Patient Perspective

I'm Dancing Again

Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease, which has caused bilateral deafness and vestibular hypofunction. It has left me deaf, off balance, dizzy, and with oscillopsia (jumping vision). I have these symptoms 24/7. Living with a vestibular disorder has been devastating, leaving me with feelings of fear, helplessness, loneliness, disappointment, and depression.  I became sad and withdrawn. I couldn’t work, drive, or complete daily activities. I couldn’t even walk. The safest place for me was to lay still in bed. I stopped moving. I even stopped dancing, something that has been important to me my entire life. 

After two rounds of vestibular rehabilitation therapy, my progress was very slow.  You must continue your daily exercise and “keep  moving,” my therapist said. At home I did my exercises and slowly rode my exercise bike for movement, but it was a chore. I was still wobbly and sad. And I still could not dance.

During the pandemic I came across an email from AARP about a Zoom Fit-To-Dance Fitness Friday Boom class for seniors and people with mobility issues offered by Firebush.  I tuned in, and to my surprise the routines were simple enough for me to complete, especially with Gloria Harris, the instructor, demonstrating them in her chair. The fitness routine had some of the same exercises I had completed in vestibular rehabilitation therapy. In addition, there was dance music! Before I knew it I was actually completing a dance routine. Gloria showed me how to join together movement, fitness, and dance while seated. I was dancing again! 

I performed the first few classes in my chair, but after a while my balance began to improve, and eventually I graduated to doing the routines while standing. Not only had my balance improved, but my depression lifted, and to top it off I also lost a few pounds. I was looking  forward to these Fitness Fridays on Zoom with a smile on my face. There is fun in this community, so I added another Fit2Dance virtual class, Aerobic Jam Wednesday’s.  

Eight years later I am still deaf, wobbly, and dizzy, but I am dancing. Movement is no longer a chore.  Thank you, Firebush, for giving me the joy of dance again. 

By Lynn Johnson, FiT To Dance Virtual Participant  VeDA Board Member & Ambassador