Its that time of year again!

Well what a week, I have been super busy making gifts for family and friends for Christmas, whilst battling the crippling neck pain and yesterday having a stomach upset meaning I was racing faster to the bathroom than Usain Bolt. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t fun. It took a good 12 hours for my tum to stop cramping. Anyway that is enough bathroom talk for the opening paragraph of my blog post.

On top of all of that I have woken up with a very sore finger on my right hand. Its one of my typing finger’s so this week is going to be a photo blog , the joint has swollen, I’m pretty sure its my arthritis playing up just for a bit of variety. I haven’t shown you any photos for what seems like forever. So here they are.

Last weekend we decided that we would get the Christmas decorations out. It is a little early for us but hubby is out with work this weekend and would have been too delicate to climb the ladder into the loft on Sunday safely. All in all it took 90 minutes which is pretty good going when you think the dresser had to be stripped and cleaned, all the pottery that was coming off wrapped and packed and all the gorgeous Christmas stuff put out.

I’ve been beavering away making lots of gifts and then I decided why not add to my work load and instead of buying gift bags buy a job lot of plain cotton bags (blanks as they are known by embroidery people! I found that out this week) and thought I would embroider them. That way they wouldn’t get thrown away and could used for years rather than one Christmas ( I always try to save gift bags but many of them don’t make it through until Christmas having been bashed about whilst being moved trying to find other things.) I bought myself some variegated thread as well, so did quite a few using that.

Sorry the pictures aren’t brilliant, these were taken immediately after they were done and needed an iron really. Now they are stuffed with presents. Here are some that I did using “normal” thread and much better photographs

I finally managed to complete Mr Myasthenia Kids advent calendar that I bought in August but had been putting off for months as it had box pleats something I have never done before. To be fair it wasn’t too bad. We are still waiting for a dowel to hang it from the lounge door so it’s in its temporary location here.

I fell in love with this fabric range from Makower , I have a table runner using this design. On Black Friday I managed to pick up some more fabric in this Christmas range with plans to make some cushion covers. At the time I  thought I may get this done before Christmas then as days passed I did start to wonder if I meant next Christmas as there seemed so much to do ( and I kept adding to it). I managed to knock them up today, which I am chuffed about as I had to use my overlocker to finish the seams to stop them fraying so that they will last and last. I made 4, two of each fabric design

I have two Christmas lap quilts that need bound so that they can replace the current quilts on the sofa. I am hoping I will get these done in the next few days. I will be making a scrappy binding using the off cuts from the cushions and table runner and any other Christmas scraps I can get my hands on. I will get these finished before Christmas, even if it kills me! Which I might do.

Tonight I am shattered, I hope that I manage to get some sleep tonight and stop waking up in a blind panic with all the things I need to do – even though I don’t work I find this time of year very stressful. There is so much pressure for things to be perfect even though in reality nothing is. I do have a few things I need to make for other people and I can’t let them down as it will mess them up for Christmas. I am feeling the pressure.

Next week I start physio, I am really hoping that we can make some difference to my neck issue.

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What are your aims with this appointment?

For a while now I have been moaning that my neck is sore / hurts / agony, take your pick. Last week I had blood tests to see if I was suffering from nutritional deficiencies and that is what was causing the numbness / pins and needles in my arms and face. Today I finally got to see a doctor. It was a long wait as with hubby’s hours it is easier if I can book an appointment on his day off, rather than have him come out of work and take me. It was actually getting the appointment to have my bloods taken that took the time to organise. It would appear Tuesday is a popular day. I then had to have the doctor’s appointment a week later. As luck would have it my neck actually wasn’t too sore today, the day I would finally see the doctor.


As this appointment was needed quickly ( although three weeks was three weeks too long really) I decided to take pot luck. I usually try to see the same doctor so there is some continuity of care and they have a basic idea of what is going on. However I was feeling very let down after my appointment in July where my neck pain was put down to stress. Now I was under a great deal of stress at the time mum had been diagnosed with cancer and there were other things going on in the background. So it would be an easy diagnosis to come to but even then I did come away from the appointment thinking I really should have been examined before this was written off as stress. It makes me worry that if I saw that doctor with chest pain that again it would be written off as stress when I could be having a heart attack. It’s not a nice situation to be in when you doubt your doctors clinical judgement. They are supposed to be the experts and be on your side, yet when you get written off as a basket case due to stress, it makes you not want to fight. Which is what I should have done because maybe I wouldn’t be in as much pain as I am now.


I will be the first to admit that yes I have been having some mental health struggles this year due to losing Willow and so many close friends and family in such a short space of time. I also went through a great deal of stress in the summer. I understand completely that mental health issues can manifest as physical issues. Yet the diagnosis of stress or anxiety or depression should only be given after an examination to check that there is nothing mechanically wrong. That didn’t happen during my appointment in July and I am angry about it. I am angry at myself for not asking the doctor why he or she felt that my symptoms of numb hands and neck pain didn’t warrant an examination. I understand that doctors especially gp’s are under enormous pressure, especially with health budgets being slashed, Don’t believe what the government tells you when it says its spending more in real terms its less money and our health service is drowning because of it. Just to make sure if this government stays in power when it suggests privatisation people will believe its the only thing to save our NHS and people like me will have no access to healthcare as we won’t be able to afford the insurance premiums. That’s my political rant over, I don’t do politics very often here but it needs said.


