Posted in Archive, February 2022

One day, one minute, one breath.

Each passing minute, moment, breath, feels like a drawn out hour at this time of writing. By Botox was due at the end of January. It was scheduled for April. Thank Lord it was moved to mid March. My medication routine had kept me healthier for longer than I had dared hoped for, but now my little Dystonia alien is kicking my ass with vengeance.

My jaw has been dislocated for a full 24 hours straight now. It has been coming previously on and off before that. The aches in the joint and the building spasms told me all I needed to know. I’d adjusted my food intake to make sure I wasn’t aggreviating it, I was regularly applying heat packs, and doing basic physio stretches. On Tuesdays I sneezed and dislocated the jaw, and it came out again hours later while I was enjoy a nice brew.

I’m extremely lucky that while I was pregnant with Evie at around 9 weeks I got admitted to the gyny ward due to suspect Hyperemesis Gravidarum and kidney infection. The maxfax team came and taught my fiancé how to relocate my jaw to save me living in the A&E department trying to educate the staff. Them taking the time to teach Damon had a life changing impact as it’s dramatically cut down the amount of time I spend in A&E have it manipulated back in place.

The shear strenth of the spasms shock and terrify me. Despite muscle relaxants Dame has struggled to relocate my jaw today. Normally this would mean I need to take a trip up the hospital before it becomes worse. But honestly I don’t want to go. I know the drill, they’try twice, when it fails they send me by ambulance to Aintrree, the med students try and fail, I get scheduled for surgery, and then Dr. Godcomplex cancel the surgery because he doesn’t believe in Dystonia or EDS.

If you’ve made it this far through my foggy ramblings! Congrats 👏

Left on Sunday where spasms were ok. Right is today

Posted in Archive, November 2021

Prolapse, Painsomnia & Filters

It’s hard to know to where to start. I’m so tired from the painsomnia and I know that is partially responsible for my level of frustration, emotional upheaval and general anger towards this current situation. Focusing on one hour at a time seems to help.

Being very much limited in my capacity to move much is hitting me hard. Having finally found a medication that helped my Dystonia, then developing this prolapse and adapting to its limits feels like a slap in the face. I cannot empty my bladder fully due to it, which is resulting in bouts of incontinence with no warning, I haven’t been able to go the loo properly since Thursday last week and that’s causing its own pain. I move around with my thighs clamped together terrified of making it worse. There are 36weeks to go before the first consultant appointment.

Acknowledging that this hit my mental health is important. I was already in a bad patch due to ongoing hair loss causing anxiety. This new complication on top knocked me down, hard. I know I’m a fighter and will adjust with time. However it’s important to recognise that what I’m feeling is valid.

Before I sign off I want to touch on one thing; look beyond the filter. In the first photo above the filters has smoothed out most signs of exhaustion, my eyes almost look sparkling and awake. It’s a nice image with little hint of what’s going on. This is an image I would post on my personal profile or my author page; it doesn’t reflect my current issues. The second photo is filter free, the bags under my eye are clear to see and the dark rings obvious. The puffiness in my face from my meds hasn’t been smoothed out. This I would post on my Dystonia and Me page. It is a truthful image.

I never posted either photo (until now). It got me thinking about the need to act ok when I’m not. It’s quite a damaging reality. We see it everyday. Just some food for thought. Personally I’m going to stop using filters, see the reaction to truthful imperfections and struggles. Live my truth. (unless me and my daughter are using it to be bunny’s)

Posted in Archive, August 2021

Adapt, Rethink, Go

We recently had to return the power wheelchair we had on hire. It had been with us for the best part of a year and had quickly become a very integral part of daily life. It reduced my pain, dislocation frequency and enabled me to get out and about everyday. It was freeing. We’d hoped by the time it had to be returned that I’d have been seen by the local wheelchair service for an assessment as currently I dislocate my fingers while trying to push my manuel chair. However it’s a long waiting list and an appointment date is still a while a way.

In the meantime I’m reassessing how much activity I can do and what I do each day. My head deffinently believes I’m more capable than what my body thinks I am able to do. A lot of this week has been spent resting and trying to find a happy medium. However I’m also currently on week three of my period and I know that when I have extended bleeds I generally feel rubbish and my joints and muscles seem to be worse in general.

I’ve started introducing sleep hygiene into my night routine to help improve the quality of my sleep and to see if it improves how rested I feel. I’m trying to have no screens for an hour or two before bed. Instead I’m reading and crocheting. This has also given my mental health a little boost as well which is positive.

I’ve had a gyny appointment come through for the end of September, so not long to go now. Hopefully this one won’t get cancelled.

Posted in Archive, August 2021

Freedom; Are The Disabled Included?

