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

Posts tagged ‘consultants’

Wheelchair Outings

Over the last few weeks several of my consultants have advised me to stick to bedrest and insisted I use my wheelchair if I choose to go out. With most of my recent trips out mainly being hospital appointments, this wasn’t too hard, and so I didn’t get too worked up about it. I will always be the first to admit that I’m not great at being in a wheelchair, it’s not the lack of independence that bothers me (as the whole point of the chair is countering how dependent on others I am), no my issue comes from trusting no-one, including myself, of being in charge of a wheelchair

These issues come from within, and anyone who has paid witness to my attempts to push myself will agree, I am awful. Spatial awareness and coordination are key components when nailing the art of wheelchair driving; skills I am lacking in. I am surprised shopkeepers don’t barricade the doors when they see me coming so as to preserve their stock. The most impressive incident was in New Look around 3 years ago, the domino’s effect I caused in the sale aisles was comedy gold. Due to my interesting wheelchair skills, I tend to presume that those pushing me will be just as awful as myself, resulting in many ‘please don’t kill me’ panicked expressions whenever they dare to venture near a curb! In my opinion wheelchair driving lessons should be part of the deal when being prescribed one.

Yesterday Damon and I moved into our first home together, so decided to take a trip into town this afternoon to pick up the odd household supply. We’re very lucky that the area we live in is rather flat, it couldn’t be more perfect, this means that I’ll be able to get out and about even when my conditions are severe, which is something that previously would have been impossible. Damon’s quite adept with the wheelchair (we’ve yet to crash in to anything), but that didn’t stop me from pulling hilarious terrified expressions repeatedly whilst we were out today.

 

Happily away from any curbs…reenactment of curb fears

When I was first prescribed my chair, although it provided me with freedom, I found accepting that I needed it hard. In my eyes, it was a reminder of what I was unable to do. Now when I look at it I automatically smile, my fear of it always provides so much laughter, and it enables me to do every day activities, something that I’m extremely grateful for.

Advertisements

Another Referrel

Eye-chartSitting back in the upright, green leather chair, I stare straight ahead at the wall with my left eye covered up, where supposedly I should be able to see two rows of letters. I can’t see a thing. Not even there outline. I can see a white blurry box on the wall but that’s about it. The optician is quite frankly horrified at the deterioration of sight in my right eye. It has only been eight months since my last appointment, this dramatic result shocks us both. I thought my glasses prescription just needed a slight tweak. As it turns out new glasses cannot fix this issue. By the end of the examination she murmurs a simple sentence that chills me. “I need to refer you to the hospital, the muscles in your eye are not working properly”. What?! This was meant to be a routine appointment.

I questioned whether it could be my Dystonia, and while it was a possibility, she was not convinced it was. She explained the three different medical specialists I would most likely see at the hospital, the last being a neurologist. It always seems to end up there.Can I just have a new brain? As it always goes with these things it shall most likely be a wait before I am seen. In the meantime the possibility of another intruder controlling my body, my sight, hangs in the air. If it turns out to be Dystonia then other than piling me with more medication there is very little they can do, as they are unable to inject these particular muscles.

Over the years I have always been told that my left eye has compensated for my right. Its doing this now more than ever. With both uncovered I can see, things get blurry now and then but generally I’m okay. Cover up my left eye and the words in front of me are blurry, I cannot even focus on my own hands! It’s times like these that I want to take the faulty parts of my body out, line them up and just yell at them. Realistically I know it’s not going to get me anywhere, I’ve also banned myself from googling my symptoms, I know it will just tell me I’m  going to die, it’s one of the things google does best! I’d rather wait for hopefully a much more optimistic diagnosis from a Doctor.

So I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not the Dystonia, and that it is a condition that they can easily treat! It would make a nice 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.

Mind and Body: Opposite Ends Of The Spectrum

The difference between my mental and physical capabilities is vast. Dystonia has meant that my health has changed frequently and I have to constantly remind myself that just because I think I can do something doesn’t necessarily mean I can. Those who know me well, know that I tend to think well I’ll give it a go and if I spasm, then I’ll learn from it. Trouble is, my thought pattern then alters to well body, you may have spasmed last time, but if I do it again perhaps you will learn. It is not a smart way to deal with the condition; my neurologist really is a saint for putting up with me.

Mentally I feel no different to how I did before I became ill. If anything I am more determined to do things, to attempt to try to retrain my brain. It may sound slightly out there, but if you can desensitize nerves, then why not reteach the brain movements? I’m determined to get it through to my Dystonia alien, that twitching and throwing things just isn’t polite.

