Posted in Archive, June 2016

Making The Most Of This Life One Spoon At A Time

My list of chronic conditions is an ever growing one; Dystonia, EDS Type 3, Non-Epileptic Seizures, Postural Hypotension and more! The list of hospital appointments is just as long. As I was diagnosed with each one I felt very much as if I were being forced to pause and take a step back in life. Almost as if I had no choice but to fail at achieving my goals. That may seem over dramatic, but it was a very real, very overwhelming emotion. Learning to accept life as spoonie was and still is a challenge. As I have mentioned before I have developed an attitude of watch me achieve everything you tell me that I won’t be able to. I shall achieve and aspire to all my dreams.

When I was exploring signing with my publisher I noticed that in their facts and questions page that they recommended if you were ill, waiting until you had recovered before going down this publishing path, because it is hard and a lot of work. Now obviously this is referring to recoverable conditions, hence why I skipped over it.  For my novel to be published I have to achieve 250 preorders, otherwise it won’t be able to go ahead (https://www.britainsnextbestseller.com/beta//books/?id=55). So for the next six weeks I have to put a lot of work into advertising and self-promotion via social media. Self-promotion may sound like an easy task but when one eye isn’t working and your body is dodgy anyway you tire easily. I know many of you know the feeling. This is when I adore Facebooks scheduled post function, it’s fantastic for when I need a quick break.

The next six weeks are going to be manic, and nerve wracking. However, it’s also exciting. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can achieve, despite everything , and manage to hit the 250 requirement! If you are a love of fantasy then you can order my debut novel here https://www.britainsnextbestseller.com/beta//books/?id=55

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Posted in Archive, May 2016

Contemplating Dating

For the last eight months I have been frequenting the same coffee shop several times a week. If the sofa is available, I curl up in the corner of it whip out my notepad and will scrawl away for hours on end quite happily. It’s my routine, and one that I thoroughly enjoy. Spend enough time in places like this and you easily fall into habitual conversations and friendships with other coffee lovers.

The other day whilst lost in my thoughts, one of the regulars, Mr. Latte we shall call him, came over for our usual chat. Towards the end of our talk he asked if I’d be interested in going on a date and getting to know each other better. It was a lovely offer, and normally I would not hesitate, after all what do I have to lose? This time however I did pause. There have been so many occasions in the last year were I have watched my illnesses blow up a date in seconds; which is fine, it means time is not wasted, but it’s emotionally exhausting. Putting my conditions aside, I could not help but wonder how I would handle it. After the events of the other week the idea of being out with someone I only vaguely knew was not a pleasant one.

I find myself rather irritated by my reaction. When did I start to let my health and fears control me?  I have always been the person to say yes and jump on board. This momentary new attitude isn’t the person I am, and is one I refuse to allow to become part of me. My stumbled over “I’ll think about it”, is not something I’ll do again. If I want to do something, then great off I go, if I’d rather not then fine, that is also great. Saying either yes or no is okay, but I shall not be this indecisive person any longer.

Posted in Archive, May 2016

Living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Type 3

I don’t talk about my EDS much, though it’s a painful condition it’s symptoms are by far less noticeable than my Dystonia. This has resulted in me being more than happy to allow it to simmer away in the background. Often people think that the condition means I’m simply just ‘a bit bendy’. The reality is slightly more complicated.

EDS Type Three affects multiple parts of the body. In my case my skin is stretchy but tears and bruises very easily, I have multiple allergies, sublux and dislocate at the slightest thing and have chronic pain. When I talk about my subluxations and dislocations people often presume that I have to have fallen over, or injured myself in some way to cause it. This is not the case; this week I woke up on Wednesday morning to discover I had dislocated my thumb in my sleep. I laughed so much at this because it is frankly a ridiculous situation to find yourself in.13184635_898295980296182_140464853_o

Whilst the EDS and Dystonia are two separate conditions they impact each other. My jaw spasms will often result in a dislocation, this happens more and more frequently. Previously the two conditions acting up at the same time would have been enough to set a seizure off. It’s a worry I have in the back of my mind frequently, there is always a chance that the next dislocation will result in me seizing in an ambulance. However, despite a recent increase in dislocations I am currently just coming up to six months’ seizure free; which has me thrilled to bits.

