And even more updates:
A gentleman was kind enough to send me an FAA medical examiner bulletin from 2007, detailing the woes of an airline captain with Meniere's. He eventually got it back after an injection of gentamicin, a substance that is toxic to the little hairs in your ear that wave around and, thus, send signals to your brain regarding which way is up. It kills them, and is an alternative to a more radical surgery -- a labrythinthectomy, which takes all of your hearing and balance nerves with it.
"I've been thinking about that for you," my neurotologist said to me when I emailed it to him last month, and I followed up today for a love conversation (my nursing-student son in tow) to evaluate the next course of action.
There's not a lot of hearing left in the ear, but I still would like to keep what little is still there. It's possible the Meniere's has completely burned itself out in that ear, but we don't know that and while this is not a guarantee there'll be no future episodes, it's a pretty good bet as a next step.
So we scheduled a procedure for December 4th. I've been doing physical therapy for the last three weeks to begin training the remaining ear (and eyes and other parts) to compensate. The recovery time is a few weeks, and then it takes about four months for everything to return to normal.
That starts the clock on what I presume will be a six-month period that the FAA will want without any symptoms.
So, bottom line, this seems like the best course of action now and one that the FAA may very well look favorably upon. I'll probably miss Oshkosh 2014, but I'm still hoping to fly to Cleveland for a game before the end of the season.
One other thing. I met Daniel Alvarez
last year in Minneapolis, at the beginning of his kayak trek to Key West. he arrived there after 7 months down the Mississippi and Gulf. Then he decided to paddle back by way of the Atlantic Ocean, Hudson River and down via the Quetico to International Falls and Minnesota's Northwest Angle. He arrived there a week or so ago.
When I last visited with him in person, I told him I was a little nervous about flying to New England. "If you're not nervous," he said, "you're not dreaming big enough."
I've remembered that all this time.
Though we've been communicating, and while he was giving me grief for not flying, he was unaware of the reasons for it until I sent him this thread.
He sent this picture back after reading it:
I'm guessing you've heard more than enough "I'm so sorrys" and "keep your head ups" for a lifetime by now, but I thought I'd send you a picture from the Appalachian Trail. This is from the day before I finished the trail. I was walking with my friend and we see this guy walking toward us. Suddenly, we realize he has one leg and is on crutches. He's hiking the Appalachian Trail too.
I'd actually seen him before at a trail event and he had an artificial leg. It was super technical looking and had sponsor's stickers all over it, but he didn't have it with him when we saw him on the trail. I asked him about it and he told us it had bruised his stump, so he had to ditch it for a bit to let the stump heal. He got a pair of crutches so he could keep hiking. He was going southbound into a section of the trail that is fairly remote and called the "hundred mile wilderness." I'll never forget seeing him walk away on those crutches, finding a way to keep going.
Maybe you can find a way to keep going too. Maybe it means fighting like **** to get that medical clearance. Maybe it means switching to powered gliders or whatever you are able to fly. Maybe it means getting a co-pilot (I wish I could fly, I'd be there in a heart beat!). Maybe it means forgetting about flying and dreaming of something else. Who knows, but whatever it is, I'm cheering for you and if there is anything I can do to help--even if you just need to call someone up and yell at the phone--you know how to reach me.
The picture is now in my hangar. I don't yet know how any of this will turn out, but it's all a metaphor for building a plane anyway. You should read all about Daniel's journey here
; it'll sound familiar.