Posted in April 2022, Archive, September

Friendship with Chronic illnesses

Living with any chronic illness brings with it by nature a certain amount of unpredictability. For me that has meant no hour is the same from one to the next, let alone one day to the next day so forward planning always has to come with the understanding that extreme last minute cancellations are not just possible but likely especially when going through a rocky patch with symptom management. Part of pacing is actively choosing where to rest and cut back and sometimes that means staying home. A fact many healthy people forget. It results in people viewing me as unreliable/flakey/lazy and as a result many friendships have been lost over the last decade.

When I first became ill the isolation was deafening. It’s quite astounding how loud the silence is when people who you thought were your friends disappear when life gets hard. At the time I was confused and angry. Now I’m grateful, it showed me who my true friends were and ten years on I’m still very close to them and look forward to our reunions.

Recently I’ve gone through another bad spell. I’ve been able to do less than previously, I’ve cancelled multiple plans last minute despite my best efforts. But between my general chronic illness and complications caused by new issues my daily activity tolerance /spoons has been appalling. Basic activity wipes me out. Now this would have been devastating to me previously but now I’m just proud I’m listening to my body and learning where to cut back. I’m not going to lie it’s still upsetting losing friends but it’s not having the impact that it once would have had. I’m grateful to the community of online friends with chronic illnesses I’ve built rapport with whose understanding is everything.

Posted in April 2022, Archive, Wedding

Disability & Wedding Planning

Our wedding date is set for the end of next year and we couldn’t be more excited. The kids ask ‘how much longer” almost every day, and are very much looking forward to playing their parts on our special day. We have got well and truly stuck in to the planning and booking of our venues.

Playing together at Walton Gardens

This is where my arsenal of equipment that holds my body together will come in handy. We will be splinting up my knees and ankles in the hope that I can hobble down the aisle on my walking sticks. I’ve currently got a Pinterest board dedicated to walking sticks in different shades of white/ivory/champagne so that once I’ve brought my dress I can match them. However if I have to roll down the aisle that’s fine too (it’s what I do every Sunday anyway 🤣 during mass), so I can always spruce my chair up with flowers.

One of the big factors for us is getting me through the day without a trip to A&E or an ambulance having to be called. Sounds simple really, doesn’t it? Yet it’s a very real possibility. I tire very quickly these days and my body goes downhill when that happens, so utilising my aids and working breaks into the day/sitting down frequently will be important. Having these planned in advance seems best for not running out of spoons* too quickly.

Spoon theory explantation

I’ve spoken to our photographer about my disabilities and he’s had experience with people with similar issues. Hes happy to listen and go off what I’m saying. If I’m doing well then fab, not feeling so hot then that’s ok too we can rejig positions. I was quite nervous about this conversation so this was a big relief that he was cool with it.

I’m ever so slightly taller than my partner which I am over the moon about as it removes all temptation to break out the heels I hung up years ago. I used to love love love a chunky wedge heel. But it’s just asking for trouble. So sensible flat shoes it is with good ankle support it is – to be honest I’d be quite happy barefoot but I think the church and the hotel wouldn’t be as thrilled. I’ll be gradually breaking these in as part of my EDS means my skin breaks super easily. It takes me months to adjust to shoes even when they’re a perfect fit without my feet bleeding.

An old photo of us because im always just taking photos of the kids and the garden 🤣

Posted in Archive, march 2022

Reflecting on Side Effects

I’ve not had to resort to Lorazapam this week for managing my jaw spasms/dislocations (yet). So far my usual meds and my Dr ordered bandage support, are doing the job along with Damon relocating it when needed. I hadn’t realised just how much the Lorazapam had been affecting me until it started to work its way out my system.

Now this isn’t a surprise. Clonzepam and Diazepam are listed as allergies for me as they cause psychotic reactions when I take them. It seem to be a family of meds I don’t get along with but unfortunately need at some point now and then unless we find a better alternative to turn to. This time it was like someone had extinguished all hope. Even though my Dystonia is well controlled these days, the fact that my Ehlers-Danlos is getting worse seemed unmanageable. Crushing. Uncontrollable.

Now that it’s out of my system I can see how much of an affect it was having. Yes my EDS is on a downwards spiral at the moment, but we’re adapting and I am blessed with a supportive Fiancé and family who are helping me. My life is very much one full of hope and love. It’s helpful that I have my blog to turn to read to myself on bad days.

Botox is on Friday which I’m much looking forward to. I cannot wait to take these bandages off.

Posted in Archive, COVID-19, January 2022

Covid Round Two

Whenever I get ill with something like a cold/your more normal bugs, or as I prefer to call it muggle sick, my body always protests. Sunday I was feeling off and presumed I was having an ocular migrane, I get them often so didn’t really dwell on it. Alarm bells started going yesterday when I woke up with a temperature, sore throat, ringing ears and eye pain still. The lateral flow was negative so chalked it all up to an awful cold. After all I’d had covid a few months back and I am fully vaccinated.

