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

Posts tagged ‘Infectious disease’

When I Was bitten By A Dragon…

Yes that’s right Dr, at the tender age of six I was bitten by a mythological creature. Within six months of this terrifying beast having a chew on my thigh you diagnosed me with M.E. You had exhausted all other diagnostic criteria. Not once did you consider that something so dramatic as a dragon bite may have occurred. Had you have taken a thorough medical history maybe right from the start you would have suspected Lyme Disease, perhaps you would have treated me and cured me of this hideous illness straight away. But how silly of me. You are a Dr, you do not deal in the likes of maybes, possibilities and mythological creatures; only cold hard facts, ones that fit nicely into your tick boxes.

Over the last 17 years do you know how many times your kind have uttered the words “It would appear you have X, but I am unsure because you just don’t fit into any of these boxes exactly!” Since when did the boxes become so rigid and unadaptable, are we not all unique individuals with our own mix of conditions that affects us all in varying ways? If as people we are so unpredictable in the way a condition may manifest, why then are your boxes so unforgiving. Only Monday of this week the Dr sat there trying to decide whether to diagnose me with inflammation of the optic nerve in both eyes or inflamed retinas in both eyes. Frankly the lovely woman was lost, I had her quiet confounded. She could see plainly that I was rather ill, her barrage of tests confirmed that, but not one of them could put their finger on as to why. I sat there quietly next to my mother, both of us whispering “The dragon bit me 17 years ago, but you don’t believe in Chronic Lyme Disease.”

Now replace the word dragon with a tick. This small seemingly insignificant creature is known to carry, in many cases, Lyme Disease. A disease that more often than not will report a false negative during testing due to the lack of accurate testing methods available. Oh but a lumbar puncture would pick it up you say? Yes, it sometimes does, but my neurologist swears me away from it for fear of making my Dystonia worse. One hospital says we will give you IV antibiotics that you need to cure you but we will only do this if you have an L.P, another admits they are 100% certain I have chronic Lyme but their hands are tied due to regulations that are out of date and blinded with inaccuracies.

Chronic Lyme is often hailed as the Great Pretender. You only have to look at me to see why. Here I am in another flare up of symptoms, attempting to treat each one as it appears. Its distressing really, knowing that IV antibiotics would cure but regulations prevent this as I’ve had both positive and negative results. So in the meantime it’s a guessing game of what will subdue the next round of symptoms for now.

If only Drs believed in mythological beasts like Dragons and Lyme Disease.

lyme2

Advertisements

Reaching My Christmas Goal

I haven’t posted anything in almost a month as I have been bursting with such amazing news that I wanted to share around Christmas. As many of you know each year since I got ill in 2012 my goal has been to be able to walk by Christmas. It never mattered to me whether that was with the use of splints, walking sticks etc., as long as I was up and out of my wheelchair and back in control of my legs. Thanks to the private hospital I am under who are treating me for Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease I now know how much of my body is Lyme and how much is Dystonia. I am absolutely thrilled to say that my jaw, neck and my arm twitches/jerk spasms are all of me that is Dystonia; I could cry with happiness just writing that as I am extremely lucky that these three are controlled well by injections and medication.

I’m still having a lot of physiotherapy to help me learn to walk, and due to my EDS type 3 I have to wear a number of splints on my legs to help support my joints. I even have funky pink polka dot walking sticks. I’ve got a lot to learn still as due to my damaged ankle ligaments I fall over a lot, this recently resulted in a dislocated finger and broken tendon. However that is minor in comparison to the joy I feel. The private hospital I am under have decided to prescribe me another 3 months of medication, along with running several new tests, but that’s a separate blog post for the New Year.

My neurologist has been so supportive, when he first met me I was unable to walk and even attempting to stand was rather risky. It is great to be able to go for my injections and see how thrilled he is for me. He is pretty sure that the Chronic Lyme is what caused my Dystonia due to damage it can do to the brain. Although the spasms I am left with are painful, and my Oromandibular Dystonia can cause my jaw to dislocate, my symptoms are much more manageable now than what they were!

On that positive note I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Fantastic New Year! I shall be back to my regular blogging self in the new year.

Let’s Talk About Meds!

