Posted in Archive, July, July 2022

Urology Pick Me Up

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.

Posted in Archive, January 2022, September

Day to Day Management

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.

Picture of me ready for church wearing my Aspen collar to been help support and straighten my neck

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.

Off to church. Scarf ‘hiding’ my neck support

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

Posted in Archive, December 2021

Waking Up Blank

Staring up at a pair of eyes, a mouth moving above me, making a sound that honestly I don’t quite understand and I don’t like the noise. The light is too bright. I just want to close my eyes and sleep. I like sleep. I’m tired. It’s too loud.

I open my eyes again. The words from above demand it. Ah the eyes have a name. I recognise my partner. Why won’t he let me sleep. The floor is hurting me.

I need sleep.

More noise. I don’t like it. I want to shut my ears. Turn the lights off. Cocoon my body in comfort and warmth. My body doesn’t feel like mine. It’s clumsy and not easy to move. It hurts.

***

When I come round there’s no telling how long it will take before I’m back in the room so to speak. The amnesia affect can last an unnerving amount of time. It often takes multiple conversations before I’ll retain information. So my fiancĂ© will have to repeadedly inform me that I’ve had a seizure. I’ll get upset and he will calmly explain what’s happened. 1) has he had to phone an ambulance 2) what medicines he’s administered 3) how/where I am 4) any obvious dislocations that need addressing 5) ask me (if I’m with it) how I’m feeling and what I need.

I had a bad one the other day. I fell during it and hit my body darn good. Four days on and in still in pain. I came to bed early tonight as I couldn’t bear my leg pain anymore and need to lie down. My neck feels like I’ve been hit by an iron bar.

I’m grateful that they are more controlled in comparison to when they first started. But boy do they hit me something rotten when they happen. Heat bags are my best friend at the moment!

Posted in Archive, November 2021

Learning To Cope With A Prolapse

I woke up the other week with a pain that felt slightly familiar but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I lay in bed gently testing my muscles and noting what was spasming or dislocated. After all it’s not unusual for me to wake up with a dislocation here and a spasm there. Satisfied that no major joints were out of place I got up. Then it hit me.

The pain in my vaginal area brought tears to my eyes. I immediately clamped my thighs together. I can only describe it as feeling like my uterus was plummeting out of me. A quick check with a mirror confirmed what my nerves were telling me. Prolapse. Again. This time far worse.

Ive been back and forth to the drs multiple times since that morning. Honestly the difference between seeing a male Dr and female Dr is gobsmacking. When I saw the female practioner I got asked how I’m managing, offered pain relief, and my concerns listened to. When I spoke to the male Dr he dismissed my pain levels telling me that he couldn’t understand it as a prolapse shouldn’t hurt – never mind the fact I also had an Infection in my uterus at the same time. He gaslighted me completely.

I’ve been researching like a madwoman since I started this journey in desperation to make sure I am referred to the right department as quickly as possible. 38 weeks is the current wait time to our hospitals urogynyolgical clinic. 38 weeks. I can’t wrap my head around that figure. Meanwhile I’m sitting here with my prolapse literally outside of my body causing a significant amount of pain.

Ive been pretty upset, a lot of tears have been shed. My mental health has not been great and I’ve not really got my head round this yet. I know that the prolapse will be due to my EDS. I can accept that. What I’m finding hard is the fact I can barely do more than a few minutes movement before needing a long rest due to pain.

Im not sure how long this journey will be but I’ll keep it documented. I’m sure this reads as a ramble but it helps me to get it all written down.

Posted in Archive, September 2021

‘Learn to live with it’

After over a year of my follow up gyny appointment being rearranged and cancelled repeadedly by the hospital due to Covid, I finally saw the consultant. I arrived with high hopes, a notebook full of the requested data they’d asked me to log, and a very grumpy daughter who would have preferred we’d stayed on the bus.

