(Continued from Wednesday, August 22 . . . )
Two weeks ago, I posted the story of how Blue came into my life during an asthma attack when I was eight. Today I’d like to share a happening sixty-two years later.
In May 2006, Ménière’s Disease imprisoned me for eighteen months. At any moment, I could pitch forward onto the floor, tumble down the steps, bang my head on a rock in the perennial garden, fall against a window pane. The house became both refuge and mine field. Terror camped around me, and I often spent the day crawling from room to room, unable to stand balanced.
Vomiting, dehydration, and a loss of mental capacity accompanied these acute rotational vertigo episodes, which occurred almost daily. I couldn’t drive or walk outside. I couldn’t watch television or scroll a computer screen. Parallel lines brought on episodes, so I could not read. My life narrowed to my thoughts, books on tape, and the walls of the two-story house.
One day in late summer, I sat in a chair listening to a tape. Abruptly, an attack thrust me to the floor. It rotated. The walls rotated counter-clockwise. Moving. Moving. Moving. I vomited. My head fell into the mess.
I didn’t know how long this episode would last—one had gone on for twenty-four hours—so I wanted to be in bed. I slowly turned over. My brain had become tangled yarn. The walls rotated. The ceiling—the floor—moved inexorably.
I crawled down the hall, into my bedroom, to the four-poster, mahogany bed that had belonged to my grandparents. With great effort, I pulled myself upward onto its high mattress. Everything rotated. I lay on my back, the room rotating. I fixed my blurred gaze on the far right-hand corner of the ceiling. Fixing one point could keep me from continuing to vomit.
The cats and I and my 1904 bed on a “normal” day.
Panic deluged me. What to do? What to do? What to do? The walls rotated. My stomach churned. My head felt heavy.
Then thought came: “It’s not my fault this is happening. I can’t do anything to make it go away. I have no control over it.”
Another thought passed like ticker tape through my muddled brain. The year before, I’d read a book on Buddhism. In it, the author suggested that when we feel deep, sometimes frightening, emotion, we let ourselves “sink” into the feeling. We let ourselves breathe within it.
So that’s what I did. I simply sank into vertigo. I stretched out my arms on the bed and opened my palms so that they could accept whatever happened. I let myself become the episode and in doing do I experienced a cessation of panic.
Ultimately, the episode released me. Exhausted, I slept for long hours. But I learned, as I had so many years before with asthma, how to let go and sink into a frightening experience to enter calm waters.
Why hadn’t I entered Blue when these acute rotational vertigo episodes occurred? A good question and the only answer I have shows how narrow, perhaps rigid, my mind truly can be. It just never occurred to me. This wasn’t asthma and somehow I never thought that Blue, which was my nirvana for that disease, could be used for Ménière’s. Ah, how frail we humans are.
(Continued next Wednesday . . . )
PS: Some of you may want to know more about Ménière’s Disease. Last year I posted a series of seven stories about it. You will find these under the label “Ménière’s Disease” on the right-hand side of this blog.
PPS: “Twelve Habits of Highly Successful Cats & Their Humans” was downloaded 741 times during the three days it was offered free during the recent blog fest of which I was a part. “A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story,” which was offered free for only one day, was downloaded 1,384 times.
As many of you know, I’m a rank novice with regard to social media, so I find all this amazing. It happened only because of the generosity and expertise of Elisa Hirsch who sponsored the gala affair. I want to thank both you and Elisa for its success. I feel I’ve hitched my wagon to a rising star.
Photo of stairs from Wikipedia.