Today I’d like to assure you that all is well. The acute rotational vertigo episodes were almost a daily part of 2006 and early 2007. After that, they happened only sporadically. I experienced the last episode in August 2009.
What or who brought about this change? A Minneapolis surgeon.
After the episode of May 2006, I saw three Twin Cities specialists who knew of no way to truly stop the episodes.
Then in late December of that year I took a chance and drove two miles to the grocery store. Curves was just around the corner. On a serendipitous whim—or perhaps the grace-filled promptings of the Holy Oneness of All Creation—I decided to go in and just see if I knew anyone there.
Hannah (the 1997 Geo Prism) and I by the two-story house
in which I lived in 2006.
in which I lived in 2006.
I entered the spacious room in which a number of women were exercising on the circle of machines. One, who was clearly finished with her workout and ready to leave, approached as if she knew me. I had no idea who she was because my mind had lost considerable memory in the preceding months.
This stranger told me she’d missed me at Curves and asked if all was well.
I barely spoke the word Ménière’s when she reached out, touched my man, and confided, “The man who mows our lawn has Ménière’s and he had those horrible episodes.”
“Yes. They’re over with now. He had a marvelous operation.”
Hope oozed over me like honey.
This woman, whom I later discovered I’d known for ten years, put me in touch with the young lawnmower. He’d had to give up driving trucks because of the acute episodes and the headaches. And yet now he could get upon a lawnmower and not fall off. He had headaches only when the barometer dropped precipitously. He had a life again.
The rest is history. I immediately made an appointment with the surgeon who’d helped him so greatly. A friend drove me to the Minneapolis office and accompanied me into the exam room. This fourth specialist asked a multitude of questions and told me I’d been a candidate for his operation for many months.
He operated on Thursday, February 15, 2007. In a future posting I’ll share the story of this operation, which was so successful, but basically he drained away extra fluid from the sac behind the left mastoid.
The surgeon—who gave me back my life—told me recuperation would take at least eighteen months. I needed to recover both from the surgery and from the stress of ten months of acute rotational vertigo episodes.
He was correct in his prognosis.
During the recovery, I continued to experience daily headaches. The acute episodes occurred occasionally. Because of them, I couldn’t drive for the next six months.
Let’s flash forward to today—September 24, 2011. I have no acute episodes. The doctor has found a prescription for the headaches. When I take a pill at the first niggle of one, it goes away within forty-five minutes.
I have days of wooziness and no driving whenever the barometer shifts sharply. But those days aren’t frequent. And I’m only woozy or slurry or imbalanced. That’s easy for me to live with. The acute episodes put everything into perspective.
So I drive. I visit. I read. I garden. I watch television. I sleep. I sit here at the computer. I type. I scroll. I live without fear or pain. I have experienced the dawn after the dark night.
Two mantras got me through those years. I said one many times during 2006. It is a quote from Julian of Norwich—an English mystic of the Middle Ages: “And all shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things shall be exceedingly well.”
The other mantra is one from a favorite poet of mine—Anne Morrow Lindbergh. She ends her poem “Bare Tree” with the following lines:
“Blow through me, Life, pared down at last to bone,
So fragile and so fearless have I grown!”
Lindbergh quotation from The Unicorn and Other Poems: 1935-1955.
(Pantheon Books edition, 1993)