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.
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.
Today my jaw tremor has returned, I’m not too pleased about this as it is earlier than I expected it to be, however I am having my Botox injections next Tuesday so it’s only one week of putting up with it. I do look rather silly as I have a baby teething dummy in my mouth to protect my teeth so that the tremor does not loosen any more of them.
I have had weekly reflexology sessions for a few months now and I cannot get over just how much of a positive effect it has on my body. My feet like to spasm in the evening and the pain in my knee and hip joints get bad, this normally means I will be lucky to get more than four hours sleep. However with reflexology I have found that I get between three and four fantastic nights of sleep, which makes a big positive impact on my energy levels during the day which enables me to handle my spasms better.
I tend to have my reflexology sessions on a monday afternoon. The night before the session my sleep is almost non-existent, I’ll spend the night strapped up to my TENS Machine, doing my meditation breathing exercises etc in an attempt to get to sleep. I have even started using rescue remedy night drops which have helped a bit. To go from almost no sleep to the next night sleeping dead to the world is the most amazing experience. If I could afford to have reflexology several times a week I would not think twice about doing so.
I rely on medication to try to suppress and manage my Dystonia. Whilst these medications are essential I would much rather not take them as it’s not good for your kidneys and your liver to be constantly bombarded with them. Therefore having an alternative to help me sleep and deal with my symptoms is such a giant relief as I was very reluctant to go back on to my sleeping medications. When you have Dystonia you are told to try to avoid stress as it can exacerbate your symptoms, now obviously it’s near impossible to lead a stress free life as Dystonia itself is rather stressful. Reflexology is so far my biggest stress reliever, I honestly do not know how I would cope without it.
I saw this quote earlier and fell in love with it, I find it rings very true.
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.
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!
As you will know from my previous blog post a couple of days ago I was withdrawn from university after being on sick leave for a year because of my Dystonia. I had a few days of “why me” and “I want to go back to placement” before I actually sat down and thought this is not the end of the world, I refuse to do nothing, what can I realistically do now. So I had a look at my local colleges and what they offered, to see if I could find anything that interests me. I had been toying with the idea of going into reflexology for a while now and discovered that one of the colleges near me offers it. As my hands are behaving very well at the moment, I have taken a leap of faith and applied for the course. I am waiting to hear now if I have an interview or not. Not only will I be able to study if I get place but it will be a great chance for me to meet new people.
On holiday we discovered that my ability to go out and about had grown, so I was able to do much more than I was used to. Since coming home I have made a conscious effort to try to maintain this new tolerance level. I have managed to come through and spend some time in the living room and eat with my family in the dining room etc often, which is a huge improvement to before where I spent the majority of my time in my room. I even made it to Church today.
I have reached a point now where I am finishing a chapter and starting a new one so to speak. I have spent the last year hoping that some cure would magically be found and that this september I would be back at uni. Now that the reality has hit, I am closing that chapter an opening a new one that is full of possibilities. Maybe I shall get on to this reflexology course, maybe I won’t, who knows where I will end up.
Dystonia has been controlling my life now for long enough. I acknowledge that it’s always going to be apart of me, but I control my own life and I’m taking back the reins. I just need to know my body’s boundaries and respect them, so that I can start living my life again.
September 2011 I started at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford on a Midwifery degree. It was the most amazing experience of my life. July 24th 2012 I developed Oromandibular Dystonia and was put on intermission for a year. Today I was withdrawn from university on debilitating health grounds. You have no idea how much I wish to pull my little Dystonia alien out and scream at him.
My university was extremely kind about it all and I hope that in a few years time if I am well enough that I can reapply to do my Midwifery degree. In the meantime I plan on doing a Level 3 in Anatomy and physiology, and once I’ve finished that I will see where I go from there. I have known for a few weeks that this conversation with my uni would have to happen, and have dreaded it. I had hoped that as I knew it would happen that it would not be too bad however the reality is that I am extremely upset and want to scream at the doctors until they invent a cure.
I struggle to understand how it is ok for Dystonia to upturn, stomp all over and turn inside out our lives. I struggle to comprehend why sufferers then have to fight for treatment and care. I struggle to accept the reality I’m living. I won’t ever accept it, because none of this is ok. I know one day a cure will be found and I hope it shall be in this lifetime so that I can reapply for uni.
On a brighter note my body is not too bad today which is nice and a DVD called The Host which I have excitedly been waiting for has arrived – It is a fantastic book and an amazing film. I plan on doing nothing for the rest of the day other the watch The Host again (even though I only finished watching it ten mins ago), and then I am going to indulge myself in a bit of 50 shades freed as it’s an easy read.
Tomorrow will seem brighter, and I will get there eventually, one way or another.