We recently were fortunate enough to spend a chunk of time down south visiting my mum. It was a lovely break away from routine, and the kids were over the moon to get to have a ‘extra long sleepover’ with their Granny. If it weren’t for the newly added hand sanitizers that appeared on every corner one could almost forget about the pandemic for a moment.

On our way home we chose to pull in at a service station to let the kids stretch their legs after hitting the que of another incident. The kids dad took them off to the toilets whilst I popped into the shop. I only needed a couple of items, and instantly looked for a basket as one hand is strapped up at the moment due to scaphoid fracture. There were none.

It may sound dramatic to say that I started to feel anxious at this point but it’s true. I can’t hold things in my fractured hand and my other is occupied with my trusty walking stick. In the end I resorted to cradling the items in the crook of my elbow. I dropped them repeatedly. The staff noticed from behind the counter and did nothing other than stare. Other customers, who were incredibly kind, helped me gather up my shopping as I shuffled about, hunted for a basket and confirmed that due to Covid they’d been taken away.

Eventually, feeling really rather embarrassed at my inability to hold a couple of items, I approached the staff at the tills. When I queried the lack of baskets, I was met with a shrug and a murmured grumble about Covid. I asked about how they expected their disabled customers to cope, after all they had watched me struggle and drop my items several times. In reply he simply offered to scan my shopping and bag it for me, let me pay, then he would watch it so I was free to carry on shopping. It was crystal clear that they had not faced with this situation so far.

Numerous charities and research groups have been saying this through out the pandemic; the disabled community are being left behind. Article after article has stated how disabled people have reported feeling overlooked, forgotten, isolated, ignored. Just today there was a piece on how two York Councillors were not allowed to vote on accessible parking in their area as by being disabled they had a prejudice – madness!

Freedom day has come and gone, yet now things have reopened I’ve found that actually I’m running into more restrictions that affect my disability than prepandemic – for example in the same service station they wouldn’t open up the disabled toilets as they didn’t have a designated staff member free to monitor them. They had a member of staff a few feet away though in the ladies directing women into cubicles.

While it may sound like I’m riled up about not very much it’s not something im going to let slide. I don’t by any means think that the staff in the shop should have magically have transfigured a chocolate bar into a basket but they could have offered a bag for me to go around with or to have walked alongside me and helped. Either way I would have been and out in less than half the time if if id just had a little bit of aid. Which is something I’ll put in my letter when I write to them later this week.

Posted in Archive, february 2021

Cancard UK; Fantastic leap for Chronic Conditions in 2021

What is Cancard UK?

The Cancard UK is a fantastic leap forwards for pain patients and people with qualifying* chronic conditions in the UK. Essentially it is a card issued by Cancard LTD to its membership that provides evidence to the Police that the holder has a qualifying medical condition for which medical cannabis may be prescribed. This card indicates to the the police that the holder is therefore in possession of cannabis for medical reasons and that that they should confident in using discretion when they encounter a Cancard holder providing they are in possession of small quantities.

*You can find a list of qualifying conditions of their site, upon application you be asked to either provide a summary of care or have your GP sign to prove that you meet application criteria.

Why is the Cancard necessary?

Currently there is a short list of qualifying conditions for that entitle you to a private prescription of cannabis in the UK. However these are extremely expensive; An initial appointment* costs around £150, a follow up appointment which is required every couple of month £65, each prescription at least £30 per month. *Pricing examples taken from The Medical Cannabis Clinics.

For most people these prices are just not affordable, especially not long term. However it is known, and more evidence is coming out in support of this, that for certain conditions cannabis can provide significant relief, reduce pain, and help manage symptoms.

Does this make it legal?

No the law has not changed, however all police forces in the UK have been briefed on the the card. It has been co-designed and is backed by senior members of the police force, and guidance has been issued by them stressing that officers should feel confident in using their discretion in cases of possession when the holder is also in possession of a Cancard. It does, however, prove that you are legally entitled to a cannabis prescription which is a huge step forwards.

Cancard UK

If you are interested and want to know more I would highly recommend spending some time on their website and also on their social media. Not only can you apply for the card through the site which is an easy process, but it is also full of great resources such guides to self medication, how to handle being stopped by the police, the different components in cannabis and how each one affects different conditions such as epilepsy, spasms, pain etc. The Cancard UK is a great tool to utilise as well, one of the most recent videos was a tutorial demonstrating how to make it into a oil, which for those who prefer not to smoke is a very handy guide.

Next Steps

Currently the card does not cover growing your own plant at home, and pharmacies are still not selling to card holders. However, they are working on expanding so that growing is covered and therefore reduces the risks taken by the user.

