It was such an innocent act of doing some kitchen cleaning, but it set off my first bout of Vertigo in a long time. I’m dizzy almost constantly but Vertigo…it’s a different beast. I was in the kitchen with my husband as he prepared dinner. I decided to clean our coffee area, a small area used almost 24/7 by me, a coffee pot for the morning (which is actually afternoon for us with his crazy work hours) and a Keurig for my evening coffee. I know what you’re thinking, that’s a lot of coffee! Maybe for a 9-5 worker, but crazy hours equals crazy amounts of caffeine. Back to my Vertigo…I was at the kitchen sink washing a shiny metal tray kept under the coffee pot. That’s all! As I rinsed the tray, turning it over and around, it caught the light from overhead and it ‘flashed’. All I know, Vertigo hit! I dropped the tray in the sink as I grabbed the edge of the sink and draped myself over it. Mike looked over at me, “What’s going on Margaret? Are you okay? What happened?”. “Calm down, baby! That pan made me dizzy, I feel horrible!” I realized how silly that sounded as this has never happened to me, a shiny object setting it off Vertigo. This tiny ‘spell’ though, set off another slew of feelings (other than the room spinning). Once you’ve experienced Vertigo, you know the difference between this and dizziness, this was Vertigo.
It may have lasted a few seconds, but the other feelings it set off ruined the rest of my/our evening. For me, it meant bypassing the BBQ brisket, beans, potato salad, and cole slaw dinner for… oatmeal! My body had immediately gone into ‘Fight or Flight’ mode; panic, anxiety, heart palpitations, sweating. The Vertigo, making me nauseous. Now my husband was worried about me. I felt frustrated this had happened, again...I went to bed full of fear and very nauseous but did sleep. I woke up today, feeling okay, yet still feeling defeated by this episode. My husband told me, “What you’re not seeing Margaret, is that you got through it! It happened and you didn’t fall. You didn’t hit your head or break any bones! You overcame it!”. WOW! Another shiny light hit me, this time in the form of a lightbulb in my mind…His words completely changed my outlook! He’d turned my negative experience into a positive one (see why I love this man so much?) and he was right! My first response was going to be, “NO, I haven’t overcome this!”, but for a change, I thought before responding. This really was a first for me, not falling during a Vertigo episode. It was the first time I didn’t let it defeat me. I hate when he’s right but love him to death!
If I’m 100% honest, since all this happened, I’ve taken a back seat to life around my house. I am so very blessed to have a man who picked up the slack on basically everything I used to do and he works full-time. Although I ‘d describe myself as a ‘hippie’, I’ve discovered something interesting the older I get, I have values of a 1950’s housewife! Yes, I feel if he’s working, then I should cook and clean. There was a time I did do all that and more, but that fell by the wayside when I became sick. My furniture is perpetually dusty (I am in windy West Texas), my bathrooms are clean (enough…), my carpet needs vacuuming (our Golden Retriever doesn’t help), the kitchen is clean (enough…), and my herbs and orchids need tending. Yes, there’s always something my mind is screaming at me, ‘Get up off your butt and clean this house!’. That’s the ’50’s mentality I’m talking about, I’m hardwired to be a ‘housewife’ (BTW, what does that even mean? Housewife…).
I’ve had to redefine myself so many times in these 60 years, it’s crazy! In the beginning, Mike and I were so free-spirited and carefree. We were/are inseparable. We met December 7th and married June 7th, he was 20 and I was 18 (YES, my parents threw a fit!), 42 years later, here we are. You may wonder about my/our ‘hippie’ side…in a quick summary, we hated the Viet Nam War (although my uncle served 3 Tours,volunteered for 3 tours. I was very proud of his service!), we didn’t believe in the Draft, I didn’t own a bra, our hair long and parted down the middle, hiphugger jeans with patches, halter tops, and Natural Childbirth (Lamaze to be specific)…I nursed our babies, made their baby food, baked bread I kneaded by hand every other day and made most of our clothes. No, you don’t have to be a hippie to do the very same (you might choose to wear a bra though). While I believed in the Women’s Rights Movement, I chose to be a ‘stay at home mom’, not so Women’s Lib. The fact of the matter was, I wanted to be just like my mother. A humble and beautiful woman, college educated, yet choosing to be a stay at home mother. She wanted 4 children, 2 boys, and 2 girls. That’s what she got, in that order, too! She was a wonderful artist. We lost her to Dementia a few years ago, I don’t know I’ll ever get over it, does anyone? If I summed up my mother in one word, it would be, strength. I want her strength.
As I’m writing this, I see just how complex we are as people. We all have many ‘sides’ to us. So we can be more than our Vestibular Disorder? Lightbulb! I’ve lost so much with this damn thing, I get lost in my head and forget how much I still have…I have a man who has proved his commitment to our wedding vows over and over. I have two beautiful children and two precious grandsons. I still have my beloved dad, who is 88 years-old. I have a beautiful, totally neurotic Golden Retriever who won’t allow me sadness for long. I have a home that protects me from the elements. I have food. I have all this and more, but now I have an outlet, this blog, where I am ‘like’ someone else. In finding VEDA (www.vestibular.org), I found a community of people who get me and I get you. No two of us experience exactly the same symptoms with whatever Vestibular Disorder we have, thus our complexities. We are more like a shiny diamond…there are many facets to us also. Now, I want to further my Zen and listen, I mean blast, my all time favorite band…Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine on You Crazy Diamond’…in honor of all you Diamonds!