Fighting Dystonia, Chronic Lyme, EDS Type 2 & more… any questions?

Posts tagged ‘family’

Three Becomes Four

As some of you may already be aware of from my other social media channels, we are delighted to announce that we are expecting our second child this summer. I had many concerns at the start of my pregnancy due to my previous poor experience in having my health insufficiently managed whilst I was pregnant with my son. This naturally left me with many worries as it was not an experience that I wish to repeat. My current GP is incredibly supportive and refreshingly up-to-date with his knowledge on my mix of conditions which has meant that so far *touch wood* although the pregnancy is complicated it has gone much smoother than we had expected.

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I decided to take a few steps back from my blog in the beginning months. My health was really not great and whilst normally I would process how this was impacting me by writing about my experience here I didn’t want to blog about the pregnancy until we were past the halfway point; nor did I want to write half stories. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting blogs reflecting on the different things I experienced in this time. I’ll be touching on being your own advocate to doctors, the emotional trauma/impact of going through surgery without anesthesia or pain relief, and acceptance when doctors tell you your the worse case they’ve seen but there’s nothing more they can do for you. The last few months have been easier than my first pregnancy yet extremely hard in their own way.

I’m currently awaiting the results of further testing as once again my cardiac problems have reared their ugly head. I spend most days with a resting heart rate of 130+. It’s uncomfortable, to put it mildly. We recently discovered that the type of EDS I was originally diagnosed with was incorrect and that I actually have Classical Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome which may explain my current cardiac complications. I have a few more tests to go before we know more.

This has been a very quick overview of the last few months which I apologize for, but there’s a whole series of posts coming soon.

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Redefining Pacing Parameters

Since my latest flare up began I’ve been taking extra care to make sure I acknowledge my accomplishments no matter how small each day and attempting to redefine my pacing parameters.  This is a key tool for me to keep in mind at all time. Mainly as it enures I acknowledge my further limitations during a flare up and act accordingly, but also as it keeps me focused on the positives and prevents me getting tuck in a emotional rut which often occurs in flare ups.

I had a wonderful opportunity as part of my publishing internship yesterday to direct and film an interview with an author signed to the publishing house. It was a fantastic experience that I thoroughly enjoyed.  However like all things it required spoons, and far more than I had anticipated. Despite my lack of spoon saving preparation I got through the day relatively intact and the repercussions didn’t kick in until today.

This is where I feel like I’ve made leaps and bounds in handling life with chronic illnesses. I didn’t attempt to struggle through the pain today, or go to the other extreme and do nothing (although sometimes this is needed); instead I decided we would go about our day as planned but I would use my wheelchair the whole time, with baby snug in his sling against me, and Dame pushing me rather than me risking dislocating a joint or three by self propelling.

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We only nipped out for a short while as avoiding over stimulation is key on days when I feel my health is on a downward kilter. So a relaxing jaunt to the local coffee house and then onto Waitrose was our plan. I was quite overjoyed to find a wheelchair friendly trolley. A rare treat, that has quiet made my day.

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5 Years On

I can’t believe we’ve reached 5 years since my battle with my Dystonia Alien began.  I wouldn’t say time has flown by but I have certainly survived far better than I had anticipated at the start. In the beginning I struggled to picture a day ahead yet alone 5 years down the line. I was by no means depressed I just couldn’t imagine living with this condition for any length of time. Each hour was filled with pain, each month was taken up with ambulance after ambulance trip to the local resus department. If you had told me in 2012 that in 5 years time I would be typing this sitting next to my partner in our flat with a new baby I would have scoffed. It didn’t seem like a life I would ever be able to have.

Looking back on the first year of Dystonia I find myself thankful that even though I still have my spasms, my wonderful neurologist has found a combination of injections and medications that work for me. Life is in no way easy, pain is still a rather constant companion, but I have far more control over my limbs than I ever expected to have.

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My bad days, pictured above, are thankfully better controlled

I’m happy to say I no longer struggle to imagine the next day or year coming, nor do I dread the coming days anymore. Now I find myself excitedly looking forward and making plans for life post university, writing my next book and jumping without worry at any opportunity  presented to me. I acknowledge that I’m always going to have my struggles, but with multiple health conditions that’s to be expected. Despite, and because of my Dystonia, my days are filled with laughter and joy. What more could I want

It’s amazing  I don’t rattle, but all these pills keeping me ticking along.

