Ottawa Hospital dizziness clinic helps Ottawa woman cope
Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016 5:33PM EST Last Updated Wednesday, February 3, 2016 6:54PM EST
You know that dizzy feeling you get on a roller coaster ride? Imagine if the spinning never stopped.
That’s the way it was for an Ottawa woman who finally found help through The Ottawa Hospital's new dizziness clinic.
It's the simplest of things; walking to the kitchen with her granddaughter to make a cup of tea. But just last October, getting up off the couch for Lynn Lawrenson was a monumental task.
“I’d have to go like this,” explains Lawrenson, as she pulls herself off the couch, grabbing onto coffee tables and walls as she goes, “especially if no one was in the room. I’d hold on here, and then go to this in order to make my way up the stairs to lie down.”
Lawrenson suffers from something called Ménière'sDisease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe dizziness.
“I thought I was just having an attack but it lasted for 15 months,”
It was so bad, she threw up constantly, lost 20 pounds and her hair started falling out from stress.
She was literally helpless in her own home.
Ashley Lawrenson is Lynn’s granddaughter, “I had to carry her to the washroom,” she says, “I would have to go help her shower, put her to bed, all those things. I was taking care of her more than she was taking care of me.”
Lynn Lawrenson says things started getting desperate for her.
"If I can be 100% honest,” she says, “I had gone to bed some nights and prayed I wouldn't wake up the next day.”
Lynn ended up being referred to the Dizziness Clinic at the Ottawa Hospital. It has been operating since July, one afternoon a month, seeing the most chronic of cases like Bernadette Rykes, who has suffered from severe dizziness for a year.
“Something’s not right, it feels like spinning, spinning all the time,” she explains to Dr. Darren Tse, an oto-rhino-laryngologist and Dr. Danny Lelli,a neuro-opthalmologist, as the clinic team examines her.
There are only 2 clinics like this in Canada, combining a multitude of specialists in one spot.
“The aim of clinic to see patients who are the most chronic,” says Dr. Tse, “They've had dizziness for the longest period of time, have not been diagnosed or been managed appropriately and these people don’t know what's going on.”
For Lynn, a steroid injection right through the eardrum has so far, stopped the spinning. She still has a ways to go before she overcomes her fear, though, of another attack.
“I still haven't left the house on my own to go groceries,” she says, “I've got to try and overcome this fear. I’m just terrified.”
The clinic only sees 7 patients a month right now and the wait list is more than six months. The hope is to expand the clinic and help more people like Lynn get back to a normal life.