Thursday was a particularly nasty, rainy day, and I dreaded “the walk down the stairs” more than usual. Funny thing about Meniere’s disease – rain and other types of weather systems can really make a difference in how steady I walk. I finally remembered my camera too, and I can’t tell you how many tries it took me to STAND AT THE TOP OF THESE STAIRS, on a RAINY DAY and TAKE A PICTURE! Grin!
The school I teach at is on the campus of a beautiful Nazarene church. It’s a “new campus” for us this year. I remember at the first teacher’s meeting hearing everyone laugh and remark on “Moses and the Red Sea” on the stairs. Me? I’m thinkin’, “You can look at a MURAL while going down the STAIRS?”
When I arrived at school on Thursday, I stuck my head in the door of the director’s office to grab some paper for the copier. She grimaced slightly and said, “Oh boy, is this rain affecting you today?” Actually, I made light of it and explained to her that really… this is just sort of a new kind of “normal” for me. I don’t really get up in the morning and think, “wow I’m really wobbly today”. This is my “normal”!
Meniere’s disease symptoms that fluctuate with weather systems, also usually produce worsened tinnitus. Meniere’s disease folks always have a hearing loss, but when tinnitus really kicks into “high gear”, those who are simply “hard of hearing” often hear very little when the tinnitus is in a full-out ROAR. I’m actually very blessed, because I hear through the miracle of a cochlear implant. My cochlear implant masks tinnitus, and so even on days my vertigo is worse, I hear just fine!
I showed my husband this picture of “the dreaded staircase”, and we laughed about how some of my “fears” have certainly morphed through the years. When we first got married 22 years ago, I had a very irrational fear of spiders (even little ones). Now I fear staircases, but I argue it’s completely rational! Smile!
I have to tell you though, it’s a very powerful emotion that burns through me when I take that first step down this flight of stairs. On “good days” it takes me about 2 minutes. On “bad days” it takes me about 5 minutes. Chloe is very intuitive. I don’t think she walks outside and sees the rain and puts that together with … “oh my we are going to be taking the stairs slowly today”. However, on “bad days” she patiently takes me all the way to the bottom, even if I have to stop and wait for the stairwell to stop spinning. (I even had to sit rather suddenly once, and she just sat there next to me looking around as if this was perfectly acceptable to her!)
I’ll never forget when we were first matched, I spent a great deal of one-on-one time with my trainer. Admitting to her that I was scared of stairs, insured that we spent some time at a local mall at the foot of a very tall flight of stairs! I remember turning to her with Chloe in “heel”, admitting with a quivering smile, “I’m going to have to do this slow!”
My trainer is a runner. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Denise, this isn’t a sprint. If you need to take it slow, then take it slow.” So I did… and on that staircase came the realization that I really could trust my dog. If I were going slow, she would too. My trainer had me take the stairs at the mall, in the closed stairwell at the training center, and in her home. She never helped me look for a way around those stairs. Because of her, I go down stairs. I take a deep breath… and I go… down… the stairs. Why?
Because I can.
Chloe? Well she’s not real happy when the rain interferes with her “W – A – L – K ” at lunch hour. The van is boring.
© 2008 Hearing Loss Journal