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

Posts tagged ‘blog’

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.

 

 

 

 

Word Search

I’m the sort of person that words come easily to, whether that’s verbally or written. I may pause to search for a word once in a while if my brain fog is bad, but normally I’ll pluck another out to replace it. It’s an unusual scenario when I feel so completely stumped and unable to find one to suit my needs. Yet for the past week that’s exactly how I have felt. I’ve tested every word I can think of, yet none quite fit. Which makes trying to describe the situation I’m in now difficult.

When I saw my neurologist last Wednesday, he decided to add Botox injections to my shoulder to see if this would help control my twitches. This has helped beyond my wildest imagination. At first the pain that followed I put down to my body reacting to the injections, after all I do experience similar pain in my neck each time I get my injections. However unlike my neck, the pain has not improved, even lying down at night is painful. Consequently sleep is almost non-existent . Carrying things, anything touching my shoulder is extremely uncomfortable. I don’t feel like pain is the right descriptive word however, though it most definitively applys the majority of the time, I don’t know how to verbalize the sensation that I am experiencing. It is so uncomfortable and is setting my teeth on edge as it is constant. Hopefully it will ease off soon.

On a more positive note I have attached below the photo below that I promised of me standing.

Positive Neurology Appointment

Today I had my six weekly appointment with my Neurologist in London. As usual he was charming himself. He never fails to listen, which is a breath of fresh air after the experience I often receive at the hands of various other medical professionals. As many of you will know, recently my twitches have been worsening. This has been impacting on my day-to-day life. Some days I struggle just to dress myself and I worry about whether I will hit someone in the street or knock products over in a shop. These factors don’t stop me from going about my life, but they do prove to be rather big hurdles though, as I really would rather not apologise for twitching and hitting someone.

I explained this to my neurologist. Honestly I was expecting, at best, for him to up one of my many medications or add yet another one in to the cocktail. He surprised me however by offering to inject my shoulder to see if this helped bring me some relief. This was a treatment I had debated asking for, but I had wanted to listen to his suggestions first. After all, he’s kept my twitches fairly well controlled for the past two years. He injected my shoulder muscles three times, which in the moment didn’t bother me too much, but I am really feeling it now! I am keeping my fingers crossed that hopefully this will do the trick.

As usual he advised me not to over do it. I can’t help but laugh. I try to take this on board, I really do. Dystonia already holds me back so much though, I don’t plan on taking the easy option. Even if that would mean less pain. I would rather grasp every opportunity that life throw at me and live every second to the full.

Beyond The Abyss

When I left university, I didn’t have much hope. I associated my midwifery training, the potential that it held, as a measure of success in life. Being unable to physically do the job anymore because my brain didn’t want to cooperate with my body left me feeling like a failure. For a while I didn’t particularly want to do anything but curl up on my bed and cry. My university was fabulous, they held my place moving it all the time for me, but I think we both knew I was too ill and in denial. I was grieving for a life that I wanted more than anything, I’d had a taste of it and I didn’t want to give up and let go.

After a period of feeling sorry for myself and being angry, I began to realise I had two quite simple choices. I could continue the way I was going, I could be bitter and resent myself for having an illness completely beyond my control. I could allow myself to continue in a downwards spiral, enabling the bleak abyss inside me to take over. Or I could snap out of it. I could pick myself up, slap a smile on my face and fight. I’d never gone down without a fight before why should now be any different?

In all honesty this choice is one I have had to remake several time over. Finally admitting to myself at the beginning of this year that the Dystonia being so generalised was going to prevent my Midwifery dreams was a difficult but positive step. For over two years I have fought in every way I can to continue having a normal life, I have studied, done charity work, attempting to find some way of finding even a glimpse of the fulfilment that I felt on my Midwifery course. Qualifying as a Reflexologist sparked something in me, I enjoy it thoroughly, but I am limited in my practice due to the Dystonia. My creative writing A Level though I love with a passion, reading and writing are two of my favourite activities. Studying them, well that’s just fun for me!

