What Meniere’s Disease Has Given and Taken From Me -Daniel Pancy

Back in the day, before being diagnosed with Bilateral Meniere’s, Vestibular Migraines, and BPPV… I was pretty active and adventurous. Yes, I had to walk to school and back, both ways uphill , and the snow was up to my waist too.

Seriously, I was pretty active. I was always on my ten speed bike. It was not uncommon for me to ride fifty miles in one day. I would pack up my bike with my camping gear and take of the weekend and ride back home. I lived basically on my bike. I was my transportation to school/work, to the beach at Lake Michigan, or even to the free concerts in the park. Throw in there my love love for Nordic skiing, or what we used to call cross country skiing back in the day, and you begin to understand why having Meniere’s has changed my adventures.

Nowadays I can’t even imagine trying to ride a bicycle. Because my balance is far below the normal range, it would prove to be dangerous . I always keep thinking about a three wheeled recumbent bike….I think that might be doable, at least physically but not in the wallet. If the opportunity ever arose, I would definitely take one for a ride! It has to be a recumbent one due to my knees have been so abused…not even going to bring up Nordic skiing.

Back in the day, I earned my Master Degree in Experiential Education which involved working with groups in team building activities and the theory behind the process. It ranged from rock climbing, high ropes courses, adventure camping, to building trust exercises inside the classroom. That all fit perfectly into my active adventure lifestyle and into my own classroom. I totally enjoy the rock climbing aspect of the education and became good at it.

Yes, I was The Professional Student. By that I mean if you look back on it, I was always in school. From Kindergarten through High School, to College to Grad School, and then also in the classroom as a teacher for 28 years. I was always in school. My professional student days came to a screeching halt in 2004 when the doctor ordered me to take medical retirement due to the severity of the Meniere’s because of the toll it was taking on my life and body.

Back in the day, my love for the outdoors revolved around biking, camping, backpacking, hiking, and more. I managed to hike part of the AppalachianTrail, The North Country Trail, backpacked around North and South Manitou Islands in Lake Michigan, even a road trip to Montana with lots of camping and exploration along the way. In Montana I tried my hand at archeology at a dinosaur dig. I thought to myself “retirement career”, back to college!

Even managed an attempt at white water rafting…notice “attempt”; I was quickly tossed overboard and drifted downstream by myself. Never attempted that adventure again. My experience at spelunking, not going there. Ever. Nope. But I tried.

Nowadays my cross country road trips have been shortened to just and hour with a purpose: the doctor’s, the store, or the Recreation Center. Flying is difficult. Not so much the actual flight but the process of navigating through the airports with my walker. The visual stimuli can make it mind boggling to focus on the tasks at hand.

Nowadays my outdoor adventures consist of sitting at my patio watching a propane gas fire pit flickering in the twilight. Planting in our wildflower garden, harvesting herbs, potatoes, and garlic are adventurous activities also. Meniere’s has taken many things away from me that I loved doing, but at the same time giving more adventures, just different ones than I expected to be doing at this stage of my life. Oh look! There’s a Monarch Butterfly!

Learn more about Balance Awareness Week at the link below. Learn more about hiking The North Country Trail below the first link.

https://vestibular.org/BAW

https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/michigan-lower/

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