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

Posts tagged ‘NHS’

Summer, Spasms, Stories -I need your help!

In the winter I quickly discovered that cold weather and Dystonia do not mix, my body spasmed constantly and I had to leave the house with several layers on and a hot water bottle or two! I never worried about how the heat may affect my Dystonia, and if our weather had stayed typically British then I am sure my spasms would have stayed to their ‘normal’ rate.

Now don’t get me wrong I love the fact we have had a lovely stretch of untypical heat, which in turn has led to BBQ’s, evenings in the garden etc, however I don’t love that it is sending my feet and legs barmy. I get through the day but by the evening I want to beg my feet to uncurl. In desperation I bought a desktop fan for my room to help me at night, which is so far working a treat. It has been a delight though to see the blue skies and watch birds on the bushes outside my bedroom window. Summer always brings a little uplift in mood for me which is fantastic.

My Botox is definitely kicking in now and I have barely any pain thanks to the spasms disappearing. I have some pain in my TMJ‘s (your jaw joints) but this is nothing in comparison to what I was in. It is amazing how much of an impact these injections can have and I feel very lucky that I respond well to them.

Thanks to the permission of some amazing people I have compiled a letter for the Health Secretary containing the different stories of people with Dystonia and their struggles for help. The Health Secretary told me he could not deal with just one case so I decided to compile these stories and open his eyes to the struggles we go through to receive treatment! Whilst I recognise some people have had fantastic service from the medical society, so many people have not and their voices need to be heard.

If you would like to help me open up the government and the NHS/private doctors eyes and try to get more help for us sufferers then please contact me with your story at either  dystoniandme@hotmail.co.uk or here https://www.facebook.com/dystoniajourney .

 

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Spasms, Seizures and Specialists

Yesterday I phoned the Breakspear hospital in Hemel Hempstead which has a reputation for being fantastic at treating Lyme Disease. It is unfortunately a private hospital so is costly, however my health means a lot more to me than money. I spoke to one of their patient liaison officers about what I was aiming to get from the appointment, specifically the information I need as to exactly what medication I need to be taking and in what form, such as oral or intravenous, so that I can go back to my GP and ask to have the treatment done on the NHS. The P.L.O reassured me that they could tell me all of this in the appointment and that it was up to me where I seek treatment afterwards. I am hoping the NHS will treat me but if not I shall use this hospital. I am very lucky that I don’t live very far away from it.

As I did not want any tests done whilst I was there they are able to see me on the 7th August. This is fantastic as they originally offered me an appointment for the end of September. I am slowly composing a list of questions for the Specialist, as I do not want to forget to ask something vital whilst I am there. I am really looking forward to this appointment and hope it will be all I want it to be.

This morning i went blind and as usual due to the pain it triggered off a seizure. Unfortunately I was sitting a little too close to the edge of the bed and seized off it on to the floor. I think I hit my head on my scales as when I came round my head was really throbbing. My body did not take kindly to my fall and has since played up for the rest of the day.

This evening my poor mother has spent hours in my bedroom looking after me and preventing me from having another fall whilst my whole body spasmed and I had many seizures. My Non Epileptic Seizures really take it out of me, and as a result they leave me wanting to just curl up in a ball and go to sleep. Tonight I am feeling more tired than usual but I think this is because I had to take a diazepam to try to control my spasms and seizures.

Despite my body misbehaving today I am still on a high from Tuesdays consultant appointment and from the excitement from my upcoming appointment with a Lyme Disease Specialist. Things are finally looking a bit better!

 

Frustration With Lack Of Help

Over the last couple of days I have not felt to great and my spasms have been awful. I have found myself going from being boiling hot one moment to shaking with cold the next, along with some interesting spasms. My legs latest trick is to spasm so that the leg is completely back to front, which is not a comfortable position to be in. I am going to try and get my mum to capture a picture of it the next time it happens.

Thankfully today I am feeling slightly more like myself and my spasms have been less extreme. I don’t know if the antibiotics that I am on as a trial for possible Lyme Disease caused the increase in spasms or if I was just under the weather.

