Lonnie Martin suffers from a rare condition that causes her to feel seasick while on dry land.
Getting seasick is common while traveling by boat, and the feeling usually clears up right away once a passenger reaches dry land.
Not so with Lonnie Martin. The Grand Rapids, Michigan resident has been seasick ever since she stepped off a Caribbean cruise ship back in October. The mother of two told Fox News that she has Mal de Debarquement syndrome, a condition in which her body believes it’s essentially still aboard a ship. Subsequently, Martin now deals with dizziness on a daily basis, and even physically “rocks and sways”.
“The feeling is like somebody actually has you by the arm and is pulling you in a direction,” she told Fox 17. “I’m constantly swaying, unless I’m in a rocking chair, but if I stand up you can see me moving.”
A strange discovery
Martin and her family enjoyed a seven-day Caribbean cruise back in October 2019. During that time, she took motion-sickness medicine and never felt sick. However, once the cruise ended and she flew back home to Michigan, she began to notice some strange symptoms.
“We got off the boat on Saturday morning, flew back to Michigan, and by Sunday evening I felt I was very tired those two days, but I thought that was kind of from being on vacation,” she explained to Fox News. “But by Sunday night I couldn’t stand up, I was falling and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It was scary.”
After consulting a doctor and a visit to the ER, Martin was diagnosed with Mal de Debarquement syndrome, a rare disease that causes bodily swaying and a general “sick” feeling. It interferes with her daily activities, like shopping and driving. She falls frequently and feels sick even while sitting or lying down. In order to get around the house, Martin must hold on to counters and walls to keep herself balanced.
Since Mal de Debarquement syndrome is rare, there aren’t a lot of treatment options currently available.
“The first three weeks I cried everyday because I was so upset. So then I went to see a neurologist and she said ‘listen, there’s nothing we can do for you,’ and that was like the fourth doctor,” Martin said. “And that day I thought ‘OK, I’m not going to cry anymore, it’s not going to help me, it’s going to make me worse.”
Martin now sees six doctors, including a physical therapist and an audiologist. She says that the only foolproof way she has found to relieve her symptoms is to sit in a rocking chair or go for a ride in the car. Ironically, she feels much better in circumstances where most people would feel motion sick.
According to the MdDs Foundation, the condition can occur after any type of travel– by boat, train, car, plane, and even repeated elevator use. It is diagnosed only after a patient has dealt with the symptoms for 30 days or more, and may last for months or even years.
Main image source: Fox 17 West Michigan
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