Well, unfortunately, Meniere’s happened again…
So menacing, right? What happened? How bad was it? You weren’t playing music at the time, were you? Not in front of an audience though, right?
Yes. Vertigo attack. 7 out of 10. And yes, I was playing at the time. Yes, it was in a public setting.
I’m not sure what it is about shows that can trigger it from time to time, but it’s been probably six months since I last had any Meniere’s issues. For those unfamiliar with Meniere’s, it is an inner-ear disorder that results in tinnitus, hearing loss, “stuffy ear” feelings, which then cause balance problems and, if it’s bad enough, like it was this past week, full on, room-spinning, nausea-inducing vertigo; which, can sometimes trigger my Asperger’s brain to short-circuit and leads me to fully shut down (read: temporary paralysis), which is horrifying and even more panic-inducing than the whole vertigo thing, which can sometimes be a good thing as once my paralysis faded (about twenty or so minutes later) my brain was no longer focused on the vertigo so that got better (slowly, but still) as a result. See, sometimes awful things can have positive effects.
But, of course, I was playing music. I was done for the evening but things wrapped up early (when does that ever happen in musical situations?) and I got to go sing some more. I got up to go to the bathroom and something felt off. My head was not right. One and half glasses of wine over nearly 3 hours doesn’t do that. Hmm, I thought but brushed it off. Maybe it was the wine-americano-wine combo. I was tired and the caffeine sounded good. Maybe it was being outside in the warmer weather for a few hours. Maybe it was all of the above. It probably was all of the above, who am I kidding? Regardless, I was like “whatever, I’ve played through some dizziness/light-headedness before. No big deal.”
I got my guitar out and started to tune up (or check the tuning as my trusty Martin D-15 rarely goes out of tune). My vision was suddenly not what it should be. It wasn’t blurry but I could tell it wasn’t right. Was I nervous? That would be weird. Why would I be nervous? I’d already played earlier and did well. I was singing with Brianne and everything was sounding great. It was a cool spot and the sound was good, so why did I suddenly feel an impending doom?
As I walked towards the stage, the dizziness really set in. I was suddenly thinking “one foot in front of the other. Just keep going.” The guitar cord was underneath the mic stand foot, but I couldn’t get myself to bend over and get it loose. I wanted to make a joke about the song, but didn’t for some reason. I started playing and I could tell the tempo wasn’t right. I couldn’t keep it steady. I started to sing but I felt tone-deaf. I didn’t know where I needed to be and I couldn’t fix it anyways. My right ear felt like someone jammed in an ear plug and pushed it way too far in. Just get through it. I wished I was not singing with someone else at that moment because there are tricks you can do when your pitch isn’t quite right but I’d have to change up how I sang the song and there’s no way Brianne would be able to follow along if I started switching things up on the fly. Just get through it. I considered just stopping and walking off. But no, just get through it. I got to a break in the song where a guitar solo would normally be and tried to play it up to the crowd a bit but I felt like was gonna fall over. I could barely make eye contact with Brianne. Just get through it. Finally, the big ending to the song. I think I hit a couple of the big finishing notes sorta OK enough to make people forget how terrible the rest may have been. Maybe, maybe not, but at least it was over. I nearly fell down the stage steps while walking off. I could get my guitar into its case for some reason. It took about a minute or two to just set it in there and latch it closed. By now, I knew what was happening and what was coming.
I didn’t want to be a dick and just walk out as there was another singer up there for a couple tunes. I sat and tried to not look like I was gonna pass out at any moment (though I wish that was an option vs. the 3 or 4 hours of vertigo). As soon as they wrapped up, I thanked everyone and made a quick exit. I got home, got a glass of water and immediately felt nauseous. I had to turn off the ceiling fan as the whole ceiling was already spinning enough for me. Over the next hour it got worse and worse. I couldn’t move or it somehow got even worse. Then, after probably an hour or two (who knows?) the paralysis set in. I couldn’t move. I was thinking “this is easy, just move your fingers” but I couldn’t. My brain had shut everything down. It was overwhelmed and gave up. OK, this has happened before, I thought to myself. But, that quickly gave way to panic. What if it doesn’t come back this time? It didn’t last this long last time, did it? I can’t deal with this AND vertigo right now, can’t one of you fuck off for a bit?
As you can tell by my having typed this out, my muscles slowly came around. Funnily enough, and this has never been the case before, but it was actually my asshole that saved me this time. I felt nauseous and though I might shit myself and when a fart (or poop, I don’t know) was about to come out I was able to clench my asshole. I did it again to make sure it was under my control. It was. Since I could do that, could I wiggle my fingers? I could! Suddenly, it all came back to me. Thank fucking god! And since that had dominated my brain for the past half hour, my vertigo was on the decline. I still couldn’t sit up or move that much but I didn’t feel like I was gonna die at any moment anymore. Another hour later and I could sit up and drink some water. I was massively dehydrated by this time. And exhausted. So exhausted. But I still couldn’t close my eyes for more than a minute without getting super dizzy again.
Another 30-60 minutes (again, who knows at this point..) and I was able to stand up. I was able to go get some more water and walk back without running into things. It felt great. I slept until 1pm the next day. Still a little foggy and not feeling 100% until about 8 or 9pm that next night.
Sounds fun, right? Well, hopefully this means I’m good for the next six months or so (knocks on wood) but we’ll see. Isn’t it awesome when my Meniere’s and my Asperger’s work together to fuck with me royally?
So, anyways, if you see me playing a show and it sounds like I’ve forgotten how to sing and I look like I can barely stand up, I’m not just wasted beyond belief. I wouldn’t waste my or the audiences time with that nonsense. It turns out, I could be struggling horribly. So, be kind, accepting and buy lots of merch to cheer me up…
(dictated but not read)