I hope to take care of patients with dizziness in the future so that when they are unable to explain their own symptoms and hardship, I can empathize and support them, drawing from my own experience.
Like many of the individuals who have generously shared their experience on this spotlight, I distinctly recall the date in which I became ill: December 29, 2020. I woke up and struggled to get out of bed. The world spun around me even as I lay down with my eyes closed. Terrified, my family led me to the hospital where I was later diagnosed with a viral labyrinthitis, Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
I was not bothered by my inability to move half of my face or hear out of my right ear, but rather overwhelmed by the unsteadiness and uncertainty with which I now interacted with the world. My eyes darted, the room spun, my body wasn’t where it was supposed to be, or at least that’s how it felt. I could not understand what was happening let alone explain my new reality to family or friends, despite having spent the last three years studying in medical school to become a physician. I remember thinking that I should at least equipped to explain my symptoms, but I couldn’t find the words. Every moment of every day I was experiencing a new reality and it was exhausting just to be present.
Looking back at this experience almost half a year later, I’m grateful to have made a near full recovery. Step by step I relearned to walk, then to cross the street turning my head, then to drive. Each month there was a new milestone. As a lifelong surfer, having good balance is something I pride myself on, a part of my identity that was lost for some time. While I’m still regaining my ability to balance in the ocean, I’m thankful to have made it this far.
As a medical student, I’ve been grateful to be a patient while also learning how to take care of patients. Intimately understanding the hopes, fears, and challenges of living with vestibular dysfunction has inspired me to change my career path and pursue otolaryngology. I hope to take care of patients with dizziness in the future so that when they are unable to explain their own symptoms and hardship, I can empathize and support them, drawing from my own experience.