After a lot of discussions with my family and my medical team we decided that it was finally time for my return to the gym. I have not been since my battle with sepsis in January 2020. However if we are being honest there was no way I could have have returned in 2020; I spent a long period bed ridden, my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome progressively worsened and that’s before we factor in Covid. My 2020 health spiral ended with unexpected weight gain of almost two stone in a month. Considering I live on 1, 200kcl a day that comes from perscriped ensure juices, the sudden and extreme gain is disconcerting.
Now while my GP is investigating causes into the gain, I’m also taking a practical approach. I used to have a fair level of fitness and enjoyed going to the gym. Whilst it left me shattered afterwards and with sore joints, I also found I benefited with less extreme spasms after. Today’s reintroduction was a gentle session for the most part, testing what my bodies current capabilities are; I chose a recumbent bike session followed by different weight lifting machines.
I certainly don’t feel as energetic as I did this morning; far from it. I’m completely out of spoons and sore. However I am chuffed with how well the session went and am looking forward to the next one.
Last Tuesday marked the 6 year anniversary since Dystonia made a joint shattering (literally) entrance into my life. Previously I’ve marked this day by reflecting on where my life is in comparison to where I had planned it to be; not a great way to spend it and usually resulted in a lot of tears. This year was remarkably different, for the first time in six years I didn’t spend the day in tears and focused on how truly blessed I am.
The reality of my conditions means that as I age my body gets deteriorates a lot faster than a healthy person would. I already need a double knee replacement but have agreed with the surgeons to delay this until my son is in school full time. I’m told its inevitable that I will end up reliant on power chair in the future. The time frame for this is unknown, so I’m focusing on doing what I can to strengthen my body against the battering it takes from the too frequent dislocations and spasms. I’m starting by shifting the weight, it’s slow progress but I am making progress. I’ve found some local HIIT classes for mums and babies that are happy for me to do what I can whilst my son plays beside me. A month ago I signed up to the body coaches 90 day plan, which unfortunately I’m only just starting as I dislocated both my knee and shoulder and needed to let my body recover. His workouts are harder than my body can cope with right now but I’m adapting them and feeling great.
6 years ago if you had told me that I would be OK with living with a mile long list of debilitating conditions I would most likely have bit your ear off. Now I can see how my experiences are shaping me, I’ve learnt to grasp every opportunity with open hands and jump feet first. Whilst the idea of a further 6 years living in this pain is not one that I can even start to wrap my head around. I know that I have the strength to battle it and succeed.
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.
I can’t believe we’ve reached 5 years since my battle with my Dystonia Alien began. I wouldn’t say time has flown by but I have certainly survived far better than I had anticipated at the start. In the beginning I struggled to picture a day ahead yet alone 5 years down the line. I was by no means depressed I just couldn’t imagine living with this condition for any length of time. Each hour was filled with pain, each month was taken up with ambulance after ambulance trip to the local resus department. If you had told me in 2012 that in 5 years time I would be typing this sitting next to my partner in our flat with a new baby I would have scoffed. It didn’t seem like a life I would ever be able to have.
Looking back on the first year of Dystonia I find myself thankful that even though I still have my spasms, my wonderful neurologist has found a combination of injections and medications that work for me. Life is in no way easy, pain is still a rather constant companion, but I have far more control over my limbs than I ever expected to have.
I’m happy to say I no longer struggle to imagine the next day or year coming, nor do I dread the coming days anymore. Now I find myself excitedly looking forward and making plans for life post university, writing my next book and jumping without worry at any opportunity presented to me. I acknowledge that I’m always going to have my struggles, but with multiple health conditions that’s to be expected. Despite, and because of my Dystonia, my days are filled with laughter and joy. What more could I want
It’s amazing I don’t rattle, but all these pills keeping me ticking along.
Today has been utterly heavenly! As we are going on holiday on Sunday I went shopping with my sister, mum and a family friend to get some last-minute summer clothes as I didn’t really have any. It was nice to out in such nice weather and for a change trying on clothes was great as I was able to go down a size in both tops and bottoms which really made my day.
I bought the basic tops, leggings and shoes I needed, and treated myself to a beautiful summer dress that I am in love with. It was a fantastic day out, and whilst it left me exhausted it also put in the holiday spirit. Going out always takes it out of me and after trying on so many clothes and being out for hours I was so tired that I fell asleep on the drive back home.
