Raynaulds Phenomenon / Syndrome / Disease

My memory is shocking, particularly over the last year so I can’t remember if I have written about this before or not. Last night when we got home from dog training ( sat in an open Barn with temperatures just above freezing ) I took off my gloves to find my hands looking like this.

The photo was taken at least 10 minutes after we got home, as I suddenly thought whilst taking my make up off, “I really ought to take a photo of this because this isn’t normal”. When I first took my gloves off my fingers looked like they had been scalded they were so red. What shook me was the straight line just beneath the knuckles on my hand ( which had gone by the time the photo was taken) but you can sort of see the remnants of on my left hand. It looked so strange that I couldn’t help but keep examining them. It was only as I finished removing my make up that I realised that a photo could finally prove what I have been telling doctors for years, that I have Raynauld’s Phenomenon / Syndrome / Disease. For years I have had this condition mildly but last year it  ramped up a gear, weirdly being at its worst during the months of July and August – the height of summer.

My hands took an age to warm up, well the whole of me did. My legs were frozen despite wearing tights under my jeans, a long coat, knee high Dublin River Boots and multiple layers on my top half. I also sit with a blanket over my legs to ensure I stay warm. So its not like I don’t dress for the weather. I have even been known to secret a hot water bottle on my person during the lessons.  I hadn’t been uncomfortably cold until the last 10 minutes of the lesson. I had been crocheting all the way through but had to give up as my hands had really started to hurt and become difficult to manoeuvre. It took a good 3 hours in bed with my electric blanket on it’s highest setting to warm my legs back to normal. I have been the same after being exposed to changes in temperature ( it doesn’t even need to be cold weather) for as long as I can remember. When we had a bath ( we removed it as I wasn’t safe climbing in and out) I would get in it after walking the dogs ( when I was well enough to) as even when I had been walking, well wrapped up for an hour, my legs would go white and become like blocks of ice. 

My legs have always been the most painful when exposed to drops in temperatures. They take hours to warm and it is very painful. When I say drops in temperatures, I mean even the slightest things like a cool breeze on a summers day, the sun hiding behind the clouds for a few minutes, being caught in a blast of cold air from the air conditioning. These are all enough to set me off. It has come to the point now that when travelling in the car no matter how short the journey, I have a blanket over my legs. It is the only way I can limit or stop the pain the drop in temperature will cause. It also stops the rows with my husband when on a sweltering summers day I am begging for the air conditioning to be turned off in the car as the draft it is creating has set my legs off.

I have spoken to my doctors about this for again, as long as I can remember. I am greeted with blank stares. They can’t explain it or they just decide it is just another one of my myriad of weird symptoms that are possibly all in my head. You know with me being female, I am obviously bored and just crave attention from the medical profession. I love being poked and prodded wasting my days in hospital. Honestly who enjoys that shit ? So as usual when I am greeted with blank stares or the refusal to acknowledge the symptoms I just leave it because life is hard enough when you have the diagnosis of PoTs and EDS. For many doctors that just translates to hysterical female patient. They don’t believe it until they see my heart go nuts on a monitor with the slightest of postural changes or after they have seen my bendy body tricks. Some of them can’t understand how someone can be in pain all day everyday, with no break. Well I am here to tell you it’s possible, only because I know no different. I can’t understand how people can not be in pain everyday or wake up feeling like they have slept. I just can’t remember the last time I felt like I had slept.

For years my hands have been going pale and my nail beds would go blue. I have even had it where one hand is a normal colour and the other is paler with dark blue nail beds. I have even shown doctors this and been told I just have poor circulation. Which yes I agree with due to PoTs I do have poor circulation. But they mean peripheral circulation not whole limbs, like legs.

This last summer I started noticing the tip of my nose kept going white. It was so white you could see it through foundation. It looks like I have drawn a white heart onto the end of my nose. Then when the whiteness goes my nose goes a deep red and starts to sting as the circulation comes back. Now it is quite difficult to capture photos of the tip of your nose going white so you will have to bear with me, with these. However it is more obvious in the last photo with how white it has been when my nose flushes red.

