The other day I wrote about how negative the majority of my appointments have been recently.I am thrilled to say that this trend has not continued recently. Last week I attended a physiotherapy session, I had gone prepared to do battle and expected to be discharged at the end of the appointment. I could not have been more wrong! The appointment on a whole was extremely positive and uplifting. I made such progress last week that I could not believe it, I don’t think my physiotherapists could either. I wore my splint for the entire session which enabled me to do more as my spasms are contained to a degree. My physiotherapists have not run a full session with me wearing my splint before, and I think they were quite amazed at the difference it makes. We are hopeful that the upcoming adaptations to my splint which in theory will contain my spasms further, will enable me to walk properly as my foot should not be able to turn upside down.
I met with the Orthotics today to discuss the adaptations that are going to be done on my splint. The original plan had been to make one that would fully encase my leg, however this had several risks to it. At the moment several of the straps on my splint are slightly elasticated, this is great for comfort but when my foot spasms it means it can get into pretty much any position it feels like. Instead of going for a full on enclosing splint they are going to swap the current straps for more restrictive ones with no give to see if this makes a difference. Hopefully it will, and if it doesn’t then we go back to the original plan. I also had splints fitted to both of my knees while I was there on the request of my physiotherapists. The idea behind this is that it will prevent my knees bending back as far due to my hypermobility, and they hope that this extra support may lessen the spasms in my feet. They have no idea if it will or not but it is worth a try.
Luckily these knee splints fit under my trousers as they are rather bulky! However to show you all what I am on about I have taken a photo with them over my trousers.
I want to bring some awareness to one of my rarer Dystonia symptoms. My eyes do a few different spasm, sometimes they blink rapidly, other times they clamp shut, but more often they roll back into my head and stay there for long periods of time. Luckily Botox injections helps my first two spasms a lot so they do not really bother me anymore. However I go blind on almost a daily basis now.
When the blindness first happened last August it was only for a few minutes, it was scary but I could deal with it. A few days later I went blind for 15 hours, which resulted in 8 days in hospital whilst they checked for things like epilepsy and tumors. Needless to say those 15 hours of blindness were terrifying and I began to worry that my eyes would never roll back down to where they should be. Thankfully I have never had one as long as that since, but they do often last for hours at a time.
This particular eye spasm is not common in Dystonia sufferers. There is not much that can be done to help it as there is no way to Botox the muscles behind the eyes that cause it. Taking muscle relaxants makes a small difference, which is better than nothing. I try to be careful and stay away from anything that I know will trigger it e.g flashing lights or bright lights.
Not a lot is known about this particular symptom so it is hard to know what to do to help myself. Even Dystonia websites brought next to nothing up. Last night, on one of the Dystonia Facebook groups, I managed to get in touch with several other women, some from different countries, who experienced the same thing. I cannot put into words the joy this brought me, how soothing it is to know you are not the only person out there who cannot keep their eyes in place. It is rather calming.
The photo below is from this weekend, the flash on the phone (that we thought we had turned off) caused my eyes to spasm and go blind. These spasms are very painful, and unnerving, but are something I am learning to live with as part of daily life. I am so thankful that I know that no matter how many hours my eyes are gone for they will eventually always come back,
On Tuesday I wrote an email to my consultant, explaining that now my whole body was being affected by my dystonia and that I no longer knew what I was expected to do. I have tried to bring a number of positive activities into my life and carry on with everything as much as possible without letting my Dystonia affect me, however all of these activities are rather hard to do when your whole body is out of your control. I asked him for advice, and if I he could refer me to anything or suggest anything I try. Yesterday my consultant neurologist replied, he apologised for how hard it was to get me treatment due to long waiting lists, and has offered to take me into the hospital for a few days (up to a week). Whilst in the hospital I shall see him and the Neuro-physiotherapists. I am rather hopeful that this shall mean that I shall come away from my short stay there with a better idea of how to cope/work around my spasms.
I also received a couple of letters from my consultant in the post yesterday. One of them was a letter for us to take when ever we go to hospital/A&E, so that the hospital know how to treat me. He sent us several copies of this letter, which I am extremely thankful for, as it should enable me to receive the correct treatment with ease from them. Another letter was a copy of the one he has sent to my GP, explaining the treatment he is currently giving me (botox injections to the jaw and neck) and that he wanted me to start me on Clonezpam. I had mentioned to my GP the other day about the fact my consultant wanted me on this new medication, but because I did not know the dosage he was unable to prescribe it for me. This now means that I will be able to phone my GP tomorrow and ask him to prescribe it, as the dosage has been written in the letter. I am rather excited to try this new medication, as it should hopefully prevent my Non Epileptic Attacks.
I am feeling ever so happy today, as I feel like this upcoming hospital admittance, and the new medication should do me the world of good. Knowing that there is a plan in place is a very calming thought and I feel like I can relax and not worry about my little Dystonia alien as soon the right people will be able to see his antics and help me.
