Excuse me while I whine. It’s been a bad day.
About nine or ten years ago (I’ve forgotten exactly when), while I was having dinner, I started to feel light-headed. I hadn’t had that much wine with my meal! Just to be sure, I pushed my glass away. But the light-headedness only got worse. Within 20 minutes I could barely stand up I was so dizzy. This was definitely not the effects of a glass of wine.
So a new chapter in my life began.
That first ‘spell’ lasted about five weeks. During that time I couldn’t drive and I often had to walk slowly, with my arms out from my side for added balance. I couldn’t concentrate and tired easily. I called my affliction “old man disease,” because that’s just how I felt—and looked as I waddled around. While it finally subsided, it never went away completely.
Eventually I learned the medical term for my affliction is transient vestibulopathy. In English, it’s an unspecified inner ear issue that comes and goes. That’s after visits to two specialists and a battery of tests. It’s exactly like you’ve had a bit too much wine—but it stays permanently. And I haven’t always had the pleasure of that glass of wine! It’s just a constant buzz that never completely goes away. Sometimes I get a full blown attack of the spins—vertigo. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
I suppose one of the hardest parts of it is the unpredictability. Fortunately, attacks of the spins/vertigo are rare (The last one was over a year ago.) and have usually happened at home. Only once did it happen out in public. I was totally wrung out by the time it was over.
This thing is wearying. Not only does it affect my balance and my hearing (I’m sensitive to loud noise), but the light-headedness affects my memory, my ability to concentrate and interest in activities.
For some time I actually though I was suffering from depression, which involves some of the same issues. Sometimes I just feel stupid. I have trouble thinking of words during a conversation, or I open the fridge when I really wanted something in the cupboard beside the fridge. Remembering names? Forget it! Physically, I am always fighting for balance.
Every day I go to bed exhausted. It has taken a lot of energy to concentrate on daily tasks at hand, try to remember things and motivate myself. But then I wake up not feeling the least bit refreshed or rested. In fact, I feel pretty sluggish in the morning.
It’s an invisible disease. When I can’t concentrate or remember, people just think I’m being stupid or not trying hard enough. And like so many other afflictions, there are good days and bad days, so people don’t understand why, if I was in full form yesterday, I can’t do it today.
There are no pills, potions or surgery to fix it. (Believe me, I’ve tried many of them!) But life goes on and I want to make the best of it. So the best thing is to simply carry on. (Nobody likes a whiner.)
A friend of mine is good at debriefing people who’ve been through experiences that have challenged and troubled them. One of her interview questions is, “Where do you see hope or something positive in the situation?” It’s always been my belief that there is hope in virtually every situation. But with this I can say say I’m not so sure.
There are days I just want to cry with frustration. Today is one of them.
(I promise the next post will be more upbeat.)