Last Friday (20 February) an article I wrote for Cosmopolitan went up on their website. For the first time in such a long time I felt a sense of achievement and fulfilment. I wanted to yell from the roof tops. I never thought I would see the day I would have an article on Cosmo’s website. I’m rather tempted to frame it. This experience has given me such a boost, it’s shown me that despite having Dystonia tuning life upside down and giving it a good old shake, I can still do whatever I put my mind do. It has been very empowering and a much-needed wake up call. Feeling full to the brim of nervousness, excitement, and joy; showed me that writing can give me every passion filled sense that Midwifery did, I just have to push myself. Dystonia can try to stop me but it won’t manage to.

If you want to check out my article please click on the following link http://www.cosmopolitan.co.uk/love-sex/sex/a33626/sex-questions-disabled-girls-are-tired-of-answering/

 

Disabled Dating; A Taboo?

Back in 2012 when I first became ill I was in a long-term happy relationship, however my partner at the time did not deal at all well with my disability. He soon ended our relationship. At the time I had not given a moment’s thought to the difference between dating when you’re able-bodied and dating when you’re disabled. The reason for this is because to me I have always believed that it is who you are on the inside that counts, to me it does not matter if you have one leg or six!

My views however are that of a minority of people’s it would seem. Whilst people are happy to get to know you, anything beyond friendship would seem to be forbidden. To many it is just too embarrassing to be romantically linked to someone disabled, simply because we differ from the norm. This idea, to me, was reinforced when several months ago I was approached by the TV programme The Undateables, to see if I would be willing to take part in their show or if I knew anyone else disabled who would. At the time I turned down their offer appalled that I was considered undateable simply because I am disabled. However now I sit here considering whether I was wrong to turn them down so quickly. Isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? After all I have been single for two years now.

An able-bodied person is much more able to go out and socialize and meet new people whether that’s at a club, restaurant, coffee-house etc. They have much more freedom and accessibility to choose to do this. I would love to meet new people. However take for example the fact that  I have no control, currently, over my left arm, I could hardly go to costa and have to apologise every few moments for hitting someone! I know some of you may think Online Dating to be the perfect solution. For some people I won’t deny this may be a fantastic idea but not for me, as it doesn’t take away the above issues which often can put people off when you inevitably meet. I want potential partners to get to know my personality and learn to dodge to my spasming limbs at the same time.

Society’s view on disabled dating is a hideous one. If two disabled people date, or marry, they tend to be rather harshly judged. You often hear and read comments on how they are unable to care for each other, or if they choose to have children that the child’s needs will be neglected as the parents will be unable to care for him/her. These views that are often voiced loudly and publicly are completely ignorant. The owners of these opinions in nearly all cases have never met the people involved so cannot make these judgements.

Able-bodied/disabled couples are also criticised. When out in public a lot of people will presume that the able-bodied partner is a nurse/carer/sibling. They rarely come to their own conclusion of the actually reality of partner/date. Again these relationships come under fire, especially online where people state that they should not get together as the able-bodied person will just end up being a carer. These opinions have been voiced with what I expect to be no insight.

I’d like to question these people who claim us disabled people cannot date either able-bodied or disabled persons. I want them to imagine they became ill and could not be cured. What would they say then?

Naturally I defy these naysayers.  I believe that I’ll get my fairytale ending, just with a few more spasms, falls and laughs than originally expected!

Out of Control

I’m not sure where to begin. There is so much pain and if I am quite honest it is making everything extremely cloudy. After months and months of being seizure free I think today I had one, the memory loss that I seem to be experiencing confirms it. The devastation this causes is hard to put into words. I’m scared to leave the safety of my bed in case I have another, as one fall will be all it takes to pretty much guarantee an ambulance trip to the local hospital. After spending the last two days there (one planned trip, one unplanned), I don’t particularly fancy going back again so soon.

One of my Dystonia symptoms is a strong twitch/jerk, in my left arm. It flings my arm out rather violently to the side, it is completely out of my out of my control. This has been controlled by 3600mg of Gabapentin for the last two years but this no longer seems to be enough. It started off with just my shoulders jerking, I should have gone to the Drs then but instead I ignored this symptom. It’s got to the point now where my arm is flinging itself out to the side every few minutes with such a force that it causes horrendous pain when it collides with something, which it often does. I have had to resort to wearing a splint on my wrist to protect it as it had become rather swollen from the several times it has hit door frames, walls, hospital beds, etc.

