The disease of the day is Meniere’s. If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few days, by now you’re probably thinking, “What else could there be?” If you don’t want to know, don’t ask and quit reading while you’re ahead. Luckily I am not currently suffering from a Meniere’s attack; if I were I certainly wouldn’t be blogging.
This is one of my least favorite diagnoses. An attack of Meniere’s usually lands me in the hospital for at least 1 to 2 days. It is a disease of the inner ear which affects hearing and balance. In other words, it causes severe vertigo. I’m not talking about being a little dizzy, light headed, or feeling woozy. This is, “Help! I’m stuck in the fun house spin machine and I can’t get out!” During an attack the room spins, sometimes it spins clockwise, sometimes just for kicks it spins counter clockwise, and when both ears are involved it can even go back and forth between the two depending on the position of my head. The spinning gets so severe that even my eyes will spin in their sockets so that if I try to close my eyes to the spinning motion the blackness behind my lids will spin. Talk about queasy! During my worst attacks if I do so much as attempt to move my hand my stomach revolts and I toss my cookies right there.
So the first time this happened to me was several years ago. All I have to say is my poor roommate and I were quite a mess. I had gone to work as usual but noticed as I was driving that my vision was “wobbly”. I know, all of these technical terms, what can I say? Wobbly vision isn’t quite spinning yet, the best way to describe it is the edges start to jump up and down and slightly rotate. This came and went throughout the morning until at one point the room actually started spinning full out and I fell right out of my chair. I lay there laughing actually because, in truth, I am the most accident prone, least graceful person you will ever meet. I can fall out of a chair without the spinning vision perfectly fine on my own, thank you very much. So at first this amused me, I was used to this type of embarrassment. However, after attempting to get up and sit again, I noticed that the room was still slightly spinning and that standing was no longer going to be an option. I called my roommate and she agreed to come and take me home right away.
She dropped me off and I went straight to bed thinking I’d sleep it off. Oh no, as I lay there with my eyes closed I noticed that the blackness began to spin faster and faster. Then when I opened my eyes, the room was moving so quickly that it was actually a blur of color. I lay there for several hours holding as still as possible until my roomie got home from work. Now, I warn you this next part, while comical to me, might gross you out a bit. My roommate and I were what we like to call “sympathetic pukers.” Yuck, right? We determined I ought to go the Emergency Room. I literally slithered off my bed much as the Grinch slithered around Whoville stealing Christmas and began to army crawl across the floor toward the door. I made it as far as the kitchen floor and promptly brought my mostly digested lunch and breakfast up for all to admire. At this point my poor roommate runs off to her bathroom and I can hear her revisiting her own lunch in the toilet. Upon hearing her, I begin again to make sure that my stomach is quite empty. As I’m heaving I note that she too has begun again. Now we are both laughing and crying while attempting to maintain some kind of dignity. Once the worst of the storm passes, I resume my army crawl toward the door but with every movement my spinning vision gets the better of me and I only make it to our front entry at which point my roommate runs back to her bathroom. Oh boy, we’re quite the pair.
Several minutes and “grocery tossing” episodes later we make it out the door at which time I have to crawl down our three flights of stairs and into her car. Here thankfully, we are both too exhausted and quite “empty” to bring anything else up. We make it to the hospital where the Dr tells me that I have an inner ear infection that has created inflammation and extra fluid which will cause me to be a bit unbalanced for several days. I couldn’t help giggling a bit at this because let’s face it, with or without the vertigo I always feel a bit “unbalanced.” They sent me home with anti vertigo and anti nausea drugs and said, “Just wait it out, it will get better.” HAH!!!!! Not really. For several years following I would go for months, even years without an attack but then without warning it would come back. It took them a long time to finally diagnose it as Meniere’s.
My last attack was this past summer. It was by far the worst and the longest it has ever lasted. In addition to the vertigo I’m loosing my hearing and I have constant pressure and ringing in both ears. While I sit here typing I can pop the pressure in my ears just like I’m on an airplane and my hearing goes in and out so that when I speak I sound to myself like I’m underwater one moment and out the next. It is a strange sensation, one that I’ve kind of gotten used to… Kind of… I’m lucky you see, most often people only develop this in one ear, I have it in both. This one is not an auto-immune disease but my Ear Nose Throat Dr is beginning to feel that it is all connected somehow. The vertigo is brought on by unexplained inflammation of my inner ear and similar to the auto-immune diseases I have, the risk of an attack increases when I am stressed. Usually the attacks can last up to 5 to 7 days. This summer it lasted more than a month. Let’s just say that it gets pretty old when the ER nurses at the University Hospital know you by name and also begin to enquire after the health and well being of your family since they see them so often as well.
It’s ok, you can laugh, I do! What else do I have left but my sense of humor? I still giggle every time I think back on that first adventure involving my poor roommate. I don’t think she laughs about it often though. I’m not sure I will ever be able to really repay her properly for that one.