As many of you may remember in the summer of 2016 I attempted having a little part time job, this backfired on me when my employer refused to make reasonable adjustments and my body went into an extreme flair up. At the time this wasn’t too bad, but it did leave me pondering as to what I realistically could do. In February this year I moved in with my wonderful partner, now as you may or may not know such a milestone negatively affects benefits. I’d been on ESA for quite a while, but moving in with Dame left me £400 worse off each month. The government’s current system presumes that your partner can A) earn enough to be able to afford to be the sole provider B) Is happy to financially support you.
A £400 drop in my income was quite significant as you can imagine. So I’ve been wracking my brains as to what work I could do that wouldn’t leave me spasming and seizing in a hospital bed. I’d heard about Younique, a high quality skin care and makeup company that would allow me to set my own hours and work from home. In all honesty I thought it was to good to be true, but this week I took the plunge and messaged a fellow spoonie to get her take on the business. She spoke extremely highly of it, and knowing that someone in a similar health situation to me could make it work gave me home.
So here I am now. Today is the start of my 10 day online launch party, and I’m feeling incredibly excited by this opportunity. If you’d like to see what I’m doing then click on over to https://www.facebook.com/smilesparkleglow/. Fingers crossed that this adventure will be just what I need.
Over the last few weeks several of my consultants have advised me to stick to bedrest and insisted I use my wheelchair if I choose to go out. With most of my recent trips out mainly being hospital appointments, this wasn’t too hard, and so I didn’t get too worked up about it. I will always be the first to admit that I’m not great at being in a wheelchair, it’s not the lack of independence that bothers me (as the whole point of the chair is countering how dependent on others I am), no my issue comes from trusting no-one, including myself, of being in charge of a wheelchair
These issues come from within, and anyone who has paid witness to my attempts to push myself will agree, I am awful. Spatial awareness and coordination are key components when nailing the art of wheelchair driving; skills I am lacking in. I am surprised shopkeepers don’t barricade the doors when they see me coming so as to preserve their stock. The most impressive incident was in New Look around 3 years ago, the domino’s effect I caused in the sale aisles was comedy gold. Due to my interesting wheelchair skills, I tend to presume that those pushing me will be just as awful as myself, resulting in many ‘please don’t kill me’ panicked expressions whenever they dare to venture near a curb! In my opinion wheelchair driving lessons should be part of the deal when being prescribed one.
Yesterday Damon and I moved into our first home together, so decided to take a trip into town this afternoon to pick up the odd household supply. We’re very lucky that the area we live in is rather flat, it couldn’t be more perfect, this means that I’ll be able to get out and about even when my conditions are severe, which is something that previously would have been impossible. Damon’s quite adept with the wheelchair (we’ve yet to crash in to anything), but that didn’t stop me from pulling hilarious terrified expressions repeatedly whilst we were out today.
Out and about, no curbs insight
Reenactment of approaching a curb
Happily away from any curbs…reenactment of curb fears
When I was first prescribed my chair, although it provided me with freedom, I found accepting that I needed it hard. In my eyes, it was a reminder of what I was unable to do. Now when I look at it I automatically smile, my fear of it always provides so much laughter, and it enables me to do every day activities, something that I’m extremely grateful for.
The weather is getting colder and colder each day, and as my little Dystonia alien hates the cold and loves to spasms more I have been investigating different ways to keep myself warm, without looking like a marshmallow. I’m sure many of you know the feeling of when you have so many layers of clothing on, you begin to look less like a human more like a marshmallow. As I know many other Dystonia sufferers find the cold worsens their symptoms I thought I would share with you all my top three products that I have found helpful – and for those of you without Dystonia who are reading this, it may interest you as well, after all everyone likes to keep warm!
1) Tozies – I am one of those people who if my feet are cold the rest of me is cold. My reflexologist recommended I invest in some Tozies. Tozies are slippers which are double fleece layered, and without a hard sole on them. Not having a hard sole means I don’t worry about my spasms bending them out of shape. I have to say these are fantastic, I am actually going to buy a second pair, but this time a microwavable version for the really cold winter nights that leave you shivering. I wear my Tozies constantly, some nights I even sleep in them, as I find if my feet are toasty warm then the rest of me does not feel as cold. If you want to check them out here is the link to where I purchased mine http://coziewarmers.co.uk/ladies-slippers-shoe-size-3-12-22-c.asp
These are my Tozies.
2) Reusable heat pads – are my second favourite method for warming myself up. They are pads with a metal bit in, they come in all shapes, sizes and colors. When you bend the metal an internal chain reaction is set off which warms the pads up and causes them to harden. The warmth lasts for several hours. I have taken to wearing these pads in my shoes under my feet and inside my gloves. To reuse them you simply put them in a pan of hot water for a minute to return them to their original state. It’s a cheap, but effective method.
