Posted in Archive, September 2021

‘Learn to live with it’

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After over a year of my follow up gyny appointment being rearranged and cancelled repeadedly by the hospital due to Covid, I finally saw the consultant. I arrived with high hopes, a notebook full of the requested data they’d asked me to log, and a very grumpy daughter who would have preferred we’d stayed on the bus.

After reassuring staff that I’d contracted Covid at the start of the month and hadn’t escaped isolation, they took my temp which was border line high. Feeling thankful that a quick round of begging and reassuring them that I felt fine, I was allowed to stay. Two hours later, I was seen with grumpy toddler who was vocalising her unhappiness in tow.

Normally when I have a female gyny the appointment goes slightly better. I explained that my periods were getting worse 48 days long on average but 73 was getting more frequent. That they left me physically sick and due to the change in hormones increased my eds symptoms. She brushed it to one side.

“You will have to learn to live with it”. I’m pretty my face was a picture. My emotions were not in check as I was desperate for this appointment to go well, having last time discussed albation with me. Meds are no option for me due to my EDS, I understand that, hell we had even tried that. I queried the more radical surgical and was told not untill I’m forty, at the moment I am 28.

I can’t get my head around it really. I’m lucky to get more than two weeks between each cycle. It leaves me in pain, sick and exhausted. But yeah sure “learn to live with it”.

Posted in Archive, September 2021

Covid-19 has arrived in our household

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Toward the end of last week our youngest woke with a fever. She didn’t have a cough, a runny nose or anything that particular screamed that it could be Covid-19, nor were we aware of anyone that we had seen recently who had developed it. So we were not particularly worried. However we arranged for her to have a PCR test as govt guidelines list a temperature as one of the signs to watch for. We didn’t expect a positive result, thinking instead it was far more likely to be a normal cold. After all the kids seem to have colds constantly. Less than 24 hours later at 1am in the morning my phone buzzed to let us know we needed to isolate. She had covid.

We tried our best to keep the anxiety at bay. Both myself and my partner are fully vaccinated, having received our vaccines at the start of the year. Yet after shielding for so long, and reading up on the virus over the past 18 months on the many different issues it can cause, it was hard not to worry. Both my son and I were shielders. Stefan, tested positive two days later. Whilst he has been undeniably feeling rotten and suffered more than Evie, he has luckily coped far better than we expected and is now seeming more like his cheeky self again.

We thought that we may have escaped catching it. Almost a week went by and then Damon tested positive. I was already isolating away from the rest of my household to try and avoid catching it as I had developed sinusitis which my body was already struggling to cope with. At my partners suggestions I was feeling worse rather than improving on my antibiotics I took a lateral flow test. The test result line appeared in less than twenty seconds. So off we went for a PCR again, which soon confirmed what we all ready knew.

This extremely short blog has taken me nine hours to write – ridicules I know. The fatigue I am experiencing is unreal I keep falling asleep while writing it despite being sat up with laptop on me. My body is not happy with a mirad of symptoms between dislocations, nerve pain, fatigue, spasms, no smell and taste, itchiness all over, breathlessness and spams on the left side of face which feels is as if it is determined to detach itself from my skull and be on its’ merry way.

My apologies for not getting round to live on facebook today. I needed to sleep. Hopefully tomorrow if I am feeling up for it I will do but it will depend on how I’m feeling.

Posted in Archive, August 2021

Pacing; Using A Wig

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Moments ago I quickly signed off a Facebook live as my partner walked through the front door, home from his evening gym session. Normally during my lives I’m very good at opening up and sharing my concerns but tonight I struggled. They are superficial to say the least.

Yet as Damon sat down I burst into tears. This seems to have become an evening routine. I’m physically struggling at the moment so I’m cutting corners where I can to save energy and reduce pain. This is starting to really bother me. Things like washing my hair is something I do as little as possible as it’s painful, energy drainage, and often leads to a flare in pots, eds and dystonic symptoms. Yet I don’t want to look unclean. The solution I have in mind I’m not to sure of. I don’t know whether to go for a drastic buzz cut and wig wearing while it grows back; the difference being I would follow the no poo method which would result in less physical stress on my body, or just to try to wig wear on days when I’m struggling.

