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

Posts tagged ‘Ambulance’

Ignorant Drs

When you’re chronically ill you rather quickly get a feeling for the attitudes/how well informed the Drs in charge of you are on your conditions. IF you’re lucky you get a wonderful open minded Dr who takes the time to listen to you, my neurologist is a perfect example of this and has always fought for me. However, and sadly it seems more frequently, you come across Drs who are either simply not up to date (with everything they have to know this is understandable), or they just seem to enjoy being ignorant on the matter.

In 2012 I was admitted with worsening Dystonia to a nearby hospital, during my inpatient stay I developed pain triggered non-epileptic seizures. They completely dismissed my Dystonia and told me that it and my seizures were completely psychogenic and that the only treatment I would benefit from would be psychotherapy and that the seizures could not cause me any harm. This diagnosis was based on the fact that in my early teens I’d been physically abused, it didn’t matter in their eyes that I had sought years of counselling, and had put that section of my life far behind me. Months later I met my wonderful neurologist who confirmed my original diagnosis of Dystonia and informed me that my seizures had absolutely nothing to do with my past, but were caused by my body’s inability to cope with the significant levels of pain that I experience.

I have over the last few years been told repeatedly that my seizures cannot cause me any harm. It’s always fun to point out to the Dr at this point that this isn’t true when it happens on the stairs, or from standing, or crossing a road…the list is endless. In recent months, my POTS & EDS consultant has queried whether my seizures are in fact related to my POTS and autonomic dysfunction, but again this falls on deaf ears amongst my current local Drs.

It’s coming up to 5 years since my first run in with this particular hospital and their attitudes have not changed in the slightest. Last night I was taken by ambulance to hospital after having a seizure, I collapsed from standing and gave my head a rather good whack on the loo as I fell. Normally I wouldn’t go to hospital straight away for this, but due to hitting my head and being pregnant the hospital advised me to call an ambulance. This turned out to be a good call as halfway there I had another seizure which negatively impacted my breathing.

I’ve spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital recently due to my faulty body, so have got to know the staff in the wards relevant to me quite well. This also means I now dread every single visit. When the Dr came this morning for the ward round I felt like holding a hand up and saying chill I’ll leave now. He leaves me doubting my own sanity each time. However, I held my tongue and heard him out, just in case he’d actually done some research over night; he had not. Instead he gave me the usual lecture and then threw in that after discussing my case with a consultant, that has never met me before, they were going to refer me for psychotherapy for my seizures.

I’m beyond angry. At the back of my notes, and I inform the staff of this every time I am admitted, there is a letter from my neurologist explaining my seizures, explaining that it’s not just in my head and as clear as day states I need IV muscle relaxants and painkillers during one, and that there is no psychological deeper issue that needs dealing with. However, it’s become apparent that turning to the back of my notes and reading this letter is a far too complicated process.

Having to go through the same frustrating and time wasting process every single time I visit this hospital is exhausting and frankly disheartening.  I know that I did need to go yesterday and get checked over, but coming up against the same walls over and over again leaves me feeling like I would be better off avoiding this hospital at all costs and I can at least self-treat at home to a degree. It’s sad that 5 years on from my first encounter at this hospital, the same issue has yet to be dealt with.a560572834e8e4ffb7ca4d1e3f2e4337

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Dear Mr. Hunt

Over the last few month social media has been aflame in reaction to your demand of a seven day week NHS, and dismissive and degrading attitude towards Junior Drs. For weeks I decided not to weigh in on the argument but as an extremely frequent user of the NHS I feel it right to raise my voice. I may sit here typing away and complain about yet another run in with my neurologist, but whenever I have really needed the NHS they have been there, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day!

For almost two years my condition was seriously uncontrolled, this resulted in an ambulance being called out at least once, if not twice, a month. The paramedics had never heard of any of my conditions; they had to learn on the spot and stabilize me the best they could before transferring me to the hospital. My family have nothing but three years of positive thanks for the paramedics we have come into contact with.

Whilst I lie seizing on a trolley, unconscious in a hospital because my brain cannot deal with the pain my movement disorder is causing; it is the Junior Drs that 9 out of 10 times provide the treatment. They are not yet stuck in rigid textbook ways, they want to learn and get stuck in with my non-compliant body, trying everything they can think of.  They have gone above up and beyond for me.

