Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ménière’s Part 7: My Life Given Back

This week I’ve posted two stories about living with Ménière’s Disease. Thank you for reading them and also for reading any of the other four Ménière’s postings from this past July. In your comments many of you said you’d never heard of Ménière’s and that you couldn’t quite conceive of how I could live with it. 
            Today I’d like to assure you that all is well. The acute rotational vertigo episodes were almost a daily part of 2006 and early 2007. After that, they happened only sporadically. I experienced the last episode in August 2009.
            What or who brought about this change? A Minneapolis surgeon.
            After the episode of May 2006, I saw three Twin Cities specialists who knew of no way to truly stop the episodes.
            Then in late December of that year I took a chance and drove two miles to the grocery store. Curves was just around the corner. On a serendipitous whim—or perhaps the grace-filled promptings of the Holy Oneness of All Creation—I decided to go in and just see if I knew anyone there.

Hannah (the 1997 Geo Prism) and I by the two-story house 
in which I lived in 2006.

            I entered the spacious room in which a number of women were exercising on the circle of machines. One, who was clearly finished with her workout and ready to leave, approached as if she knew me. I had no idea who she was because my mind had lost considerable memory in the preceding months.
            This stranger told me she’d missed me at Curves and asked if all was well.
            I barely spoke the word Ménière’s when she reached out, touched my man, and confided, “The man who mows our lawn has Ménière’s and he had those horrible episodes.”
            “Yes. They’re over with now. He had a marvelous operation.”
            Hope oozed over me like honey.
            This woman, whom I later discovered I’d known for ten years, put me in touch with the young lawnmower. He’d had to give up driving trucks because of the acute episodes and the headaches. And yet now he could get upon a lawnmower and not fall off. He had headaches only when the barometer dropped precipitously. He had a life again.
            The rest is history. I immediately made an appointment with the surgeon who’d helped him so greatly. A friend drove me to the Minneapolis office and accompanied me into the exam room. This fourth specialist asked a multitude of questions and told me I’d been a candidate for his operation for many months.
            He operated on Thursday, February 15, 2007. In a future posting I’ll share the story of this operation, which was so successful, but basically he drained away extra fluid from the sac behind the left mastoid.
            The surgeon—who gave me back my life—told me recuperation would take at least eighteen months. I needed to recover both from the surgery and from the stress of ten months of acute rotational vertigo episodes.
            He was correct in his prognosis.
            During the recovery, I continued to experience daily headaches. The acute episodes occurred occasionally. Because of them, I couldn’t drive for the next six months.
            Let’s flash forward to today—September 24, 2011. I have no acute episodes. The doctor has found a prescription for the headaches. When I take a pill at the first niggle of one, it goes away within forty-five minutes.
             I have days of wooziness and no driving whenever the barometer shifts sharply. But those days aren’t frequent. And I’m only woozy or slurry or imbalanced. That’s easy for me to live with. The acute episodes put everything into perspective.
            So I drive. I visit. I read. I garden. I watch television. I sleep. I sit here at the computer. I type. I scroll. I live without fear or pain. I have experienced the dawn after the dark night.
            Two mantras got me through those years. I said one many times during 2006. It is a quote from Julian of Norwich—an English mystic of the Middle Ages: “And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well.”
            The other mantra is one from a favorite poet of mine—Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She ends her poem “Bare Tree” with the following lines:

                        “Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
                        So fragile and so fearless have I grown!”           

Lindbergh quotation from The Unicorn and Other Poems: 1935-1955.
(Pantheon Books edition, 1993)


  1. What a wonderful, chance meeting! I'm so glad the surgeon was able to help you. What a phenomenal gift, to be able to give ones life back! :)

  2. I wonder why the other "specialists" you saw wer not even aware of the existence of this life saving--or rather, life RESTORING surgery? Serendipity is amazing. You just happened to go into Curves, meet & talk to this woman who happened to know someone else with Meniere's who happened to have been helped by a nearby surgeon & you just happened to get your life back! WELCOME BACK TO THE LAND OF THE LIVING!!

