I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by, it feels like just the other month I was curled up writing my usual Happy Christmas blog post. Looking back at my blog posts from the last year it has been a rather hectic emotional roller-coaster. My blog was set up to raise awareness in 2012, but rather accidentally for me it developed into a rather useful therapeutic outlet. For you guys that means whilst I do post the happy stuff, the negative is slightly more frequent. This is simply because life is unpredictable and the good, bad and the ugly don’t come in equal measures.
So to help end the year on a positive spin here are just a handful of things that have kept me smiling this year that wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t chronically ill.
- January 2016 – After BBC 3 Counties found my Cosmo Articles and my blog I took part in a quick phone interview to discuss disabled dating and ‘The Undateables’. Having been approached by ‘The Undateables’ before I took advantage of this opportunity to express how labels such as the shows title really are not helpful when tackling social stigmas.
- February 2016 – I was invited down to the BBC 3 Counties studio to participate in a valentine’s day segment on dating and disability. I was extremely nervous but the humour I manage to find in my conditions meant that I had several great stories to tell. It was a surreal experience that received great feedback and really boosted my confidence.
- March 2016 – Finally I realised the importance of not apologising for being the way I am. My genetic makeup makes me who I am. So what if I am a bit of an oddball with misbehaving limbs? If you feel uncomfortable around me then take a look at yourself and your views first, because my genetic make-up isn’t something that can be fixed and I no longer feel like I have to apologise for it.
- April 2016 – After waiting just over a year I finally was admitted to The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore for a 3 week inpatient pain management program. I’d been extremely nervous about this, and if I’m being honest didn’t see how they could help me short of waving a magic wand. 8 months later and I’m still putting my pacing lessons into practice (I slip up now and then but on the hole I manage much better), and I have a flare up plan that works!
- May 2016 – this had been a hard month, between being assaulted and the Drs telling me they were pretty certain I had MS (turns out I don’t but that was a scary few weeks). I was pretty much at my lowest point here. Then at the end of May I was offered a preliminary contract with Britain’s Next Bestseller. Now sure I may not have reached publication due to not hitting the pre-order requirements but hell that was a confidence boost and a half. I had a publisher believing in my work and that’s good enough for me.
- June 2016 – I was still being investigated for MS, but with a wonderful man by my side I was managing to take it all in my stride. I was starting to see the funny moments in being ill again rather than allowing myself to be swamped in fear.
- July 2016 – This marked 4 years since I had had to leave my midwifery training. Usually I would mope about and be quite tearful. This year whilst the sadness is still there I can smile when reflecting on it. For if I had never become ill all the wonderful opportunities I’ve had over the last 4 years would never have happened.
- August 2016 – my partner gave me a key. I think I just grinned for the rest of this month.
- September 2016 – I started my 2nd year at university. I’d survived my first year and am fortunate to be studying at a university that goes above and beyond to help meet my needs!
- October 2016 – I was pretty ill and hibernated for most of this month. The fact that I recognised this and took care of myself was a huge leap forwards for me.
- November 2016- I ended up back in the hospital for awhile. Nothing out of the ordinary in that respect other than the fact I have a huge fear of this particular hospitals neurology team. After being misdiagnosed by them before it was no surprise when I found them to be as pigheaded and ignorant as previous. The difference this time around was that I had the confidence in myself, and enough knowledge of my conditions to advocate for myself rather than allowing them to treat me incorrectly.
Everything that’s happened throughout the year whether big or small has been impacted by my health. Previously I would have told you that was awful, I wish I could be ‘normal’; whilst yes I’d love to be healthy, I cannot deny I have an exciting fun filled life that if I wasn’t a spoonie would have been drastically different.
“Dystonia is an unpredictable condition. It tends to progress slowly and the severity of a person’s symptoms can vary from one day to another“, NHS Choices. This quote sums up Dystonia quite nice and simply I think. It is extremely unpredictable, which makes it hard to work out what you are capable of doing one day to the next, if you guess wrong the games over for the day. In my case guessing wrong would result in me putting my spasming body to bed and hoping that a long nap will help calm my symptoms down…but thats providing the spasms don’t stop me from getting to sleep. I always try to make the most out of each day, to accomplish as much as I can incase the next day results in being unable to move from my bed. However trying this can often backfire on me and ensures that I spend the next day in bed, but sometimes if I’m really lucky I get away with it for a day or two. These are the days I love, as on these days I am beating my Dystonia – not permanently, but even an hour of winning is a huge achievement.