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My GP has decided to up the amount of Topiramate I take, which is an old antiepileptic medication to see if that will help. I take Topiramate to control my migraines but as my GP pointed out old antiepileptic medications such as Topiramate and Gabapentin often have many uses. So fingers crossed it works as I’m really struggling to cope. In all simple truth I just want someone to hug me but as I told my mother earlier I’m to scared to let her do so incase I hurt her.

I’m scared of my arm, the pain its causing and how my body irrationally responds to pain. This situation is impacting my life already – I daren’t walk into a shop now I’d break their stock – and I refuse for my life to be put on hold yet again! I really hope my little Dystonia Alien can hear me. I hope he is trembling in his tiny boots. As eventually my fear will give into rage, and I sincerely hope that the Alien has the sense to uproot and leave than do battle with me yet again.

Dream A New Dream

Today’s blog post shall be brief as I have been up to London for my Neurology appointment and am now very tired. My Neurologist was quiet apologetic and concerned that the last lot of injections had not worked, which left me with my normal extreme spasms. Apparently this sometimes does just happen for whatever reason, but to be on the safe side in the hope that this will work better, he upped the amount he was injecting everywhere. This has reassured me and helped to quell my fears that this batch of my injections may not work. I am now feeling decidedly more positive about it.

He confirmed the Hand Therapy’s diagnosis that the Dystonia is in my hand as well. However my symptoms in my hand are nowhere near as severe as the symptoms in my neck, jaw and eyes which is very positive. He stressed it was important not to aggravate it, I’m guessing this means I really need to learn how to walk without tripping over my own two feet…or my walking stick! This once again throws my Midwifery dreams out the window. I’m starting to realise that until a Neurologist hands me a pill and says this will cure you that I need to find a new dream. Now that’s not to say that I’m giving up on it, it’s more like putting it to bed for a long sleep until/if it becomes a realistic option again. I left university in the summer of 2012 on health grounds and for the last two and a half years I have built my Midwifery hopes and dreams up only to have them go up in flames around me more times than I can count. For my sanity I need to take a break from the emotional rollercoaster ride that that dream has taken me on. My year of training was the best experience of my life and I treasure it and for now that will do.

My reflexology career has now also been put on hold due to the hand Dystonia. Whilst my neurologist said he didn’t mind me doing the odd bit of Reflexology work, I have to be careful not to overdo it. I have always loved reading and writing. I can get lost in books for hours on end and will happily write all day. There are plenty of degrees out there in Creative Writing and Publishing, perhaps I shall discover a new dream down that road. For now though I must put my love of reading into action and brush up on information on another genetic condition I have been diagnosed with. I’ll fill you in on this new diagnosis next time.

 

Mallet Finger or Dystonia?

Last Friday I attended an outpatient Hand Therapy appointment. I thought this would be a simple check up on how my finger is healing, splint it back up and send me on my way home. What I forgot to factor in is that with my body being rather dysfunctional that would all be a bit too simple! I saw a lovely woman who after assessing my hand decided that my previous diagnosis of Mallet Finger was incorrect and the Dystonia is in-fact in my whole left hand. After questioning and examining my hand for a while she came to the conclusion to that the Hand Dystonia was pre-existing and was most likely covered up by the Neurological Lyme Spasms I had been experiencing previously in my hands.

I was rather thankful that I did not go alone to the hospital appointment as the diagnosis came as a bit of a blow.  Being accompanied to appointments no matter what your age is something I think is rather important. An appointment may seem like a routine check up but you never know what conversation you will have to have and support is vital. Sometimes just having someone else to listen to the conversation so they can make a note of anything you miss is a huge help. For me having someone I trust listen to me panic afterwards and help calm me was exactly what I needed. Being a Reflexologist, obviously using my hands is vital, however the hospital have advised me to be on hand rest till the end of February when they will assess the splint need again, I will have been on hand rest for almost 3 months by then.

Thankfully in the meantime I am seeing my lovely Neurologist at the end of this month for my Botox injections and to get his opinion on my hand. I am on countdown to seeing my neuro as my Botox last month did not take and I have been in agony since. My GP yesterday gave me some new muscle relaxants to try so im keeping my fingers crossed that these will offer me some relief until then.

