Yesterday I attended my first appointment with my urology consultant. I had no idea what to expect. Urology issues are common in my family but I’ve never pushed to have my issues investigated. I had a scan once in 2012 and was told oh it’s just an overactive bladder just try to go to the loo less and you’ll be fine. I was training to be a midwife, I was queen of going to the loo less.
I hadn’t realised just how nervous I was. I’ve been coping with on/off incontinence issues for a longtime now, it can take me twenty minutes to void my bladder and it’s never fully empty. Throw in my prolapse on top and things are just not great in the pelvic region. When he asked me to explain what was wrong the words just tumbled out at top speed, I was vaguely aware of my hands nervously shaking. He stopped me a few times, got me to take a breath, reassured me there was no rush he had time to listen to me and that I could explain in as much detail as I could.
He was eccentric in his mannerisms, but put me completely at ease. After my neuro left this was the pick me up I needed. Before I left his clinic I had appointments in my hand to come back for further testing, instructions for at home testing and a date to review the results. The NHS at its finest.
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 👏
No day is ever the same when living with chronic illness. The routine may be vaguely the same but each day revolves around adapting to what symptoms are presenting that day and the severity of them in the moment. What may be rather bad in the morning may be insignificant in comparison to another symptom by midday
A good example of this is today. Sundays are always our family rest days. We go to church, sometimes have family to us but generally speaking we are at home together. Now I was already shattered after a bad night sleep with nerve pain in lower right leg and lower back pain. However upon getting up my neck spasm started pulling my head down towards my shoulder. It’s a particularly nasty spasm that’s hard to break. I have a percriped Aspen collar for when my neck does which I alternate with wearing a TENS unit and a heat pack.
I’ve not had to wear this collar in a while. The overly nervous me did my best to disguise it with a scarf as we sent out for church. It deffinently took some getting used to wearing it out and about and learning to ignore the second glances once again. But it’s worth to help ease off the painful spasms somewhat.
My Botox appointment is extremely late this time round having being schedule for almost six months instead of three. Whilst I’m hoping for a cancilation to come up, I am in the mean time going to ask my general practitioner to allow me to my Trihexyphenidyl untill I’ve had my injections
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since I last blogged things have been hectic. I have spent the majority of my days either at the hospital having various investigations carried out, or on the phone to them chasing down followup appointments. This week I have had more bloods taken and an MRI of my brain, eyes and spine with contrast performed. Tuesdays MRI experience seemed a bit surreal. It took 35 minutes, three medical personnel and 7 attempts before I was successfully cannulated as my veins were up to their usual disappearing act. This time allowed for me to internally become quiet anxious at the thought of being in the MRI machine for a minimum of an hour – in the end it was about one hour twenty. I am generally not a claustrophobic person, but this machine brings that fear out in me, this is most likely exacerbated by the fact that I have to be strapped to the table to ensure my spasms cannot move me around to much and distort the images.
My stress levels have been through the roof this last week. I have fought so hard over the last four years to be put on a medication regime that allows me to have more control over my body again, and live a relatively normal life. The mere thought that my body may become more of an issue again is distressing. However I am lucky that I have a good support system in place, my family help keep me distracted, my boyfriend is great at talking through my concerns with me, and my councilor has been a fantastic space for me to vent and explore my frustrations at my faulty body.
I get the results of my MRI on Monday. So I shall know then whether more investigations need to be carried out or if it is MS.
Its been a few weeks since I blogged and it is hard to know where to start as so much has happened. I have had hospital appointment after hospital appointment, and I find that I am still trying to wrap my head round them all. I’ll keep todays blog brief and just mention a couple of appointments.Thankfully though my Dystonia has not been too bad as of late, my legs are tolerating my splints with more ease which is making life and physiotherapy much easier.