The 2nd and 3rd photos were taken 5 minutes apart. The first photo was taken the day I had first noticed how white the tip of my nose was. I also had a bad hormonal breakout when these photos were taken! thankfully since changing up my skin care regime and taking some supplements my skin is much clearer although I still get the odd breakout – menopause related.

My ear lobes are also prone to becoming ice like and white – but its almost impossible for me to get a photo of my earlobes and it doesn’t always happen when hubby is in the house or that I can be arsed with getting a photo. I mean it’s not as if I haven’t got any other health stuff going on.

With this possible Raynaulds ( I say possible because I am not going to self diagnose although I believe that’s what it is ) it is the pain it causes that is the most difficult thing to deal with. It’s what I call a down to your bones pain, no pain relief will help it just never has tackled that pain be it morphine or paracetamol. The only way to get on top of the pain is to apply heat. Which means if you are out and about and have no access to hot water bottles or an electric blanket the gnawing, throbbing deep in your tissue pain it will just get worse. Which means by the time you can apply heat it will be hours before the pain is under control. Get  exposed cold again, even just a little bit within the next 24 hours and expect it to all flare up again as bad as it was initially. That is the situation I am currently dealing with. On top of being tired from last night which then impacts my ability to maintain my body temperature. So I am now wrapped up indoors like any normal person would be for venturing outside the house. Very shortly I will be getting out my heated throw so I can cover my legs with that as they are resembling blocks of ice. 

It is just yet another thing that is escalating on top of all the others. 

For more information on Raynaulds Disease

https://www.sruk.co.uk/raynauds/what-raynauds/

Reflections

The start of a new year always makes me a little reflective. I always think that now I am in my forties I should have my shit together. When I was a teenager people in their forties all seemed to know what they were doing, were confident and self assured. Now I am in my forties I realise like everyone else my age that those forty year old’s I admired were just winging it. No one has got their shit together and we all are just making it up as we go along. All that those 40 year old’s had that I didn’t as a teenager was life experience. I don’t think there will ever be a eureka moment in my life where I feel like I have figured everything out. I think I will forever be winging it and pretending that I know what the hell I am doing.

As you get older I do think you appreciate the simpler things in life. You put home, happiness and friendships above the material things. You also start to refuse to put up with so much crap or maybe it is you finally get the courage to start putting yourself first for a change. At the end of last year I made some quite sweeping changes. I reassessed some relationships, I binned some, I reinvigorated others. I pushed myself to make an effort with those I didn’t want to lose. It is funny during the hard times you really notice who runs towards you and who runs away. And there is the third group of people those that in public or on a public forum make all the right noises but do nothing practically to help.I have noticed this a lot over the last 4 years.

 Those of you who follow the blog or know me personally know that basically over the last 4 years Mr Myasthenia Kid and I have been to hell and back. Briefly ( which is a laugh as even briefly so much has happened each event is a blog post in itself) in 2016 I developed a CSF leak which left me confined to my bed for much of the year and if not in bed lying down. It made socialising very hard, several of my friends were wonderful but one in particular would make all the right noises you know the “just let me know if you need anything” and when you did ask you were met with radio silence or a long list of excuses as to why they couldn’t help. I will never ever be able to repay Imogen for how she helped us during that year, looking after the dogs at the drop of a hat for 8 hours whilst I got treatment at a hospital an hour away. Same for my parents who when Imogen couldn’t help would come up and drive me back down to the hospital a journey of over 100 miles. 

In 2017 we lost our dear friend of over 20 years, Andrew, in a car accident, his passing made me realise I needed to make more of an effort to stay in contact with my friends as none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow let alone a next week. In this year I also lost a family friend of many years who I would have regular conversations with via Facebook Messenger and telephone calls, although we never met in person. Later that year I was to learn my Grandmother and my dear friend Pam ( my neighbour twice and the person I saw most other than my husband) had both been diagnosed with lung cancer, Willow our 11 year old Weimaraner passed away on December 15th and it broke my heart. Due to the events of the following January I don’t think we ever mourned her passing properly. Both Imogen and Heather rushed to my side that day. Another friend offered but I realised at that point that I didn’t want her there at the time I was surprised by my feelings but let it pass thinking it was grief.