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.

Adjusting to Dystonia

When you become ill with Dystonia there are a lot of changes you have to make to your life. Mentally you often feel like you can still go out for that morning run, or dance the night away with your mates. The reality is extremely different. No two days are the same and spasms can cause simple daily tasks such as getting dressed to take hours upon hours.

Whenever I visit my Neurologist or my GP they both tell me to slow my life down and take things easy so as to give my body a bit of a break. They have been giving me this same piece of advice for over two years now. I know I should take their advice on board. After all they would not repeatedly tell me it if it was not necessary, however I find that I feel so determined/ stubborn to live as normal a life as possible that taking it easy just doesn’t seem to feel right.

I know that realistically my body would most likely thank me if I started taking it easy more often. Pushing the boundaries over and over only results in pain, I know that. However there is some small part of me that each time hopes that this will be the time I will achieve just that bit more. Instead my body goes in to hideous spasms that I have too spend a few days recovering from each time.

I think adjusting your life after diagnosis is one of the hardest parts of the illness. It’s not just your work life, but also your family and social life that are impacted. Having to explain to people that you yet again cannot do something because of Dystonia is incredibly disheartening, it helps if you are surrounded by people who understand and support you. At times it is not the spasms that prevents you from taking part but the fatigue from the treatment. I find the medication leaves me half asleep, which in turn impacts every aspect of life.

I have been living and adapting to the condition for around two and a half years now. I’m not sure if you can ever really adjust to it. I don’t plan on ever slowing down. I enjoy my life too much. I believe the best way to cope with this hideous condition is to take each minute as it comes.

To find out more about how my Dystonia started check out my VLOG https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV_L-9vCGPw&feature=autoshare

London Marathon 2014

Last Saturday my family and I went up to London to watch my cousin David and his lovely friend Sam run the Marathon to raise money for the Dystonia Society. It was such an amazing day. We were extremely lucky with the weather, and managed to get a fab viewing spot at the halfway mark. This was perfect as not only did it enable us to have a great view of everyone but it also meant we had a chance to grab David as he ran past and take a quick photo with him.

I’m thrilled to say that David and Sam have achieved their sponsorship target and have raised over £3000 for the Dystonia Society which is just incredible.  I had never met Sam before so it was fantastic to finally meet her at the celebratory dinner. Watching them run was so emotional and inspirational and I extremely thankful to them both for taking on such a huge feat.

Blog Birthday!

I have been blogging for a year today! I started my blog to help raise awareness of Dystonia and what it is like to live with it. I was inspired to do this as when I first became ill and got the diagnosis I realised just how unknown this condition is among both the public and the medical society. I decided I wanted to educate as many people as possible about Dystonia, and blogging seemed like the best starting point as society use the internet and social media so much.

Since I started this blog I have had many highs and lows, I have fought to get help, I have had many ambulance trips, and experienced so much more. If you told me a year ago how completely different my life would be as to when I started this blog I would have been adamant about my inability to cope with being in a wheelchair and would have been terrified. Now I admit I have been terrified on many occasions especially when the Dystonia spread through my body, and I don’t like being in a wheelchair, however Dystonia has made me a much stronger person and has inspired me to do my utmost to spread awareness .

I knew when I started this blog that I would have to be extremely honest in everything I wrote and not sugar coat any negative experiences as that would be counterproductive. I have tried my best to write an equal amount of positive and negative posts, however Dystonia is an unpredictable thing and it does not care whether it bring tears to my eyes with laughter or with pain. Many blog posts have been hard to write, such as when writing about my legs being affected by Dystonia I found myself in tears.

Blogging to raise awareness is just the beginning. It has been a flicker of light in the bleak unknown that surrounds the condition but if all of you who read my blog, go on to share it on your Facebook or Twitter etc then that glimpse of light shall slowly become a burning torch, which will enable change to start taking place. Change needs to happen so that Dystonia is no longer a condition hiding in the shadows of its neurological brothers. The more awareness there is, the more help sufferers shall get and the more likely it is that a cure shall be found.

I would like to say big thank-you to my family who have put up with disruptions at all times of the day and night, care for me, support me, and keep me strong. I don’t know how I would cope without you all. An especially big thank-you to my mum, who has been my rock and has put up with my tears and frustration, I love you so much!

