Jellyfish, or Medusas as well call them, are astonishing animals. They managed to thrive and evolve for over 500 million years without a brain, heart or eyes. More than that, one of them, has found away to prevent death, being nicknamed the Immortal Jellyfish. They also sting, sometimes lethally.

Jellyfish is also where this story begins

– Should I keep looking at the jellyfish? It is quite hard to keep track of it, it is swimming out of sight.

– What medusa?, The doctor asked.

My heart was already racing, but hearing this sent me into a whole level of emotions. I started crying. Of course, there was no medusa, it was just a dot. And surely it wasn’t going anywhere.

– Are you also going to show it on the left side?, I ventured, already expecting the answer.

– Just focus on the dot, miss.

The dot was, most likely, right in the centre. A red light that I should focus on while wearing this black goggles with cameras attached and pointed at my eyes.

White Jellyfish in Blue Waters
White Jellyfish in blue waters

This was part of an exam – videonystagmography – to understand how my vestibular system is working. This might hopefully be a part – if not the main reason – for my inexplicable episodes of migraines, vertigo, and consequent hangovers.

After a couple of simple tracking exercises, the medusa showed up, and I had relaxed a little. It is such an incredible creature, and there it was, pulsating, reminding me of eternity and the beauty of the evolution and diversity of life. How can such a creature and I coexist, so incredibly different, on the same planet?

Slow, peaceful, there  it was: floating away, across darkness, across space and time. As I kept looking at it, almost out of my field of vision, I remembered when I went scuba diving and found a large group of jellyfish between our group of divers and the boat. The simplicity of the situation was striking: we needed to go through the jellyfish, and their stings. We could complain, try to get some distance or cry, but nothing would prevent the inevitable: it was going to happen, it would be uncomfortable, and then we would be okay.

Is that why the medusa was there, right in front of my eyes? Was this another moment where I was about to go through something awfully unpleasant, but then get through it? There was no need to fight it. Perhaps. I held on to that thought until, of course, I heard there was no jellyfish. Which meant I was very dizzy, although I couldn’t tell given the lack of reference points.

This is when tears came into my eyes. The jellyfish was gone, and so was the ground beneath my feet. The next test was similar, but with water in my ears. First the right, then the left. First warm water, then cold. And that’s when the room started rotating. I held on to my chair as hard as I could and kept looking for my jellyfish, it would bring me back. Surprisingly, it did.

Stings or no stings, this was my anchor, my light in the midst of darkness.

As my goggles were removed, and I waited until I could talk again, I asked what was already transparent: “how did I do?”

The answer, crystal clear, just like my jelly friend: “the ear has two functions: one is to hear, and the other is to create balance – your right ear can perform neither. This is why you have vertigo”.

And so it is. The sting. Now I swim through it, and then I will be okay.

Two white jellyfish swimming in opposite directions