When I received my miracle unconditional offer from Oxford Brookes this year my mother and I ended up have numerous discussions on how I would manage on my own at uni. These talks mainly focused around the idea of having carers, 3 or 4 times a week, to help me with basic household tasks that some days are just too much for me to manage. At the time I was insistent on doings myself and put my foot down. I was determined to be an independent, strong, young woman who could manage all aspects of life without any help. Numerous other adults alongside my mother, pointed out that my mum would be right, university would be a reality shock, not only with an increase in work load but also with a huge increase in social life.
Needless to say I listened to what everyone had to say, I took it on board, and promptly carried on with my own plans. Not only did I want to be independent but I was also worried about the judgement I may face from my peers at needing care. My bedroom is rather large, which is great for days when I rely on my wheelchair, but I can easily overdo it by cleaning without realising it. I tried for two weeks before I resorted to carers. Giving in and saying “Yes, I need help!” was honestly the best decision I have made since being here. My fears of being judged and avoided like the plague where unfounded. There have been no drawbacks, just pure relief. I have more time and energy to put towards tasks that need doing for uni without having to worry about little things like hoovering.
My next task to tackle is pacing. For 3 years I have listened to my neurologist tell me to pace my life and stress the importance of it; and for three years I have simply nodded my head and carried on charging on. I have always been focused on the next achievement. It’s not taken me long to realise that tactic will not work for me here. Running on full steam will leave me having a flare-up frequently, which I simply cannot afford to be doing. It’s time to get my act together and learn the mysterious art of pacing…
Today is one of those days where I find myself thinking about everything. The other day I had to inform my university that I would not be able to return to my midwifery training because of my Dystonia. I still have to speak to them a bit more about it in the next few days. Yet sitting here right now, my body is completely behaving, I feel normal. I feel like I am able to just get up and walk about and do what ever I want. Part of me even dares to say you’re fine. However I know I am not fine, yesterday evening I went blind three times, my jaw was in spasm and my body was very jerky. I know that the reality is that I am not fine or ‘normal’, but my body at this very moment in time feels like I am.
A large part of me wants to just get up and walk about and see what happens, I know that there is a huge chance that my right leg shall immediately play up and I will end up on the floor, but then again if I don’t try these sort of things out, how will I ever know what I can and cannot do, or what progress I may have made.
My consultant, when I first met him, gave me the impression he was wonderful and would fix me. The reality of it has finally sunk in, unless you’re sitting in front of a consultant or doctor the chances are that unless you fight them they will do bugger all for you. The way I see it right now is that I have two choices, I could spend my days feeling sorry for myself and waiting until October/ November next year to get treatment or I could start pushing my body a little bit further everyday and start trying to retrain my brain myself.
Over the last few weeks I have tried to push myself, so far it has been successful 98% of the time. I can now use my right hand to hold a spoon, I can stand with my right foot flat for about a minute or two which is a huge step. I am making what I think are huge positive step forwards and that is without the help of doctors or consultants, the people who should be helping me! I have also noticed that I tend to go blind when I feel like my eyes are straining, the obvious solution to this in my mind, is to go to the options and get some new glasses, so my eyes don’t have to strain so much, after all there is no harm in trying and it may stop the blindness.
What irritates me the most is that I am having to struggle through this and try to figure out how to beat Dystonia with very little help from the medical profession. They are the people who should be giving me ideas of how to help myself, or new things to try etc, yet their not doing any of this, I am lucky if they even return my calls or emails. The care the NHS provides shocks me constantly, I feel completely abandoned by them. However I will not settle for this level of care. I plan on doing my best to bringing attention to the failings of the NHS system.