My world was turned upside down by Meniere’s and MAV (Migraine Associated Vertigo), yet it is with a positive attitude (and sometimes-foggy focus) that I share my following lifelines (HEROES) and story.
Danny Pancy - He is my Meniere’s/MAV soul mate and mentor. What an awesome friend who encourages, inspires, understands, and makes me laugh. We help each other and collaborate on strategies to help others.
Robert Cook - A truly wonderful man, he married me knowing that I had Meniere’s and is loving, supportive, and caring. While restoring our home, he has been diligent about making it Meniere’s friendly. Bob even created waist-high garden boxes in our backyard. As a chemist, he is working on a project that will give relief to all of us affected by barometric pressure.
Bonnie and Don Pannell - My parents raised me in a Christian home and instilled in me strength, determination, a loving and giving attitude, a strong work ethic, and taught me that adversity builds character.
My ENT and Psychologist - They both use their expertise to help me cope with my situation.
Maggie May - My amazing adopted-from-a-shelter mixed Lab dog that is my companion and protector.
These dizzy, exhausting diseases have released my gypsy soul and empowered my creativity. Meniere’s and MAV have given me a good reason to nap when needed, not sweep or vacuum, excuse myself from “drama” and stress, have “mental-pause,” misplace things, have a “whatever” attitude about the time of day, omit multi-tasking, eat healthier foods, acknowledge that pain and injury require that I focus on my each and every movement, avoid Wal-Mart, wear comfy clothes and shoes, depend on others, comfort others with cards and telephone calls, and discover that loneliness can be solitude. These diseases have strengthened my faith, redefined the important things in life, and helped me cherish previous life experiences.
In my Pre-Meniere’s/MAV life I was the caring All-American Golden Girl. I enjoyed gourmet cooking, traveling, sports, teaching, reading, all kinds of music, going to concerts, flowers, gardening, and reaching out to anyone in need. My life consisted of a family-oriented happy childhood, being a middle and high school all-star athlete and year book photographer, a happy college graduate with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Fine Arts, and a twenty-nine year career as a first grade and middle school Language Arts teacher. I also taught Adult Literacy, Saturday Suspension School, and Homebound students. I was an excellent teacher admired by students, faculty, staff, and the community. Having to retire with a disability one year short of full retirement from the job I loved was devastating.
I was a single mother rearing a preemie daughter, Natalie Jayne. She is one of my proudest accomplishments and is pursuing a degree in Psychology. My only sibling, my brother, has been struggling with cancer and other serious health issues for the last five years. My parents are aging gracefully, but have their own share of health problems.
It seems ironic that my biggest strength is now my biggest weakness, my BIG heart. Looking back is somewhat painful, but I am so thankful that I was able to share my heart with so many others. I will continue using my BIG heart to help others who are enduring the daily struggles of these cruel, incurable diseases, and to educate those who are unaware that these diseases exist.