 

Looking Forward

At the start of this week I had an unusual amount of extreme spasms, these had been triggered by a medication and have now settled down. At the time it would have been sensible to have spent the day in bed where I would have been safe. Instead I dragged myself, rather literally, to college. Now my class have witnessed some of my spasms but not to this extreme. Previously I would have wanted to stay home due to embarrassment, instead I went to college embracing my illness and was only irritated at my pain levels.

As much as I would rather that I did not have any of my chronic illnesses, I am thankful for them. Since being ill my confidence to go out in public with my limbs distorting, my jaw dislocating and my body paralyzing when it has had enough has slowly climbed. Now I can laugh my spasms off and joke about them. I am very open with others about it as I would rather educate them than have these 3 illnesses remain unheard of. I must give credit to my class though who did not bat an eyelid at the extremes my body was going to, I know this helped me relax when I got there. Dystonia and Lyme Disease may have turned my life upside down but it has also filled me with determination and inspiration to pick up the pieces of my life. I always thought that I had to stick these broken pieces back together exactly as they were, retracing my steps, but what use is living in the past? Now I’m picking up the pieces and carving a new path for myself.

I am going to be cured of Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease, so despite the fact I will always have to live with Dystonia and EDS, I have so much hope in my life.

Let’s Talk About Meds!

I recently got approached by an American company asking me if I would be willing to blog about my medicine. I was very willing to do so and this is something I am very open about. Medicine is great, it can cure illnesses, take away pain and help us manage our conditions. Now obviously this depends on the type of illness and type of medication prescribed by your doctor. For me, some of my medicine will eventually cure me of Lyme Disease, other medicine helps me to manage my Dystonia and a handful of pills keeps my pain levels under control.

One of the key things about medication is drug interactions. Most Doctors will check before prescribing you a new medication that it does not interact with another, however some forgot to do this. I have experienced this once before when a muscle relaxant I was prescribed to help with extreme muscle spasms interacted badly with a pain-killer I was taking regularly. I was lucky that the reaction only caused me to sleep constantly. It could be quite humorous at some points when I would fall asleep in the middle of talking! I was like this for about two weeks as we had to slowly ween me off the medication. However joking aside medication interactions can be very serious and it is always important to check with your Dr first, or check the pamphlet that came with your meds.

When I was first put on my meds I naïvely figured it would ‘fix me’ or at least enable me to have a good quality of life. What I did not factor in at that time was medication side effects. I knew they existed I just never thought I would experience them. Clonzepam was the first medication I reacted to badly. I don’t remember much of what happened, but I turned completely psychotic. I was determined to find scissors so I cut all my hair off. Mum ended up having to stay home from work to look after to me as I was a danger to myself, I am thankful that I was bed bound. Diazepam was the second medication I reacted to. My local hospital had prescribed me it after my spasms severely damaged my leg earlier on this year. I was fine for the first day or so, then I turned psychotic again. This time I was convinced that amputating my spasming leg would cure me of all my illnesses. I was desperate to contact my neurologist to set up a date for the amputation and devastated that nobody could understand my logic! Months on from it and I am glad that nobody thought Hey, why don’t we give it a go!

At the moment for my Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease treatment I take a mixture of medication and supplements which works out as 47 pills a day and 1 injection twice a week. For my Dystonia I take 6 pills a day and have 6 Botox injections every 6 weeks. I take 2 tablets for migraines every day and 2 syringes of allergy medication every morning. It works out that I take 57 tablets/syringes a day, then throw in some injections every now and then, and that is not even factoring in days when I need pain medication and muscle relaxants. It is a lot to remember to take! However it is vital that I take these at the right time, such as if I decided to take my evening dose at the same time as my dinner time dose I would be feeling sick very quickly as they cannot be taken with food! As many of you know from my earlier posts one of my symptoms is brain fog so I rely on reminders in my phone to help me remember to take my medication.

Medication is an amazing thing but you need to know what you are taking and why. I am the type of person who likes to take as little medication as possible, however I recognize the fact the Lyme Disease made me seriously ill and if I want to get better I have to take them. I understand that I have to live with Dystonia for life so I will always be having a neurotoxin injected and I am ok with that.

Medications have a dire effect on the body if not taken safely. So please be sensible and talk to your Dr about meds!

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