Posted in Archive, November 2014

Looking Forward

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At the start of this week I had an unusual amount of extreme spasms, these had been triggered by a medication and have now settled down. At the time it would have been sensible to have spent the day in bed where I would have been safe. Instead I dragged myself, rather literally, to college. Now my class have witnessed some of my spasms but not to this extreme. Previously I would have wanted to stay home due to embarrassment, instead I went to college embracing my illness and was only irritated at my pain levels.

As much as I would rather that I did not have any of my chronic illnesses, I am thankful for them. Since being ill my confidence to go out in public with my limbs distorting, my jaw dislocating and my body paralyzing when it has had enough has slowly climbed. Now I can laugh my spasms off and joke about them. I am very open with others about it as I would rather educate them than have these 3 illnesses remain unheard of. I must give credit to my class though who did not bat an eyelid at the extremes my body was going to, I know this helped me relax when I got there. Dystonia and Lyme Disease may have turned my life upside down but it has also filled me with determination and inspiration to pick up the pieces of my life. I always thought that I had to stick these broken pieces back together exactly as they were, retracing my steps, but what use is living in the past? Now I’m picking up the pieces and carving a new path for myself.

I am going to be cured of Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease, so despite the fact I will always have to live with Dystonia and EDS, I have so much hope in my life.

Posted in Archive, November 2014

Let’s Talk About Meds!

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I recently got approached by an American company asking me if I would be willing to blog about my medicine. I was very willing to do so and this is something I am very open about. Medicine is great, it can cure illnesses, take away pain and help us manage our conditions. Now obviously this depends on the type of illness and type of medication prescribed by your doctor. For me, some of my medicine will eventually cure me of Lyme Disease, other medicine helps me to manage my Dystonia and a handful of pills keeps my pain levels under control.

One of the key things about medication is drug interactions. Most Doctors will check before prescribing you a new medication that it does not interact with another, however some forgot to do this. I have experienced this once before when a muscle relaxant I was prescribed to help with extreme muscle spasms interacted badly with a pain-killer I was taking regularly. I was lucky that the reaction only caused me to sleep constantly. It could be quite humorous at some points when I would fall asleep in the middle of talking! I was like this for about two weeks as we had to slowly ween me off the medication. However joking aside medication interactions can be very serious and it is always important to check with your Dr first, or check the pamphlet that came with your meds.

When I was first put on my meds I naïvely figured it would ‘fix me’ or at least enable me to have a good quality of life. What I did not factor in at that time was medication side effects. I knew they existed I just never thought I would experience them. Clonzepam was the first medication I reacted to badly. I don’t remember much of what happened, but I turned completely psychotic. I was determined to find scissors so I cut all my hair off. Mum ended up having to stay home from work to look after to me as I was a danger to myself, I am thankful that I was bed bound. Diazepam was the second medication I reacted to. My local hospital had prescribed me it after my spasms severely damaged my leg earlier on this year. I was fine for the first day or so, then I turned psychotic again. This time I was convinced that amputating my spasming leg would cure me of all my illnesses. I was desperate to contact my neurologist to set up a date for the amputation and devastated that nobody could understand my logic! Months on from it and I am glad that nobody thought Hey, why don’t we give it a go!

At the moment for my Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease treatment I take a mixture of medication and supplements which works out as 47 pills a day and 1 injection twice a week. For my Dystonia I take 6 pills a day and have 6 Botox injections every 6 weeks. I take 2 tablets for migraines every day and 2 syringes of allergy medication every morning. It works out that I take 57 tablets/syringes a day, then throw in some injections every now and then, and that is not even factoring in days when I need pain medication and muscle relaxants. It is a lot to remember to take! However it is vital that I take these at the right time, such as if I decided to take my evening dose at the same time as my dinner time dose I would be feeling sick very quickly as they cannot be taken with food! As many of you know from my earlier posts one of my symptoms is brain fog so I rely on reminders in my phone to help me remember to take my medication.

Medication is an amazing thing but you need to know what you are taking and why. I am the type of person who likes to take as little medication as possible, however I recognize the fact the Lyme Disease made me seriously ill and if I want to get better I have to take them. I understand that I have to live with Dystonia for life so I will always be having a neurotoxin injected and I am ok with that.

Medications have a dire effect on the body if not taken safely. So please be sensible and talk to your Dr about meds!

Posted in Archive, September 2014

Excitement and Nervousness

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Living with Dystonia and my other medical conditions guarantees that no two days are ever the same. I learnt that a long time ago. Yet two years into it it and it can still shock me. The difference in me when you compare last Sunday to today is astounding! Last Sunday feels like a life-time ago, not a mere week. Last week I was confined to my bed all day, so ill that a member of my family was with me all day, today I am pretty much pain free, hardly spasming and enjoying every second of it.