Anyway as usual I went off on a tangent, it makes me really angry when doctors are lazy and use a mental health diagnosis against a patient, which I feel is what happened to me in July. My notes say I am being treated for anxiety and depression, my mother has just been diagnosed with cancer so of course my physical symptoms are a manifestation of that. See how easy it is for a doctor to disregard real symptoms? The sad thing is people with anxiety and depression don’t have the energy to fight that kind of lazy doctoring. That was the position I was in then. I was happy to go along with what the doctor said because I trusted them. I am angry because they disregarded the Hippocratic oath of first do no harm. By brushing off my symptoms of stress they left me open to harm. I could have been suffering from a nutritional deficiency like B12 deficiency, a blood clot, vasculitis   a pinched nerve. However that doctor would never know as they were convinced it was stress and an increased dose of amiltriptyline would do the trick.


Today I was dreading my appointment, my mind was racing, was I going to be dismissed again as being stressed? Or would this doctor take the time to examine me?  I know doctors make mistakes and they are only human but a friend of mine almost died from meningitis after a doctor didn’t examine him. His wife found him unconscious in their home. If she hadn’t come home early from work he would have been dead. I had worked out through google and the fact that I have an ounce of common sense that the numb / pins and needles in my arms and face were being caused by a pinched nerve. Stress does not disappear when you put on a soft neck collar. Armed with this information plus the discharge notes from 2016 that contain the radiographers report from my MRI which says I have reversed cervical lordosis. I was ready to do battle and push for a diagnosis.


Why is it when you are prepared for a fight you never get one? Is it because you are giving off the don’t fuck with me vibes? I don’t know. This doctor examined me, so thoroughly that I have been in an awful lot of pain for the remainder of the day. I can’t complain about that at least this time I was taken seriously. However something they said really threw me, after they examined me they asked ” and what are your aims for this appointment?”. I have to say this really threw me, looking back now I wish I’d said ” well my aim is that I get a fucking diagnosis, after all you’re the doctor”. But I imagine that wouldn’t have gone down well and I may be looking for another healthcare provider if I had. But seriously what kind of question is that? That’s business speak and that has no place in an NHS doctors appointment. Why ask that question? Had I not had years of experience as a manager I may have found myself at a loss for words. Why do most people go to the doctors? To get help? Support? Advice? A diagnosis perhaps? Did they think I was going to say ” I want you to wave a magic wand and make my pain go away?” Did they think after years of dealing with doctors that I would have unrealistic expectations? I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome I have learnt to expect nothing from a doctor other than a shoulder shrug at best. As you may be able to tell this question ” and what are your aims for this appointment” has really bloody annoyed me.


I was expecting at some point they were going to ask me to complete a PDP ( personal development plan) with SMART objectives Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Targets. Or maybe they would have me complete a Root Cause Analysis so we could get to the bottom of what was triggering my neck pain. You see I did 18 years of bullshit management speak. To my shame I taught this shit to up and coming managers in a previous life. It has no place in the NHS as I am a patient not a customer, it has no place in an appointment because all I expect in an appointment is for the doctor to do their job. I have no idea what you will suggest because I am not a mind reader, I thought perhaps you might say I need an X-ray or an MRI or maybe even physio but all I wanted from you was a plan. I don’t know what your other patients want from you but from this patient to you please stop asking that question or think of something else to say. I get that some patients may come in expecting top-notch state of the art care like they see on Holby City  / Greys Anatomy/ any other popular hospital drama and your job is to manage unrealistic expectations. I don’t and that question has really annoyed me ( no shit Rach, I can hear you all saying!).


Now some of you may think that I am over reacting to this innocent question but to me it was a loaded question. I don’t doubt that this doctor had my best interests at heart, they after all discovered that I have altered sensation in my left arm and areas of complete numbness, they also have given the diagnosis of a pinched nerve in my neck. Which was the same conclusion I had come to. To me the question could be one asked by someone trying to figure out what the bare minimum is that they will get away with providing . Call me cynical but after having to do battle with numerous doctors over the years I know that cost is coming into clinical decisions more and more. It can’t be helped when the purse strings have been tightened so much that even targets for patients with cancer are being missed by the majority of NHS hospitals. If  my aim was to have my pain reduced that’s a quick win as they could give me a prescription for pain meds, if I wanted a referral to a spinal surgeon then my expectations would have to be managed and ( as I know) physio would have to be tried first. As it is I want to avoid surgery on my neck at all costs. To me the risk are just too high, that unless I am completely incapacitated by pain,  it’s not an option I want to go for. 

Having seen a spinal surgeon before I know they like you to try all options before you go for surgery and I am happy with that. Physio treatment in 2014 or 2015 meant I avoided a spinal fusion. I know that without having jumped through that hoop any referral to see a surgeon would be rejected by the hospital because all non surgical routes had not been explored. 

I have declined using the NHS physio team as unfortunately they are utterly useless when it comes to dealing with people with EDS. The last NHS physio I saw was supposed to be an expert on the condition and I could have written what she knew about EDS could have been written on the back of a postage stamp. She became totally fixated on my wheelchair, so none of the exercises were there to help the problem I was seeing her for but more to get me walking rather than using a wheelchair. I use a wheelchair due to the fact I faint without warning which leave me at a serious risk for a head injury, I also dislocate my knees, hips, ankles and spine when I walk more than a few metres. I also develop bursitis in my hips if I walk too much ( too much being more than a few metres). I had to give up walking my dogs in 2008 as I kept waking up on Woodbury common bleeding not knowing what had happened to me and the dogs wandering down the path in front of me. Thankfully the doctor I saw today was horrified at this physios dangerous fixation and agreed with me that preventing head injury and pain was imperative. Someone who was supposed to be an expert in EDS and PoTs should have known that. Hence why I am incredibly sceptical as to who gave this physio the title of an EDS expert because I have more knowledge than they do.