Over the last two weeks I have been far more active than usual. With my exams over and done with, and no revision needing to be done, I have filled my spare time with constant activities.  Part of me is aware of my neuros six weekly reminders to not overdo it. I know that eventually my body will crash and spasm far more than usual, putting me at risk of seizing. It would be far more sensible to pace myself, to do an allotted amount each day. To do this would make my Drs happy, but I doubt it would reassure anyone that I was any safer; friends and family would still be concerned about me. I would still be ‘ill’.

To live my life by allotted sensible slots wouldn’t make me happy. Burning out now and then hurts like mad and I always say that I’ll take more care next time…followed by a laugh because I know I don’t mean this. I love to be as busy as I can. I will never overload myself completely; don’t get me wrong I allow for plenty of down time, chilling with a good DVD, recuperating. But slowing down isn’t for me, I know I’m ill, my body gives me a daily reminder (when the Botox is wearing off) with all the walls I hit, the jaw spasms and mad blinking but I have a lot of living to catch up on. I plan to do just that.

Botox injections

Today I was up in London to see my neurologist to get my six weekly injections. I was looking forward to speaking with him as this time round my botox had been 7 weeks apart. Normally this would have resulted in severe facial, neck and arm spasms but for a change I have been okay. It is only over the last few days that I have felt the familiar tugging sensation around my eyes, jaw and neck. Whilst I have had spasms in these areas it has been easy to cope with. My arm has been spasming/twitching more but still at what I consider an acceptable rate, so I was eager to discuss with him aiming for 7 weeks again. Now as luck would have it he’s not working that day in 7 weeks time, so my appointment is as usual in 6 weeks, but this something I would like to aim for.

I am not fond of needles at all. In fact watching the doctor draw the botox up each time is enough to make me want to run screaming from the room. Every 6 weeks I turn up at the hospital racked full of nerves, if the injections did not make such a big difference on my quality of life then I don’t think I’d go. I trust my neurologist completely however, and after two and a bit years of having him administer my injections I feel confident in his skill. You can imagine how sky high my nerves rocketed today when upon arrival I was informed that my neurologist was absent. The doctor filling in for him was perfectly pleasant, however having never met him before, I found it hard to sit still in the chair whilst he injected me.

Today was my first round of injections since developing Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. On my GP’s advice I tried covering the area that was going to be injected on my back with topical local anaesthetic. I find it hard just wearing clothing over my shoulder/arm at the moment so was dreading having a couple of needles being inserted. As I have mentioned before I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3, this unfortunately means that local anaesthetic does not work for me. I had been hoping that as it was a topical one and not an injection that it would be slightly different and would work, however I discovered very quickly that this was not the case. I cannot describe what my arm has felt like over the last few hours, it has been a mix of a burning and pin and needles sensations. I am hoping that this will die down as the evening wears on.

Hopefully my neurologist will be at my next appointment and we can discuss our next steps.

Unpredictable but Not Alone.

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.

1457668_412844468841338_1892586649_n1463651_412844595507992_1386649138_n

Doctors, Star Wars, Horses and More!

This week has been rather busy, which has left me feeling tired but extremely happy. On Monday I visited my GP to seek some advice. To be honest he was not really able to give me any, however I expected this. I explained to him the disastrous trip to A&E the other weekend and asked if he could give us any advice for if this happened again. Whilst he was shocked by the treatment we had received, he was unable to offer any advice about what we should do the next time this happens. On the bright side he has said that we can continue to use the muscle relaxant that we were given on the Friday in emergency situations as a last resort. We are still waiting to hear back from my neurological consultant in regards to advice/explanation on why the sudden change in presentation etc.

On Wednesday I had a couple of friends round, and I had a really good laugh with them. It felt so good to feel ‘normal’. I spent the day laughing and watching Star Wars with them, which was pretty much perfect!

Yesterday I was well enough to go back to riding after having to have a week away from it. I was  completely ecstatic! The lesson went extremely well, and I managed to do more rising trot than I have managed to do before which was incredible! The horse I ride, Connie, is extremely patient, which gives me so much confidence, as I feel that my spasming limbs will not cause to much of an issue. I came home from riding covered in so much of Connie’s hair that I was beginning to look a bit like a horse myself.

Last night I attended the penultimate pain support/management/research group. As usual it was fantastic and I had a good laugh with everyone and left it feeling very relaxed. I have suggested to the group that once it finishes we arrange to meet once a month for a coffee, so that we can all continue to support each other. It is something that they all liked the sound of as we have get on so well together.

Today I am exhausted, however I am glad of this. I am not used to lots of stimulation so after having a busy few days, I am going to relax and take it easy. I also have a busy weekend planned with friends visiting me on Saturday and Sunday. This week has been perfect and I have felt so ‘normal’ through-out it. I am an extremely happy girl.

