The issue with being chronically ill is that when a new complication arises it can be hard to know whether it has been caused by a preexisting condition, and if so which one, or if a new condition has popped into the question. Over the last few weeks I’ve had increasing amounts of pain in my knees, calf’s and feet. I tried to brush this off but slowly and surely my feet and legs have started spasming. So now I find myself trying to work out if this is due to a spread of Dystonia or a relapse of Chronic Neurological Lyme Disease.
I had a long chat with my neurologist on Tuesday, he’s of the thought that my Dystonia has progressed as I’m still within the 5 year time frame for a spread of symptoms. Personally I’m hoping it’s Lyme related, as whilst still hard to treat, the possibility of remission again is real.
The idea that it could be Dystonia scares me due to the painful nature of the spasms; but I know I can get through it. I just have to take it one wobbly step at a time. I never thought I’d see the day when I would have to strap my leg splints on again but they’re worth the discomfort.
So here’s to crossing my fingers and seeing where the next 12 weeks takes us, by which point we will have a better idea to the cause and therefore treatment options.
Each of my conditions have reacted differently to my pregnancy and some new complications with my body have also arisen. So I’ve decided to incorporate these experiences into my blog with each condition being addressed in its own post as they are all unique and confusing in their own way.
At four weeks, pregnant my neurologist told me I needed to come off all of my medication due to the risks they presented to the baby as he developed. At that time, I was having six weekly Botox injections to my eyes, jaw, neck, and left shoulder, and I was on a range of oral medications including Gabapentin, Tramadol, Cetirizine, Topiramate, Dantrolene and more. My dosage for each of these medications were not particularly low which meant coming off them was a bit a of worry, luckily only the Gabapentin caused withdrawal symptoms (something I knew to expect after having the dosage adjusted several times over the years). I’m not sure if you’ve experienced withdrawal from Gabapentin, so picture uncontrollable weepiness because a cloud looks so beautiful, paranoia to the point you’re convinced that the shadow of the tree you just walked past is going to murder you and hideous night sweats. It’s not a walk in the park by any means but thankfully these symptoms didn’t last too long.
My main concern was how I would cope without Botox and my muscle relaxant Dantrolene. Over the last four and a half years I have been reliant on my six weekly Botox to keep me resembling an almost functional person, and Dantrolene was the only muscle relaxant that I found effective and can stay awake on for more than 5 minutes at a time. After expressing my concerns to my neuro he reassured me that I may not find these 9 months as terrifying as I expected, as some women reported experiencing an improvement in their symptoms in pregnancy. I wanted to believe him badly, any improvement I would take in a heartbeat, but at the same time I found it extremely hard to believe that something as natural as pregnancy could offer me an improvement that medication was unable to provide. Now I bow down to the wonder that is pregnancy, I’m currently almost 6 months’ pregnant and unbelievably my Dystonia isn’t too bad.
For the first 12ish weeks I only had minor symptoms, which was a relief as my severe morning sickness (I was diagnosed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum) meant that I wasn’t by any means well enough to cope with any severe spasms. By week 14 however I was admitted to hospital after spending 24 hours with my jaw dislocated and in spasm, unable to eat or drink. In the end, I was in the hospital for a week whilst they attempted to figure out what to do with me; without fail several times a day a Dr would look at me and be shocked that my jaw was still dislocated. I think my let’s laugh through the pain attitude confused them further. Eventually, after my midwife got involved and advocated on my behalf (amazing woman!) my neuro agreed to administer botox to my jaw and restart me on a small dose of Gabapentin, which has allowed me to remain fairly normal with the exception of the odd spasm; but I’ll take the odd daily spasm over an agonising spasm that refuses completely to go away.
Whilst my Dystonia is without a doubt very much present still, as it likes to remind me by leaving me functionally blind or distorting my jaw, I’m coping far better than I had ever imagined. I had truly expected to spend my pregnancy bed bound in hospital stuck on a feeding tube with irritable limbs, the fact that this hasn’t (touch wood) materialised feels like a miracle, especially as a feeding tube was at the start debated. If it could just stay like this for the remainder of the pregnancy I’ll thank my lucky stars.
The other month I posted a blog on disabled dating. I finally admitted to you all that I had been approached by the Undateables TV show. Being asked to appear on this show knocked my confidence. I felt as if this was perhaps the only way I would be able to meet anybody; that just maybe this was all I was worth. This show is great for some people, I understand that, but for me it was an insult.
Shortly after this I went on a date with a guy who turned out to be a complete sleezebag, and that’s putting it politely. These two incidents combined completely set my confidence back. I felt as if dating was completely out the window, that I really was undateable. Part of me wondered if maybe I was just someone people looked at with repulsion. After all, if I struggle to stay calm with my misbehaving limbs, how could anyone tolerate them or find me attractive?
At the start of May I met my boyfriend Alex, in the local pub. I cannot put into words the satisfaction and joy I feel at having met him in such a normal way. At first I expected listing my many conditions to him would cause him to go running to the hills. Imagine my surprise when he actually knew what some of them were, and better yet, didn’t mind when my arm went flying out violently to the side. He is patient and understanding, and doesn’t mind which of my different aids I’m using to get about that day. What is best is that he allows me to feel normal, not a feeling I’m used to but one that I love. I feel like a normal 22 year old. I don’t think I could ask for more!
So I’m closing the chapter on the Undateables, forgiving them and moving on. I’ve got a brand new wave of confidence and it’s time to write a new page.
