A little while ago a lovely woman called Rebecca Sharp who lives in America dyed a section of her blue to raise awareness for Dystonia (her father suffers from the condition). I thought this was a fantastic idea and we got talking. We have managed to make it into an international movement with many people agreeing to take part to raise awareness for Dystonia.
Dystonia Awareness week starts tomorrow (Saturday May 4th) and runs until Sunday 12th May. The idea is that during this week people either dye a section of their hair blue (you can even spray dye it) or clip a blue extension in, to show support for Dystonia and raise awareness. It is really easy to get involved with and a Facebook event page has been set up which you can easily join, and you can share photos of your blue hair in! The page also has links for those who would like to donate to either The Dystonia Society (UK) or the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (USA). Both of these charities do fantastic work for Dystonia sufferers however they are in need of funds.
Dystonia Awareness Week is fast approaching, it runs from Saturday 4th May to Sunday 12th May. Last year my mum, step dad and I ran a 5k fun run up in London and raised over £700 for the Dystonia Society! However this year we had to rethink how we would raise awareness and funds for The Dystonia Society as now I am in a wheelchair the 5k fun run is out of the question. After a quick search on The Dystonia Society website we decided that we would throw a tea party. There is also a slight competitive aspect to it, as everyone sends in the their tea party photos and The Dystonia Society judge the best.
I am also taking part in the ‘Go Blue Movement’. I am dying a section of my hair blue during awareness week to raise funds and awareness for Dystonia. The Go Blue Movement is an international movement, which started off in America! If you have not heard of it yet then I am sure over the next few days you shall hear more! You can easily take part in it by dying a section of your hair blue! If you do not want to use permanent dye, you can easily use a spray in, wash out dye!
If you would like to help me raise funds for The Dystonia Society then visit my just giving link! Every bit will make a huge difference for this small but amazing charity! http://www.justgiving.com/Rebecca-Moller1
Normally I don’t really get any side effects to medication. With one of my medications, called Gabapentin, I find that for about 24 to 48 hours after upping the dosage I am a bit of hormonal wreck, but that soon calms down and I’m back to my normal self. So when I started taking Clonzepam I expected to have no side effects, or only minor ones.
Instead I have dealt with the joys of being fine one minute and a paranoid, weeping, agitated wreck the next. The smallest thing can set me off, for example my step dad simply asked what I wanted for breakfast this morning and I broke down into tears, then this afternoon I found out that due to Fridays trip to the hospital I am not allowed to ride this week, cue more tears. Right at this moment in time I am extremely agitated, if I was able to walk I would be out the front door, seeking a decent length stroll to calm down and get fresh air. Instead I am sitting telling myself over and over that it is just the medication making me feel like this and I will soon be fine…and then the paranoia hits again.
Due to how extreme these emotions are I spoke to me GP and expressed my concerns. He has suggested that I start taking Tramadol (a pain-killer/pain blocker) daily, so that my seizures will be triggered less which in turns means I wont have to take Clonzepam unless I really have to. This sounds like a good plan to me, so I shall try it out. I do not want to stop taking Clonzepam because I would like to see how beneficial it is, so I am just going to have to suck it up and learn to deal with the side effects.
Tomorrow is another day, which will hopefully be better and brighter,
Yesterday afternoon I collapsed outside of my house and started having Non Epileptic seizures and Dystonic spasms. As I was not regaining consciousness I was rushed by ambulance (with blues and twos on) to my local hospital, where I was luckily treated by the lovely doctor who I had seen the last time I was there. The doctor remembered exactly who I was and even where the best place to take blood from me was! I was extremely impressed with how I was treated. I was unconscious for a couple of hours and have very little memory of the event.
Today I am rather sore, but I am also feeling inspired! My illness repeatedly puts me through hell and back, but its ok! I know that no matter what my little Dystonia alien throws at me, I will get through it. The image below depicts exactly how I am feeling.
Whilst Dystonia and Non Epileptic Attack Disorder are truly hideous conditions to have, I could be so much worse off. I could have cancer or another potentially life threatening disease! So I feel blessed that my condition merely limits me.
Through being ill I have had the privilege to talk to and meet some of the nicest people I have ever met. They all support me and give me strength! For example other bloggers and health activists; talking to them is a joy, as they can understand, advise and support me. Another great example are the amazing staff in the chemist by my doctors. I love going in there as I always get a warm welcome and have a quick chat, which puts me in a great mood.
I may suffer from a hideous condition, but I am so much more than just an ill person. I am a health activist, a fighter, I can be anything I want, and I can achieve anything I want. Just you wait and see!
I love this quote, and for me it rings true, I may only be at the beginning of my storm but I am already a stronger person for it. It can be applied to anyone and everyone as we each go through our own ‘storms’ at different times in our lives. The struggles we experience, no matter how big or small they are, change us. They allow us to develop and change so that we are stronger, so that we can carry on with our heads held high, it gives us the knowledge that no matter what life throws at us we can and we will beat it every time.
In life people always ask themselves ‘why me?’ or ‘why now?’, next time you feel like asking those questions stop and breath, understand that those questions will not solve anything. You just need to battle your way through to the other side of the storm. It will be hard, but if you give up, you won’t see the wonders that are waiting for you on the other side.
Life is truly a lottery, some of us soar through life with ease and others battle endlessly. However at the end of the day, what will be will be. All you can do is battle on with the knowledge that you are fighting for a reason, that things will get better, and you will conquer every storm life throws at you.