I am still waiting to hear from my consultant in regards to being admitted for a week so that I can get some help.  We last heard from him on around the 15th April and despite us sending him several emails and chasing his secretary we have heard nothing. When ever I have an appointment with my consultant he seems great, however I am getting more and more frustrated with the lack of help I am getting! Everything that was being arranged for me seems to be not quiet what he gave me the impression it would be. Last October he put me on the waiting list for an inpatient intensive therapy program, and told me that the waiting list for the program was about a year long. However I had an appointment up at the hospital the other day where I was interviewed by two members of staff who will at some point decide IF they are going to admit me to the ward or not. IF I do get admitted it will not be until around June 2014.

I struggle to believe that there is no other help out there that could be put in place for me now. I understand that hospital wards are busy, however surly there must somewhere be at least an outpatient  Neuro Physiotherapy service that I could be referred to  This is going to be something I will discuss with him when I eventually get to see him. I am hoping that I will at least have an outpatient appointment with him soon as I am in need of my Botox injections for my jaw and neck to be redone.

Until my consultant sorts everything out I am going to keep my fingers crossed that Lyme Disease is what has caused this mess, as at least then I know the cause and that is one thing I can stop worrying about.

Rare Conditions, Doctors and Reflexology

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.

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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.

 

Have we found stumbled across the cause??

Whilst sitting in a waiting room the other day my mum stumbled across an article about Lyme Disease. Lyme Disease is carried by some ticks and can be transferred via a bite. Later that day my mum did some research about the disease after remembering that I had been bitten by one when I was six up in Scotland, and the area is known to have ticks carrying the disease.  When reading through the symptoms she found that the majority of medical issues I have had through out my life fits with Lyme Disease.

Lyme Disease can cause a majority of problems. In late stages of the disease neurological problems can occur such as muscle spasms, memory loss, twitches etc and can cause Dystonia. I was never tested for Lyme Disease at the time as my parents did not know of the condition. The tick was attached to me for 24 hours and I developed a large rash afterwards. Testing for Lyme is unfortunately not accurate. The tests can result in many false positives and false negatives, some Lyme patients have been tested over 5 times before they got a positive result. The test is only about 30% accurate.

I visited my GP this morning with my mum to discuss this with him. We went armed with information from medical sites, and prepared to fight for a test. Amazingly we did not have to fight! My GP listened to us carefully and decided that instead of ordering the blood test he would start me on a high dose of oral antibiotics instead. I am to take these for a month and see if I get any improvement.

From what I have read if you have late stage Lyme Disease IV antibiotics are the best line of treatment and this goes on for several months. Often antibiotics do not show any positive results for months, in some cases it has taken up to a year. I know that I am unlikely to have any improvement on just one course of antibiotics and that I may have to fight to get another course of them, but I am extremely thankful that he has agreed to put me straight on them.

The information I have read is extremely interesting and whilst there is a chance that I do not have Lyme Disease and that is just a coincidence that my symptoms through out my life fit so well, I cannot help but hope that we may just have stumbled across the organic cause for my Dystonia.

 

Twisting Limbs

On Sunday afternoon my ‘good leg’ spasmed for the first time. I choose to simply ignore this, as I was having lots of spasms and seizures as it was. Other than having the odd spasms in a toe or two yesterday, my leg and foot were fine, and I choose to completely forget about it, as I felt there was no use in getting wound up over something that may or may not cause an issue.

However I woke up this morning to the bottom half of my leg and my foot in spasm. I breathed through the spasm and tried to think of calming thoughts. Once it relaxed I once again pushed it to the back of my mind and tried to go back to sleep. However any chance of having a peaceful day was destroyed when I woke up. My step-dad had been accidentally locked himself out, so I got up to let him in. What would normally be a couple of quick hops on the crutches to the front door, took a painful minute or two. My left leg was spasming badly and I struggled to balance myself and avoid setting off a spasms in right leg.

A similar situation arose later in the day when I got up to go to the other room. I really struggled to move at all. Which sparked a great deal of panic in me. I rung my GP and left a message asking for him to call me back, I knew that he would not be able to offer much advice, however the question he asked in response to my statement about my leg was “are you able to eat?”. I now have an appointment to see him tomorrow morning, I hold little hope for this though due to his earlier comment, after all since when have I used my leg to eat?

