September. Where did the summer go? We didn’t have a long summer this year considering on May 15th we received ten inches of snow; not out of the realm of possibilities, considering where I live, but damn it was a fast summer.
Now people are turning their attentions to kids being in school, dropping off others off at college, football nights, and pumpkin spiced anything. Some people turn their attention to other things like Balance Awareness Week.
Balance Awareness Week is September 15-21 this year. The goal is to raise awareness for those who have difficulty with and maintaining due to vestibular disorders. Meniere’s Disease is one of those disorders.
“That is why VeDA pioneered Balance Awareness Week (BAW) in 1997: to be an opportunity each year to come together and shine a light on these otherwise invisible balance disorders. If we’re all more aware, then we can better understand and be empathetic to those who need our support the most—our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. Effective treatments are available for many vestibular disorders. Whether treatable or chronic, faster and more accurate diagnosis, along with effective coping strategies can greatly improve quality of life.
While most people may not be familiar with the word “vestibular”—relating to your inner ear, brain, and sense of balance—many of us have experienced the awkward or sometimes scary feeling when we momentarily lose our balance. Maybe it’s taking a wrong step or getting motion sickness aboard a jostling boat. Or that nauseating head-spinning sensation after one too many alcoholic beverages. Eventually, our balance comes back and life moves on.
This is not the case for the over 69 million Americans who suffer from the mostly invisible and frequently debilitating symptoms of chronic imbalance associated with a vestibular disorder. Whether it comes on gradually over time or all of the sudden, bouts of dizziness, vertigo, and nausea can make many of life’s more routine tasks virtually intolerable. Try to get a good night’s sleep with a high-pitched ringing in your ear. Or try to focus on something as everything around you appears to be spinning. For those living with a vestibular condition, everyday life becomes a progressively challenging obstacle course to navigate.” https://vestibular.org/BAW
Personally, I’m aware of my own balance issues, although many people are not. Having bilateral Meniere’s, meaning both ears are involved with this invisible disease, brings along a whole new set of balance awareness .
If you visit our home, you may not even notice that our furniture has been strategically placed as to help me be able to touch or hold on to something when needed.
Nightlights are everywhere! In the dark I have zero balance. I actually mean zero.
Walking on the beach, or uneven yard, or a small downwards incline, maybe hazardous to my balance and health.
No driving at night, or rain, or those beautiful big snowflakes that everyone loves to see, or driving over a bridge with big overhead supports, or even large construction zones. Yes, these things effect my balance, either driving or as a passenger; I always have to be in the front seat.
Anyplace that doesn’t have a shopping cart handy requires me to use my walker or my quad cane. I am aware that open indoor areas are one of my many concerns when it comes to maintaining my balance.
My shoes. Yes,my shoes. I wear only ones that are not above my ankle. Many people think that an above the ankle type of shoe would give you more stability. Actually they give you a false sense of balance. My shoes are flat bottomed. You will see me changing my shoes two to three times a day. Why? Your feet provide valuable input to your balance system. Since I cannot not rely on the signals from my ears, I use the information from my feet to correct my balance.
So why do I change them so often? To keep the flow of information up to date. This allows me to feel the ground in different ways depending on the shoes I wear. In the locker room and pool area I wear a barefoot running type of shoe. These in combination with my quad cane provide valuable information, they are non-slip, waterproof, and lightweight.
All the above are used to increase my Balance Awareness, plus many more that you would probably never noticed unless I pointed them out to you. So take the time to learn about your Balance Awareness, you would be surprised what you are doing without even realizing that you are. By increasing your own Balance Awareness, you will start understanding more about those that have a damaged vestibular system and ways to improve their quality of life. -Daniel Pancy