Before I became ill I frequently had periods away from home. Whether that was holidays with friends, slumber nights with mates or living in halls at university during term time. Having independence rudely snatched away by Dystonia has been something I have had difficulty adjusting to. To a degree you could say I have refused to adjust to it and have enjoyed pushing my boundaries even if they landed me in hospital.
At times rolling over, bowing down to my alien and declaring its victory, has been tempting. However I’m a stubborn person, a trait that I am rather sure is one of the reasons I have come as far as I have in my battle against my many illnesses. Up until this weekend I had not spent a night away from my family (my mum has always slept at the hospital with me) due to the severity, complexity, and erratic nature of my health. Over the last year we have finally found a combination of medication and regular injections that has helped to manage my symptoms enough to give me a better quality of life. So I decided to embrace this new found stability (though I shall admit I still have some unexpected moments, and have almost hit my boyfriend on a few occasions), and spent the weekend in Manchester visiting two of my old flatmates.
My flatmates Emily and Rachel are very close to my heart. I see Rachel several times a month as we live seconds away from each other still, but Emily I haven’t seen since 2012 though we have kept in touch. They were both there for me in uni when my body started going downhill, and have spent numerous occasions in hospital with me at silly o’clock in the morning. To have my first time spent away from my family be with these two girls meant a lot to me. It was also quite reassuring as they have both done their nursing training, so I was in safe hands!
Today I am shattered, after a full on weekend with the girls, a subtle reminder that although it feels like no time has passed since we last were all together I’m slightly more fragile than I was back then.
As you will know from my previous blog post a couple of days ago I was withdrawn from university after being on sick leave for a year because of my Dystonia.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.
Today has involved yet another fierce battle against my Dystonia and my Non Epileptic Seizures. A battle which is still yet to be won. I try to defend myself against my neurological demons by sitting up as slowly as possible attempting to use distraction techniques as I attempt each task, but so far my neurological demons are one step ahead of me, constantly ready to launch their next attack on my body.
I am spending most the day in bed at the moment, to recover from Tuesdays incident. Just to get up to go to the toilet is almost impossible. 9 out 10 times just by sitting up a seizure will happen, this then means I have to try to sit up again, which is rather painful due to the sprains and soft tissue damage caused by Tuesdays fall and seizures. Once I have won the battle to get up, my mother and one of my siblings have to help me walk to the toilet and back. This can take a long time in itself as if I collapse and seize on the way there, I find it extremely hard and painful to get back up.
We are still unsure of how many seizures I am having, as some of them I am completely unaware of. My body hurts a lot but my head is the worst. I feel dizzy often and have a constant feeling of there being too much pressure in my head. I feel like someone needs to put a needle into my head and drain out whatever is causing it. It is a rather painful feeling.
This battle for control is very physically and emotionally draining. I desperately want back the control of my body, but my Neurological demons seem to have other plans for me at the moment. I am hoping that my consultant (when he bothers to get back to us) will be able to provide us with some advice.
So I know Dystonia is thought of by the medical society as incurable but I have to disagree. Personally I think that the medical society know so little about Dystonia, that to say it is incurable is madness. Just because they have not found a magic treatment plan or pill that works for everyone does not mean it cannot be cured. Why accept such such a depressing prognosis? Why not stand up and say NO! I am going to beat this thing and prove you all wrong!!
Life has thrown a hell of a lot at me and so far I have beaten every single thing. I plan on beating Dystonia too. In 2009, I suffered from Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and I was hospitalised for six long months, yet I didn’t let it win! It took about 9 months but I beat it! I had to teach myself to walk again, I had to retain my brain to understand that things touching my leg weren’t actually harming me. It was agonising but I beat it!
If I can beat CRPS then I can beat Dystonia. The doctors all admit that CRPS and Dystonia are very similar, and treatment for them both is again very similar. So in my eyes if I can beat one, then I can beat both! Before all of this happened in July, I was so happy, I was training to be a midwife and loving it! I refuse to let Dystonia stop me!
So little Dystonia alien, if you can hear me, I would be very afraid! You have had your fun and now it is time for you to leave! I have had enough of you controlling my body! I am going to take back my body and I am going to go back to my studies!
After spending the last couple of weeks in a wheelchair, I have decided that I am not meant to be in one…EVER! I simple do not trust anyone pushing me. Now I know that no-one was ‘meant’ to be in a wheelchair, but I am honestly a control freak. Every curb, bump, lamp-post, person, etc, that appears sends me into a panic! I find myself constantly saying “please steer further away from the curb” purely because I am terrified of falling out.