In January 2018 we lost both my Grandmother and Pam, despite knowing that both their diagnosis had been terminal we had lived in a bubble that it wasn’t going to happen. I had many conversations with Pam, she moved between despair and complete denial. It was emotionally hard going for me, which probably sounds quite selfish and self absorbed but I challenge anyone to listen to your friend of over 20 years talk about the fact they are dying and walk away untouched. Pam passed away the same week Andrew had a year earlier, which I have always found quite bizarre, especially since Pam had accompanied Jay and I to Andrews funeral less than a year earlier.

 We had no idea then at the ticking time bomb that was contained within Pam’s body. Looking back now there were subtle signs that something wasn’t right, she had looked really tired all the time etc a whole heap of little symptoms that added together were something deadly. Even if we had known then I doubt much could have been done but it makes me angry that mistakes were made in her care and the people that made those mistakes have got away with it. 

When Pam passed away both H and Immie rushed to be by my side again. The other friend basically told me she was coming, despite me saying that she wasn’t needed. It was uncomfortable, for everyone as it was like there was a cuckoo in the nest.  I didn’t know why I didn’t want her there, I just knew that if I was hurting she was the last person I wanted present. I should have listened more to what I was feeling and realised that those feelings were a huge red flag. But instead I blamed myself, telling myself I was cruel and unreasonable to be feeling like that. 

Reflecting back on the situation the lesson I take away from this is don’t ignore those feelings / intuitions / gut instincts. If I hadn’t of ignored them I would have saved myself another 18 months of being treated like shit and only being visited when she thought other people may see her doing it. It was very much a keeping up appearances situation.

There are still a lot of emotions to process from the January of  that year. I haven’t stopped crying since starting to write this and the grief has come out of nowhere as I certainly wasn’t feeling sad before I started writing today.

In the July of 2018 my mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a very rare type at the same time I had stuff going on in my life that was extremely stressful. I was already suffering from terrible anxiety and depression after losing by now 5 people from my life and one dog ( in the February I lost a school friend who I had known from the age of 11 and we used to have regular chats on social media, just last night I thought I must ask Jon what planet I can see in the nights sky currently, as Jon had bought himself a telescope not long before he passed – totally unexpectedly and I had to remind myself that he isn’t here). I struggled to get up and out of bed as the stress was doing a real number on my chronic health conditions. I was passing out frequently and had issues with ptosis. The heat of the summer didn’t help either.

My mum then had major surgery in the August, in the September we had good news that although what had been removed was cancer, it was tiny, the size of a pin head and very unlikely to return. She is currently in remission, no one is cancer free until they have been 5 years clear. She has regular checks at the hospital and will do for another 3 years.

I finally thought that we may get some peace, after all what the hell could happen to us next? Surely the universe was done toying with us now? But no, 2018 was going to end badly and 2019 wasn’t going to start any better. On 29th December 2018 we lost our beloved boy Frankie aged 12 ( a Weimaraner) and his Mum Mollie (Weimaraner) followed him over Rainbow Bridge exactly a week later on January 5th 2019 aged 14. Both had incredibly long lives for the size of dog they were but at the time it felt like my world had imploded. I had spent every day with my dogs since 1st June 2008 ( except for hospital stays ) They were a huge part of my life and most of the time the only company I had except Jay.  I didn’t know that I could be in such emotional and physical pain and yet still wake up day after day. I thought Mr Myasthenia Kid was going to drop dead from a broken heart he looked so fragile and  broken. Even with Dembe our Labrador puppy coming into our lives on January 11th 2019, we were struggling.

This was where I noticed this friends  persons absence even more, no messages checking on how I was doing. No card, no flowers, no visit. Yet again H and Immie were there by my side, along with Paul, Pam’s partner. I will be forever touched by Paul coming over on the Sunday after Frankie passed and then coming over again the following weekend when Mollie passed. He sat and shed tears with us and told us not to worry that Pam would be looking after them until we all met up again.

