Then the vertigo came back despite the medication. During that same period, my family noticed my hearing was not as sharp as it had always been. That observation ended up being a turning point when a standard hearing test led to the beginnings of a diagnosis. In the summer of 2014, two doctors -because of course I insisted on a second opinion - confirmed that I have Meniere's disease.
What's Meniere's disease?Treatment is a slow trial of proven methods. Since different treatments work for different patients, the process is very much trial-and-error. So far, nothing has alleviated the symptoms a considerable amount but we're still trying. Each day is an unknown... will I be able to function normally, will I have background vertigo and tinnitus to work through, or will I have a vertigo episode that keeps me in bed.
It is a disorder of the inner ear that causes episodes in which you feel as if you're spinning (vertigo), and you have fluctuating hearing loss with a progressive, ultimately permanent loss of hearing, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sometimes a feeling of fullness or pressure in your ear. In most cases, the disease affects only one ear. It's considered a chronic condition, but various treatments can help relieve symptoms and minimize the long-term impact on your life. (Mayo Clinic)
The structured control freak in me finds the unknown most challenging. Plans become irrelevant and appointments impossible, never knowing if I'll feel up to a social event or even an outing. I've long since given up committing to deadlines and due dates. With a chronic illness, patients have to become accustomed to the unknown and this is a lesson I've learned through frustration.
For a long time now, I've hidden away and shared my diagnosis with very few people - mostly close family. There's this inner fear of pity or, just the opposite, ignorance. The perfectionist in me even sees this as a failure. Though chronic illness by its very definition is incurable and debilitating, people still believe you can eliminate the symptoms. That's not true. So I'm learning to live day-by-day in this new reality and create within it's parameters a life worth living... despite living a life in a fog.
My writing has declined to almost nothing but I'm determined to begin again. With so many untold stories floating in my head, I can't allow them to go untold so I'm actively working again as often as possible. For those of you who have followed my series, you can expect book two in the Home series and book three in the Heart and Soul series next. I'm also back to work on my serial under my new pen name, Becca Layne. No promises on the time frame but I can promise they'll all be completed.
I'll be documenting my journey here on my blog, hoping to bring awareness to Meniere's Disease. I am no longer letting this defeat me. This is a first step in regaining some control. Watch for more "Life in a Fog" posts to be published monthly.