Recently I’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. Hence why I didn’t automatically return to blogging following my son’s operation in March. I wasn’t sure where my head was at and needed to work through it. A handful of events had triggered it and I was up and down more than the seesaw at the park.
I’d had an assessment where I need to provide extreme detail of all my conditions right from the start to now. You can imagine how emotionally exhausting that can be, explaining to someone why you had to give up your dream midwifery degree, relieving the rapid decline in health over the years and what I do to cope. I hadn’t anticipated it to affect me so strongly but it did.
It’s taken awhile but my head’s back where it’s stronger. I think during these covid times where we don’t have our usual coping mechanisms it’s quite easy to feel sucked under. Previously I could have rung up my friends and been at the soft play laughing over a fruit shoot, while the kids ran themselves to sleep. Spirits lifted, dark cloud averted.
Im looking forward now, and focusing on the future. On the post lockdown adventures with my family, with having friends in for a brew and a natter. But also accepting that lockdown has taught me that I don’t need to be on the go and out every day. If my body’s saying no then PJ’s, Disney and baking is it. That’s perfect too.
After a week long stay I was finally discharged from one of our local hospitals yesterday evening. I was admitted due to pain in my left eye which has optic neuritis, it had become overwhelming, to the point I felt I had to apply pressure on my eye to relieve it. I had also lost the sensation in the bottom half of my right leg.
During my time in the hospital they decided to carry out a Lumbar Puncture and MRI knowing that my neuro team wanted to do these anyway. The LP side effects I’m still dealing with, I am still having issues with my bladder, my whole leg now has no sensation, and I have a permanent horrondous headache. Both tests came back clear which left the dr’s there confused. On discharge I was diagnosed with Complex neurological disorders and global sensory loss in the right leg, and told my neuro team would take over figuring out the cause.
Today I had an Opthalmology appointment at another hospital. The opthamologist in charge of my care is wonderful. I sat down, he faced me and said “So you have MS ” he was quiet matter of fact about it. I corrected him and pointed out that my tests had come back clear. He muttered that they were wrong and went on to examine my eyes. After several tests he sat back looked me in the eyes and again said “Rebecca you have M.S”. He was quite insisted that my doctor’s must have missed something on my scans due to the state my eyes were in.
So where do I go from here? Such wildly different view points, everyone agreeing that my local neurology team needs to see me again and review what the different teams have found. However getting hold of them is darn impossible. Both myself and my gp surgery contacted them a few days before I was admitted informing them I was going downhill, and needed input desperately. Neither myself or my gp’s surgery has had a response yet.
Right now I’m very emotional and very stressed. I’m taking things moment by moment and trying to just accept things as they are and get on with it. But I work best with action plans and right now I don’t even know who’s responsible for my care. I feel very lost in the system.
It’s a painsomnia night so I thought I would share with you all something that I’ve been coming back to frequently recently. Personally I’m a very sensitive, emotional person; now some may view that as a bad thing, others a good thing, some of you will be neutral. I can see the pros and cons, but it’s what makes me me, so yes I may cry buckets everytime we watch certain episodes of Vikings, or The Lion King but i’ll also laugh myself to stitches five minutes later. It’s a rollercoaster of life. It’s real, honest and truth.
So why do I, and I know many others with chronic illness will be able to identify with this, go on autopilot everytime a doctor, family member or friend asks after us? You know the drill, you walk into the drs room the doctor greets you and asks how you are before you get down to the nitty gritty. It’s a formality, so like a healthy person you respond with I’m good thanks, and you? It’s ridiculous! Why is it so hard to say you know what I’m actually not great at the moment and I need some help.
I forced myself to do this yesterday. I could hear the usual auto response slipping out my mouth, so I caught myself, took a breath, looked the doctor in the eye and said I’m pretty awful and I don’t know what to do. Now saying that wasn’t easy but boy did the relief for sharing the burden feel good. Making that choice to let the facade of I can cope with everything slip for a moment to ask for help took an incredible amount of inner strength and it’s something I’m going to practice doing more often. Vulnerability is not something to view in a negative light, in fact it allows others to reach out and see if they can improve your situation. Sometimes just talking things over can make a difference.
So just pause for a moment and think; are you like me and guilty of putting walls up? Is it worth flexing your inner strength and letting that vulnerability show? Let me know what you decide to do!
After a productive three weeks in the hospital I’m finally back and settled in to university life again. What a better way to celebrate than providing you with the next installment of dating disasters? So hold on to your screens, grab some popcorn and settle in for a dose of embarrassment and reality.