So I am going back to the private physio I saw in 2014 and had fantastic results with. It is incredibly expensive but I am hopeful if anyone can help me avoid spinal surgery Jane will. I hate using private instead of the NHS but I am afraid NHS appointments are too rushed. I need longer than 15 minutes, I need someone who will work with me and will admit that they know nothing about the condition rather than pretend they are an expert. It also means I wont have to travel 30 minutes to an appointment which will exhaust me before I even get there. Or the unrealistic expectation that I can go three times a week, when I don’t have a driving licence and can’t manage public transport alone as my wheelchair is attendant pushed how am I supposed to get there? Because I am a paying customer there I am  treated in a much better way and they understand that there us a life outside of the health service something which some NHS staff struggle to understand. I am incredibly lucky that I am in the position where currently I can afford to pay for private treatment but it will still put a strain on my finances.

So I wonder what will be the next go to question at any future gp’s appointment? As long as it isn’t “and what do you want me to do about it?” I think I’ll cope!

Human Barometer

We often joke in the EDS community that we are the human equivalents of Barometers. Any sudden changes in air pressure and you’ll find us suffering with a myriad of problems such as migraines, excessive joint subluxations (partial dislocations), dislocations, joint and muscle pain. This week I feel like I have had them all.

 

Monday started with a bang, I felt like someone had smashed me in the face with a shovel. This lead to me spending most of the morning lying in a darkened room. Until I suddenly had a brain wave and decided to see if putting a soft neck collar on would help at all. I have always held a deep suspicion that my migraines are triggered by my neck being hypermobile, I get a lot of pain and stiffness in my neck overnight. I always wake up with a migraine, very rarely do they start when I am up and about during the day. Within minutes of putting the collar on my head pain had reduced by half. Within two hours I was pain free but exhausted and still feeling sick. However anything was better than having the head pain.

Tuesday started on waking with a gnawing pain in my coccyx – right between my bum cheeks to be honest, hence why there are no photos! I have had massive problems with my coccyx this year after slipping on the snow and ice back in March. At the time I was much more worried about my head as I managed to crack it on the back door step. The lasting injury has been to my coccyx, which has resulted in me having to buy special cushions to sit on and to lie down in the lounge whenever I can to take the pressure off. I’ve lost 2 ½ stone over the year and you’d think that my joint pain would be getting easier but it isn’t. The coccyx pain is very uncomfortable, Tuesday it joined in with severe lower back pain which lead to me giving up and going to bed a 4pm. Only after applying my Tens machine for 4 hours did I have any notion of relief. It really was exceptionally painful and made me feel sick. No matter what pain medications I took the pain remained causing my buttocks and the backs of my thighs to spasm. I will be honest I really didn’t know what on earth to do with myself. It wasn’t even particularly stormy here yesterday just a bit gusty but obviously the weather and the air pressure were drastically different to the stable weather – but way too hot in the summer.

 

Today (Wednesday) the UK is being battered by another storm and my body feels like it spent the night being battered by a shovel. Since waking various parts of my body have been covered with a hot water bottles, with very little effect other than to make me sweat a lot as despite the fact the weather is very windy outside the temperature is very warm.My body is overheating constantly at the moment which is leading to me dripping with sweat at the drop of a hat. Either that or I have hot the menopause! So what hurts today? Today as most days I have pain in my lower spine and coccyx, my fingers are swollen, stiff and sore. My ribs feel like someone decided to attack me with a baseball bat whilst I slept and the soles of my feet feel like I’ve been hit with a 

with a baseball bat whilst I slept and the soles of my feet feel like I’ve been hit with a piece of 2 by 4 ( wood ). Other than that, I am groggy as hell with the constant waking up last night to take more pain relief. This is not a good day but I have been expecting a run of bad days after having a reasonable week last week. It’s the way it goes plus add in a few storms and my body reacts badly to the change in air pressure.

 

 

I forgot to mention that my shoulders are slipping in and out of  their sockets, making a terrific crunching sound as they do. Today nothing other than just surviving will be done. When I say just surviving I mean lying on the sofa hoping at some point the pain relief I have taken kicks in. There will be no enjoying myself, doing things that I like to do. It will be a case of just riding it out. That’s the way this chronic illness lark works. I may have a run of a few good days but they will be followed by several if not more bad. Which is why when its good ( when I say good I mean better than a bad day) I tend to cram as much in as I can.

I’m sick of this pain, especially when it’s like this and no painkillers touch it. It’s not a pain where you scream and shout it’s a nonstop constant bone gnawing pain that escalates as the day progresses. Sometimes it takes my breath away, it makes me miserable and snappy. I hate the way it can completely change my personality from laid back and kind to nasty and angry at the world. Unfortunately those closest to me bear the brunt of it, with me losing my temper very easily. A technique I have learnt to avoid me lashing out is to just go quiet and not speak. That way I can be horrible to those I love the most.

 

Thursday brings more storms and a trip to see my hospital consultant which is more than an hour away by car. It’s a crack of dawn appointment as well so 90 minutes after this blog post is published I will be on the road. I will have had to get up at around 4am so that I can pace myself whilst getting washed and dressed. I am not looking forward to using my wheelchair as sitting upright at the moment is so painful, added in the 2 hour car journey (there and back) and I will be wracked with pain….again.

I do have a lot to discuss with my consultant, I haven’t seen him since March, it’s a necessary evil – he’s not evil he’s lovely, just the journey is torturous. I have developed numerous issues since I saw him last and I need to get to the bottom of them. One of them is the possibility that I have got Sjogren’s Syndrome ( I have had dry eyes for years but the eye drops are no longer working, my mouth is dry so I am getting numerous cavities and my tongue is sticking to the roof of my mouth when I talk). I need this to be looked at as my eyes are just so painful and with my pathological hatred of the Dentist I need the cavities to stop.More information on Sjogrens syndrome here.

