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

Posts tagged ‘Botox injections’

Hospital Investigations

Since I last blogged things have been hectic. I have spent the majority of my days either at the hospital having various investigations carried out, or on the phone to them chasing down followup appointments. This week I have had more bloods taken and an MRI of my brain, eyes and spine with contrast performed. Tuesdays MRI experience seemed a bit surreal. It took 35 minutes, three medical personnel and 7 attempts before I was successfully cannulated as my veins were up to their usual disappearing act. This time allowed for me to internally become quiet anxious at the thought of being in the MRI machine for a minimum  of an hour – in the end it was about one hour twenty. I am generally not a claustrophobic person, but this machine brings that fear out in me, this is most likely exacerbated by the fact that I have to be strapped to the table to ensure my spasms cannot move me around to much and distort the images.

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Taken just after escaping the MRI machine

My stress levels have been through the roof this last week. I have fought so hard over the last four years to be put on a medication regime that allows me to have more control over my body again, and live a relatively normal life. The mere thought that my body may become more of an issue again is distressing. However I am lucky that I have a good support system in place, my family help keep me distracted, my boyfriend is great at talking through my concerns with me, and my councilor has been a fantastic space for me to vent and explore my frustrations at my faulty body.

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Relaxing in Costa after a long day of tests at the hospital

I get the results of my MRI on Monday. So I shall know then whether more investigations need to be carried out or if it is MS.

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Progress; Laughing Through The Pain

As Dystonia Awareness Week draws to a close it is hard not to draw comparisons to previous years. Today is my beautiful sisters 21st birthday; Happy Birthday Eloise! To celebrate we drove down to Portsmouth, where she is studying, to visit her for the day. This is something we do each year for her birthday, and it’s always a fantastic laughter filled day.

The first year we did this was 2013, my Dystonia was still very much new to me and we had not found a treatment regime that worked yet. Due to this I had sunglasses on and off all day as the sunlight was aggravating my blepharospasm, I was wearing several layers and huddled in blankets as the bite of the wind was increasing the severity of my spasms. At this time, I was completely reliant on a wheelchair. I had major trust issues when it came to people pushing me around, I was terrified they would tip me out, so you can imagine how I felt about this.

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2013

Whereas today I got out the car and strolled to my sister’s house; if I had still been in my wheelchair I would not have been able to get through the front door! I was able to enjoy the sunshine without worrying about my eyes, and it was hot enough to not need to layer up. Even though my Botox is a week late I only had a handful of spasms over lunch, and I simply laughed through the pain. I think my mother may have doubted my sanity at this point as she asked me to recite the alphabet backwards to prove I was completely conscious.

Today has been extremely upbeat, it has shown just how far I have progressed thanks to ongoing treatment.

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2016

 

Importance of Utilizing a Support Network

Whether you are ill or not having a support system in place is something everybody needs. Everyone deals with varying difficulties in life, and whilst experiencing these a support network helps keep life ticking over and enabling you to feel like you can cope. Often during difficult times, it becomes very tempting, and easy, to simply shut yourself away from family and friends. I know personally that I would much rather deal with a problem by myself, this is simply because by talking to others the issue feels more real and daunting. However, acknowledging it and making plans to resolve it with people you trust is a key to moving forwards.

When I was first diagnosed with Generalised Dystonia in 2012 I shut myself away from most of my friends; even a trip to Tesco was difficult as I did not want others to see what had become of me and judge me. Reflecting back on this now, I know that this was more a fear of seeing others react to my spasms and having to admit that I really was having to deal with this. A huge chunk of me wanted to pretend it was simply an unpleasant dream. Despite knowing that talking amongst trusted individuals is helpful, I still fall back into bad habits whenever life goes slightly askew.

This past week I have been coming to terms and dealing with some difficult situations outside of Dystonia. Admitting that they happened and needed dealt with was a hugely difficult step, but a necessary one. My botox is a week late this time round, I am receiving it this coming Wednesday, so dealing with a combination of life being more flawed than usual and my spasms progressively increasing in severity, has been more than I felt I could cope with. This is where a support network is vital. Family and friends can help give an outside perspective on how to manage life events, and advise what steps to take. This is an invaluable tool! Sometimes though, you need more than just the loving circle of individuals. Realising this is key. I have just started talking to a councillor. This is something I had hoped I would never have to do again, but it’s been necessary and I know is helpful.

Living life with Dystonia is never going to be easy. I greatly admire every individual who does so. Realising when you need support is not a sign of weakness but of great strength. So please remember to talk to those around you. This condition drives us all barmy, sometimes we need grounding.

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.

Salute to Benedict The Alien

It’s Brain Awareness Week! Whilst I could whittle on to you about the many theories of how exactly the brain develops Dystonia, I figured I would just link you to The Dystonia Society instead as they have explained it in a far more efficient manner than I ever could. The Basal Ganglia theory aside, come Dystonia awareness week I’ll go into that some more. http://dystonia.org.uk/index.php/about-dystonia/dystonia-and-the-basal-ganglia.
Today I want to talk about my brain. Not brains in general, mine.

We are all unique individuals. A huge part of our individuality is our brains: they control our thoughts, motor process, emotions, impulses and so much more. They are the reason we have moments that leave us feeling like the next Shakespeare, and the reason we wake up some days look at our messages and question where on earth our sanity went the night before. After my diagnosis I loathed my brain with a passion that would make Hades quake in his fiery little boots. I was no longer ‘me’. I had new quirks that in all my nineteen years I had never met. I did not know how to love them, laugh at them, let alone tolerate them. Gritting my teeth and swearing out of my mum’s earshot was the best I could do for a rather a long time. It may not seem like the right attitude to have, but it’s what worked for me. I blamed my brain for why my life, which had been darn great up until that point, was crumbling around me. You could superglue me up as much you like, but there was no way the pieces were going to fit back in the same places.

