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

Posts tagged ‘laughter’

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.

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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

 

Laughter; Breaking Down Barriers

What would life be without laughter? My life was full of it before chronic illnesses decided to move in, but over the last few years I can honestly say I have had many more laughs because of my disorder. Twitched and accidentally hit someone, tongue spasms, fallen over because I spasmed and lost my balance; all of these scenarios result in laughter, it has become my natural response. Yesterday an acquaintance was complementing my ability to cope, she mentioned how she didn’t know how I continued to deal with my mix of conditions day in and day out, and still be able to laugh. Now I acknowledge that not everyone would deal the same way as I do, but I cannot think of another way to cope.
Should I be angry, scared, terrified at the unknown implications of my disorders in the years to come? I’ll hold my hands up; I feel all of those emotions regularly. However, the sheer ridiculousness of the situations I have ended up in thanks to my dysfunctional body has ensured that these negative feelings are not consuming. Laughing, breaks down the emotional barriers that I put up whenever fear raises its grey head, and the barriers that others put up when they don’t know how to respond to what they have witnessed.
It is natural to see me spasm and hit something and for you to feel unsure how to react. We live in society where everyone is so easily offended, that people silently look the other way attempting to un-see the abnormal. If I am giggling at the hilarity of the situation, and let’s be frank it’s a painful but amusing moment, I would much rather you joined in. Laughter allows us to talk about what we are experiencing, it is a fantastic way to spread awareness. I’ve had friends who have mentioned they feel wrong for laughing. It would only be wrong if you were laughing at me, not if you are laughing with me. Don’t over-complicate a beautiful thing.

Chair…Twitch…Floor

When ill with any condition it can become very easy to allow yourself to be wrapped up in the negativity of it all. Recently I slipped, I fell off the positivity bandwagon if you will. I don’t think this slip is necessarily a bad thing. After all it is only natural that in life we have our highs and lows. Ironically it was Dystonia that reminded me to try and see the positive that does exist within and around the condition again.

My left arm and shoulder spasms/twitches rather violently, flinging itself out to the side. I always hope silently whenever this happens that nobody is within hitting range. I have had one to many awkward apology conversations following such a spasm. It was following a rather forceful one in a hospital Costa last week that I found myself out of my chair and on the floor, slightly stunned, sore and in a complete fit of giggles. A small part of me knew that one flailing arm had tried to grab the table, in a useless uncoordinated attempt to stabilise myself.

This incident was exactly what I needed to break the haze of negativity that I had cocooned myself up in since my Complex Regional Pain Syndrome diagnosis. I had forgotten to tackle this condition with the same approach I had the others. I was frankly too scared, I know how bad the pain can get and even though I am not at the same pain score I was in 09, mentally I jumped ship. Embarrassing myself by ending up on a busy Costa shop floor was the exact laughter filled wake-up call I needed. As much I crave a life without chronic illness, my Dystonia never fails to provide laughter, I’ll give it that much.

Acrobatics

The ability my Dystonia has to twist my body into any position it desires never ceases to amaze me. Having hypermobility syndrome aids it somewhat. The two conditions are both painful and amusing. Over the last year my body has got itself into positions that are simply not natural. I always knew my hands moved in ways that were not normal, but never realised that the rest of me could.

Some of the positions Dystonia has put me in has reduced me to tears of both pain and laughter. Take for example last October, I ended up on the floor doing the splits, something that I had never done before. A month or so ago, the spasm in my leg caused my leg to turn back to front, a movement that shocked those around me and triggered a non epileptic seizure.  At other times it has caused slight embarrassment, but this is something I accepted as part of the Dystonia parcel a long time ago.

This evening I was crawling to the next room as I did not want to use the wheelchair, my right leg quickly spasmed sideways, I ignored it as it was not preventing me from moving. However whilst I was crawling through the doorway my hip went into a spasm causing my spasming leg to shoot up and my foot to become caught under the door handle. Both my mother and step dad came to help me. My mum supported me incase I had a seizure and my step dad wrestled with my spasming foot to free it. I was on my hands laughing. The situation was ridiculous. At 20 years old I am crawling around trying to have some sort independence yet even this simple act is not alway possible. It is so ridiculous that I did not feel cross or upset, all I could do was laugh it all.

Throughout the last year my spasms have shown me just what my body can do, and it amazes me. I often joke that I would make a fantastic acrobat or ballerina. Though the spasms cause pain and pull my muscles, I refuse to let it get me down. Instead I see it as a strange talent that provides entertainment for all.

After all why cry when you can laugh?!

