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 14, 2013

Time for Reflection

Every three months I make the 2-1/2 hour drive from San Diego to the House Ear Clinic, just west of downtown Los Angeles, to see Dr. Derebery who is a Meniere's and allergy specialist.  It's not a terrible drive, just long and lonely.  No matter what I listen to on the radio, each time I tend to reflect on my Meniere's journey at some point.  It usually starts with some "poor me"-ing for having to spend so many hours in the car.  But pretty quickly it turns to sheer amazement at how far I've come and gratitude that I am only a few hours from one of the best doctors in the country for treating this disease.

Today I reflected on the progress I've made thanks to two particular treatments: intratympanic (IT) gentamicin and allergy shots.  Two years ago, I was in bad shape and had little hope that anything would ever relieve the relentless vertigo I was having after failing just about every noninvasive, nondestructive treatment.  Most doctors, and even other Meniere's sufferers, strongly advise against doing anything destructive without first exhausting all other options.  While I don't disagree, I also know firsthand how incessent episodes of vertigo can bring life to a screeching halt.  Even if I'd known then what I know now, specifically that I had allergies and that treating them with desensitation therapy, aka allergy shots, would eventually help me gain control over this disease, I still think I would have taken the gent first.

Gent is quick and dirty.  Yes, it causes permanent vestibular and, in a small percentage of cases, hearing loss, but it stopped the vertigo for me in a matter of weeks.  Allergy shots, on the other hand, took three to six months to begin to produce consistent relief.  A year later, my episodes of brain fog, dysequilibrium, and fatigue are much shorter, usually lasting just a few days or less, and much farther in between - three to six weeks or more.  My quality of life has been so much better these past six months than any time since this dreaded disease took hold of me nearly four years ago.

I do wish I had known from the very beginning what I know now.  But, hey, that's never how life works, is it?  In the meantime, I've grown and matured into a different and better person.  I don't think time lost to physical or emotional suffering has to be time wasted.  I have learned that life is not always in my control and I can now accept that.  I certainly did not know or believe that before in the most intimate way I do now.

Today, I sat in the busy waiting room at House and observed the clinic's other patrons.  They ranged in age from a few years old to the very elderly and everything in between.  They had walkers, wheelchairs, and cochlear implants.  Some wore happy faces and others had looks of despair that I can only surmise came from suffering in one way or another from a hearing and/or vestibular disorder.  I could only hope for them that they, too, might soon find relief from whatever was troubling them.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, but I am so grateful for today.  Thanks to Meniere's, I am reminded that these days may not be endless and that another round of Meniere's-related, or other, suffering could be right around the corner.  That's okay.  I'll deal with it if and when it comes.

Paulo Coelho, one of my favorite authors, said it best:

"The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself."


  1. I'm so impressed, with your story certainly, but mainly with your ability to drive 2.5 hours. I'm doing really well except for anxiety about driving. Sometimes it causes me so much stress. The Paul Coelho quote is particularly apt for my mental state right now.

  2. I have not always been able to drive myself to LA. I am fortunate to be in a good place for the time being. I try not to worry about the future. On the other hand, I try to be pragmatic about it.

    When I have gone through the more unpredictable periods of time, I still tried to get out as much as I could by always having someone to call lined up in an emergency. Of course, everyone's circumstances and the degree of unpredictability of their symptoms are different.