This is such a down beat post and for that I am sorry. I had such a lovely week last week seeing friends and managing to make some bits and pieces.

 

The Christmas wreaths had been half made since August so I managed to finish those by adding hanging loops and bows.

 

I also made a number of Travis bags.

Misunderstood

 

One of the things that has always wound me up since becoming chronically sick due to a myriad of medical conditions is the complete lack of understanding from about the conditions or the way they can make me feel. Despite Fatigue being a symptom of PoTs (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and EDS ( Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) medical professionals seem really surprised when you tell them you are knackered 100% of the time, no matter how well you slept. If the people who are supposed to get it, you know the experts fail to comprehend that you are dealing with levels of exhaustion they can only imagine, then what help is there for the non medical people in your life?

 

A few years ago I really lost my shit with someone who should have known better, they asked me how I was and I said I was really tired. Without thinking they said “yeah I am really tired too”.

“ No I mean I am really f**king tired, like I feel like I am walking around in a dream” I snapped.

“Yeah I get that when I don’t sleep well” They replied

I am not ashamed to admit that I really lost my temper as at this point I was in a cycle where I didn’t have more than 2 hours sleep a night for three nights and on the 4th I was sleeping 12-16 hours but waking up still feeling drained. I was hallucinating on the third day due to the level of tiredness I was experiencing. I had discussed this frequently with the person in question, they were not unaware of the difficulties I was experiencing on the sleep front. Yet even with all the information in front of them they couldn’t connect up the dots that going without sleep for nights on end didn’t just leave me tired, they left me barely functioning. It left me feeling as though a) this person had never actually listened to me when I was talking to them or b) that they didn’t believe me when I said how little sleep I was getting or c) they actually didn’t give a shit, I was always moaning I was tired. Any one of those scenarios is not one that leaves you feeling good about yourself.

 

After losing it with them and having to educate them in the difference between my tired – it doesn’t matter how much I sleep I am always feeling fatigued / wiped out and their tired, if they have a decent night’s sleep they feel refreshed, they never tried to claim that they felt tired in the same way I did again. Now don’t misinterpret me, I am not saying my tired is special or I am the only one in the world who feels like this. Ask most people with a chronic health condition / illness / disease and they will tell you the same, that sleep no longer leaves them feeling refreshed. Yet so many people in the medical profession will deny fatigue is caused by a person’s current illness / condition and will offer another label such as chronic fatigue syndrome – that’s a rant for another day!

 

I’ve noticed now the CSF leak is back how very few people actually understand it, I am talking close personal friends who witnessed how sick I was in 2016. So I am struggling to understand why they don’t remember that I have to lie down when the pain strikes etc. It is deeply frustrating but maybe I am expecting too much of them? Am I falling into the trap of believing that I am so important that they should remember this? I am also shocked by the number of people who have said things like

“ Oh that’s such a shame after you’d healed as well”.

Whilst I have said I have self healed I have also been careful to state it was to an extent, it had never gone away completely. I was able to spend many more hours upright but by the end of the day I was getting positional headaches that would only be relieved by lying down. I would also get photophobic at the end of the day, bright lights from screens including the TV would feel like they were burning a hole in the backs of my eyes. So whilst I was aware things had vastly improved for me, I was also aware that I was still leaking just at a much more slow rate.

 

I’ve also been really clear to those around me that it was highly likely that the symptoms of a full-blown leak would come back. The leak was probably caused by me having EDS,  as I have a weakness in the dura due to a previous lumbar puncture ( the protective covering around the spinal cord and brain) there would always be a weakness. So it’s frustrating when people question that the leak has returned – like the gp did last week. There is no mistaking a leak headache once you’ve had it. It is a pain like no other, it’s the only head pain that makes me clutch my head. I also get stupid comments from people like

“oh when I get a bad headache I soldier on because I have to. Not everyone can just go to bed because their head hurts”.

That’s when you know that person isn’t experiencing a CSF Leak headache because I will be blunt there is no fucking choice with a leak headache. You know when you see medical dramas and people collapse to the floor in pain, that’s what a leak headache is like. It hits you like you been attacked on the back of a head with a shovel. It makes you drop to your knees, if I could cry with the pain I would but when it strikes I am unable to do anything because it literally takes my breath away.

 

Somedays I am lucky and I can manage a few hours upright before I have to lie down. Other days I am upright for minutes and then I have to lie down. It is not a lifestyle choice it is the only way I can survive. It’s still not currently as bad as it was in 2016 and I am determined not to let it get that bad. Before I would push through until I was at the point of collapse. Now once the head pain starts I lie down, yes it’s frustrating but I’d rather lie down immediately than keep pushing to the point where I am bed bound for days on end. The only thing that works for a lot of people with a leak is lying flat however there are those who have leaked for so long that lying flat no longer reduces the pain that they are in.

 

Painkillers just don’t work on this headache, nothing I have ever taken has ever stopped the headache and that is the same for almost everyone with a leak. You get relief when lying flat when you have a leak because the fluid is no longer fighting gravity to be circulated around your spinal column and brain. By lying flat you increase the level of fluid surrounding the brain, which is what provides the pain relief.  Somedays within 30 minutes of lying flat the pain is gone other days it can take several hours and I am still left with a headache. However once upright again the headache will return. Obviously life spent flat on your back is not very fulfilling, its reduced the amount of sewing I can do as not only does the leak cause me pain this time it is affecting my vision. Its giving me quite a bit of double vision / blurred vision. I am having to use a magnifying glass and my reading glasses to be able to thread needles ( that is whilst using a needle threader both on my machine and when I hand sew). It makes things so much slower but I have to keep my hand in because without sewing I would be lost completely.