Since Dystonia started affecting me nine months ago, I have often asked what caused it? I have accepted the fact that I have Dystonia, and why it is me that has it is no longer important to me. What does matter to me is what has caused it!!
I understand that Dystonia is caused by a part of the brain called the Basal Ganglia sending out the wrong signals, but what caused it to do that? Is it genetic, do I have a gene mutation, is it due to dopamine, have I fell and landed on my head to many times? It may seem like a trivial thing to dwell on, as after all knowing why/what caused the Dystonia, does not change the fact that I have it, all it may do is change my treatment plan. Yet it remains an important issue to me, I need to know what caused my brain to stop functioning the way it should.
What I cannot understand either is why the Doctors do not want to find out the cause? I had a CT scan done back in August which confirmed that there was nothing structurally wrong with my brain. Knowing that is great, it’s a relief and something that I can strike off as a probable cause. However beyond this scan no other test has been done, so how can they treat me if they do not know the cause? I know in many cases the cause is not always found, however surely the logical thing to do would be to test for gene mutations, trial me on levadopa etc, check that there is no cause which would require a different treatment plan, before trying and the majority of the time failing, to control my symptoms?
I try my best to avoid thinking about what has caused this, as I understand that I am unlikely to get an answer any time soon, but that does not stop me wanting it. All I can do is hope that a doctor will eventually test me for possible causes. Even if an obvious cause can not be found, I would be much happier knowing that they had at least tried!
So for now, I shall cross my fingers and hope that I will one day get the answers that I need. Until then I shall continue to press my doctors to carry out the tests, until they decided to listen to me.
On Tuesday I wrote an email to my consultant, explaining that now my whole body was being affected by my dystonia and that I no longer knew what I was expected to do. I have tried to bring a number of positive activities into my life and carry on with everything as much as possible without letting my Dystonia affect me, however all of these activities are rather hard to do when your whole body is out of your control. I asked him for advice, and if I he could refer me to anything or suggest anything I try. Yesterday my consultant neurologist replied, he apologised for how hard it was to get me treatment due to long waiting lists, and has offered to take me into the hospital for a few days (up to a week). Whilst in the hospital I shall see him and the Neuro-physiotherapists. I am rather hopeful that this shall mean that I shall come away from my short stay there with a better idea of how to cope/work around my spasms.
I also received a couple of letters from my consultant in the post yesterday. One of them was a letter for us to take when ever we go to hospital/A&E, so that the hospital know how to treat me. He sent us several copies of this letter, which I am extremely thankful for, as it should enable me to receive the correct treatment with ease from them. Another letter was a copy of the one he has sent to my GP, explaining the treatment he is currently giving me (botox injections to the jaw and neck) and that he wanted me to start me on Clonezpam. I had mentioned to my GP the other day about the fact my consultant wanted me on this new medication, but because I did not know the dosage he was unable to prescribe it for me. This now means that I will be able to phone my GP tomorrow and ask him to prescribe it, as the dosage has been written in the letter. I am rather excited to try this new medication, as it should hopefully prevent my Non Epileptic Attacks.
I am feeling ever so happy today, as I feel like this upcoming hospital admittance, and the new medication should do me the world of good. Knowing that there is a plan in place is a very calming thought and I feel like I can relax and not worry about my little Dystonia alien as soon the right people will be able to see his antics and help me.
In life everyone has their own hopes, dreams, demons and struggles. We each suffer and achieve in situations others would not. None of us, are the same, yet we all judge each other and ourselves harshly. As a society we are very quick to overlook all the positive and beautiful things that surround us, we focus intently on negativity like vultures. If you are not careful, the pessimistic world that we live in can appear suffocating.
Yesterday I decided that I felt well enough to push myself around a Garden centre that we visited. I was over-joyed that I was pushing myself for so long without setting off a spasm in my hands. I even managed to push myself up a slope for the first time. Now I know that does not sound impressive but it was a fantastic achievement for me, that I am very proud of. It took me a good minute to get myself up it, but I did it myself without any help! I was having a great time, and even had a sense of freedom due to pushing myself. However a handful of people who I came across that day, did not see the girl achieving her goals and enjoying a new sense of freedom, they saw someone who was slowing them down, a few tutted or stared as they paused to let me pass. Now I just smiled sweetly each time, as I was having too much fun to pause and give them a lecture on Dystonia. I wish those people had taken the seconds that it took me to wheel myself past them to appreciate some part of life instead of focusing on a negative, we were in a garden centre, a place where they could have easily focused on the beauty of nature.
Dystonia, like life, is one giant roller-coaster that will take you from feeling on top of the world to rock bottom in a number of seconds. You can choose to become a vulture like the majority of society, feed off endless negativity and suffocated in it. Or you can choose to accept there are days when you’re not going to be on top of the world and things will look bleak, but you can still take the time to appreciate what you have in life. I could very easily roll over and feel sorry myself, and stop trying to defeat this hideous illness. Instead I fight day and night against Dystonia, I try my best to be optimistic (though some days I can be a bit grumpy), I appreciate everything this illness has done for me e.g brought me closer to my family, showed me friends in the unlikely places and much more.
Dystonia is a challenge, and I plan on enjoying every little achievement I make. Small steps can lead to big things, who knows where I’ll end up.
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.
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