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

Posts tagged ‘battle’

Week 7 – Agony

imagesI’m currently on week seven of my Botox cycle. My injections are not being administered for another week due to a mistake (lets presume it’s a mistake and not my new neurologist being devious, because being frank I would not put it past him). I should be in bed asleep right now. Normally I would currently either be asleep or out with friends. Instead I am medicated to the extreme, I have lavender wheat bags heated up wrapped round my neck, and resting along my jaw and heat packs stuck along my back. To say I’m in agony would be an understatement.

I have resorted to taking Oramorph, a medication I try my best to avoid, however I would much rather give in and take it than have a seizure (click here to read what a seizure is like), and right now I’m concerned that with the amount of pain I am in that I will have one. My brain is not staying connected to my mouth tonight, functional paralysis is something I have suffered from for a few years now, but it has never ceased to terrify me. I understand that it is simply my brain being unable to cope with the amount of pain I am in, so it disconnects from the affected part but it is an unnatural experience that no matter how much I attempt to laugh off unnerves me.

Tonight my jaw is particularly bad, and is frequently being functionally paralysed leaving me unable to verbally communicate. It may seem like a small thing to some, but when you are trying to desperately to get any part of your mouth; whether that be your lips, tongue, just anything, to move and they won’t, apart from when they spasm, its horrendous.  I cannot yell for help if I need it, I cannot cry in frustration or call someone to talk too to distract myself. I am stuck with my jaw spasming, distorting itself in ways that should not be possible, threatening to dislocate, and all I can do is cry silent tears, pray that I do not have a seizure and use this blog as an outlet for my pent-up frustration with this crushing condition.

I have a 9am lecture tomorrow morning. Which I am determined to attend, most likely in a wheelchair for my own safety, one of my close friends has agreed to take me there which has helped put my mind at rest. For now it is back to attempt sleep and hope that my little Dystonia Alien allows me some rest

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Using My Wheelchair At Uni

12076411_769374493188332_1203309027_oToday was the first time I have had to give in and use my wheelchair at uni. I had anticipated that today would be harder than usual as I had traveled to London yesterday for my routine injections. My body always reacts badly to them for the first 24 to 48 hours, normally this leaves me in a lot of a pain and with an increase in spasms, which with a mix of painkillers and muscle relaxants I can manage. I therefore had not expected to fall over when getting out of bed this morning. My back and neck had gone into a hideous spasm and my brain had functionally paralysed both legs and my left arm. I spent half an hour lying on the floor like this, debating what to do. I gave myself an hour in which if I managed to get dressed I would venture to uni in my wheelchair and braces, and if I was still on the floor I would ring the Wardens.

I felt extremely proud of myself that it only took half an hour to get dressed this morning despite my brain fighting me, this must be a new personal best. I admit that as I braced the majority of my body I was extremely nervous. My peers are aware that I am ill, but they have never seen me like this, I had no idea how they or my lecturers would react. Within minutes of being in uni my nerves were swept away. Not only did no-one bat an eyelid, but people helped me when I needed it without me even asking.

Part of me had strongly wanted to not go in to uni today. I was worried of what others would think, and how I would physically cope, I had already had several draining days and was concerned that this on top would be too much.  I am extremely glad that I took the leap, and forced myself to go. It will help keep my mind at rest the next time my brain decides that a day of alternating between spasms and paralysis would be fun.

Moving Day

12025935_761678247291290_633906675_oToday I moved into my halls of residence at Oxford Brookes University. Saying goodbye to my family was incredibly hard. On countless occasions they have helped me through painful spasms and watched over me during my seizures. However sitting here in my new bedroom now after promising my mum that I would be careful and look after myself, I feel immensely happy. I have been battling for three long years, but now that I have finally reached a place where I can cope with my symptoms myself most of the time, I have won.

I cannot wait for Wednesday when our introductory lectures start, but in the meantime I look forward to having some time to go out and explore Oxford.

Exploring Boundaries

Before I became ill I frequently had periods away from home. Whether that was holidays with friends, slumber nights with mates or living in halls at university during term time. Having independence rudely snatched away by Dystonia has been something I have had difficulty adjusting to. To a degree you could say I have refused to adjust to it and have enjoyed pushing my boundaries even if they landed me in hospital.