 

I have managed to make  a few bits, quite a bit was completed before the leak started and some of it has been completed in snatched moments when the levels of head pain are low / manageable. I have been able to finish items by hand whilst lying down so that’s a bonus. So here are some photos of what I have been making lately

 

I’ve been making a lot of baby bibs, some have been gifts and others have been paid to make.

 

 

Cushion cover made before the leak started – 

Travis bag for my Instagram Friend

 

I also made some voodoo dolls for a bit of a laugh, I never thought in a million years that people would want them but my (twisted) friends have gone crazy for them. Thankfully they all know how poorly I am at the moment and don’t expect me to rush to get things done. One of these is making its way to the USA as we speak. It’s my very first item that has gone to the USA.

 

So I still managing to do some sewing, it’s not as much as I would like but it’s enough to keep me sane at the moment.

 

My week

 

Over the last week I have been quite unwell, culminating in an emergency appointment at the doctors surgery yesterday. As is usual for me it wasn’t clear what exactly was wrong. I had severe abdominal pain in the lower right quadrant – I’m no stranger to abdominal pain, I have suffered with it for as long as I can remember. I can remember countless home visits by the gp where I was yet again diagnosed with a grumbling appendix.

 

I don’t think what I had yesterday was my appendix – its still sore today ( just not as bad). I think it is actually a cyst on my ovary, the doctors found one in 2015 but as it was only 2cm in size the protocol was not to monitor it. For years every few months I would get a pain in my lower right side. Loads of times I was convinced it was my appendix but after they found the cyst I realised that this made more sense. I started to track when I had the pain, it was always between the 20th to the 28th of each month and would last a few days. However over the last six months every two or so months the pain ramps up. I have a reasonably high pain threshold and it takes a lot to make me go to see the dr, let alone ring them up and demand an appointment. Normally I’m the patient running in the opposite direction.

 

Yesterday I couldn’t stand up straight when it was at its worst and when I was on the phone to the duty doctor I was curled up in a ball on the bed. I didn’t just have pain on the right side but the whole of my insides felt sore and were burning.  Thankfully the duty doctor agreed that I did need to be seen and set an appointment for an hour later. Thankfully Mr Myasthenia Kid was day off so he could drop me down there. I also had a pot to piss in ( ha ha ha ha!) my old gp used to give me a sample pot to use when I suspected I had a UTI. I forgot yesterday to ask for another one to replace it.

 

By the time I got to the doctors appointment the pain was already decreasing. I felt a bit of a fraud to be honest. Whilst I am typing the pain is ramping up again, I’ve taken pain killers so hopefully it will settle it again. I haven’t got a temperature and today I am not feeling unwell. I don’t feel right – I think all of us with a chronic illness or condition know when our bodies aren’t feeling right. Mine hasn’t felt right for a few weeks, initially I put it down to anxiety, stress, then the heat. But I know in my heart of hearts it’s more than that. It’s like the time I kept telling my old hospital consultant that I felt terribly unwell, I didn’t know what it was but he needed to listen to me. The arrogant twat didn’t, he sent me reluctantly for blood tests. Five days later I got a snotty letter telling me all my bloods were normal. Three days after that letter he had to backtrack because my prolactin levels were stupidly high. See I knew that something was wrong, never ignore your instinct about your health.

 

My urine was dipped and nothing was showing. I then had to get up on the couch and be examined. I knew it was coming, I made sure that front and back bottoms were scrupulously clean as I feared gloved fingers could be inserted into either orifice. Luckily I avoided that one! My stomach was palpated, as is usual the doctors always ask about the scar on my stomach. I’ve had a scar on my stomach since I was 3 and a bit. It’s been there so long that unless someone draws my attention to it I don’t remember it’s there. Now that will probably seem strange as it’s a horrific looking thing all thanks to EDS.

 

If I wasn’t such a lard-arse at the moment I may have taken a photo to show you. The scar runs from around an inch above my belly button to the top my pubic bone. It has healed very wide around an inch or more at the worst places and the skin is paper thin. I also have no sensation / feeling at all in my stomach about 2 inches either side of the scar as the nerves were cut ( I have had multiple surgeries). It’s caused me problems in the past due to burns. A few times I have ended up seeking hospital treatment as I have given myself a serious burn injury and not noticed until the skin has gone black. Like I said I have no feeling there.

 

The scar has also tethered at the end near my pubic bone. This means the scar tissue has adhered to the muscle underneath. It causes me no pain but means my stomach is divided into two parts due to the tethering.

 

I showed the doctor on my abdomen where the pain was, she felt it and I had to be peeled off the ceiling. At this point she told me that she wanted to ring the surgical team at the local hospital for advice as she felt it could be my appendix or it could be an ovarian cyst torsion ( meaning the ovary was twisting because of the cyst). Personally I thought with both I’d be in more pain than I was. I declined the call to the surgical team basically because I hate the local hospital. If I had been in severe pain, vomiting etc obviously I would have gone, I’m not an idiot. But I knew what would happen, lots of tests, no sleep, idiot medical professionals and sent home after being made to feel like a time waster. At this point all I wanted was my bed.

 

I made the doctor a solemn promise that should the pain intensify overnight that I would ring 999 and if it was bad tomorrow (now today) I’d ring them. She wasn’t totally happy but she knew I wasn’t going to hospital. I have to add here that even in that severe amount of pain my blood pressure reached the dizzying heights of 115/80 with a pulse of 95, oxygen 98%. When my blood pressure is normal ( doesn’t happen very often these days) when in pain I am normally in the 130/90 territory. So that just goes to show you how low my blood pressure has been of late.