I recently got approached by an American company asking me if I would be willing to blog about my medicine. I was very willing to do so and this is something I am very open about. Medicine is great, it can cure illnesses, take away pain and help us manage our conditions. Now obviously this depends on the type of illness and type of medication prescribed by your doctor. For me, some of my medicine will eventually cure me of Lyme Disease, other medicine helps me to manage my Dystonia and a handful of pills keeps my pain levels under control.

One of the key things about medication is drug interactions. Most Doctors will check before prescribing you a new medication that it does not interact with another, however some forgot to do this. I have experienced this once before when a muscle relaxant I was prescribed to help with extreme muscle spasms interacted badly with a pain-killer I was taking regularly. I was lucky that the reaction only caused me to sleep constantly. It could be quite humorous at some points when I would fall asleep in the middle of talking! I was like this for about two weeks as we had to slowly ween me off the medication. However joking aside medication interactions can be very serious and it is always important to check with your Dr first, or check the pamphlet that came with your meds.

When I was first put on my meds I naïvely figured it would ‘fix me’ or at least enable me to have a good quality of life. What I did not factor in at that time was medication side effects. I knew they existed I just never thought I would experience them. Clonzepam was the first medication I reacted to badly. I don’t remember much of what happened, but I turned completely psychotic. I was determined to find scissors so I cut all my hair off. Mum ended up having to stay home from work to look after to me as I was a danger to myself, I am thankful that I was bed bound. Diazepam was the second medication I reacted to. My local hospital had prescribed me it after my spasms severely damaged my leg earlier on this year. I was fine for the first day or so, then I turned psychotic again. This time I was convinced that amputating my spasming leg would cure me of all my illnesses. I was desperate to contact my neurologist to set up a date for the amputation and devastated that nobody could understand my logic! Months on from it and I am glad that nobody thought Hey, why don’t we give it a go!

At the moment for my Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease treatment I take a mixture of medication and supplements which works out as 47 pills a day and 1 injection twice a week. For my Dystonia I take 6 pills a day and have 6 Botox injections every 6 weeks. I take 2 tablets for migraines every day and 2 syringes of allergy medication every morning. It works out that I take 57 tablets/syringes a day, then throw in some injections every now and then, and that is not even factoring in days when I need pain medication and muscle relaxants. It is a lot to remember to take! However it is vital that I take these at the right time, such as if I decided to take my evening dose at the same time as my dinner time dose I would be feeling sick very quickly as they cannot be taken with food! As many of you know from my earlier posts one of my symptoms is brain fog so I rely on reminders in my phone to help me remember to take my medication.

Medication is an amazing thing but you need to know what you are taking and why. I am the type of person who likes to take as little medication as possible, however I recognize the fact the Lyme Disease made me seriously ill and if I want to get better I have to take them. I understand that I have to live with Dystonia for life so I will always be having a neurotoxin injected and I am ok with that.

Medications have a dire effect on the body if not taken safely. So please be sensible and talk to your Dr about meds!

Clinging To Hope

Frustration. Worry. Pain. Hope. Joy. A selection of the emotions that over the last few weeks I have experienced. I have improved leaps and bounds since I started new treatment for Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease several weeks ago, there is a long way to go but the improvement are more than I could dared to have hoped for. Yet I feel like I am clinging to these improvements, that they might slip away at the slightest wrong move.

I must admit that on some level I am fuming that it has taken 16 years to get diagnosed. I have spent the majority of my life ill, passed from one specialist to the next, having test after test. The result of their continued ignorance is that I shall now have to live my life with Dystonia. I was not born with it, as far as we know it is not genetic, if I had simply been given antibiotics when I was six or in the couple of years after that I would not have to live with (a currently incurable) movement disorder.

I would not have to cope with the agony of my jaw dislocating due to spasms, or my neck twisting hideously. My ligaments throughout my whole body would not have been so stretched due to spasms that it shocks physiotherapists at the extent of the damage. I would not have developed pain triggered Non Epileptic Seizures if not for Chronic Neurological Lyme disease and Dystonia. I would not have spent 10 hours unconscious seizing in A&E on New Year’s Day 2013. I would not have collapsed and seized in the middle of roads, on the stairs, in shops etc. I would not have put my family, my friends, and myself through hell and back.