My neurologist has scheduled appointments at 5pm but not seen me till gone 6pm. He could have sent me home; he could have had me booked into another clinic or requested a member of his team see me. However, he stayed on into the evening to treat me, he spent more time than he needed listening and answering my questions. His clinic had long since closed but he always makes time for those who need it, I have not once seen him turn a patient away due to the time.

So you see Mr Hunt, I have experienced a fair section of the NHS services over the years. I have had scheduled appointments and I have been rushed into resus by ambulance at 3am on a Sunday morning. They are already providing an incredible 24/7 service, instead of cutting budgets and debilitating already struggling hospitals, try enabling them for a change!

Three Years of Benedict

Today marks three years since my life got a good shake up as my Dystonia alien made its presence known. So much has happened over the last few years that it’s hard to keep track, I’ve had a handful of operations, countless x-rays, far too many ambulance trips, and appointment after appointment with varying Consultants. I have also gone from being reliant on a wheelchair fulltime, to being able to walk with the aids of splints!

It has been an incredibly emotional journey, and I think that’s a naturel response to everything that’s happened. I’m finally at a place in my life where I feel like I am climbing the mountain that is Dystonia, instead of tumbling down it. I still have days like today, where it’s more like I am stubbornly camped out on it, refusing to fall. This morning I woke with my jaw in spasm, and my neck spasming on and off. So naturally I have spent a section of this afternoon lying on my living room floor, as the support that position gave my neck and back was the only way I felt comfortable. A year ago doing this would probably have left me feeling annoyed that I had resorted to doing it, today I was simply laughing, though maybe I am simply losing the plot.

Battling this condition has become second nature, nowadays I always have medication on me, and sometimes there’s even a TENs machine in my handbag. It surprises me how quickly Benedict has become accepted into everyday life without a second thought. This is a bittersweet realisation. It’s fantastic because it shows we are managing, that we are not drowning under the pressure the condition puts upon us. However a part of me feels sad that it has become so second nature, simply because who wants it to be part of their routine to remember to take one of their many pills or injections?

I’ve always kept score against Benedict. I think this year I finally got even.

Cowering In The Cafe

Today is my first appointment with a new neurologist. I was meant to have another appointment with my wonderful consultant on the 29th of this month. I had a phone call the other day telling me he had left earlier than planned and that my appointment needed to be bumped up to 3:40pm today. So here I am now sat in the café of the hospital, coffee in hand, desperately trying to not freak out.

I brought one of my favourite books with me, Twilight, to help pass the time. However sitting here observing other patients around me, who are also in various states of unease, I can’t help but feel trapped. I know that my anxiety is mostly likely heightened by those around me, yet even knowing that doesn’t quiet the voices in my head. Will this be one of an endless list of consultants? Will he give me the time to ask my questions? Will he aggravate my CRPS?

My first thought is to leave, and hop on the next train home, and just put up with the increase in spasms. Crazy I know. I doubt I’d make it two months before I’d be back begging for my injections.  I know that life without my botox is not worth it. It is not a life. It is ambulance trip after ambulance trip, and I won’t go back to it. So where does that leave me? It leaves me cowering over twilight determined to loose myself in its love story.

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Botox makes the biggest difference to my life. But the administration of it terrifies me.

Emotional Turmoil

Currently I feel like I am a whirlwind of emotions – confusion, terror, anger, helplessness – are to name a few. From the 1st of September almost daily I will get another test result back from the private hospital, and then on the 10th I shall attend to see if they have decided to treat me or not. If they do agree then I cannot even begin to describe the relief I would feel at finally getting the correct treatment. But it would be very bittersweet relief as I would have to somehow fund this treatment.

Yet the panic I am already feeling about finances is nothing in comparison to the terror I feel about having to deal with the spasms caused by my Lyme Disease on top of my Dystonia again. I know that I have dealt with it all before so I CAN cope again, but I don’t want to. The thought of it sends me running for the hills. When my hands spasmed before I frequently used to tell my mum that I felt like I had pulled my fingers out of joint, I’ve recently been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos type 3, which makes it highly likely that I was subluxing in my fingers. To be frank I am scared of the extra amount of pain that untreated Lyme Disease will bring. At the moment with oral treatment it is dulled down, manageable. Which has enabled me to learn to cope with Dystonia and the pain that it causes. I don’t want to go back to being rushed by ambulance in to hospital every month. 