Posted in April 2016, Archive

Vulnerability and Dystonia

Living with a chronic condition can have a detrimental effect on the sufferers attitudes or mental health. Many people experience disbelief from both the public and medical professionals during their fight to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Due to this many choose to refrain from openly talking about mental health conditions and passed traumas with doctors and those close to them. Often this becomes an early defensive behavior that is learned in on order to prevent pre-emptive judgement.

In 2012 during my fight for a diagnosis I found myself in the John Radcliffe for 8 days as I had developed Pain Triggered Non Epileptic Seizures, and my Dystonia had spread from my jaw to my eyes. I was very honest about my past with the consultants in charge of my care. I expressed that I had suffered physical abuse during my teenage years, that I had sought help and that I was now in a much happier place. I still view being honest with the doctor in charge of my care as a mistake however, due to the fact I had had this unfortunate experience I was informed all my symptoms were psychosomatic, and that I need neuro-psychiatric contact. As I’m sure you can imagine I did not take this well. I remember clearly stating that I would go talk to their psychiatrist, purely so I could jump through their hoops and prove them wrong.

Mere months later I had my diagnosis of Dystonia and a letter from my neurologist stating that my past experiences had no impact on my current state of health. That letter has not stopped doctors and acquaintances questioning me over the years though. On numerous occasions I have been asked if I am depressed. I am generally an optimistic person who loves nothing more than to laugh. Yet being repeatedly questioned has its impact. I am defensive of my health, I feel like I have to justify myself and that leaves me feeling vulnerable. For if people struggle to believe me when they can see the physical symptoms in front of them, what else will they close their mind too? Vulnerability is an emotion that too many sufferers of chronic illness experience. It comes in both physical and emotional forms. One of the best things a person can hear is ‘I believe you’. It is an empowering statement that allows us to relax and breath. Acceptance free of doubt opens up a line of honest communication. Something that we all need.

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Posted in April 2016, Archive

Inpatient Program So Far…

I am currently an inpatient at The Royal National Orthopedic Hospital Stanmore on a rehabilitation and pain management program. I have just started my second week and so far it has been an interesting learning curve. The program has many components to it which all relate back to pacing. It would seem that after four years of my neurologist stressing to me the need to pace my life I may finally be learning – but don’t celebrate yet, it’a slow change but I’m getting there.

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Morning Physio Exercises 

I have been really impressed with the course so far, the staff are fantastic. My assigned physio is fantastic and happily allows me to laugh my way through our sessions. Hydrotherapy has been my favorite therapy so far. The water provides resistance whilst enabling ease of movement in a relatively pain free environment. We had a session on foiling flare ups today, it’s rather reassuring to know that when I am discharged at the end of next week that I shall leave with a plan that shall help give me the tools to cope with it.

Whilst I am overall thrilled with the program and have been impressed with the therapies provided I cannot help but be tickled with the kitchen. So far everyday I have explained that I am allergic to X, Y and Z, and everyday I have been served food that I’m anaphylatic to. Ironically the hospital won an award last week for their catering…

Posted in Archive, March 2016

3 Weeks Rehabilition Program

After a year and a half of waiting tomorrow I am being admitted into The Royal National  Orthopedic Hospital Stanmore for intensive rehabilitation for my Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type Three. I am a mix bag of nervous and excitement. From talking to previous inpatients  of the program it sounds extremely positive and successful. There are many different components to the rehab, such as hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, pain management and sessions with psychologists. On the most part I am very optimistic, my consultants all feel that the treatment should offer significant improvement.

The only part of the program I am wary about is the psychology sessions. If I could opt out of these I would.  Now I shall be sensible and fully cooperate with them but I can’t help my reluctance. I have had years of sessions with varying types of psychologists. Since I have been ill I have had specific sessions with cognitive behavioral therapists to attempt to control my seizures, however out of the three therapists I have seen only one has looked at me holistically. Due to this my file now contains a note from my neurologist instructing therapists not to focus on my past and informing them it has no impact on my medical situation. Click on  VLOG and blog for more info. However, many therapists choose to ignore this. Whilst I am sure the psychologists I am going to be seeing over the next few weeks will be lovely, I worry that they will be like the many I have seen before.

I get admitted at 8:30am tomorrow morning, so it’s not long to go now. My neurologist is convinced it will make a huge difference to my jaw and I’m keeping my fingers crossed he is right.