 I had cards and flowers from friends and cyber friends and yet no call to check how we were, beyond the initial messages of me telling you what had happened. That is when the penny finally dropped, that when I needed you, you disappeared as you had done so many times before, unless there was an opportunity for you to be seen as a “good” person. There were so many people I only knew on Facebook who came to visit to check that we were ok or who messaged me out of the blue. I have never felt love like it, so many people hugging us, looking out for us, physically being present. 

When Dembe arrived oh my goodness, so many visits. I have never known a puppy get so many toys and presents. I had baby gates offered within minutes of me asking on Facebook if I could borrow some, the same with crates etc. Nothing was too much trouble for people. It was overwhelming and it was something I have never experienced before and I am so touched by all those people. However it made this persons lack of action / concern even more painfully obvious. That hurt, even with all the pain I was in already the fact that we could all be so easily forgotten was another huge red flag.

Initially I made excuses,  maybe I hadn’t said I was struggling? Maybe you didn’t realise I was grieving? Maybe you didn’t understand the depth of my grief? But even to the village idiot it would have been glaringly obvious. Contact over the year became less and less. It felt more and more like it was one way traffic which indeed it was. I was lucky when I messaged you if I got more than a couple of sentences out of you. Again I made excuses, you were busy with your new life now. You certainly made me feel like I was interrupting you living your best life. When it got to 4 months since I had last spent any time with you and even longer since we had spent any time alone, the decision was made. I had waited a month at that point for a message to be answered. I snapped. I was faced with the prospect of you turning up on my birthday and I knew I couldn’t pretend for 5 minutes let alone several hours that everything was ok and that I was grateful for the few crumbs of attention you had thrown my way.

You would have never put up with being treated like that by anyone, yet I was just supposed to accept this? The last 2 years had passed in a haze of grief but I was starting to feel stronger. I knew that your behaviour  was now emotionally damaging to me. I couldn’t move forward if I was going to continually wound myself, wondering what I had done wrong, why I wasn’t good enough or why you felt you could take advantage of my good nature. So I ripped the band aid off and called time, reasonably amicably. I had been hesitant about hurting you when it was clear from your actions you had no concern about hurting me.

I suppose I am reflecting on all this as that is what the new year does. December and January are full of anniversaries of people and pets passing they are hard months. It’s only now on 22nd January that I feel like the weight has been lifted . That I realise that the last few years I have been operating / functioning with a low level depression going on in the background. That the anxiety has lessened enough for me to see things clearly.

 You had changed or maybe the real you had come to the surface? Perhaps I chose not to see the real you or the nasty comments you made on a regularly basis. I put those down to you being verbally clumsy despite the fact you claim to be a writer. I realised I had put up with far more than I had ever credited myself with. I was right to call time and that belief is unshakeable now. I’m not the only one that has noticed that you have changed, grown colder and more bitter than you have ever been. I feel sorry for you as your world is shrinking and you are so full of yourself you can’t see it. One day you will come crashing down to earth with a bump and you will be all alone. Maybe you want it that way, so you can perpetually be the victim?

I reflect back and realise I should have found the strength earlier. That I should have seen the pattern that I could never depend on you. That you liked to take and use, yet giving absolutely nothing in return.  You may think you have everybody fooled but truthfully more and more of us are seeing through you. I hope you find some peace because only someone who is utterly miserable with their own life finds joy in hurting others.

DRI’s

Having a puppy is fun, they are cute, adorable and bundles of energy. They also have the capacity to be incredibly clumsy. I am constantly covered in bruises from what we refer to as DRI’s – Dembe related injuries. Currently I am sporting a bruise on my chin that goes onto my neck, that one is from where he smacked his head into my chin climbing onto my lap during a break at agility training on Sunday. It was only yesterday ( Tuesday ) that I noticed the bruise…. just goes to show you how much attention I paid to myself from Monday through to Tuesday at 6pm. My chin was sore but not sore enough for me to bother looking. It actually just looks like I have smeared dark eye shadow across my face. I just wish it felt like that. As you can see it has made a bit of a mess. Thankfully with my head in a normal position its not really visible.

