The last several days have been very busy and very positive. I finally feel that I am getting things in place that I need and have an aspect of control. As I have little control over parts of my body, having control over some aspects of my life is very satisfying and makes up for my Dystonia alien crazy ways.
This coming Monday I am going to my local hospital for an appointment with the Orthotic department. My splints have served me well over the last few months, however as it has gotten colder my spasms in my legs have gotten worse. My right leg spasms so strongly that it often manages to escape my splints. I am hoping Orthotics may have an idea of what they could do to help. If not I have some images of some splints that I think may be able to contain my legs. It would mean having a solid front section to the splint as well as a solid back, this I think would work well as it would be a lot harder for my leg to break through. I’m looking forward to hearing their ideas.
When the Dystonia hit my legs I was given your standard NHS wheelchair – lets describe it as sturdy. My poor mother struggles to lift it in and out the car, and watching my friends lift it makes me feel awful. Recently however the functional paralysis that I experience on and off has meant that my wheelchair needs some extras added to it but this is not something that is possible. This has meant that when I have an episode of paralysis affecting my back I have ended up flopping half out the wheelchair and being stuck till it comes back.
So after a couple of weeks of pointing this out repeatedly to the NHS Wheelchair service I am now being reassessed to see if I qualify for a voucher that would enable a chair to be customized for me. Even better news is that the even with all the extra things added to it the chair will still be much lighter than my current one.
Knowing that my splint and wheelchair issues are going to be dealt with has given me such peace of mind and enabled me to relax. They are such small issues but in the long run have a big impact so having the two solved will make a big difference.
Last Saturday I attended a bring and buy sale at my local Church. One of the stalls was raising money for The Dystonia Society. In the end just over a £100 was raised, which is incredible. I would just like to say a huge thank-you to everyone involved.
“Dystonia is an unpredictable condition. It tends to progress slowly and the severity of a person’s symptoms can vary from one day to another“, NHS Choices. This quote sums up Dystonia quite nice and simply I think. It is extremely unpredictable, which makes it hard to work out what you are capable of doing one day to the next, if you guess wrong the games over for the day. In my case guessing wrong would result in me putting my spasming body to bed and hoping that a long nap will help calm my symptoms down…but thats providing the spasms don’t stop me from getting to sleep. I always try to make the most out of each day, to accomplish as much as I can incase the next day results in being unable to move from my bed. However trying this can often backfire on me and ensures that I spend the next day in bed, but sometimes if I’m really lucky I get away with it for a day or two. These are the days I love, as on these days I am beating my Dystonia – not permanently, but even an hour of winning is a huge achievement.
Dystonia symptoms and it’s impact varies from person to person. A quick glance at the Dystonia Society’s list of type of Dystonia and their symptoms gives you an idea of just how wide a range http://www.dystonia.org.uk/index.php/about-dystonia/types-of-dystonia . Due to this it does not surprise me that Doctors understand so little about the condition, why patients have little choice but to fight tooth and nail to find a treatment that works for them, to find a doctor who will listen. Through the power of the internet I have slowly got in touch with more and more sufferers, and even a handful of curious doctors. The sufferers amaze me. I hear the stories, and count myself lucky that I have a good support network, something many do not have. We all band together to raise our voices to get Dystonia out there, and it’s working. Slowly but it’s working. The emails I get from Doctors around the world prove that.
Yesterday at Choir we were practicing Christmas songs, which got me thinking of all the things I was thankful for. As much as I wish nobody had to suffer from this hideous condition, I am so extremely thankful that there are others out there. That those of us lucky to have found each other can support one another, give advice and a listening ear. Without being in contact with these amazing people, I honestly wonder how I would cope. I am also thankful to those of you who read this blog, and often share it with others. Since becoming ill I have become determined to become an advocate for Dystonia, to make my voice heard, and bring awareness to the condition and what it is like to live with it. Looking at the comments you lovely people leave me, the shares, likes and statistics brings me such happiness, as it shows me just how far my voice is being heard and assures me I am on the right path.
On one last note, I promised a while ago to upload photos of the amazing women who raised money to buy me a bath lift. I have attached them underneath. I feel incredibly lucky to have met such generous and caring women.
I intended to write this on Wednesday but this week has been extremely busy – I’m not complaining, I’m loving it, even if Benedict my Dystonia alien doesn’t. Between neurology appointments, college, horse riding and more college, I have been wheeling around like crazy, and sleeping fantastically well due to exhaustion.
I visited my wonderful neurologist on Tuesday, and got my six usual injections. Two to the eye area, jaw and neck. Receiving my injections makes me so happy that I have a trusting relationship with my neurologist, as I really dislike needles and would not let anyone else stick needles near my eyes! He even cracked a joke when cleaning the area with alcohol wipes that he was sorry it was not the good stuff…this really made me laugh as I’d just informed him I was going to try to come off some off my medications over the christmas period so that I could have a drink on christmas day, my 21st birthday and new year.
Whilst I was at my appointment my neurologist diagnosed me with chronic migraines. I have had what I thought were just normal but painful headaches for years. The opticians told me to tell my doctor but he just advised I drank more water which did not help. Recently I was having pains in the back of my eyes that have been so bad that I have had to shut them and go to sleep. I had been concerned that the pains were caused by my blindness, so have been relieved to have this diagnosis. He has promised to look into what treatment he can give me for them, so I look forward to my next visit.
Last week I hurt my back and neck when I had an episode of functional paralysis whilst sitting in my wheelchair – I ended up flopped out the side. This has resulted in a long recovery process. So I am extremely pleased that I have managed to cope with such a full on week.
Despite a repeat incident at college today, my back is not to bad! I find this reassuring as I hope this means that even though my Dystonia still acts up constantly, my body is finally getting used to all the extra activities I have started doing.
I feel like I have gone from drowning in this condition, to treading water, and now I have reached doggy paddle stage. I am not swimming up and down life like a good swimmer, but I’m moving around better, my head is firmly above water and I’m living life to the full.
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,