Trying a wig for the first time to explore the idea

I’m still exploring my options. I’m not reaching for the razor on the back of feeling emotional no matter how tempting it may seem. The plan currently is to reach out to hairdresser’s first for advice on the above idea but also on the issue of hair loss which I currently have in certain patches which gets me down. I’d love to hear from anyone whose done similar.

Posted in Archive, August 2021

Adapt, Rethink, Go

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We recently had to return the power wheelchair we had on hire. It had been with us for the best part of a year and had quickly become a very integral part of daily life. It reduced my pain, dislocation frequency and enabled me to get out and about everyday. It was freeing. We’d hoped by the time it had to be returned that I’d have been seen by the local wheelchair service for an assessment as currently I dislocate my fingers while trying to push my manuel chair. However it’s a long waiting list and an appointment date is still a while a way.

In the meantime I’m reassessing how much activity I can do and what I do each day. My head deffinently believes I’m more capable than what my body thinks I am able to do. A lot of this week has been spent resting and trying to find a happy medium. However I’m also currently on week three of my period and I know that when I have extended bleeds I generally feel rubbish and my joints and muscles seem to be worse in general.

I’ve started introducing sleep hygiene into my night routine to help improve the quality of my sleep and to see if it improves how rested I feel. I’m trying to have no screens for an hour or two before bed. Instead I’m reading and crocheting. This has also given my mental health a little boost as well which is positive.

I’ve had a gyny appointment come through for the end of September, so not long to go now. Hopefully this one won’t get cancelled.

Posted in Archive, August 2021

Freedom; Are The Disabled Included?

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We recently were fortunate enough to spend a chunk of time down south visiting my mum. It was a lovely break away from routine, and the kids were over the moon to get to have a ‘extra long sleepover’ with their Granny. If it weren’t for the newly added hand sanitizers that appeared on every corner one could almost forget about the pandemic for a moment.

On our way home we chose to pull in at a service station to let the kids stretch their legs after hitting the que of another incident. The kids dad took them off to the toilets whilst I popped into the shop. I only needed a couple of items, and instantly looked for a basket as one hand is strapped up at the moment due to scaphoid fracture. There were none.

It may sound dramatic to say that I started to feel anxious at this point but it’s true. I can’t hold things in my fractured hand and my other is occupied with my trusty walking stick. In the end I resorted to cradling the items in the crook of my elbow. I dropped them repeatedly. The staff noticed from behind the counter and did nothing other than stare. Other customers, who were incredibly kind, helped me gather up my shopping as I shuffled about, hunted for a basket and confirmed that due to Covid they’d been taken away.

Eventually, feeling really rather embarrassed at my inability to hold a couple of items, I approached the staff at the tills. When I queried the lack of baskets, I was met with a shrug and a murmured grumble about Covid. I asked about how they expected their disabled customers to cope, after all they had watched me struggle and drop my items several times. In reply he simply offered to scan my shopping and bag it for me, let me pay, then he would watch it so I was free to carry on shopping. It was crystal clear that they had not faced with this situation so far.

Numerous charities and research groups have been saying this through out the pandemic; the disabled community are being left behind. Article after article has stated how disabled people have reported feeling overlooked, forgotten, isolated, ignored. Just today there was a piece on how two York Councillors were not allowed to vote on accessible parking in their area as by being disabled they had a prejudice – madness!

Freedom day has come and gone, yet now things have reopened I’ve found that actually I’m running into more restrictions that affect my disability than prepandemic – for example in the same service station they wouldn’t open up the disabled toilets as they didn’t have a designated staff member free to monitor them. They had a member of staff a few feet away though in the ladies directing women into cubicles.