Posted in Archive, COVID-19, January 2021

Disability & Discrimination During Covid-19

As the world adjust to Covid-19, those of us shielding in the UK (and the thousands of other impacted disabled folk) have read multiple news report to see how it will impact us next. Reading through each new regulation brought in to ‘flatten the curve’ screamed ableism. Whilst I agree the new rules were needed there was no consideration for the disabled people in society. Even under tier three regulations when we were allowed to reemerge from our homes after months of shielding, the regulations had no adaptions for us. They were discriminatory at best; put yourself in our shoes and suddenly being faced with having no access to a public disabled bathroom, having to que to shop with no where to sit when your physically need to, a lack of parking because many disabled spaces are now being taken up by outdoor seating for pubs and restaurants. Many disabled people who were being interviewed for research by Inclusion London reported that they felt excluded and marginalised.

There was a fantastic article in The Guardian today, with an interview by paralympian Sophie Carrigill addressing inequality, specifically around how the needs of disabled people have been ignored throughout our multiple lockdowns; you can read the article here. I completely agree with her, my social media is full of adverts every couple of scrolls trying to encourage me to sign up to one fitness program or another. Even my gym is going live and notifying me, along with influencers left, right and centre. Yet I am aware of only two people currently who cater with workouts for the disabled. What really shocked me though was when I went to comment under the article on facebook. It was disability discrimination and frankly simply disability hate comment after comment. The completely ignorance of people was astounding.

Adaptive Workouts – Disability FriEndly

A fellow Dystonia warrior Gina, runs Adaptive Martial Arts (I’m meant to be trying this when I’m having a healthy run myself!), which you can do via Zoom currently. The second, is a woman I recently found on instagram who teaches dance via her wheelchair her handle is @katestanforth .

Disability Discrimination – The evidence

There has been a significant rise in negative attitudes towards people with disabilities since the start of the pandemic, or to be more specific since the start of the shielding and need to wear a mask. Its not hard to find evidence of this, its all over social media but also sadly there multiple news and police reports on the subject.

A report by the neighbourhood watch found that a recent survey carried out found 62% of deaf and disabled people organisations reported an increase in disability hate crime referrals on the previous weeks – this was just after it was announced face masks were to become mandatory. I myself have twice been yelled at for not having mask on, once whilst relocating my jaw and once yesterday whilst having a sip of a drink.

The findings from Inclusion London Briefing are really quiet troubling about the rise in Disability Hate Crime during the course of this pandemic, you can read it here. To name a few examples 1) A rise in hate crime by neighbours including a rise in hate crime against disabled children whilst they are at home by neighbours. 2) A rise in verbal abuse against disabled peoples and instances of being spat at whilst out of the home due to inaccurate perception the disabled person being a ‘virus spreader’. 3) An in increase in online hate crime, often on social media platforms, in which disabled have been that their lives are inferior and that they are taking up resources from non disabled people.

Disability Inclusion Post Lockdown

Where do we go from here? It’s going to take a lot of work and advocacy to get us to some level of equality – which the Inclusion London Briefing article briefly does touch on. I don’t know when that will happen and how we go about getting the public to flip their perception again. Part of the way that perhaps that can happen is that when we come out lockdown the regulations allows for disabled people to use our bathrooms when necessary, and doesn’t turn our much coveted gold dust parking spots into garden seating for pubs. But that would only be the start, we need a whole lot more to turn peoples attitudes around.

Posted in Archive, January 2021

Lockdown, Homeschooling and Work

With the introduction of the new lockdown I had had been planning on getting crafty with the kids again. That idea was snuffed out after an email landed in my email box confirming that nursery would be doing live home lessons followed by tasks to be completed, photographed and emailed to his teachers. All well and good except my partner works shifts and I have an 18 month old whose favourite word is no, also takes no as a yes and will most deffinently try to touch every key on my laptop.

So today was the first home school lesson. After half an hour of technical wrestleling we finally got on to Teams and were met by a chorus of STEFAN. The children were happily mucking around with each other, my daughter was desperately trying to join in and the teacher? Her laptop had the same issues mine had to start with and never made it to the lesson. Round two tomorrow!

Dystonia and Me Holistic Health Coaching is officially up and running which has added a lovely touch to my evenings. I have been thoroughly enjoying chatting with different people with a range of issues and starting them on their journeys with me.

Colourful heart enlarging in further colours being touched by a human figure in blues and purples

I would love to hear if any has had the vaccine yet? From the calculator I predict mine to be late Feb to March at the current injection rates and would be interested to hear your experience in the comments. I personally will be accepting the offer of the jab, I just would like to go in to it eyes open to side effects.

Posted in Archive, January 2021

Hormones and Chronic illness

Hormones, they hit us out of the blue in puberty and never stop showing up no matter how much we hope they may just skip a month. Even before my diagnosis of Dystonia my monthly visits from the witch were awful.

