Diagnosis Bleak

I always knew as a kid that something was up. I was clumsy. When I would stand up I would feel a little light headed and thought I had just stood up too fast, but it happened frequently. I would find myself sitting in class and suddenly the whole room would seem to shift and it would send me into a fit of anxiety so powerful all I could hear was my own heart beating. Everyone thought I had some anxiety disorder or frequent panic attacks.

A couple days before my high school graduation party I woke up in the middle of the night to the whole room spinning. I remember hitting myself in the head to make it stop. My parents (both my mother and maternal grandmother have had episodes of vertigo before) rushed me to the Emergency Room where doctors gave me a high does of Benadryl and sent me on my way with a suggestion to see my General Practitioner. I did as instructed and made an appointment with the physician who had delivered me and had provided healthcare to me for eighteen years. This was a pivotal moment in my life. He handed me a prescription for an anti-depressant and sent me on my way. I was devastated, ashamed, and embarrassed. I threw the pharmacy slip for the anti-depressant away before I even left the clinic. Was I crazy? Was this dizziness really just a panic attack? That was the summer of 2006.

I didn’t stop fighting and searching for answers. We found an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor who saw me and referred me immediately Dr. Michael Paparella, M.D. at the Paparella Ear, Head, and Neck Institute in Minneapolis, MN. He saw me and suggested some testing be done at the University of Minnesota Balance Center. After a day of dizziness and testing, Dr. Paparella diagnosed me with unilateral Vestibular Meniere’s Disease (VMD) in my right ear. My hearing was still at a normal level, which is why he diagnosed me with VMD rather than traditional Meniere’s Disease. At that time he prescribed a diuretic and advised me to take Meclizine (anti-emetic) as needed with dizzy spells. He also educated me on some surgical options if a combination of the diuretic and some dietary changes didn’t help reduce the number of dizzy spells. One was an Endolymphatic Sac Enhancement which was considered constructive (meaning it would not kill the inner ear completely and had a low risk of complete hearing loss), and two were destructive, where the inner ear would be killed completely, along with a high likelihood of permanent deafness.

What many do not understand about this disease is how debilitating it really is. You lose the ability to do things like driving, brushing your teeth, preparing your own meals, and even getting to the restroom and bathing can be difficult without the help of someone else. About a year after my diagnosis and feeling like I was not able to live a typical eighteen year old’s life, with a lot of consideration I decided to have the Endolymphatic sac enhancement surgery on my right ear November of 2007. The surgery changed my life and gave me the ability to live again.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with bilateral VMD in my left ear. My symptoms were starting to pop up again and the frequency of dizziness attacks were becoming to be more and more. I graduated from college May 2010 and began my M.A. degree that same summer. About  one month ago I had an attack and it has continued until today. I have surgery for my left ear scheduled for July of this year.

If you are reading this and you have Meniere’s Disease you are not alone. If you are reading this and you are my family or friends, it has been your love and support that has driven me to make these decisions for myself, because without you I could not have survived these difficult times.

Meniere’s Warrior

Welcome to my blog. The purpose of this blog is educate individuals around the world of Meniere’s Disease. I will try my best to post a balance of both facts about Meniere’s Disease including different remedies for attacks and also my personal experiences with Meniere’s Disease.

Thank you! I will introduce myself very soon.