I have enough oral antibiotics to get me through to the middle of September at the moment. From our recent experience of coming off the antibiotics and the deterioration that that caused I am loath to go through it again. Its quite selfish really as I know a lot of my fear stems for not wanting to lose my hands again. I love being able to do simple activities such as brushing my own hair. It is a sign of independance and I get such satisfaction from being able to do tasks such as this.

The majority of my Dystonia is well controlled with Botox, and Benedict is not inflicting too much pain at the moment. I just want to maintain/improve my condition. In the meantime I shall keep my fingers crossed that the private hospital wants to treat me, and wish to the NHS fairy that they open their eyes and acknowledge chronic Lyme, and start treating us sufferers properly!!

Ambulance Trip

I’d like to start this post off by apologizing in advance if bits don’t quite make sense. I have a fair bit of medication in my system and I am having to concentrate very hard as I do not really feel like I am with it today. Over the last few days my body has been very interesting. I presumed it was just in meltdown mode after the trip to London and back for my Botox injections last Tuesday. My right leg in particular has been bad. The spasms have been impressive but rather painful. I have found myself repeatedly over the last few days in the position in the photo below. which I can assure you is not a comfortable one to be in.

Photo: So its not a particularly bad spasm. But why my leg felt the need to spend more time next to my head baffles me and was rather uncomfertable

Last night my body did full body twitches, which was a new symptom for me, however this did not seem to stop, then my leg joined in spasming repeatedly into the above position. However several times whilst in that position my hip spasmed in one direction and my lower leg spasmed in the opposite direction. This caused agony, and according to my family they all heard a cracking sound. I then started to have lots of my Non Epileptic Seizures. In between seizures when I was spasming we tried administering our crisis medication, Tramadol and diazepam, but this did not seem to touch the pain or the spasms, which meant that an Ambulance had to be phoned.

The paramedics, Gareth and Amanda, were two of the nicest people I have met. They helped keep me as comfortable as possible, which is saying something considering the amount of pain I was in. It was decided that I needed to go to hospital to have my leg checked out as it was swelling and they thought I had torn a ligament. In the end they gave me IV morphine which made me slightly sleepy and giggle, to helped ease the pain enough to transfer me into the ambulance safely, where they then gave me Gas and Air. I now understand why the women I looked after on the labour ward loved the stuff so much. At first it had me creasing up in laughter like a crazy woman, eventually I then thought I was dreaming the whole situation, which was when we decided I had maybe had enough of it. I have to say I was so impressed by the standard of care they gave me. They didn’t know anything about my condition, but they treated better than half the previous doctors I have seen!

The doctor Teeto and the nurse Precious in charge of my care, were again wonderful people. I feel extremely lucky to have been under the care. Teeto actually knew a fair bit about Dystonia and was not fazed by spasms at all. He quickly had me sent down to x-ray to make sure I had not broken my knee, where I had some more seizures on the poor woman as she to move my leg about. Thankfully I have not broken anything!! I have just damaged and pulled some of the bits in my leg. Teeto, sent me home with a box of Diazepam, his plan is for me to take this at regular intervals over the next few days, in the hope it will break this new spasm cycle.

Whilst I am in a lot pain now, and feeling rather spaced, I am so thankful that I was under the care of four such wonderful people last night. They were all so caring, and you could tell really wanted to help stop my pain and spasms. It is amazing the difference incredible people like these can make during times when you are in agony!

Ambulance Trip

After two weeks of no seizures, and no ambulance trips since July, my seizure free luck ran out yesterday. Having had a fantastic day at college, I collapsed outside my house after my legs went into a bad spasm. I feel sorry for my poor friend who took me home that day as it was not a nice experience for her.

I gave my body a good whack on the ground when I collapsed, triggering my seizures. Normally with my Non Epileptic Seizures I come round, even if it is just for a second, between them. However yesterday this did not happen, I remained unconscious in between. Luckily my younger brother and one of younger sisters were at home, so they were able to bring pillows, blankets etc out  to keep me warm whilst my friend kept me safe.

An ambulance had to be called, thankfully I always tell everyone that I have a letter from my neurologist in my handbag instructing paramedics and doctors on what to do. This letter meant that the paramedics quickly administered diazepam to me. As I was remaining unconscious and had been unconscious for so long I was given oxygen and taken to the resus unit at the hospital, where I was monitored for several hours.

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I feel sorry for the first doctor in charge of me as he was very unsure of my condition and therefore seemed to feel frustrated as he was unable to help me. My body being its usual unhelpful self did its typical vein disappearing act. It took the poor man seven attempts to get a line in me and bloods out of me.