After reassuring staff that I’d contracted Covid at the start of the month and hadn’t escaped isolation, they took my temp which was border line high. Feeling thankful that a quick round of begging and reassuring them that I felt fine, I was allowed to stay. Two hours later, I was seen with grumpy toddler who was vocalising her unhappiness in tow.

Normally when I have a female gyny the appointment goes slightly better. I explained that my periods were getting worse 48 days long on average but 73 was getting more frequent. That they left me physically sick and due to the change in hormones increased my eds symptoms. She brushed it to one side.

“You will have to learn to live with it”. I’m pretty my face was a picture. My emotions were not in check as I was desperate for this appointment to go well, having last time discussed albation with me. Meds are no option for me due to my EDS, I understand that, hell we had even tried that. I queried the more radical surgical and was told not untill I’m forty, at the moment I am 28.

I can’t get my head around it really. I’m lucky to get more than two weeks between each cycle. It leaves me in pain, sick and exhausted. But yeah sure “learn to live with it”.

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 may 2021

An Open Letter to Stagecoach & Arriva Bus

Dear Stagecoach & Arriva Bus,

I’m writing you an open letter as one of your disabled service users, and a frequent customer. I’ve had a few issue traveling before but today took the biscuit. Myself and my two young children were using your service to travel home from a hospital appointment. We flagged a Stagecoach bus down first. The driver pulled over, explained that he had already allowed two prams on, one was in the allocated buggy area and the other in the wheelchair space; neither parent wished to fold their pram down or move and off he went. I was more than slightly shocked as this is against your covid-19 policy which is listed on your site. I’ve screenshot it below, along with a picture taken from another of your buses which points out that it is law for a buggy to be moved from the wheelchair space should one need to board. Yet we were left in the rain.*

screenshot taken from stagecoach accessibility facts and question page focusing on wheelchair v prams.
Stagecoach Accessibility FAQS
Sign stating the law that wheelchairs have priority

Arriva Bus, it was one of yours that we flagged down next. This time, there was only one pram on board. Inexplicably the parent and pram had placed themselves in the wheelchair area despite the buggy section being free. When your driver asked them to move so we could board, they refused to move and the driver simply shook his head at me said “Sorry, love.” And drove off. This caused quite the stir at the bus stop, with others asking if this was something that happened often. It is quite disappointing to say that this is not the first time that has. Here is a screenshot from your own website Arriva of your policy for wheelchairs and prams.

Arrivas website instruction of priority of wheelchairs over prams
https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/help/conditions-of-carriageArriva Bus Carriage of Wheelchairs and pushchairs

Considering how much time has passed since Doug Paulley first brought his discrimination case to the supreme court back in 2012 over this matter I really expected this issue to be non-existent/on its way out. However experiencing it twice today within a matter of minutes is beyond a joke. How do you explain it to a four year old that two bus drivers didn’t want to follow the law? “Sorry we are not getting that bus either because the driver didn’t want to point out that it’s actually law for her to move over into the pram space. Despite it being his job.” Its disheartening, upsetting, discriminatory and lazy.

I would ask that both companies refresh your drivers memories on your own policies, and on the law. You may have stuck signs inside the buses but that is pointless if you are not going to act on them!

R. McDowall

*I want to acknowledge the kind stagecoach driver who was coming towards the end of a break and witnessed all of this. After waiting a few minutes and realising it was a while before anymore buses going in our direction would be there, cut his break short and drove over to us to let us on. I couldn’t have been more thankful.

Posted in Archive, December 2020

International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2020

The theme this year is ‘not all disabilities are visible’. This is stressing the fact that not every condition is immediately visible; according to the WHO report roughly two-thirds of people with a mental or neurological disorder will put off going to a doctor for help largely in part due to stigma, discrimination and neglect. As someone who has very much been on the receiving end of this trio when it comes to living with multiple neurological conditions, this comes as no surprise to me.