While it may sound like I’m riled up about not very much it’s not something im going to let slide. I don’t by any means think that the staff in the shop should have magically have transfigured a chocolate bar into a basket but they could have offered a bag for me to go around with or to have walked alongside me and helped. Either way I would have been and out in less than half the time if if id just had a little bit of aid. Which is something I’ll put in my letter when I write to them later this week.

Posted in Archive, July 2021

Botox Side Effects – facial drooping

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Botox for me is life changing. Without it I would be hospitalised on an NG tube, unable to talk, swallow, eat, or drink. I’ve ended up in that exact situation previously. It’s unpleasant to say the least. I’m fortunate enough to receive Botox from my neurologist every twelve weeks and then a top up at the six week mark in the cycle from my maxofacial team to keep my jaw going.

I am extremely fortunate to experience very little in the way of side effects. Generally speaking I get ‘botox flu’ for a few days after and a flare in my complex regional pain Syndrome symptoms in my arm. This time though my mouth has been weakened slightly by the Botox. It’s not physically painful in anyway at all, it simply means the corners of my mouth are dropping.

At first I didn’t notice it to much, then I was hyper aware. I found myself wanting to be in pictures as little as possible as I knew I’d fixate on the turned down corners of my mouth despite the focused effort to smile. I was finding myself deleting photos of myself and the kids, myself on days out etc, over something as ridiculous as an altered smile.

It’s not as obvious in both photos above, but the fact I’ve kept these picture is a big step forward. I started to think about the example I was setting my children. It was not a healthy one. I do not want them to grow up thinking that we should scrutinize photos for imperfections. Photos have always been for us a treasure trove of memories, to help remind us of the many memories we have made together. Both my kids love getting our photo albums out to look at and this something I hope long continues.

My altered smile, is not permanent, however it is a reminder that I am one of the lucky ones who receives treatment and responds to it. That is something to celebrate not to fixate on. Whether it stays droopy or returns to normal I’ll keep snapping photos of our days out making memories. After all it wasn’t long ago I thought Dystonia meant the life I have now would be impossible. Forever thankful for Botox injections and medication.

Posted in Archive, July 2021

Acceptable Collaterable Damage for Freedom Day

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With Freedom Day ear marked for July 19th and the majority of restrictions being casually tossed away one would have thought we were turning a corner where the public as a whole could breath a sigh of a relief. But with herd immunity being discussed again, talks of case numbers reaching 100,000 daily, it has to be asked are we offering up our disabled, our elderly and our unvaccinated under 18s as collateral?! Its worth remembering that six in ten people who have died of covid in the UK were disabled. The disabled community have been hard hit throughout this pandemic and failed by our government.

As a household two of us were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable and had to shield, perhaps it’s unsurprising that I’m not celebrating freedom day. I am double jabbed and have a degree of protection, but my four year old son who also had to shield, whose school seems to constantly have new cases, he has no protection from a vaccine yet the government suggest classes will no longer have to isolate?! Madness!

The term Freedom Day keeps being tossed around but what freedom is there truly when there is also talks of introducing shielding again for the clinically vulnerable this winter. I’ve spent 14 months shielding already. I understand why people are clammering for to get their normality back, yet surly little and gradual is better than throwing fuel on the fire?

We know so little about Covid-19 and indeed long covid. Can our primary school children/younger generation develop long covid? How will this impact in the long term?

Personally for me I’ll still be wearing a mask in crowded areas/public indoor areas, and keeps a distance from other people. I know people will think I’m over reacting however this is what I believe is best for my family and myself and until covid cases etc are much lower or a vaccine is introduced for children I feel it’s necessary.

Posted in Archive, July 2021

Injection Day and referral thoughts

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Waiting to see my neurologist

Today was botox day up in London with my lovely neurologist. He’s happy that the medication we started on a few months back is keeping me far more stable, which is amazing, so we are keeping that in my treatment plan. I’m currently on a medium dose so we have room to play with should we need to come winter when I typically go down hill due to the cold.

I’ve finally gotten the date for my video fleursoscopy which is the middle of next week. I’m a little nervous but it will be good to shed some light on what’s been going on internally and if there is anything specific that we can do/change to tackle it. This is to tackle the chronic aspiration.

