On the Road through the silence

Veteran Women Run Arkansas clinic participant, and avid golfer

Check out our archive for previous travels On the Road, and remember we invite you to share your own story, cause or advice with our members.

At the age of 40 I finished a degree program at UACCB and my son was graduating from high school. It was a happy time for my family.

The last month of class I started having some ringing in my ears that sounded like the wind. I recall asking my husband if he could hear it, and he let me know it was not windy. I then started having some issues with being dizzy and being nauseated.

I knew something was off, so I made an appointment with a local ENT in town. They did hearing tests and ordered an MRI. The ENT did not give me a diagnosis and was very vague — the whole experience was very negative.

I then went to my family doctor, who is awesome, and he gave me a specialist to see in Little Rock. The specialist diagnosed me after performing several tests to repeat my symptoms (not fun): I have an autoimmune disorder called Meniere's disease.

The main issue in Meniere's is hearing loss and constant noise. There is no cure and the symptoms vary from person to person. There are some things I need to avoid, like stress, caffeine, alcohol, and salt. I totally rehauled my diet to keep from getting dizzy and nauseated. I do have occasions where I get sick, but not very often. I am otherwise very healthy and do my best to eat good foods and get in plenty of exercise and rest.

The biggest issue is the hearing loss and the stigma that comes with it. I was so shocked to be treated so differently, and the rudeness of people (mainly non-runners, ha) amazed me. I struggled so hard with this and it has totally changed me. I was a supervisor in my office at work, and we had some office changes. It was a good time for me to change positions. I am a lot more sensitive and struggle with self-esteem. I was very depressed about it at first (I still have a few bad days), and I have always been active. I have done home workout DVDs for more than 20 years, and used to take lots of exercise classes at the gym. My confidence was very low, but with the support of my family and friends I do much better.

I needed something else to do, so in 2009 I joined the Women Run Arkansas clinic. I loved it and was very excited about running. The support was awesome and it was fun to meet other people each week to run. I loved the races and meeting new friends. I went to a CHI running clinic in Memphis in 2010 to learn to run more efficiently too. I still love running and go through phases where I run a lot or not much. I love to discuss running with my friends who run or whoever will listen. Running was just what I needed to help me gain some confidence. When I don’t run much I get cranky and my husband will ask me if I need to go run. He is by biggest supporter. I am not fast, but it’s ok with me as long as I am moving. I do want to improve, and I will.

I have had a few injuries along the way, but it does not stop me from wanting to run. Mainly my injuries were from doing too much too soon. Your mind tells you that you can do more, but my body says no. Right now I am running 1-2x per week, but hope to ramp that up soon. I am also a golfer, and my husband and I play in lots of couples tournaments. We are pretty good too. LOL

Thanks for letting me share my story — and I really want to go run now.