I am trying to stay calm and have mediated several times already today, however I have not been able to relax. Part of me is worrying about how I will be able to mount when I go riding on Thursday (I am going to go no matter what and plan on medicating myself to the max) and another part of me is having a break down over the impact that this is going to have.

I have tried standing in different positions over the day and if I stand on the side of my foot then this works to a point. It enables me to hobble around a little bit but I have no idea what else do. My whole body is now completely out of my control and I cannot stand it. I do my best to try to stay positive every day and fight against the spasms, but I am beginning to feel like I have fought one battle too many and they feel like they are never-ending.

However despite all my pessimistic thoughts I refuse to give in, I will keep trying to find new ways to get around the spasms. In the mean time I shall occupy myself with hounding the NHS for some form of treatment as I’m beginning to feel like I am drowning in a sea of untreated symptoms. I do not want to spend my days in bed, I want to be out and about!

Today marks the beginning of yet another battle against my Dystonia alien.

 

A flicker of faith restored for the NHS

On Tuesday night I ended up going to A&E to be treated for dehydration. By the time I was seen I had been without water, medication and food for about 32 hours. I count myself extremely lucky that the triage nurse and Doctor who treated me actually knew about Dystonia – this is a first! It took awhile to get a cannulae in me as my veins had done a disappearing act. I was given IV fluids and IV medication. The medication they gave me was called procyclidine. I had never had this medication before and was stunned by how well it worked.

The doctor who was looking after me was very caring, and came and checked on me every five minutes. He instructed me to take the procyclidine for two days (today is my last day on it). I am extremely glad they administered it to me as it really does seem to have had a beneficial effect. I am going to discuss with my consultant, whether it was worth continuing this medication or not.

I am glad that I was treated by two very nice people on Tuesday, as it restored a bit of faith in me for the NHS. Every time I am dismissed by the medical profession  it ends up inspiring me to make a difference! Just because my illness is not well known does not mean I should be shoved to the side.

 

Aside

A flicker of hope at the end of a dreadful weekend.

Today has felt like someone has lit a tiny candle at the end of long tunnel, one that I am still at the beginning of. I cannot turn back, all I can do is head towards the tiny flickering light I can see in the distance. I must jump, duck, slide, and fight hurdle after hurdle on my way to that light. That light is hope! Finally being able to see it, feels like I can put everything into perspective. I can breathe, and acknowledge that no matter how much I have to go through, no matter how much physical and emotional pain I have to go through, there is happiness at the end. I will get my happy ending!

I am the type of girl, who wont just sing in the shower, I will sing under my breath in the shop, I will sing at the top of my lungs in my house. Singing, for me, creates happiness. And if by chance I am singing a song from a Disney film such as Pocahontas or Mulan, then I am completely joyful and content. However, I cannot sing when I am unconscious  I cannot sing when my body is bend backwards due to a spasm in my back, and my neck is trying to over rotate due to another spasm. Agony, causes me to have Non Epileptic Seizures  However this weekends agony, took things to a whole new level.

Saturday night, my neck and back were awful. I could not move without setting a spasm off, and as soon as I had a spasm I had a seizure. It was a vicious circle. One that I have no recollection of. My mum ended up having to sleep in my room that night, due to the agony I was in and the lack of consciousness I had. Eventually I thankfully fell asleep and the spasms and seizures stopped. I had hoped that Sunday would be a better day. Despite my neck still insisting on spasming, the morning started off well. At midday, I unfortunately collapsed from standing, giving my head and body a good whack as I landed. Whilst the spasms were slightly more frequent, at first it seemed that this fall had not done much damage. However I quickly began to deteriorate. By 7pm the seizures had become constant, and the spasms wouldn’t stop. I was getting mere seconds of consciousness now and then, before slipping straight back into another seizure. My mum had originally thought that we would do the same as the night before and ride it out, however by midnight she phoned for a paramedic, who after assessing me phoned for an ambulance.

