It has been a little over two weeks since my trip to the hospital where I was subsequently put on a strict liquid-only diet whilst I wait for a referral to see the oral surgeons. The liquid diet has to a degree reduced the overall number of dislocations I’m experiencing on a daily basis which is positive, however, my jaw dislocations are still very frequent. Days such as today I find quite frustrating, I don’t know how best to help myself.
The Dr. I saw who did not believe in Dystonia or have any understanding of EDS was extremely disapproving of the fact that my local hospital had given me a small dose of morphine after the third attempt to relocate my jaw failed. I’d spent over 24 hours dislocated and only had paracetamol throughout, I had not once asked for painkillers until this point. His attitude had left me worried about how to manage my pain at home. I am on my 12th jaw dislocation today. I have broken down in pain multiple times, yet all I have taken to manage it is ibuprofen and paracetamol, alongside applying lavender wheat bags to ease the surrounding muscle spasms that are aggravating it. Normally I would have taken something stronger such as Codeine or Tramadol by now, which is a treatment plan agreed by both my GP and Neurologist, however I am so aware if on the off chance I have to return to the hospital for help with relocation I will need to inform them of what medications I have taken. I am fed of misinformed and ignorant professionals treating me like a drug seeker. I should not have to deprive myself of the painkillers I need because of one arrogant man.
I feel extremely frustrated. I know that referrals such as these take their time; however, I am concerned that this will just be the start of a very long process. Whatever ‘fix’ they come up with for my jaw, will have to take into account my Dystonia, and that seems like an impossible ask.
Every now and then I receive wonderful comments/emails/tweets from people expressing how reassuring it is to see me post pictures of my spasms. These messages often include phrasing such as “I don’t know how you do it, it’s very brave” and “I wish I had your confidence”. I don’t talk about this much, but when it comes to my spasms my normal confident self generally disappears. The stares in the streets, the whispers of “look at her face!” and people’s general ignorant remarks “Could you please stop or do it elsewhere” (usually in reference to my arm spasms) have caused me countless hours of upset. I don’t believe in wasting hours on being tearful over something I have no control over though, I hope the pictures below show that while hard, life as a spoonie can be fun.
Does this splint blend in?Laughter; the key to making the most of the spasm free moments!
In many ways I’m your stereotypical 23 year old, I take way to many selfies, own far too many shoes and grew up head over heels in love with books; a passion that has resulted in me wondering where to put them all now I’ve run out of shelves! I have all the insecurities that is normal of somebody my age: I am overweight, I do not care enough about fashion as I’d rather be comfy, and don’t even get me started on my complexion. It’s tiny insecurities that are perfectly normal but when combined with my spasms often results in self-deprecation. There are days when I can walk about not particularly worried about some of the smaller spasms I experience, and then there are days when I’m hyper aware and embarrassed when in public, not just because I need an aid such as my wheelchair or stick, but because my eyes are spasming causing functional blindness, and my jaw is contorting to the point of dislocation; this is all whilst my left arm is casually attacking anything in range.
Teaching myself to accept the alien
When confronted by people asking me to refrain from spasms, I try to politely explain that it’s nothing I can control and apologize. But why should I. Should you apologize for shivering when cold? It’s a natural reaction that you would never dream of uttering apologies for. So why then should I issue out apologies for something that is just as natural. Sure, everybody and their friend may not experience it, but it’s my brain firing off incorrect signals that are just as natural as your shiver or yawn.
I live in pain every day and never know what to expect from my body. Yet people judge me for this. If all I manage to accomplish that day is a shower and pulling on a clean pair of pyjamas then who cares, all that matters is that I achieved it, other days I am capable of so much more. But just because I have had the energy and ability to carry out a task at that point in time, does not mean I will be capable of performing the same task five minutes later, let alone the next day.
I try to live every day ignoring the sideways glances and stage whispers, enjoying everything I am fortunate enough to experience. These days I try to capture my spasms on camera, as after all they are just as much a part of me as the functioning parts of my body. So when you are say I’m brave and ask how I cope the answer is quite simple. I’m not brave, I am stubborn, Dystonia and my host of other conditions will not stop me from living life. Coping is a different matter altogether. Some days it’s as easy as breathing, and laughing feels like the answer to everything. Other days curling up in my bed escaping into books where the words provide comfort and distraction is all I can do.
This afternoon I was up in London seeing my lovely neurologist. As usual I went armed with lots of questions. I feel very blessed that I see such a lovely man, who listens to everything I have to say. His manner is very calming, I hate needles, but his calm attitude puts me at complete ease, I would never let anyone else stick so many injections in me. I was excited to see him and to show him how much progress I have made with creating my life around my symptoms.
