Dizziness, Pilates, and Hope


Age: 62

Diagnosis: Enlarged Vestibular Aqueduct Syndrome (EVAS)

I’m a certified Stott Pilates instructor and owner of New Life Pilates in Burien, Washington. I’ve been teaching Pilates for 15 years. I also have an extensive background in ballet and modern dance and taught dance for 13 years before becoming a Pilates instructor.

I was teaching Pilates and running a successful business when I was told I had to have brain surgery to remove a tumor.

It all started in the late summer of 2018 when I woke up one day with vertigo and dizziness. I could barely get out of bed. Teaching Pilates classes was a challenge with severe dizziness and balance struggles. It felt like I was drunk and that gravity was trying to pull me to the ground from every side. Searching for answers in hope of getting some relief, I went to see an ENT and he performed a plethora of tests, but no diagnosis… still sick with vertigo I decided to try vestibular physical therapy hoping to find some relief and even did acupuncture. After many months of testing and doing PT with no relief, my ENT said I needed to see a Neurologist because it was not my inner ear causing the problems… “well what is it then?” I went to a neurologist and had an an MRI. The results showed two (benign) tumors… one pressing against the left brain stem and one on the right side of the brain near the vestibular and cochlear nerves. My husband and I felt devastated upon hearing this news…. I said there was no way I am having brain surgery… The neurosurgeon said the larger tumor compressing the brain stem had to come out and that it would continue to grow and cause more complications if I did nothing. So on December 20, 2019 I closed my business and had a 7 hour brain surgery. The surgery was successful and we hoped it would resolve my dizzy problem, but it did not. Due to a congenital condition that we didn’t know I had, EVA, I went completely deaf in my left ear (along with constant tinnitus) after the surgery…. needless to say, I felt frustrated, hurt and angry with this outcome. I was still dizzy, I have a metal plate in my head and now I’m deaf in one ear.

Then March 2020 the Covid-19 crisis hit and once again I had to close my studio. I lost two thirds of my business during this time period, but I was fortunate because I have a home studio (with a private entrance for my clients) so I didn’t have a big rent to pay each month. Some studios in commercial spaces closed their doors permanently. I contracted Covid-19 in August 2021 and then once again closed my doors after only being open for a short time from the previous shutdown. It was a challenging year for everyone to say the least.

I continued Vestibular Physical therapy and after several months post surgery, I got back on my reformer (the main machine used for resistance training). It was hard at first, the back and forth motion while lying down made my dizziness and balance worse. After 10 minutes on the reformer that first day I had to lie down for an hour to recover, but every day there was a slight improvement.

I’m still dizzy pretty much all the time but I’m adapting and my balance is 100% better since those early months right after surgery… Pilates has been a life line for my healing process, both physically and mentally…

My business is slowly starting to recover from all the Covid-19 shutdowns and I’m on the reformer these days around 30-40 minutes at a time. Recovery has been a slow but steady process. There are still days where sadness and frustration show their ugly little heads, but I know that I must keep moving forward and remind myself to practice an attitude of gratitude. I have so much to be thankful for. One day at a time, I choose to be grateful and thank Jesus for my many blessings. Choosing an attitude of gratitude always changes my outlook and gives me hope. ❤️