I’m an avid reader. Or I WAS an avid reader. I would consume books. NOM NOM NOM. Inhale them. I would read a couple a week or more. Sometimes a book a day if it was a good one. I am a very fast reader and I just love reading so much.

Text: When you love to read but have a vestibular condition
Image: Open book in dark room with light shining down on pages

Then I developed a vestibular disorder 4 years ago

I do not even know what the diagnosis is yet since the pandemic has slowed things down substantially. The one in the lead at the moment is Meniere’s Disease but who knows?

Initially, without any treatment at all, I could not really read at all. It was a matter of being unable to focus or concentrate. It was the constant, relentless dizziness that just got more and more severe as the day went on. It was the problem with my eyes tracking. It was the double vision and blurry vision. I believe that is just from eye strain due to the immense fatigue dealing with the vertigo constantly. Your brain gets tired. Also, my visual snow was getting more intense so that also may have been an issue.

Then I was put on a few medications that suppress the vestibular system. I have all of those problems but dimmed somewhat. So on very good days, in the best part of the day, I can sometimes read for short spans of time.

What happens when I forget that I have to severely limit my reading time

The problem is this… I love to read. I get into a good book on a good symptom day and I just am INTO it. Then I start getting dizzy and my eyes start having trouble adjusting when I look up (all blurry).

I will notice problems tracking the words. Then I become, essentially, far-sighted and have to hold the book farther away. I will have to slow down because it becomes harder to read. Then it becomes just harder to see all together, anything, with blurriness, double vision, haziness, jumpy vision. My balance starts to get a bit wonky with disequilibrium.

But I am burning through this book. So I ignore it all. I keep going. I just slow down a bit.

The result to triggering my vestibular symptoms

By the time I stop I may have actually finished that book. (Okay, I finished that book. It was an awesome book.) And I really regretted that because as the evening went on all those vestibular symptoms amplified, as they do, especially being triggered like that. I had severe falling sensations, rocking sensations, had troubles walking. Severe dizziness. Bouts of erratic vertigo.

I went to bed. It was not good.


The next day

The problem is I really had aggravated my vertigo. The next day I started the day as the following day had ended. My brain was all fired up. So I had the disequilibrium enough that walking was an adventure for sure. I had to rest all day because of the severity of the dizziness and bouts of vertigo. My hearing went out three times with horrible, piercing tinnitus. Just not a good day.

And I had caused that.

Not the first time I have done this. I get in these moods to read on what I feel is a good day. And I read like NUTS. And trigger the symptoms like crazy causing that night and the next day or two to be very aggravated even with medication. To the point of having the rest completely and utterly all day long.

See more:

Meniere’s Disease Diagnosis
Meniere’s Disease Lifestyle changes
Let’s talk vestibular migraine

What the problem is

Reading is essential to my nature. Writing and reading are like the air I breathe. Necessary for my existence. I went without reading for a long time before I was put on medication and figured out how to read for short periods. Way too long. And it was very depressing for me. I went without writing as much as well. I blogged, less, but I did blog. But no fiction writing, which is also very much essential to who I am.

I tried podcasts. And I just fall asleep to them. I haven’t tried audiobooks (I used to fall asleep to the tapes as a kid so I was never fond of them then). I haven’t now because they are all subscription-based and I have literally no expendable money for subscription services. Pay as I go is all I can do for anything. The books I have in my to-read pile came from Christmas gifts. And that reading pile lasts a whole lot longer when it takes so long to get through a book these days. Aside from these bouts of going nuts, I generally can only read a few pages every couple of days. Nevertheless, even if i found audiobooks I could buy as I go, they never have appealed to me.

I have to somehow learn how to pace reading like I have learned to heavily pace everything else I do. When my functionality tanked with this vertigo I learned SUPER PACING. It was an extreme sport really. It wasn’t like pacing my fibromyalgia or migraine disease at all. It was like choosing 1 thing to do a day sort of deal. And how to fit 3 naps in the day. And what can I do that I can do laying down and resting. So it was very tricky to adapt to that quality of life level where everything I do makes me feel worse so fast and requires so much rest.

I just have not found a viable alternative for reading, for me, that works. So I do it still, just not nearly as often or as long. Just there are some days when I go way overboard because I crave it so damn much.

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