Next week is Balance Awareness Week, a global effort to raise awareness of vestibular (inner ear) disorders which cause dizziness and balance problems.
One of the conditions affected by these issues is Ménière’s disease, a long -term, progressive condition with symptoms that include acute attacks of vertigo (severe dizziness), fluctuating tinnitus, increasing deafness, and a feeling of pressure in the ear.
One of our graduates who suffers from the disease has turned an activity she used as therapy into a recently-published book.
Kelly Boyson graduated in Business Management in 2010 and went on to work in retail management and specialist recruitment. However, Kelly was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease 18 months ago and, due to the severity of her illness, she lost her job and a normal life.
The attacks of vomiting, nausea and sweating caused by vertigo, loss of balance, tinnitus, and dizziness can last from a few minutes to a few hours and leads to permanent loss of hearing in the affected ear. Recovery from such a ‘drop’ attack can take at least 24 hours.
Kelly at her worst would end up on the floor for up to three hours, unable to move, vomiting and really looking drunk or drugged. The safest place is the floor because of possible head trauma due to the drop attacks. The last time she went to work, well over a year ago, she had a drop attack in Stockwell underground and was on the platform unable to move for over two hours.
Fortunately, a transport policeman and porter stayed with her. No ambulance was sent for her because Meniere’s is not classified as an emergency because you recover but the policeman accompanied her to the nearest hospital for examination.
Having been a businesswoman with good prospects, Kelly ended up jailed in her own home. Puzzles, colouring and box-sets became her constant companions. Going out on her own for over a year was impossible as her drop attacks were occurring three or four times a week, basically wiping out the week.
After doing other people’s colouring books, Kelly started making her own drawings about places she had been and places she wanted to go. The result is her book ‘Travels in Colour’, an adult colouring book, which was published last month and available on Amazon and Waterstones.
Kelly said: “Although the past year has been a trial of life, something good has come from it and I am now spending time trying to get more people to know about Meniere’s and the invisible destruction it causes.”
The Meniere’s Society UK is so thrilled to have someone who has managed to make a success of their down time during the onset of the disease that during Balance Awareness Week, it will be running a colouring competition in which Kelly is one of the judges.
To find out more about the week, visit http://www.menieres.org.uk/baw2016