Although I have always been ill in one form or another it was not until 2012 that it became disabling, right at the end of my first year of Midwifery training. As many of you know, Midwifery is my dream job, and I hope to one day be able to go back to my training. More than Midwifery I dream of life without illness (I except I have to live with Dystonia). A life where my family don’t have to plan their activities around my health. A future where I can live life to the full without worrying about the impact it will have on my health! Without full treatment for Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease I won’t get better. I will continue to deteriorate rapidly. Lyme Disease has claimed the lives of too many people already I don’t plan on being its next victim. I need to raise £10,000 to fund vital treatment if you are able to please help or share this page/link! https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/erfg6/ab/04081d

 

Thank-you!

x

 

Emotional Turmoil

Currently I feel like I am a whirlwind of emotions – confusion, terror, anger, helplessness – are to name a few. From the 1st of September almost daily I will get another test result back from the private hospital, and then on the 10th I shall attend to see if they have decided to treat me or not. If they do agree then I cannot even begin to describe the relief I would feel at finally getting the correct treatment. But it would be very bittersweet relief as I would have to somehow fund this treatment.

Yet the panic I am already feeling about finances is nothing in comparison to the terror I feel about having to deal with the spasms caused by my Lyme Disease on top of my Dystonia again. I know that I have dealt with it all before so I CAN cope again, but I don’t want to. The thought of it sends me running for the hills. When my hands spasmed before I frequently used to tell my mum that I felt like I had pulled my fingers out of joint, I’ve recently been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos type 3, which makes it highly likely that I was subluxing in my fingers. To be frank I am scared of the extra amount of pain that untreated Lyme Disease will bring. At the moment with oral treatment it is dulled down, manageable. Which has enabled me to learn to cope with Dystonia and the pain that it causes. I don’t want to go back to being rushed by ambulance in to hospital every month. 

I have enough oral antibiotics to get me through to the middle of September at the moment. From our recent experience of coming off the antibiotics and the deterioration that that caused I am loath to go through it again. Its quite selfish really as I know a lot of my fear stems for not wanting to lose my hands again. I love being able to do simple activities such as brushing my own hair. It is a sign of independance and I get such satisfaction from being able to do tasks such as this.

The majority of my Dystonia is well controlled with Botox, and Benedict is not inflicting too much pain at the moment. I just want to maintain/improve my condition. In the meantime I shall keep my fingers crossed that the private hospital wants to treat me, and wish to the NHS fairy that they open their eyes and acknowledge chronic Lyme, and start treating us sufferers properly!!

Disappointed & Disheartened

Yesterday I had my appointment up in London with my neurologist. I had been really looking forward to this appointment, as I wanted his opinion on a couple of things. Firstly on my new leg spasm and if there was any treatments he could suggest that could help it. I am taking 45mg/ml of Baclofen a day for it and whilst this is controlling it, it impacts my cognitive ability greatly. I am able to hold a conversation but anything that requires me to start actually using my brain and answering questions is too much and I am unable to do so, I end up relying on my mum or whoever is with me at the time to do so for me.The second thing I wanted his opinion on was on a type of splint that my physios are arranging for me to try called Second Skin. It’s a lycra based splint that provides  feedback to the brain, and it seems to work either really well or not at all.

For my leg he had no idea what to do other than keeping me on the Baclofen.  He is referring me for more intensive physiotherapy to see if that will help but other than that he was lost for ideas. So I guess all we can do is hope that these new splints when I try them work, because otherwise I do not know what to do. In regards to the splints he did not say too much, he said they could do no harm which is always good to know and that they may help but didn’t say much more on the subject.

The main reason I had been looking forward to yesterday’s appointment is that in a letter I had received from my neurologist the other week he had stated in it that he hoped to have an answer for me about my IV treatment for Neurological Lyme Disease by the time he next saw me. I took this as a positive statement when I read it as recently in conversations with my doctors it had all been looking like it could go ahead if someone could be found to oversee it. Sadly this is not this the case. The hospital that originally said this can be set up if you find a neurologist to oversee it, is now saying they want more evidence that I have Lyme. By evidence they mean a positive Lumbar Puncture result.

