William Johnson

Diagnosis: Mal de débarquement

A little over 5 years ago after lake fishing north of Vancouver for 6 days in a rowboat with a 20
hp motor I complained to my traveling companion who is a doctor that I still couldn’t get rid of
the feeling that I was still rocking in the boat. The next day as we were traveling back to the
states the motion sickness still had not disappeared. Months later I went to the Silverstein
Institute in Sarasota, FL and was diagnosed with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome. I was given
some balancing and eye exercises which did not cure the problem. A couple of years later I
went to a specialist at New York Cornell Hospital and the diagnosis was confirmed but no new
treatment was offered. Earlier this year another doctor friend in Florida was reading about
MdDS and found the name Dr Bernard Cohen at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC and the work he was
doing with two PhD’s named Dr Mingjia Dai and Dr Sergei Yakushin. In late July I spent four
days with the latter two men at their office. After numerous tests both of eyes and ears they
also confirmed MdDS.

Let me state at the beginning that this disease was not as debilitating for me as stories I have
read about other people with it. Going to bed and feeling like it was spinning, trying to get my
balance getting out of bed and bouncing off walls to my right were the worst of the symptoms.
All were minor in comparison to the nausea and other issues that I had read about. At worst it
was an annoyance and probably more so for my wife who preferred not to walk with me on my
right side as I constantly leaned that way and pushed her out of the way.

At the first Mt Sinai session, the most interesting test was to march in place with my eyes closed
and arms parallel to the floor at shoulder level. After two minutes I had moved almost 90
degrees to the right without any feeling that I had done so. Clearly this confirmed my tendency
to lean to the right. The most interesting treatment that Dai and Yakushin gave me was to sit
very still in a closed booth and stare at vertical light stripes that moved from right to left. The
first few times I did this, I left the booth quite dizzy and had to adjust my balance. The next
three days having done this multiple times I was not nearly as dizzy. If one’s vision should be
due east to west , mine was off kilter. The exercise was to train my brain to look level and not to
the right. I was also told to stay off boats and treadmills but to continue to exercise by walking
as much as I could. I go to the gym 3 times a week and work out with weights and walk four
times a week outside. I sit in front of a big screen television and watch stripes move from right
to left multiple times. Am I 100% cured? No, but it is significantly better and the best part of this
is that I am also sleeping far better. And for the record, I am 78 years old and in pretty good
health. Would I recommend Mt Sinai….most certainly. Their website is https://icahn.mssm.edu/