Adventures with Fatigue in the Aftermath of an Avocado Disaster

This is going to be a tough one…

The sentences just don’t want to flow. My brain feels likes like mush, and fatigue steals the words off my tongue.

But I expected it this time. In fact, I even tried to prepare for it. Yet here I sit, dizzy, and exhausted…after a full night’s sleep, at 11:00 am. It’s been a hard week to say the least, and this time, Meniere’s is not to blame. Well not directly.

It all started with a simple accident, one careless moment while preparing dinner several weeks ago.

I was in my kitchen on a Friday night, and had decided to cut up an avocado. I sliced it in half and began to cut out the pit, when the knife slipped and went straight into my left thumb. It was a small cut, but it went in deep, and I immediately knew something was very wrong.

As I ran my thumb under the faucet, I couldn’t feel anything. The top of my thumb was completely numb. I sealed the cut closed with liquid bandage and hoped for the best.

A week later, the cut was almost healed, but I still had no feeling in the top of my thumb. I decided to see a doctor. After considerable searching for a local orthopedic hand specialist who accepted my insurance, I was able to book an appointment for the next day.

I’ve had trouble finding good doctors in the past, but this time I got lucky. The doctor couldn’t have been nicer or more patient. He answered all of my questions, but after an X-ray and physical exam he broke the bad news.

I had damaged one of the nerves in my thumb, possibly severed it, but there was no simple way to tell. He explained that there are no tests sensitive enough to be able to see the damage on a nerve that small. The only way to know for sure, and fix it if need be, was exploratory surgery.

The situation had escalated so fast. My doctor explained that, depending on the severity of the damage, the feeling might come back on its own, but there was a chance it never would. And even if it did, scar tissue could develop around the nerve and cause problems later in life.

I also didn’t have a lot time to make a decision. The longer I waited, the less effective surgery would be. I decided later that night that if I didn’t get the surgery, and the feeling never came back in my thumb, I would always regret it. I scheduled the surgery the next day.

A Complete and Total Loss of Momentum:

This was my second surgery in the last year alone. About nine months ago I had to have a surgery to repair a hernia. So I had a rough idea of what to expect this time around.

After my hernia surgery, I had a really difficult time. I was hit by a mountain of brain fog, fatigue, and dizziness that had threatened to crush me. My Meniere’s symptoms had returned with a vengeance. The accompanying exhaustion, boredom, loneliness and resulting depression had lasted for weeks.

But when I started to feel better, I realized what had happened, and I learned something incredibly valuable:

One of the most powerful forces in treating Meniere’s disease is forward momentum.

Before I had my hernia surgery, I was working on exciting projects, exercising and meditating every day, and eating a healthy diet. I had so much momentum behind me.

But then I had the surgery. I was in pain, doped up from the meds, eating comfort foods, and laying around all day. When it came time to transition back into my life, I was stuck.

It was the first time since becoming diagnosed with Meniere’s disease that I had reached a point of complete inertia. I’ve had my share of setbacks over the years, but I had never been so completely out of commission. It took me a long time to find my way out of the hole. It took so much effort to get the ball rolling again.

So when I scheduled the surgery for my thumb, I wanted to try to avoid a repeat of the aftermath of my last surgery. I made a plan, and although I’m having a tough time, it’s nothing like it was before.

Time for Action:

Life always gets in the way. We not only have to face the adversity of Meniere’s disease itself, but we also have to face adversities with Meniere’s disease. Often, we have to deal with both at the same time. But every once in a while, we know what’s coming, and we get a chance to prepare.

My avocado disaster was ultimately an accident, but the damage was done. All I could do was accept that it happened, and get it taken care of. This time though, I knew the challenge was to prevent inertia.

After my hernia surgery, the brain fog was so thick I could barely function. It dragged on for so long. I was starting to lose hope. At some point I realized that it wasn’t going to improve on its own. I needed to do something, anything, to try to get better. It was time to take action.

I focused what little bit of energy I had on two key tasks: creativity exercises and rebuilding my routine.