Despite this incident ruining my good streak, I am still viewing it as progress! Hopefully these blues and twos trips to hospital will continue to be less and less, until they fizzle out completely all together. It may take time, but it will one day happen. I am so thankful for my letter from my neurologist, I am sure with it out I would not have received diazepam so quickly, and that was much-needed to help bring me round.

I am now home and shall be spending the next couple of days recuperating from yesterdays events.

Troublesome Tremor & Consultant Conundrum

On Friday my jaw developed a painful tremor (see video on previous post) that has caused me more and more issues. Since Friday I have visited the out of hours doctors, been rushed by ambulance to hospital, and had an urgent visit to the dentist as the tremor is actually dislodging my teeth! It all is beginning to get a little bit too much and I desperately want the pain to go away. Knowing that the tremor is actually dislodging some of my teeth concerns me a lot. I still have a few baby teeth with no adult ones underneath them, so to know that this tremor is dislodging them is rather alarming. The Dentist I saw was an extremely lovely chap who reassured me that everything would be done to keep my baby teeth in for as long as possible.

As I have mentioned previously we have been emailing my consultant for several weeks now asking if he could book me in for Botox injections. Today I finally got a date, for three weeks time (July 16th). This is 5 weeks later than normal. Now this may not seem like a long time, but being in agony 24/7 and struggling to eat and drink makes the situation almost unbearable, I am currently only just about coping by taking Oramorph (morphine) and Diazepam. It is also extremely debilitating. I have pain triggered non epileptic seizures, not only does this often result in me ending up in hospital but it also puts major parts of my life on hold. I normally go to my local Riding for the Disabled stable on a thursday for a riding lesson, this is an activity that is extremely important to me and one that I thoroughly enjoy, however I am unable to ride when I am having so many seizures.

There was also no mention of my week admittance into the hospital that was meant to happen over two months ago in this email. I am now sadly looking into transferring to another consultant at another hospital as I feel completely neglected by my consultant. I feel like he dangles hope in front of me and then snatches it away without warning.

On a more cheery note I got my splint for my left leg yesterday! This makes things like getting in and out of the house so much easier and has so far been a joy to wear. It is amazing how much of a difference the little things in life can make!

Bring It On!

Yesterday afternoon I collapsed outside of my house and started having Non Epileptic seizures and Dystonic spasms. As I was not regaining consciousness I was rushed by ambulance (with blues and twos on) to my local hospital, where I was luckily treated by the lovely doctor who I had seen the last time I was there. The doctor remembered exactly who I was and even where the best place to take blood from me was! I was extremely impressed with how I was treated. I was unconscious for a couple of hours and have very little memory of the event.

Today I am rather sore, but I am also feeling inspired! My illness repeatedly puts me through hell and back, but its ok! I know that no matter what my little Dystonia alien throws at me, I will get through it. The image below depicts exactly how I am feeling.

Whilst Dystonia and Non Epileptic Attack Disorder are truly hideous conditions to have, I could be so much worse off. I could have cancer or another potentially life threatening disease! So I feel blessed that my condition merely limits me.

Through being ill I have had the privilege to talk to and meet some of the nicest people I have ever met. They all support me and give me strength! For example other bloggers and health activists; talking to them is a joy, as they can understand, advise and support me. Another great example are the amazing staff in the chemist by my doctors. I love going in there as I always get a warm welcome and have a quick chat, which puts me in a great mood.

I may suffer from a hideous condition, but I am so much more than just an ill person. I am a health activist, a fighter, I can be anything I want, and I can achieve anything I want. Just you wait and see!

 

Aside

A flicker of hope at the end of a dreadful weekend.

Today has felt like someone has lit a tiny candle at the end of long tunnel, one that I am still at the beginning of. I cannot turn back, all I can do is head towards the tiny flickering light I can see in the distance. I must jump, duck, slide, and fight hurdle after hurdle on my way to that light. That light is hope! Finally being able to see it, feels like I can put everything into perspective. I can breathe, and acknowledge that no matter how much I have to go through, no matter how much physical and emotional pain I have to go through, there is happiness at the end. I will get my happy ending!