I have really noticed that I am bruising much more easily since stopping my contraceptive pill back in December. I sported a similar bruise in the same location that turned a lovely shade of yellow in the week leading up to Christmas. That again was a DRI, caused by him running through the tunnel at agility training and barrelling into me with excitement. I hate the fact I mark so easily. The way I injure myself by doing the simplest things is just so frustrating. Just Dembe climbing onto my lap is enough for me to come out in bruises up and down my thighs.

Some of it has been caused by puppy exuberance, which is to be expected. Back in December 2006 Willow ( Weimaraner ) managed to slash my eyelid open ( completely so you could see the yellow fat beneath the skin ) . All she did was bat me with her paw as we were playing. Her nails were razor sharp and that was enough to tear the delicate skin of my eyelid. As I couldn’t get the wound on my eyelid to close, weirdly there was very little blood, I ended up having to get Jay out of work to take me to the minor injuries unit so I could have my eyelid steri stripped together ( paper stitches ) . I had to wear those for a week, thankfully the wound closed beautifully and bizarrely for someone with EDS there is no scar. Normally I heal really badly and get strange looking scars, thankfully with this it didn’t happen.

I forgot to mention as I was putting my shoes on last night Dembe managed to poke me in the eye with his nose. I am still trying to work out how the hell it happened and it bloody hurt having your eye ball prodded by a 30 kilo Labrador. I was minding my own business when he came up and did it. So it isn’t down to me being clumsy that these injuries are occurring. Sometimes the injuries are my own fault as I have been playing with him and have got him too excited so he then moves around without thinking. Bless him as soon as I yelped last night and put my hand to my eye, he rushed up onto the sofa and was trying to kiss me to ensure I was ok and he wasn’t in trouble. It is very hard to ever be cross with him when he is just so bloody cute.

I have to be really careful when Dembe is excited as he is like a very exuberant toddler chucking himself around. He is so funny as his whole body wags along with his tail when he is very pleased with himself. His ears go flat to his head and he likes to parade around with whatever toy it is he has in his mouth. He loves to clamber up on to my lap no matter where we are. He has always done this at home but on Sunday for the first time he did it at Dog Agility training – which is where I have got my bruise from and in a break last night during obedience training he decided that he needed a cuddle from his mum and made himself comfortable on my lap, much to the amusement of everyone else in the room. The fact that he is 14 months old this week and no longer a tiny pup seems to have passed him by. As the dog trainer said last night “mum why has your lap shrunk?”

By far the worst DRI I have received to date was my eye injury in April, April Fools day to be precise but this was no laughing matter. Again it was a total fluke kind of accident and about 80% my fault as I had been playing with Dembe and messing about, bringing him up to fever pitch. How this didn’t end up more serious than just a flesh wound I have no idea. I only managed to close my eye at the very last moment.

I shudder to think the damage that could have been done had my eye been open and he had dragged his claw against my eyeball. This one hurt a lot and I screamed, poor Dembe freaked right out and ran upstairs into my bedroom and hid. Despite the fact my wound was bleeding and it was just sooooo painful, I slowly made my way upstairs to console Dembe and ensure that he was ok and he knew that everything was alright. The thought that my scream had upset him was far worse than the DRI I had endured. Of course as soon as he knew it was all ok he showered me in kisses. He hates to think that he has done anything to displease you or hurt you. In that respect he is very self aware. Its just a shame he is such a bloody clutz….like me!

Just quickly as I bring this blog post to an end my trapped nerve in my neck has come back and it is worse than ever. I see the physiotherapist next week. I haven’t seen her for far too long. You’d have thought with all the sewing I was doing in the run up to Christmas it would have flared up then but there was absolutely nothing. I got out of bed one morning last week, turned my head and bang it was back. It is the first time it has come on like that. So I have spent quite a lot of time in my soft collar trying to help lengthen my neck and un-trap the nerve. 

I am the face of invisible illness

On Saturday I posted this photo to my social media feeds. I had my Christmas jumper on as we were getting ready to take Dembe down to meet Santa Paws. 