I arrived at my local hospital at 2am. I finally regained consciousness between 5 and 6 am. A doctor did not come to see me until 8 am! This particular doctor worried us. We were completely convinced that she was a crazy cleaner who had put on some scrubs and stolen a stethoscope. On seeing me she felt my forehead and told me I was beautiful, she then informed us that there was nothing she could do for me other than pray, which she then did. Now, I have nothing against prayer. I am Christian, and I appreciate people praying for me. However when I am in a hospital it’s not what I want or need! I need medication! If I was the doctor I would have tried administering muscle relaxants to see if they would take the edge of the spasms and in turn calm down the seizures. The doctor then told my parents that the hospital could do nothing for me and they should take me home, this was despite the fact I was still having dreadful spasms and could not sit up without going into a seizure.

My mother expressed her concerns to a nurse, who then called a consultant into see us. This man was rude beyond belief, if I had been well enough to argue or make a complaint against him then and there I would have. At one point during a seizure my mother tried to shield my head to stop me from hitting it against the metal bars on the bed. The consultant told my mum to stop it and that I would not hit my head, he refused to listen when my mum pointed out that I had already hit my head on them several times. He then started rambling on about the type of seizures I was having. My mum tried to point out to him that we already knew that I was having Non Epileptic Seizures, and that we were not concerned about them, we were concerned about the sudden change in my spasms and the way they had presented themselves so violently. The consultant listened to none of this and told my mum to stop talking. He was useless, arrogant, and down right rude!

We tried to get the hospital to call my consultant up in London  to see if he could offer us any advice, but they refused to do this. My step dad had to do phone my consultants secretary instead and leave a message. Hours later, after my body had eventually calmed down, we left the hospital, with no help from them. I felt so angry and upset. I had been in extreme pain, and yet they did nothing. We had to do battle with them just to get them to give me some basic painkillers!! Once I arrived home I phoned my GP and explained the situation to him. He was extremely shocked at the lack of care I had received at the hospital and prescribed me some stronger pain relief. The whole weekend had left me feeling physically and emotionally broken. It was ridiculous.

Today, I had to go back to the hospital. Luckily this time it was just for an appointment with the surgical orthotic department. The man I saw was superb. He had dealt with Dystonia before and had a good understanding of it. After having a feel of my legs and getting me to stand up and show him the spasm, he said he thought he could help! He is going to make a splint that should hopefully prevent the spasms twisting my leg into painful positions. Whilst we there he made a plaster cast of my leg/foot, which should be ready for me in around 3 -4 weeks. He said that if the splint did not work for me then he would look at what other ways there were for him to help me!  After telling him about the spasms my arm does, he suggested I get my GP to do another referral to him so that we can look at what he can do to help contain the spasm.

It was such a positive appointment. It helped me to not completely give up hope on Doctors and showed me that there are a handful out there who want to help you. You just have to find them. Both my neck and back have behaved so far today, which is fantastic and gives my body some much-needed relief. I feel slightly ‘normal’ again, to the point that I can see the distant light at the end of the tunnel. I can now relax and sing along to my favourite songs, knowing that no matter what happens and how bad it seems, there is always going to be something positive at the end of it. I just have to find it!

Life Challenges: Would you fight or would you run?

At 20 years old I didn’t expect to feel like my world was crumbling around me. I thought that I would be out clubbing with my friends, or trying to stay awake during a night shift on placement. I expected to be having the time of my life. The reality is extremely different to the expectations I had.

Today I felt like life was trying to show me just how difficult it could make my life. I knew this weekend would be a hard one anyone due to personal things, however it has so far been hell. Yesterday afternoon until I went to bed, my hand did an extremely painful spasm, that resulted in me having hours of Non Epileptic Seizures, with only a few seconds of consciousness in between. Then today I have spent the majority of the day unconscious having seizures. Again these were caused by a bad hand spasm.

I feel like every bit of normality I had (e.g uni, relationship, walking, freedom) has been cruelly snatched away from me. I have to fight constantly with different government departments, with the NHS, and with my own brain. I won’t ever give up, but at the same time I am already very emotionally and physically tired.