Last week I had an appointment at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital to see a specialist to do with my Joint Hypermobility syndrome, she has decided she wants me put on an outpatient program there building up towards being put into a 3 week intensive rehabilitation program. It was extremely a positive appointment that has left me feeling very optimistic. Joint Hypermobility Syndrome combined with Dystonia means my body can end up in some weird and wonderful positions, which can be rather painful, so I am hoping this program will give me some coping tools.
On Wednesday I attended a local private hospital that treats Lyme Disease to see if they would consider treating me. The Dr was rather lovely and very thorough in her examinations which left me feeling quite confident. They took blood to test for a number of things including Lyme Disease, and explained the treatment process if the results they needed came back. Having treatment through this hospital will be extremely expensive however you cannot put a price on health. Lyme disease has robbed me off so much of my life, and in many cases literally takes people lives, I don’t plan on being next. The NHS turning a blindeye on this condition will be one that in years to come they will look back on with regret.
This coming week is filled with more appointments. I am rather looking forward to seeing my neurologist, I am going to ask if he will botox my calf again and see if this helps with learning to walk!
I am so angry right now. I have tried to get in to see my GP for about two weeks now, but as I have been unable to see him I asked him to phone me. I wanted to discuss having IV antibiotics arranged. When I saw my neurologist 5 weeks ago, he agreed that a lumbar puncture would do me more damage than good and that it was worth switching from oral antibiotics to IV. My neurologist put all of this in a letter for my GP.
My GP is usual a great source of help, and I usually think he is fantastic – however usual is the key word here. Today was one of those days where he was exceptionally un-helpful and left me in a rage. He stated that he did not want to arrange it as it would be “complicated”, and he wants me to come in so he can explain why it was “complicated”. When I pointed out the reason I had not been into see him was because he was fully booked in the evenings when someone is at home to take me, he claimed that was nonsense – I had to bite my tongue at this point as I’m sure the receptionist would not lie to me for 2 weeks about him being booked up. He then asked to speak to my mother!!!! Now I am sorry but I am 20, why on earth is he asking this?! Now my mother comes to all my appointments with me, but really what is so complicated that he has to explain to my mum instead of myself?
I feel disgusted, disappointed and disheartened. He wants ANOTHER letter from my neurologist about IV treatment. Luckily I have an appointment with my Neurological Consultant next Tuesday, so I shall explain and ask him to write another one then, but this is all beyond ridiculous. He already has one letter stating it, how will another one saying the same thing make any difference?
I could go privately and pay for the treatment myself, however it is very expensive and I don’t see why I should to do so, when my neurologist was happy for it to be done on the NHS. Why does the medical profession insist on picking a fight with me at every hurdle? All I want is to rid me body of the disease that caused my Dystonia, is that really too much to ask? After all if they had picked up on it 14 years ago I would not have Dystonia now!
Today I realised I had two rather important hospital appointments this coming week. Whilst neither of these appointments are dystonia related, the dystonia makes it damn near impossible to get to the appointments. To get to these hospitals, the appointment letters recommend that you use public transport as parking at the hospital and in the surrounding areas is extremely limited. At first this seemed just to be a mere annoyance, however this soon became a major issue.
Our town train station is not accessible by wheelchair, and the nearest one that is you must book 24 hours in advance to let them know that you will need a ramp, but yet it is even more of a struggle to get help getting off at the other end. Then factor in that the majority of the underground stations (including all the ones I needed to use) are not wheelchair friendly!
I have only been bound to a wheelchair since September 29th. Yes, I can hobble on my tip-toes, but this is only for a few steps before the dystonia alien rears its ugly head, it is no-where near far enough to enable me to get on and off a train. We had been trying to avoid getting a blue badge, not for any particular reason, but we seemed to be managing to get the wheelchair and me in and out of the car OK so there was no need for it.
I think it is disgusting that the public transport service has not been made wheelchair/disabled friendly! What if I had no-one to drive me and I had no choice but to use public transport? Am I expected to pay money I do not have for an over priced taxi to London, which would easily cost me hundreds of pounds? I think this shall be yet another issue that needs to be added to my ever growing list of complaints!