Today I had my first Hydrotherapy session, this was the first in a course of six. This morning I found myself feeling a mixture of emotions. Part of me was incredibly excited, I previously had hydrotherapy back in 2009 to treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and found it to be very helpful, so I know just how beneficial it can be. However I was also slightly nervous, I could not help but wonder how my quirky body would react to the therapy now. Would it set a seizure off? And if it did how quickly would the staff react? The one positive being, if I had a seizure, that the hydrotherapy takes place at my local hospital and the A&E staff know me very well.
The session could not have gone better. The pool was wonderfully warm which helped relax my rather achy muscles. Having the water support my joints whilst I did the exercises was great as while the water in itself provided a challenge, it also meant I could not hurt myself. For example whenever I twitched in the pool the water provided a resistance to my arm, slowing it down slightly and supporting it, which meant I didn’t hurt myself like I normally do. We had lots of laughs during the session, with my spasms ending up with me splashing my physio repeadedly in the face, and the floats that we had been using during an exercise going flying across the pool. It was great for it to happen in a safe, pain free enviroment!
Below I have put a sneaky photo (I was trying to avoid capturing other patients) that I took at the hospital earlier, it lists some of the benefits of Hydrotherapy. This includes pain relief, and reduction of muscles spasms. It shall be interesting to see if it will help with the spasms I experience! If you have had Hydro, feel free to drop me a line I’d love to hear your experiences.
Today marks three years since my life got a good shake up as my Dystonia alien made its presence known. So much has happened over the last few years that it’s hard to keep track, I’ve had a handful of operations, countless x-rays, far too many ambulance trips, and appointment after appointment with varying Consultants. I have also gone from being reliant on a wheelchair fulltime, to being able to walk with the aids of splints!
It has been an incredibly emotional journey, and I think that’s a naturel response to everything that’s happened. I’m finally at a place in my life where I feel like I am climbing the mountain that is Dystonia, instead of tumbling down it. I still have days like today, where it’s more like I am stubbornly camped out on it, refusing to fall. This morning I woke with my jaw in spasm, and my neck spasming on and off. So naturally I have spent a section of this afternoon lying on my living room floor, as the support that position gave my neck and back was the only way I felt comfortable. A year ago doing this would probably have left me feeling annoyed that I had resorted to doing it, today I was simply laughing, though maybe I am simply losing the plot.
Battling this condition has become second nature, nowadays I always have medication on me, and sometimes there’s even a TENs machine in my handbag. It surprises me how quickly Benedict has become accepted into everyday life without a second thought. This is a bittersweet realisation. It’s fantastic because it shows we are managing, that we are not drowning under the pressure the condition puts upon us. However a part of me feels sad that it has become so second nature, simply because who wants it to be part of their routine to remember to take one of their many pills or injections?
I’ve always kept score against Benedict. I think this year I finally got even.
Oromandibular Dystonia was one of my first symptoms that I suffered from before the Dystonia became generalised in 2012. Working on a trial and error basis with my Neurologist at the time we tested which Botox routine would best work for me, as it was clear 12 weeks was too long a stretch. Eventually we found the magic number, 6. Since then I have had my injections every six weeks and it has only been on the rare occasion that I have had to deal with my jaw spasming.
Jaw spasms. Two little words, yet they strike so much fear in me. The small spasms at best are uncomfortable, the extreme ones dislocate my jaw and cause seizures. My little alien loves causing spasms that leave me crying, clutching at my face as it contorts. In all honesty I couldn’t tell you why I grab my face. It’s an automatic response, as if a small part of me believes that if I clutch hard enough or push in the right direction, the pain might all go away. A child’s belief really, but one I find myself immersed in every time.
You would think that after almost three years of Benedict pulling my body this way and that, that I would no longer feel embarrassed by the teething tummy I resort to using to help prevent my upper teeth digging into my gums during a spasm, that I would no longer feel humiliated by the fact that I have no control over the majority of my body. I deal with the embarrassment better than I used to. I now force myself to carry on with my life and go out when I’m spasming, whereas previously I’d have shut myself away.