I normally see my reflexologist on a monday, however as we are going away on sunday I decided to see her today as well so that I will hopefully be able to stretch out the benefit I get from it over the majority of the holiday. It still amazes me just how well reflexology works for me. I get several nights of good sleep out of it which leaves me with more energy to tackle my Dystonia with during the day.
Yesterday I phoned the Breakspear hospital in Hemel Hempstead which has a reputation for being fantastic at treating Lyme Disease. It is unfortunately a private hospital so is costly, however my health means a lot more to me than money. I spoke to one of their patient liaison officers about what I was aiming to get from the appointment, specifically the information I need as to exactly what medication I need to be taking and in what form, such as oral or intravenous, so that I can go back to my GP and ask to have the treatment done on the NHS. The P.L.O reassured me that they could tell me all of this in the appointment and that it was up to me where I seek treatment afterwards. I am hoping the NHS will treat me but if not I shall use this hospital. I am very lucky that I don’t live very far away from it.
As I did not want any tests done whilst I was there they are able to see me on the 7th August. This is fantastic as they originally offered me an appointment for the end of September. I am slowly composing a list of questions for the Specialist, as I do not want to forget to ask something vital whilst I am there. I am really looking forward to this appointment and hope it will be all I want it to be.
This morning i went blind and as usual due to the pain it triggered off a seizure. Unfortunately I was sitting a little too close to the edge of the bed and seized off it on to the floor. I think I hit my head on my scales as when I came round my head was really throbbing. My body did not take kindly to my fall and has since played up for the rest of the day.
This evening my poor mother has spent hours in my bedroom looking after me and preventing me from having another fall whilst my whole body spasmed and I had many seizures. My Non Epileptic Seizures really take it out of me, and as a result they leave me wanting to just curl up in a ball and go to sleep. Tonight I am feeling more tired than usual but I think this is because I had to take a diazepam to try to control my spasms and seizures.
Despite my body misbehaving today I am still on a high from Tuesdays consultant appointment and from the excitement from my upcoming appointment with a Lyme Disease Specialist. Things are finally looking a bit better!
The last few days have been full of positivity! Which has put a smile back on my face. The other day I paid my local riding stable a visit. Once a week for a couple of hours they run lessons for the disabled. They assessed me whilst I was there and have said that after Christmas I can join! I was of course extremely excited. I then watched one of the RDA lessons, so I could get a feel for how the lessons were run, I had a smile across my face the whole time. I love horse riding! The only issue that the instructors can see at the moment, is getting me on the horse without my leg going into spasm, however they have thought of a couple of different ways to get on me. Personally I’m hoping that my sheer determination to back on a horse will enable me to do it perfectly :p.
Yesterday my jaw spasm relaxed partially!!! It had relaxed enough for me to eat solid food and talk more clearly, only my lip remained odd. In the evening I had my usual extreme Jaw spasms and seizures, which had worried me that I would wake up today with my jaw back in spasm, but I need not have worried, today it is still relaxed. I could dance with happiness!
My jaw is still in spasm, which is really rather painful. However on the positive side of things, my medication, has really helped and my spasms in my right arm and leg have not been that bad these last few days. The pain in jaw can get rather intense and this tends to cause me to have a Non Epileptic Seizure. I am getting better at identifying when I am going to have a seizure. This means that I am able to inform someone, like my mother, seconds beforehand. This is a huge step and a big positive, as it means that whoever is with me, can try to prevent me from injuring myself during in a seizure. I am hoping that I will hear from the consultant soon, so I can get treatment for my jaw, which in turn should hopefully mean that my seizures will disappear again.
The path my life has taken, at this moment in time, is not one I would have chosen for myself. You would have to be fairly crazy to want to have Dystonia. However I accept that for now Dystonia is part of me, and I cannot magically make it disappear. Dystonia is one of those conditions that on some days is fine and does not play up that much, on other days, it is a gigantic pain.
I am so thankful to my family, friends, and all the many people who contact me to support me. They are all amazing and help me stay strong on my bad days. They help me laugh my way through the spasms, and make sure I don’t hurt myself to much during my seizures. I really don’t know how I would have coped with Dystonia without all these wonderful people in my life!
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