*Professor Wonderful has been my neurologist for a little over a decade. When I first became ill at 19 my symptoms broke me. I went from being a confident but accident prone 19 year old, who loved every second of her degree to a spasming, wheelchair bound young adult whose carefully planned out career was slipping through her misshapen fingers. The day my mum collected me from uni I cried the whole way home. I was on sick leave but I knew I wasn’t coming back. There was a twisting pit in my stomach that knew it.
Over the next few months we would clasp at every hope offered that I would get better. Meanwhile I continued to deteriorate. Every road we took was slightly different but each one mentioned Prof Wonderful name as the expert in my symptoms. My mum being the force of love that she is found his contact details and emailed. A few weeks later we sat in his office.
After months of seeing consultant after consultant, each previous appointment more crushing than the last I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was used to being told I could stop my eyes from spasming if I wanted to, being told by multiple consultants that my symptoms were the result of the abuse I’d gone through in my teens, or being left with the results failed operations (a mouthful of broken wires ) with the spasms broke the wires being used to try to control and he ghosted me rather than fix the mess. My expectations were low. Yet my preconceived judgement vanished when he shook my hand and immediately noticed my hypermobility, he referred me to a specialist that day which resulted in my EDS diagnosis. I can remember crying in the lift after the appointment. They were tears of hope.
He did so much more than provide injections. He listened. When I got ahead of myself when my symptoms improved and thought I could go back to midwifery he gently disagreed. He was right. When I’ve needed my team’s to communicate he has fought to ensure they all do to help ensure I’m getting the right care. When he left his post at the hospital I was first under him at I was reassigned to a different consultant. He refused to give me injections at my usual frequency or dose. I went downhill fast, so contacted my original neuro who immediately had me transferred back to his care.
When he informed me on Tuesday he was leaving and no longer would have a patient facing role it was all I could do not to be cry like the last time. I knew it would happen one day. I’d just hoped it would be a long way off. After all these years he is essentially a comfort blanket of sorts, a safe place amongst the god complexes and arrogance that I’ve come against time and time again. I’m nervous about this new chapter. Here we go.
Currently I’m sat in the rush hour traffic on my way home from seeing my neurologist in London. It’s been a long day which upon arrival I soon expected to end in despair. Despite email confirmation of my appointment, my slot had not been added on the system. I’m a big believer in to be early is to be on time, and this slightly over anxious side of me always shows itself before appointments; being extra early was something I was extremely relieved about this time as it meant that they had time to order up the injections.
Thankfully I was seen and as usual I left feeling ever grateful that I’m under my neurologists care. He’s been a rock for me these last 8 years and continues to be. He’s agreed with maxfax recommendations to start me on Sinemet and recommended an alternative to try if this one doesn’t have the hoped for impact. Maxfaxs theory is that there are a small number of EDS (I’m CEDS) who also have dopa responsive dystonia and that I may fall into this category. I’ve not tried any of these medications before so I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for some sort of dent in symptoms.
I’m planning on resting most the journey home as the injection site in shoulder always aggreviates my complex regional pain syndrome. More on this tomorrow.
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.
What can I do for you today? It’s the standard greeting I find I’m met with at every doctors appointment, no matter the speciality. Perfectly poliet, open ended so therefore inviting me to dive in to the promblem that has brought me to their office. Expcept lately that is not how that questions makes me feel, it leaves me biting my sarcastic answer off of my tongue. Fix me, take my pain away, how about just stop my constant deterioation please and i’ll make do as I am but please press pause in the meantime. Let me correct myself, it’s not sarcasm, it’s truth, it’s honest words from a scared vulnerable person who wont utter them because I know the reality is the Drs are trying but their isn’t much they can do.
I was diagnosed yesterday with Trigeminal Neuragia, along with being informed they no longer expect the sight I’ve lost (the majority of it) in my left eye to return; I can see blurry outlines but I cannot work out shapes or distance. It was a bit of a hit emotionally as whenever I have had Optic neuritis before my sight has recovered fairly well, however this has been going on for a while now and if anything the pain has gotten worse behind my eye, it is incredibly intense. I’m trying not to dwell on this too much while we await my Evoked Potential results and wait for a date for my lumbar puncture test. Hopefully these tests will shed some light as to what is going on currently.
In the mean time I feel much like this blog; I am all over the place, one minute quite happy dealing with things as they come, the next frustrated that despite almost a decade of chronic illness a level of normality is yet to be reached. I’m still fighting against the current of deteriation. It may be as useless as trying to swim the wrong way around wild rapids but it helps to know that I am trying to do something to counter the every growing pill box.
I had really debated whether or not I would post this blog. As you will know over the last 7 years I have strived to share the ups and downs of my journey with you all in a brutally honest fashion. However what I am experiencing right now is something I am finding to be increadibly difficult to deal with and awfully humiliating at times. However as I have found in the past that ripping the metaphorical band aid off and sharing bluntly with you all to be rather helpful I figured I may as well start at the beginning.