My neurologist has said that he can arrange for me to have a Lumbar Puncture very quickly and it is up to me whether or not I agree to go through with it. He is not very happy for me to have one done as it puts me at risk of developing new symptoms or my current symptoms getting worse. There is also the problem that I cannot actually guarantee I can stay still due to body spasms so for them to realistically be able to do the Lumbar Puncture I would have to be under a General Anesthetic. The tests for Lyme Disease are also extremely unreliable giving false positives and negatives, and with a years worth of oral antibiotics in my system its more likely to come back negative.

I started taking oral antibiotics for Neurological Lyme Disease this time last year, and we have battled for the correct treatment which is IV antibiotics for the last year. For a whole year I have been put under the impression that I would get IV it would just be a bit difficult to set up. Now I am extremely upset. All I have done since I left the hospital yesterday is cry on and off. The IV would not cure my Dystonia but it would cure my Lyme, and who knows how much of my body is that! I had all my hopes pinned on this!! I am terrified that now when they take me off my oral antibiotics, which I know will happen soon, that my symptoms like my hand spasms, that improved may come back. I could not cope with that!

My plan today is to phone a local private hospital that I know treat Lyme Disease and see if they will consider treating me without the Lumbar Puncture. If they won’t then I will have the Lumbar Puncture done as I would rather risk it and hopefully get treated then spend my whole life wondering what if I had done it.

I am feeling very lost, and sad right now and I know things can only get better. It’s just hard after spending a whole year having all my hopes pinned on this treatment to have it snatched away. On a positive note I did get my injections done, and he was so lovely and apologetic. I am lucky that I have him. I  just have to struggle on.struggle

 

Positive Days!

Last Thursday my riding lessons started up again. It was the first time I’d ridden since June, so I was extremely excited to be getting back on a horse. As usual I rode Nelly who is a complete delight to ride! I went all medicated up as I knew that after not riding for so long my body was going to feel it afterwards. As it was the first lesson back, we did lots of exercises to get everything working. Riding makes me forget I am disabled, which is an amazing feeling. Feeling like a ‘normal’ person and being able to do something I am passionate about at the same time is something I am incredibly thankful for. Riding keeps me sane, the boost it gives me mentally plus the physical activity does me the world of good. The next day I was really feeling it in my muscles so I took it easy, but it was worth every ache and I cannot wait for this Thursday.

I have been very lucky that my spasms this last week have not been too bad. I have had the usual leg spasms but nothing seizure inducing. I have started having to wear at least one pair of socks on my feet as the drop in temperature has been enough to set my spasms off. It was a bit of a shock that it was getting that cold already but at the same time a relief knowing that some socks were currently enough to ward off cold triggered spasms.

Tomorrow my carers starts! I shall be having care two hours a day, four days a week, which will be fab as not only will I have company but things like washing my hair etc will become so much easier to do. I shall have 3 carers who will come in on different days, that way if one is ill or on holiday one of the others will fill in, which is great as it will mean someone who has gotten familiar with my condition is there and who will know what to do if something goes wrong.

I received a letter from my neurologist last week, which basically summarized our last appointment. I have waited for this letter so that I can take it to my GP with me as ‘supporting evidence’. The letter states that he is happy for me to IV antibiotics for my Lyme Disease, which is fantastic and much needed, it also asks him to refer me for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for my seizures and neuro-physiotherapy for my Dystonia. I am hoping my GP will agree to arrange all three.

I am really happy at that moment  and I feel that I am beginning to get things in place. I have had reflexology today so I am looking forward to a fab nights sleep tonight.

Amazing Consultant Appointment

Today I went up to London for an appointment with my neurologist. It went fantastically well. This was only the second time he has seen me with my jaw not in spasm, the last time was our first meeting last October, and he seemed very happy that I was not in agony this time. As usual I went armed with some ideas/questions that I wanted to discuss with him.

He brought up the fact that I had seen the infectious disease doctor the other week, and said that he was happy for me not to have the blood tests and lumbar puncture, but would arrange it if I decided I wanted it, and he was happy for me to get my gp to arrange for me to have 2-4 weeks of IV antibiotics. I am thrilled at this, as it was not a conversation I expected to have with him and it went completely in my favour. I have been on oral antibiotics for several months now, and adding IV antibiotics into the equation should hopefully get rid of whatever Lyme is left.

