Fighting Dystonia, Chronic Lyme Disease & EDS Type 3… any questions?

Posts tagged ‘blog’

Chair…Twitch…Floor

When ill with any condition it can become very easy to allow yourself to be wrapped up in the negativity of it all. Recently I slipped, I fell off the positivity bandwagon if you will. I don’t think this slip is necessarily a bad thing. After all it is only natural that in life we have our highs and lows. Ironically it was Dystonia that reminded me to try and see the positive that does exist within and around the condition again.

My left arm and shoulder spasms/twitches rather violently, flinging itself out to the side. I always hope silently whenever this happens that nobody is within hitting range. I have had one to many awkward apology conversations following such a spasm. It was following a rather forceful one in a hospital Costa last week that I found myself out of my chair and on the floor, slightly stunned, sore and in a complete fit of giggles. A small part of me knew that one flailing arm had tried to grab the table, in a useless uncoordinated attempt to stabilise myself.

This incident was exactly what I needed to break the haze of negativity that I had cocooned myself up in since my Complex Regional Pain Syndrome diagnosis. I had forgotten to tackle this condition with the same approach I had the others. I was frankly too scared, I know how bad the pain can get and even though I am not at the same pain score I was in 09, mentally I jumped ship. Embarrassing myself by ending up on a busy Costa shop floor was the exact laughter filled wake-up call I needed. As much I crave a life without chronic illness, my Dystonia never fails to provide laughter, I’ll give it that much.

Abuse… A Doctors Get Out Of Jail Card

I hadn’t planned on writing this. Originally I was going to keep it pent-up. But the whole point of Dystonia and Me is to share with you all the highs and lows of this condition and the many battles I fight along the way. As I mentioned in a post during awareness week, I was abused physically and emotionally as a teenager. I have since had a lot of therapy to help me come to term with this and move on from that period of my life, which I have done. I have always strongly believed that you should be completely honest with your doctor. After all how else are they meant to successfully treat you if they do not have all the information they need?

The way many doctors have treated me after learning I have a history of abuse has left me wishing I had never informed them of it. This specifically applies to my GP.  It seems that every aspect of my sanity has been called into question. I have never been so insulted. Yet it would seem that I am expected to roll over and accept this as the norm?!

My GP called me into a meeting to explain himself last week. At the time I was slightly pacified. Yet as I sit here, redrafting blog posts for college (exam prep), I find myself becoming incensed. This same routine has gone on for years now. Is it really so hard to believe that an abuse victim can move on with their life and be coping well, despite having a movement disorder? I am absolutely fed up of having to reassure him over and over that I am not depressed, that my past is not the route of all my problems. Even informing him that the genetic test showed that the Dystonia was genetic did not seem to make a dent in his warped view. As I keep pointing out to him, I am not the one dragging up my past it is him.

It worries me how little so many doctors know about Dystonia. My GP has looked after me since 2012, and yet still clings to the idea of abuse being the root of all my problems. This is despite having letters from my neurologist and my cognitive behavioral therapist telling him that my past has nothing to do with my Dystonia. I know that I am not the only sufferer experiencing this problem. Having to fight against doctors is hard. Standing up to them is frightening, I respect my GP, but at the same time he angers me so much because he is not taking the time to listen to myself or my neurologist. By standing up though there is a chance he may learn. I keep hoping…you never know. He may change.

Trauma & Dystonia

Since I developed Dystonia in 2012 my past has been dragged up by varying Drs, repeatedly. I was physically and emotionally abused as a young teen for a period of a time, with the support and help of my loving mother and friends I managed to come out of this dark time as a positive, strong person. I had many years of counselling to help me put me put to bed that year of my life.

Unfortunately my GP loves to relive the past and enjoys rehashing old news. He has currently managed to convince himself that my ‘tragic past’ is the cause of my medical conditions, and that they are psychosomatic symptoms. In any other circumstance I would be upset at his words. However I have a lovely letter from my neurologist stating that my history of abuse has nothing to with my current organic symptoms!