Then it’s on to blood tests. Whilst I don’t mind these particularly, my veins are world class players at hide and seek. No matter how much I drink before hand they like to hide or better yet collapse. I often leave blood tests looking somewhat like a pin cushion. These are being done just to double check there’s nothing being missed and causing any issues whilst we wait for Gyny to see me. They were meant to see me almost a year ago. However they keep rearranging and cancelling my appointments, which my lovely GP is chasing. In the meantime I’m left with regular pain flares that leave me doubled up in pain.

I’m hoping now that more people are vaccinated that appointments/refferals may start going back to normal. Specially orthotics is one appointment I’m looking forward to, my knees and wrists need new splints. It’s not an urgent appointment in anyway but it would make day to day life a bit easier and reduce pain a little more.

In the meantime I’m ticking along. I’m looking forward to the schools breaking up and making the most of the summer holidays before my eldest starts primary school full time.

This made me laugh a lot. Credit to Theraspecs
Posted in june, June 2021

First MaxFax Injections in a Year!

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Today I received my first lot of maxfax injections in a year! These are to help control my recurrent jaw dislocations. Normally these are timed so they are six weeks after my last lot of neurology injections to help max the benefits from both. The pandemic put a bit of a pause to that.

It was a new Dr today who treated me, who couldn’t quite believe that despite looking fairly normal, upon exam my jaw was still out of place. So we opted to switch things up. I had the usual jabs along with some new ones. Hopefully we will see some improvement.

I’d forgotten how much Botox flu can wipe me out. So I’ve medicated up and I’m mentally allowing myself to slow down for the next few days to help recover.

Posted in may 2021

An Open Letter to Stagecoach & Arriva Bus

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Dear Stagecoach & Arriva Bus,

I’m writing you an open letter as one of your disabled service users, and a frequent customer. I’ve had a few issue traveling before but today took the biscuit. Myself and my two young children were using your service to travel home from a hospital appointment. We flagged a Stagecoach bus down first. The driver pulled over, explained that he had already allowed two prams on, one was in the allocated buggy area and the other in the wheelchair space; neither parent wished to fold their pram down or move and off he went. I was more than slightly shocked as this is against your covid-19 policy which is listed on your site. I’ve screenshot it below, along with a picture taken from another of your buses which points out that it is law for a buggy to be moved from the wheelchair space should one need to board. Yet we were left in the rain.*

Stagecoach Accessibility FAQS
Sign stating the law that wheelchairs have priority

Arriva Bus, it was one of yours that we flagged down next. This time, there was only one pram on board. Inexplicably the parent and pram had placed themselves in the wheelchair area despite the buggy section being free. When your driver asked them to move so we could board, they refused to move and the driver simply shook his head at me said “Sorry, love.” And drove off. This caused quite the stir at the bus stop, with others asking if this was something that happened often. It is quite disappointing to say that this is not the first time that has. Here is a screenshot from your own website Arriva of your policy for wheelchairs and prams.

https://www.arrivabus.co.uk/help/conditions-of-carriageArriva Bus Carriage of Wheelchairs and pushchairs

Considering how much time has passed since Doug Paulley first brought his discrimination case to the supreme court back in 2012 over this matter I really expected this issue to be non-existent/on its way out. However experiencing it twice today within a matter of minutes is beyond a joke. How do you explain it to a four year old that two bus drivers didn’t want to follow the law? “Sorry we are not getting that bus either because the driver didn’t want to point out that it’s actually law for her to move over into the pram space. Despite it being his job.” Its disheartening, upsetting, discriminatory and lazy.

I would ask that both companies refresh your drivers memories on your own policies, and on the law. You may have stuck signs inside the buses but that is pointless if you are not going to act on them!

R. McDowall

*I want to acknowledge the kind stagecoach driver who was coming towards the end of a break and witnessed all of this. After waiting a few minutes and realising it was a while before anymore buses going in our direction would be there, cut his break short and drove over to us to let us on. I couldn’t have been more thankful.