish I would have learned this lesson much sooner in my life.

When we know better, we do better ~ Maya Angelou

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mahalo :-)

Last summer my husband and I spent a week on the Big Island. It was 3 months after my first and only ambulance trip to the ER for my first public vertigo attack. Needless to say I was mortified to have so many people witness this not so lovely event. However, the attending paramedic was mighty good looking and that made the experience a little more palatable. Anyway back to the Hawaii story.

The main reason I want to share this story is to express my initial fear about going to Hawaii. I knew that the mixture of heat and humidity would not be a good environment for me and that I was taking a big risk. Our first three days in  Hawaii were filled with sightseeing and meeting the locals. Any concerns I had about the climate quickly faded. I was feeling great! Then on day four we decided to drive around the whole island, starting from our hotel in Hilo. All was going well....we went to Volcano National Park.....drove down to the southernmost  tip of the island......made it to Kona where we stopped for dinner.....then we headed  back to then it was getting dark. My husband and I were both exhausted , we were pretty much ready to strangle each other and we finally ended up not talking to each other. So as we are heading east on the north end of the island heading back to our hotel  it starts! Yup BAM! The vertigo monster found me.  The minute I said, "Oh no" my husband knew what was going on. He pulled the car into a parking lot and helped me to the backseat where I could lay down. He drove the remaining hour and a half back to Hilo with me spinning in the backseat and moaning " How much longer?". Once we got back to the hotel he helped me back to our room where I was able to sleep the worst of it off. The next day was a little rough but I was still able to get out to do more sightseeing. As the day progressed I quickly forgot about the vertigo attack and was back on track and enjoying the last few days we had left.

Our last night in Hilo we decided not to turn on the air conditioner because there was a lovely tropical breeze coming through the window. Big mistake! The morning of our departure arrives and we have to leave for the airport by 9am. I get up at 6:45am to get ready and just as I sit down for breakfast the room starts spinning BIG TIME! I crawl back into bed and shake my husband to wake him and let him know the vertigo is back. It is 7:30am. The clock is ticking, we have 90 minutes before we have to leave for the airport. Hoping this is just a minor setback I just lay still and hope the vertigo will pass.One hour later I am getting worse. The room is spinning out of control. We contemplated calling the airline to see if they could get us out on a later flight. It was at that point that I just decided I wanted to go home. Even if it meant having to use a wheelchair. Which is exactly what happened. I could now experience a vertigo attack in public for the second time. I will never forget the friendly and helpful porter at the Hilo airport that helped me and my husband. After we were all checked in and ready to go through security the porter says "Goodbye and good luck", then he knelt down beside the wheelchair and says to me, "Don't worry ma'am, plenty of people have left Hilo sick and in a wheelchair." Hmmmm not sure if he knew how that sounded or not. Anyway I had to use a wheelchair and airport assistance to go from Hilo to Honolulu and then on to Seattle. Now the good news is that by the time we got back to Seattle I was able to walk off the plane and felt like a million bucks! Go figure.

What I am trying to say is that even after experiencing some of the worst vertigo ever, I can honestly say I still have no regrets.For if I had not tried, I would have missed out on some amazing experiences.  My fondest memory will always be our journey to the top of Mauna Kea to see the sunset and to do some serious stargazing. I have never seen so many stars in the sky. Just thinking of that night still leaves me breathless.We had other adventures but this one will always be at the top of  my "favorites list" for Hawaii.. Looking back I now realize that if I had let my fears hold me back from going I would missed out on so much!

My advice to you all is that even if you are fearful, take that step. At least you tried! Mahalo :-)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Next Stop - Stupidsville

As time goes by I find myself enjoying longer stretches of feeling pretty good. The longer I feel pretty good the more confident I become. The more confident I become the more likely I am to jump on the train to Stupidsville! This usually happens when I start to convince myself that maybe, just maybe the doctor misdiagnosed me and I really don't have Meniere's. Maybe it was just a lengthy virus and now it has disappeared. Yes that's what it was - a misdiagnoses and a virus  - and now I am cured! Hallelujah!    

So forget about the low sodium diet, screw the routine, so what if I miss the odd dose of that diuretic, sure I can do 60 minutes on the treadmill (half of that jogging), so what if I let myself get exhausted, who cares if I stay up til 2am. I'm back to normal and I can do whatever I want,  whenever I want and however I want, because I am cured! 

Within 48 hours of this reckless behavior I am well on my way to Stupidsville. The five pound lead ball is now rolling around in my head, my body has a magnetic pull to the right, all sounds are amplified 100x, the tinnitus is louder than a heavy metal rock band and the brain fog is so thick that no thought can land safely. Then I start making my deals with God. Yes it is amazing how religious one can become when you feel like  you are being continually hit over the head with a 2x4. Well in the end the only thing that helps is a good sleep and a return to my Meniere lifestyle. It can take up to a week for me to get back on track at which time I make a vow to myself to never stray from the path of wellness again. Even with that said, I still get the urge to buy that train ticket for one more trip to Stupidsville.