Etrily Laitphlang

Others don’t understand that the days you’re down you can’t even brush your teeth, let alone take a shower.

Diagnosis: Bilateral Vestibular Hypofunction (BVH)


While most people may not be familiar with the word “vestibular”—a system in your inner ear that sends signals to your brain to tell you where you are in space—many of us have likely experienced the awkward, sometimes even scary feeling, when we momentarily lose our balance.

Whether it comes on gradually over time or all of the sudden, bouts of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea can make many of life’s routine tasks virtually intolerable. Everyday life – from getting around your house to grocery shopping—becomes a progressively challenging obstacle course to navigate.

Etrily’s Story

For over ten years doctors dismissed my vertigo, imbalance, nausea, headaches, and brain fog as psychological symptoms. They even tried to get my children taken away from me.

I didn’t have the physical or mental strength to fight. That’s why I’m passionate about VeDA’s mission to inform, support, and advocate for the vestibular community.

I once had a successful career as a holistic therapist. I was a workaholic and loved helping people find health and happiness through changes in their lifestyle.

I operated my business out of a five-star hotel. In 2004, while at work, I went to check on supplies in the stockroom. Without knowing what happened, I awoke hours later in the hospital. Hotel staff said that a heavy metal ceiling tile had fallen on my head, causing a concussion. I couldn’t talk or feel anything from the neck down. I was scared and confused. I didn’t know what was happening.

The hospital did all the normal scans, which showed no abnormalities, so they discharged me, claiming that nothing was wrong. But something was definitely wrong. I couldn’t even walk out of the hospital, so friends had to carry me. That night I passed out and was brought to the emergency room, where they again declared me “well.”

In the years later, I went from doctor to doctor, all while fighting to retain custody of my children. It wasn’t until I found neurologist Peter Harvey in 2009 that I was diagnosed with a vestibular disorder.

I became so ill that I couldn’t work. I finally obtained permanent disability, but it wasn’t easy. The medical advisor on my case reported that I was well-dressed and acted normal, therefore there was nothing wrong with me. Finally, I got a judge who understood vestibular disorders and granted my disability claim. Then I found VeDA, which gave me many tools and introduced me to people who are in the same situation. Others don’t understand that the days you’re down you can’t even brush your teeth, let alone take a shower.

Today I am a VeDA Ambassador, sharing my story to help raise awareness about vestibular disorders. Please join me by making a donation to VeDA today! Thank you for your love and support!

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P.S. Please list my name (Etrily Laitphlang) in the “in Honor” field so VeDA knows your donation is part of my campaign to make vestibular visible. Thank you!