Dystonia symptoms and it’s impact varies from person to person. A quick glance at the Dystonia Society’s list of type of Dystonia and their symptoms gives you an idea of just how wide a range http://www.dystonia.org.uk/index.php/about-dystonia/types-of-dystonia . Due to this it does not surprise me that Doctors understand so little about the condition, why patients have little choice but to fight tooth and nail to find a treatment that works for them, to find a doctor who will listen. Through the power of the internet I have slowly got in touch with more and more sufferers, and even a handful of curious doctors. The sufferers amaze me. I hear the stories, and count myself lucky that I have a good support network, something many do not have. We all band together to raise our voices to get Dystonia out there, and it’s working. Slowly but it’s working. The emails I get from Doctors around the world prove that.
Yesterday at Choir we were practicing Christmas songs, which got me thinking of all the things I was thankful for. As much as I wish nobody had to suffer from this hideous condition, I am so extremely thankful that there are others out there. That those of us lucky to have found each other can support one another, give advice and a listening ear. Without being in contact with these amazing people, I honestly wonder how I would cope. I am also thankful to those of you who read this blog, and often share it with others. Since becoming ill I have become determined to become an advocate for Dystonia, to make my voice heard, and bring awareness to the condition and what it is like to live with it. Looking at the comments you lovely people leave me, the shares, likes and statistics brings me such happiness, as it shows me just how far my voice is being heard and assures me I am on the right path.
On one last note, I promised a while ago to upload photos of the amazing women who raised money to buy me a bath lift. I have attached them underneath. I feel incredibly lucky to have met such generous and caring women.
The human body is an amazing thing, it is a complicated being that relies completely on the brain to be able to function.However if there is one tiny glitch in the brain then dramatic abnormal changes occur. I am completely fascinated by my brain, I would love to have electrodes on my head for a few days to monitor it, so I could get a glimpse of what my brain is doing wrong.
Take yesterday for example, I don’t remember the day at all, but my mum found me unconscious due to my Non Epileptic Seizures in a chair, where I remained unconscious for a few more hours. My poor mum had to spend five hours in my room looking after me. Due to my lack of memory we have no clue what exactly caused me to started having seizures, when I came round I apparently complained about my knee a lot, however my knee other than being a bit bruised is fine today. It is times like this that I would just love to know what exactly is going on in my brain. Whilst Dystonia is extremely painful it is also utterly fascinating.
I consider myself to my extremely lucky that Dystonia is not fatal. I may moan and complain about living with it, but in comparison to so many other people on this planet I am considerably better off. I simply have a misbehaving alien bouncing around my brain pulling strings to make different parts of my body react or knock me out.
On the 28th of this month, I am going away to the Cotswolds with my family. I am extremely excited as I have not been on holiday in a few years. Even though my spasming body will still be with us it will be fantastic to have a change of scenery. I plan on relaxing, taking lots of photos and enjoying every single second of our holiday. I am now on a countdown to the 28th!
This week my blog has received well over a thousand views! I would like to say a humongous thank-you to everybody who is reading it. I hope it is raising awareness and helping others!
I saw this photo/quote, and felt like I should share it with you all.
I, personally, find its words to ring true. As much as we wish life was perfect, nobody’s life is. Everyone has their own struggles in life, be it financial, domestic, illness, loss etc. At some point in life we will ask ourselves, why me?! Why am I having to go through this, I can’t deal with it! If you have not asked yourself this yet, then I am sorry to inform you that eventually you will. However when it comes to that point in time, when you are asking why me? That is when you must remember that if you were not strong enough to deal with it, then you would not be going through it. The experience may make you feel like it will never get better, and that is the moment you must remember that it will get better and that whatever you have had to struggle through, will make you a better and even stronger person at the end of it.
I have asked myself, why me, so many times recently. The question normally arises when I am going through a particularly bad spasm or am in a lot of pain. However, each time the pain stops and I relax, I can think more clearly, and I know that I would much rather go through this than see a member of my family, or anyone else go through it. I know that I am strong enough to deal with it and that’s why it is me who has Dystonia.
It is up to us to make the best out of a bad situation. For me, I have decided that instead of curling up in a ball and letting myself become a ‘sufferer’, I shall instead be an advocate for the condition. I shall try my best to make a difference! You never know, I might!
So if you ever are thinking, Why me?! Remember the above quote and know that if you were not strong enough for this life, you would not have been given it!