Posted in Archive, March 2016

I’m Not Sorry…

My blog post earlier in the week sparked conversation on social media which is something I love to see; it also got me thinking. When I inform a date/potential date that I’m ill, I almost always apologise. I don’t quite know why I say sorry. Perhaps it is because I know that I’m not exactly what you see, but who really is, or maybe it is an automatic reaction to help deal with the social awkwardness that I’m feeling and attempting to suppress. I am awful for stuttering out an apology whenever nerves take hold.

This is a quality of myself that I can control. A rather refreshing thought. So after a period of reflection I’ve decided I’m no longer going to apologise for my conditions. They are part of me, good and bad. If I can learn to see the humour in them, then others can too. That’s not to say I won’t profusely apologise if I spasm and hit someone, of course I will – then again I’ll also probably laugh.

I feel quite delighted with my decision. Taking another step, and embracing my alien just that bit more.

Posted in Archive, March 2016, September

An Exciting Month!

This month is full of opportunities that I never expected to experience. Towards the end of the month I’m going to Amsterdam for a few days with the university, followed by three weeks as an inpatient in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore. It is an exciting time to say the least.

The publishing trip to Amsterdam shall not only be an insightful opportunity for my course, but shall also allow me to explore how my body will react to travelling. Visiting other countries was a luxury, that when I first became ill in 2012, I thought would have to be swept under the carpet and not thought about again. However, in comparison to four years ago my bundle of conditions are extremely well controlled, instilling me with the confidence to explore this opportunity further. To help ensure that I am as safe as can be my neurologist agreed to administer my Botox a week early to knock unwanted spasms on the head.

Back in 2013 this was me; reliant on a wheelchair with monthly ambulance trips to A&E.

Three years on I’m incredibly lucky to have a regime of medication and injections that enables me to live life to the full. I still need my wheelchair every now and then, but it is no longer a necessity for daily life.

12575854_826427370816377_1942932212_nLess than a week after I return from the trip it is off to RNOH I go for three weeks of intensive rehabilitation for my EDS Type Three. I have been on the waiting list for this stint for almost a year and a half, so I’m a bag of excitement and nerves in anticipation for my admission. My time there should enable me to carry on life with better habits when it comes to using my joints, hopefully that will mean less over extending, and help strengthen the weaker muscles and ligaments.

During my interview for the treatment we discussed what I would like to focus on strengthening, my first answer out of the several I was allowed to give, was my jaw. The combination of EDS and Dystonia means that my jaw comes out of place extremely easily, which inflicts a severe amount of pain. Knowing that jaw physiotherapy will be possible is huge news for me, as this issue is the main factor behind my seizures. Anything that will decrease the amount of subluxations and dislocations for my jaw has the potential to make an incredible difference to my life.

Needless to say I’m counting down the days to go!

Posted in Archive, November 2015, September

Dear Mr. Hunt

Over the last few month social media has been aflame in reaction to your demand of a seven day week NHS, and dismissive and degrading attitude towards Junior Drs. For weeks I decided not to weigh in on the argument but as an extremely frequent user of the NHS I feel it right to raise my voice. I may sit here typing away and complain about yet another run in with my neurologist, but whenever I have really needed the NHS they have been there, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day!

For almost two years my condition was seriously uncontrolled, this resulted in an ambulance being called out at least once, if not twice, a month. The paramedics had never heard of any of my conditions; they had to learn on the spot and stabilize me the best they could before transferring me to the hospital. My family have nothing but three years of positive thanks for the paramedics we have come into contact with.

Whilst I lie seizing on a trolley, unconscious in a hospital because my brain cannot deal with the pain my movement disorder is causing; it is the Junior Drs that 9 out of 10 times provide the treatment. They are not yet stuck in rigid textbook ways, they want to learn and get stuck in with my non-compliant body, trying everything they can think of.  They have gone above up and beyond for me.

My neurologist has scheduled appointments at 5pm but not seen me till gone 6pm. He could have sent me home; he could have had me booked into another clinic or requested a member of his team see me. However, he stayed on into the evening to treat me, he spent more time than he needed listening and answering my questions. His clinic had long since closed but he always makes time for those who need it, I have not once seen him turn a patient away due to the time.

So you see Mr Hunt, I have experienced a fair section of the NHS services over the years. I have had scheduled appointments and I have been rushed into resus by ambulance at 3am on a Sunday morning. They are already providing an incredible 24/7 service, instead of cutting budgets and debilitating already struggling hospitals, try enabling them for a change!