I’m not sure why my GP has decided to ignore this letter, perhaps it is just because it makes life easier for him, after all I am a complicated mix of medical conditions but that’s no excuse for his current degrading tone and behavior. I can’t help but be concerned and wonder how many other Dystonia suffers are subjected to this behavior?!

I can only hope that as awareness for the condition spreads the attitude around it changes too.

Please check out today’s VLOG which is on the same subject https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJZz7_EMUtE

Discovering Dystonia

When I was diagnosed with Dystonia in 2012 it took a few days for reality to really sink in. But after allowing myself to accept the diagnosis I launched myself into researching the condition. Something I’m sure many of you sufferers do. The problem with the internet is that you can find just about anything you want to find on it. Researching useful information can be problematic.

I was lucky and stumbled across The Dystonia Society’s Webpage quiet quickly (http://www.dystonia.org.uk/). Their website is packed full of easy to understand information and resources. It helped me come to terms with my condition and understand fully the condition I was dealing with. Previously I had not understood that it was my brain sending incorrect signals to my muscles causing them to go into painful spasms. I had simply thought they were just spasming.

The Dystonia Society over the last couple of years have been a wealth of knowledge and their helpline has been of great comfort. Another fantastic site is The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (https://www.dystonia-foundation.org/). This is the American equivalent of the The Dystonia Society and is another resourceful website, providing fantastic information on the condition and advice. Websites such as these two are a great resource for suffers to use as a tool to educate Doctors, health professionals and family members who don’t understand the condition. They even have a have section for schools. I find myself checking these sites constantly for new material I can use to help advise others and am never let down.

Please also check out today’s awareness VLOG on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEGq26wHwpo&feature=youtu.be

Adjusting to Dystonia

When you become ill with Dystonia there are a lot of changes you have to make to your life. Mentally you often feel like you can still go out for that morning run, or dance the night away with your mates. The reality is extremely different. No two days are the same and spasms can cause simple daily tasks such as getting dressed to take hours upon hours.

Whenever I visit my Neurologist or my GP they both tell me to slow my life down and take things easy so as to give my body a bit of a break. They have been giving me this same piece of advice for over two years now. I know I should take their advice on board. After all they would not repeatedly tell me it if it was not necessary, however I find that I feel so determined/ stubborn to live as normal a life as possible that taking it easy just doesn’t seem to feel right.

I know that realistically my body would most likely thank me if I started taking it easy more often. Pushing the boundaries over and over only results in pain, I know that. However there is some small part of me that each time hopes that this will be the time I will achieve just that bit more. Instead my body goes in to hideous spasms that I have too spend a few days recovering from each time.

I think adjusting your life after diagnosis is one of the hardest parts of the illness. It’s not just your work life, but also your family and social life that are impacted. Having to explain to people that you yet again cannot do something because of Dystonia is incredibly disheartening, it helps if you are surrounded by people who understand and support you. At times it is not the spasms that prevents you from taking part but the fatigue from the treatment. I find the medication leaves me half asleep, which in turn impacts every aspect of life.

I have been living and adapting to the condition for around two and a half years now. I’m not sure if you can ever really adjust to it. I don’t plan on ever slowing down. I enjoy my life too much. I believe the best way to cope with this hideous condition is to take each minute as it comes.

To find out more about how my Dystonia started check out my VLOG https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV_L-9vCGPw&feature=autoshare

Medication Minefield

When diagnosed with Dystonia there is a minefield of medication surrounding you. One wrong move and your limbs are distorting and spasming at a rate that threatens to hospitalise you. A medication that works rather well for one person may have dire side effects on another. Keeping a diary of what medications you have tried and your reactions can come in handy.

Botox injections is a widely used treatment for Dystonia, and in many offers a degree of relief from their symptoms. In the majority of sufferers the injections are administered every 3 months. Personally for me, I find that the injections only last around 5 to 6 weeks so my neurologist administers my injections every 6 weeks.