I’m the sort of person that words come easily to, whether that’s verbally or written. I may pause to search for a word once in a while if my brain fog is bad, but normally I’ll pluck another out to replace it. It’s an unusual scenario when I feel so completely stumped and unable to find one to suit my needs. Yet for the past week that’s exactly how I have felt. I’ve tested every word I can think of, yet none quite fit. Which makes trying to describe the situation I’m in now difficult.
When I saw my neurologist last Wednesday, he decided to add Botox injections to my shoulder to see if this would help control my twitches. This has helped beyond my wildest imagination. At first the pain that followed I put down to my body reacting to the injections, after all I do experience similar pain in my neck each time I get my injections. However unlike my neck, the pain has not improved, even lying down at night is painful. Consequently sleep is almost non-existent . Carrying things, anything touching my shoulder is extremely uncomfortable. I don’t feel like pain is the right descriptive word however, though it most definitively applys the majority of the time, I don’t know how to verbalize the sensation that I am experiencing. It is so uncomfortable and is setting my teeth on edge as it is constant. Hopefully it will ease off soon.
On a more positive note I have attached below the photo below that I promised of me standing.
Last Saturday my family and I went up to London to watch my cousin David and his lovely friend Sam run the Marathon to raise money for the Dystonia Society. It was such an amazing day. We were extremely lucky with the weather, and managed to get a fab viewing spot at the halfway mark. This was perfect as not only did it enable us to have a great view of everyone but it also meant we had a chance to grab David as he ran past and take a quick photo with him.
I’m thrilled to say that David and Sam have achieved their sponsorship target and have raised over £3000 for the Dystonia Society which is just incredible. I had never met Sam before so it was fantastic to finally meet her at the celebratory dinner. Watching them run was so emotional and inspirational and I extremely thankful to them both for taking on such a huge feat.
Today I attended a craft fair that was fundraising for a school and for the The Dystonia Society. I had been rather looking forward to it as it was a great opportunity to raise awareness and to restock my craft supplies – I love to crochet. The fundraiser was busy all day which was fantastic and over £200 was raised for The Dystonia Society.
About halfway through the day I got the opportunity to give a speech on what Dystonia was and what life with it was like. I was slightly nervous that I would be useless and just woffle, but have been reassured the speech was ok 🙂 . I drew on my experiences of living with generalised Dystonia, and whilst I tried to only speak in a positive way, I also spoke in a realistic manner, and sadly Dystonia is not a pink fluffy ball of positivity. I found out afterwards that my speech had reduced some people to tears, which I felt bad about, but it had also inspired several people to do their own fundraising for The Dystonia Society which is incredible!
My church has chosen there september mission to be Dystonia. So they shall also be raising awareness this month which is incredible! I feel very lucky that they have taken on this cause. It was a fantastic day today, and I am so thankful that I was well enough to go down and meet such a lovely group of people.
Dystonia Awareness Week is fast approaching, it runs from Saturday 4th May to Sunday 12th May. Last year my mum, step dad and I ran a 5k fun run up in London and raised over £700 for the Dystonia Society! However this year we had to rethink how we would raise awareness and funds for The Dystonia Society as now I am in a wheelchair the 5k fun run is out of the question. After a quick search on The Dystonia Society website we decided that we would throw a tea party. There is also a slight competitive aspect to it, as everyone sends in the their tea party photos and The Dystonia Society judge the best.
I am also taking part in the ‘Go Blue Movement’. I am dying a section of my hair blue during awareness week to raise funds and awareness for Dystonia. The Go Blue Movement is an international movement, which started off in America! If you have not heard of it yet then I am sure over the next few days you shall hear more! You can easily take part in it by dying a section of your hair blue! If you do not want to use permanent dye, you can easily use a spray in, wash out dye!
If you would like to help me raise funds for The Dystonia Society then visit my just giving link! Every bit will make a huge difference for this small but amazing charity! http://www.justgiving.com/Rebecca-Moller1
At 20 years old I didn’t expect to feel like my world was crumbling around me. I thought that I would be out clubbing with my friends, or trying to stay awake during a night shift on placement. I expected to be having the time of my life. The reality is extremely different to the expectations I had.
Today I felt like life was trying to show me just how difficult it could make my life. I knew this weekend would be a hard one anyone due to personal things, however it has so far been hell. Yesterday afternoon until I went to bed, my hand did an extremely painful spasm, that resulted in me having hours of Non Epileptic Seizures, with only a few seconds of consciousness in between. Then today I have spent the majority of the day unconscious having seizures. Again these were caused by a bad hand spasm.
I feel like every bit of normality I had (e.g uni, relationship, walking, freedom) has been cruelly snatched away from me. I have to fight constantly with different government departments, with the NHS, and with my own brain. I won’t ever give up, but at the same time I am already very emotionally and physically tired.
Today due to spasms and seizures I have not been able to get out of my bed. I have felt so many emotions, such as anger and sadness, in some ways I feel as if today has defeated me. Now I know I will get up tomorrow and continue to fight, but I should not have to fight! Days like today I dread because of the way I feel physically and emotionally. I am lucky that bad days are few and far between. I have not felt this bad since January 1st. I will never stop fighting Dystonia, just like I will always campaign to raise awareness of it.
I keep thinking how silly it is of me to get so upset over everything that has happened to me. I could be so much worse off. I guess in a way I am grieving for the life I had, whilst carefully trying to create some degree of normality for myself. Life challenges us all in different ways. Whether we run screaming away from them at the top of our lungs or battle it with all we have, is up to the individual. For me I shall battle on, whilst knowing that on some days Benedict is going to have won and I am going to be unable to cope, but that is just at that moment in time. Who knows how I will feel the next day or the next month or even the next year! I need to learn when to accept defeat for that day and start preparing myself to battle on the next.
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