I had my usual injections in my neck and jaw, however after discussing the ongoing issue of my glasses setting off more eye spasms he decided to inject Botox around my eyes to see if this helps improve things. I am really hoping this helps as I am meant to wear my glasses for pretty much everything, so for a fair while now I have dealt with everything being rather blurry.

I brought up with my consultant that I would like to have CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) to help me manage my pain triggered Non Epileptic Seizures and neuro-physiotherapy to see if that will help me with my spasms. He was great with this and agreed both would be a good idea and that if I went through my GP I would be able to have it done locally. He has also offered to speak to the neuro-physiotherapist, when I get assigned one, about my condition so that the physiotherapist understands it better and therefore can treat me appropriately.

Overall I am completely over the moon with how well the appointment went, and have left with a date in hand for my next lot of injections in six weeks time.

 

Todays Hospital Appointment.

This morning my mother and I travelled to Warwickshire to see an Infectious Disease Specialist who supposedly (according to his secretary) treats Chronic Lyme Disease. I left the appointment with extremely mixed feelings. On one hand I was rather disappointed and on the other hand I was satisfied with what he has said he shall do.

At the start of my appointment he made it rather clear that he did not  really believe in chronic lyme and thought that ongoing lyme could be cured with a 4 week course of antibiotics. He also thought Lyme Disease could cure itself…I have not heard or read about this.  After hearing about my life medical history and an examination he informed us that he was certain that I had had Lyme Disease for a few years but did not think that I still had it. However he said that I at least deserved to have testing done. Therefore he is going to write to my GP and have my GP arrange for me to have an IGM (that may be wrong) blood test and a lumbar puncture for PCP testing to see if there is any lyme in me. Lyme disease testing is inaccurate at the best of times and the fact that I am on antibiotics for Lyme Disease at the moment means that the antibodies shall be suppressed meaning a negative result is more likely. I expressed my concerns to the doctor, who admitted this could happen. However I am very happy he is going to ask for these tests to be arranged.

He was a lovely guy, however I am unsure how I feel about it all. I am going to go ahead with the tests. If they come back negative then I shall book myself into the Breakspear hospital and go through this all again. One big positive out of this appointment is that he confirmed our suspicions that I did have Lyme. That there, in my eyes, is the reason I have Dystonia. My neurologist admitted that they know that Lyme disease can cause Dystonia. It gives me some peace of mind to know that there is a reason behind it all. Now I just have to wait for the NHS to arrange these tests.

Today was just a slightly wobbly stepping stone to future treatment. One way or another I will get to where I need to be.

ATOS appointment & Upcoming Specialist appointment

Yesterday I had an appointment with ATOS to prove to them that I am disabled and to discuss/show them how much Dystonia affects me. After some horrific telephone conversations with them, which I am making a formal complaint about, and from reading some dreadful news articles about them, I expected the appointment to be awful. I had mentally prepared myself to meet a rude practitioner who was not prepared to listen. I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the lady who saw me. She came across as if she really did want to help me.

Now I don’t remember much of the appointment due to a few seizures I had whilst I was there but the bits that I do recall and the parts that my mother has informed me of paint a picture that goes in my favour. Upon arrival my feet were already in spasm due to the cold outside, then the lights set my eye spasms off, and some head movements I was asked to do set my head tremor off. The physical assessment side of the appointment was stopped early as the Doctor thought it would be unsafe to carry on with it. Therefore only the verbal information my mother and I gave her (which she typed up)  was complete. I left her with copies of two letters from my consultant as well. After everything she saw I do not believe she could write anything against me.  However I am still hovering on the side of caution until I receive the report.

This coming Saturday I have an appointment with an Infectious Disease specialist who has an interest in Lyme disease. I am rather excited and nervous for this appointment, as hopefully a treatment plan shall be discussed/put in place. I have had many conversations with his lovely secretary who has been extremely informative, understanding, helpful and has helped me trust I have made the right decision choosing this Doctor. I am trying not to get my hopes too high incase the appointment does not reach my expectations, however I am still very excited. I have prepared a list of questions to ask in the appointment so I know exactly where I stand and what treatment options are available to be.

I look forward to Saturdays appointment revealing my next steps!

 

Tag Cloud