I spent Sunday with my boyfriend, it was the first time he had seen my facial spasms. He was great, and helped me medicate myself. At first I dealt with it fine, but eventually as the day wore on and I got tired, the spasms got worse until I resorted to using the teething dummy. I’ve only met his family a few times, so my embarrassment levels sky rocketed at this point. It’s not how I want them to see me, though I know that for them to be aware of my condition is a positive. What 22year old wants her boyfriend’s mum to see her with a dummy?! These are all qualms I need to get over, and with time I shall do.
I have sent my old neurologist an email informing him of my rather disappointing appointment with my new neuro. I am hoping that he will be able to speak to my current neurologist, so that he will agree to do six weekly injections. It may be a long shot, but it’s getting hard to hold my head up as well now. My next round of injections is not until the 12 August, so until then my dummy and TENS machine are my best bet.
Today is my first appointment with a new neurologist. I was meant to have another appointment with my wonderful consultant on the 29th of this month. I had a phone call the other day telling me he had left earlier than planned and that my appointment needed to be bumped up to 3:40pm today. So here I am now sat in the café of the hospital, coffee in hand, desperately trying to not freak out.
I brought one of my favourite books with me, Twilight, to help pass the time. However sitting here observing other patients around me, who are also in various states of unease, I can’t help but feel trapped. I know that my anxiety is mostly likely heightened by those around me, yet even knowing that doesn’t quiet the voices in my head. Will this be one of an endless list of consultants? Will he give me the time to ask my questions? Will he aggravate my CRPS?
My first thought is to leave, and hop on the next train home, and just put up with the increase in spasms. Crazy I know. I doubt I’d make it two months before I’d be back begging for my injections. I know that life without my botox is not worth it. It is not a life. It is ambulance trip after ambulance trip, and I won’t go back to it. So where does that leave me? It leaves me cowering over twilight determined to loose myself in its love story.
Botox makes the biggest difference to my life. But the administration of it terrifies me.
I have some incredible news for you all! I think this tops all my positive news so far this year. I have been offered an unconditional place at Oxford Brookes University to study an undergraduate degree in Publishing Media this September. This wasn’t planned; more about that later. I applied just over two weeks ago and it was a shock to find myself typing out my personal statement, however I’m over the moon and counting down the days till the course begins.
I went to an open day last month with the idea in mind that I would apply to study in 2016. Whilst I was there I had a lovely chat with the course leaders who were impressed with my Cosmo articles, my work editing the church magazine and of course my blog. They encouraged me to speak to admissions and apply as a late applicant to study this September. In all honesty I didn’t expect to get a place. The deadline to apply was back in January so I was really pushing my luck. Yet can you believe it, for once luck is on my side?!
I was astounded at the open day by how disabled friendly the university is. The ensuites in the disabled accommodation are comparable to modern hospital disabled facilities. Ironically it will be easier to keep myself clean at uni than at home! The disability service team talked through with me the support that will be on offer for me, which really helped put my mind at ease. There will be a pull cord in my room and bathroom for if I need emergency help when I’m in the flat. On days when I am suffering from a flare up of symptoms l I can ask for a ‘buddy’ to be with me all day in case I need help. There is a fantastic range of support available for both my physical difficulties and my Dyslexia. I have been beyond impressed by the speed of contact from the disability team. I only received my offer yesterday from the university but this team have already been in contact to arrange support for the upcoming year.
It’s all happened so fast and I’m sure the next two months will fly by. Returning to university study is a huge step. Moving to university is an enormous step. I have relied on my family to care for me, when Benedict the Dystonia Alien decides to come out and play, for so long. I have never had to deal with my condition on my own, so this will be a big learning curve, but it is one that I am extremely excited to experience. The next three years I’m sure will have bumps in the road but I plan on enjoying the journey!
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