At times rolling over, bowing down to my alien and declaring its victory, has been tempting. However I’m a stubborn person, a trait that I am rather sure is one of the reasons I have come as far as I have in my battle against my many illnesses. Up until this weekend I had not spent a night away from my family (my mum has always slept at the hospital with me) due to the severity, complexity, and erratic nature of my health. Over the last year we have finally found a combination of medication and regular injections that has helped to manage my symptoms enough to give me a better quality of life. So I decided to embrace this new found stability (though I shall admit I still have some unexpected moments, and have almost hit my boyfriend on a few occasions), and spent the weekend in Manchester visiting two of my old flatmates.

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My flatmates Emily and Rachel are very close to my heart. I see Rachel several times a month as we live seconds away from each other still, but Emily I haven’t seen since 2012 though we have kept in touch. They were both there for me in uni when my body started going downhill, and have spent numerous occasions in hospital with me at silly o’clock in the morning. To have my first time spent away from my family be with these two girls meant a lot to me. It was also quite reassuring as they have both done their nursing training, so I was in safe hands!

Today I am shattered, after a full on weekend with the girls, a subtle reminder that although it feels like no time has passed since we last were all together I’m slightly more fragile than I was back then.

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 .

Life is a Lottery

I love this quote, and for me it rings true, I may only be at the beginning of my storm but I am already a stronger person for it. It can be applied to anyone and everyone as we each go through our own ‘storms’ at different times in our lives. The struggles we experience, no matter how big or small they are, change us. They allow us to develop and change so that we are stronger, so that we can carry on with our heads held high, it gives us the knowledge that no matter what life throws at us we can and we will beat it every time.

In life people always ask themselves ‘why me?’ or ‘why now?’, next time you feel like asking those questions stop and breath, understand that those questions will not solve anything. You just need to battle your way through to the other side of the storm. It will be hard, but if you give up, you won’t see the wonders that are waiting for you on the other side.

Life is truly a lottery, some of us soar through life with ease and others battle endlessly. However at the end of the day, what will be will be. All you can do is battle on with the knowledge that you are fighting for a reason, that things will get better, and you will conquer every storm life throws at you.

Life Challenges: Would you fight or would you run?

At 20 years old I didn’t expect to feel like my world was crumbling around me. I thought that I would be out clubbing with my friends, or trying to stay awake during a night shift on placement. I expected to be having the time of my life. The reality is extremely different to the expectations I had.

Today I felt like life was trying to show me just how difficult it could make my life. I knew this weekend would be a hard one anyone due to personal things, however it has so far been hell. Yesterday afternoon until I went to bed, my hand did an extremely painful spasm, that resulted in me having hours of Non Epileptic Seizures, with only a few seconds of consciousness in between. Then today I have spent the majority of the day unconscious having seizures. Again these were caused by a bad hand spasm.

I feel like every bit of normality I had (e.g uni, relationship, walking, freedom) has been cruelly snatched away from me. I have to fight constantly with different government departments, with the NHS, and with my own brain. I won’t ever give up, but at the same time I am already very emotionally and physically tired.

Today due to spasms and seizures I have not been able to get out of my bed. I have felt so many emotions, such as anger and sadness, in some ways I feel as if today has defeated me. Now I know I will get up tomorrow and continue to fight, but I should not have to fight! Days like today I dread because of the way I feel physically and emotionally. I am lucky that bad days are few and far between. I have not felt this bad since January 1st. I will never stop fighting Dystonia, just like I will always campaign to raise awareness of it.

I keep thinking how silly it is of me to get so upset over everything that has happened to me. I could be so much worse off. I guess in a way I am grieving for the life I had, whilst carefully trying to create some degree of normality for myself. Life challenges us all in different ways. Whether we run screaming away from them at the top of our lungs or battle it with all we have, is up to the individual. For me I shall battle on, whilst knowing that on some days Benedict is going to have won and I am going to be unable to cope, but that is just at that moment in time. Who knows how I will feel the next day or the next month or even the next year! I need to learn when to accept defeat for that day and start preparing myself to battle on the next.

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Consultant News and Meditation.

Yesterday evening I finally received an email from my consultant saying he would see me next Tuesday at 1pm! I am so happy, it will be such a relief to have the Botox done, so that my Ormandibular Dystonia will not cause me any pain for a few months. Another bonus is that when the jaw pain eases off, so do my Non Epileptic Seizures! I am going to have a word with him while I am there, about what I do when the Botox wears off next time, as I find it unacceptable to have to battle for so long to get seen!

