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.

Snot Fair

I’m been getting over a bad-arse cold. It struck last Sunday, which was good, because it means I didn’t have to use sick leave on that day, but also sucked because it meant half my weekend consisted of feeling awful.

Being sick on a Sunday also posed another problem – the two local pharmacies were closed, and the effort of getting out to somewhere with an open chemist was too much. So, tragically, I was unable to partake of my favourite over-the-counter cold/flu remedy – you know, the stuff they make P from. My achy, snotty symptoms persisted.

I also discovered that hobbling down to the local shops in my weakly state was not a good idea, and especially not a good idea after waking up and not yet having anything to eat or drink. I found myself walking down the street with the realisation that if I didn’t sit down soon, I’d faint. I located a public bench and made a bee-line for it.

I waited until my energy levels had increased slightly and, in absolute survival mode, I walked around the corner to a dairy and bought some Lucozade. Another sit-down was required and after drinking the Lucozade, I was able to make the trip home.

Then that night I started itching. WTF? It was the return of the hives! Yes, the same affliction that had struck in sunny, tropical Samoa had returned for some more inflammation and itching. Every place on my body where my skin had undergone previous trauma had gone all itchy and red. It was like a greatest hits of every cut, scrape and graze I’d endured over the years.

So finally Monday came and I got my poorly arse along to the local medical centre where the doctor I saw prescribed some antihistamines. I was really excited by the tiny white pills. I mean, if pills are really small, they must be really powerful, right? Excited by my new drugs, I Googled them, only to discover it was generic Claratyne. Well, it did the trick – no more itching.

Another day on the couch and I was feeling relatively all right, except for a bit of an annoying phlegmy cough, so I finally got to get some stuff from the chemist.

The pharmacy lady recommended Benadryl Chesty Forte (which sounds like the name of an actress in a Russ Meyer film). Chesty Forte proudly proclaims to be “sugar, colour and alcohol free”, which sucks. I mean, if I have to put up with the inconvenience of a cough, I at least want something fun out of it in the form of sweetness, tiddliness or the diabolical side-effects that artificial colourings bring.

But just to add to the arseness of Chesty Forte, it also claims to have a “great berry flavour”. Well, after having consumed several 15ml doses of it, I can definitely say that there is nothing “great” nor “berry” about its flavour. It’s more like that tang you get when you drink orange juice after brushing your teeth.

I am very much looking forward to getting over this illness.