Last week it was as if we had taken me off all my medications. I was blind, every part of me was spasming. My jaw spasmed to the point it eventually dislocated! There are not words to describe the pain I was in, or the pain caused by attempting to swallow pain killers and muscles relaxants whilst in that state. At points the only way I was able to communicate to my mum was by twitching a finger to let her know I was conscious but my body was out of my control. It was hell. I have not had a day that bad in such a very long time.

Today I have no pain medications in me, I am able to move about without setting another part of my body off. The only parts of me that are daring to play up are my neck and jaw. This is not surprising as my Botox injections are due Tuesday. However considering that fact I am feeling extremely happy and lucky that they are not spasming more than they currently are. Its as if Benedict is still recuperating from last weeks attack.

I have started treatment for my Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease now. It shall be extremely interesting to see which of my spasms were due to the Neurological Lyme, and which are caused by the Dystonia. Hopefully over the next few weeks I shall start to see improvements and get an idea of what spasms I shall have to live with and which ones I don’t. I’m extremely excitement but nervous!

 

 

Posted in Archive, September 2014

Glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.

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I finally feel like there is a light at the end of what felt like a never-ending tunnel. Last week I attended an appointment at a local private hospital to see whether they would treat me for Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease. Whilst they have said no to giving me IV treatment they have offered me an oral antibiotic pulse protocol which they think will cure me of Lyme. They say it has cured others similar to me before, so I have high hopes.

Now that they have said they will treat me I feel like my stress levels have plummeted, though I must admit they did soar back up when I saw the price for treatment. I have no idea how I am going to afford it, but at the end of the you cannot put a price on health! Being free of some of my symptoms and having to battle with my body less seems like something out of a fairy tale to me, yet now it is just at my fingertips! Having less pain, less to contend with would be bliss.

I have been lucky that my Botox has worked rather well since I last saw my neurologist. So I have not had to cope with my Dystonia stressing me out at the same time. Today is the first time I have woken up and thought ooh actually my jaw and neck don’t actually feel quite right. Not that I am complaining, with only two weeks to go until my next lot of injections for it to only start twinging now is fine by me as the muscle are not distorting yet.

For those of you who are unaware there are currently two Dystonia online petitions going around. One is US-based the other UK. However it does not matter where in the world you are you can sign either one or both, and I urge you to as it will help make a much-needed difference by boosting awareness of the condition!

1) https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/promote-dystonia-awareness-recognizing-dystonia-awareness-month-september/2S9jBCVz

2) http://www.change.org/p/uk-government-raise-awareness-about-dystonia-an-illness-which-cannot-be-cured-and-97-of-doctors-dont-know-about-it-properly?recruiter=45857151&utm_campaign=twitter_link_action_box&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=share_petition

Posted in Archive, August 2014

Emotional Turmoil

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Currently I feel like I am a whirlwind of emotions – confusion, terror, anger, helplessness – are to name a few. From the 1st of September almost daily I will get another test result back from the private hospital, and then on the 10th I shall attend to see if they have decided to treat me or not. If they do agree then I cannot even begin to describe the relief I would feel at finally getting the correct treatment. But it would be very bittersweet relief as I would have to somehow fund this treatment.

Yet the panic I am already feeling about finances is nothing in comparison to the terror I feel about having to deal with the spasms caused by my Lyme Disease on top of my Dystonia again. I know that I have dealt with it all before so I CAN cope again, but I don’t want to. The thought of it sends me running for the hills. When my hands spasmed before I frequently used to tell my mum that I felt like I had pulled my fingers out of joint, I’ve recently been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos type 3, which makes it highly likely that I was subluxing in my fingers. To be frank I am scared of the extra amount of pain that untreated Lyme Disease will bring. At the moment with oral treatment it is dulled down, manageable. Which has enabled me to learn to cope with Dystonia and the pain that it causes. I don’t want to go back to being rushed by ambulance in to hospital every month. 

I have enough oral antibiotics to get me through to the middle of September at the moment. From our recent experience of coming off the antibiotics and the deterioration that that caused I am loath to go through it again. Its quite selfish really as I know a lot of my fear stems for not wanting to lose my hands again. I love being able to do simple activities such as brushing my own hair. It is a sign of independance and I get such satisfaction from being able to do tasks such as this.

The majority of my Dystonia is well controlled with Botox, and Benedict is not inflicting too much pain at the moment. I just want to maintain/improve my condition. In the meantime I shall keep my fingers crossed that the private hospital wants to treat me, and wish to the NHS fairy that they open their eyes and acknowledge chronic Lyme, and start treating us sufferers properly!!

