I’ve had a few people on the Facebook fan/follower page for this blog asking for more information about myself recently. After coming up to ten(!) years of blogging and activism I feel it makes sense to post this small reintroduction for those who have joined me on my journey more recently.
First off my name is Rebecca, but please call me Becca. I’m 29 years old and not quite sure how I’m turning 30 this year when it feels like I only finished sixth form a year ago. I grew up in the south of England in Hertfordshire, and now live in the North West with my Fiancé and our two beautiful children.
In 2012 I became ill with Dystonia, untreated chronic Lyme disease, and worsening classical Ehlers-Danlos syndrome amongst many other things. I was bed bound for a very long time and took to blogging as a way of therapy, advocating, and connecting with others in similar positions. I’ve come a long way since then thanks to getting my Lyme disease treated, along side getting a medication routine that has helped control my other symptoms somewhat.
I have continued to blog on here, do lives on facebook, and advocate in various other ways as life with chronic illnesses is never the same. Even now when it’s drastically different from when I first became symptomatic there are still occasions where I have to fight for help. Without access to the medication I take daily I would be in hospital constantly.
Blogging has helped me feel less alone in this journey. I hope it’s helped those who read these post too.
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.
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”.
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.
Whilst the multiple national lockdowns have come with there fair share of complications, for example cancelled treatments, the stay at home message has been a blessing in disguise for me. My body has been going through a decline/more frequent dislocations lately, which is less than an ideal. Now prepandemic I would have ignored my bodies pain signals, and ploughed through the day. A bad cycle, and habit that I had formed. Only collapsing in the evening, spoonless, in pain and annoyed at myself. Lockdown has relieved the social pressure to attended multiple groups a week, and be on the go all the time. For my particular lot of chronic illnesses it’s meant I have rested when I have needed to. I’ve had the opportunity to relearn my bodies distress signals.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not literally doing the above meme, though it has its appeals. But it has removed the guilt I felt on slow mornings when we watched a Disney film and had a slow start to the day, rather than rushing about. I still finish the day with no spoons. That is just life with chronic illnesses. However I rarely exhaust myself to the point that I have impacted the next day, which prelockdown was a frequent occurance.
Post-lockdown this is something I need to remember; that it is perfectly fine to acknowledge if my body is saying no not today. We can watch films, craft and bake in the house instead and have a lovely day. Just being kind to my body more often will allow more days out and in the long run that’s what works.
Health conditions can have both a physical and emotional toll, for example chronic pain; this can impact your sleep, cause more fatigue and leaves you starting the day just as drained as when you went to bed. A routine can change all that.
Now I’m not suggesting you plan out every moment of your day!
However a well thought through routine can empower your day, lowering your pain levels over all as you’ve optimised the way you have used your body.
It’s worth asking yourself when is your pain worse in the day? What activities does that impact? Make a list. From here you can proactively look at your routine and adjust how you manage your day which in turn should lower your pain levels. An example of this is if you struggle more in the mornings, then lay out what you need (or ask someone to help you) in an accessible place. This will save you time and energy in the morning.
Make sure to include time for you in your routine and space out energy consuming tasks over the day. If there is a task you are particular struggling with think about how it can be altered. For example, when chopping vegetables does sitting on a stool help? Would buying pre-chopped vegetables be a more realistic option? Is there someone else who could do this task for you?
Doing to much will result in a Boom and Bust cycle. Pacing is your friend.
I’ll be live tomorrow night with more on the Boom Bust Cycle.
What is perfection? It’s a word that we toss around like it weighs not a thing, when the reality is that’s a ball and chain dragging our mental health through the mud chasing after. I’m sure my own view of perfection is mighty different to yours! If it wasn’t then it would be a case of bottling up a potion or creating a word doc telling you what steps to follow to achieve perfection and selling it for a killing; I’d be able to have my own purpose built bungalow. No it’s different to all of us yet we all seek it.
It’s the little negative moments experienced that make us seek it. It’s the old man tutting and shaking his head repededly at me because he couldn’t push past my wheelchair easily. It’s the side eye and the sarcastic comments that are made by people who don’t understand ambulatory wheelchair users exist. It’s dislocating 15 times in one day and just having enough. It’s all these things and so much more that make us want to chase perfection.
