I’m in the air, heading back from Cedar Rapids, IA, where I pulled off a surprise visit to see my family! We had a blast during my stay and it was a blessing to be able to spend time with my sister, her hubby, my nieces, nephew and my parents. Leaving is always the hardest part!
Taking a last minute trip across the country is not something that “Aunt Missy” would typically do. I’m a planner by nature so spontaneous does not typically reside in my vocabulary. When the idea popped in my head the day before I left (yes, I said the day before!), I shared it outloud with my coworkers and friends. Immediately, they all encouraged me to “GO”…”Just do it Missy”…. “you only live once”… That last statement so true and profound. Why you ask? Because it’s true! And because on June 17, 2014, I recieved the most unwelcomed surprise of my life that changed me…and changed my life forever. This surprise humbled me and made me realize “you only live once”!
On this day last year, it was a sunny, humid Tuesday. Same as today. I will never forget how I felt that day. All day… My ear felt full, I couldn’t get it to equalize and I felt like I had been sitting on a boat and couldn’t get my “land legs”. At work I kept commenting that it was bothering me, but I had no clue as to what was about to happen to me.
Late afternoon, I drove my boyfriend to the airport and decided to go home and lie down after since I wasn’t feeling the best. Which is not like me as I’m never still long enough to nap. I slept several hours that afternoon and awoke to the most out of control feeling of my life. Something that I never want to relive. Ever. Again.
When I woke up, naturally I needed to use the restroom. So I hopped up from the couch, but only to find myself immedately back on the floor. As I tried to get up and walk, I continued to fall. I would go side-to-side as if on a boat that was severely rocking. I couldn’t get my balance, I would continue to fall to the ground. I crawled back to my couch trying not to panic. I decided to phone my mother who lived a half hour away to let her know what was happening. She asked if I wanted her to leave immediately to come to me and the independent side of me said “No, I’ll try again and text you”. Dumb move. As I tried to make my way back to the restroom, I began to have drop attacks. I couldn’t recover from them, I couldn’t walk. They continued. It was worse than any roller coaster ride or drunk anyone could be on. There was no control. Once again, I managed to crawl back to my phone to call my mother. The first words out of my mouth were not pleasant. Uncontrollable vomit. And it wasn’t stopping. The hardwood floors were moving like escalators, they wouldn’t stop. My house was rocking and spinning, it wouldn’t stop. And my mother arrived to find me hanging over the back of my sofa with vomit everywhere. I was physically debilitated and there was no relief in sight.
Mom was so patient and worked to get me in a position that would allow me to stop spinning temporarily. That position was holding my head to the left side as my right side was the problem. I had slept on the right side and it was the side that had bothered me all day. If I moved my head even slightly right or left I was uncontrollably vomitting. It was like living a nightmare that I’ll never forget for the rest of my life. One that I hoped was only temporary and I would never experience again.
After 12 hours of vomitting off and on and not being able to keep any medicine in my system, my mother gave me two options: 1) Ambulance ride (Ummm heck no. I’m not riding on my back flat in an ambulance) or 2) She would drive me to the hospital with my trash can in tow. But that would require me walking, which wasn’t working for me. I chose number two. My sweet Mom helped dress me and somehow got me to that car.
Y’all!! I know you’re thinking “oh, how sweet”…and it was! But it was SO embarrassing. As a 36 year old woman, having to have someone help you to the bathroom, dress you, help you walk was an extremely humbling experience. Man or woman, having to depend on someone else for simple, daily things while debilitated is gut wrenching.
When we arrived to the hospital, I immediately received great care. The physician got me pumped full of meds and helped me to focus and work through the vertigo. He shared with my Mom that my ears were full of fluid and he wasn’t sure if I had acute laybrinthitis or something more. He put me on a driving ban for a few days and let her know that I would need care as my balance had suffered. Once again, forcing me to depend on others. For an independant woman it’s not only physically crippling but also emotionally.
I followed the doctor’s orders and the medications afforded me good rest. The following morning I woke up thinking all will be better. But, not so much….. My balance was terrible, I was hardly mobile. When I made it downstairs, my mom began talking to me. As she continued to talk, I realized something that set me into panic mode yet again…. I couldn’t hear her!! I mean I could hear her….but I couldn’t hear her. My right ear was blocked, there was no sound. I felt completely deaf in that ear. The nightmare continued…
After a month on steriods and multiple hearing tests, my hearing did not improve. I was referred to a phenomenal ENT but everything he was recommending was not working. I became increasingly frustrated, scared, nervous as to if this was going to continue to happen over and over, and worried that my hearing would never return again. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and depressed. I wasn’t Missy at all.
After months of research and doctor visits, I had pretty much diagnosed myself but was in denial that it could be. If I didn’t have labryinthitis and my hearing wasn’t improving, all signs pointed to Meniere’s Disease. And there was not one.good.thing. about this disease. The blogs were depressing, the ENT’s are not as familiar with the disease, family doctors had no clue and worst of all, the words: No Cure. The words continued: unknown causes, unknown triggers, unknown treatments and the question of if existing treatments truly work. There were many unknowns. The depression slowly continued take over.
After inquiring on Facebook as to if anyone had experienced or heard of this disease, I received a recommendation to a specialist in Raleigh, NC. Fortunately, this specialist visits Greenville, SC once a month where I happen to reside and decided to accept me as new patient. My first visit was August 8, 2014, almost two months after my initial episode. Upon arrival, I felt extremely nervous that he would think I was crazy. I felt no one understood. And this doctor will think, “Here’s another patient diagnosing herself via the interwebs”! I felt irritable and angry that I had to be there and then suddenly it hit me… “Missy, you wouldn’t be here, in this place, in this specialist’s office, if God did not intend for you to be here”. A sense of peace came over me and I felt at ease. And then the doc walks in to introduce himself and he immediately announces that I have Meniere’s Disease. Ohhh boy, it has been confirmed. It’s official. Like official, official. And not just in one ear but both ears. I’m bilateral. No more calm.
My life that day, once again, changed forever. I would be living with this debilitating, incurable, and unpredictable disease for the rest of my life.
And here I am, one year later, sharing my long and very personal story with you. And as I reflect over this year of doubt, fear, worry, and change, I can confirm with you the following:
- God is GREAT and HE is the GREAT Physician
- Life is truly short and you only live once. Make the best of it and be spontaneous!
- I don’t care about the small stuff that I did before or what other people think of me
- I will invest in relationships that are good and healthy
- I will be more empathetic to others in need
- I will serve others
- Money is not everything. God provides all that you need
- I will continue to be obedient to the diet and treatment course
- I will continue to invest in my health. We ALL should be aware of what we put in our bodies
- REST is everything
- Managing your stress and getting rid of any stressors is key (Tough but necessary)
- Spending quiet time daily in the Bible and with The Father has helped to change my perspective on life and my circumstances
- It is important to find genuine friends that are a strong support system. They empathize not sympathize – BIG DIFFERENCE
- That you have to love life and everything you do – Truly LOVE it!
- Embrace your circumstances and take it all in… In one, big, giant inhale!
- Breathe in life and love your many blessings… even your circumstances are gifts!
I can confirm that this week was one of the best weeks and gifts in my life… a simple, last minute trip to Iowa with family! One year ago today changed me….. but ultimately, for the better!
Spin Ya’ Later Y’all,