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Balance Awareness Week 2017

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Balance Awareness Week
Balance Awareness Week

Defeat dizziness and raise funds for balance disorders

It’s Balance Awareness Week (BAW17) next week, from September 18-24 – what has that to do with gardening, you may ask?

Well, having balance issues can totally change your life. I’ve had an undiagnosed condition for nine months. I can’t do the simple gardening jobs I’m used to – walking up the winding, narrow, gravel paths of my garden; carrying watering cans, standing on ladders to pick produce or use power tools – even take photos.

If it hadn’t been for the constant help of my daughter Vanessa, who waters, holds ladders and my hand, and takes photographs, the garden would be dead and there would be no pictures on this site.

My story so far

Mandy Vanessa
My balance lifeline… with daughter Vanessa

The week aims to raise awareness about vestibular disorders and funds for education to support patients in their journey from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.

Just after Christmas, I was told I had labyrinthitis after a sudden onset of vertigo-like symptoms. This was ruled out after about three months, as ‘I should have been better by then’.

I saw an ENT specialist and fell over in his office trying to do a balance test, marching on the spot, with my arms outstretched and eyes closed. He sent me for a brain scan ‘to rule out a tumour’. He gave me basic exercises to do.

By July, the scan was clear, so on to a neurologist. My appointment is on October 6, when I fully expect to be told ‘it’s something to do with your epilepsy or anxiety’ and be told to get on with it.

What are the symptoms?

  • Mandy
    Don’t despair, fight back!

    Some days are better than others: on a bad day, I feel like the pavement is made of marshmallow.

  • Narrow spaces and unfamiliar twisting paths particularly disorientate me and I’ve fallen several times (luckily no lasting damage).
  • Occasional bouts of vertigo, when it feels my eyes are rolling back into my head.
  • I occasionally have tinnitus in my right ear and can hear my heart pounding.
  • A dead feeling/numbness in my brow/right-hand side of my face. I was originally told this was epilepsy related, with attacks affecting one of the cranial nerves.
  • Of course, this all leads to lack of independence and depression. Not good.

What I’ve done about poor balance

I make myself get up and do yoga every morning before breakfast. Obviously, standing poses are a challenge, but I found an excellent DVD – Yoga for Back Pain with Barbara Benagh – which concentrates on supine and sitting poses.

Six weeks in, I feel more positive, my bad back is lots better and while my balance comes and goes, I feel better able to cope.

Ways you can get involved

There are lots of things you can do to raise awareness – look for the hashtags #BAW2017 #BalanceAwareness #MenieresSociety #DefeatDizziness on social media.

Blue Monday: Wear blue to work or school on Monday, September 18; the launch day for BAW2017 and donate £1 to the society. Text: BALA16 £1 to 70070 to make your Blue Monday donation.

To raise funds, text BALA16 £3 to 70070 to donate and visit www.menieres.org.uk/baw2017 to find out more.

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