After I started toppling over from lack of balance in 2013, after being diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease and losing all hearing in my left ear a few years later, after a cochlear implant in 2019, after losing the joy of music, conversation, and podcasts, something in me gave up.
I tried to talk myself into fighting back, but it was exhausting to listen to anything, especially speech, and frightening to not know when I might get vertigo and drop like a felled tree.
Until 2011, I was a weight lifter and aerobic exerciser and taught strength training to people of all ages. I’d also practiced yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. In many ways, I was still fit and vital, but that first collapse or Drop Attack scared me.
Even after my husband and exercise partner died in 2008, I stayed fit, but as my balance faltered, I lost confidence. I still hiked twice a day and adopted a puppy knowing she would keep me and my older dog moving, but it wasn’t enough.
I felt depressed, a sinking exhaustion and hopelessness. It wasn’t only about age. It was about giving up. I still had strength and vitality somewhere, and fifteen years ago, I’d witnessed amazing physical renewal in older people when I taught strength training at a retirement community.
A few months ago, my son said, “Mom, we should talk about what happens when you can’t live alone in your house.”
Oh, that conversation! Now? “No!” something in me screamed. “Not yet!”
I had a routine doctor’s appointment scheduled a week later. All was well in blood work and other measurements.
“I want to see a physical therapist,” I told my doctor
“Why?” she asked.
“For balance,” I said.
“That’s a good idea, and I like the physical therapist you suggested.”
My first appointment with Amanda at Seneca Physical Therapy was only six weeks ago, but I’m accepting my body as it is rather than expecting it to be what it was 15 years ago. I practice every day, and it’s challenging, but I’m steadier and able to reduce vertigo medication.
Amanda gave me exercises I’d avoided like lunges. I disliked them because I was losing balance in subtle ways thirty years ago when my hearing problems began. Now I’m practicing a few lunge variations and balance exercises and developing good form. I needed a combination of movement and strength, and I needed guidance and support so I could practice on my own.
“Do you have any exercise equipment at home?” Amanda asked at our last appointment as she considered our next steps.
I laughed loud and long. “Amanda, I have a whole room dedicated to strength training. I have dumbbells, barbells, a power rack, a pulldown machine, a bench, and more. I have a strength training section on my website. It’s embarrassing to have all this equipment set up by my husband and me over twenty years ago and never use it.”
Amanda laughed with me—not at me. “Ah, so now I see why you have good form, but sometimes we need help. When I’m struggling, I can’t always help myself. You’re doing great,” she said.
Before Vic died, I wrote many articles about physical health–and I won’t return to that focus, but needed to remember what could happen if I found the will to try again. My son’s suggestion woke me up. I know my situation is still tenuous, but it changes everything to feel dedicated to taking better care of my “balance wound.” At 75, I have to make the effort or go downhill fast. Do you have similar places in life where you’ve given up and then started over with renewed energy? How did it work for you?
For an article about what it does to the body to have Meniere’s Disease, see My Friend Meniere: Standing Up to Disability. To learn more about building health, go to the Health Section of my website. I’m sorry some links don’t work because the articles were first published at websites that are no longer active, but the full articles are all there.