When you live with a chronic illness, it’s really easy to fall into fixed routines and very specific patterns of living.

And it makes sense, because routines are extremely helpful in managing chronic illness.

But there’s an unintended consequence to living this way. You start to develop beliefs and assumptions about the world that can limit your quality of life in unnecessary ways.

I’ll me give you a personal example.

I’ve always been very careful with my diet. Sodium is a big symptom trigger for me, and as a result there are certain kinds of food that I avoid entirely – Chinese, Barbecue, Deli, Soups, just to name a few.

It works for me because these foods are usually loaded with sodium.

But I LOVE all of those foods I’ve given up. I’m a huge foodie and Chinese food is delicious.

Over time, I have adapted to this particular lifestyle change. You can still eat a lot of great things on a low sodium diet, but something happened to me recently that completely changed the way I think about food.

An Impossible Dinner:

A few weeks ago, some of my family was in town and we were all getting together for dinner, but this time, we were ordering in.

It’s always tough for me when we order food. Being the one person with dietary restrictions complicates things when you’re ordering take out for 10 people. But my family understands this, and they usually do a good job accommodating me.

So, imagine my surprise when I was told we were ordering barbecue. Because remember, I don’t eat barbecue at all.

But my dad had called around and found a wonderful barbecue place that doesn’t use salt in their dry rub, and let us order everything with sauce on the side.

I can’t begin to explain to you how happy this made me. I haven’t had good barbecue in so many years. I didn’t even know it a possibility. If my dad hadn’t thought to call around, I never would have had this experience.

And as simple as this example is, it made me question everything. What else had I written out of my life based on nothing more than a bad assumption? What else I had overlooked for all these years?

Thinking back, I know there was a lot.

Quality of Life:

It also made me realize something important.

When you live with such a complicated and potentially debilitating health condition, big medical breakthroughs are not always in the cards. But little things like this can make such a difference in your quality of life.

So, what assumptions have you made about your health? What beliefs are holding you back from living a more fulfilling life?

And are there truly no exceptions to the rule? Is there really no way to do the things you want to do but believe you can’t?

Or are you limiting yourself unnecessarily, like I was?

Because there is most likely a way to do many of the things you want to do.

And just because we think otherwise, doesn’t make it true.

  1. Hi, my name is Stacy and I have had menieres for 5 years now. I have discovered a little trick which helps me have the occasional salty meal, I go running with my plastic water proof clothes before I need to go out. I still have a slight “hangover” feeling the next day, but if I push myself to do another run I generally feel better by the end of the day. I can’t do it too often, but a couple times a month seems to be ok. I do occasionally push things a bit far and the other day I shared some popcorn with my kids in the cinema. . And I paid the price the next day with one of my worst vertigo attacks. It’s tough when you manage the symptoms really well with lots of sweaty excercise and home cooked meals with zero salt, then you start to forget you have MD because you have zero symptoms….and so that sneaky handful of popcorn sneaks in and wham! Vertigo, vomiting, tinnitus and all the rest come back to haunt you…..it takes a couple weeks to get it all back under control again. But I am pleased to say, for the most part I have it under control enough to enjoy the occasional BBQ, Chinese or sushi etc.

  2. Thanks for the post, which I plan to share with family and friends. Many people don’t understand what it’s like for someone who lives with Meniere’s Disease and must be on a low-sodium diet. Although it’s nearly impossible to order anything other than a plain baked potato or a salad sans dressing when eating out, certain restaurants have offered to make me an unseasoned omelet or hamburger. That simple kindness is much appreciated, especially when I’m traveling.

  3. Glenn
    You mention routine. Well every time I try to go outside the box for working out or getting out I end up in bed for two days. Tried a spin class. Dark, not air conditioned and intense. I’m in bed feeling miserable for two days. Now again I went to the river with family on Saturday. I had to leave church early on Sunday because I wasn’t feeling good. Been in bed since. Is it the heat exposure?
    Suggestions, comments or concerns ?

    • Veronica,

      Too much aerobic exercise aggravates my tinnitus and leaves me dizzy. I avoid physical activity in the heat and keep myself well hydrated. If I don’t adhere to 1500 mg of sodium or less daily, I’ll have an attack of vertigo.

      Living with Meniere’s is challenging. We don’t want to be different from other people, but we are, and it’s important to understand–and respect–our limitations.

      Wishing you well,

      • Linda Lee,
        Thank you .. I failed to keep myself hydrated on Saturday at the river. I do take a water pill for illness. Plus I had an Silverstein Microwick placed in my affected ear on Thursday for dexamethasone treatment. The dizziness, extreme fatigue and nausea may be a side effect from the treatment. Either way I’ve been miserable for 2 days.
        Reached out to physician regarding concerns and was advised to continue dexamethasone drops.

        • So far, two years of a low-sodium diet have proved effective in preventing vertigo attacks. Maybe that won’t be the case in the future, but I hope so. I can’t take medications such as anti-histamines or diuretics without triggering migraine. Therefore, my treatment options are limited. I’ll ask my ENT about the Silverstein Microwick. Maybe it could help with the constant tinnitus and ear pressure. Thanks for sharing, Veronica.

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