Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Inadvertently terminal illness

Meniere's disease isn't fatal, terminal, or remotely deadly.

Or is it?

While the truth of the matter is that having this illness is not directly terminal, the aspects of the disease certainly make it dangerous, which means that it may contribute to untimely death.

In visiting with my parents recently, they mentioned a conversation they had with a random couple on a sidewalk in a small town. This couple began talking about a man who had recently passed away.

I don't know the man. Never heard of him, specifically, but I know the family name. The family is involved in the excavation business. Big excavation. They operate the large track hoe and bulldozer type of equipment. The business has been in existence for several years, possibly generations. Heavy equipment is part of the job.

The story goes something like this.

This man who passed had been suffering from vertigo for the last several years. The cause of the vertigo, I do not know. It really doesn't matter. Vertigo is vertigo. These bouts of vertigo caused numerous falls and injuries.

That's understandable. Vertigo will do that.

Combine that with the above mentioned heavy equipment and it brings things to a different light.

I, again, do not know the nature of the falls. Whether he fell into heavy equipment, or off from the equipment, I do not know. It again doesn't really matter. What matters is the fact that there was large equipment around increases the likelihood of serious injury.

It seems, according to the story, that he recently suffered yet another vertigo attack. The result was major trauma to the head and death.

He was 68.

The nature of the fatal fall isn't important. The fact that it happened is.

And while it is absolutely possible that simply falling in your own home could result in your death, the issue of having large equipment around only increases that chance, slight as it may be.

I'm not sure if this one fall was the cause or if it was a cumulative effect, similar to athletes succumbing to repeated concussions. The point remains the same. Falls and head trauma can kill.

While I would jump at the chance to re-enter my former career, it becomes a risk/reward scenario. I worked around large equipment with spinning power take off shafts at over 540 RPM. I've seen what they do to stuffed scarecrow types in safety demonstrations. Having an attack at the wrong time around one of those would be instantly deadly.

I worked around large animals. While cows have been domesticated for a very long time, they are still animals. First instinct in their flight or fight mentality is flight. This means stampede. No, they won't be thundering herds racing across miles of open plain, but 100 cows weighing 1400 lbs each can do enough damage in a few hundred feet of racing to kill a person. Simply falling suddenly, under the perfect conditions, may be enough to trigger that type of response. Again, the outcome would likely be death.

That's a lot of risk for the reward of being my own boss. Healthy, it's a no brainer. With a balance dysfunction, it also is a no brainer.

I often joke to people, when I am doing a bit more than they are comfortable seeing me do, that I'm insured.

The truth is, that may be tempting fate.

Just ask the guy from the story. Oh, wait, you can't.

Point taken.

'Til next time-and stay safe


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


  1. How timely. This afternoon my husband was talking about mowing the lawn on the ride-on mower after he told me he was starting to feel off balance. He assured me it was safe; I differed in that opinion but figured he knew better than I did. In the end...he didn't do the lawn today.