An Expedition – Part 2 “A Look Inside. What did I learn?”


by W. Holcombe


After listening to myself, I decided I should stop trying to figure things out when a vertigo attack starts.  It doesn’t help.


I can’t stop a vertigo attack.

If I try to figure things out during an attack I’m creating more angst for myself.  This is already an extremely stressful situation, adding to it does not help.  The best thing I can do for me during an attack is to try to stay as calm as possible, and ride it out.   Stay safe and take care of me.

It is now a week later, I’ve had time to look back, and think about things:

  • I noticed I was feeling antsy, anxious, even a bit manic.
  • I literally had the feeling of shaking inside. A physical reaction.
  • When I started out to get in the car I lost my footing and felt unsteady.
  • At the store I noticed the noise was too loud.
  • We planned to go for a short trip, but once we got there I decided to stay longer.
  • I had to stop more than once because I needed to get focused.  (I needed to focus my eyes on something still.)
  • I was irritable.
  • People were annoying me.
  • When I couldn’t hear Stuart I got annoyed.
  • The irritability got worse as my focus got worse.
  • When we were in the can goods aisle I noticed that I felt things may be moving.   *** It wasn’t until this step that I really noticed that I was having to refocus on things and that I was feeling annoyed and irritated.  

That’s a lot of things I could have picked up on.  Or is it?

For the past, almost year now, I’ve had a very hard time leaving the house for anything other than doctor’s appointments.  Yes, I’m a bit agoraphobic.  I think it’s understandable.  There’s a real possibility that when I go out I will have a vertigo attack, an asthma attack, lose my balance and fall, ect….   I feel safe at home.   This doesn’t mean I don’t go out.  It means I’m afraid when I do.  Sometimes, the fear wins, and I stay home.   Yes, that’s alright with me.   I’m still able to do go out and do something enjoyable now and then.  I work on it, but I still don’t want to take a lot of unnecessary risks.

Because of this fear, this sometimes paralyzing fear, I did not sit back and really analyze the anxiety I was feeling before we left, or the anxiety I was feeling in the store.  I was proud of myself for going!  I was proud that I got out of the car and went in the store!  I was proud of myself for feeling like I didn’t have to run from the store screaming!   So, not picking up on the anxiety being anything more than “normal”….understandable.

So I ask again.  What did I learn?

First, I did learn I need to think before I leave.  Listen to my body!

Is this feeling because of my fear of leaving or something else?

This time, it was mostly due to the fact that I had been put on a course of steroids and I was having a reaction I had not had before.  Yep.  I’ve heard many people tell me you can have these symptoms while on steroids, I simply haven’t had them before.  However, I was on a short pack of high dose steroids to break a month-long migraine.  It worked on the migraine.  That’s also why I was feeling a bit “manic”, and physically jumpy inside.   The physical jumpy feeling should have been a big clue.

Second, I learned that I do not do Big Box stores well.

Even if I had not been taking steroids, I was not focusing well in the store.  The tall aisles, with the repeating merchandise…..over and over….  The way the noise travels in the store….all of this, simply, is not good for me.  I learned this is a trigger for me.

Would it have helped to understand this during the attack?  NO!

Will this knowledge prevent future attacks?  Maybe

A person who has Meniere’s Disease is at the mercy of a vertigo attack.  A vertigo attack cannot be predicted.  It simply can’t.   Sometimes we have little clues that it may be starting, sometimes we don’t, but never can we predict it.   Nor can we stop it.   It is not our fault if it happens.  No matter what we do.  We can avoid our triggers to try to decrease the attacks.  We can take care of ourselves to try to make it easier to handle.  But we must remember we cannot blame ourselves.

I can never be in control.



8 thoughts on “An Expedition – Part 2 “A Look Inside. What did I learn?”

