I never knew the nanosecond when an episode would throw me to the floor, so I slept mostly on the living room couch for those sixteen months. I brought the five kitty litters up from the basement and put them on the back porch. Steps could be the death of me. Literally.
During that time, I never knew when or if I would be standing upright or pitching forward to the floor. I often crawled from room to room for much of the day, pulling myself upright to crawl into bed or to stand at the kitchen counter—holding tightly to the edge.
Because of the uncertainly, I mostly stayed in the house. But sometimes friends would take me out for a restaurant meal or for a visit at one of their homes.
A meal in my home before Ménière’s took over.
That was always tricky because I might pitch forward at any time. My head would splatter the soup or mash the entrée. However, that happened only once. The friend with whom I was having supper got me out of the restaurant, into the car, and home to my couch. She hesitated to leave me alone, but I assured her there was nothing she could do for me. No one could stop the episodes. No one could make the swirling world in which I lived go away.
That was one of the difficulties of the disease. When friends saw me living through an episode, they felt helpless. I didn’t want that to happen so for those sixteen months I saw few people. I became, for all intents and purposes, a recluse.
I did talk on the phone, but often the episodes affected my speech so badly that I alarmed callers. Each day a friend and I made contact. She could immediately tell when I was having trouble because my voice was so hesitant. The brain fog, which I mentioned on Tuesday, obscured my thoughts. Because of that, I couldn’t track ideas or sentences. I’d stutter. Stammer. Stumble for words.
Sometimes I felt the need to sit at the computer and research. I always regretted my decision, however, because always I’d suddenly pitch forward. Only a total act of will permitted me to jerk myself to the left, so as not to shatter the monitor. I’d continue downward, often grazing the corner of the desk. I’d thud to the floor. There I’d vomit and keen until the episode subsided.
Of course, if the episode lasted several hours, I’d ultimately crawl from the office to the living-room couch. Lying down and fixing my gaze on the top right-hand corner of the ceiling always helped.
Some people, I later learned, call acute rotational vertigo episodes attacks. That is understandable. I remember feeling as if an evil spirit had shoved me out of bed during that nighttime episode in May 2006. Suddenly I saw clearly why our ancestors thought demons possessed those who suffered seizures.
Episode or demonic attack, the result is the same: panic.
Postscript: In your comments on Tuesday's posting, many of you have expressed concern about my life today. Did all this get better? If not, how do I handle it? Saturday’s posting will reassure you that all is well. Future postings in the next few months will detail the operation that gave my life back to me.