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

Archive for the ‘April 2016’ Category

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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So What Is Dystonia?

In the United Kingdom it is estimated that at least 70,000 people suffer from Dystonia. Despite being the 3rd most common neurological movement disorder many people have never heard of it. The word Dystonia describes uncontrollable muscle spasms which are caused by the brain firing incorrect signals to the muscles. There are many types of Dystonia however, and no two types present exactly the same. The incorrect signals can cause the body to take on abnormal postures, tremor, contort and more. Many GPs will not see the condition during their practising career which can make knowing when to refer for a diagnosis difficult. Many sufferers go years before diagnosis occurs.

The condition is incurable and a tricky one to treat. Whilst many people manage to live full lives with appropriate treatment, this fact does not lessen the impact of the condition. A task you may be capable of preforming one day you may be unable to perform the next. If the condition appears in adulthood, in the majority of cases, it will remain contained to this area – this is known as focal Dystonia. However typically if the condition appears during childhood it generally will spread across numerous parts of the body -Generalized Dystonia.

Obtaining a diagnosis and receiving treatment can make a huge difference to a person’s quality of life. Without treatment I would be unable to see consistently, I would struggle to communicate due to jaw spasms, my head would be lopsided and my arm would be uncontrollable. Due to lack of awareness reaching the necessary professionals diagnose can be difficult, which is why awareness week is so important; increased awareness will not only help improve diagnosis times but can lead to more funding to find a cure.

Are you doing anything for Awareness Week? If so get in touch and let me know.

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Green for Awareness Week

Dystonia Awareness Week 2016

Dystonia Awareness Week has arrived! This naturally got me reflecting on my journey with my alien so far. It has been a long four years to say the least, but the experiences I have had on my journey so far has been worth it. I don’t think I will ever be 100% adjusted to the lack of control I have over my body, but I’ve accepted, adapted and molded who I am around my quirks.

At 17 when I was diagnosed with Oromandibular Dystonia I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I thought it was some sort of infection causing the issue and that once dealt with it would just be an unpleasant memory. When I was diagnosed with Generalised Dystonia at 19 it felt like the end of the world. Emotionally I was a mess. I couldn’t wrap my head around how I had gone from training as a midwife to being unable to brush my own hair, let alone stand up. Now at 23 I have hope.

If you spoke to me about the condition even two years ago I would have told you that I could not imagine living the rest of my life with it. The idea alone used to reduce me to a quivering sobbing heap. Despite the pain and the spasms, I can now picture the long term. I understand that my Dystonia isn’t going anywhere but I’m okay with that. It’s part of my life now and although it can be pretty dire, it has at the same time filled my life with so much laughter.

As is now my annual tradition I shall be blogging daily through-out Awareness week, and going green for Dystonia. So hop on over here daily for more information on the condition.

For more on Oromandibular and Generalised Dystonia head on over to http://www.dystonia.org.uk/index.php/about-dystonia/types-of-dystonia/mouth-or-tongue-dystonia

http://www.dystonia.org.uk/index.php/about-dystonia/types-of-dystonia/generalised-dystonia

Hospital Post

Receiving post is a very everyday aspect of life. Normally it’s not something that I would get over excited about. Every now and then though there is an exception. I received today three different types of support splints that the hospital had decided to order for me. The team I was under in the hospital witnessed several of my dislocations and noticed general issues in my hands and feet that could be improved with ease.

Three of the four splints arrived this afternoon. Two are designed for my wrists and thumbs. Part of the issue with EDS is that the brain does not always know exactly where the joints are. These splints help provide feedback to the brain along with stabilizing the joints.

The third splint is a gel ankle brace. If there was an Olympic medal for ankles giving away and falling over, I would take the gold every single time. My ability to fall down curbs, over thin air, and up the stairs is impeccable. The gel supports on both sides of this will cushion the joint whilst aiding stabilization. My skin breaks very easily due to the EDS so this design should work wonderfully with my skin.

