A Few Words...

What is written here is my opinion and personal experience only. I am not qualified to give advice - medical, legal, or otherwise. Please be responsible and do your own research regarding treatments, diets, doctors, and alternative therapies.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Funny Story About Triggers

Anyone with Meniere's often wonders if there are any triggers which they should avoid in order to prevent attacks.  Whether you visit websites with official medical advice or forums of Meniere's sufferers, you will certainly find a long list of plausible, and not so plausible, potential triggers which are thought to cause or worsen symptoms.  To date, I've found few that hold true for me, most (inhaled allergens, for example) I have little control over so I try within reason not spend too much time worrying about them.  But the mind is a funny thing.

As I work in healthcare, I am typically required each year by my employer to get a flu shot.  However, I don't recall if I took one the past two winters or not because I did not have direct patient contact in my previous position, so for me getting a flu shot was optional.  I think I may have opted out, not being entirely certain how it might affect my Meniere's symptoms.  However this summer I changed employers and now as I do see patients face-to-face from time to time, I am again required to get immunized.  As a general rule, I am fine with getting flu shots, not only to protect myself, but also my patients as most are quite immunocompromised.

Since I couldn't remember getting a flu shot in the past couple of years or what happened afterward, I worried a bit that it might mess with my current calm state of affairs.  While I could technically opt-out by signing a waiver, I didn't want to create any waves since this new employer has no idea of my condition.

So several weeks ago after attending an off-site meeting where there happened to be an employee health office, I made my way over to it to take the plunge.  As I walked up to the receptionist, I was a little nervous that I might be making a big mistake which I was going to regret.  Despite the multiple email reminders I had already received from HR by that point, the receptionist kindly informed me that they had not yet started giving the shots.  I was a day early!  A little relieved, and a little miffed about the fact that coming back another day would be an incovenience, I went on my way.

Well, wouldn't you know it, but the next day I felt terrible.  Roaring tinnitus, brain fog, and disequilibrium.  These days this is what I consider a full-blown attack.  But I just had to laugh because had I been able to get my flu shot the previous day, no doubt I would have attributed this attack to it.

This is a little lesson that before we assign triggers to our symptoms, we have to repeat the experiment several times to be sure.  While this is not fun for sure, it is a necessary evil.  The alternative is that we end up avoiding foods, activities, and other things that make our lives more enjoyable and healthier with the false belief that they trigger our symptoms.  Meniere's already takes so much from us, we need to be careful not to be our own worst enemy, giving away all control of our circumstances to the Beast.

A few weeks later I finally got my flu shot and I am happy to report that I had no reaction whatsoever.  With all the news of the current flu epidemic, I am glad to have a little extra protection on board and that I didn't let my fear get the best of me.

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