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.
After two weeks of no seizures, and no ambulance trips since July, my seizure free luck ran out yesterday. Having had a fantastic day at college, I collapsed outside my house after my legs went into a bad spasm. I feel sorry for my poor friend who took me home that day as it was not a nice experience for her.
I gave my body a good whack on the ground when I collapsed, triggering my seizures. Normally with my Non Epileptic Seizures I come round, even if it is just for a second, between them. However yesterday this did not happen, I remained unconscious in between. Luckily my younger brother and one of younger sisters were at home, so they were able to bring pillows, blankets etc out to keep me warm whilst my friend kept me safe.
An ambulance had to be called, thankfully I always tell everyone that I have a letter from my neurologist in my handbag instructing paramedics and doctors on what to do. This letter meant that the paramedics quickly administered diazepam to me. As I was remaining unconscious and had been unconscious for so long I was given oxygen and taken to the resus unit at the hospital, where I was monitored for several hours.
I feel sorry for the first doctor in charge of me as he was very unsure of my condition and therefore seemed to feel frustrated as he was unable to help me. My body being its usual unhelpful self did its typical vein disappearing act. It took the poor man seven attempts to get a line in me and bloods out of me.
Despite this incident ruining my good streak, I am still viewing it as progress! Hopefully these blues and twos trips to hospital will continue to be less and less, until they fizzle out completely all together. It may take time, but it will one day happen. I am so thankful for my letter from my neurologist, I am sure with it out I would not have received diazepam so quickly, and that was much-needed to help bring me round.
I am now home and shall be spending the next couple of days recuperating from yesterdays events.
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.
This afternoon I was up in London seeing my lovely neurologist. As usual I went armed with lots of questions. I feel very blessed that I see such a lovely man, who listens to everything I have to say. His manner is very calming, I hate needles, but his calm attitude puts me at complete ease, I would never let anyone else stick so many injections in me. I was excited to see him and to show him how much progress I have made with creating my life around my symptoms.
We went through all my queries before my injections and he was so helpful with each one. He is going to write to my GP explaining that I need the IV antibiotics for Lyme Disease, I am relieved he has agreed to do this as it means I do not have to argue with my GP about it. I have a severe intolerance to Lactose, which unfortunately all but one of medications contain. At first this was fine as my body was coping with the small amount, but now that it has slowly built up in system my body is reacting and is making my other medical conditions, e.g IBS, worse. The most annoying issue with it is that no matter how much time I sleep for I wake up feeling like I never went to sleep and I find it hard to keep going in the days, my neurologist has offered to get the pharmacy at the hospital to look into alternatives for me. This would make such a big difference. We have also juggled around my next two appointment to make sure that my jaw is in working order for Christmas and my 21st birthday.
We spoke about my functional paralysis and agreed that in a way it was positive as it was less disruptive to life, although it is not ideal. There is not much I can do other than take pain killers and try to stimulate the part that is paralysed in attempt to disrupt the incorrect signals that are being sent – this has not worked yet but I shall keep trying. I had my eyes, jaw and neck injected with Botox so my spasms shall continue to my kept in check and my jaw tremor should soon settle down for a few weeks.
It was a fantastic appointment. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful neurologist looking after me.
So my body seems to have decided to change its tactic. Normally when I am in a lot of pain I have a Non Epileptic Seizure. The last two weeks or so my body has disconnected from certain parts of me or all of me, leaving me functionally paralysed. I have had a handful of seizures as well but the functional paralysis does seem to be my body’s main coping mechanism now.
I am in two minds about this change. On one hand I am happy that there has been a decrease of seizures, as it means I am conscious more often, not forgetting hours either way of the seizures etc. On the other hand the functional paralysis can be rather scary. The first time it really hit me I lost the connection to the lower half of my face for 7 hours. A big part of me knew it was just my body coping with pain, but a small part of me was terrified that something worse was at play such as a stroke. When the functional paralysis comes out to play I either disconnect for one to two minutes or I disconnect for hours. There is no middle ground.
As I type my right foot is in spasm. It felt like the force of the spasm was trying to break my big toe. I was in a lot of pain and was beginning to think that I should be sensible and shimmy down the bed a bit so that I did not hurt myself if I ended up having a seizure. However instead of seizing both my legs ended up functionally paralysed despite my left leg having no spasm in it at the time.
I am seeing my neurologist on Tuesday for my injections and a chat, so am going to add functional paralysis to my list of questions. I’m not sure if there is anything he can suggest to help but he may be able to advise something. I think I prefer my body coping this way but at the same time it scares me slightly.
As I have mentioned before my body does not react very well to me getting ill, even colds cause my Dystonia alien to act up more than usual. Therefore I have spent today spasming, having seizures and trying to find the energy to get things done. I have not slept well the last few nights which I know will be aggravating my symptoms – thankfully I have reflexology tomorrow which should help with my sleep.
I have spent a lot of time thinking today about goals. I have lots of long-term ones that I am determined to achieve, but it occurred to me today that I also needed short-term ones as well. Goals that would keep me motivated even when I am feeling under the weather and my body is at its worst. I have decided that my first goal will be to be to walk in my splints around the house by Christmas without crutches! As I am starting neurophysiotherapy soon I see no reason as to why this cannot happen. I was walking around the house last Christmas and I shall, with the aid of my splints, be walking by this Christmas.
There is a girl on my college course who I find very inspirational. Despite being young (17), she is coping amazingly well with a combination of different conditions. One of her issues is that she cannot feel her legs – she has some very limited feeling in her upper thighs but that’s it and yet with the help of crutches she walks. Now most of the time I can feel my legs, and I have the extra help of splints, so it is time to put them to good use and start walking!
I know that I may not be able to walk every day due to my Dystonia aliens games, but I will walk as far as I can every day, whether that only be walking 2 footsteps or walking for 2 hours, I shall every day walk! And I shall do this by Christmas!