Trish's Story

Patricia (Trish) is a manager for Ochsner Health Systems in New Orleans with a passion for hospital work. She's been there for 13 years, previously as a medical social worker. But it wasn't long ago that Trish thought she'd be disabled and forced to retire due to Ménière's disease. Thanks to Meniett® therapy and her own persistence, she didn't have to.

Her first symptoms followed a cold in 2000. Her doctor thought it was labyrinthitis, which usually comes after a cold or the flu and has similar symptoms to Ménière's disease. When it didn't go away, Trish's doctor performed several tests and diagnosed Ménière's disease in her right ear (later tests confirmed it in both).

Her symptoms included dizziness and unsteadiness, ear fullness, and tinnitus. Trish tried many non-surgical treatments, including diuretics, anti-vertigo drugs, a low-sodium diet, acupuncture, and more. These offered only temporary relief, at best.

The disease significantly affected how Trish lived. She led a full life with her husband, Darren, a sheriff's sergeant. She worked 60 to 70 hours per week, and the couple often went out with her parents, attended animal welfare events, and entertained at home.

But with Ménière's disease, "Enjoying pleasurable activities became unimportant," Trish relates. "Every day, my success was measured by whether I could ‘make it' through the workday without having to go home." She feared having an attack in public. She didn't feel able to walk her beloved dogs. "I would have to come home from work and just lie flat on the sofa to ease the dizziness sensation."

No matter what she did or how she felt, "I always had in the back of my mind the horrible thought of ‘what if' I got dizzy, fell down, had to go to the ER, became disabled," she recalls. "It was horrifying to think of becoming disabled and not able to work at 37..."

But Trish didn't give up. Researching her condition online, she read about Meniett therapy and called Medtronic ENT. Because the Meniett device had a limited release at first, Trish and Darren drove 10 hours to a specialist in San Antonio, Texas. He wanted to change her medication before prescribing Meniett therapy, but her dizziness attacks grew worse. On January 8, 2002, she had a severe and traumatic attack, spending five hours in the emergency room. Afterwards, Trish describes, "days of horrible unsteadiness followed. I was sure I would end up on disability and never work again." Desperate for relief, she had almost decided to have invasive surgery. But her doctor in Texas agreed it was time to try Meniett therapy.

Five days after Trish began her Meniett treatments, she says, "I participated in the Krewe of Barkus, a two-mile walking dog parade held during Mardi Gras. With tons of stimulation, crowds, noise and head movements, I pushed a grocery basket with throws for the crowds, held onto my dog…. and did fine."

Her symptoms under control, Trish is thrilled to return to her normal busy life. The Meniett device is small, easy to use, and very portable. Patients perform each 5-minute treatment themselves, typically 3 times per day. Trish brings the Meniett device to work, and still takes a diuretic, allergy medicine and vitamins.

"It's amazing to think that, had I not gotten this device, I was this close to having surgery that only has a 40% success rate," Trish asserts. "I believe it shows persistence pays off, since I did a great deal of research and legwork myself to find out how to obtain this treatment. And it was all worthwhile."

Darren, Trish's husband, is just as pleased with her Meniett results. "It has made a tremendous difference..." he observes. As Trish's doctor told him, "You finally have your wife back now."

Update on Trish

Eventually, her disease went into remission, and Trish stopped regular Meniett therapy in 2003. But when Hurricane Katrina approached in 2005, Trish says, "The Meniett was something I was sure to pack when evacuating to Texas." After she returned to New Orleans, Trish decided to change careers to help manage the hospital's evolving role in the community. She enrolled in an accelerated master's of business administration (MBA) program, while still working full-time. But in 2008, her Ménière's disease returned.

"It wasn't surprising to me that my symptoms came back," Trish recalls. "I was working full-time, under a lot of stress with the MBA program, not getting much sleep and eating lots of high-sodium foods." She began Meniett therapy again. "About a week later," Trish says, "my symptoms improved." Now, she does her Meniett treatments regularly and recently graduated with her MBA. Her Ménière's disease under control again, Trish isn't going to let anything slow her down.

This story reflects one person's experience. Not every person will receive the same results. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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