Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Meniere’s disease – one year on

Bristol Half Marathon 2009

It’s been a year; a few days ago the renewal notice for my subscription to the Meniere’s Society dropped through the door.  I’m lucky really, I was diagnosed in 2002 but up to a year ago I only had a few isolated bouts of vertigo – ghastly when they came but manageable with Stemetil.

What is Meniere’s disease?  It’s different for everyone but has three main symptoms: vertigo, tinnitus and progressive hearing loss in the affected ear.  If you’ve never had vertigo, imagine being blind drunk on a roller coaster and not being able to get off (and when it’s really, really, bad you can add food poisoning symptoms too). Fortunately for me these incidents are blessedly rare but I know if I ‘overdo it’ I’m on dangerous ground.  I can cope with the tinnitus and, as it is one sided, I am only loosing hearing in my right ear.

The things I find hardest to cope with are the background feeling of dizziness and nausea when I am going through a ‘bad patch’ and the lack of energy, which is constant.  

Inside I am still the woman who could walk 20 hilly miles with confidence, ran her first half marathon at 48, and had dreams of visiting the Amazon rainforest and trekking in the Himalaya’s before she was 60.  I did the Commando Challenge to get over my fear of water so that I could go kayaking and possibly try scuba diving.  

Sheep Dip - Commando Challenge 2009

Just because I can’t do those things now doesn't 
mean I don’t want to!  I have tried running again but a mile leaves me drained for the rest of the day and no good for anyone.  It hurts when I see other people doing the things I used to do, but I try not to let it show.  I don’t want to give up!

Sleepy dormouse April 2011

There is a plus side – many, many people are far worse off than I am.  I can still walk in the woods, I can still take photographs, I like to have a wilderness for a garden and the neighbours don’t complain.  I can do some energetic things as long as I remember I will have to ‘pay back’ later. I have a wonderful husband and supportive friends. I don’t have a job so I am able to spend more time doing the things I love than I could ever do if I was stuck in an office.  I can spend my days walking with friends, chasing bugs, birds and butterflies and checking up on my dormice and otters.  I hope I am there when people need me.

Violet oil beetle  April 2011

I complain sometimes, but I have a rich and wonderful life and I am grateful.  I just needed to get this out of my system and one year on seemed as good a time as any.

Male orange tip butterfly  April 2011