Unbalanced (literally)

A couple of weeks ago I had a really mild cold that just left me feeling a bit worn out. It seemed like it was all sorted, but then when I woke up on Saturday morning, something very odd had happened.

Everything felt… strange. It was like I was detached from the world, like there was a layer of delay between the way things were and the way I experienced them. I didn’t know what was going on, so I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with labyrinthitis, inflammation of parts of the inner ear that control perception of balance (otherwise known as the labyrinth).

Labyrinthitis is a pretty cool name for an ailment. In order to explain how it works, I have created this handy infographic:


So basically it means that the part of my inner ear that senses balance isn’t functioning properly. If I turn my head quickly, I get a woozy, spaced-out feeling. In fact, I’m pretty sure how I feel all the time is the sort of experience some people try to get when they use certain kinds of drugs – out of it as, bro. But I like to be in control of everything, including my senses. I do not like my inner ear telling my brain LIES.

The other annoying thing is the vocabulary I have to use to describe how I’m feeling: I feel spaced out, unbalanced, dizzy. But all of these terms can also be used metaphoricially to describe states of mental health. So I feel the need to say “I feel unbalanced – literally! I’m not mentally unbalanced! I just a bit wobbly!”

Fortunately it hasn’t all been motion sickness and misery. I’ve read Dana Thomas’s book “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre” and feel validated in not owning anything designer or blingy. And I’ve watched season one of the unexpectedly charming Psych on DVD; a slightly depressing documentary on the consequences of peak oil, The End of Suburbia; and the very first episode of Gloss (awesome!) and the documentary Architect Athfield on the brilliant new NZ On Screen website.

Now all I need to do is wait for my immune system to confidently say to the Virus of Disorientation, “You have no power over me,” and I can go back to just being metaphorically wobbly.

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