Posted in Archive, June 2014

Exasperated

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This week has been a complete rollercoaster of emotions. Beginning with excitement, this quickly turned into desperation and turmoil, concluding with frustration and nervousness.  On Tuesday I attended a physiotherapy appointment, I was under the impression that this was to be the first of at least weekly appointments. I had been extremely excited for it as I was anticipating news of trialling a second skin splint which I was hopeful would make a difference to my leg spasms.

When I had seen my Neurologist last he had mentioned to me that he had spoken to my physiotherapists the week before to advise them on how best to treat me, and that he was very keen for me to start having intensive physiotherapy locally. He was also happy for me to trial the splint and did not say too much about it. So you can imagine my total shock on Tuesday when my physiotherapists told me that my Neurologist had advised her to discharge me and not to refer me for my splint! She was left with the impression after speaking to my Neurologist, that after I have my IV antibiotics for Lyme Disease and was cured of that then I could have physiotherapy. She was shocked to learn that I have been denied IV antibiotics by the NHS unless I have lumbar puncture, which my Neurologist has recommended I do not have as it puts me at risk of developing more Dystonia.

I left the appointment on Tuesday in a completely state of turmoil. Without IV antibiotics and without physiotherapy what chance of any sort of improvement do I have? I was furious with my Neurologist, how could a person have two completely different conversations within the space of one week. Then, Thursday afternoon, a follow-up letter from my last Neurology appointment arrived reiterating that he wanted me to receive intensive local physiotherapy. I could not be more frustrated, I can only presume that they must have had a rather ridiculous misunderstanding. Yet I question how that can even happen in the first place, the conversations reported are at extremes with each other.

I am seeing my Neurologist on Tuesday for my next lot of injections, so will be able to clear this matter up with him then. It took over a year and a half, with a lot of jumping through hoops just to receive physiotherapy, so to have it taken away after one session is not something I am going to let happen without putting up a fight.

 

Posted in April 2014, Archive

Disappointed & Disheartened

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Yesterday I had my appointment up in London with my neurologist. I had been really looking forward to this appointment, as I wanted his opinion on a couple of things. Firstly on my new leg spasm and if there was any treatments he could suggest that could help it. I am taking 45mg/ml of Baclofen a day for it and whilst this is controlling it, it impacts my cognitive ability greatly. I am able to hold a conversation but anything that requires me to start actually using my brain and answering questions is too much and I am unable to do so, I end up relying on my mum or whoever is with me at the time to do so for me.The second thing I wanted his opinion on was on a type of splint that my physios are arranging for me to try called Second Skin. It’s a lycra based splint that provides  feedback to the brain, and it seems to work either really well or not at all.

For my leg he had no idea what to do other than keeping me on the Baclofen.  He is referring me for more intensive physiotherapy to see if that will help but other than that he was lost for ideas. So I guess all we can do is hope that these new splints when I try them work, because otherwise I do not know what to do. In regards to the splints he did not say too much, he said they could do no harm which is always good to know and that they may help but didn’t say much more on the subject.

The main reason I had been looking forward to yesterday’s appointment is that in a letter I had received from my neurologist the other week he had stated in it that he hoped to have an answer for me about my IV treatment for Neurological Lyme Disease by the time he next saw me. I took this as a positive statement when I read it as recently in conversations with my doctors it had all been looking like it could go ahead if someone could be found to oversee it. Sadly this is not this the case. The hospital that originally said this can be set up if you find a neurologist to oversee it, is now saying they want more evidence that I have Lyme. By evidence they mean a positive Lumbar Puncture result.

My neurologist has said that he can arrange for me to have a Lumbar Puncture very quickly and it is up to me whether or not I agree to go through with it. He is not very happy for me to have one done as it puts me at risk of developing new symptoms or my current symptoms getting worse. There is also the problem that I cannot actually guarantee I can stay still due to body spasms so for them to realistically be able to do the Lumbar Puncture I would have to be under a General Anesthetic. The tests for Lyme Disease are also extremely unreliable giving false positives and negatives, and with a years worth of oral antibiotics in my system its more likely to come back negative.

I started taking oral antibiotics for Neurological Lyme Disease this time last year, and we have battled for the correct treatment which is IV antibiotics for the last year. For a whole year I have been put under the impression that I would get IV it would just be a bit difficult to set up. Now I am extremely upset. All I have done since I left the hospital yesterday is cry on and off. The IV would not cure my Dystonia but it would cure my Lyme, and who knows how much of my body is that! I had all my hopes pinned on this!! I am terrified that now when they take me off my oral antibiotics, which I know will happen soon, that my symptoms like my hand spasms, that improved may come back. I could not cope with that!