Over the past couple of months I have read a lot of articles to do with meditation helping with Dystonia. In most cases stress aggravates Dystonia, so doctors often advise their patients to try to live a ‘calm and stress free life’. This is rather ironic, considering that Dystonia causes stress itself due to the pain it inflicts and its life changing nature. This is where meditation comes in, particularly Mindful Meditation. It is all about sitting or lying down comfortably (I know this is often the hard bit to do for Dystonia Sufferers) and trying to focus on the present moment, feeling calm and relaxed.

When I first heard about Mindful Meditation, I was not sold by it, I was very dubious as it seemed a bit ‘fluffy’. However after reading more into it and reading claims that it really did help keep  stress levels down which in turn calmed  Dystonia down a bit, I found myself thinking why not. I am at the point where I shall try anything, if it means that I can have some sort of slight relief from my Dystonia.

I ended up scouring Amazon for books on meditation, Mindful meditation in particular, until I found three, that not only looked like what I wanted, but had a lot of positive reviews as well. I brought Living well with Pain and illness by Vidyamala Burch, Relaxation for Dummies (also comes with a fab CD to guide you through your meditation) and Heal Yourself by Anne Jones (I am just about to start reading this one).

After spending a few days reading through Living well with Pain and Illness, and Relaxation for Dummies, I decided to try meditating for the first time last night. I put on the CD provided to help guide me through it. As it was my first time meditating, I chose to do the shortest one first. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I had started the meditation in a lot of pain due to my jaw spasm, and was feeling rather stressed over it. However by the end of it I was feeling fairly relaxed. I was still in a lot pain, but I was not stressing  as much over it.

Research shows that after a few weeks of doing mindful meditation, that the brain actually shows a physical difference when scanned  The majority of scans show the stress section of the brain has actually shrunk, and the positivity section was lit up/grown. I am going to attempt to meditate twice a day for two months. At the beginning and end of the meditation, I am going to document how I feel and how my dystonia is. Then at the end of these two months I will compare how I am at the end of the ‘experiment’ to the beginning of it. It shall be an interesting and hopefully positive experience.

The Battle Against My Neurological Demons!

Today has involved yet another fierce battle against my Dystonia and my Non Epileptic Seizures. A battle which is still yet to be won. I try to defend myself against my neurological demons by sitting up as slowly as possible  attempting to use distraction techniques as I attempt each task, but so far my neurological demons are one step ahead of me, constantly ready to launch their next attack on my body.

I am spending most the day in bed at the moment, to recover from Tuesdays incident. Just to get up to go to the toilet is almost impossible. 9 out 10 times just by sitting up a seizure will happen, this then means I have to try to sit up again, which is rather painful due to the sprains and soft tissue damage caused by Tuesdays fall and seizures. Once I have won the battle to get up, my mother and one of my siblings have to help me walk to the toilet and back. This can take a long time in itself as if I collapse and seize on the way there, I find it extremely hard and painful to get back up.

We  are still unsure of how many seizures I am having, as some of them I am completely unaware of. My body hurts a lot but my head is the worst. I feel dizzy often and have a constant feeling of there being too much pressure in my head. I feel like someone needs to put a needle into my head and drain out whatever is causing it. It is a rather painful feeling.

This battle for control is very physically and emotionally draining. I desperately want back the control of my body, but my Neurological demons seem to have other plans for me at the moment. I am hoping that my consultant (when he bothers to get back to us) will be able to provide us with some advice.

 

Another fierce battle for control

Today i decided to attempt the dangerous  task of straightening my hair. A task that to most is rather simple and requires very little brain power. For me it involved a fierce battle between myself and the alien, both of us fighting for control of my face, right arm and hand.

Have you ever tried straightening your hair, whilst your arm and the hand that you would normally use is stuck in a painful spasm behind your head? For those of you who are fortunate enough not to have experienced this, i can assure you it is not an easy task. After a long twenty minutes I gave in to the little alien, feeling rather proud of myself. My hair was not great but I had made a darn good attempt. A small win over the alien.

So far the alien is winning the majority of our frequent battle, but I am slowly catching up. 

 

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