Having children whilst battling chronic labyrinthitis or vestibular neuritis can be extremely challenging. It throws another dimension into your recovery – especially if you have young children who are still completely dependent on you. The simplest of tasks can feel like climbing everest when you are dizzy 24/7. You don’t have time to take the rest you need. You can’t take time out of life to get yourself better. Even if your vestibular illness is in the background, a sudden flare up when little people are depending on you can be disastrous. You might have made plans to take your children to the park for example and, without warning, your head is spinning or you’re so fatigued you can’t fathom even getting up from the couch. Suddenly screen time is the only option you have for them but the guilt is all consuming.
One vestibular patient and full time mother describes waking up with the all too familiar ‘full’ sensation in her head. She says ‘I wake up feeling dizzy. My eyes hurt. My heart sinks. How am I supposed to be a mother today? I hear my young child calling for me to play and I know I am too fatigued. I plaster a smile on my face and sit down beside her hiding my tears, thinking of the 12 hours ahead of me without a break’.
Another sufferer described how sometimes while caring for his two children his symptoms can come on suddenly. ‘It can be very frightening when it happens. One time I was on my own with the two children playing when my head just started spinning. I needed to lie on the floor. I literally couldn’t move and had no family living close by to call on. I had to keep them close to me pretending everything was ok until the dizziness passed’.
A sufferer and working parent describes coming home from work feeling exhausted from looking at the computer screen all day ‘all I want to do is come home and lie down after a 10 hour shift. I am usually dizzy and have a headache from looking at the computer but I need to be in mom mode. I miss my kids so much during the day and as soon as I get home I’m too sick to enjoy them’ .
When vestibular symptoms flare up, stimulation from children’s toys – the bright colours, lights or music; can be a sensory overload on the weakened system. Children cannot sit still so their constant running or crawling, jumping on furniture or climbing stairs can be too much for our vestibular system to process. All we want to do is lie down but we have responsibilities. We can feel like we’re on a rollercoaster that we can’t get off.
There is hope to recover from chronic labyrinthitis and VN symptoms, it is advisable to perform daily Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy exercises (as laid out by a trained physiotherapist after a consultation). Attending talk therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help with anxiety and depression associated with the illness.