These crumbled bits made a new jigsaw, and what do you know, four years on I have learnt to love my new quirks, love my brain and love every crazy aspect of my life again. My little alien has added another element to it, I’ll admit I still swear at it on a frequent basis, but I laugh far more than I did before. I am surrounded by positive people and I have barrels full of confidence that were worlds away when this little alien took hold and started to disrupt the signals bouncing around my brain. I’m always going to long to be ‘normal’, but I no longer view Dystonia as the alien that ruined my life. It’s now simply an uninvited house guest who is happy to provide entertainment for all.Invisible Illness, Chronic Pain, Chronic Illness, Lupus Awareness, Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, POTS, Hypermobility, Quotes, Chronic Migraine, Chronically Awesome, Chronically Fabulous, Spoonies, Lupies, Lupus Warrior, Fibro Fighter, Epilepsy, Brain Aneurysm, Spoons:

An Exciting Month!

This month is full of opportunities that I never expected to experience. Towards the end of the month I’m going to Amsterdam for a few days with the university, followed by three weeks as an inpatient in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Stanmore. It is an exciting time to say the least.

The publishing trip to Amsterdam shall not only be an insightful opportunity for my course, but shall also allow me to explore how my body will react to travelling. Visiting other countries was a luxury, that when I first became ill in 2012, I thought would have to be swept under the carpet and not thought about again. However, in comparison to four years ago my bundle of conditions are extremely well controlled, instilling me with the confidence to explore this opportunity further. To help ensure that I am as safe as can be my neurologist agreed to administer my Botox a week early to knock unwanted spasms on the head.

Back in 2013 this was me; reliant on a wheelchair with monthly ambulance trips to A&E.

Three years on I’m incredibly lucky to have a regime of medication and injections that enables me to live life to the full. I still need my wheelchair every now and then, but it is no longer a necessity for daily life.

12575854_826427370816377_1942932212_nLess than a week after I return from the trip it is off to RNOH I go for three weeks of intensive rehabilitation for my EDS Type Three. I have been on the waiting list for this stint for almost a year and a half, so I’m a bag of excitement and nerves in anticipation for my admission. My time there should enable me to carry on life with better habits when it comes to using my joints, hopefully that will mean less over extending, and help strengthen the weaker muscles and ligaments.

During my interview for the treatment we discussed what I would like to focus on strengthening, my first answer out of the several I was allowed to give, was my jaw. The combination of EDS and Dystonia means that my jaw comes out of place extremely easily, which inflicts a severe amount of pain. Knowing that jaw physiotherapy will be possible is huge news for me, as this issue is the main factor behind my seizures. Anything that will decrease the amount of subluxations and dislocations for my jaw has the potential to make an incredible difference to my life.

Needless to say I’m counting down the days to go!

Don’t Worry I Won’t Tell Anyone You’re Ill – Disaster Date 2

Everyone says things without thinking sometimes. Often its harmless, and its only afterwards when you are reviewing a conversation that you kick yourself in the teeth and hope it was not taken offensively. More often than not these things can be laughed off. This date happened the other week, and as I sat there attempting to get to know the man across from me, I found myself biting my lip more and more. Now I don’t mean this as a tongue in cheek Fifty Shades reference. It was a preventive measure to stop myself from reacting to several comments that were without thought.

For the first hour and a bit, I gave him numerous passes figuring that these careless remarks were down to nerves. I know from experience that I waffle nonsense when nervous so was prepared to ignore the niggling voice inside me telling me to leave. Eventually I decided to address one sentence that shocked me. ‘Looking at you no-one would know you’re ill, which is great. Don’t worry I would never tell anyone’. I’m sure many of you can imagine the numerous retorts that I had to bite back before answering. A large mouthful of G&T later I addressed this.

I started slowly pointing out that I don’t hide the fact I’m ill. I’ve never hidden this fact, I am not ashamed of the person I am, so I’m not going to start hiding parts of me now. This got me nowhere. So I attempted a different tactic, explaining that when my injections wear off my Dystonia is very much noticeable. Whilst in-between injection dates it is well-controlled, once the Botox loses it effect I have no control over the affected muscles. My explanation fell on deaf ears, all that he picked up on was that I had Botox on a regular basis, which left me defending this choice as he viewed it as a medicine for cosmetic purposes only.

It goes without saying that there will not be not a second date here. While it would have been nice not to have to justify my treatment, I view it as good practice for the next person who chooses not to listen to my explanations.

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

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.

Settling In With Spasms

It’s the end of my first week at university already and I love it here. I spend the majority of my waking moments laughing with my peers and attempting not to get lost. One of the joys about university is the simple fact that I am surrounded by a large increase in people, and this naturally means that there is diversity amongst the student body. Every day so far, I have met someone with a different type of medical condition. This has really helped me to relax and settle in.

12032298_762857283840053_87691901_nTypically my Dystonia hasn’t left me alone but I haven’t let that bother me too much. I twitched the other day and caught a police officer, who luckily was more concerned that I was okay than anything else. Truth be told I was torn between being mortified and trying not to laugh. I was simply embarrassed to the point of laughter. My new friends and flatmates have all seen a couple of spasms now and have handled them really well, mainly with laughter which is all I could hope for.

I phoned the Neurology hospital that I attend and they still have no idea when my next lot of injections will be, which is causing me some concern. My injections are due on 30th September, this would have been the seven week mark so was pushing it as it was. Unfortunately the hospital staff still have no dates to give patients as to when the injections are going to be. My spasms are unfortunately already beginning. My arm never really completely stopped spasming during this cycle. I am keeping my fingers crossed that I get will my injections date sooner rather than later.

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