It was a bad night of neck, jaw and back spasms. Upon opening my eyes this morning all I wanted to do was put pressure on them both. I recognized the pain. I had the same issue for almost six weeks following contracting covid last autumn. Sure enough this mornings lateral flows came back positive straight away. Which explains why my spasms have been playing up. My body is doing its usual protest, a way of saying it’s overwhelmed.

I’m feeling pretty run down but greatful to be vaccinatinated.

Meme depicting the a squishy monster covid monster clinging to a cartoon person whose trying to escape
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, 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

Covid-19 has arrived in our household

Toward the end of last week our youngest woke with a fever. She didn’t have a cough, a runny nose or anything that particular screamed that it could be Covid-19, nor were we aware of anyone that we had seen recently who had developed it. So we were not particularly worried. However we arranged for her to have a PCR test as govt guidelines list a temperature as one of the signs to watch for. We didn’t expect a positive result, thinking instead it was far more likely to be a normal cold. After all the kids seem to have colds constantly. Less than 24 hours later at 1am in the morning my phone buzzed to let us know we needed to isolate. She had covid.

We tried our best to keep the anxiety at bay. Both myself and my partner are fully vaccinated, having received our vaccines at the start of the year. Yet after shielding for so long, and reading up on the virus over the past 18 months on the many different issues it can cause, it was hard not to worry. Both my son and I were shielders. Stefan, tested positive two days later. Whilst he has been undeniably feeling rotten and suffered more than Evie, he has luckily coped far better than we expected and is now seeming more like his cheeky self again.

We thought that we may have escaped catching it. Almost a week went by and then Damon tested positive. I was already isolating away from the rest of my household to try and avoid catching it as I had developed sinusitis which my body was already struggling to cope with. At my partners suggestions I was feeling worse rather than improving on my antibiotics I took a lateral flow test. The test result line appeared in less than twenty seconds. So off we went for a PCR again, which soon confirmed what we all ready knew.

This extremely short blog has taken me nine hours to write – ridicules I know. The fatigue I am experiencing is unreal I keep falling asleep while writing it despite being sat up with laptop on me. My body is not happy with a mirad of symptoms between dislocations, nerve pain, fatigue, spasms, no smell and taste, itchiness all over, breathlessness and spams on the left side of face which feels is as if it is determined to detach itself from my skull and be on its’ merry way.

My apologies for not getting round to live on facebook today. I needed to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow if I am feeling up for it I will do but it will depend on how I’m feeling.

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 may 2021

Looking forward

Recently I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. Hence why I didn’t automatically return to blogging following my son’s operation in March. I wasn’t sure where my head was at and needed to work through it. A handful of events had triggered it and I was up and down more than the seesaw at the park.

I’d had an assessment where I need to provide extreme detail of all my conditions right from the start to now. You can imagine how emotionally exhausting that can be, explaining to someone why you had to give up your dream midwifery degree, relieving the rapid decline in health over the years and what I do to cope. I hadn’t anticipated it to affect me so strongly but it did.

It’s taken awhile but my head’s back where it’s stronger. I think during these covid times where we don’t have our usual coping mechanisms it’s quite easy to feel sucked under. Previously I could have rung up my friends and been at the soft play laughing over a fruit shoot, while the kids ran themselves to sleep. Spirits lifted, dark cloud averted.

Im looking forward now, and focusing on the future. On the post lockdown adventures with my family, with having friends in for a brew and a natter. But also accepting that lockdown has taught me that I don’t need to be on the go and out every day. If my body’s saying no then PJ’s, Disney and baking is it. That’s perfect too.

What are you looking forward to?

Posted in March 2021

Medication Success

As I have mentioned previously following a discussion with my neurologist I tried a couple of different medications to see if we could get a better handle on my spasms. In particular the spasms around my jaw as these cause me significant issues with pain, dislocations, and make it next to impossible some days to relocate my jaw; I’ve had the joy previously of coming round from an operation to have my jaw relocated under GA, only to dislocate when I wake up due to spasms, and have my surgeon coming running over to put it back in and bandage my jaw up. Not a pleasant experience.

Trihexyphenidyl is the medication we have added into my daily regime and it has made a huge difference. Little things like I can brush my teeth now with an adult sized toothbrush rather than a children’s one are possible, and instead of dislocating my jaw by brushing my teeth, my jaw is just in a small spasm and achy. My son commented the other day on the fact that my face isn’t wonky all the time and asked if my Jaw Dr had fixed my jaw. We had a quick chat about mummy’s silly brain and moved on, but for me that showed just how amazing this medicine has been.

I saw my neurologist the other week and he has suggested increasing the dosage further as I am currently not experiencing any side effects. I’m waiting to receive a copy of his letter to my gp explaining that I have the go ahead to do this at my own pace, so we can see just what improvements we can get.

Right now, thanks to lovely female hormones, I’m sitting here feeling quite sore all over as my body goes downhill each month due to the fluctuating hormonal changes. I’ve had several subluxes today in shoulder which have in turn aggravated neck spasms. Normally I’d be quite grumpy about all of this, and yes I’m not exactly thrilled, but having the Dystonia side of things more controlled doesn’t half make coping with the EDS etc, easier. Everything just feels that little bit more manageable right now, and that’s fantastic.