I want to also say thank-you to all the sufferers who have supported, given me coping tips and kept me sane! Especially Karen, Shannan, Andrea and Pamela – you guys are amazing!

 

Summer Achievements

I spend 99% of my time shut up in my room due to Dystonia. Throughout the months leading up to this summer I was concerned as to how my body was going to react as bright light triggers my eye spasms (I am unable to currently wear my sunglasses or glasses as it causes a facial spasm) and I have to be careful in the sunlight as my antibiotics for suspected Lyme Disease causes light sensitivity. I had been thinking for a while now that I was just going to have accept that I would be having to spend the whole of the summer indoors.

It turns out I need not have been so pessimistic. This week I have been out in the garden several times with my family, family friends and had two BBQ’s. I was overjoyed to be out socializing with our family friends. We made sure I was in the shade so that both my body and eyes were protected. It was perfect and I had such a great time.

This achievement has left me thrilled as it has reassured me that I can enjoy this summer and the summers to come without worry. I only have to be a bit careful and that’s not much of an issue. Being out in the warmth and socializing has really lifted my spirits and left me feeling overjoyed and calm.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of the summer has in store.

 

Struggles develop strength!

I have recently noticed that in life we underestimate our own strength and the strength of others. If you had told me two years ago that I was going to rely on a wheelchair, have seizures and suffer from agonising spasms every day, I would have told you that there was no way on earth I could deal with that. I also would have been terrified about the impact it would have on my family, my mum works full-time and studies for a degree, my step dad works full-time, my youngest sister is about to start her GCSE’s, my brother is just about to do his last GCSE’s exams and my other sister is just about to start her last A level exams, none of them would need me causing problems.

However now we are living that reality and strangely we are managing to cope. It is extremely hard and some days I have no idea how we are managing to deal with it all, but at the end of the day it does not matter how we are dealing with it, the fact that we are somehow coping is all that matters. I often feel like we are treading water and that at any minute something could go wrong, but it doesn’t.  Yes we have the odd incidence that knocks us back but as a family we support one another and that is what keeps us afloat.

There have been many evenings where my youngest sister, who is 14, has sat on my bed supporting my head and making sure that I don’t hurt myself while I seize or spasm. This sometimes upsets me because my 14-year-old sister should not be taking care of me, I should be taking care of her! Yet she is amazing and has the strength to do this, and she makes me laugh when ever I regain consciousness. My other sister and my brother have both also helped me on countless occasions. They are 16 and 18, again I want to look after them, however that’s not the reality right now.

The strength of my family amazes me everyday. Take this morning for example, I spent an hour and a half seizing and spasming on the kitchen floor, my mum also spent that time on the floor making sure I didn’t hurt myself. The rest of my family helped out, and then went around their own business like it was completely normal. I am so happy that incidences like this can be treated as normal as it takes away the ‘scary’ aspects of it.

I can’t imagine having to fight Dystonia on my own, and I am in awe of the people who do so everyday! Everything I have gone through over the last 10 months has been made so much easier by my family, I am so thankful that I have such strong, caring people in my life.

You never really know how strong you are until life decides to test you. A lesson I have learned from Dystonia is  never to doubt your inner strength, leap at every opportunity and fight with all your might every day. If you doubt yourself and back out you will never know what you are capable of doing. So embrace life and leap through every open door.

 

Easter Day + Consultant news

Every Easter my family and our family friends go Egg Rolling. It’s always a great morning out. We decorate our hard-boiled eggs and then compete to see whose roles furthest without smashing. I was slightly worried about how my egg would look considering my hand hates my holding pens, however despite my hand spasming my egg turned out pretty well.

We went up to the local woods, and took the supposedly wheelchair friendly path round. I went wrapped up in several layers of clothes, two blankets and had two hot water bottles on me. It was so cold that snow from several days ago was still on the ground. I am happy to report that I survived the cold despite a few spasms and seizures – that’s another point to me Dystonia alien. It was so nice to be out and about.

Above is a picture of my egg. I’m rather proud of how well it turned out despite my spasming hand :-).

I am also happy to report that my consultant has been in touch and has agreed to administer botox injections to my jaw tomorrow! I am still waiting to find out a time, however I am extremely relieved to know that it can be done so quickly! I shall take advantage of this appointment to discuss with him the recent sudden changes in my condition.

I am exhausted but feeling much happier knowing that tomorrow I get to see my consultant!

 

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