Keeping the Balance

Age: 43

Diagnosis: Ménière’s Disease

I grew up in a rather rural area with nature as my playground. I loved exploring, going on roller coasters, climbing trees, and sharing in my imagination. I had such great energy and excitement for life.

Unfortunately, with the light, comes the darkness. I suffered childhood trauma that trickled to my early adult life. It took me years to understand the need for healing. I spent 6 hard years processing and working through my triggers, insomnia, nightmares, and paranoia. Finally, I found myself again. I continued my love for nature, riding rides with my three children, and sharing my light with others.

Within about a year of returning to full time work, I started having strange dizzy spells that sometimes were easy to overcome and other times, I needed to sit for a moment. Still, I carried on, not thinking anything of it. That was, until I got off the plane from visiting my mother. That night, while lying in bed, I felt the room was spinning out of control. I was completely still but everything felt like I was on a tilt-a-whirl. I managed sleep only to wake the next morning and it hit again. This time, I couldn’t walk straight, began to feel nauseous, and became scared as the ringing in my ears began. My husband took me to the hospital where they said it was vertigo and sent me home with anti motion sickness medicine. I felt off and exhausted for days.

A few weeks later, I noticed the tinnitus would be either in my left or right ear. Sometimes, it was so loud, I couldn’t hear. This had me immediately call my doctor.

After a series of test, on and off dizzy spells, ENT visit with heating test that showed no fluid in ears, i became frustrated. The symptoms would come and go and I could go weeks without having anything.

I visited a specialist who diagnosed me with Ménière’s disease after he watched me come out of the elevator and I had a drop attack. I had another one when he lifted the chair. I was prescribed a medication that I became allergic to. I’m thankful he explained the types of triggers as it made me pay attention to what I eat, how I sleep, and my stress level.

Ménière’s has completely changed my life. I find it impossible to go in elevators, rides are off limits, going down a ramp or up it is a struggle, the ringing in my ears appears to be getting worse with time, and I’m forced to focus fully on my physical and mental states. I know my limits and express them vocally. I can’t go on a boat, a plane, or on the dock with my family without someone assisting.

Having CPTSD also complicated things. While normally daily stressors are easy to overcome, I still struggle at times with triggers. That, in turn, caused insomnia, and nightmares. I’m exhausted half the time from work but I keep pushing forward. We are currently looking into a service dog to help aid in my life.

Even though I know this is scary, unpredictable, and life altering, I continue on. I feel that it’s helped me focus more on the here and now and lesson distractions. I’m able to listen to my body and know what I need to do to keep going. If there is any words of encouragement that I could bring, it would be to enjoy each day as it comes. Don’t look at what you can’t do but look at what you still can. Get involved, support one another, and stay grounded.