Medication can be very hit and miss, so finding a dosage that works for you is important. For example, Diazepam is a commonly used muscle relaxant to treat Dystonia. For me if you give a very small dose as a one off I will be fine, in fact I will sleep fantastically well. However if you give me a second dose that same day, or the next day I will have a psychotic break. The last time this happened I seriously thought that if I had my leg amputated I would be cured of Dystonia. It makes no sense, but at that time I was convinced.

One of the issues I have discovered since becoming ill is persuading Drs to play around with medication. Often this can unsettle them, especially when treating a condition such as Dystonia that many have not come across before. Due to this I have found many Drs unwilling to change medication or try different combinations, it has often resulted in me battling before they agree to try. It is sad that this is the case. I have said it many times before and I will say it again, the more awareness there is the better treatment we Dystonia sufferers will receive.

On Wednesday 6th May a Dystonia Awareness message will be sent out Via Thunderclap. The more people that sign up for this the further the reach of the message. So please sign up at the following link https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/24206-dystonia-awareness-week-2015 .

Support System

Living with chronic illness is never easy. It impacts the majority, if not all, areas of your life. One of these areas is relationships. Whether this is friendships, family, or romantic relationships, chronic illnesses such as Dystonia can have a big impact. It is hard enough for the sufferer to understand what they are dealing with and cope with it, but for people who are not experiencing it themselves it really sums up their characters by how they react.

Personally I think it takes a lot of guts for a sufferer to open to their friends and family and admit that they have been diagnosed with Dystonia. It is not the easiest condition to explain. There is no rash or broken bone that they can see, no medicine that is going to cure you. You are sitting them down and admitting that you are not going to get better, that you may in fact get worse, but that you are hoping that a handful of medication and injections will help control the condition. People will either stand by you or they will turn their back on you.

I can remember when I first announced to those closest to me that I had finally been diagnosed. I was naïve enough to trust that my support system would stay intact. I never expected it to crumble around me. My relationship of two years broke down instantly, and many friends vanished into thin air. At the time I was lost, unable to comprehend how those I had thought would stand with me through thick and thin could just disappear the minute the going got tough. With time though I grow thankful that they did leave, it meant that I was left with a support system I could count on whenever I needed it.

When you live with Dystonia I think having a support system in place is one of the most vital things in enabling you to get by. Emotionally it means I know that I have friends I can count on to listen whenever I am having a bad day and am not sure how to cope anymore. Physically, I can be reassured that whenever I am functionally paralysed for example I know there are people I can rely on to help me. I know of some sufferers whose own family turned their back on them because they simply do not comprehend the condition well enough, I am blessed to have family and friends who are here for me 24/7.

Dystonia can be alienating, in life you do not often meet people with the condition. Surrounding yourself with people who love you despite having a brain that likes to be dysfunctional is important.

Dystonia Awareness Week 2015 – The Road To Diagnosis

It’s Dystonia Awareness Week 2015! In a similar way to last year I plan to do a series of blogs explaining the different aspects of Dystonia. Normally my family and I hold a bakesale to help raise funds for The Dystonia Society during the awareness week. However due to the majority of my family having exams this month we have decided to delay this until June. I’ll be posting the date for this soon.

I want to focus today on the road to diagnosis and treatment. This is such a scrambled and boggy area to tread. Many people with Dystonia suffer with the condition for years before getting diagnosed. Often we are made to feel as if it is all in our heads, and end up with referrals for counselling. Trying to get medical professionals to listen and take us seriously can be extremely hard, especially if they have not had any experience with the condition before. I don’t believe they intend to make us doubt our own sanity but it happens.

In 2012, for example, I spent just over a week in a local hospital after the muscles behind my eyes spasmed, forcing my eyes to roll back in the socket and stay there, leaving me functionally blind for 15 hours. Those 15 hours were hideous, I was terrified and in a fair amount of pain. When you looked at me only the whites of my eyes could be seen. I was repeatedly told by doctors during this time to “just roll your eyes down”. Needless to say it became hard not to snap and inform them that if I could do that, I would have done so already. I felt as if no doctor believed me. I was forced to talk to a psychiatrist during my stay.