We went through all my queries before my injections and he was so helpful with each one. He is going to write to my GP explaining that I need the IV antibiotics for Lyme Disease, I am relieved he has agreed to do this as it means I do not have to argue with my GP about it. I have a severe intolerance to Lactose, which unfortunately all but one of medications contain. At first this was fine as my body was coping with the small amount, but now that it has slowly built up in system my body is reacting and is making my other medical conditions, e.g IBS, worse. The most annoying issue with it is that no matter how much time I sleep for I wake up feeling like I never went to sleep and I find it hard to keep going in the days, my neurologist has offered to get the pharmacy at the hospital to look into alternatives for me. This would make such a big difference. We have also juggled around my next two appointment to make sure that my jaw is in working order for Christmas and my 21st birthday.
We spoke about my functional paralysis and agreed that in a way it was positive as it was less disruptive to life, although it is not ideal. There is not much I can do other than take pain killers and try to stimulate the part that is paralysed in attempt to disrupt the incorrect signals that are being sent – this has not worked yet but I shall keep trying. I had my eyes, jaw and neck injected with Botox so my spasms shall continue to my kept in check and my jaw tremor should soon settle down for a few weeks.
It was a fantastic appointment. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful neurologist looking after me.
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.
My appointment with my Consultant today went amazingly well! I was so relieved that I did not have to argue with him, some of my questions he brought up before I could ask which was fantastic. He has offered to do my injections every 6 weeks – Guidelines state 12 weeks so this is a fantastic offer. I have left with an appointment booked for the end of the August!
He listened to all my concerns and questions and was very understanding. Knowing that I will be seen every six weeks is so calming, I feel like a huge part of me has breathed a sigh of relief as this will mean no more weeks on end of being in agony and my seizures should stay under control.
At my appointment today he administered injections to my jaw and neck, which was thankfully relatively painless, though my jaw did decide to go into an even more extreme spasm after the injection which was slightly amusing. I raised with him the issue that I am now unable to wear my glasses (which I am meant to wear for everything but walking – or in my case being pushed around) as when I do it causes a spasm around my eyes that makes me look sort of permanently surprised, he was unsure whether this was also related to my jaw spasm so has agreed that if this is still happening when I next see him he will do Botox around my eyes as well – this would be fantastic as it could help some of my eye spasm as well.
I spoke with him also about having IV treatment for Lyme Disease, he was a bit hesitant about what to say as he was unsure on what meds I would need and for how long. I explained that all I needed him to do was give the OK to my GP and that I would find a specialist Lyme doctor to discuss IV medications and length of time with. He has agreed to write to my GP saying Ok, which is fantastic. Now all I have to do is find someone to treat me.
The appointment overall was excellent and I really felt he listened to me. I am ecstatic that I have left with an appointment for six weeks time. I am going to be having an early night tonight as I am exhausted from todays trip to London, but I shall be going to bed an extremely happy bunny.
Days like today I wish someone could just wave a magic wand and fix all this! After spending half the night awake due to bad spasms in my feet, now my jaw and neck spasms have decided to be extreme today. The pain my Oromandibular Dystonia causes is pretty much indescribable. It feels like my jaw is dislocating and that the spasms are trying to force my jaw off my face. The pain often causes me to grab my face, as I feel like I need to try to force it to stay in place. The pain then leads to seizures, I have had many seizures today, and all of this mixed together consequently leaves me exhausted.
I have had to resort to taking my Diazepam today which adds to the tiredness and is currently leaving me feeling spaced out, which I suppose is a nice distraction from the pain. I have always said to myself that this blog will be nothing but pure honesty, and to be honest right now I would just like to cry due to the pain.
Knowing that I can have my injections done tomorrow afternoon is a calming thought . They say that you are to try to live a stress free life when you have Dystonia as stress can worsen your symptoms. How are you meant to live a stress free life when you spend weeks in agony? When your Neurologist, the person who is meant to help you, has become someone you have to battle? How are you meant to be stress free when your life is upside down and the medical profession who are meant to help you are making things harder!
I don’t have down days very often but today is a very bad one. I know there so many positives around me but it is very hard to focus on them when the pain is this bad. I have no energy whatsoever today. I am still in bed and am trying to muster the energy to get up and changed but I would so much rather roll over and go back to sleep.
I have well and truly had enough, my Neurologist is going to have to do a hell of a lot tomorrow to convince me to stay with him. 7 weeks overdue for my injections is ridiculous and I am not prepared to go through this experience ever again, it is just too much!!
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.
This morning pain has slowly been spreading down from my TMJ area into my jaw. I had done my best to ignore the pain, distracting myself with getting things ready for tomorrows hospital appointment (a non dystonia related one). However the lack of attention I was paying, seems to have seriously offended Benedict. To punish me, he has chosen the most painful part of me and decided to twist and pull it in as many ways as he can possibly find.