  3. I believe you were guided to Curves that day. What an incredible gift, as Elisa has said. I am so happy to know you are able to live without fear and to have regained control of your life. Those years of acute suffering are too ghastly to contemplate. I hope your story reaches others who are similarly afflicted so they too may know there is hope for them. Big hug xoxo

  4. It's amazing how that little act of going to Curves and meeting the guy changed the trajectory of your life. And how affirming it is to know that you are now living a life of normalcy. And blogging about it. Thank you for your efforts, and I do love those two quotes very much.

  5. It sounds as if this surgery was meant to be, Dee! How can one explain the sudden urge to go in Curves and run into just the right person? Thank goodness! I'm so glad the surgery made such a difference~

  6. I have learned to trust and follow those whims or sudden feelings...because of things like this. :)

    Was the perfect time, the perfect person, and the perfect information. I'm still smiling! How wondrous!

    Really great quotes. I don't remember where I heard my saying that has stuck with me all my life--may have even been Sunday school? "This too shall pass." A lot like all will be well. ;)

    Am so-so-so happy for you. Thanks for sharing with us. I know how much time and effort it takes to go back there. :):)

  7. I've just caught up with all the posts of your Meniere's story. You are such an amazing woman, Dee. A survivor. So courageous. And a gifted writer to boot. I'm so glad to hear things are much better for you.

  8. So glad your suffering has eased. Modern medicine is a life saver for many, in many different situations.

    All shall be well.

    Dee, I have been having trouble with clicking on your comment on my blog; google tells me that no such blog exists. I've gone the long way round with this comment.

    I think that there is a misspelling in your link, could you check what has happened.

  9. Had another look just now. Blogger connected me to 'comnghometomyself' without an i in the coming, which is the site that turns up if I click on your name. Hence the 'doesn't exist' result.

  10. What a horrible thing to have lived with the acute episodes, and what a glorious thing to be past them. I am glad your quality of life has improved so much.

  11. Instances like Curves, make me a huge believer in fate.
    You are destined for good things and not even that horrible disease could keep you down!

  12. Dee, I don't think there are coincidences in life. You were divinely directed to stop at Curves. Things like that happen to me often, too and I just say, "Thank you." I am so happy for you that you have your life back. How you must appreciate every moment of the days. I understand it so well. I love every blessed moment of every single day.
    Love and peace

  13. The coincidences are how my Higher Power gets my attention.

  14. Dee,
    Thanks for stopping by the blog again!
    How exciting for you about your book adventure!
    If you need any help, please feel free to contact me, if I don't know the answer, I know LOTS of people who do.
    And PLEASE join the creative reviews group!
    We are always good for a laugh and advice!!!

  15. I am so pleased that you listened to your instincts that day and found this surgeon who could help you. I love the part where you talk about the fact that the occasional acute episode now puts everything into perspective. What a terrific view! It is hard not to experience those moments as frustrating and unfair and rail against them, but you have found a perspective that incorporates this disease into your life without ruling it. That is inspiring.

  16. I was intrigued by some of your comments on Kario's blog and came to check you out. That was hours ago. I read it all. I'd have commented more, but Blogger wouldn't let me post, as it so often does not. Finally, frustrated enough to take the time once and for all to figure it out, I found a Blogger forum post that has eluded me over the last several months and found a fix for the problem.

    I've posted three comments, but must run now. I'll follow you and, hopefully, this fix will remain in place and I'll be able to post comments next time.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  17. Oh, Dee...your account of this affliction made me feel quite ill -- while reading -- I am overjoyed that you found someone who could give your life back to you again -- miraculous and wonderful and truly touching.

  18. I had no idea this horror was happening to you. So grateful to know you were delivered from it.

  19. Dee, this is such wonderful news! I've just read through your postings about your Meniere's -- how frightful and limiting it was for you. I have a seizure disorder (epilepsy) so I know just how crazy daily life can get, attempting to accommodate a medical condition that is not kind. That you were able to learn of a surgery that could help your condition, that could immeasurably improve the quality of your life, is awesome. Bugs me, though, that the doctors you'd been seeing weren't aware of that possibility/brought it up with you. Glad things are now so much better for you, though!