Its not desperately low but I am 5ft 8 tall and not petite. Most doctors take my blood pressure and you can see that they are looking forward to giving me a lecture about my weight and high blood pressure. You can see the disappointment in their eyes when it comes back low! If my blood pressure is below around 115/80 I can be hideously symptomatic, every time I stand up I feel faint. This week I have been drinking expresso’s as it’s the only thing that gives my blood pressure a boost, even if it is only temporarily.

Around 2.30pm the doctor I saw yesterday rang to check how I was. That was really kind of her but I feel guilty for making her worry. It wasn’t a quick call either, she had a huge list of questions to ask to ensure I wasn’t brushing her off and telling her what I thought she wanted to hear. This is why I love the small practice I use as they have the time to care about their patients, it doesn’t feel like a conveyor belt. If you need longer than your allotted time then you get it and none of the other patients mind as they also know they won’t be rushed out the door.

 

My plan is when feeling slightly better that I will make a doctors appointment and ask to have this pain investigated. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if my ovary is stuck to my appendix due to all the adhesions I have.  

 

I’ve been so rough over the last week or so I haven’t done very much in the way of sewing. I tried some hand sewing yesterday but couldn’t concentrate so gave up. Today I finished a Travis bag for one of my Instagram friends. Thankfully that was a quick bit of sewing as I had started it well over a week ago. I can’t put a photo up as she hasn’t received it yet. Jamie will be sending it tomorrow for me. The lovely lady and I have chatted a few times on IG and she asked me if she could send me one of her bags and give her an honest critique of her work, which is a bloody brave thing to do. The bag would be mine to keep. I couldn’t let her just send me a bag, as I knew she had a dog I thought I would send her a Travis bag.

 

This is the bag she sent me,

 

I absolutely love this bag. The quilting is amazing, she’s also used variegated thread so it goes dark and light which emphasises the quilting beautifully. I only wish that I could quilt as accurately as this!

Sewing Secrets

I am officially one of the worlds worst secret keepers! How I have managed to keep the following items a secret over the last few weeks is beyond me. When I make something for someone I always want to give it to them immediately  or I accidentally let slip what it is. This time however I have been strong even though it has been incredibly hard.

 

A few times recently in blog posts I have said that I have been unable to share what I have been making that week due to it being a present. Thankfully I can now share with you my makes – which I am incredibly proud of as these two birthday girls have received their gifts.

 

Imogen will be 21 on 23rd June and is incredibly special to both me and Mr Myasthenia Kid. I discussed with him months ago what I would like to make for Imogen’s birthday and he was in full agreement. It took me a little while to source the material as I wanted all kinds of Unicorn fabric but I also wanted it in Pink and Grey so it wasn’t over the top girly.  The first item I made was a 20 inch square cushion cover in a Dresden Plate design

 

I had a bit of a nightmare with the cushion pad as although it was sold as a 20 inch cushion pad, it was actually a lot bigger. I, being a novice and idiot didn’t think to measure the cushion pad before I started making the cushion. I just presumed that if something was being sold as a 20 inch square cushion pad that is exactly what it would be.  So when I placed the cushion pad inside the cover it looked terrible – in fact stuffed sausage would be an accurate description. I was almost in tears as I had worked so hard. So I decided to measure my completed cushion cover and make my own cushion pad to fit it. I used my overlocker to do the edges of the cushion pad and the ladder stitched it closed once I had placed the stuffing inside. I took apart the bought cushion pad and ended up with two nice squares of white fabric and a little excess stuffing.

I also wanted to make Imogen a quilted patchwork Tote bag. I had already made one as a project in my subscription box was this exact thing and they had sent out 42 charm squares, lining and webbing for it to be completed. I had really enjoyed putting it together and couldn’t get over how much I was using the bag as it was so roomy yet so light weight. So I made my own charm squares and bought the webbing online andknocked up one for Imogen.

 

 

I scotch guarded both the cushion and the bag to help resist stains. Imogen can be a little clumsy the same way I can. I also gave washing and ironing instructions with each.

 

Last week on the spur of the moment I decided to add something extra to Imogen’s gift. I had been doing some redwork for my other friends gift but want to change it up a bit so I found a  unicorn design online, unfortunately there is no attribution for this work so I can’t give credit to the artist. I did change it up just slightly by putting a heart around it and not using the words that had been printed under the design. Here is the finished item

 

 

I have filled the inside of the cushion with a mixture of stuffing and dried lavender. It smells divine and the whole house smelt of it for a few hours as I filled several lavender pillows that day. I again provided washing instructions / care instructions just in case. Imogen was given her gifts on Saturday. The message she sent me after opening them was so lovely it made me cry, then Imogen’s mum Helen sent me a message in the evening which was really lovely too and that made me cry as well. It’s really nice when you have spent hours working on an item and the person is overwhelmed by it and is truly grateful for them.

 

My oldest Exmouth friend Ellie also has a birthday in June ( not until the 30th but with works schedules etc it was difficult to know when I would see her next) . I gave her the gifts I had made this morning.

 

This is a redwork lavender pillow. The redwork design was free from a site called https://www.birdbraindesigns.net/ which has some really lovely designs on there. I added my own embellishments to the design and also added Ellie’s initial to make it even more personal.

 

 

This has again been filled with stuffing and lavender. It’s a lovely small size that could be placed under a pillow or in a drawer to leave the scent of lavender behind. I have really enjoyed doing the redwork and have made several more as gifts for people. They take me several hours to do but I really enjoy sewing them. The stitches on these and the unicorn cushion are very basic just a running stitch, back-stitch and french knot are all that are needed to create something that can look quite stunning.