I know that whoever is pushing me, is trying their best not to throw me out, or run into anyone/anything, but I panic anyway. I normally end up gripping the sides or leaning away from the curb, despite knowing that these actions will not stop me falling etc. I think most of my panic is because I know that if I was pushing the wheelchair, I would be an awful driver, so in my mind, everyone is automatically a bad driver.
However, I must admit, that despite my irrational fears when in my wheelchair, I have had a few amusing moments in it. Take for example, my mother the other day, deciding to run (whilst pushing me) down an aisle in Tesco singing the James Bond theme tune. It was a moment that had us both in fits of giggles.
My fear of other people pushing me in my wheelchair, has just increased my excitement at my upcoming treatment, if there is anyway they can improve my symptoms so that I am able to walk (even if its only for short distances) would be so amazing! I can only hope and pray for the best!
Yesterday the little dystonia alien decided it was bored of manipulating my face, arm and hand. It decided it needed yet another toy. It chose my leg! For a long time now my leg has not been completely normal, every now and then it would over bend or I would get odd sensations running up and down it. I choose to ignore these niggles and put it down to issues I had had previously with my leg. However the last 4 or 5 days these niggles had got more frequent and were more noticeable, I decided that now was the time to speak up and express my concerns. So off we went to the doctors and yet another medicine was added to my cocktail of drugs, in attempt to try and lessen the dystonia aliens effects.
Yesterday the alien decided to up its game again. Instead of causing the usual niggles, it decided to cause a painful spasm that twisted my foot inwards and curled my toes up, then it decided to shake violently. The alien decided to do this each time I attempted to walk. In the end I could just about walk on the tips of my toes, however sometimes this set the alien off as well. So I spent the day hopping around, trying to get on with the day as usual and attempting to distract my self. However when I got up to try and walk today, I decided to try and walk normally, hoping that the spasm would not return. But after taking two steps the alien decided to play games, the spasms once again twisted my foot inwards at a bent angle and curled my toes up before shaking violently.
Due to the little dystonia alien also affecting my right arm and hand, I cannot even walk with a crutch, as holding a crutch would set off the spasm in that hand and arm. Therefore I have had to resort to using a wheelchair for getting out and about. Its not a ideal option but for the time being its a realistic one. I went out shopping with my parents to get a few bits today in my wheelchair. At first I was bit anxious, I knew that now more than ever I would be stared at. However once again I found that the stares just reassured me that I could do this, that I didn’t mind. After all, if it was the other way round I would most likely also be just as rude and look.
I feel so thankful for the support and love I get from my family and friends. Without them it would be a much harder battle with dystonia. With their love, help and support, I am able to get on with daily life and be happy. I know that no matter how hard things get, they will always be there for me. I am so thankful for them!
My quote of the day has to be ‘Pain is inevitable.Suffering is optional’. I find this quote rather fitting. Having dystonia means that every day and every night in full of pain, some days worse than others. However just because I am in pain does not mean I should stop and give up. If anything I embrace the pain, I accept that it is part of me but it does not define me.
Dystonia makes many daily activities like cooking, washing my hair, going for a walk etc. rather hard, but that is no excuse for me to lie in bed all day feeling sorry for myself. Instead it inspires me to get up and go, to think what can I do and then go and do it. I love horse riding, its going to be difficult to do, but I am not going to let pain stop me from giving it a go!
Dystonia causes a hell of a lot of pain. I am going to achieve everyone of my goals despite it!
Today i decided to attempt the dangerous task of straightening my hair. A task that to most is rather simple and requires very little brain power. For me it involved a fierce battle between myself and the alien, both of us fighting for control of my face, right arm and hand.
Have you ever tried straightening your hair, whilst your arm and the hand that you would normally use is stuck in a painful spasm behind your head? For those of you who are fortunate enough not to have experienced this, i can assure you it is not an easy task. After a long twenty minutes I gave in to the little alien, feeling rather proud of myself. My hair was not great but I had made a darn good attempt. A small win over the alien.
So far the alien is winning the majority of our frequent battle, but I am slowly catching up.
One normally feels in control of their body, if they want to pick up a pencil or smile they can do see without a second thought. So who is in control of mine?
In July I lost control of my mouth, then in august I lost control of my eyes, and now in September I have lost control of the majority of my face, my right arm and hand. So who is in control?
Dystonia is a neurological condition so therefore it is the basal ganglia that is in control of me, or at least that is what the medical profession say. Personally I have an image of a tiny little alien bouncing around inside my brain with a wicked grin on its face, cackling away to itself whilst deciding what part of my body is going to do what today.
So little alien if you can hear me, as much as I can understand that what you are doing in there must be a hell of a lot of fun, could you give me an hours break? Just so my muscles can relax.
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