When I got sick on September 13th of last year I had no idea what was happening. A week later I was diagnosed by my ENT with "Labyrinthitis"... this condition also gets lumped in with other vestibular conditions such as "Meniere's Disease" or "Vestibular Neuritis" etc... So, I guess I should describe what Labyrinthitis is:
According to Google, it is:
Fewer than 200,000 US cases per year.
Treatable by a medical professional.
Requires a medical diagnosis.
Lab tests or imaging not required.
Short-term: resolves within days to weeks.
Labyrinthitis is usually triggered by an infection, such as a cold or flu.
Hearing loss, dizziness, and a spinning sensation (vertigo) are common symptoms. Diagnosing labyrinthitis is challenging because these symptoms are also common in many other conditions.
Labyrinthitis usually goes away on its own. Medications can help manage symptoms. Vestibular rehabilitation therapy may help in some cases.
Nothing “goes away on its own”. Oh, Google! You so crazy! But what that really means is: There is not much you can do about it ;) Sometimes, it's not so "short-term" and the symptoms of the condition can vary greatly (such as my hearing loss in left ear) and still very much be in the forefront of most people's lives for months, years, and sometimes the rest of their lives.
Though it has become progressively better with each day, for the last 5 months I have opened my eyes, I say a few words (inside voice) and begin to move. The moment my body moves, I have a lite-headed sensation and that's how the day starts. With every step, it can feel as though every movement is exaggerated. Brushing my teeth can seem like an earthquake some days. I make coffee, feed the dog, and prepare for work.
Early in the acute phase, I was not able to walk let alone drive. After 3 to 4 weeks I felt more capable of driving, though I probably should have waited another couple of weeks before getting behind the wheel. I limited my driving as much as possible.
I try not to complain about it. I really do. But some days are worse than others and talking about it does help. I joined a group on facebook (Vestibular Hope) and it helps to read posts from others. One thing that's rarely discussed with the symptoms is the mental confusion, exhaustion, and anxiety that's associated with these conditions. The simple physical toll it takes on your body to maintain balance can be difficult.
One thing that I have learned from reading about how others have approached their lives with vestibular issues is that I must keep pushing forward. Seeking therapy, doing yoga, exercises, etc. I see them not taking a knee or sitting on the sidelines. They are remaining positive and continuing to experience life on life's terms. I think it's a big part of recovering and returning to normalcy. I can only hope to continue to do the same.
Since last September I have done so much that I initially hesitated doing. In the beginning, the small things (walking up or down stairs, taking a shower etc.) were so scary. Then gradually, general life, and not so general things were easier to do... Here are just a few of those things (some not pictured below) I wanted to take a moment to note them for posterity:
- Walked the dog!
- Went to Disneyland (Not so many rides)!
- Went trick or treating on Halloween!
- Drove the car!
- Drove to work!
- Went to Zion National Park (didn't really hike)!
- Drove RV!!!!
- Ran (brief bursts) around block
- Flew on a plane!
- Went to Hawaii (hiked and kayaked a little)!
- Went to Disneyland again (Went on many rides!)
- And ... last night... I danced with my daughter at the Father Daughter Dance!
If you are going through this, I only hope you find this post helpful and hopeful. I hope you keep pushing. I hope you keep trying.
Thanks for reading! And please comment below if you have any questions about this post. I am all ears (well, except my left one)!!!