I shall try to keep it brief. About three weeks ago after several days struggling with a dislocated jaw and severe spasms to the point I couldnt eat or drink I collapsed in the kitchen. The resulting head injury leading to an ambulance needing to be phoned. Several seizures later I was whisked off to resus. I dont remember much of the first four or so days in the hospital. Luckily despite being severly ill I had the sense to keep notes of my concerns, for example being denied antisickness and painkillers following several hours of vomitting and seizures.
For some unknown reason that was never communicated to me all of my medications were stopped the whole time I was in the hospital which led to uncontrolled seizures, spasms and pain. My kidneys were found to be damaged, there are changes to my spine and in my brain matter, I have been diagnosed with epilepsy. Twice whilst I was in there I had an NG tube placed and failed. Unfortunately the second time round it took the drs 6 hours to view the xray showing it misplaced. In this time I was quite distressed due to the fact I was violently vomitting blood due to a tear from the ng in the lower eosphaoghes for the better part of the 6 hours all with a dislocated jaw. A rather agonizing experience.
Throughout my 6 days in hospital I was on IV fluids 24 7 due to the fact I currently am having extreme difficulty swallowing and can go days at a time unable to do so. At the point of discharge I had managed a few sips in a 3 hour period and was discharged with no plan of action. Its been a hurrondous time since then with me only getting worse. However I am now also completely bowl incontinent which has left me terrified to leave the house. But being the mum of a 2year old means fear cant win.
Hopefully I’ll have a more optimistic update soon.
Can you believe it’s been 5 years of blogging already? I can’t quite wrap my head around how quickly this has come around. It feels like just last week, I searched for a webhost desperate to spread awareness of Dystonia after feeling like I was floundering in a sea of uncertainty with little resources to pursue in my quest for answers. Now I confidently tackle my condition head on and happily refer people to resources I have come to know and trust.
When I started blogging it was completely in the mindset that it would be purely to raise awareness. Over the last 5 years this has evolved to be a space where I can openly and honestly express myself without fear, safe in the knowledge that someone out in the vast vacuum of the web will be able to relate to what I am going through. My blog has become a site for awareness, expression and connection; I cannot get over how many online friends I have made. Whilst I am sad that so many of you have to live with this life altering condition, I am thankful for each one of you that has become a vital part of my day to day support network.
Over the last few years this blog has been nominated on several occasions for awards, won one, and even become a resource that several neurologists hand out when diagnosing new patients (this still flatters, astounds and thrills me). I’ve had other sufferers pounce on me with hugs and their stories at hospitals; I love this, it shows me that I am doing something right.
Just a few years ago, reaching this milestone seemed ridiculous. I didn’t know how to live each day let alone 5 years with this hideous condition. Now, several diagnoses later, I have learned to find joy and laughter in my spasms, to treasure every moment that puts a smile on my face and be thankful that drs like my neurologist exist, for without my neuro my world would be darker (literally). So instead of being disheartened that 5 years on I’m still battling, I’m lifting my chin, defying my alien and celebrating each little success.
Sitting back in the upright, green leather chair, I stare straight ahead at the wall with my left eye covered up, where supposedly I should be able to see two rows of letters. I can’t see a thing. Not even there outline. I can see a white blurry box on the wall but that’s about it. The optician is quite frankly horrified at the deterioration of sight in my right eye. It has only been eight months since my last appointment, this dramatic result shocks us both. I thought my glasses prescription just needed a slight tweak. As it turns out new glasses cannot fix this issue. By the end of the examination she murmurs a simple sentence that chills me. “I need to refer you to the hospital, the muscles in your eye are not working properly”. What?! This was meant to be a routine appointment.
I questioned whether it could be my Dystonia, and while it was a possibility, she was not convinced it was. She explained the three different medical specialists I would most likely see at the hospital, the last being a neurologist. It always seems to end up there.Can I just have a new brain? As it always goes with these things it shall most likely be a wait before I am seen. In the meantime the possibility of another intruder controlling my body, my sight, hangs in the air. If it turns out to be Dystonia then other than piling me with more medication there is very little they can do, as they are unable to inject these particular muscles.
Over the years I have always been told that my left eye has compensated for my right. Its doing this now more than ever. With both uncovered I can see, things get blurry now and then but generally I’m okay. Cover up my left eye and the words in front of me are blurry, I cannot even focus on my own hands! It’s times like these that I want to take the faulty parts of my body out, line them up and just yell at them. Realistically I know it’s not going to get me anywhere, I’ve also banned myself from googling my symptoms, I know it will just tell me I’m going to die, it’s one of the things google does best! I’d rather wait for hopefully a much more optimistic diagnosis from a Doctor.