Exciting & Empowering Day

Today has been such a fantastic and empowering day! I had been looking forward to today all week as I had planned to go out and see a few friends and then have a personal training session. Normally my friends would come to see me, and I would sit in the middle of my bed so that if I do have a Non Epileptic Seizure I am safe. Instead I went out to my friend’s house, and my mum left me there on my own. This was the first time I had been left in someone else’s house on my own since July 2012. This excited and scared me. It turned out that I had no reason to be scared as it went perfectly. I spent the time sitting down, laughing with them and for a few hours felt like a normal 20-year-old. This has given me confidence to venture out more, I know that eventually my little Dystonia alien will act up but I cannot let the fear of that keep me from trying to establish a normal social life.

I had not been able to see my Personal Trainer for a few weeks as my spasms had been so bad and more of my body had been affected (only my left leg is unaffected now). As usual I was really looking forward to today’s session. I love our sessions as I am doing something proactive that not only challenges my little Dystonia alien but makes me feel positive about myself.

In today’s session my dystonia attempted to act up, and we worked around it. I paused when the spasms made it to hard to do that particular exercise but carried on as soon as it released. It was an extremely good session and I only had one tiny Non Epileptic Attack and a handful of spasms in it, which I thought was fab considering it had been a few weeks and my body’s not been great recently.

My Personal Trainer and I had previously discussed trying out a TENS machine to try to counteract the spasms. Whilst my hand was in spasm, he put the TENS machine up to full power and within a few seconds the spasm in my hand had released. The theory behind this is that to use a set of muscles another set has to relax, so by stimulating the relaxed muscles the spasming ones had no choice but to relax. The positive outcome it seemed to be having amazed me, it was like having a remote control for my Dystonia alien. I have no idea if this will happen on other parts of the body or if stronger/different spasms will react so positively, however this is an exciting experiment that I am going to enjoy greatly. I am planning on videoing my hand in spasm and how the TENS relaxes it, so that I can show my consultant.

If anyone has tried using a TENS  before for Dystonia please let me know, I would be extremely interested to hear how you got on with it. You can get in touch with me by either commenting on this post or by going to this page https://www.facebook.com/dystoniajourney where you can inbox me privately or comment publicly.

 

Positive Proactive Progress!

As I sit here, beginning another blog post that allows you all to witness what it is like to live life with Dystonia, I must admit that I have an almighty smile spread across my face. The last few days have each been perfect in their own ways. I spent the whole of Tuesday in bed recovering from Mondays lovely trip to Chelmsford. To some of you this may seem lazy or even a waste of a day, so let me reassure you this was completely and utterly necessary, I barely had the energy to sit up! Yet I was perfectly happy due to the fabulous day I had the day before. I am also enjoying some lovely choccies that my man brought me for Valentines Day.

Yesterday one of my oldest friends came to visit me. I had not been able to see him, in a long time due to me moving to Essex for university and us both being broke students. So it was fantastic to have a really good catch up, which was full of laughter. By the time he left, my spirits were soaring. Socializing does the world of good for me, it allows me to feel ‘normal’. He has promised to come and see me more often, as now I am only a 20 minute bus ride away from him. I shall hopefully see him again in just under two weeks time.

Today I had my riding lesson. Once again it was fantastic, I love the thrill riding gives me. There is nothing like it. The horse I ride, Connie, is so very lovely and patient, and puts up so well with my different style of mounting. We did lots of trotting whilst weaving in and out of cones today, which I loved. Towards the end of the lesson, with my instructor watching carefully, I stood up in my stirrups, whilst walking. I managed this fairly well, now and then my right leg would decided it had had enough and would shoot forwards, causing me to sit/drop back down into the saddle. However every time it relaxed again I stood straight back up. We did the exercise repeatedly until my right leg really had had enough and I lost the feeling/connection to it. Riding is not on next week as it is the local school’s half term holiday, so I am counting down the days until the 28th when I can go back.

Yesterday and today, I attempted placing my foot on the floor to see how it would react. When it was placed flat on the ground, it spasmed rather violently, and I had to wait a fair while for it to calm down. Once it had, I tried it again, though this time I only placed my toes very lightly on the ground. This time there was no reaction. This is good progress!!! I plan on doing this a few times a day, if this all goes well then in a weeks time, I shall attempt to put my foot flat on the ground again. I hope if I keep trying this, then I shall be able to get back some of the movement I had managed to build up back in December.

This week has truly been fantastic. With only one real hiccup,  my right hand decided it had had enough of me writing and decided to spasm violently. I happened to be holding a fountain pen at the time, so ink ended up all over my face, hand, quilt etc. However I found this to be quiet amusing.

I have several more brilliant days planned, which I am really looking forward to! I know that I am going to be completely exhausted by the end of it all and my body will most likely try to get revenge, however it is worth it! I have accepted that at this time because I have Dystonia and Non Epileptic Seizures, I am disabled, however I refuse to let these conditions control my life. I am going to live life the best I can, and I shall enjoy every second of it.

Just watch me!

 

Amazing Progress!