The following quote/image, is one that I say over and over to myself every time I feel like I am being defeated or that things are hopeless. Just because I have not managed to cope today does not mean that tomorrow will be the same. Tomorrow I could think of something else to try/do. I just need to keep on smiling. As long as there’s a smile on my face then I know I am winning.

 

The Battle against my Foot, the Doctors and my Brain.

When you wake up in the morning, what do you? Do you mentally wrestle with yourself to throw back your warm duvet cover, swing your legs out into the unwelcoming cold, stand up and start your day? This is a simple task. One you do every day without thinking about it.

For me, simple is not an applicable word for this every day task. Most days my mother wakes me up to give me my first cocktail of medications for the day. I stay in bed, at the moment for breakfast, as venturing outside of the safety of my mattress is a dangerous move to make. When I eventually have to get out of bed, it involves me calling for my mum to help. Once I have managed to get to the edge of the bed, my mum takes one arm and my step-dad or sibling will take the other.  They support me/attempt to prevent me from falling as I try to walk.

At the moment when my right foot is forced to try and work normally, it fights back hard. Often winning. My toes curl them-selves under, my foot flips over so that the top of it scraps painfully along the floor. And then to put the icing on the cake, it will twist in unnatural painful positions, as it protests violently against my will.

For me, at the present time, getting up and moving is an exhausting task. One that fills me with dread every time I need the loo, or have to move to a different room. Each time I attempt to move around, I try to clear my mind from panic. I tell myself over and over again, that this time  it might just be different, I might manage to walk a few steps, like I was doing before Christmas. I fill my head with positive thoughts. However when my foot then starts to contort, it is physically and emotionally draining.

I wish the doctors could see me like this. See me at home, when I am out of my wheelchair. Where a small glitch in my brain makes me vulnerable in my own environment. Where I struggle to walk one step, where my family catches me when I collapse, where my family protect me from my surroundings when the pain causes me to have a Seizure. Where they could see that I need help now and not in a years time!

However I must remain positive, I must focus on the fact that before Christmas, I was slowly making progress, and learning to walk again. The fact I started to walk, reassure’s me that I will again. Until then I just have to suck it up and deal with it. I must be pro-active. So I shall blog , I shall write letters, and I shall make the doctors and the politicians listen. I shall make them understand just how life changing and debilitating Dystonia is and I shall make them take action! I shall not remain silent!

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.

Musings on my Dystonia and the NHS

Today is one of those days where I find myself  thinking about everything. The other day I had to inform my university that I would not be able to return to my midwifery training because of my Dystonia. I still have to speak to them a bit more about it in the next few days. Yet sitting here right now, my body is completely behaving, I feel normal. I feel like I am able to just get up and walk about and do what ever I want. Part of me even dares to say you’re fine. However I know I am not fine, yesterday evening I went blind three times, my jaw was in spasm and my body was very jerky. I know that the reality is that I am not fine or ‘normal’, but my body at this very moment in time feels like I am.

A large part of me wants to just get up and walk about and see what happens, I know that there is a huge chance that my right leg shall immediately play up and I will end up on the floor, but then again if I don’t try these sort of things out, how will I ever know what I can and cannot do, or what progress I may have made.

My consultant, when I first met him, gave me the impression he was wonderful and would fix me. The reality of it has finally sunk in, unless you’re sitting in front of a consultant or doctor the chances are that unless you fight them they will do bugger all for you. The way I see it right now is that I have two choices, I could spend my days feeling sorry for myself and waiting until October/ November next year to get treatment or I could start pushing my body a little bit further everyday and start trying to retrain my brain myself.

Over the last few weeks I have tried to push myself, so far it has been successful 98% of the time. I can now use my right hand to hold a spoon, I can stand with my right foot flat for about a minute or two which is a huge step. I am making what I think are huge positive step forwards and that is without the help of doctors or consultants, the people who should be helping me! I have also noticed that I tend to go blind when I feel like my eyes are straining, the obvious solution to this in my mind, is to go to the options and get some new glasses, so my eyes don’t have to strain so much, after all there is no harm in trying and it may stop the blindness.

What irritates me the most is that I am having to struggle through this and try to figure out how to beat Dystonia with very little help from the medical profession. They are the people who should be giving me ideas of how to help myself, or new things to try etc, yet their not doing any of this, I am lucky if they even return my calls or emails. The care the NHS provides shocks me constantly, I feel completely abandoned by them. However I will  not settle for this level of care. I plan on doing my best to bringing attention to the failings of the NHS system.

 

Tag Cloud