Saturday, February 20, 2016

The more we know, the less we know

Pic courtesy of

It is the age old discussion surrounding Meniere's disease. What causes it? As I enter the second half of my 23rd year with this disease, we seem no closer to that answer than we were when first diagnosed.

There seems to be 4 main ideas that keep coming to the surface as to the "cause" of Meniere's disease: auto-immune disorder, genetic, virus, or inflammation.

While each one has some merit, I honestly don't believe any one single thing can be ruled as the ultimate cause. I honestly see too many contradictory things in each of them to be the absolute cause for all of it. This has been my belief since the very beginning. There is a reason that nearly every reputable source of information states "there is no known cause, there is no known cure."

I have spent a fair amount of time researching the possible links. Every time I think there may be one, I try to apply it to my life and come up empty.

There has been no shortage of others in my life that have tried to connect the dots. Both welcome and unwelcome.

One of the methods I have chosen to attempt to deal with the symptoms is Chiropractic. I'm a realist. No cure means no cure. I never had any false hopes of it "curing" me over the years. Provide some benefit? Yes.

I certainly can tell when my neck is "out" and a trip to him does relieve the pressure. Anything that promotes health is a good thing.

Recently I had an appointment and the regular Dr. was not in, but his partner was. It had been a long time since I had him give an adjustment. He was in a fairly talkative mood and the talk came around to my having Meniere's disease. He asked if I had researched the disease, I said yes. Then he said that his best feeling about the whole issue is that it is either viral or fungal in nature. The other thoughts, to him, just don't add up.

He mentioned that he has seen some pretty nasty things happen because of fungal infections in the human body. It would explain, to him, why just the inner ear was attacked.

Then he said that even if that is the case, the fact remains that there is no cure. He basically said "guess what? You have something nasty that you are stuck with." Again, no cure.

The nature of viral and fungal infections plays into this conclusion. It is a very rare case where a virus lives forever. Typically they come, do their damage, and die off. What you are left with is the consequences of having it. In my case, Meniere's disease.

I certainly didn't go in thinking that there would be a cure, and my regular Chiropractor has stated as much as well. It is sometimes a bit refreshing to hear things from a different perspective.  I have always tended to lean towards an autoimmune issue in the cause of this disease. For some reason the body decides to attack itself, in this case, the inner ear. The thought of an outside force, such as viral has bounced around, but the problem I have with that is there are millions of people exposed to the same viruses, why are so few affected in the same way? Viruses are generally not selective in who they attack. The difference comes from the individuals response to the virus. There needs to be an underlying reason that only 1 in 10,000 end up with Meniere's disease when certainly all 10,000 must get exposed at some point. Is that the genetic component? Not actually having the Meniere's gene, but having some flaw in our immune system to fend off the virus that causes it?

Unfortunately, the answer may not be found in my lifetime. Then again, it may.

In the meantime, the debate will continue, and the leading candidate for its root cause will shift as the newest research discovers new potential links.

And those of us with the illness will still be left with more questions than answers.

'Til next time


Just a guy trying to live with an invisible, potentially debilitating illness

Monday, February 1, 2016

The complicated life of a Menierian

Life is interesting. More so when you have a chronic illness.

I 'm not one to sit back and feel sorry for myself, so I push the limits every day. I did that for 22 years farming full time while having Meniere's disease. When the time came for me to hang that up, I had no idea what my future would be. On a whim, and with the intention of getting my wife back in college to finish her registered nursing program, we visited the local community college. Somehow I decided to embark on the journey to getting a college degree in accounting. My first step is an associates degree.

*A little disclaimer: I have never been academically challenged in my life, so this is more "jumping through the hoops" than it is a stretch of my learning ability.*

As  I have embarked on his venture, the encouragement from others has been wonderful. It is good to know that people genuinely think this is a good thing for me. Along the way I have had many ask what my ultimate goal of getting the degree is. Several have encouraged me to go all the way to getting my CPA license. While the thought of that is intriguing, I am also a realist. This requires a bachelors degree, 150 total credits, and a 2000 hour apprenticeship under a licensed CPA in order to become licensed. It also means that I would have to sit for a 4 part test and, of course, pass it.

The question was asked of me this morning what I would do with a CPA license and for how long.

That is a very good question.

I'm not the kind of person who cares how many letters I have after my name (trust me, I've run across more than one with a masters degree that left me scratching my head how they got it). I am just the type of guy who can't do nothing for the rest of my life.

Would the CPA be a benefit for me? What would my employment options be? (I have been told by college officials that most students need to look for work after graduation, accounting grads have people looking for them) How do I address the issues of my illness in regard to a new career?

This morning I was reminded why these questions matter.

I woke up with a hangover. While some would claim this to be the sign of a good weekend, I have consumed no alcohol for a month. It was a Meniere's hangover. The kind that, if I were still farming, would likely have put me in bed after doing the 3 hours of morning chores, assuming I didn't vomit in the process.

All the same questions that I dealt with in deciding that I could no longer handle the physical aspect of farming came back into my head. If I am an accountant, how do I do my job lying on the floor? Or not coming in to work at all? Even more basic than that, how do I get to the office? What would my employer think? Clients? Co-workers? Would they trust me enough to hire me? Support me? Work with me on these occasions?

Believe it or not, accounting CAN be stressful. Do I need that in my life?

Everyone with this illness knows what kind of insidious bastard it can be. Months can go by with no issues and then hit you one day and knock you back to the core of your being.

These are the questions that everyone with a chronic illness have to answer for themselves each and every time an opportunity presents itself. What I have learned is that my health MUST take precedence over all else in my life. If I'm not me, how can I be anything to anyone else?

In the meantime, I will be continuing on my journey to my associates degree. We'll see what life has in store once I reach that goal.

'Til next time


Just a guy trying to live with an invisible, potentially debilitating illness