Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The dizziness....aka The Beast

Some of you know. Some of you don't. But most who know probably only understand a small portion of what I've been diagnosed with.

Meniere's Disease is a conundrum. It's a tortuous illness that causes episodes of spinning, whirling & hurling vertigo, tinnitus (ringing in your ears), and hearing loss. Basically, it's a combination of symptoms that will change life as you knew it, and work to destroy your sanity. People who have it call it "the Beast," for a very good reason.

The exact statistics on how many people in the US have Meniere's Disease is difficult to measure, because many cases go untreated or many are misdiagnosed. It is believed that nearly 1 million Americans suffer with this disorder, and several million more throughout the world. Alas, most people have never heard of Meniere's Disease. I hope to educate people about this illness, and to bring about awareness. When I was diagnosed, I felt confused, terrified and alone. Thankfully, I stumbled upon a Meniere's support group online, and that's where I really learned about just how common this disease is, and about how many wonderful people out there are suffering.

Meniere's Disease was first defined nearly 150 years ago by French physician Proper Meniere. It has been speculated that Julius Cesar, Vincent Van Gogh and Martin Luther had the disease. Recent "celebrities" who have suffered include Allan Shepard, Kristin Chenowith, Steve Francis, and Ryan Adams.

In the 150 years since it's discovery, very little progress has been made in finding a cure for this disease. Doctors are still perplexed as to what the cause of it is, so therein lies the trouble in finding a cure. Most treatment methods are aimed at suppressing your vestibular system, or depleting stored water in your body by taking diuretics. This works for some, but not all.

As we go throughout this little blog journey, I'll share with you what it's like to live with Meniere's Disease, what treatments I've tried, what I hope to try, and what current researchers are working on in clinical trials. There is some hope on the horizon.

I don't want to focus solely on my illness, though, so I'll also be talking about the lights of my life: movies, writing, my chubby pug and my crazy cats, my friends, the good days, the bad days, you know...what's happening on the daily.

I hope you'll indulge me, and join me on this little journey.


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