The start of last week I found myself stood in front of the walk-ins reception desk, politely frustrated. The receptionist, with her raised in exasperation eyebrows, questioning loudly my reason for being there. Yes it did sound ridiculous. Who attends a hospital for a dislocated jaw, then loses consciousness while inhaling penthrox and comes too no longer on the a&e trolley but face first on the floor with two nurses helping your brain fogged self back to bed; before swiftly relocating you and discharging you despite protests of I think I’m hurt. Then presents at the unit 3 days later complaining of pain. I get it I sound mad. In one final attempt to be taken seriously I lift my top up, lowering the left side of leggings and underwear, revealing the deep purple bruising that consumes the left side of my body.
I feel embarrassed and humiliated. To have had to expose my body in a packed waiting room so as to be taken seriously is maddening. However this is isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. In that same visit I was criticized by drs and told my pain threshold must be low as my walking wasn’t bad enough for serious damage He soon ate those words. People forget that I live every day in pain, this happens even in situations like this where we’ve just discussed my conditions and the professional has glossed over my issues rather than accepting my offer to explain further. I wake up and relocate the joints that came out over night every morning. My baseline of daily pain is that of most healthy person’s A& E trip level.
Between my hip/leg damage, general nerve damage and nerve flare from my Botox I’m doing my best to pace and get through the day slowly. It’s tiring but worth it. So much awareness is still needed in this world.
When I met my partner Damon back in 2016 I was upfront about the fact that I had a whole host of chronic conditions some of which would deteriorate as I aged. It was a subject that I broached on our first date, romantic I know, but it was important to me that he knew life with me would not be an easy one; our first date lasted five hours. What was meant to be coffee, turned into a museum trip, and hours spent talking on a bench overlooking the River Cherwell. At the time my Dystonia was my most limiting condition. The EDS was annoying and had its fair share of debilitating moments but in comparison was easy enough to deal with.
However over the years with a good combination of medication and very regular Botox injections my Dystonia is often far more controlled, yet my EDS has spiralled dramatically so. My jaw which takes the brunt of both conditions is in need of replacement yet both conditions make replacement not necessarily the easiest call for my surgical team; it’s an ongoing argument. My knees are in a similar state. They too need replaced. They currently sublex at 0 and 30 degrees constantly yet bracing doesn’t seem to work due to the change in position with each time the knees come out of place. I frequently joke that I’m falling apart and honestly it feels that way.
The latest part of me to be affected is my hearing. My hearing tests have showed that im hearing impaired and im awaiting further appointments on the next steps to see what aids will help me. Whilst my hearing being affected isn’t overly surprising, it wasn’t something at 27 I expected to be told. However after almost a year of struggling I knew it was time to give in and get some help.
If you look at me you could be forgiven for not realising anything was wrong. Which is one of the reasons Rare Disease Day is so important. Disabilities come in all variations and I for one never look the same one day to the next.
This morning I was on the phone to my mum when she brought up the fact I hadn’t blogged in a long time. I am rather good at finding excuses for why; too tired, too busy with the kids, don’t know what to say. But none of those are completely true. So bless her, I rambled for quite a while as to the reasons why.
Firstly Ableism. Honestly I’m mad for allowing myself to be beat down enough to feel I didn’t deserve a voice as an activist for people with Dystonia and other invisible illnesses anymore. Up until the last several months I had been having a relatively stable patch which I had been making the most of, and for that simple reason I felt I wasn’t ‘sick’ enough to do this anymore. Which is frankly ridiculous. I have several conditions all of which are chronic, a couple that will continue to deteriorate as I age. My good spells generally never last longer than a Botox cycle, yet because I don’t fit into a nice stereotypical tick box of what disability should look like I felt like I couldn’t blog. I expect myself to be able to do everything that a healthy person can do, because that it is what people, I feel, expect of me from many not so subtle comments for example lose weight your joints won’t hurt as much.
Secondly, was my depression and anxiety. The anxiety and paranoia I experience partially stem from post natal depression but are largely side effects of my medication. I feared hugely that holding my hands up and saying ‘Hey, I’m trying my best but I’m struggling like crazy, I’m terrified by the deterioration I am currently experiencing in my body and I don’t know to do’ that my doctor’s would somehow read this and decide to withdraw the medication that is so vital to me and pack me off for yet more counciling. That may seem ridiculously paranoid to read but when you’ve lived years of doctors gaslighting you, undermining your very real physical symptoms, skirting around the subject of mental health is now habit (though I am on antidepressants now).
I hope that clears things up. I want to blog here more. It helps to write it down and connect with others in the same situation.