Judy Bailey is back at work after radical treatment for Meniere’s disease.
Judy Bailey is back at work after radical treatment for Meniere’s disease. Rob Wright

Eight-year search for diagnosis

JUDY BAILEY began having attacks of vertigo in 2002, but it was 2010 before her problem was correctly diagnosed as Meniere’s disease.

By then she had lost 40% of the hearing in her right ear, her balance was poor, she was afraid to go out in public in case she fell over and she was prepared to do almost anything that would help prevent or reduce the severity of her recurrent attacks of vertigo and nausea.

Meniere’s disease is a chronic, incurable condition of the inner ear that produces excess fluid, giving a range of debilitating side-effects including dizziness, tinnitus and increasing deafness.

Mrs Bailey is now coming to the end of a radical treatment for the condition which has involved injections of the powerful antibiotic gentamycin into her affected ear. These destroy the balance mechanism in the ear so she has had to learn to walk using her muscles and eyes alone to balance her.

But Mrs Bailey says the relief from her symptoms has been worth the drastic step.

“I wanted to get my life back.”

Now back at work at Toormina’s Mitre 10 hardware store which Ted and Judy Bailey own and operate, she said the reason the diagnosis took so long was because she had avoided the tinnitus (ringing in the ears) which is usually, but not always, associated with Meniere’s disease.

Earlier, her problem was diagnosed as migraines, which tend to come in clusters like the Meniere’s attacks.

“The vertigo attacks were so terrible I was willing to do anything to stop them,” she said. “It has a psychological effect. I have not been in a supermarket for so long.

“You feel very vulnerable in public because you are staggering and people think you are drunk.

“I had one (attack) in the middle of a crowded trade show.

“Every sufferer has to go through the fear of having one in public.

“In my case, (Meniere’s) knocked out my hearing fairly quickly.

“I could hear but not understand what was said on the telephone in my right ear.”

Judy said she had since met two other people who also have Meniere’s.

The Mid-North Coast branch of Meniere’s Australia Inc will hold a meeting in Coffs Harbour on April 9 to outline and examine the symptoms and treatment of vertigo and Meniere’s disease.

The guest speaker will be ear, nose and throat specialist Dr Patrick Albright, and the meeting will be at 2-4pm in the C.ex Club’s Northside Room (cnr Cinema Arcade, Vernon St).

There will be a $5 fee for catering. Bookings are necessary. Phone Beryl on 6652 8852 or email: annemal@bigpond.net.au.

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