3) Thermals – Now I know saying wear thermals is an obvious one, but in all honesty how many of you actually remember to put some on under your clothing? I purchased some thermal socks, leggings and vests, and make sure I always have at least one, if not all, of them on. I got my thermals fairly cheaply off marks and spencers (you could probably get them even cheaper if you shopped around). It’s an obvious, but often overlooked, step to keeping warm.
I am always searching for ways to keep warm, to avoid the extra spasms that the winter brings. I hope some of these ideas helps those of you who find the cold causes extra issues.
Several weeks ago, I had the chance to meet some fantastic women at a fundraising event where I gave a talk about Dystonia and life with it. Two of the women – Beth and Sheila – decided to do some of their own fundraising to enable me to get a special bath lift with chest and pelvis harness.
On Saturday I went over to the last event to meet 12 amazing women, who I must say are impressively creative. The had raised an incredible amount of money which will mean I can now have baths and showers safely. In the summer when we went away thanks to a downstairs wheelchair accessible shower as I was able to shower for the first time in a year, and I have been really missing that since.
It is amazing the mental boost a shower or bath can give you. Obviously being clean gives you a boost, but the natural pain relief and relaxing element of hot water is such a fantastic way to get alternative relief to pain. Currently I use a basin of water, some lovely lavender body wash and a sponge, and whilst I know that I am clean it is not the same cleanliness feeling that a bath or shower gives you. I am so excited to be able to bathe/shower again!
Once I figure out how to get the photos off my phone I shall upload some photos from Saturday. These women were so generous and I feel so privileged to have gotten the chance to meet them! This is one of those moments when in a way I am glad I am ill as I would have never met such kind wonderful people otherwise.
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.
After a week of being in pain, I am feeling a lot better! On Friday one of the GPs at my Doctors surgery prescribed me a muscle relaxant to help with the spasms in my back, it has worked wonders! The spasm has gone, my body is no longer twisting and I can finally move around without being in pain! I am going to my see GP on Monday to discuss whether we keep this particular medication for emergency situations or if there a different muscle relaxant that he feels would be more beneficial.
Last night I gave myself a rather pleasant shock. I had gotten out of bed to do something, and I walked the two footsteps there!! My body did not react to it at all! You can imagine my joy, as I have not been able to do this since January 1st!!! Not wanting to push my luck I quickly hopped back into bed, trying to work out if I had done anything differently or if it was just pot luck. I am so happy, and I am hoping that my body will continue to progress like this.
It is such a relief for my body to finally be doing something ‘normal’ without over reacting. Now I know that I may not be able to do this again, it may have been complete fluke, but on the other hand it could just keep improving. All I can do is hope that this a good sign. Hopefully when I receive my leg/foot splint that the Surgical Orthotic department are making for me, this should help me progress with walking even more! I just have to accept each day as it comes, it’s all about taking baby steps, as there is no use trying to run before I can walk.
No matter how dark may life may seem, there is always a candle of hope flickering somewhere, you just have to look for it!
As I sit here, beginning another blog post that allows you all to witness what it is like to live life with Dystonia, I must admit that I have an almighty smile spread across my face. The last few days have each been perfect in their own ways. I spent the whole of Tuesday in bed recovering from Mondays lovely trip to Chelmsford. To some of you this may seem lazy or even a waste of a day, so let me reassure you this was completely and utterly necessary, I barely had the energy to sit up! Yet I was perfectly happy due to the fabulous day I had the day before. I am also enjoying some lovely choccies that my man brought me for Valentines Day.
Yesterday one of my oldest friends came to visit me. I had not been able to see him, in a long time due to me moving to Essex for university and us both being broke students. So it was fantastic to have a really good catch up, which was full of laughter. By the time he left, my spirits were soaring. Socializing does the world of good for me, it allows me to feel ‘normal’. He has promised to come and see me more often, as now I am only a 20 minute bus ride away from him. I shall hopefully see him again in just under two weeks time.
Today I had my riding lesson. Once again it was fantastic, I love the thrill riding gives me. There is nothing like it. The horse I ride, Connie, is so very lovely and patient, and puts up so well with my different style of mounting. We did lots of trotting whilst weaving in and out of cones today, which I loved. Towards the end of the lesson, with my instructor watching carefully, I stood up in my stirrups, whilst walking. I managed this fairly well, now and then my right leg would decided it had had enough and would shoot forwards, causing me to sit/drop back down into the saddle. However every time it relaxed again I stood straight back up. We did the exercise repeatedly until my right leg really had had enough and I lost the feeling/connection to it. Riding is not on next week as it is the local school’s half term holiday, so I am counting down the days until the 28th when I can go back.