 

The second part of Ellie’s gift had been in the planning stages for ages. I was scared to start it as it was something different than I had ever made before. Plus I kept adding to the level of difficulty. It was the first time I had used the product Odecoat which ( depending on how much you use) can make something totally waterproof. I did enough to make the item water-resistant / stain resistant inside and out.  This was also the first time I had used my machines embroidery functions, I also used the memory function. I used an iron on stabiliser as well and proper embroidery thread. So it was a project of firsts. The pattern comes from Lucy Brennans blog / website https://www.charmaboutyou.com/ and the pattern is the #pieceofmepouch. It’s so stunning and once I had my head around it not difficult to make. I also have to say a massive thank you to Lucy who helped me out when I was being a bit dim and not understanding the pattern. Lucy is always so encouraging and supportive, I can’t thank her enough.

 

 

This week I also had to make my dads father’s day gift.This had been rattling around in my brain for weeks. I knew I wanted to make him something that was special and a one-off but what. I decided after gaining confidence making the piece of me pouch that I could use aspects of that and make my dad a bag to carry his (clean and empty) dog poo bags. I decided that I wanted curved edges on the top, that I wanted it to be 3D rather than 2D. I wanted a loop on the back so he could attach it to a belt and I also wanted a clip on it so that should he not be wearing a belt he could attach it to his belt loops. It also had to be small enough that it would impede his walking.

 

In my mind’s eye I could see exactly what I wanted so last Wednesday morning I sat with an empty bonio box ( dog biscuits)  in front of me and made my template. I used Odecoat again to help make the fabric water-resistant and to make it a bit stiffer. Also when I quilted it, I made the lines much closer together as I knew this would make it much more rigid. I am delighted with the way it’s turned out. Unfortunately due to a series of events out of both of our control I have been unable to give it to him as yet. I am pretty sure he doesn’t read my blog – mum does so I will be safe posting it here.

 

 

My last make of the week was this Owl stuffed toy for Jamie, it was his father’s day present from the dogs.

 

I absolutely adore this and it looks so cool on his bed! So far the dogs have left it alone.

 

* * *

Health wise I have been up and down. The heat had been causing a lot more ptosis than normal. I can really feel the mestinon wearing off after a few hours so I have had to been really strict with my dosing schedule. As once I get full-blown ptosis it can be difficult to shift.

 

I managed to have a large abscess develop under my breast due to the chronic skin condition Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Tuesday afternoon this decided to erupt and immediately go into cellulitis. My breast was so painful I couldn’t wear a bra. Thankfully the antibiotics had it  gone right down within 3 days.

 

A few days over this last week I have been woken up in the night in a lot of pain with a headache ( not a migraine) . I managed to work out on Sunday that it had been due to the position I had been holding my neck in whilst sewing. This was causing me pain through my collar-bone and deep into the soft tissue of my neck. This was then causing me to have awful headaches. I actually got very paranoid that my CSF leak was back, until Mr Myasthenia Kid pointed out that Leak headaches don’t start when you are lying down, they start on sitting up. This headache was with me whatever position I was in. It was not a leak headache more poor posture due to the heat making my muscles weaker than normal.

 

This morning I woke up with a bad pain under my sternum and a burning feeling in the back of my throat. I immediately worked out that when I had taken my 4am antibiotic (despite drinking loads) it had become stuck in my gullet. The tablet had dissolved in the back of my throat and burnt the tissue. I have been drinking gaviscon straight from the bottle and drinking only water to settle it down. It is feeling better than it was but there is still a burning pain. I have had issues with taking capsules for years due to problems with my swallowing. This just highlights again how much weaker this has become during the heat.

 

So although it may seem like I must be doing ok because I have sewn loads don’t let online appearances fool you. Everyday I am on the maximum amount of painkillers I can take as my back is so awful at the moment I have been having pins and needles in both legs. I’m either too hot and feeling faint or feeling cold thanks to my wonky Autonomic nervous system. I am just determined to do my best every day and be the best that I can be and let the creative juices flow. It is what makes me happy. It doesn’t take away all the shitty  health conditions I am living with every day of my life.

PoTs and the Lightning Process

On Tuesday evening whilst having a look at member posts on the group I admin in, a post popped up that deeply concerned me. Now obviously I only have this members say so that this is the case, it may not be true or aspects of it may not be true. However he alleged that a well-known UK doctor that many people pay privately to see after getting nowhere with the NHS when they have PoTs, was singing the praises of a clinical study that was using The lightning Process to essentially treat / cure PoTs. My heart sank and if it is true, it has confirmed a fear that a friend and I have shared for the last 4 years that research into the treatment of PoTS in the Uk was moving towards a more psychological rather than physiological model.

 

I am not naive enough to say that the mind does not play a role in health of course it does. People with depression can manifest very physical symptoms. I have found whilst dealing with anxiety and depression lately that my pain levels are affected. On the days where I am really struggling my pain levels are higher, when I am having a better day my pain levels are back to normal. Clearly mental health and physical health are linked as they are all part of the whole system. However to suggest a process that has many vocal detractors, that has had no properly conducted medical trials that have been peer-reviewed or replicated can treat / cure PoTs is just laughable. It’s like telling a person with terminal cancer that thinking positive thoughts will cure them.

 

Now when you try to research The Lightning Process online it is very hard to actually get any substantial information regarding what the process actually is. I had to search for quite a while last night. Part of the problem is that those that attend the courses ( that retail from between £500 -£750 for a 12 hour course over three days) have to sign (allegedly) a non disclosure document. They are also constantly told during the three-day course that sharing details of the course with others will prevent them from becoming well. The lightning process up until now has mainly been marketed at those with M.E, CFS, Depression, Anxiety, OCD, and Multiple Sclerosis. The main website has fallen foul of the UK Advertising Standards Authority and was forced to remove content that claimed it had cured people of various medical conditions and that it had a success rate of around 90%. From what I have managed to glean from online sources ( which I have provided the links for at the end of this post) it’s mainly based on positive affirmations, cognitive behavioural therapy and emptying your wallet of several hundreds of pounds. It uses a lot of impressive sounding terminology such as neuro-linguistic programming ( a discredited psychological therapy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming, )  neuroplasticity ( changing pathways in the brain) and reducing Allostatic load (stress). It sounds very impressive and when you are desperate, the sum of £500 – £750 doesn’t seem that much if you are going to become well again within three days. I say three days as many of the LP (lightning process) practitioners claim that participants are well within three days.

