Post Ménière’s diagnosis has been a life of trial and error. Since my last post (September 21st), numerous problems have been my companion. For example, emptying a dishwasher is considered relatively easy for most folks. However, I have to hold the counter’s edge while bending over. Walking a hallway at night is challenging because I constantly bounce off walls and doorframes. Walking downstairs is a damn nightmare. Will I fall, land my cane correctly, not trip and remain even? Other things scare the crap out of me.

One day after my last post, I awoke and started my morning routine. Unfortunately, while showering, another Ménière’s attack began. Though not as bad as the previous attack on Labor Day, I was incapable of anything for several hours. Post-attack realities have become evident. 

To date, I have lost approximately 80% of the hearing in the left ear. I can hear, but the sounds seem to be coming through like ‘white noise.’ White noise refers to a noise that contains all frequencies across the spectrum of audible sound in equal measure. People often liken white noise to the static that comes from an untuned radio or television. Older hearing aids no longer elevate sounds to comprehensive levels. I am currently using the only set of hearing aids that work well. 

I can still drive, though I wonder if I should. If I don’t, how would I survive? Chicago still has the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), but when can I drive my 2010 Honda Fit? If I get called to work, should I drive, take a cab, get a Uber, or walk? Any dreams of purchasing my dream vehicle, a BMW 325i, are over.

Loud restaurants will trigger a tinnitus spike. Tinnitus spikes are periods of increased volume, pitch, or intensity of the ringing in your ears. For example, you may notice that the ringing sounds more like buzzing or whooshing during a tinnitus spike. Tinnitus spikes often occur for no reason and can trigger hours of high-pitched whistling.


I paused this note yesterday around 10:30 AM. Unfortunately, while crafting this blog post, I experienced another attack. This event occurred at work. Since the 6th floor was empty, I curled under my desk and rode it out. Waves of nausea, with moments of interspersed urges of vomiting, followed. By 12:37 PM, the attack was over. Pulling myself to the chair, I was able to hold a Zoom conference call as though nothing had happened. 

Walking for lunch, I commented to myself how strange it was. Hours earlier, I curled on an office floor, riding out a storm. Now, I am walking, looking for something to eat, and no one knows the better. From storm to sunshine, from complete sickness to complete use of faculties; from barely holding on to getting back into life. It was quite the paradox.

“It’s quite the paradox,” I told my case manager at 4:00 during our regular weekly session. “How the mind controls you one moment and frees you another. And there you are. I have no control. And that lack of control concerns me. I wonder if I will get lost.”

“Does that make you depressed?”

“In a way,” I commented. I collected my thoughts during an awkward pause. “In a Star Trek: Next Generation episode, Captain Picard is captured and tortured. Near the end, he offered a choice: to remain in captivity for the rest of his life or live in comfort by admitting that he sees five lights instead of four. Should he accept, it would mean Picard mentally accepts his captor’s alternate view of reality. Before Picard could respond, the head delegate entered the room and informed Picard that a ship was waiting to take him back to the Enterprise. It is only then Picard realizes he was duped. As Picard is freed, he turns to his captor and shouts, “There are four lights!”

Another pause filled the room.

Looking at my case manager, “In the epilogue, Picard acknowledges he was ready to capitulate. He mentally accepted the lie as truth, for it was the only way to escape physical pain. At some point, I wonder when or if I will accept the lie. And depression’s greatest enemy is the lie.”

“Are you planning to escape the pain?” (She was asking if I would commit suicide.) 

“No.” I nodded. “But I wonder when I get to that moment whether I can be as strong as Picard. Can I stand firm and claim the truth when the lie looks so appealing? Many can’t. Many do not see any way out. Thus they terminate their life; they accept ‘five lights.'”

At some point in life, we all accept some form of lie. Look no further than the 2020 election. Texas Roadhouse restaurant founder and CEO Kent Taylor committed suicide after a battle with post-Covid-related symptoms, including severe tinnitus. At what point did those people willingly accept five lights? At what point did they become so discouraged they freely accepted a false narrative for reality. And more importantly, when the time comes, will I have the strength to overcome the false narrative?

Openly questioning my case manager, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”