In some ways it seems like yesterday, but in others it feels like 10. The fact, however, is that it has now been a year since I lost permanently the balance center on my left side. I can truthfully say that it has been a hard, hard year, but I can also say that I have made tremendous progress, probably even ahead of the diagnosis I was given.
So where am I one year later?
I’m dizzy, and everything still jumps around on me, but I have worked very, very (add a few more of those) hard to get to where I am…down to hiring people to force me to get up and walk, and walk, and walk. For the first time in my life, I could not make myself do it, but with someone counting on me, I would make myself be a grownup and get busy. When we first started, I was on a cane, but we walked fast and hard…or so it seemed to me! From there, we moved to floor exercises, etc., and gradually I was able to do more and more.
Today, I think I am probably where I am going to be. I’m no longer on a walker, no longer on a cane, and I haven’t fallen in a couple of months. I can also drive, don’t have to wear sunglasses day and night, and I can ride without being carsick the majority of the time.
This past weekend Rickey had to stop at WalMart, and I went in with him. As I was crossing the white stripes on the parking lot before I entered, I suddenly remembered a time when we had to park where Ric could get me a basket. Then, I would lean over the basket and hang on for dear life. When I crossed those painted lines, Rickey would also have to hold me because just crossing them would throw me. Now, I can actually walk across them…no buggy and no husband!
So am I back to normal? Well, I now have a new normal and, of course, there are things that I’m not sure I will ever do again.
Parking my vehicle is difficult. I can’t park it on the right side of a car already parked. I can park on the vehicle’s left (driver’s side) or I can park on its right as long as I can skip a spot or two. I think this is now normal.
My vision has changed, thankfully not so that it is a danger. If I ride with you, I will make you crazy because it will feel like we are running up on the car in front of us when, apparently, we are not…so I’m told anyway…often! Cars coming at me from the side also appear to be closer than they are. Thankfully, it is not the other way around and I over protect myself instead of under protecting. I think this is now normal.
Every step I take, no matter how quickly, is a measured step. I also catch myself throwing my arms out as if to catch myself pretty often. I don’t know that it is terribly obvious, and it the feeling of falling only lasts a nanosecond. I also feel a tremendous gravitational pull to the right…so I have to work very hard to hold myself to the left so that I don’t go flying to the right. I’ve gotten really good at this and only when I am very tired, do people comment on my walking. Obviously, I become tired easier simply from the effort of holding myself erect…BUT…I can do it, and that is quite an improvement. Unfortunately, this is a new normal for me.
Ric and I tend to live our lives in the bleachers, and this is a problem. I can now climb bleachers…if there is a rail of some type. Like an old woman, I don’t try to go up and down without something to hold to. This is just another new normal for me.
My city driving or driving in heavy traffic is over for the moment, and I HATE that because this has always been a big part of my life. At the moment, I refuse to call this a new normal, but I suppose we shall see. I can now take myself to a doctor’s appointment on the edge of Fort Worth, but I don’t venture farther or do any interstate driving even though I am still trying to get to where I can do so.
I’ve also learned that when I reach a certain point, I have to stop and rest, whether I have time for that or not. If I don’t, I will fall. The good thing is that I can rest a bit and go again.
I suppose the thing that has caught me off guard with this one is the mental that has gone along with the physical. That has been a major battle for some reason. I don’t know if there is actually a physical reason for that or if labyrinthitis is just one more thing in a long list of health problems, and it was the list itself that has caused the problem.
Do I fear it happening again? Of course! My doctors assure me that it shouldn’t, and yet I have now heard of a man right here in Texas who lost one side and later lost the other. He does manage to function, but mostly he tries not to fall. As for me, only God knows what’s in store, and there is nothing to do but leave it all up to Him.
Of course, the bottom line is that this permanent labyrinthitis has changed my life, and that is not something I am thrilled about; however, compared to so many people who are coping with so many life threatening problems, labyrinthis (at this stage) is really pretty minor.