My plan today is to phone a local private hospital that I know treat Lyme Disease and see if they will consider treating me without the Lumbar Puncture. If they won’t then I will have the Lumbar Puncture done as I would rather risk it and hopefully get treated then spend my whole life wondering what if I had done it.

I am feeling very lost, and sad right now and I know things can only get better. It’s just hard after spending a whole year having all my hopes pinned on this treatment to have it snatched away. On a positive note I did get my injections done, and he was so lovely and apologetic. I am lucky that I have him. I  just have to struggle on.

 

Posted in Archive, February 2014

Worrying

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I feel like I am balancing on the knifes edge and that at any moment I could fall. My Dystonia alien and my Lyme Disease had really managed to lull me into a sense of ‘normality’, and over this past week have decided to send me flying to the edge of the knife filled with dread. Up until very recently I had coped rather well with everything, but everything seems to have gone out the window now.

Whilst I have remained seizure free there have been a few moments recently where I have felt right on the edge of one. Last Monday my mother and my little sister spent half an hour looking after me and talking non stop to try to keep me conscious. This has not happen in quite a while and was a shock to all of us. My legs have been bad recently, to the point that last week I did not make it into college on either day, which was to me a big defeat in my battle against the two conditions.

Whilst the pain is bad and gets me down, it is the unknown that I struggle to deal with. My body has progressed and regressed so many times, and each time I deal with it. However it gets harder to do so each time, and right now I have no idea which way my body is going to swing. It may pull through this horrid period and be absolutely fine or it may take a nose dive.

I know there is not much I can do other than stay positive but I can’t help but be scared. Hopefully this is just a bad period and soon my mind will be put at rest.

Posted in Archive, February 2014

Positive Neurology Appointment

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On Tuesday I went up to London to see my lovely neurologist. It was overall an extremely positive appointment. I was very much in need of my Botox injections as in the days leading up to it my Jaw spasms were back. I had my usual six injections (eyes, jaw and neck) and then two my calf. We are hoping that injecting Botox in my calf will prevent the spasms that cause my feet to turn upside down.

I like to keep myself busy, but my neuro has really stressed to me that this is something that has to take a step back for now. I need to slow down, and do less than what I am doing. Doing too much puts me at risk of running myself down and making my condition worse. This is not the first time I’ve been told this but I am really going to try to work on in this now. I don’t want to put myself backwards, I want to keep going forwards and if slowing down is what it takes then I’m going to make a conscious effort to do so.

I’m not seeing him again until the 18th March, which is 7 weeks from when I saw him on Tuesday. I would normally see him every 6 weeks for my injections but there was no clinic on the 11th. This concerns me slightly as the spasms in my jaw tend to come back around week 5, and I don’t want the pain causing a seizure or interrupting my college commitments. However I have not had a seizure in a while so I am hoping that if I fill myself up with painkillers then I should be fine.

This weekend, I went out and saw friends. Now it was just at a mates house watching movies with them all, so I’m hoping this doesn’t count as overdoing it!? It was so great to sit back and have a laugh, and just feel like me again! I can do a lot more now in comparison to a year ago, but activities like yesterday make me feel like I am still in there somewhere, Dystonia and Lyme Disease have not truly taken over.

Posted in Archive, January 2014

The Wonders of Medication

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It is amazing how well controlled Dystonia can be when you have the right combination of medications in you – for me Botox is the best thing, followed by a lot of Gabapentin! A year ago, I would have had a hideous amount of seizures due to jaw pain and would have struggled to eat, drink and talk. Now with regular Botox and other medications I am constantly my normal motor mouth self.

Everyone with Dystonia reacts to medications differently,for example I know many people find Clonazepam helpful but it causes me to become psychotic. Yet there is no one medication for Dystonia which makes treating it and getting it under control extremely hard. I am very lucky to see an excellent neurologist who is willing to inject me with Botox every six weeks, if he stuck to the usual every 12 weeks I would not be able to do half the things I now can.

On Monday I saw my GP to discuss IV treatment for Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease. I have been on oral antibiotics for around 8 months now and have had significant improvement in the areas affected by Lyme. After months of both myself and my neurologist asking him to set up IV treatment he has finally agreed to write to a couple of the local hospitals and see if they will treat me! This is fantastic progress.

My little Dystonia alien is all full of Botox and docile at the moment. I have been off my main painkillers for a few weeks and I have not had any bad pain episodes yet *touch wood*. I have also managed to come off one of my muscle relaxants, this is great as everything seems clearer and I feel like my memory has improved. As much as I do not like pickling my liver with all my medications I’d be lost without them. I am hoping that this stage of feeling like my Dystonia is ‘contained’ and ‘controlled’ continues, but nothing is ever certain in life especially with Dystonia, so I am focusing on enjoying every little thing each day.