By the age of five, I had lost fifty percent of the hearing in my left ear and was plagued with dizzy spells; neither could be explained. After countless ear infections, doctor visits, antibiotics, and hearing tests, a tube was inserted into my ear in the hope of “fixing” me. The tube came and went with no results, and I was given a “we don’t know” diagnosis.
Years passed, life was lived, and my condition remained with me throughout my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, eventually invading both ears and stirring my pot of symptoms two-fold. It has left in its wake a mother, wife, and woman with a very long road behind her, and an even longer one still ahead.
I wanted answers; oh, how I wished for them! Instead, I had one door after another shut in my face. Doctors had no idea what was wrong with me, nor did they make an effort to figure it out. At twenty-two, I hit bottom. I was having dizzy spells often, along with ear pressure, more hearing loss, and so on. I barely left my house and lived a half-life much of the time.
I went back to doctors and back again, falling through the cracks over and over. Then, at twenty-seven, I saw an Otolaryngologist and had another tube put into my left ear (prior to going bilateral), and another after that. It was sometime after the first tube was inserted that I started noticing problems with my “good” ear as well. I didn’t know exactly what this meant, but I knew my life was about to change.
At twenty-nine years, I was finally diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. By this time, I had been through three tubes, five doctors, a slew of medications, hearing loss in both ears, and more dizzy spells than I could ever count.
Going bilateral has been a huge setback. For every symptom I had, I now have double. Ear pressure is constant, as well as intense inner ear itching, mini dizzy spells, a frequent sense of being off balance, drop attacks, sensitivity to sound (hyperacusis), tinnitus off and on, and disorientation in enclosed spaces, cluttered areas, and in crowds. With this also comes the attacks that leave me spinning out of control, very sleepy and out of it, and increased symptoms before, during, and after these times.
Meniere’s Disease clouded my childhood, but it also made me stronger than I ever thought possible. I hope for a day when I am symptom free, but have come to accept my plight in life. Meniere’s Disease is life altering and harrowing, but it can be managed with the right attitude and determination. It may be part of my life, but it will never rock my foundation.