For years I have used creativity exercises to combat brain fog, and it would always help. But I hadn’t done it for weeks and I knew I needed to up the stakes. I decided to push myself to try something completely new and I started writing creative short stories in response to writing prompts on Reddit. (Click here to read one of my short stories)

It was hard, really brain-achingly difficult. But I would finish a story and for a short while I would feel amazing. I had created something new and accomplished something I never knew I was even capable of. And the fog slowly started to lift. Every day I felt a tiny bit better.

I also started to try to rebuild my routine. I started eating my meals at the same time again, and I cut out the junk food. I couldn’t exercise, but I started going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, making sure to get 9 hours of sleep. It was an agonizingly slow process, but eventually I bounced back.

To keep up momentum after my thumb surgery, I knew what I had to do. I kept the junk food to a minimum. I went to bed early and got more sleep than I usually do. And I kept up my daily creative practice. As hard as it has been to write, I am feeling better now than when I first started writing this article.

Despite my best efforts, it has still been a hard week. But I am grateful to have learned my lesson the first time around. I was prepared and that preparation paid off. After only a week, I am already starting to feel better.

I hope I don’t need surgery again for a long time, but I know that at some point, somehow, something will go wrong. And when it does, I’ll be ready.

  1. Patricia Eastwoood

    Thanks so much, for sharing your story with us. It was interesting to read the part on your short story writing, because I have been trying to get myself to a little place in Italy, where I could go fulfill writing my own book. Of course, the MD kept stepping in, and it has just been so hard to bring that goal to fruition, because of the Meniere’s (and some technological slowness in Calabria).

    Routine and regular scheduling is a key to helping us lot focus, or at least feel better in ways. Last year, my Meniere’s sent me head first down the historic ruins of Agrigento, Sicily. I smashed my face up and was lying in the MD stupor, not wanting anyone to pick me up for a while. (I was like the vacation “side show” with all those people around, blood everywhere). It wasn’t until I finally stood up that I could not walk. Later, I was diagnosed with 2 breaks of my right ankle! Imagine…..the ordeal getting me back to Canada, never mind driving the rental car back from Sicily to Calabria. Good news is, my daughter, (who never drove in a foreign country before, or wanted to) was with me. She soon learned! (Does MD sometimes help others at times?).

    So, I totally understand hearing about lying around (for the rest of the year), gaining weight, etc, etc. What did I do? I got mad by the time the foul winter was almost through, and I booked a trip (alone) to visit the home of my birth – England, rented the car, visited my best pal, and even took in London (which is not home), and did it now sweat!

    I put most of my “forward actions” down to being totally regimented with my habits and my eating and sleeping. I walk every other day (so I can do needed tasks early each day) and I eat really well and healthy, no junk either!

    Thanks again, for sharing with us.

    • Your Welcome Patricia, I’m glad you liked it. I can even imagine falling down the historic ruins of Agrigento, Sicily. I just looked up a picture of the ruins and it made me cringe to think of you falling down. I’m glad it wasn’t worse than the broken ankle! And I completely agree about the power of routines to build momentum. I always felt like my routine was a big contributor to my ability to manage my symptoms, but it wasn’t until after my hernia surgery that I realized just how important. Thanks for leaving a response!

    • Sitting here in a brain fog, the hangover from yesterday’s vertigo attack, I found your posts. Thank you. I’m scheduled for a visit with a fourth ENT in June. I’ve been battling this nonsense since 2000 but hadn’t had an all-out attack until 2015. Been on a cafe restroom floor myself. In solidarity, thank you!

      • Patricia Eastwood

        Please DO read more on this site. Going to many ENT specialists will bring no sudden cure for you, even if suggested surgery for you. However, there are many good and effective ways to help yourself through this and maintain stability.

  2. This was an interesting read since I am fortunate that since last September my Meniere’s has been fairly tame, and it has instead been the adversity I face when struggling to deal with my intractable migraines with aura and MAV. I’ve been spending a lot of time recently trying to get better with my day to day management of Meniere’s after getting a few mild attacks starting last month.

    It is so true that we need to be proactive about everything, and you do a great job distilling your process for yourself and everyone else. While it’s tiresome constantly juggling multiple ailments and life stressers we really can lose momentum. When we drop the ball we lose it all.

    • Thanks Syn! Which is generally harder to deal with, the migraines/MAV or Meniere’s? I only get migraines maybe once every year or two so its hard for me to grasp what that would be like all the time. I feel like chronic migraines/MAV would be much harder to deal with. But yeah, momentum really plays such a big roll, regardless of the specific ways one manages their illness.

