Level-Up: Part 37

The nausea brought on by vestibular disorders is difficult to explain. The sensation comes from your brain, not your stomach. Although it certainly impacts upon it. It’s perfectly possible to be starving hungry but also not feel able to eat. I’ve got a memory of standing in the Selfridges food court both crying and laughing at the fact that my stomach was rumbling but I felt too sick to eat. I avoided eating after 3:30pm the night we went to the Little Mix concert, knowing the noise and lights would make me feel queasy. But I also had to eat a hotdog right before the main show started because I was so hungry. Not that devouring a giant hotdog with onions and mustard is ever anything but one of life’s delicious pleasures, but I definitely had to eat it slowly.

If you’ve ever been on a boat and experienced that queasy sea-sickness feeling that if you don’t stop moving you’re going to lose your lunch, you’re close to understanding it. It’s just a little more unnerving when you’re on dry land and you feel that way because your brain can’t compute your actual body position. It’s been fairly persistent for me for such a long time now that, to a point, it’s become normal to feel nauseous every day. It’s never comfortable or pleasant, but on the days where it’s less intense I just deal with it and get on with my day. Sometimes I have to just not eat until the worst passes or until my medication kicks in and helps it to ease. I certainly don’t let illness stop me from eating if I can help it. I enjoy food too much and will fight this thing to the death for the love of food.

This week was my birthday. For the past few birthdays I’ve not done a great deal. To be truthful, going out to eat and being in busy, noisy places can be hard work and it’s always been the easier option to stay close to home and be as comfortable as possible to avoid ruining my birthday feeling really unwell. This year, I didn’t want to take the easy road. I wanted to be in charge of my illness, not have it dictate how I spend my time.

I live in a cosmopolitan capital city and am spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurant options, but the only place I wanted to go was Pieminister. Pies too are one of life’s most wonderful edible joys. All I wanted was pie, mash, peas and gravy. In Cardiff, Pieminister is right in the heart of the city centre. It may have been a slightly mellow Wednesday night in town, but it still meant a cab ride to the most active part of the city. I was determined that I would go to precisely the place I wanted to go and eat exactly the meal I’d been thinking about all day. My birthday was one day where illness would not be allowed to tell me what I can and can’t do.

The meal was everything I wanted it to be. It was relaxed, fun and the food was great. I can’t wait to go back. There were a few moments where I struggled. The seating wasn’t as comfortable as I tend to need it to be and there were a couple of very spinny, queasy moments. But I kept it to myself and let it sit there quietly in the background. It’s a big deal to be able to do that, because it takes a lot of physical and emotional control to feel unwell but not let it grind you down and ruin crucial moments. It doesn’t work every time. Some days you’re just too fatigued to fight. But I won that round and it felt fantastic to beat those restrictions, even if I didn’t actually feel fantastic


I’ll just take this opportunity to thank everyone who made my birthday so lovely. I can’t remember the last birthday where I felt so highly thought of. So if you sent me a card, presents, a message, a text, called, sent a video message, sang happy birthday to me or shared your day with me, thank you. I rarely, genuinely don’t expect to be a priority. Out of habit I even kept my birthday fairly quiet, much to the disapproval of several friends. The fact that such a large number of friends wanted to contribute to me having a great day and given what I discussed in last week’s column, you can be assured that it meant the absolute world to me.

Every Sunday I record my health achievements and discoveries for the week here. To find out why I decided to start doing this, you can read an explanation in the first post of the series here.


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