I’ve been a little … unbalanced lately. And I don’t mean this figuratively. I’ve been hanging out with my old friend vertigo for the past couple weeks, and let me tell you—that guy knows how to party.
Vertigo is this weird thing that’s kind of hard to describe, but here’s my best shot. Remember the game where you put your forehead on a baseball bat and circle around it as many times as possible without falling over before attempting to walk? That. You know the feeling when you’re drunk (messy drunk, like you know you’re going to throw up violently at some point drunk) and it’s like someone else is in charge of moving your arms and legs? That. It’s motion sickness meets morning sickness meets bad trip spins. And it’s tricky. You can wake up feeling fine and fall over an hour later. Or you can have a good day and wake up to barf at 3am. Like I said, it’s a party.
This isn’t my first rodeo with the spins. I was diagnosed with labyrinthitis in university, and it’s been a recurring thing in the years since (luckily it’s been less frequent as I’ve gotten older). Over the course of 15 years I have been disbelieved by an ear, nose, and throat specialist who told me to ‘lose some weight, maybe join the Y’ (only to be vindicated by an unpleasant test wherein hot and cold air and water is put in your ears to make you dizzy on purpose); had a couple MRIs; visited with a neurological ophthalmologist, consumed more Gravol than any human should; and until this most recent bout, the best medical advice I could hope for was to take an anti-nauseant and ‘let it work its way through my system.’ More than once it took longer than a month to do so.
In the past decade and a half, our discourse around invisible diseases has changed. I’ve had painful conversations with more than one unhappy employer because I couldn’t tell them when I was going to get better. It doesn’t help that I look and sound totally fine, and sometimes I’ll feel better for a couple of days before it’s right back to Dizzytown. The cherry on top is that for me two big things aggravate the dizziness: reading and writing. NBD, just the sort of reading and writing I’d need for my studies in English lit and journalism, or teaching ESL, or running a communications firm, or the content writing I’ve centred my career around.
I can honestly understand why people wouldn’t get it. ‘Hi, I can’t come to work because reading makes me fall over,’ sounds fucking ridiculous even to me. This time, however, I was fortunate enough to be supported and believed (we take for granted how relieving it is to simply be heard and have our story accepted as truth) by my doctor, employers, and important people in my life. I now have a vestibular physiotherapist who makes me do weird exercises with the end goal of not having this happen (and maybe one day I’ll be able to sit backwards or read on the subway like a normie). Work has been so understanding, I can’t underestimate how much easier this is because of that.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give Bogart his own paragraph. He’s made this so much easier, when it can be a really isolating experience. No social media, minimal texting, and days on the couch for forced Netflix marathons might sound like a vacation but I assure you it’s not. Throw in a cancelled birthday dinner, a cancelled weekend away, and a decidedly altered anniversary, and it could’ve been a recipe for a pity party. Instead, le bf surprised me with
some takeout the whole damn menu from the amazing restaurant I wanted to go to on my birthday (as well as a ridiculously hilarious shirt), cooked when I asked, acted as a ginger ale and cracker delivery service, listened to me vent/whine, made me laugh, and didn’t complain one single time. He kept things as normal as possible when I felt anything but.
If you’ve made it this far you’ve probably surmised I’m feeling better(ish). I can read, I’ve caught up on all the news I missed about white-supremacist elect Drumpf (though I did have podcasts while I was sick), I’m cautiously back at the office, and I’ve even been cooking again. There’s still some recovery as I train my nerves to behave as they should, but I’m slowly getting back to normal. Well, my version of normal anyway.