Looking at me as I am right now, curled up on the settee trying to not make to much noise so as to not wake the kids, you could be forgiven for not knowing I had a disability; even if your keen eyed and spotted my odd eyes you wouldn’t know that my sight was impacted and would be unlike to think too much about it. However even when you can spot my spasms or a dislocation, you cannot see my brain fog, my sensory loss, the neuropathic nerve pain, no one can see fatigue fight, the pain induced insomnia, the sixty odd dislocations a day and so much more.

Spot the faulty eye

I love talking with young children about my disabilities because they don’t hold back. “How does your chair work?” “Can you get upstairs?” “Do you have to put you your chair in the bath?” The look of fear on the parents faces as they worry that something not deemed politically correct may be asked is what I find disheartening. Without these beautiful minds being curious how can stigmas be fought against, broken down and normalised? This should be praised and encouraged. I appreciate that not everyone will want to be asked, but you’ll be surprised by how many people are more than happy to discuss these things.

Disabled people, whether the condition is visible or not, physical/mental/learning or otherwise are still people. Next time, pause, maybe ask a question, you could be amazed at how it opens your eyes.

Posted in Archive, Novemeber 2020

Local Anaesthetic and Me

When I was 17 weeks pregnant with my daughter I underwent surgery to remove a mole on the underneath of my right breast that had early cell changes. Due to the fact I was pregnant and it was a relatively short surgery they didn’t want to give me a general anaesthetic, so decided a local would do. Unfortunately my Ehlers-Danlos means I have no response to local anaesthetic and felt every cut, and every stitch. The whole process was rather traumatic and I’ve worked hard at trying to forget it.

I was admitted to my local hospital a couple of days ago due to worsening symptoms in my eye and leg. Due to this it was decided last night to bring my lumbar puncture forward to that evening. I explained that local anaesthetic does not work in the slightest for me. They decided to give me a double dose in the hope it would work; it didn’t, which I expected, maxfax team has tried injecting several times this amount with no effect previously. Now lumbar punctures are known to be painful anyway, so to know I was having one without effective pain relief was nerve wracking to say the least.

It was one of the most agonising experiences I have ever had. It took multiple attempts to place the needle correctly as they found the spaces inbetween the spinal collum to be be extremely narrow. It’s been just over twenty four hours since and I’ve struggled to move. My whole back is in horrondous pain, taking a deep breath or swallowing liquids really seems to agreviate it. I’ve also lost sensation over my waterworks which is concerning. I’ve spoken to the consultant but everyone’s answer over this is that I need an MRI, which apparently is booked but no can tell me a day or time.

I’m missing my kids loads but I know that being here is where I need to be. If this helps put a piece of the medical jigsaw in place and leads to better management that can only be a good thing. Just got to take everything one moment at a time.

Posted in Archive, October 2020

New Found Independence

After discovering recently the wait to be assessed in my area for an electric wheelchair was likely to be several months if not more, we decided to explore what other options were out there. My happy accident after days of searching and getting to the point of really feeling like I was just going to have to accept that I was essentially mainly house bound at the moment, I stumbled across National Mobility Hire, which I have until April 2021; hopefully by then I will have had my assessment but that’s about the current wait time. I only wish I had found them sooner. This morning they dropped my electric wheelchair off and it’s as if they gave me the key to life back.

As soon as Damon had got home from work we set off out with the kids to test drive the chair. It was a complete and utter dream, to be in control was empowering and so uplifting. It gave me such a boost. Since loosing the use of my leg I’ve been unable to take my son to school, such a basic task every parent does and it has devastated me. We weren’t entitled to help from the council as he’s not compulsory school age, my partners hours change every other week so he couldn’t take him, and Covid-19 has limited our options for help as we live in a Tier 3 area. Honestly with each week that was going past it was harder to figure out; this chair completely changes that, it enables me to get him there and back again. Knowing I can do this myself again brought me so much joy.