Posted in Archive, January 2021

Improving Routine To Improve Pain Levels

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Health conditions can have both a physical and emotional toll, for example chronic pain; this can impact your sleep, cause more fatigue and leaves you starting the day just as drained as when you went to bed. A routine can change all that.

Now I’m not suggesting you plan out every moment of your day!

However a well thought through routine can empower your day, lowering your pain levels over all as you’ve optimised the way you have used your body.

It’s worth asking yourself when is your pain worse in the day? What activities does that impact? Make a list. From here you can proactively look at your routine and adjust how you manage your day which in turn should lower your pain levels. An example of this is if you struggle more in the mornings, then lay out what you need (or ask someone to help you) in an accessible place. This will save you time and energy in the morning.

Make sure to include time for you in your routine and space out energy consuming tasks over the day. If there is a task you are particular struggling with think about how it can be altered. For example, when chopping vegetables does sitting on a stool help? Would buying pre-chopped vegetables be a more realistic option? Is there someone else who could do this task for you?

Doing to much will result in a Boom and Bust cycle. Pacing is your friend.

I’ll be live tomorrow night with more on the Boom Bust Cycle.

Posted in Archive, October 2020

The Grief – Acceptance Cycle

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Being diagnosed with a chronic illness, for the majority of people, stirs up a lot of emotions. Its a process we all go through at different rates, and there is no wrong or right way about it. With illness there is often a sense of loss of normality, for every individual that’s different depending on your condition and what symptoms your experiencing. I really wished I had been given a heads up back when I first got ill about the grief I would feel, for the profound sense of loss I would experience. I fell into a really deep depression and for a long time was in denial thinking that somehow I was just going to wake up one day and be able to return to my Midwifery degree. If you go back to some of the first blog posts I ever wrote on this site it’s really quite easy to pinpoint which part of the Grief cycle I was in.

I turned to a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindful Meditation to help me come to terms with my health and my new reality. This was a good mix and after a fair amount of time had passed I reached acceptance. Now don’t get me wrong I still had blips, a friend would announce they had decided to train as a midwife, or I’d find my old coursework in a clear-out and I’d slip mentally for a few days, but I would always be able to pick myself back up again. However what I didn’t expect, and again I wish I had been warned that this was a possibility, was that with each new diagnosis that got slapped on to me, and with every new symptom that became clear was on a downward path and here to stay; that I would find myself having to repeat the Grief cycle again.

It of course make sense that you would have to. You are after all experiencing a loss of sorts again. Mentally and physically its challenging and draining. It is natural for you to grieve, to be angry, to want to challenge what your going through until you reach some sort of acceptance. I’ve found myself going through this again recently. I’m on my 7th bout of Optic Neuritis, along with loss of all sensation in my right leg; I have next to no use of it currently. My local neuro team suspect MS but are investigating fully for all demylation diseases to ensure nothing is missed. Finding myself once again with more limitations, really sent me spinning. I found myself asking why over and over again. I felt like I needed an explanation because it seemed insane to have yet another condition added to my already extensive list. I’ve not reached acceptance yet, but I’m remembering my mindfulness and I’m defiantly moving through the stages quicker this time.

If I had to give one tip to someone newly diagnosed with a chronic illness it would simply be to kind to yourself and to remember to practice self care. Your allowed to grieve, its natural, don’t beat yourself up. Make sure you don’t bottle your emotions up, confide in someone you trust. you will feel better for it.

Posted in Archive, October 2017, September

Mental Health & Chronic Illness

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Mental Health awareness day was last week and I wanted to write this blog post then but honestly it was too hard. My mental health right now is not great. I’m by no means awful but it’s not where I’d like it to be. It’s been an accumulation of being chronically ill for numerous years and stressful life events adding on top of that.

A major part of the problem right now is my medication. One of the many side effects that many of my medications can cause is anxiety and depression. Whilst I wouldn’t class myself as depressed, I am aware that my anxiety and amount of pain attacks have increased recently and I’m defiantly on the weepy side. However life events haven’t helped either, Just last week I went to collect my little boys prescription from the chemist and found myself being motioned to sit silently on the floor with him due to a lady with a knife ransacking the place; this understandably has made me anxious about leaving the flat on my own, even though I know that I am being irrational as I know that the chances of being in that situation again are very small.

Yesterday I attended the emergency eye clinic at my local hospital and was informed that I have my fourth bout of optic neuritis is a year and a half. Due to this and some more symptoms they have made the decision to refer me to a specialist neuro and carry out testing again for multiple sclerosis; another spanner in the works.

