Friday, September 16, 2016

Why does it matter that there is a thing called Balance Awareness Week?

I'm a bit tardy on this week's meaning and importance, but really, for me, there is no such thing as one week out of the year that balance awareness matters.

It's a challenge to explain to others that do not have compromised balance systems what it is like to live without normal balance function. They see me walk. They see me drive. I'm not incapacitated because of my loss of vestibular function.

What they don't see is the frequent struggles I have in everyday life because they don't live with me. They only see me when I am doing well.

I used to enjoy playing a little basketball. I was never on any type of organized team, but I liked to join a pick up game in my early years. Now I have kids and the elementary school has a basketball program. At the end of the season they have a parent/child game. I can't play. I've tried, but all it takes is to spin around a couple times and I'm looking for something to grab onto. That part of life is gone.

I used to play softball. That's gone too.

Riding bike used to be one of my favorite childhood activities. It has been years since I have been on a two wheeled bike. The last time I was, I was shocked I could keep it upright. My balance has officially (testing proven) gotten worse since then.

If my bicycle is gone, so is the thought of ever riding motorcycle again.

And these are just the optional things in life. They aren't necessary, but enjoyable.

People should see me trying to walk in the dark. Or should I say stumble and grope in the dark. Don't put me in a room with no widows and turn out the lights unless you want to hear a crash and thud because chances are pretty good I'm tipping over.

Walking in snow is fun. As is uneven ground. More stumble and grab.

I've gotten so I don't really like to drive at night on bumpy roads. The headlights dance, or is it my eyes? Forget long times on a tractor or other equipment without a suspension system.

There is one benefit. When your kids see you on the riding lawn mower and you get off and vomit and get back on to finish, they step up quickly to mow for you.

When we had upright silos on the farm, I would climb them for giggles pre- Meniere's. Now I get the chills watching someone stand on a cliff on TV. Climbing on roofs will be something I doubt I will ever do again. Ladders are enough of a challenge.

To be quite honest, it stinks.

So, if you know someone with impaired balance function, take what's left of this week to support a program that helps people cope with the loss. VEDA is a good example. You can visit their website at vestibular.org and make a donation, or find a way to volunteer.

Because balance matters more than one week in September.

'Til next time

Dennis

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