The right side of my face/lips has been pulled diagonally upwards and outwards. Consequently my right eye has been forced shut and it look like I am trying to bear half of my teeth. I must admit, if I was trying to scare someone away by bearing my teeth this spasm would do a very good job. The left half of my face/lips has been pulled diagonally downwards, and the whole of my jaw has been shoved to the left as well. I feel like my face is going to rip in two and my jaw is going to dislocate!! It is disappointing that despite having Botox not that long ago, Benedict is already able to manipulate my jaw. I have at least 4 weeks to go, if not more, before I can have any-more Botox injected.
Having Dystonia in any part of you body is a horrific thing. However now, in this moment of time, I would rather have my hand or my foot go into spasm. Whilst they are still ridiculously painful, I find them a hell of a lot easier to deal with. With the way Benedict seems to be playing with me today, I am sure that he will find some twisted way to add my wish to today’s neurological games.
I am refusing to let this spasm get the best of me though! I am going to enjoy today’s rugby match – Come on Scotland – I am going to have a nice glass of wine or Disaronno, even if I have to drink it through a straw, and I am going to relax. I am hoping that my pain medications kick in soon! Before I do anything else today I am going to meditate, as I often find this to be a very helpful way to help keep myself calm and to put off any unwelcome seizure.
The last few days have been rather interesting and positive. We have upped my Gabapentin even more, so that I am now taking 900mg three times a day. The reason for upping was a) to try to counter-act the tremors that had started in my leg, arm and head, b) I was intrigued to see if an increase dose would help enable my attempts to get back the ability of walking I had before the unfortunate incident on New Years day. I find that when it comes to increasing my does of Gabapentin, it is necessary to do this in baby steps. I am lucky that the only side effects this particular medication causes me, is when we increase the does, and even then these effects only last 24-48 hours.I find that an increase in the does, no matter how small, turns me into an irrational weeping wreck! I feel extremely sorry for people who encounter me during this. I am not going to up it any more for a while, as I do not want to get to the highest dosage and then find that it is not giving me any more benefits than the original dosage had. I do think that whilst the increased dose has not stopped these tremors, it has decreased them significantly, which is a huge relief! I have also received a letter from Surgical Orthotic’s with a date to seem them! I am hoping they will make me a brace to help me deal with the Dystonia that is affecting my leg! I am really looking forward to this appointment!
As many of you know, I had my last lot of Botox treatment for Ormandibular Dystonia back in January (on the 15th I think). Previously Botox has worked amazingly well for me, which led me to be rather naïve and presume that this would always be the case, or if did start to be less effective it would be later down the line after a few years of treatment. However my last treatment course only lasted 8 weeks, and this course seems to be heading the same way. I think it has been around 5 weeks since the injections and yet my little Dystonia alien is already trying its best to play with my jaw. Yesterday morning, just eating my breakfast set my jaw off into a spasm that caused the jaw to physically deviated (I am hoping this was just a one-off). Within seconds I went into one of my Non Epileptic Seizures, and then a few moments later I had one of my ‘silent’ Non Epileptic Seizures.
I have made a little of note of this, so that I can talk to my Consultant Neurologist about how quickly the Botox is wearing off. I know from his letters that he injects a lot less than my maxiofacial Consultant did, so I am going to ask if an increase in dosage could be considered, or if he can suggest anything else that we can do.
Last night I attended my pain support/research group, which as usual was a bundle of laughs! I entered feeling very stressed due to the fact that I had my emotional imbalance from the Gabapentin dosage increase going on and the cold had set a spasm and tremor off in my right arm/ hand and my head. However by the end of it I felt full of energy, was laughing hysterically and was so relaxed. I even lowered myself out of my wheelchair onto the floor and did all the stretching exercises and partner exercises with them. This support/research group really does do me the world of good!
A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to lose some weight, get fit and just generally try to keep myself healthy. A friend, who also has Dystonia, recommend finding myself a Personal Trainer, so I rung around all the gyms in my local area explaining what Dystonia was and that I also suffered from Non Epileptic Seizures. Many of them literally freaked when I started explaining it to them, which I can complete understand, however I eventually found someone who was prepared to take on my neurologically faulty body!
After meeting him on Monday we decided it would be best do sessions from my home, he then came round to assess my house and what I was able to do today. I must admit I was amazed at how well my body behaved!!! My arm had the odd moment, as did my eyes, but overall it was great. I was able to do so much more than I had originally expected to be possible.
Things are really looking up at the moment! I am adjusting to this ‘new life’ and learning new ways to approach things. I am slowly building confidence back up in myself, and don’t get out of bed everyday terrified of my body. Instead I get up with a can do attitude, accepting that my little Dystonia alien may make things difficult for me, but they are not impossible!!!
Lastly, a massive thank-you to everyone who voted for me in the WEGO Health awards. I was up for three awards, however I have not made it through to the finals, but there is always next year. It meant so much to me that so many of you nominated me!!! So Thank-you!!!
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