I’d been seeing a guy, let’s call him John Smith, for a couple of weeks. He was entertaining, the attraction was mutual and things between us were progressing well. We had reached that thrilling stage of where do we go from here? It’s always an entertaining dance of social blunders. It’s an attractive situation to be in, and we were both thriving off the tension building. We had talked briefly about my jackpot of disorders and at the time I think he truly believed that he could cope with it all. I was more than happy to believe this. You would think I would know better by now. It would have been different if he had seen just what contortionist tricks my body is capable of from the word go, but when we met my injections were in full swing and so he had never borne witness to my reality.
One night, not that long ago, we were curled up watching a comedy. I always laugh hard at the sound of my own laughter, I’m a bit of a nutter like that. Seeing me in stitches conjured up warm and fuzzy feelings for Mr. Smith, and he leant over to kiss me. It started off great, slow, full of nerves from both of us. Have you ever yawned whilst kissing someone? Not the most attractive move, so to try and hide this, I pulled back. No one wants their face yawned on after all. John read this as me giving into my nervousness, so a little bit too enthusiastically placed his hands on either side of my face to pull me back towards him. If he had had his eyes open, he would have seen the horror in mine. As he pulled on my yawning cheeks I felt the spasm roar to life in my jaw, and the oh so familiar pain as my jaw dislocated.
Everybody deals with witnessing a person dislocate differently. Some people feel sick, others just want to get you seen by a Doctor. I can understand all of these reactions, I’m certain if it was the other way around I would be exactly the same. What I didn’t expect was the wide tumbling range of emotions that erupted from him. For the most part he was repulsed, partially due to the dislocation and partly because he had caused it. Then came the upset, anger and panic. I sat there rubbing in the volterol, knocking back muscle relaxants and pain killers, alternating between trying to calm him down and relocate my jaw.
It was one of the first times I have had someone blame me for being too breakable. At the time I was hurt, it wasn’t like I had not forewarned him. Now I hold my hands up and laugh it off. I am the opposite of breakable, I’m much like Chip the teacup in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; Slightly chipped but otherwise a barrel of laughter, and perfectly functioning. Looking at me on a bad day I can understand why a person may get the wrong impression, but sit calmly and talk to me and I’ll tell you just how resilient I am. Stick around and I’ll even show you. For now, I’m going to enjoy being ‘breakable’, laugh at my mistakes, highs and downright weird life path. I love my body, flaws and all.
…and I don’t mean Beauty and the Beast style. This Beast of mine, is not going to transform into my Disney fairytale prince charming. Sitting in the Drs office earlier this afternoon, the Dr uttered words I had hoped I would never hear again. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The newest diagnosis to my add to my growing list, but not new to me. I have battled and conquered this hideous beast before. It took months and months in hospital. I never thought I would have to deal with this condition again. Last time it was in my leg. Now it is in my shoulder.
Emotionally I am numb, exhausted I know from the little sleep I have got due to pain. Part of me wants to draw the curtains, grab a pillow and just cry. But what good would that do me? It wouldn’t fix me, it wouldn’t take the physical pain away. I made the mistake last time round of avoiding everything that inflicted more pain, such as trousers (I lived in shorts), I couldn’t bear bed sheets, etc, anything touching me was agony. By avoiding touch I made the condition worse. I’m forcing myself to lie down on my back, to wear clothes that hurt, to put my handbag on shoulder even if only for a moment. By doing these things repeatedly hopefully my brain will relearn, again, that all is well.
The Dr went through my meds and was a bit stumped, as medication that he would have put me on to try to treat the condition, such as Gabapentin, I am already on the maximum dose of. We therefore agreed to trial Sertraline on the lowest dose. It may or may not work, but I’ll try anything right now.
In the meantime I’m going to close my eyes, and breath. Things could be worse after all. I defeated this beast once before, and I’ll defeat it once more.
Today has felt like someone has lit a tiny candle at the end of long tunnel, one that I am still at the beginning of. I cannot turn back, all I can do is head towards the tiny flickering light I can see in the distance. I must jump, duck, slide, and fight hurdle after hurdle on my way to that light. That light is hope! Finally being able to see it, feels like I can put everything into perspective. I can breathe, and acknowledge that no matter how much I have to go through, no matter how much physical and emotional pain I have to go through, there is happiness at the end. I will get my happy ending!