 

From what I have been able to glean from some very limited research is that it’s all based on breaking the cycle of negative thinking. So at its very basic level its patient blaming, you are sick because you are trapped in a cycle of negative thinking. The negative thinking pattern is causing your physical symptoms – including MS, ME and now PoTs by the look of it, due to the fact you are increasing stress on your body by continually activating your fight or flight response. (http://lightningprocess.com/how-it-works/ ).

 

So for instance if you have the thought “ I feel terrible” you make the hand signal to stop – catch yourself in the thought, you then rephrase it as in “I am doing terrible” therefore making it your choice to be feeling that way ( see the subtle language change that shifts the blame back onto the patient so even if they claim that they don’t blame the patient the subtle change if language makes the patient believe they are responsible for their physical state – what angers me is there would be a national outcry if they tried this shit on with cancer patients). You then tell yourself you have a choice to make you can choose to descend into the pit ( where you allow your physical symptoms to take over your life and continue with the negative thoughts and never get better) or you can choose the life you love. Now what muppet wouldn’t chose the life you love? Who wouldn’t want that in a heartbeat? However if you fail to respond to the process you have effectively chosen to remain in the pit (of despair). You also tell yourself positive affirmations such as “I am strong like a tree” or “ I am a strong genius for choosing the life I love” as you visualise the choice you have made. Sorry only one word for this Psychobabble. Can you understand now why I am concerned that doctors who treat PoTs and Dysautonomia in the UK are singing its praises?

 

A lot of research with PoTs has been around a faulty fight or flight response so I can see why the leap has been made to the lightning process. As many patients with ME ( I hate the term CFS ) have dysautonomia as part of their symptoms, or possibly because many patients who were written off as having M.E but actually have PoTs and EDS (and dubious claims have been made about LP curing M.E), maybe these doctors decided that despite tilt table tests proving PoTs, that somewhere deep within our subconscious we are responsible for causing our own illness through a cycle of negative thinking. If you aren’t offended at any level that it is being suggested that your negative thought patterns are making you sick…….then there really is no hope for you.

 

The LP is so condemning of negative thoughts that to doubt or to criticise the process is seen as a reason why you haven’t been cured. From what I have read those taking part in the process are told to leave their analytical thinking at the door. There is even a suggestion of a screening process before you are allowed to attend the course. The practitioners claim that you have to be ready to attend so this is why they conduct a home study ( a basic telephone interview). Many of those who have spent the money to attend the course have said that the interview is a test to see how compliant you will be. Those who have attended the course and failed to respond to the process are quite often told by others who claim to have been cured, that they didn’t try hard enough, they didn’t implement it properly, they weren’t open minded enough ( whilst typing this I keep wanting to add “ to allow Jesus into your life” because let’s face it, it sounds like a cult. Handing over your money to find enlightenment).

 

Furthermore I have to say on reading some of the testimonials from those who say their illnesses have been cured by LP, sound very much like those people who have been brainwashed in some religious cult. They all say the same thing and usually end with the same accusatory tone that if the process didn’t work for you then you a) didn’t try hard enough b) don’t want to get well. Back to the old blaming the patient game for those of us who chose not to get better.

 

The major problem with the studies that have been conducted is that they have been so informal as to have patients with no official diagnosis provide a self diagnosis ( on it’s on page at the bottom it shows that the patient results are from people who have self diagnosed – so may not actually have the illness they are claiming to have http://lightningprocess.com/research/ ) also due to its technique of only accepting positive affirmations and to condemn anything that could be perceived as negative of course when you question people about how they are doing after spending so much money on what could be bought in the self-help section of a bookshop, they are going to tell you that they have improved. They have been told that to say that they are sick, worse not doing well is not following the process……..how can they say anything other than they have improved or are living the life they love?

 

I am always concerned when I find Doctors are conducting clinical trials on psychological approaches to treat physiological conditions. To me it’s lazy medicine, it’s a chance to shift the focus away from the doctors lack of knowledge / scientific breakthroughs and pushes the fault for the illness or disease back onto the patient. Any doctor that suggests this form of treatment to me will just get a punch on the nose.

Now again for the record I will state it was alleged in a group I am admin in, that a certain UK Doctor who is famous in PoTs circles is singing the praises of a clinical study into using the lightning process to treat / cure PoTS. How true this actually is, I don’t know. So there is no need for panic stations however I would love to hear from anyone in the UK who this treatment has been suggested to (who has PoTs) or who is part of the clinical study.

I also wonder how effective saying stop and repeating positive affirmations will be when my blood pressure drops to 70/40? or when I dislocate a joint if it will pop back in if I tell myself I am strong like a tree?

Resources / Links

Official Lightning process website

https://hubpages.com/health/The-Lightning-Process-Didnt-Work-For-me

https://frownatsmile.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/patient-experiences-of-the-lighting-process-links/

http://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/a-balanced-view-of-the-lightning-process.35835/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/tomchivers/inside-the-controversial-therapy-for-chronic-fatigue?utm_term=.bqrkDAmny#.ri1ZbXzVk

http://skepdic.com/lightningprocess.html