Monday, May 2, 2016

I've let us all down

I'm sorry. I've failed us.

It seems I have gotten comfortable not being upfront with talking about Meniere's disease with people I have just met.

Here's what I mean.

I recently attended a birthday party for a good friend. The big 5-0. As I was sitting at the table, eating, this couple sits down by me. I had never met them before. He started talking about farming. Being  farmer (former farmer), I was able to carry on a good conversation with him about the ins and outs of farming.

After some other people came and went, he asked if I farmed. I replied that I did for 31 years, until I went deaf. He did a double take because I had been talking to him. I couldn't be deaf, could I?

But that is where I failed us all.

I stopped at deaf. Why?

Truth is, being deaf is not the main reason I "retired" from farming. The list was actually pretty long. The list had more reasons to stop on it than reasons to continue. Going deaf was just one of the things on the list.

It was actually Meniere's disease, although deaf is part of this, that tipped the scales to hang it up. All the other things on the list I could have overcome. It would not have been easy, but who cares. That's what builds character, facing challenges and rising up to meet them head on.

Meniere's was the one thing, and more specifically, the vertigo and drop attacks, that I could not deal with right then. That was the final straw that broke this camel's back.

So why do I default to "I'm deaf?"

It's easier.

It's easier to explain deaf. I can even demonstrate that. Take off my "ears", and voila! I'm deaf!

You can't explain this other stuff. You can't explain that you have random vertigo attacks. You can't explain what a crisis of Tumarken is. You can try, but you really can't. Granted, sometimes you get "lucky" and the person has had vertigo, mainly BPPV, but you still miss the mark with them. They understand a few seconds of the room spinning. Some say that is was the worst thing they ever experienced in their life. Then drop the "I get it for up to 4 hours" on them and watch the jaws drop and the stares become blank. In the real world, that just can't happen! Or so they think.

Or maybe you can get that across to them, but then drop the bombshell on them that I have. "When mowing my lawn, it is not uncommon for me to stop, get off the riding mower, vomit, get back on and finish." Well, there is no way that I could be that nauseated by simply mowing the lawn!

Or maybe try this one. "While driving tractor the last spring I farmed, I had to stop in the middle of the field for 20 minutes before I was able to drive to edge of the field to get out and lie down." Nope. That's an airplane story. It went right over their head.

So, I take the easy way out far more often than the truth: I gave up my first career due to the unpredictability of Meniere's disease, NOT being deaf.

And for my failure to say that more often, I'm sorry.

"Til next time


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


  1. We have all been there. I find I use the excuse that it is hard for me to hear in public places so I don't want to go out but really it's the Meniere's not my only hearing deficit.

  2. You did not fail us. Not everyone needs to be privy to all we go through. Yes it's important to spread awareness but not every time you meet someone. Dont be too hard on yourself. Thank you for all that you do. Sending soothing healing blessings to you.

    1. Awareness can be exhausting. It sometimes is easier to take the easy way out. Thank you for your message.

  3. I am lucky, or unlucky, depending on how you look at it. I have a couple of friends who have Menieres and a couple of othersmall who have a family member who has Menieres. So they totally understand. And what I think is exceptional is that I met them all at random places and different times. But please, don't think that you have failed us. Sometimes you just need a break from having to explain it to everyone.

  4. I had to cancel family events due to Meniere's acting up. I had 17 days straight where I could not drive because I was dizzy and off balance. It's not fun. This is why I'm apply for disability.
    You didn't let us down. It's hard to explain to people. My sister in law thought if I just got up and moved around I would get better. Nope. It doesn't work that way.
    Take care!

    1. Thank you. Take things one day at a time and maybe your support will come around. You take care as well.

  5. My husband was a master plumber for 25years and I feel your pain and sorrow. He has to struggle daily to do the most routine things, but he presses on. Just knowing others understand makes me feel a little less alone. Deaf is just one part and not everyone deserves to know his story of triumph

    1. It is hard to expect people to understand when we can look so well, then have it knock us down. I think you are correct. Not everyone does deserve to know our whole story.

  6. I had an attack and they started coming daily for over a month. I kept trying to work, etc. but finally had to retire, which depressed me so bad. I can't keep up with housework, etc. and feel like I am useless.My husband is VERY understanding,and he usually explains it to others. Had a family member who thought my being "dizzy" was SO funny. He had a brief bout of vertigo at work...scared the snot out of him. Now it's not so funny.
    We do what we need to do. You are great for sharing what you share. No need to beat yourself up.