I am the type of girl, who wont just sing in the shower, I will sing under my breath in the shop, I will sing at the top of my lungs in my house. Singing, for me, creates happiness. And if by chance I am singing a song from a Disney film such as Pocahontas or Mulan, then I am completely joyful and content. However, I cannot sing when I am unconscious I cannot sing when my body is bend backwards due to a spasm in my back, and my neck is trying to over rotate due to another spasm. Agony, causes me to have Non Epileptic Seizures However this weekends agony, took things to a whole new level.
Saturday night, my neck and back were awful. I could not move without setting a spasm off, and as soon as I had a spasm I had a seizure. It was a vicious circle. One that I have no recollection of. My mum ended up having to sleep in my room that night, due to the agony I was in and the lack of consciousness I had. Eventually I thankfully fell asleep and the spasms and seizures stopped. I had hoped that Sunday would be a better day. Despite my neck still insisting on spasming, the morning started off well. At midday, I unfortunately collapsed from standing, giving my head and body a good whack as I landed. Whilst the spasms were slightly more frequent, at first it seemed that this fall had not done much damage. However I quickly began to deteriorate. By 7pm the seizures had become constant, and the spasms wouldn’t stop. I was getting mere seconds of consciousness now and then, before slipping straight back into another seizure. My mum had originally thought that we would do the same as the night before and ride it out, however by midnight she phoned for a paramedic, who after assessing me phoned for an ambulance.
I arrived at my local hospital at 2am. I finally regained consciousness between 5 and 6 am. A doctor did not come to see me until 8 am! This particular doctor worried us. We were completely convinced that she was a crazy cleaner who had put on some scrubs and stolen a stethoscope. On seeing me she felt my forehead and told me I was beautiful, she then informed us that there was nothing she could do for me other than pray, which she then did. Now, I have nothing against prayer. I am Christian, and I appreciate people praying for me. However when I am in a hospital it’s not what I want or need! I need medication! If I was the doctor I would have tried administering muscle relaxants to see if they would take the edge of the spasms and in turn calm down the seizures. The doctor then told my parents that the hospital could do nothing for me and they should take me home, this was despite the fact I was still having dreadful spasms and could not sit up without going into a seizure.
My mother expressed her concerns to a nurse, who then called a consultant into see us. This man was rude beyond belief, if I had been well enough to argue or make a complaint against him then and there I would have. At one point during a seizure my mother tried to shield my head to stop me from hitting it against the metal bars on the bed. The consultant told my mum to stop it and that I would not hit my head, he refused to listen when my mum pointed out that I had already hit my head on them several times. He then started rambling on about the type of seizures I was having. My mum tried to point out to him that we already knew that I was having Non Epileptic Seizures, and that we were not concerned about them, we were concerned about the sudden change in my spasms and the way they had presented themselves so violently. The consultant listened to none of this and told my mum to stop talking. He was useless, arrogant, and down right rude!
We tried to get the hospital to call my consultant up in London to see if he could offer us any advice, but they refused to do this. My step dad had to do phone my consultants secretary instead and leave a message. Hours later, after my body had eventually calmed down, we left the hospital, with no help from them. I felt so angry and upset. I had been in extreme pain, and yet they did nothing. We had to do battle with them just to get them to give me some basic painkillers!! Once I arrived home I phoned my GP and explained the situation to him. He was extremely shocked at the lack of care I had received at the hospital and prescribed me some stronger pain relief. The whole weekend had left me feeling physically and emotionally broken. It was ridiculous.
Today, I had to go back to the hospital. Luckily this time it was just for an appointment with the surgical orthotic department. The man I saw was superb. He had dealt with Dystonia before and had a good understanding of it. After having a feel of my legs and getting me to stand up and show him the spasm, he said he thought he could help! He is going to make a splint that should hopefully prevent the spasms twisting my leg into painful positions. Whilst we there he made a plaster cast of my leg/foot, which should be ready for me in around 3 -4 weeks. He said that if the splint did not work for me then he would look at what other ways there were for him to help me! After telling him about the spasms my arm does, he suggested I get my GP to do another referral to him so that we can look at what he can do to help contain the spasm.
It was such a positive appointment. It helped me to not completely give up hope on Doctors and showed me that there are a handful out there who want to help you. You just have to find them. Both my neck and back have behaved so far today, which is fantastic and gives my body some much-needed relief. I feel slightly ‘normal’ again, to the point that I can see the distant light at the end of the tunnel. I can now relax and sing along to my favourite songs, knowing that no matter what happens and how bad it seems, there is always going to be something positive at the end of it. I just have to find it!
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