I spend 99% of my time shut up in my room due to Dystonia. Throughout the months leading up to this summer I was concerned as to how my body was going to react as bright light triggers my eye spasms (I am unable to currently wear my sunglasses or glasses as it causes a facial spasm) and I have to be careful in the sunlight as my antibiotics for suspected Lyme Disease causes light sensitivity. I had been thinking for a while now that I was just going to have accept that I would be having to spend the whole of the summer indoors.
It turns out I need not have been so pessimistic. This week I have been out in the garden several times with my family, family friends and had two BBQ’s. I was overjoyed to be out socializing with our family friends. We made sure I was in the shade so that both my body and eyes were protected. It was perfect and I had such a great time.
This achievement has left me thrilled as it has reassured me that I can enjoy this summer and the summers to come without worry. I only have to be a bit careful and that’s not much of an issue. Being out in the warmth and socializing has really lifted my spirits and left me feeling overjoyed and calm.
I look forward to seeing what the rest of the summer has in store.
Despite it being the third most common movement disorder Dystonia goes almost unknown to the public. It lingers in the shadowy background letting its brothers, Essential Tremor and Parkinson, take the limelight. By slithering along in the back alleys it can prey on its victims with ease, bringing devastation to those it touches. The medical profession cowers in its presence, refusing to open their eyes and admit what they are seeing, they send you to a psychiatrist instead, not understanding that this just gives the Dystonia more time to make itself at home in your body and wreak havoc when it sees fit.
By the time the Consultant realises it is Dystonia, you have already been suffering for so long. The spasms leave you drained from the pain, and you are desperate for any sort of relief. Then it seems like a miracle has happened, the consultant whips out a tiny bottle that brings promises of relief from the spasms, the pain, the fight. A few injections of this will sort you out, he promises, he tells you it won’t cure you and you will need it again in three months. You are over the moon, such a long period of relief seems too good to be true. The consultant, who seems to hold all the answers you have searched for, does not warn you that one day you may be fighting him.
Five weeks into your pain-free period agony grips your jaw, the spasm pushing it across to the point you’re sure it will dislocate. Emotions run through you: anger, sadness, heartbreak, devastation. No one warned you how hurt you would feel when the Dystonia reared his ugly head agony. You count the weeks on your hands repeatedly, this should not have happened for weeks yet. As the reality sinks in that you still have to wait at least 6 more weeks for more of the injections numbness sweeps through you. You feel so tired. A small part of you wants to curl up in a ball on the floor and cry.
You try desperately to contact your consultant but he ignores your pleas for help. Who do you turn to now? There are many open doors you could run through, but which one holds the key to help? Who will help you now? How many more Consultants are going to abandon you after dangling hope in front of you?
On Friday my jaw developed a painful tremor (see video on previous post) that has caused me more and more issues. Since Friday I have visited the out of hours doctors, been rushed by ambulance to hospital, and had an urgent visit to the dentist as the tremor is actually dislodging my teeth! It all is beginning to get a little bit too much and I desperately want the pain to go away. Knowing that the tremor is actually dislodging some of my teeth concerns me a lot. I still have a few baby teeth with no adult ones underneath them, so to know that this tremor is dislodging them is rather alarming. The Dentist I saw was an extremely lovely chap who reassured me that everything would be done to keep my baby teeth in for as long as possible.
As I have mentioned previously we have been emailing my consultant for several weeks now asking if he could book me in for Botox injections. Today I finally got a date, for three weeks time (July 16th). This is 5 weeks later than normal. Now this may not seem like a long time, but being in agony 24/7 and struggling to eat and drink makes the situation almost unbearable, I am currently only just about coping by taking Oramorph (morphine) and Diazepam. It is also extremely debilitating. I have pain triggered non epileptic seizures, not only does this often result in me ending up in hospital but it also puts major parts of my life on hold. I normally go to my local Riding for the Disabled stable on a thursday for a riding lesson, this is an activity that is extremely important to me and one that I thoroughly enjoy, however I am unable to ride when I am having so many seizures.
There was also no mention of my week admittance into the hospital that was meant to happen over two months ago in this email. I am now sadly looking into transferring to another consultant at another hospital as I feel completely neglected by my consultant. I feel like he dangles hope in front of me and then snatches it away without warning.
On a more cheery note I got my splint for my left leg yesterday! This makes things like getting in and out of the house so much easier and has so far been a joy to wear. It is amazing how much of a difference the little things in life can make!
The last couple of days by spasms have been extremely painful which has resulted in an increase of seizures. My necks spasms in particular seem to set these seizures off. Even though the increase in neck spasms is hideous it shows just how much of an incredible effect the Botox had for me. The Botox decreased the severity and frequency of them dramatically.
I finally heard from my consultant the other day. I received an email saying that he would contact me with a date for my Botox injections, I am hoping that this will be soon. He did not address the fact that despite on April 5th he said would admit me for a week and still hasn’t. I have started to accept that fact that this is rather likely to never happen, which I am disappointed about.
I have started making a list of questions I want to ask him. I would like him to consider the fact that Lyme Disease can cause Dystonia and that it could be the root of my problems. I plan on asking him to remain open-minded during the appointment as well, as I would like to discuss with him again certain medications I would like to try. I also want to have an open discussion with him about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).
