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Rockin’ the vertigo

15 Feb

Towards the end of my vertigo therapy session, we were asked to pick a goal. Not a pie in the sky “I want to get better” amorphous concept of a goal, but a tangible, attainable goal. Some people chose getting back to driving (something I’d likewise love to do) some chose going out with friends more, etc. As for me? I had something very clear in mind: I want to learn to rock climb.

This is an incredibly difficult thing for someone without a vestibular disorder to imagine; it’s not an easy thing to begin with. But the vestibular disorder adds an entire level of difficulty that nobody else will experience. Think about it. I get 70% of my balance from my feet being able to sense terra firma, 25% from visual cues, 5% from my good ear. On the wall, I massively alter the foot stimulus, restrict my visual signals to the wall in my immediate range, and I have an entirely new piece of information to work with: my hands. In other words, this is completely disorienting. I had to relearn to balance form scratch–standing without tipping over is something I have to consciously think about. Rock climbing is an entirely different world to me and it serves as the crowning achievement of my vertigo therapy.

And today I made it to the top of that wall for the first time. 39 feet. I have an absolutely brilliant set of teammates giving me all the encouragement and support I need (literally–we’re all research chemists belaying each other,) and every night we recap about what we did well and where we’d like to be. This is one of the most wonderful things about research groups; the camaraderie is unbeatable. This event (the Mile High challenge–5,280 vertical feet between the four of us) has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in quite some time.


Thank you Codey, so, so much for snapping this shot! You rock!

As an individual, every climb I do is mine and mine alone. Other vertigo patients may commiserate or have similar stories and they may even climb the exact same route I just did, but this particular vertigo is mine. It is damage unique to my physiology and therefore it is something I alone on this planet will ever know. An outward manifestation of my own private world–my secret openly spread eagle on the lateral face of a wall. I think that’s pretty damn cool.

Take the teacher, not the course

10 Feb

I wrote this before the term started:

One of the biggest reasons that I hate splitting a series of coursework is that you’re fighting at least three things: time, methodology, and instructor. Taking a year gap in my 130 coursework was not the plan, especially since it means picking up with a different instructor (not bad, just different–different generation => different tactics) but it is what it is. The good: all the instructors (former and current) know who I am and I’ve been keeping in touch which means I’m not in a vacuum–if I need help I’ll have it. The bad: I’m picking this up in the second half of the series which means I’m expected to know the material from the first half (information that everybody else in the class has freshly imprinted on their minds.) The ugly: Changing instructors means changing texts… My old text did things in a “reverse” order from the common presentation. Specifically, we jumped right into epsilon delta proofs and continuity arguments whereas almost everybody else and their mother starts with sequences and series, compactness, and subsequential limit points.

It’s going to be an adjustment and I will have my difficulties fighting this material. But call me an optimist–I think I can do this.

I was an idiot, and I was ignoring so many signs. Including the ones I couldn’t have foreseen.  Continue reading

Reflections on the past, states of being, opportunity, and looking forward

16 Dec

As of last Thursday (December 13, 2012) my tenure with the Santa Rosa vertigo clinic is over. However, that hardly means my experience with vestibular rehabilitation is complete. Continue reading

Take Five–the final meeting

13 Dec

Wow… My last meeting of the vestibular group. Correction: the last meeting of this vestibular group. Continue reading

Best laid plans of mice…

12 Dec

So about 30 minutes after yesterday’s Cutie post, I knew I had completely set myself up for a fall because… Yeah, rain. It just started raining about two hours ago, and like clockwork I woke out of a dead sleep and made my obligatory offering to the porcelain god. And I just feel like crap, so I’m going to lay down and try to sleep this off with the hope that I’m not legitimately sick, but just extremely out of it due to the water falling from the sky. Here’s a tune I’ve had on repeat all yesterday afternoon to soothe my rainy mood:

Last minute edit: I just learned that Ravi Shankar passed away. Fuck it all.