I don’t usually go on and on about Meniere’s disease, but I’ve had a pretty bad week with the “little Rascal”. For one thing, I count myself extremely BLESSED as I seem to have only one major trigger. Rain. I know plenty of other folks who have other types of triggers that include flying, change in altitudes (vacations in the mountains!), alcohol, head cold or allergies, chocolate (oh my!), smoking, and even certain foods! So since I only have “rain” as a Meniere’s trigger, I really try not to complain very much.
A fellow Meniere’s patient pointed me to a terrific support group through Facebook today. I have already found a lot of great information. If you belong to Facebook… check it out here. There is a simple but helpful Meniere’s organization on the Internet which can be accessed here. A website providing basic information and clinical trials can be accessed here. My favorite website is the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). They have a terrific Meniere’s Disease section that can be located here. Thanks to the Meniere’s disease Facebook page, I was even directed to our very own Super Villain – Count Vertigo. Who knew?
Being a former farmer’s kid and because I still have numerous relatives that I love in a farming community in SE Colorado, I try to never belly-ache about the rain. Rain is necessary and in most cases a “shower of blessing” to farmers, ranchers, and those who get tired of moving their sprinklers around.
But this week? SIGH. I’ve had some bad experiences. On a rainy day, I fell in the laundry room this past week and happened to find the only exposed nail in the “unfinished room”. Thankfully, I hit it square and impaled myself through the fleshy part of my arm. I was able to pull it clean away and stop the bleeding very quickly. A quick verification that I had a tetanus shot recently, a severe pounding with the hammer on that (stupid) nail, and I escaped “nearly” unscathed.
This morning my alarm clock went off and my well-trained assistance dog was in my face immediately to “kiss me awake”. As soon as I sat up I knew it was raining outside. When the room spins the moment I become vertical, I rarely need to look outside to verify that it is raining. I didn’t fall until about 10 AM. Unfortunately, when I lost my balance I was on the stairs with my arms around a large load of laundry. Missing three steps means I have a pretty good chance of landing “gracefully” and still on my feet. Missing four however? Not a chance. I lay sprawled on the floor staring at the ceiling and a concerned hound dog with dirty laundry scattered all around me. I have a standard set of “OK, I’ve fallen – now what?” questions I ask myself.
1) Am I conscious? (duh)
2) Is anything broken?
3) Am I laying on anything important (like a dog or a cat)
4) Can I close my eyes and open them again and stay conscious?
5) Do I need to call a family member?
If I can answer No, No, No, YES, and NO… then I simply sit up and take my time to re-group. This time I didn’t hit anything other than my elbow on the way down. I may or may not be sporting a pretty blue spot tonight.
There is no cure for Meniere’s Disease. (Hope you aren’t new to the disease and I just depressed you for the remainder of the year!) There are some treatment options, but they only work for “some”, and all the options only serve to reduce the severity of symptoms or number of attacks. NIDCD lists several treatment options that include:
1. Medications – Prescriptions such as meclizine, diazepam, glycopyrrolate, and lorazepam can help relieve dizziness and shorten the attack.
2. Salt restriction and diuretics – I take a prescription diuretic and do restrict my salt. I’ve not seen any real difference, but continue to do these in case it has a cumulative effect.
3. Cognitive therapy – Doesn’t treat the Meniere’s but does help the patient deal with anxiety and coping with “future attacks”.
5. Pressure pulse treatment
7. Alternative medicine. I take Manganese (5 mg) and a B complex vitamin. Researchers have found that Meniere’s disease patients have a Manganese deficiency. Manganese can be hard to find. (Magnesium is plentiful, but you’ll have to go to a specialty store or order online to find Manganese). Other treatments include acupuncture, acupressure, tai chi, and other supplements. Always tell your doctor if you are taking other supplements as many may interfere with prescription drugs.
This past year, Gene Pugnetti was surgically implanted with a special cochlear implant to treat his severe Meniere’s disease. You can read about the latest update here. The original story can be read here. I will be looking for updates about Gene and wish him the best!
Some things I have learned that help me with Meniere’s disease:
1. I take 5 mg of Manganese and a B-complex vitamin.
2. I limit my salt and take a prescription diuretic.
3. I take 50 mg. of Benedryl before bed.
4. I have inexpensive molding about 4 feet high along the hallway, kitchen, and bedroom. At night, if I have to get up in the dark, I only need to feel my way around the room to discourage getting disoriented. Without it, my eyes “play tricks on my brain” about how close the floor, walls, and doors are as I am struggling to see in the dark. The molding has allowed me to move about the house as needed in the dark without injury.
5. I never EVER go down the stairs without holding on to something. If I have something in my arms, I balance the “something” on one hip. On bad days, if it takes me 3 or 4 minutes to get down the stairs instead of 30 seconds, that’s OK. Patience is a virtue… and may prevent broken bones!
6. I avoid looking directly at ceiling fans or other contraptions that “spin”.
7. I do not ever ride roller coasters, or rides that spin in any way. If I am “spun” into an unconscious state, it is rather difficult to hold on! I made a promise to my family after “Space Mountain” in 2002 to avoid these rides for the remainder of my life. I’m finding it isn’t a difficult promise to keep.
8. I stand and sit with pre-meditation. To simply “pop up” or sit down quickly only means I will experience dizziness. Why bother when moving with a little more care will help to avoid it?
Hopefully this information may be of use to someone! I’m very thankful Meniere’s disease rarely necessitates I write about it!
© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal