Solace in creativity

Last week I wrote of my guilt at being happy, although I received lots of supportive comments, my emotions are still all over the place. The last week or so I have cried everyday over Mollie, Frankie and Willow. I think that is why I have been trying to occupy every minute of every day lately through some sort of creative endeavour or to get out of the house, so I can’t sit and brood.

I am beyond exhausted, last week Jay was on holiday and we spent the week catching up on jobs that have probably been outstanding for 12-24 months. Obviously I am very limited in what I can do and with Dembe ( our nearly 16 week old yellow Labrador pup) it is very difficult to do things together. We made a massive dent on the list of jobs that need done but as anyone who owns a house will tell you, one job soon multiplies and becomes another 4.

We have sorted out our bathroom, its been in a state of almost done for around 10 years I kid you not. Little jobs needing done but neither of us having the energy or inclination to get it completed. I finally cracked and decided a week before Jays holiday enough was enough and it would get completed. Initially it was just that the grout and silicone sealant would be redone. That however has evolved into the bathroom being redecorated – overdue as I believe it was last done possibly 5 years or more ago. Which then means that before the walls are painted the woodwork gets repainted. So the thing spirals. All because I can’t spend any free time doing nothing because the minute I do the sadness overwhelms me.

I have been working hard on the creative side of things as well. For a while I didn’t want to do anything, I didn’t know if I would ever be able to do anything again. Both days that the dogs health suddenly declined I was sat at my embroidery machine. I blamed myself for not paying them enough attention. To not sew or give myself a  creative outlet was a way of punishing myself. Because as I stated in last week’s post I love to make myself feel guilty.

So I thought I would share my makes with you. I am limited with how much I can type this week as my shoulder (right) is grinding away and popping out, my wrists and fingers are also playing me up. So typing is uncomfortable.

I have been making this one for a friends granddaughter. This will get turned into a cushion at some point over the next few days, depending on when my shoulders and wrists / fingers decide to cooperate.

I’m not happy with either the hedgehog or the sheep as I rushed the hooping and as a result they have puckered. However these two will be turned into cushions for our home and I was desperate to see how this design stitched out.

I love the highland Cows design, this was from the same Etsy seller who designed the sheep and the hedgehog. This one will be a cushion for us. I am toying with putting this design on one of my blank sweatshirts.

 

 

The Charlotte cushion is a Christmas present for my niece – you probably think I am bonkers but I like to work well in advance in case my health suddenly declines. That way I don’t feel stressed out in December trying to make lots of gifts to a deadline of when Jay will drop them down to our relatives.

The owl Cushion – I bought this design around Christmas time. Due to the dogs passing I never got the opportunity to stitch it out. So I had a go a few weeks ago. I am really pleased with how it turned out. 

The Evie cushion was for a friends Granddaughter. This will be the last one I stitch out of this design as it has been poorly digitised. Every time I stitch it out I have problems in the same place. I have invested in a new unicorn design now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a job lot of doorstops, many of these will be gifted during the year or at Christmas. These doorstops have washable covers as the bottom has an opening that has velcro to fasten it. Inside I have used cat litter ( clean obviously) to weigh it down. I place the cat litter inside a ziplock bag and also use an elastic band so it has two forms of closures to stop any leakage! I enjoyed making these door stops, it made a nice change and was a challenge for me after making so many items the same on the run up to Christmas and with making cushions.

As I haven’t posted a photo of Dembe on here for a few weeks, I thought I would share this with you. 

This is me and the little man. He sleeps every night with his head on my pillow. Most nights his nose is touching my head or face. I love feeling his breath against me. He is such a loving little chap. Without him I’d have never made it through the last 10 weeks.

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Physio v Torture is there a difference?

I wrote back in December that I had gone back to my physio Jane, who is just brilliant. I had been having trouble with a pinched nerve in my neck which was causing areas of numbness, pins & needles and burning sensations. Thankfully working with her has reduced these symptoms massively to the point now where the pain is limited to my neck and I have the proper feeling back in my arm and hand.

So far my physio sessions have been ultrasound treatments and deep tissue massage / manipulation. Whilst deep tissue massage may sound blissful and you have the image of a spa, let me burst that bubble for you. It’s really fucking painful. The evening after treatment is usually spent in a whole world of pain with a humdinger of a headache. Tonight is no different. Although I know that things are improving massively it just seems so unfair that I get so much pain after each session. I know I will be fine by the morning once my overly reactive body has calmed down again but it doesn’t make it any easier.

I spend a lot of the session hovering over the massage table as the pain makes me levitate. Some times when she is working on a certain point initially it will be pain-free but as she increases the pressure she can hear me take a sharp in take of breath. That is the first warning it’s getting sore. After then I tend to try to jump away from her.

My next physio goal is to start some gentle Pilates exercises. Basically my muscle tone is horrendously poor. Its my own fault as I worked so hard on it in 2014 and I let it all go to waste when I developed my spinal fluid leak. A lot of things went to pot then all of which I am working hard to put right – diet went out the window, Pilates and just taking care of myself. I am determined to put this right. Even though I know that initially my core muscles will not be happy, probably none of the muscle groups I will be activating will be but it will help stabilise my joints and support my spine. 

Over this last week I have been having terrible problems with my joints, lots of grinding, subluxations and pain. My muscles have equally been naughty I have had muscle spasms at the drop of a hat. My feet seem to love going into spasm – that is very sore and it tends to take them ages to come out of it. The middle of back where the bra clasp would sit is also going in and out of spasm on a regular basis. I wonder genuinely, if it is to do with the storm the UK has just been battered by as prior to that my pain levels had dropped for the first time in well years. I know we EDSer’s can be sensitive to barometric pressure and its the only thing that is different.

I’ve had to get a yoga mat to perform my exercises on as a little devil disguised as a cute little yellow Labrador decided to use our grey rug in the lounge as a toilet twice … that we know of. So I thought we had just had two weeks of 100% no accidents and maybe he had been using the grey rug? The house certainly wasn’t smelling of dog pee. We were going to replace the rug anyway, it now just been removed with no replacement planned until the house training is for sure 100%.

My physio had me run through some extra exercise treats she wants me to attempt… I don’t think I will be able to take a deep breath tomorrow let alone belly laugh. I am always amazed at what tiny Pilates movements can do. I know that they are brilliantly effective but I also know due to the current state of my spasmodic muscles I am going to have to go very gently.

Even with the current state of play with my muscles and their desire to go into spasm with no warning, I have managed to get back to some creative work. I have done quite a bit on the embroidery machine, I have used my overlocker and my sewing machine. I managed to make 5 cushion covers last week. All of which I am very pleased with, there are little things that I could have done better but that is me being stupidly hard on myself.

After sharing with friends the birth announcement cushion I had made for a friend of ours, two people asked me to make them for as well. This was a nice surprise as after not sewing ( properly) for over a month and having no desire to I had lost my confidence.

I also made two book lovers cushion covers, these will be gifted later on in the year.

This one will also be gifted later this year.

This week I wanted to see how this design would stitch out, I bought it in the sale but everything turned to rat shit and I never got an opportunity. As soon as the urge to create came back I really wanted to see how this design would come out.

I still haven’t decided If I am going to frame this or make it into a cushion cover. It took an age to stitch out over an hour and a half, just under 60k stitches and 21 thread changes. I was exhausted by the time it finished and in pain. My muscles are so weak currently that I can’t support myself sitting up for any length of the time.

I am feeling happier at the moment, although I ended up crying over Mollie and Frankie today, it came out of nowhere. I feel like me again after being under a huge black cloud for weeks. 

Now to take some pain killers thank goodness I am not back at the torture chamber, I mean physio centre for 4 weeks as my lady is going skiing.

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.

Down the rabbit hole

What I have been holding my breath waiting for since the start of the year and all the bereavements we went through has finally happened. I knew at some point my health would be impacted and over the last 7 days it’s happened.

 

I’ve spent a few days in bed this week, purely because the chest pain on moving and the level of exhaustion was becoming unbearable. I really hate it when my health takes a nosedive as it can be months before I get back to where I was before. The same thing happened last year when we went through two bereavements in the space of 6 months. It took me from the May until the October to get anywhere near where I had been before.

 

I hate the feeling of helplessness and vulnerability this creates within me. I lose all motivation to do anything and just want to hide away from the world in the hope it will leave me alone. But it wont and I have to be a grown up and deal with the things that make me feel uncomfortable.

 

I am fed up with the professionals in my life telling me that my body’s  and minds response to this is normal, personally I’d prefer that they waved a magic wand and made it all go away. However I know it’s not going to happen so I just need to put my big girls pants on and get through this.

 

I am trying desperately hard not to fall down the rabbit hole and get seriously depressed. I won’t lie I am dealing with depression and anxiety at the moment. I have lost my sewjo, I have just been too exhausted and when I have tried to sew I’ve ended up with horrendous double vision. Sewing to me since October has been like breathing so to not be able to currently do it is frustrating. Hopefully it ( my sewjo ) will return soon and I will physically be able to do it.

Sleep and other fairy tales

When I gave up smoking (nearly 7 weeks ago) I thought I had discovered the secret of a good night’s sleep. Initially on giving up I was sleeping like a baby, I have never understood that expression as most babies I know don’t do the sleep thing! I was dropping off within 30 minutes of turning off my bedside light and then sleeping for a good 10-12 hours. It was bliss, my back hated it but I actually started to feel something I hadn’t felt in years….refreshed.

 

Fast forward four weeks and the problems started, I also noticed at this point how unhappy my joints seemed about staying in. The slightest thing was bringing on a subluxation or a dislocation. My feet were also regularly spasming forming almost a tight ball, imagine the top of your toes touching the sole of your foot. Initially I put it down to stress, we were choosing the new colour schemes for the kitchen and the lounge, that sort of thing will keep me up at night, worrying that I have got it right. Not sleeping or poor quality sleep always seems to effect the stability of my joints. Which is why it is so important that I get a reasonable amount of sleep of average quality. When I get neither the hours or the quality not only are more joints increasingly unstable but I also end up with increased pain levels.

 

I take Melatonin and an antidepressant called Mirtazapine to help me sleep and for a good year they have been highly effective. However in the last 4 weeks it suddenly feels like I have become immune to both of them. I never go to bed until I feel tired and up until about 4 weeks ago within an hour of taking those medications I would be out like a light (about 85%) of the time. So to suddenly go from them working to still being awake two to three hours after ingestion is just bizarre. It’s also incredibly frustrating.

 

Many doctors don’t get it when you speak to them about lack of sleep or lack of good quality sleep. This is especially true if you are chronically sick, it seems that if you aren’t working and don’t “have” to do anything due to illness, lack of sleep really shouldn’t bother you. I have had this from doctors myself, it wasn’t until I was effing and blinding, crying hysterically that my gp got how desperately at that moment I wanted and needed to sleep. It shouldn’t have come to that as I had been talking about sleep issues to my hospital consultant and gp for months. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to either of them that I was now on my knees after months ( actually years) of ineffectual or absent sleep. Now when I complain about my lack of sleep I am immediately listened to. Maybe it’s the thought of the horrid, angry, crying Myasthenia Kid turning up in the waiting room that prompts such a rapid response.

 

At the moment I am soldiering on, I don’t want to get involved with doctors at the moment. Especially after Julys appointment and the hemifacial spasm (or I’m a neurologist and I will make it up as I go along) diagnosis. I am fed up with the whole of the medical profession at the moment. This is quite a typical response from me after a shitty appointment, I withdraw. My confidence has been knocked and I don’t feel I could advocate properly for myself if needed. I have found when you are chronically sick you need to be at the top of your game when dealing with any medical professional or all sorts of shenanigans can take place. You know meds being withdrawn, stupid suggestions made etc etc. At the moment it is better that I ride this out, regroup and then decide what I need to do next.

 

The joint instability is really bugging me at the moment, yesterday I battled my left hip all day. I could feel it grinding against the socket every time I moved. It kept subluxing and then popping straight back in again. There was no particular movement which was worse than any other. This meant I had zero ways of avoiding it, other than lying completely flat, which I was not prepared to do. Not after spending so much of my life last year horizontal. Today I have had issues with slipping ribs, every time I bend forward the rib is slipping and hurting like crazy. It is a weird feeling, so now I am trying not to bend forward but sometimes you don’t have any choice.

 

My body is still wracked with muscle spasms and they really have got a lot worse over the last 6 months. My feet spasming have been a problem for years, it always used to happen at night when I had gone to bed. Now it happens day or night regardless of what I am doing. The spasms can be so violent they dislocate my big toe. There is nothing I can do to stop them, I just have to attempt to massage the spasm away or wait for it to pass. My thumbs are also starting to spasm and get stuck (not like trigger finger) clamped to the palms of my hands. These do quickly release by me pulling the thumb away from the palm and stretching it out. It’s a strange one and I know that it’s not helped by the current sleeping situation.

 

Sleep, such a natural thing to do but at the moment it seems to be nothing but a fairy tale. I’d have more chance currently of meeting three bears in my house eating porridge than having a decent night’s sleep.

 

* * *

Breaking news on Saturday 16th September I actually had a good night’s sleep and dropped off quickly. I will probably go back to not sleeping from tonight!

And then it went straight back to not being able to drop off and lying awake for hours in the middle of the night.

EDS how it affects me three years on

Last week as part of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month, I recycled a post I wrote in 2014. As with any illness / condition / disease when you look back you can see how things have changed. Some things may have improved and new symptoms may have reared their ugly heads. Ehlers Danlos Syndrome is no different, I sometimes think it’s like playing a slot machine each morning never knowing what the combination of joints giving me pain (and problems) will be that day.

 

I am still as bendy as I was at this point three years ago, although getting my thumb to touch my wrist isn’t as easy as it was before, my thumbs now seem to sublux (partially dislocate) or strain the ligaments on an almost daily basis. Who’d have thought something as simple as taking my trousers / underwear down would be enough to cause pain but it does. Looking back on the photo’s of my fingers it is clear that they are more flexible now than they were two years ago. Although some with EDS will stiffen up with age despite being 44 this year, I seem to be getting more lax. I wonder if by the time I am 80 I shall just be a floppy mess unable to move due to the collagen (the glue that holds us together and is what is faulty in EDS) just being stretched beyond belief.

 

I wrote at the time that my elbows are normal and as usual when I write anything about my condition, it’s like an open invitation for things to change dramatically. Doctors don’t seem to be able to agree on whether my elbows are hypermobile or not, to me they don’t seem to be but then it’s difficult to gauge what a normal range of motion is when you have been surrounded by anything other than the norm. My normal is growing up within a family that is hypermobile, so I never considered my flexibility to be anything other than that. My elbows can be very sore first thing in the morning, as I am asleep when I am doing the damage I can only assume that I am over extending the joint. It makes my elbows really ache and feel clicky, I can feel tendons and ligaments rub over the bones.

 

My spine is still the area of my body that causes me the main problems. I am currently waiting for a spinal x-ray to try to find out what’s going on at L5-S1 level. This pain is very different from my “normal” EDS pain, it hurts when I lie down or sit down and eases off when I am moving. In the mornings I am very stiff and look like a hunched over old lady. After a few hours it eases up but the minute I go to bed the pain starts up again. I have been taking a NSAID and it’s really helping which is the first time a nsaid has ever helped. I am hoping the x-ray shows something as it’s hard going with it affecting my sleep.

 

My fingers are also causing a problem not with them being more lax than they have been previously but with them swelling, clicking and pain. Some mornings I can barely use my hands as they are so swollen. When they are bad the only thing I can do is just wait it out until the swelling starts to subside. My grip is also a lot weaker, so opening child-proof bottle tops is a nightmare, I am struggling with even normal bottle tops because I no longer have the strength of grip I had previously.

 

These are just some of the problems I face with EDS on a daily basis and I could never predict what was going to hurt not hurt the following day. It feels totally random and at times, the pay back for relatively undemanding activity totally disproportionate. I always laugh when medical professionals say we need to learn to pace ourselves as I never seem to have the same energy level on a consistent basis. I never know when I have done too much until hours later and the pain starts. If I paced myself I would never do anything for fear of causing pain or fatigue. Both of which are just a standard part of my day.

 

I was finally diagnosed with EDS when I was 37, my condition suddenly deteriorated in 2007, it took until 2011 to get some answers. Whilst it’s great to find out that no, I don’t have a low pain threshold, yes I can feel things after I have had a local anesthetic the problem now is that aches and pains get blamed on EDS rather than being investigated properly.

 

There also seems to be a blanket policy in many of the hospital trusts that unless a condition is life threatening, surgery (if needed to correct a problem) will not be performed. This is done under the guise of “first do no harm” and the worry of making things worse however unless you’ve lived with this condition you have no idea the levels of pain we can function at. I have bowel adhesions (fibrous bands of scar tissue that have wrapped themselves around my intestines), I had them surgically removed in 1998 (before the EDS diagnosis) because they were causing me to collapse due to the pain they caused on a regular basis. I still get awful periods of time with them, I have to be careful what I eat, so I can’t have raw vegetables as it triggers the pain, yet when I saw a surgeon a few years ago I was told unless my bowel becomes obstructed they won’t operate. I have heard similar stories from other people around the UK, that they have various problems that could be sorted out by surgery yet due to the EDS diagnosis they are told they can’t have the operation.

 

I was so pleased when I got the diagnosis as it finally explained all my weird symptoms but it’s a poison chalice. I have better pain medication but I am pretty much left on my own to deal with medical issues as they arise. Many in the medical profession believe that because there is no cure for EDS it means that there is no point trying to treat us. Now I have the diagnosis the level of help I get is severely limited.
There was a lot of drama recently within the EDS groups on-line as the diagnostic criteria had been changed. Many people diagnosed with Hypermobility EDS would now be classed as having joint hypermobility syndrome rather than Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Having checked the new criteria I would still be classed as HEDS and to be honest even before checking the new guidelines, I wasn’t that bothered. Regardless of the label most people with EDS or JHS will receive shit care, have their problems minimised or ignored and surgery that would be offered in normal circumstances declined. It would have been far better if the bodies that spent all this time and money on designing the new criteria actually focused their efforts on getting patients better care.