Whilst there is a possibility that my symptoms could improve if it turns out I have Lyme Disease, there is still a real possibility that some of my more debilitating spasms such as the ones effecting my legs could remain in the same state as they are now. I just want my consultant to consider it. I am not asking for it just yet and I would happily try all the medications and jump through all the hoops they want me to first. However at the end of the day I would rather not spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair, and whilst DBS does not offer a cure, it offers the possibility that I may not have to rely on the wheelchair all the time. I am hoping that he will understand that I don’t want him to say yes or no just yet, that I just want him to have a think about it.
One thing I have learned through all of this is that if you don’t ask and plant that little seed in the doctor’s mind then you definitely won’t get it. If, however, you plant that little seed it may just grow into a real treatment avenue which could offer hope. There is no harm in asking!
I have had some really positive moments this week! On Tuesday I had a meeting with a woman who works for a service called Cross Roads. Their service provides a range of support. On a Thursday morning, starting in a few weeks time, a guy is going to come over to care for me for a few hours. This means that my mum and stepdad will get a break from caring for me, instead this guy will socialise with me and help me with my meds etc. Not only will this give my parents a much needed break but it will be great for me to socialise with someone who’s around my own age. I am really looking forward to this starting.
My Jaw and neck spasms are rather bad at the moment. I am doing my best to try to ignore them but it is a bit had to ignore the spasms when your head is completely lopsided and your jaw is pushed right across. We contacted my consultant a couple of weeks ago asking to be booked in for Botox treatment, but as has been the case for over 2 months now, he has still not replied to any of our emails. We are going to phone his secretary tomorrow to ask her to chase him, however she never sees the consultants she works for and can only email them, so I am not sure how much she can do for me.
Yesterday and today have been amazing. Yesterday I had another fantastic session with my personal trainer that left me exhausted but extremely happy! I just love my Wednesday sessions. Today I went up to the stables and had a wonderful RDA riding lesson. I rode Nelly again, she is such a beautiful horse and fantastic to ride. She is slightly more challenging to ride than Connie but I love this as it allows me to work on and develop my skills more! Being around horses and riding puts me on such a high, if I did not have to dismount at the end of the lesson I would stay on the horse for hours! Riding is pure bliss!
As many of you will know, around a month ago I attempted to cut all stimulants out of my diet to see if it would have any impact on my tremors. Over the last week I have slowly introduced stimulants in low quantity’s back into my diet to see if there would be a noticeable difference in my body.
The results from my little experiment were extremely interesting. Whilst cutting out the stimulants did not stop my tremors it reduced them greatly, I would say it almost halved the number of tremors I have in a day. When I reintroduced the stimulants back into my diet this week, the number of tremors I have been having shot back up! I was careful to only consume a small quantity of stimulants just in-case it caused an increase, I did not expect this small amount to have such a big impact!
It is interesting to know that stimulants do actually have a physical impact on my Dystonia. Now that I know just how much of an impact it has on my symptoms I am going to make sure that I avoid stimulants as much as possible.
I find knowing that it impacts me to be a comforting thought, as it means that by avoiding consuming stimulants as much as possible, then to a degree, I have control over the severity and frequency of my tremors. It gives me hope that there are natural ways to control and treat this condition along side medication.
I am going to do more research into foods that can impact Dystonia to see if I can find anything else that I may benefit from cutting out of my diet.
I am not the type of person who likes to sit around all day doing nothing, I like to challenge and push myself. Sometimes I do not recognise my limits and I push myself to far but I would rather try than give up. Yesterday I had a session with my personal trainer. Despite feeling ill and having awful spasm for several days I decided to go ahead with the session as I felt slightly better. I am so glad I went ahead with the session as it was incredible.
At the start of the session I was a bit worried as we were going to try to do boxing. I was concerned that my arms would act up and that I would have a lot of spasms, however I will never let my Dystonia stop me from at least trying to do something, because if you never try then you will never know what you are capable of. It was the most fantastic session as my hands did not spasm once! I had a teeny tiny arm spasm that wore off very quickly, but I don’t really count that.
I still feel like I am still on high from the session, it was extremely therapeutic as well as a good work out. I am completely astounded at how well my limbs behaved, it has filled me with joy as it was a fantastic achievement. My arms were not to great later in the day but I did not care as I felt like I was sitting on top of the world.
As an able-bodied person I never tried boxing, I brushed away from the idea of it, declaring that my lack of coördination and my ‘girlie’ attempts would be embarrassing. So I am actually rather thankful that because of my Dystonia alien I got to try boxing out. It was an amazing experience, and I don’t think my punches were ‘girlie’ at all. Over the last few sessions I have realised that I am stronger than I thought.
I feel extremely lucky to have found a personal trainer who is not scared of my condition and who comes up with inventive ways to get me working out e.g using a crutch with him putting resistance through it to do a chest press. Without his fantastic help I am sure that my spasms and my body would me in a far worse state than what they are at the moment. His work outs keep my body moving, which helps give me that extra bit of mobility. His help has given me such confidence in myself and my ability to deal with my spasms. I never thought I would enjoy working out, unless it was on a horse, and now I love it. I love my daily work outs and I am always looking forward to my weekly session.
I know each Dystonia patient is different but I would defiantly recommend looking into a personal trainer to see if they can help you. You may or may not benefit from it, but if you never try you will never know.
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.
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.
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.
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