Today has been truly wonderful! I had my third R.D.A lesson, and I made so much progress today. I really shocked myself! In the last two lessons I have had, I have had a leader and two volunteers on either side of me, so that they can catch me if I have a Non Epileptic Seizure whilst on the horse. However at the start of my lesson today I only had a leader, and by the end of the first ten minutes it had been decided I did not have a need for a leader!!! This was fantastic and I was extremely happy.

We spend the majority of the lesson in trot, and practising changing the rein in trot etc. This I adored, as I was being allowed to do even more than I had done in my previous lessons. I normally just do sitting trot and I just try to stay as still as possible in the saddle, however as my Dystonic leg was behaving rather well today, my instructor and I decided that I should give rising trot a go. I was slightly nervous at the idea of it, as I did not know how my leg would react. It turned out that I had no reason to worry!! I put as much weight as possible through my left leg (the working one), and started doing a slightly lop sided (but who cares about that) rising trot. To say I was in heaven would be an understatement. I felt so carefree and alive. I could have cried with happiness when I realised that all my leg had done in reaction was to twist sideways!!! This was such amazing progress and has given me so much confidence!!

There are not enough words to describe how much I love riding!! I treasure every single second of it, and feel very lucky to have the opportunity to ride among such a vibrant and supportive group of people.

I also attended my support/research group. As usual I had a laugh with the group, and really enjoyed the session. I had also made progress in the group, by being able to do some of the relaxation methods more successfully than I had managed previously. I left feeling very relaxed and over-joyed from having such a great day, full of amazing progress!

 

Today’s Support/Research Group and Dystonia Update

This evening I went to a group that my GP signed me up for. It is designed for people with chronic pain symptoms, to help give them coping mechanisms that they can learn to use in daily life. The group is also for research so we were asked to answer questions, and give them our life and medical history, so that they can compare the results the group gets at the end of the 12 sessions to the answers provided at the beginning.

At the start, I must admit I was a bit dubious about the group, the leader seemed a bit mad, and everyone there was a fair bit older than me. I was also concerned with how much I would be able to take part in, as I am in wheelchair. However by the end of tonight’s session my concerns were long gone. I had managed to take part in everything, when they did walking activities, I copied their upper body movements, and swayed about in the chair. The other people their were lovely and I have a good giggle with them all. We also focused on our posture and did breathing exercises which I found to be very relaxing. The two hours flew by, and I cannot wait for the next session!

Today has been a rather positive day. After six hours of calling, I finally managed to get hold of my Consultants Secretary, who has promised to chase him, and have him contact me ASAP, I am hopeful that he will, but I shall just have to wait and see. I have had no Non Epileptic Seizures at all today which is fantastic and my head and body are feeling much better.

My local Riding for the Disabled stable phoned me today, and as long as my Non Epileptic Seizures stay calm, then I shall hopefully have my first RDA lesson next week! I am rather excited!

Last nights Dystonia antics

I have never been a flexible person. The only part of my body that is flexible is my arms and wrists. However last night the little dystonia alien decided to show me just what it could make my body do. For a few hours before my dinner, my leg had been playing up a bit, my foot was bent and was dragging behind me. However during dinner it seemed to calm down and I relaxed. When I tried to get up from the table and hop to the living room, with my mum helping me, the dystonia alien decided to wake up. Before I could brace myself, my leg went into a spasm, sliding itself backwards. My stepbrother fetched a chair for me to sit on, so that I didn’t fall down. Yet my leg kept going backwards. Within minutes I had no choice, I had to either try to slide myself off the chair and onto the floor or have the spasm cause me to fall onto the floor. By the time I was on the floor, I was literally doing the splits. Despite being in agony, I had to laugh, I am not flexible, yet here I was on the floor in spasm doing the splits.

Eventually the spasm eased off and with the help of my Grandmother and my Mum, I got up off the dining room floor, and tried to hobble through to the living room. However the dystonia alien had not finished playing games. My right leg and foot shot behind my left leg. To those around me, it must have looked like I was curtsying. Yet again I ended up on the dining room, the spasm had pulled my leg as far as it could go. Again I ended up laughing. I am not sure whether I laughed because of the situation or if I laughed in exasperation, perhaps it was a bit of both. It took a fair length of time for the spasm to ease off.

I still cannot get over how far my dystonia pulled my leg and foot last night! The spasms in my leg and foot have always been pretty extreme and odd to look at, but last night was ridiculous. I now wish I had gotten someone to take a picture/video the spasm so I could show the specialist, I shall remember to ask someone to do so next time. Despite last nights spasms being so extreme, I feel rather positive today! I surprised myself at how well I coped with the pain of the spasms last night, especially with them being so extreme. I feel that with each spasm the dystonia alien throws at me, I gain more confidence, as I know that I can deal with my spasms fairly well.

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