      • The migraines are the hardest, I have basilar aura which includes things like cognitive changes (confusion, mind blankness, loss of consciousness, altered consciousness), language issues (sometimes almost complete loss of speech), among a lot of other crappy symptoms, and I often get vertigo as a part of basilar aura. Essentially reality just seems to disintegrate for an hour or so for up to three times a day. The aura in my case is actually worse than the headaches themselves. However, my the past few weeks have been pretty good. My full list of aura weirdness is here: if you’re curious.

        The MAV really has nothing on the Meniere’s, I often feel odd in MAV support communities since thanks to Meniere’s alone I have disequilibrium ALL the time and will until my right ear vestibular system is totally dead, and my left side is able to properly compensate. A lot of MAV sufferers to not have the full tilt everything spinning at a 100mph for hours on end like Meniere’s sufferers get. A Lot of MAV is more rocking, dizziness, poor balance, and usually if there is full vertigo it is brief (seconds to minutes).

        However, when it comes to Meniere’s I got it really easy, so far no hearing loss and my vestibular system in my right ear (the Meniere’s ear of course) is almost completely shot a little over a year after it started. So my vertigo episodes are much milder since my vestibular system is just not responsive.

        Though this is likely a lot of what is making my migraines so bad, since my brain just is not cooperating with learning to compensate for the vestibular loss on the right side. Though even that should be temporary.

        • Oh wow, Syn I honestly had never heard of basilar aura, and reading your post…I can’t even imagine. Migraine pain alone is hard enough, but with all those all those other symptoms, my God. Ive read several of your posts and I must say, your positivity and hopefulness through it all is truly inspiring. As far as your brain learning to compensate for the vestibular loss on your right side, have you considered Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy (VRT)? It could help to speed up the time it takes.

          • With the migraines still being so bad and often triggered by the vestibular loss it wouldn’t be helpful. Though on the good days I retrain myself. I’ve finally had some days where I can get back to Yoga, walk more, etc. I’m impressed by your positively and you’re ability to process it too, there need to be more chronic illness bloggers that do that.

  3. Thanks for another great blog post. It couldn’t have been more timely for me as I am struggling with jet lag and brain fog this week and the overriding temptation is to lay around and do nothing.
    However you are right – momentum is everything regardless of whether we are having MD symptoms or not (only have regular off balance issues and no vertigo – thank goodness- at the moment).
    So I’ve got off my lazy ass and started some writing this morning (I also write for a living), am just about to take the dog for a long walk and have half an hour meditation scheduled in before a heathy lunch. Feeling better already! Thank you 🙂

  4. Ihave been suffering with this disease along with Autoimmune disease of the ear for 10 years, the difference is I will be deaf soon, Hello cochlear implants. This disease has taken so much from me, but I had to make a decision, I have to make lemonade out of Lemons. I started 2 separate blogs, started a support group, up to 12 people, sometimes people skype in. I do have speakers. I am going to be on our local TV show to bring awareness to Vestibular diseases. I keep my schedule pretty simple knowing I will pay if I don’t. If you would like I could do a blog on your book and have it as a recommended resource to read. Is Amazon the only place you can get it? Was Amazon easy to work with? Is it available E book. let me know your information and I hope I can read your book. Kelly Helsel
    2509 starr Meadows loop
    Reno NV 89519
    Facebook Vestibular Association of Northern NV
    Personal FB Kelly Suiter Gregory
    Thank you for listening.

  5. Very interesting read and very well written. Your in!spiration is admirable and all of us who suffer understand the struggle. Thank you for these pages and the positive attitude. I want to thank you for your writing and please keep posting here

  6. Gleen
    It’s been a well 10 days since surgery. Like clock work my illness usually come to surface around the 20 of the month and will continue until around 5 or 6 th of following month. Well symptoms started to surface on 9/23 and I had surgery (full thyroid removal – was cancer) on 9/25. Since then the illness has completely over come me. I was concerned this would happen that’s why I put off having this surgery for 9 months.
    I’m going to put a plan together. Address one symptom at a time.
    Any suggestions on head pressure it’s the worst right now

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