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What It's Like to Raise Children When You Live With Meniere's Disease

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I am a mother of two teenagers. My son is 18 and my daughter is 14. Neither of my kids have Meniere’s disease (MD) or show symptoms of MD. My MD developed just after the birth of my second child. Early onset of the disease proved to be a warning of what was to come. Present day. I am bilateral and because conventional hearing aids don’t work for me, I will be having cochlear implant surgery in the near future. I am a lip reader.

Raising an infant while living with the debilitating symptoms of MD is exhaustive and rewarding. Because I was in the early stages, I was experiencing vertigo three or four times a week. My vertigo renders me helpless with violent bouts of vomiting. At the onset of an attack, I would ensure my daughter was safe and secure in her crib. She learned at a young age how to entertain herself. She was taught from the get go what life would be like and on good days I would teach her sign language. Our own version. I taught her how to sign for eat, sleep, headache and tummy ache. She was able to communicate with me in a way I understood and could help her with her needs. At 2 years old, she wasn’t speaking many words and by age 4 she was speaking very slowly and some words were incoherent. It was difficult to emphasize certain syllables for me and this was the cause of her speech delay.

It wasn’t until seventh grade where she felt comfortable with her voice. Today she speaks normally and has the ability to communicate with me with ease. She is sometimes my wingman when I need a pair of ears. In case of an emergency, where I have a drop attack or I am unable to get to my medication, her school knows to let her come home.

Raising a toddler while experiencing the debilitating symptoms is difficult in its own rite. My son was just under 4 when I developed MD. Already an avid speaker, there were no concerns with his speech and vocabulary; however, keeping up with a toddler proved exhausting and would sometimes bring on an attack. Ensuring my daughter was safe, I would sit Adam down with a video in the room with me. He would be quiet and stay exactly where I left him until I had recovered.

He is 18 now and is sometimes my wing man as well. He has a knack for knowing when I am having a down day and need to take it easy. He is with me most times I run errands and is my arm to grab if I’m wobbly, my ears when I can’t understand fast enough and he carries the heavy loads for me when I’m weak.

These are the good years. I am reaping the benefits of raising kids with MD. They are understanding, patient and empathetic little adults. Most of the time.

If you’re a new mom, you can find a way to make it work. Reach out to your kids, ask them for help and be open and honest about your MD. You’ll not only raise an intelligent child, but an empathetic one.

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Thinkstock photo via Andrew Olney.

Originally published: November 1, 2017
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