Today due to spasms and seizures I have not been able to get out of my bed. I have felt so many emotions, such as anger and sadness, in some ways I feel as if today has defeated me. Now I know I will get up tomorrow and continue to fight, but I should not have to fight! Days like today I dread because of the way I feel physically and emotionally. I am lucky that bad days are few and far between. I have not felt this bad since January 1st. I will never stop fighting Dystonia, just like I will always campaign to raise awareness of it.

I keep thinking how silly it is of me to get so upset over everything that has happened to me. I could be so much worse off. I guess in a way I am grieving for the life I had, whilst carefully trying to create some degree of normality for myself. Life challenges us all in different ways. Whether we run screaming away from them at the top of our lungs or battle it with all we have, is up to the individual. For me I shall battle on, whilst knowing that on some days Benedict is going to have won and I am going to be unable to cope, but that is just at that moment in time. Who knows how I will feel the next day or the next month or even the next year! I need to learn when to accept defeat for that day and start preparing myself to battle on the next.

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Hospital appointment & My views on the majority of Doctors I have met

Every time I attend a Doctor or Hospital appointment, I go with a calm, polite manner, banishing the memories of the countless impolite Doctors I have met before and hope that the one I am seeing will be a good listener and polite. Yet 97% of all the Doctors I have met have squashed my hope.

Yesterdays appointment was not for Dystonia, however Dystonia still managed to impact it. It started like all Hospital appointments, I waited to be called through and when the Consultant did call me through he seemed to be polite. This helped up my hope for a nice Consultant. So you can imagine how devastated I was at the end of the appointment, when I left wanting to tell him exactly what I thought of him (I refrained from this and kept up my polite attitude). Through-out the appointment he talked over me, consequently he ended up having to ask me the same question 4 or 5 times, as he never let me say more than 3 words before interrupting. He made me feel like a complete inconvenience and that the procedure he would have to carry out at a later date was even more of an inconvenience.

This feeling was proven to be correct after I expressed my concerns that the procedure may set off a Non Epileptic Seizure or a spasm, to this he replied “Well, we shall to give you a small sedation in your hand before hand. I cannot see why we have to, it’s rather inconvenient”. I immediately apologised and explained I was not trying to make things difficult for them, I was simply expressing my concerns as I did not want to turn up on the day and then the procedure not be able to be done because I had a seizure etc. However I do not think he listened to a word of this, as he went on to keep expressing that the 3 changes that had to be made were a huge inconvenience for him. He then expressed that he felt the issue I had suffered with for 6 months was most likely not serious, this was great news, however he then implied that he considered that whatever was going wrong in my body to be due to my weight or my disability by saying “it would not surprise me in someone like you”. Now I understand that he most likely was not trying to insult me however to me that came across as a dig at either the fact I am overweight or the fact I am disabled.  The appointment just kept going down hill from there.

Now I understand that not all Doctors are like this, and there are some who are genuinely nice people, who want to help you, such as my Neurological Consultant and my GP. However the majority of the Doctors I have met are arrogant, insensitive and extremely bad listeners. These traits that do not go well for a Doctor. Even if you do have these traits surely you could at least act like you were listening and wanted to help! I am fed up of Doctors talking to me as if I am not a human but just an illness, or not listening to me etc. I am a human, I have feelings and I deserve to be treated with respect. I would not dare to be disrespectful to a Doctor, or insult them, so why on Earth should I be expected to put up with it??

I know from talking to many people, all with different types of conditions, that running into these types of Doctors/Consultants is becoming a frequent issue. I have seen patients leave appointments in floods of tears. On placement, there were occasions where I was left to deal with the patient myself, and calm them down after they had seen their Doctor. This is not right! A person should leave an appointment, feeling like they have been listened to and that their Doctor is going to try and help them.

It is terribly sad that the Doctors who care seem to be so few and far between. I count myself to be extremely lucky to have two that actually want to help me, who listen and respect me. They truly are outstanding in their profession  Every Doctor should take a leaf out of their books. I can only hope that with time, Doctors start to change, that they start seeing patients as vulnerable beings who have come to seek help from them and not as inconvenient illness that has been shoved in front of them.

 

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