By Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt / LipreadingMom.com Guest Blogger
Amusement parks. Carnival rides. Roller coasters. Are you a fan? House of mirrors. Swinging bridges. Optical illusions. Are you in? I’ve been trapped here for over a decade now, in my own personal Fun House. My universe is the world of chronic vertigo. We all have our cross to bear and after all of these years this is now the new normal. My world shifts, rolls, quivers and occasionally spins. I barely remember what it was like before, just vague memories of greener pastures – coordination, balance, no spinning, elevator dismounts without stumbling, multi-tasking without dropping. I know exactly when my world started to rock, it started suddenly and it has never completely righted itself in the ten years since.
For the sake time and space, let me sum up the early years spent searching for a diagnosis: Dozens of Doctors, Specialists, Eye Doctors, and Audiologists; testing included but not limited to heart, vision, hearing, CT Scans, PET Scans, MRIs, blood tests, biopsies. Medications: The good, the bad, and the ugly, most of which made me worse or ill. I’ve never been able to tolerate medication well, and now it tends to make me spin faster rather than the usual bouts of disorientation or rocking. Diagnoses that have been tossed my way: Lupus and a plethora of auto-immune diseases, including but not limited to MS, Lyme, Chronic Fatigue, Sjogren’s Syndrome (the only one that was ever substantiated) and the jewel in the crown – Pheochromocytoma. I’ll spare you those details beyond that those symptoms were caused by one of the medications.
After years spent chasing a diagnosis, I finally had enough. I staggered dizzily away from the dream of a cure. I’d lost trust in medicine, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars in out of pocket medical costs. I accepted my rocking life and learned to live with chronic vertigo. My conclusion is there are worse things than living in a Fun House, though some days I don’t always believe me.
Taking charge of what I could control, I made myself the healthiest dizzy person I could be. I eliminated things that made the vertigo worse (lack of sleep, caffeine, alcohol, TV). Focused on what helped (healthy food, exercise, positive attitude) and went about having a life. I try not to let my vertigo define me; in fact people who just meet me probably have no idea. I jog, travel, and wear heels when I’m feeling brave and somewhat stable. Last year I tried skydiving, this year I back-packed into the Grand Canyon on a twenty mile hike.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I have faith and a husband who is there when I fall down, a family that loves me, and a Doctor who supports my choices. My passion is my writing and I’m blessed to be able to do what I love. May we all be so fortunate, my friends. Be well and I suppose I will continue to rock on and dream of a world without stripes or patterned carpeting.
Stephanie Pazicni Karfelt loves laughter, writing Speculative Fiction, being a wife and mother, and dabbling in the high-tech industry for story-fodder. Find her humorous take on writing at The Glitter Globe.
Do you have a comment or question for Stephanie? Post it here.