During my teen years my periods were unpredictable; sometimes not showing up for months and sometime arriving every two weeks. They would leave me doubled over the toilet in the night throwing up from the cramps, and going through a pad in under an hour over and over again. I spent years visiting my then GP who told me all this was normal and that I needed to learn to deal with these symptoms. It was only then when I was studying for my midwifery course that I had the courage to go to a new gp who recognised my distress and referred me to gyny. One operation later and I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.

Quote from Camran Nrzhat, ND.

Now my periods are worse than before and on average last 72 days. Yes you read that right. They last 72 days. Now normally they’d treat with a hormonal contraception to stop the period. Here’s where my health comes into play. My spasms, now I don’t know whether this is my Dystonia or EDS, but I can’t use any intrauterine device as the spasms physically reject it from my body which is fairly uncomfortable. The pill*/patch/injection all work on giving you progesterone however I am unfortunately one of those rare Ehlers Danlos suffers who can not tolerate this. The increase causes a dramatic increase in dislocations body wide.

*I am aware there are pills that are not just progesterone based however due to the fact I get daily migranes with aura I cannot take these as it increases my stroke risk.

Between the prolonged bleeding which leaves me severely anaemic (currently 3.1), the increase in spasms, dislocations, fatigue, it’s fair to say hormones really screw me over. So gentle hugs to all who also experience this. Remember chocolate always helps!

Posted in Archive, December 2020

Genes and Dystonia

Following on from yesterday’s Facebook live where we touched briefly on genetic causes of Dystonia, I wanted to delve into this a little more. DYT1 gene is the cause of some cases of early onset Dystonia and seems to be the one people are aware of. However there is a number of other genes that can cause Dystonia. Knowing whether it is a genetic cause is worth investigating as treatment can differ. For example I have the GCH1 gene which is the cause of Dopa Responsive Dystonia. I’ve lived with my symptoms for eight years and only recently found this out. I’m now awaiting to start on the appropriate medication for this particular type of Dystonia.

Taken from http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0004-282X2015000400350#:~:text=DYT6%20dystonia%20has%20an%20autosomal,no%20sex%20differences%20identified9.

Being diagnosed with Dystonia for the majority of people is a long road, and more complicated still if you don’t know the medical history of your parents, grandparents etc. I haven’t had contact with my father for years but I know from my mum that he had hand tremors and was often called shakey. Now this could be caused by anything and that’s important to remember but based on the fact that my hands also spasm and tremor it’s a significant point.

When I was on the initial road chasing for a diagnosis only one doctor recommended genetic testing and this was never followed up on. I then spent years fighting against the label of functional Dystonia, which seemed to being applied purely based on my previous traumas. It became a frequent sticking point, one in which I often pointed out that fighting for treatment and belief was by far more traumatic at the time than issues I’d already worked through with therapists.

It was only after resorting to private genetic testing that we discovered that I had a genetic cause; I’d been blaming it on a horse riding accident for years purely because my neck spasms started shortly afterwards.

So does having a genetic cause change anything? Yes! Some types of Dystonia are far more likely to respond to Deep Brain stimulation, while others respond to specific medications better.

It is important to remember however that not all Dystonia causing genes are known yet. This is one of the reasons family history is so important. I only went digging into my genes after my maxfax surgon mentioned that their appears to be a link between Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Dopa Responsive Dystonia.

Other causes can be medication induced (tardive dyskinesia), brain injury, as a symptom of another condition etc. If you have concerns over the root cause of your condition please speak to your neurology team.

Posted in Archive, December 2020

Chronic Aspiration

Today I had a meeting with speech and language to assess my ongoing difficulties with swallowing. Some days the issues fade into the background and are not to much of a problem, other times I struggle to swallow anything which has previously resulted in over a week in the hospital on IV fluids and having a temporary NG tube placed. I had no idea what to expect from the appointment as I’ve not met with speech and language before.

She came to my house, and was immediately met with Stefan and Evie talking a thousand miles a minute, both very curious over her PPE. We discussed my symptoms and long medication list and then she got down to examining me. She had a feel of my throat whilst I drank an ensure and picked up my usual spasms. While we were talking I was doing my usual post meal coughing, something that’s mild enough that I don’t really notice it, nor was I aware that my voice then became hoarse something my partner brought up.

The speech and language therapist explained what was happening was due to my spasms that I was aspirating during my meals. She’s arranging a barium swallow so they can get a look at the extent that this is happening. It also explains why I keep getting such bad chest infections; the last one left me needing two rounds of antibiotics and a course of steroids.

She mentioned the possibility of a PEG tube again, something that’s been circled around for a while, as well as refferal back to the dietitian. This will hopefully be after the barium swallow has been conducted as this should show what consistency of liquid will be best for me.

I’m feeling quite positive about it all after today’s meeting and will be hearing from her again in four week for an update.