I am the type of girl, who wont just sing in the shower, I will sing under my breath in the shop, I will sing at the top of my lungs in my house. Singing, for me, creates happiness. And if by chance I am singing a song from a Disney film such as Pocahontas or Mulan, then I am completely joyful and content. However, I cannot sing when I am unconscious  I cannot sing when my body is bend backwards due to a spasm in my back, and my neck is trying to over rotate due to another spasm. Agony, causes me to have Non Epileptic Seizures  However this weekends agony, took things to a whole new level.

Saturday night, my neck and back were awful. I could not move without setting a spasm off, and as soon as I had a spasm I had a seizure. It was a vicious circle. One that I have no recollection of. My mum ended up having to sleep in my room that night, due to the agony I was in and the lack of consciousness I had. Eventually I thankfully fell asleep and the spasms and seizures stopped. I had hoped that Sunday would be a better day. Despite my neck still insisting on spasming, the morning started off well. At midday, I unfortunately collapsed from standing, giving my head and body a good whack as I landed. Whilst the spasms were slightly more frequent, at first it seemed that this fall had not done much damage. However I quickly began to deteriorate. By 7pm the seizures had become constant, and the spasms wouldn’t stop. I was getting mere seconds of consciousness now and then, before slipping straight back into another seizure. My mum had originally thought that we would do the same as the night before and ride it out, however by midnight she phoned for a paramedic, who after assessing me phoned for an ambulance.

I arrived at my local hospital at 2am. I finally regained consciousness between 5 and 6 am. A doctor did not come to see me until 8 am! This particular doctor worried us. We were completely convinced that she was a crazy cleaner who had put on some scrubs and stolen a stethoscope. On seeing me she felt my forehead and told me I was beautiful, she then informed us that there was nothing she could do for me other than pray, which she then did. Now, I have nothing against prayer. I am Christian, and I appreciate people praying for me. However when I am in a hospital it’s not what I want or need! I need medication! If I was the doctor I would have tried administering muscle relaxants to see if they would take the edge of the spasms and in turn calm down the seizures. The doctor then told my parents that the hospital could do nothing for me and they should take me home, this was despite the fact I was still having dreadful spasms and could not sit up without going into a seizure.

My mother expressed her concerns to a nurse, who then called a consultant into see us. This man was rude beyond belief, if I had been well enough to argue or make a complaint against him then and there I would have. At one point during a seizure my mother tried to shield my head to stop me from hitting it against the metal bars on the bed. The consultant told my mum to stop it and that I would not hit my head, he refused to listen when my mum pointed out that I had already hit my head on them several times. He then started rambling on about the type of seizures I was having. My mum tried to point out to him that we already knew that I was having Non Epileptic Seizures, and that we were not concerned about them, we were concerned about the sudden change in my spasms and the way they had presented themselves so violently. The consultant listened to none of this and told my mum to stop talking. He was useless, arrogant, and down right rude!

We tried to get the hospital to call my consultant up in London  to see if he could offer us any advice, but they refused to do this. My step dad had to do phone my consultants secretary instead and leave a message. Hours later, after my body had eventually calmed down, we left the hospital, with no help from them. I felt so angry and upset. I had been in extreme pain, and yet they did nothing. We had to do battle with them just to get them to give me some basic painkillers!! Once I arrived home I phoned my GP and explained the situation to him. He was extremely shocked at the lack of care I had received at the hospital and prescribed me some stronger pain relief. The whole weekend had left me feeling physically and emotionally broken. It was ridiculous.

Today, I had to go back to the hospital. Luckily this time it was just for an appointment with the surgical orthotic department. The man I saw was superb. He had dealt with Dystonia before and had a good understanding of it. After having a feel of my legs and getting me to stand up and show him the spasm, he said he thought he could help! He is going to make a splint that should hopefully prevent the spasms twisting my leg into painful positions. Whilst we there he made a plaster cast of my leg/foot, which should be ready for me in around 3 -4 weeks. He said that if the splint did not work for me then he would look at what other ways there were for him to help me!  After telling him about the spasms my arm does, he suggested I get my GP to do another referral to him so that we can look at what he can do to help contain the spasm.

It was such a positive appointment. It helped me to not completely give up hope on Doctors and showed me that there are a handful out there who want to help you. You just have to find them. Both my neck and back have behaved so far today, which is fantastic and gives my body some much-needed relief. I feel slightly ‘normal’ again, to the point that I can see the distant light at the end of the tunnel. I can now relax and sing along to my favourite songs, knowing that no matter what happens and how bad it seems, there is always going to be something positive at the end of it. I just have to find it!

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