So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not the Dystonia, and that it is a condition that they can easily treat! It would make a nice change.
The weather is getting colder and colder each day, and as my little Dystonia alien hates the cold and loves to spasms more I have been investigating different ways to keep myself warm, without looking like a marshmallow. I’m sure many of you know the feeling of when you have so many layers of clothing on, you begin to look less like a human more like a marshmallow. As I know many other Dystonia sufferers find the cold worsens their symptoms I thought I would share with you all my top three products that I have found helpful – and for those of you without Dystonia who are reading this, it may interest you as well, after all everyone likes to keep warm!
1) Tozies – I am one of those people who if my feet are cold the rest of me is cold. My reflexologist recommended I invest in some Tozies. Tozies are slippers which are double fleece layered, and without a hard sole on them. Not having a hard sole means I don’t worry about my spasms bending them out of shape. I have to say these are fantastic, I am actually going to buy a second pair, but this time a microwavable version for the really cold winter nights that leave you shivering. I wear my Tozies constantly, some nights I even sleep in them, as I find if my feet are toasty warm then the rest of me does not feel as cold. If you want to check them out here is the link to where I purchased mine http://coziewarmers.co.uk/ladies-slippers-shoe-size-3-12-22-c.asp
These are my Tozies.
2) Reusable heat pads – are my second favourite method for warming myself up. They are pads with a metal bit in, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. When you bend the metal an internal chain reaction is set off which warms the pads up and causes them to harden. The warmth lasts for several hours. I have taken to wearing these pads in my shoes under my feet and inside my gloves. To reuse them you simply put them in a pan of hot water for a minute to return them to their original state. It’s a cheap, but effective method.
3) Thermals – Now I know saying wear thermals is an obvious one, but in all honesty how many of you actually remember to put some on under your clothing? I purchased some thermal socks, leggings and vests, and make sure I always have at least one, if not all, of them on. I got my thermals fairly cheaply off marks and spencers (you could probably get them even cheaper if you shopped around). It’s an obvious, but often overlooked, step to keeping warm.
I am always searching for ways to keep warm, to avoid the extra spasms that the winter brings. I hope some of these ideas helps those of you who find the cold causes extra issues.
Several weeks ago, I had the chance to meet some fantastic women at a fundraising event where I gave a talk about Dystonia and life with it. Two of the women – Beth and Sheila – decided to do some of their own fundraising to enable me to get a special bath lift with chest and pelvis harness.
On Saturday I went over to the last event to meet 12 amazing women, who I must say are impressively creative. The had raised an incredible amount of money which will mean I can now have baths and showers safely. In the summer when we went away thanks to a downstairs wheelchair accessible shower as I was able to shower for the first time in a year, and I have been really missing that since.
It is amazing the mental boost a shower or bath can give you. Obviously being clean gives you a boost, but the natural pain relief and relaxing element of hot water is such a fantastic way to get alternative relief to pain. Currently I use a basin of water, some lovely lavender body wash and a sponge, and whilst I know that I am clean it is not the same cleanliness feeling that a bath or shower gives you. I am so excited to be able to bathe/shower again!
Once I figure out how to get the photos off my phone I shall upload some photos from Saturday. These women were so generous and I feel so privileged to have gotten the chance to meet them! This is one of those moments when in a way I am glad I am ill as I would have never met such kind wonderful people otherwise.
Happy, on top of the world, ecstatic, over the moon. Put this combination of emotions in to one and that is me now. Today has been a fantastic success. I attended my first day at college and loved every second of it. The lecture today was on Anatomy and Physiology, which was just perfect as I find it an incredibly interesting subject. A lot of what we covered today I had already learned at university so it was a bit like revision, I loved this as I had remembered everything, which enabled me to contribute to the lesson more.
Tomorrow’s lecture is a practical one. This excites me and makes me nervous. I am sure my body shall be fine with it, but as with all things in life you can never be a hundred percent certain especially with Dystonia, hopefully tomorrow’s practical shall put the tiny worries to rest. The four hours tomorrow shall all be practical but from next week onwards the Friday lectures shall be 2 hours practical and 2 hours focusing on business and how to set up your own business. This is fantastic as once qualified I shall be setting up my own business so that I can work from home.
I decided not to attend riding today as my sight has not been great. I have been full of the cold which has caused more spasms. It has particularly been causing an increase in spasms in my eyes. Annoyingly the spasm that has occurred most is the one that causes my eyes to roll up into my head, leaving me blind, the pain of this particular spasm causes me to have a Non Epileptic Seizures most of the time. This happened today at college, thankfully before the lesson started, but reassured me that I was making the right decision not to ride as I would be putting myself and the volunteers at risk. I am looking forward to next weeks session though.
I feel like a ball of positive energy! I am brimming with happiness and full of excitement for tomorrow. Being able to study again is so satisfying and opens many doors for me. In a way I feel normal.