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I am hoping that the splints as a way of treating the EDS, and my upcoming Botox injections, should mean I spend less time hugging the floor.

Curve Ball

You would think after almost four years I would have fallen into sync with the pattern of my botox cycle. I would know when to expect the good spells, and be prepared for the out of control moments. Perhaps it’s simply misguided denial that has resulted in me still being unable to predict these moments, it wouldn’t surprise me really.

Up until this evening  I had been enjoying a really good run. My body had been on very good behavior and as usual when I’m in this part of the cycle I had been making the most of every blissful pain free second. This evenings turn hit me out of the blue. I had been feeling slightly off whilst getting ready for a night out with my friends but hadn’t been able to quiet put my finger on why, so had decided to just ignore it and carry on laughing.

It wasn’t until we started making our way to our first destination of the evening that I realized what was wrong. Sitting down I had not noticed that the top of my back was slowly contorting. Each step I took was agonizing. My body simply twisted and further muscles joined in.

I’m not a naturally quiet person, I only generally quieten down when I’m in pain. The fact that I was virtually silent alerted my friends quickly that I needed to go home. So here I am now, lying down, arguing with myself, dressed up for a night out.

But hey at least I recognized I needed to come home.

Chip; Dating Disaster 4

After a productive three weeks in the hospital I’m finally back and settled in to university life again. What a better way to celebrate than providing you with the next installment of dating disasters? So hold on to your screens, grab some popcorn and settle in for a dose of embarrassment and reality.

I’d been seeing a guy, let’s call him John Smith, for a couple of weeks. He was entertaining, the attraction was mutual and things between us were progressing well. We had reached that thrilling stage of where do we go from here? It’s always an entertaining dance of social blunders. It’s an attractive situation to be in, and we were both thriving off the tension building. We had talked briefly about my jackpot of disorders and at the time I think he truly believed that he could cope with it all. I was more than happy to believe this. You would think I would know better by now. It would have been different if he had seen just what contortionist tricks my body is capable of from the word go, but when we met my injections were in full swing and so he had never borne witness to my reality.

One night, not that long ago, we were curled up watching a comedy. I always laugh hard at the sound of my own laughter, I’m a bit of a nutter like that. Seeing me in stitches conjured up warm and fuzzy feelings for Mr. Smith, and he leant over to kiss me. It started off great, slow, full of nerves from both of us. Have you ever yawned whilst kissing someone? Not the most attractive move, so to try and hide this, I pulled back. No one wants their face yawned on after all. John read this as me giving into my nervousness, so a little bit too enthusiastically placed his hands on either side of my face to pull me back towards him. If he had had his eyes open, he would have seen the horror in mine. As he pulled on my yawning cheeks I felt the spasm roar to life in my jaw, and the oh so familiar pain as my jaw dislocated.

Everybody deals with witnessing a person dislocate differently. Some people feel sick, others just want to get you seen by a Doctor. I can understand all of these reactions, I’m certain if it was the other way around I would be exactly the same. What I didn’t expect was the wide tumbling range of emotions that erupted from him. For the most part he was repulsed, partially due to the dislocation and partly because he had caused it. Then came the upset, anger and panic. I sat there rubbing in the volterol, knocking back muscle relaxants and pain killers, alternating between trying to calm him down and relocate my jaw.

It was one of the first times I have had someone blame me for being too breakable. At the time I was hurt, it wasn’t like I had not forewarned him. Now I hold my hands up and laugh it off. I am the opposite of breakable, I’m much like Chip the teacup in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; Slightly chipped but otherwise a barrel of laughter, and perfectly functioning. Looking at me on a bad day I can understand why a person may get the wrong impression, but sit calmly and talk to me and I’ll tell you just how resilient I am. Stick around and I’ll even show you. For now, I’m going to enjoy being ‘breakable’, laugh at my mistakes, highs and downright weird life path. I love my body, flaws and all.

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…

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