Today has felt like someone has lit a tiny candle at the end of long tunnel, one that I am still at the beginning of. I cannot turn back, all I can do is head towards the tiny flickering light I can see in the distance. I must jump, duck, slide, and fight hurdle after hurdle on my way to that light. That light is hope! Finally being able to see it, feels like I can put everything into perspective. I can breathe, and acknowledge that no matter how much I have to go through, no matter how much physical and emotional pain I have to go through, there is happiness at the end. I will get my happy ending!
I am the type of girl, who wont just sing in the shower, I will sing under my breath in the shop, I will sing at the top of my lungs in my house. Singing, for me, creates happiness. And if by chance I am singing a song from a Disney film such as Pocahontas or Mulan, then I am completely joyful and content. However, I cannot sing when I am unconscious I cannot sing when my body is bend backwards due to a spasm in my back, and my neck is trying to over rotate due to another spasm. Agony, causes me to have Non Epileptic Seizures However this weekends agony, took things to a whole new level.
Saturday night, my neck and back were awful. I could not move without setting a spasm off, and as soon as I had a spasm I had a seizure. It was a vicious circle. One that I have no recollection of. My mum ended up having to sleep in my room that night, due to the agony I was in and the lack of consciousness I had. Eventually I thankfully fell asleep and the spasms and seizures stopped. I had hoped that Sunday would be a better day. Despite my neck still insisting on spasming, the morning started off well. At midday, I unfortunately collapsed from standing, giving my head and body a good whack as I landed. Whilst the spasms were slightly more frequent, at first it seemed that this fall had not done much damage. However I quickly began to deteriorate. By 7pm the seizures had become constant, and the spasms wouldn’t stop. I was getting mere seconds of consciousness now and then, before slipping straight back into another seizure. My mum had originally thought that we would do the same as the night before and ride it out, however by midnight she phoned for a paramedic, who after assessing me phoned for an ambulance.
I arrived at my local hospital at 2am. I finally regained consciousness between 5 and 6 am. A doctor did not come to see me until 8 am! This particular doctor worried us. We were completely convinced that she was a crazy cleaner who had put on some scrubs and stolen a stethoscope. On seeing me she felt my forehead and told me I was beautiful, she then informed us that there was nothing she could do for me other than pray, which she then did. Now, I have nothing against prayer. I am Christian, and I appreciate people praying for me. However when I am in a hospital it’s not what I want or need! I need medication! If I was the doctor I would have tried administering muscle relaxants to see if they would take the edge of the spasms and in turn calm down the seizures. The doctor then told my parents that the hospital could do nothing for me and they should take me home, this was despite the fact I was still having dreadful spasms and could not sit up without going into a seizure.
My mother expressed her concerns to a nurse, who then called a consultant into see us. This man was rude beyond belief, if I had been well enough to argue or make a complaint against him then and there I would have. At one point during a seizure my mother tried to shield my head to stop me from hitting it against the metal bars on the bed. The consultant told my mum to stop it and that I would not hit my head, he refused to listen when my mum pointed out that I had already hit my head on them several times. He then started rambling on about the type of seizures I was having. My mum tried to point out to him that we already knew that I was having Non Epileptic Seizures, and that we were not concerned about them, we were concerned about the sudden change in my spasms and the way they had presented themselves so violently. The consultant listened to none of this and told my mum to stop talking. He was useless, arrogant, and down right rude!
We tried to get the hospital to call my consultant up in London to see if he could offer us any advice, but they refused to do this. My step dad had to do phone my consultants secretary instead and leave a message. Hours later, after my body had eventually calmed down, we left the hospital, with no help from them. I felt so angry and upset. I had been in extreme pain, and yet they did nothing. We had to do battle with them just to get them to give me some basic painkillers!! Once I arrived home I phoned my GP and explained the situation to him. He was extremely shocked at the lack of care I had received at the hospital and prescribed me some stronger pain relief. The whole weekend had left me feeling physically and emotionally broken. It was ridiculous.
Today, I had to go back to the hospital. Luckily this time it was just for an appointment with the surgical orthotic department. The man I saw was superb. He had dealt with Dystonia before and had a good understanding of it. After having a feel of my legs and getting me to stand up and show him the spasm, he said he thought he could help! He is going to make a splint that should hopefully prevent the spasms twisting my leg into painful positions. Whilst we there he made a plaster cast of my leg/foot, which should be ready for me in around 3 -4 weeks. He said that if the splint did not work for me then he would look at what other ways there were for him to help me! After telling him about the spasms my arm does, he suggested I get my GP to do another referral to him so that we can look at what he can do to help contain the spasm.
It was such a positive appointment. It helped me to not completely give up hope on Doctors and showed me that there are a handful out there who want to help you. You just have to find them. Both my neck and back have behaved so far today, which is fantastic and gives my body some much-needed relief. I feel slightly ‘normal’ again, to the point that I can see the distant light at the end of the tunnel. I can now relax and sing along to my favourite songs, knowing that no matter what happens and how bad it seems, there is always going to be something positive at the end of it. I just have to find it!
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