The fog of insecurity in our brains full of thoughts like if I just weighed less, if I wasn’t chronically ill, if I wasn’t in my chair, if I was more like them; it’s all based on the negative moments and turned into insecurity and self doubt. It’s a weight that no one needs.
But chasing perfection is futile. It’s an unachievable concept. It’s time we move away from it. On that note can we bin chasing normal as well? Learn to love ourselves the way we are. Life would be boring if we were all the same. I know I would rather be my unique self than identical to every other person.
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.
Damon and I had always said right from the start of our relationship that we envisaged having three children. We both came from fairly large families, with him being the eldest of three, and myself the eldest of four children, so it seemed natural for us to imagine plenty of tiny feet running around creating havoc in the way only kids can. As my conditions were fairly well controlled when we met, the only issue with our forward planning was the fact that I had been told many years before at the age of 19, that I had severe endometriosis; to the point that they suspect I would be unable to conceive naturally and would need medical assistance to do so.
We have been fortunate to have been able to have our son Stefan Elijah, now three, and our daughter Evie Maise, now 18 months, without any assistance. Their existence to me feels miraculous. When we fell pregnant with Evie we discussed frequently trying for our third child shortly after her first birthday. It was exciting, and something I was really quiet fixated on. Physically I had managed to get back to a good place after having Stefan, and it seemed wise to do it close together, before my health started to go downhill. My pregnancy with Evie was a rough one however, and I spent multiple periods as an inpatient in my local hospital. We had hoped that after Evie’s arrival that my body would improve again as it had following Stefan. However, this time round it took months to get back in to the Botox system and once again I ended up in the hospital for over a week needed an NJ, constant fluids, unable to swallow, or really communicate. With each day the idea of a third was slipping further away, I refused to talk about it for awhile. It really affected my mental health.
While I have had periods of better health over the last 18 months, it has generally been a downhill, to the point where I’m now essentially blind in one eye, reliant on an electric wheelchair outside of the house, and being assessed for demyelinating diseases on top of everything else I already had going on. My hands are full to say the least. So Damon and I sat down and agreed that it would be unfair to even consider bringing a third child into the family; he was also concerned if my heart could physically take a third pregnancy as it has struggled with the last two. It was an extremely hard conversation to had. Even though we both knew it be the right choice to make, it didn’t make the biological want for another child any less.
I often get asked a mix of questions in relation to children. Sometimes people will ask “So when do you think the next one will come along?” It’s a well meaning question, that I always answer with a light hearted “oh my hands are full enough with two”, but it stirs the emotions, the want for another that is so strong since our daughter started to so much more independent. Other times it’s the slightly harsher “How you can even consider having biological children when you know some of your conditions are genetic?” Generally I don’t answer this question in public, mainly because it catches me of my guard. However it is fair. My Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome has around a 50% inheritance rate, its slightly more prevelant in girls than boys. Yet there is every chance that both children have escaped without developing it, there is also a chance that if they do have the condition that it’s not as severe as mine. There is no way to know. It’s also worth bareing in mind that mine is made worse due to other conditions that impact each other. I would say that before you ask anyone about kids really think; if they have a medical condition perhaps stay away from the topic until they bring it up. In can be a sensitive one.
I’ve sat here and typed out three different blog posts on three entirely different topics. None of them really made much sense. I should have expected as much. Damon has already expressed concern this evening for how much I’m repeating myself, a sign that it’s a bad brain fog evening and most likely a bad brain fog day tomorrow.
The pain behind my left eye has become rather extreme again so I’m hoping the doctors will have space tomorrow for a chat. I’ve finished my course of steroids now for my optics neuritis, but the pressure pain in this eye has just become increasingly worse and is really getting hard to cope with. I’m lucky that although it’s a small doctors surgery the team there are fabulous, so I have my fingers crossed they will have some ideas.
Hopefully I’ll have a less foggy weekend and I’ll be able to get the posts I was trying to write up for you all.
side note this was originally published with no title…thank you brain fog