Out of Balance

It is easy to take your sense of balance for granted – it is there just as the breaths you take. But what happens when you lose your balance? Here is an overview of some of the conditions and symptoms sufferers might face:

Vertigo & Dizziness

  • Spinning or whirling sensation; an illusion of movement of self or the world (vertigo)
  • Lightheaded, floating, or rocking sensation (dizziness)
  • Sensation of being heavily weighted or pulled in one direction

Balance & Spatial Orientation

  • Imbalance, stumbling, difficulty walking straight or turning a corner, clumsiness or difficulty with coordination
  • Difficulty maintaining straight posture; tendency to look downward to confirm the location on the ground; head may be held in a tilted position
  • Tendency to touch or hold onto something when standing, or to touch or hold the head while seated
  • Sensitivity to changes in walking surfaces or footwear
  • Muscle and joint pain (due to struggling with balance)
  • Difficulty finding stability in crowds or in large open spaces

Vision & Hearing

  • Trouble focusing or tracking objects with the eyes; objects or words on a page seem to jump, bounce, float, or blur or may appear doubled
  • Discomfort from busy visual environments (traffic, crowds, stores, patterns)
  • Sensitivity to light, glare, and moving or flickering lights; fluorescent lights may be especially troublesome
  • Sensitivity to certain types of computer monitors and digital televisions
  • Tendency to focus on nearby objects; increased discomfort when focusing at a distance
  • Increased night blindness; difficulty walking in the dark
  • Poor depth perception
  • Hearing loss; distorted or fluctuating hearing, tinnitus (ringing, roaring, buzzing, whooshing, or other noises in the ear)
  • Sensitivity to loud noises or environments (sudden loud sounds may increase symptoms of vertigo, dizziness, or imbalance)

Cognitive, Psychological & Other Symptoms

  • Difficulty concentrating and paying attention; easily distracted
  • Forgetfulness and short-term memory loss
  • Confusion, disorientation, difficulty comprehending directions or instructions
  • Difficulty following speakers in conversations, meetings, etc., especially when there is background noise or movement
  • Mental and/or physical fatigue out of proportion to activity
  • Loss of self-reliance, self-confidence, self-esteem
  • Anxiety, panic, social isolation, depression
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • “Hangover” or “seasick” feeling in the head; motion sickness
  • Sensation of fullness in the ears
  • Headaches, slurred speech
  • Sensitivity to pressure or temperature changes and wind currents
  • Pain, pressure, or other symptoms with certain dietary changes (e.g. high sodium)

My Journey Back to Employment

The only way I’ve got through the last few years has been by focusing on my one goal, and the hope that I’ve been able to cling to keep me moving forward: to get back to work (my background is as a Senior HR Manager within the retail sector). Every single action I’ve undertaken has been done with this goal in mind, it’s all I ever wanted to do from the moment I collapsed.

So, eighteen months ago, I set myself a plan to get back into work, even though I was nowhere near able to, I knew had to make a start. I struck lucky in that I contacted Equal Approach, a recruitment agency specialising in championing candidates with difference, and they were fantastic. Through their support I started volunteering at my local Remploy branch in Swansea.
 On the first day, I was there for just 20 minutes. I’d never driven that far, or been out of the house for that long on my own since I’d become ill, and of every success that I’ve had in my career, those 20 minutes beat them all! 
I spent a year with Remploy after which I realised it was time to place my efforts in finding myself a part-time position. 
I have to tell you that as a disabled person there are barriers to finding employment that I never would have previously realised existed, even as an HR Manager who regularly employed disabled people and I was shocked. Over the last few months, I’ve learnt how difficult it can be for a disabled person to find work. For me, there has only been one way to deal with this…

Making a Difference

I have now set up an employability venture – Delsion Diversity. As a social enterprise and Community Interest Company I want to take groups of individuals with perceived barriers to gaining meaningful employment and develop them, using the learning and development interventions I’ve had great success with as a Senior HR Manager.

There are still many hurdles to overcome. My condition means that I can’t spend too much time looking at computer screens, which is pretty much essential in this line of work. I now have the support of Kirsten, our Operations Manager who shares my vision.

Our next big project is to make Swansea the first Disability Confident city in the UK which we will be marking with an event in the summer.

I would love for you to follow our journey and thank talkhealth for the opportunity to share our story.


Delsion Diversity

Nine years ago I suddenly collapsed with brain damage. I was diagnosed with a neurological condition that severely affects my balance system. Every single one of my cognitive abilities has been seriously affected and for over three years I was housebound. I’ve had to learn to stand, walk and talk again, through carrying out rehabilitation therapy four times a day for the last five years. As you can imagine, the last nine years have been more than a challenge.

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