Friday, 18 January 2013

I Was Attacked In The City

I was attacked in the city today.

It was around lunch time so the mall was full of people. I had just left a business meeting with my 85yr old father. Although I try to walk slowly to stay close to him, I usually end up a couple of metres ahead.

As we were walking down the lower part of Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall, I noticed the awning above had cast a striped shadow on the pavement in front of me. Without warning, my head & left ear tingled like a sharp electric shock, and suddenly, everything started to spin violently. I rapidly mumbled “f**k, f**k, f**k” and reached out to the left, stumbling towards a shop window.

Grasping the window with my left hand, I held my forehead with the other and pressed my head against the glass, to feel something stable & remain upright.

My father had now caught up to me and could see that something was wrong. I told him I was having a Ménières attack. There was little he could do to help other than stand nearby, watching with concern.

After a minute or so the vertigo started to subside, so I could now see the scene around me. A bench was a few metres away and I thought, “Maybe I should try to sit down?”, then I saw the face of a man seated on the bench. He was staring at me inquisitively, like I was a specimen in a bottle, or a drama show unfolding. I looked around and noticed a few other faces staring at me. Necks craned as they walked by.

Nobody stopped to help me; nobody looked sympathetic to my crisis. I wasn't bleeding. I wasn't old. I wasn't crippled. I looked strong, so why should anyone care? For the most part Ménières disease is an invisible illness, so bystanders have no idea of the terror that is being inflicted upon the sufferer during an attack.

The 19th century poet Henry David Thoreau wrote that most men lead “lives of quiet desperation.” This is tragically true of people afflicted by Vestibular disorders like Ménières disease. The isolation that comes from the ever present dizziness & hearing loss, punctuated by moments of frightening, spontaneous vertigo; surely there can be nothing so quietly desperate.

Dear reader, please remember my story and share it with others, so that people enduring Vestibular disorders won’t feel so quietly desperate & alone. Empathy & understanding go a long way.

If you are compassionate &/or can relate to my story please:

HAVE YOU HAD A SIMILAR EXPERIENCE? Share your story below.


  1. Hi Beatrice,
    Thank you so much for this blog and for all the information you've already collected. I started suffering from vertigo attacks March 2012 and now a year later have been confirmed by the audiologist that I do have Menieres with a slight low frequency hearing loss in my left ear.

    So I'm a bit upset but am looking for ways to lessing the episodes of vertigo.

    My similar episode happened this Christmas. I was in the mall for the first time to do some shopping and knew I had to take my time, slow moving is best. Well, the music was incredibly loud coming out of the stores into the main hallway AND the volume of people talking. Went into one store, raised on my tippie toes to look at something and right down and BOOM. The pull to the left, a pressure, a something I can't put words to was trying to get me to the floor. I stumbled out crasping for anything to hold me up to get out of the store. had to push people out of me way saying I was going to get sick.

    I knew there was a bench close by and made there. Took the Meclizine and laid on my right side. No one paid attention to me, no one asked if I was ok, no asked if they could help. Until the mall security came to me which I knew they would eventually. Then all of a sudden i was there. Had emergency people, police & fire dept surrounding me. Then i was there.

    Meniere's is a very lonely disease and this year has been very difficult for me and my bf because of it. I was just going to look up what Louise Hay says about this (a goddess) and also researched the herpes idea. I had it when I was about 21-22 yrs. So maybe it was reactivated by all the stress I was under last year, supervisor trying to fire me at work!

    I'll go now and will stay a follower. I may develop my own page as well. It's all about sharing information and holding each others hand when we need it.


  2. I've had Menieres for more than 20 years, since it first manifested as vertigo attacks at age 20. I have bad tinnitus that often pulses with my heart beat, and episodes of unsteadiness that can last weeks. I have gone from chronic attacks every few days to very occasional, very intense attacks where it feels like gravity has been turned off for minutes at a time. I use the "John of Ohio" vitamin regime and I think that has really helped lessen the occurrences of acute attacks.
    What I really wanted to say is that I totally get the loneliness you felt when you had an attack in public. We look healthy, whole and normal, so surely the lurching and unsteadiness is just too much to drink at lunch, right?
    I often feel the tinnitus and brain fog is like a wall I am trapped behind, sealing me off from the rest of the world. Only other Menieres sufferers can understand that feeling of isolation, frustration.