Yesterday and today, I attempted placing my foot on the floor to see how it would react. When it was placed flat on the ground, it spasmed rather violently, and I had to wait a fair while for it to calm down. Once it had, I tried it again, though this time I only placed my toes very lightly on the ground. This time there was no reaction. This is good progress!!! I plan on doing this a few times a day, if this all goes well then in a weeks time, I shall attempt to put my foot flat on the ground again. I hope if I keep trying this, then I shall be able to get back some of the movement I had managed to build up back in December.
This week has truly been fantastic. With only one real hiccup, my right hand decided it had had enough of me writing and decided to spasm violently. I happened to be holding a fountain pen at the time, so ink ended up all over my face, hand, quilt etc. However I found this to be quiet amusing.
I have several more brilliant days planned, which I am really looking forward to! I know that I am going to be completely exhausted by the end of it all and my body will most likely try to get revenge, however it is worth it! I have accepted that at this time because I have Dystonia and Non Epileptic Seizures, I am disabled, however I refuse to let these conditions control my life. I am going to live life the best I can, and I shall enjoy every second of it.
Today has been the highlight of my week and has distracted me from the new issues with my leg. My mum and step-dad took me out clothes shopping, which meant that I also got to push myself in my new wheelchair! I knew that trying on clothes and pushing myself would be exhausting, so I made sure that I paid extra attention to my right hand, so that I did not do too much and cause it to spasm.
All in all it was a rather successful day out! I managed to get some jeans and some lovely new tops, and I managed to push myself for longer than I had expected. From time to time my mum did have to remind me not to over do, I think I got a bit carried away with having some independence 🙂 In total I think I managed to push myself for about 40 mins!!!! This was a lot longer than I had expected. When I went out in my chair briefly the other day, I only managed about 20 mins, so this was a huge improvement!! It was a tiring but fantastic day!
I am going to go and see my Doctor this week, and see if he can suggest any medication that will help with the tremor in my right leg and talk about my ideas with him, and get his views on it all. I am also going to write an email to my consultant explaining to him the change in my leg and how it is affecting me and getting his advice on what to do about it, I shall also inform him of my ideas for treating my leg and get his opinion on that as well.
Today was exactly what I needed, some laughter, retail therapy and some independence. It helped me refocus my mind on everything, and see that although my leg is bad and making things really rather difficult, it is not the end of the world. I can still go out and laugh and shop like anyone else, the only difference is that I get to sit on a comfy cushion and attempt to tone my arms by pushing myself along at the same time!
Today has been a slightly better day, in comparison to the last 5 or 6. The last couple of days I have been almost unable to even hobble around the house, without one or two members of my family holding my arms, and helping me. Today however was different! My right leg still shook like mad, and my knee still over extended, but I managed to hobble around unsupported. I only managed a short distance, however I am still overjoyed by this as it is a big improvement compared to the last few days.
I am thinking about asking my Occupational Therapist for a walking stick. At 20 years old, I did not expect that I would have to consider this, however if it helps that’s what counts.. My theory is that having a walking stick will either go one of two ways. The first being that it helps me with my balance, so hobbling around the house becomes slightly easier and less dangerous. The second is that with my natural ability to fall over everything and anything, the walking stick will become yet another obstacle for me to try to avoid, yet will still fall over. However I will never know unless I try, and it is not the end of the world if it does not help. Anything is worth a shot at this point.
Tomorrow my new wheelchair is arriving! It is a self propelled one, which will give me some much wanted independence! I am really rather excited about its arrival and cannot wait to go out in it! It will put my mind at ease as well. When ever I have someone pushing me, I have a mental freak out, I know that they are not going to deliberately through me out of the wheelchair, however I still end up muttering under my breath “stay away from the curb…watch out for the hole” over and over.
My hand also seems a lot better today, I have my fingers crossed that it stays this way. It has improved so much that I did not wear my splint today. This is really positive as I don’t like strapping my hand up, but it helps contain the spasm so I can’t complain.
I have also started to slowly increase my dose of Gabapentin, I am currently taking 1800mg a day and am hoping to get it up to 3600mg a day. As I am finding it to be a very beneficial medication my consultant thought this would be a good idea. I am doing it in steps of 100mg in case I start getting any side effects, that way I know how much my body can handle.
Overall today has been a very positive day and I am hoping that the rest of the week continues to stay positive.
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