Between my physical & mental health plus the stress of uni work, I feel like I need to let myself have a good cry, pick myself up and carry on except there isn’t time to cry. Don’t get me wrong I love my life but I’m finding it hard to know what to do to help myself. I force myself to do what scares me like leave the flat but it’s draining working up the courage to do so. I would talk to the doctor about it but I daren’t risk it as I know they will stop my painkillers if they start worrying about depression which I need for my seizures. I have ordered myself a mindful mediation manual and CD and hoping that a holistic attitude will help.

Posted in Archive, January

Crash Landing

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It would seem that ever since the first of January all I seem to do is either fall over due to a leg spasm, or collapse due to a seizure. Yesterday at my support/research group, I had a Non Epileptic Seizure, triggered by pain from my jaw, whilst sitting in my wheelchair. Now I had always thought that if I had a Seizure whilst in my wheelchair I would be fairly safe, as I was in a ‘contained’ environment. Turns out I was wrong. I regained consciousness to find myself on the floor. My seizure had shaken me out of my wheelchair onto the floor. Luckily the people around me acted as quickly as they could to make sure I didn’t do myself any harm, whilst the others fetched my mother to find out what to do. Thankfully  other than really bruising my coccyx, and generally being a bit achy, I was fine.

My Basal Ganglia, however, seems determined to inflicted pain on me. I have lost count of how many times I have fallen over because of my leg Dystonia today. My foot flips over and my leg spasms backwards, or sometimes up in the air, and I end up on the ground. This means that who ever is helping me walk also ends up on the ground too. I think my leg has been so bad today in reaction to lasts night collapse. Due to yesterdays collapse and today’s many falls, my body is really rather sore. I feel like I am covered in bruises from head to toe. Tomorrow I plan on resting my body, to give it time to calm down, and to meditate.

Today, when I wasn’t falling over, I wrote a list of a questions for my meeting with my consultant on Tuesday. I want to go as prepared as I can be, so that the situation I have been in with him for the last two months, does not ever happen again.

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Posted in Archive, January

Consultant News and Meditation.

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Yesterday evening I finally received an email from my consultant saying he would see me next Tuesday at 1pm! I am so happy, it will be such a relief to have the Botox done, so that my Ormandibular Dystonia will not cause me any pain for a few months. Another bonus is that when the jaw pain eases off, so do my Non Epileptic Seizures! I am going to have a word with him while I am there, about what I do when the Botox wears off next time, as I find it unacceptable to have to battle for so long to get seen!

Over the past couple of months I have read a lot of articles to do with meditation helping with Dystonia. In most cases stress aggravates Dystonia, so doctors often advise their patients to try to live a ‘calm and stress free life’. This is rather ironic, considering that Dystonia causes stress itself due to the pain it inflicts and its life changing nature. This is where meditation comes in, particularly Mindful Meditation. It is all about sitting or lying down comfortably (I know this is often the hard bit to do for Dystonia Sufferers) and trying to focus on the present moment, feeling calm and relaxed.

When I first heard about Mindful Meditation, I was not sold by it, I was very dubious as it seemed a bit ‘fluffy’. However after reading more into it and reading claims that it really did help keep  stress levels down which in turn calmed  Dystonia down a bit, I found myself thinking why not. I am at the point where I shall try anything, if it means that I can have some sort of slight relief from my Dystonia.

I ended up scouring Amazon for books on meditation, Mindful meditation in particular, until I found three, that not only looked like what I wanted, but had a lot of positive reviews as well. I brought Living well with Pain and illness by Vidyamala Burch, Relaxation for Dummies (also comes with a fab CD to guide you through your meditation) and Heal Yourself by Anne Jones (I am just about to start reading this one).

After spending a few days reading through Living well with Pain and Illness, and Relaxation for Dummies, I decided to try meditating for the first time last night. I put on the CD provided to help guide me through it. As it was my first time meditating, I chose to do the shortest one first. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised. I had started the meditation in a lot of pain due to my jaw spasm, and was feeling rather stressed over it. However by the end of it I was feeling fairly relaxed. I was still in a lot pain, but I was not stressing  as much over it.

Research shows that after a few weeks of doing mindful meditation, that the brain actually shows a physical difference when scanned  The majority of scans show the stress section of the brain has actually shrunk, and the positivity section was lit up/grown. I am going to attempt to meditate twice a day for two months. At the beginning and end of the meditation, I am going to document how I feel and how my dystonia is. Then at the end of these two months I will compare how I am at the end of the ‘experiment’ to the beginning of it. It shall be an interesting and hopefully positive experience.

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