  1. Carina Rivenbark

    Wendy I haven’t been grocery shopping in years. My husband does it. The isle, lights, people and trying to concentrate just send me in overload. I will go in a store once in a long while to take a quick look at something he has picked out say like for a remodel. For example a sink top not long ago. If I stay longer than 15 to 20 minutes I know it’s time to go back to the car. Florescent lights affect me horribly but so do items in the store. I use to love just to go browsing with my husband. Often we never even bought anything. I don’t do it anymore. For clothes sometimes I will go in the dressing room and either my Mom or husband bring me things to try on. It totally “fries” me. The weight I have gained doesn’t help my stress level. 😔 Mom even buys and brings things home for me to try on. I do see my self wanting to stay home more and more. I can still drive to an extent, as long as I am familiar with the area and I’m having a “good ” day. Sometimes I will just bolt out of here. I can’t take the walls. They are closing in. This has been rough week with back to back fronts. Wendy you probably have experienced some of the same weather. Hang in there !!!

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. Carina, yep, same weather. Found out yesterday that the steroids i was on caused most of this mess. Was too high of a dose too fast and too fast coming off of it. so now I’m on a very low dose…and a slow time coming off. hoping it will make it better.

      I have been getting worse and worse about the stores. I hadn’t been in a big store in a while. I normally go to the Co-Op here, but it’s much farther from home and I was afraid that day to be too far away….so we went for just a couple of needed things. ha! Hubby does almost ALL of the shopping. but sometimes I miss going. I know strange. but I used to LOVE to cook….would love to be able to do that again. need to find a new way to do things so I can enjoy that part of me again. I know I can’t do it like I used to…so I need to adapt.

      oh yes…the weight gain hasn’t helped my stress level either. but I’m getting better about it. probably won’t after these steroids. I know I’m going to gain weight…again. But I decided to get some pretty clothes in my size, so I feel better about that at least. I order on line. Only from sites that give the exact measurements of the clothes. I do need hubby to bring some bras home….shopping for bras…that’s the hardest thing!!!! and yes, we used to just go walk around the mall. not buying anything, just walking….now, well. yeah, not so much.

      the lights bother me too. Even in the hospital, and Duke’s clinics. I had on my sunglasses yesterday. Dr. K was a dear. we talked for a while….he gave me the biggest hug. He’s one of the good ones!

      Hope the weather isn’t getting to you too much. I’m hainging in there!!! I promise. just staying in the moment, as much as possible…..I’m trying hard to do that more…

      thanks for the encouragement and sharing!!


    1. thank you. I tried. I’m trying very hard to stop trying to analyze in the moment….just live in the moment. then learn.
      and then apply what I’ve learned…it may help, it may not, but maybe.
      trying hard to carry this over in my every day life.


  2. Hindsight is a wonderful tool isn’t it? But it is how we learn and apply to future situations. I no longer do big box stores all that well either. The great part of having stores a block from me is that I can go to them. The bad part is that when I can’t, it’s very much a so close yet so far experience. And that is some of the worst moments when something is in such close reach. Not a positive, emotional time on top of feeling like crap.

    But, learn we must. We have no control over what happens or when. We can only apply and build upon our experiences.


    1. Yep….hindsight. and i didn’t even find out that the Steroids caused most of it until later…so didn’t put it in the analysis, but my body was saying…Hey, there is something physically going on, and you are just brushing me off. So I need to listen to that. probably wouldn’t have stopped anything, but I probably would have been home.

      and I learned I will never go to Walmart again. haha not such a loss.

      The biggest thing with this….and many other chronic illnesses….we have no control, and that is something a LOT of people just cannot handle.

      trying to live in this moment.


  3. Listening to your body and your gut feelings–ahead of time–that’s a biggie.

    I have had to suddenly go home from shopping (for bathroom reasons) and have had to just stop and go sit on a bench or go wait in the car (for pain reasons). I don’t know if or when these things will hit me, either. The not knowing creates a kind of tension most people don’t always understand. And the more tense I am, the odds go up on the bathroom and pain issues. A vicious circle.

    But, staying calm…not beating ourselves up about it…makes it easier to bear. Love and hugs!! 🙂 🙂


    1. Rita,
      You are so right, a vicious circle.
      But we can’t beat ourselves up about it.

      I’ve seen this in so many people, especially those I know with Meniere’s, trying to figure out…what caused this attack.
      loved ones do it to. We know there are triggers, so we start to think we could have stopped it, if we had just recognized that trigger and stopped it. but we just can’t live that way. triggers aren’t the only thing, and they may not always trigger.

      but we have to carry on.
      just live now.
      Trying hard to be in the now.
      loving the love and hugs…..back at ya!!!


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