Terror. That one word sums up how I felt for 7 hours last night. My face had not been good for most the day, and by the evening my tongue didn’t want to stay inside my mouth and my jaw was slightly deviating. This eventually became rather painful so we resorted to Oramorph and I tried to take a nap in the hope of sleeping the spasm off. However the symptoms I woke up to terrified me to the point of tears.
My brain had disconnected from the lower half of my face leaving me functionally paralysed. This meant I could not open my mouth, talk, eat, drink, swallow, take meds etc. I could do nothing, and I could feel nothing. I was terrified. Now I’ve had a similar thing happen to my legs before but whilst that unnerved me I could deal with it as I could communicate what was going on and they always came back fairly quickly. However this time it took 7 hours to come back and with each passing hour I grew more and more scared. I had no idea what to do.
Doctors have no idea why this happens hence the term functional put in front. My neurologist thinks that for me this is my body’s way of coping with pain. When the pain triggers a response from my flight or fight system, my body chooses to flee by shutting itself down. I have no control over this and it scares me. The medication that can help with it I am unable to take as it interacts with other medications that I rely on.
Last nights 7 hours of facial functional paralysis was a new level of fear. I had no idea what to do. I could not communicate my fear. I tried my best to sleep, in the hope that relaxing and resting would help. However I found it very hard to relax and get to sleep. I managed some sleep but it was very on and off, every time I woke up to discover that it was still paralysed I became more unsettled. Thankfully at 3am my brain reconnected and I quickly took all the pain meds I could and went back to sleep.
This morning everything seems to be working, however I am on the weary side of it all, and still rather nervous. I am only eating very soft foods and trying not to talk to much to try to avoid triggering anything else off. Luckily I have an appointment coming up on the 8th with my neurologist so I can discuss this incident with him and get an idea of what to do should this happen again – hopefully it won’t.
I hope that I shall never experience this disturbing symptom again.
Despite it being the third most common movement disorder Dystonia goes almost unknown to the public. It lingers in the shadowy background letting its brothers, Essential Tremor and Parkinson, take the limelight. By slithering along in the back alleys it can prey on its victims with ease, bringing devastation to those it touches. The medical profession cowers in its presence, refusing to open their eyes and admit what they are seeing, they send you to a psychiatrist instead, not understanding that this just gives the Dystonia more time to make itself at home in your body and wreak havoc when it sees fit.
By the time the Consultant realises it is Dystonia, you have already been suffering for so long. The spasms leave you drained from the pain, and you are desperate for any sort of relief. Then it seems like a miracle has happened, the consultant whips out a tiny bottle that brings promises of relief from the spasms, the pain, the fight. A few injections of this will sort you out, he promises, he tells you it won’t cure you and you will need it again in three months. You are over the moon, such a long period of relief seems too good to be true. The consultant, who seems to hold all the answers you have searched for, does not warn you that one day you may be fighting him.
Five weeks into your pain-free period agony grips your jaw, the spasm pushing it across to the point you’re sure it will dislocate. Emotions run through you: anger, sadness, heartbreak, devastation. No one warned you how hurt you would feel when the Dystonia reared his ugly head agony. You count the weeks on your hands repeatedly, this should not have happened for weeks yet. As the reality sinks in that you still have to wait at least 6 more weeks for more of the injections numbness sweeps through you. You feel so tired. A small part of you wants to curl up in a ball on the floor and cry.
You try desperately to contact your consultant but he ignores your pleas for help. Who do you turn to now? There are many open doors you could run through, but which one holds the key to help? Who will help you now? How many more Consultants are going to abandon you after dangling hope in front of you?
Which open door shall I leap through?
Since I posted my blog post about Lyme Disease and Dystonia I have heard from a variety of people who have Dystonia caused by Lyme Disease or have both Dystonia and Lyme Disease. It has been extremely interesting reading people experiences of the two conditions. What has shocked me is how common this ‘rare’ disease seems to be!
I was doing some research on the two conditions earlier today when I stumbled across a blog written by a Lyme sufferer. She, like so may Dystonia sufferers do, has had to fight and battle against the NHS for treatment. Again she unfortunately has had the same experience that many Dystonia sufferers do in that a neurologist misdiagnosed her as having a ‘Functional Movement Disorder’. The more I read about these supposedly rare conditions the more it seems that the moment a doctor feels a little bit out of their depth they slap the label Functional on to their patient without listening and without further testing. From what I have read this often causes sufferers to question themselves! Whilst I understand that some people must have Functional disorders, many people don’t and are wrongly labelled as so, which causes problems when it comes to receiving correct treatment. It is frankly disgusting.
I came across an article earlier today which listed the neurological symptoms of late stage Lyme Disease and I ticked all but one box. Which has raised my hopes just that little bit more, that I may have found the cause to my Dystonia. It even offers a bit of hope that one day with treatment I may be lucky enough to have some improvement.
Today I have felt rather under the weather, with my spasms being completely out of control. This has left me feeling exhausted and craving sleep. I have unwillingly refused to let myself sleep all day in the hope that I will manage to get a decent nights sleep tonight.
Yesterday I had my second reflexology session which was once again heavenly. It left me extremely relaxed and sleepy. I managed to get 12 hours sleep which was very much-needed. I am arranging for my next session to be done in the evening so that afterwards I can snuggle straight into bed and go to sleep. My reflexologist was hopefully that if we did an evening session so I could go to sleep afterwards then the benefits of the session may last a few days longer, which would be fantastic!
I cannot wait for my next session.