A couple of months after this I met my wonderful neurologist, who took the time to really listen and examine my symptoms. I was fortunate to get diagnosed in a matter of months. Many others with the condition are misdiagnosed for years, decades in some cases! This is one of the many reasons awareness of this debilitating and life changing condition is necessary. A correct diagnosis leads to treatment that can help improve quality of life. The more awareness that there is the better chance of sufferers being diagnosed in a far more timely manner.

On Wednesday 6th May a Dystonia Awareness message will be sent out Via Thunderclap. The more people that sign up for this the further the reach of the message. So please sign up at the following link https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/24206-dystonia-awareness-week-2015 .

Botox injections

Today I was up in London to see my neurologist to get my six weekly injections. I was looking forward to speaking with him as this time round my botox had been 7 weeks apart. Normally this would have resulted in severe facial, neck and arm spasms but for a change I have been okay. It is only over the last few days that I have felt the familiar tugging sensation around my eyes, jaw and neck. Whilst I have had spasms in these areas it has been easy to cope with. My arm has been spasming/twitching more but still at what I consider an acceptable rate, so I was eager to discuss with him aiming for 7 weeks again. Now as luck would have it he’s not working that day in 7 weeks time, so my appointment is as usual in 6 weeks, but this something I would like to aim for.

I am not fond of needles at all. In fact watching the doctor draw the botox up each time is enough to make me want to run screaming from the room. Every 6 weeks I turn up at the hospital racked full of nerves, if the injections did not make such a big difference on my quality of life then I don’t think I’d go. I trust my neurologist completely however, and after two and a bit years of having him administer my injections I feel confident in his skill. You can imagine how sky high my nerves rocketed today when upon arrival I was informed that my neurologist was absent. The doctor filling in for him was perfectly pleasant, however having never met him before, I found it hard to sit still in the chair whilst he injected me.

Today was my first round of injections since developing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. On my GP’s advice I tried covering the area that was going to be injected on my back with topical local anaesthetic. I find it hard just wearing clothing over my shoulder/arm at the moment so was dreading having a couple of needles being inserted. As I have mentioned before I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3, this unfortunately means that local anaesthetic does not work for me. I had been hoping that as it was a topical one and not an injection that it would be slightly different and would work, however I discovered very quickly that this was not the case. I cannot describe what my arm has felt like over the last few hours, it has been a mix of a burning and pin and needles sensations. I am hoping that this will die down as the evening wears on.

Hopefully my neurologist will be at my next appointment and we can discuss our next steps.

The Beast Rears It’s Head…

and I don’t mean Beauty and the Beast style. This Beast of mine, is not going to transform into my Disney fairytale prince charming. Sitting in the Drs office earlier this afternoon, the Dr uttered words I had hoped I would never hear again. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The newest diagnosis to my add to my growing list, but not new to me. I have battled and conquered this hideous beast before. It took months and months in hospital. I never thought I would have to deal with this condition again. Last time it was in my leg. Now it is in my shoulder.

Emotionally I am numb, exhausted I know from the little sleep I have got due to pain. Part of me wants to draw the curtains, grab a pillow and just cry. But what good would that do me? It wouldn’t fix me, it wouldn’t take the physical pain away. I made the mistake last time round of avoiding everything that inflicted more pain, such as trousers (I lived in shorts), I couldn’t bear bed sheets, etc, anything touching me was agony. By avoiding touch I made the condition worse. I’m forcing myself to lie down on my back, to wear clothes that hurt, to put my handbag on shoulder even if only for a moment. By doing these things repeatedly hopefully my brain will relearn, again, that all is well.

The Dr went through my meds and was a bit stumped, as medication that he would have put me on to try to treat the condition, such as Gabapentin, I  am already on the maximum dose of. We therefore agreed to trial Sertraline on the lowest dose. It may or may not work, but I’ll try anything right now.

In the meantime I’m going to close my eyes, and breath. Things could be worse after all. I defeated this beast once before, and I’ll defeat it once more.

 

 

 

 

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