Vincent van Gough had it. So did Marilyn Monroe. Martin Luther. Jonathan Swift and Emily Dickinson. So what do these motley collection of painters, actors, writers and reformers have in common? Creativity certainly. But apart from that, all of these are reported to have suffered from Meniere's disease. This is a rare ear related disorder, where your body decides that it can't balance itself and literally sends your head spinning. And just to make life interesting, these dizzy spells are without warning (useful for getting out of work though and bad dates), your hearing is usually busted (again useful when you just don't want to pay attention) and there is a constant ringing in your ears (not bad to have your own in-built white noise machine!).
Ok now that's out of the way and you all probably have way too much information about dizzy spells or vertigo as it's called. I got this interesting little disease way back in 1998 at the ripe old age of 26. It meant the end of my TV news career, but opened up a lot of other good stuff in my life. It's a cliché, but also a truism that tough things in life make you grow and how. One of the things, impatient, independent me has had to learn is there are a lot of meaningless things people say to you when you have something they don't get. And in India, with its culture of ignoring disability (not going to say challenged -- let's call it what it is), that's virtually the entire country!
Here's my top 5 list of stuff people say to you when you have a rare disease:
1) Oh, so you are afraid of heights?
Nope. Vertigo is the clinical name for dizziness. Though, am not planning to hang around on a terrace with Shahrukh Baazigar Khan, any time soon.
2) Why aren't you married, what no children, perhaps you can marry someone else with the same problem?
Ah well. Find me an Indian man who is OK with an occasionally dizzy wife and may just be on board for the wedding thing! And no, I can't marry someone else with the same thing -- can't have two people reeling, whirling and groping for the nearest chair during an episode. And no, I am not willing to settle!
3) You want to take the stairs, but the lift is right here?
Can't really take lifts as they make me dizzy, stairs are better. Yes, I know it's insane to climb 8 floors with a laptop. And as am clearly not a fitness maniac, there has to be a reason right!
4) Have you seen a doctor?
The above is usually in hushed whispers. No. I just love feeling miserable and to do nothing about it. This is an incurable disease, usually shuts people up and move away. You can see the vague fear that you may be infectious! (For the record, it's not).
5) Have you tried homeopathy, Ayurveda, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a diamond, no diamond, dancing naked in the moonlight surrounded by nubile young men.
Yes. Yes. Yes. None of it works- it's better to accept that and not waste any time on it. Wouldn't say no to a diamond or the dancing in the moonlight with cute guys though!
So here it is. My top 5. If you have anything to add about your experiences with living with challenges (OK - I said it!) -- physical or emotional, do drop me a line in the comments section.
And to those who say stupid things, troll me!