Now this blog post is not having a go at anyone, it is just pointing out what people interpreted from the photo and what was actually going on. On posting I had a few comments stating how well I looked and that people hoped I was having a good day. They were really nice comments / compliments but the truth was I was in 7/10 pain with my joints ( that only eased up a little when sat perfectly still) and every so often I had a pain in my abdomen that felt like I was being stabbed. It just goes to show when other people think you look well there maybe a whole host of things that the few seconds in front of the camera didn’t show.

I am the face of invisible illness, unless I have ptosis or bruising / cuts on my face most people on seeing this photo wouldn’t know that I have been sick for the last 12 years. That I gave up my career due to being off work so much that I was ill-health retired. I don’t think I look very well at all in this photo. Yes I have some makeup on but I look as white as a sheet. To me I look shattered, I am putting a brave face on because all week we have looked forward to seeing Santa Paws and there was no way that I wasn’t going to accompany Jay and Dembe on this trip. I didn’t even tell Jay until we got home how much pain I was in.

When people commented that I looked well, I just said thank you. I didn’t want to have to say “well I may look ok to you but my pelvis, hips, knees and lower back all feel like they have been replaced with metal pikes and are grinding against the joints”. People ( many of my friends have invisible illnesses so get this) see a photo and decided that actually you can’t be as sick as you say you are. They are incredulous that I would drag myself out of the house when in as much pain as I was. I do it not because I am some kind of hero or that I am attempting to prove some kind of point, I do it because I want a life. I want to be able to do things with Jay and Dembe. Jay only gets two days off a week so if we don’t do stuff on those days then I don’t get to go out until the following week, it is as simple as that. Unless I was totally incapacitated I was seeing Santa Paws and getting Dembe’s photo taken. 

The problem with invisible illness is precisely that it is invisible. That means there are no tell tale signs that you can see that show that my autonomic nervous system is wonky, that I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or a host of other medical conditions that have come along for the ride. There are no neon signs above my head pointing out to the general public what is wrong with me. It isn’t just me that has to deal with not looking sick when they have a chronic health condition there are just so many of us who are fighting battles with our own bodies that most people have no clue about. It is exhausting and at times it feels like it is a constant battle to get people to understand or believe how much I am impacted by my medical conditions.

I knew why my joints were so bad on Saturday / Sunday / Monday and it was to do with the changes in air pressure with a storm approaching the UK. I spoke to another friend who has arthritis in her hips, on Saturday  and she was in pain as well due to the changes in air pressure. We laughed that we were so bloody predictable. I should imagine most of my chronically sick friends were also struggling with the increase in joint pain despite looking fabulous.

Our visit to see Santa Paws was thankfully very short, we were in and out of the shop in less than ten minutes. All in all I was probably only out of the house for a maximum of half an hour. As soon as we got home I was sat on my electric heated throw to try and provide some relief from the pain in my hips and knees because I was maxed out on painkillers and they weren’t doing anything at all. When my pain is related to air pressure pain killers just don’t work. The only thing that does is the application of heat, it won’t get rid of the pain completely but it will drop it down enough to stop me wanting to cry with it. 

Dembe had some wonderful photos taken.

He was a good boy and sat still for his photos. He does love a good face rub or an ear scrunch so Santa Paws hit the spot! 

Despite the pain the trip out was more than worth it when we looked at our phones and saw the photos we had captured. The bottom photo is the official photo from the shop that they emailed us. Even if I was in that much pain again I would still go out and get the photos done. Sometimes you just have to keep pushing so that you can get out of the house. I know for me there are times when I can’t get out of bed, the pain / exhaustion is just too much. I was lucky it was a day when I could push though. I would have been gutted if it had been a day when I couldn’t and we had missed this opportunity.

What the photo doesn’t show is from the time we got home ( around 10.30am) until 3.30pm I did nothing other than sit on my heated throw. I only moved when I went to the toilet. Jay got me my drinks and something to eat. I stayed in my little corner to recharge my batteries and to attempt to get the pain under control. A photograph doesn’t show you anything other than those few nano seconds it captured when it was taken. I wish more people understood that.

I am the face of invisible illness.

Ophthalmology

I wrote a while ago about a rather upsetting visit to the gp’s surgery, which you can read about here. I haven’t updated you all since through my blog, if you follow me on The Myasthenia Kid Facebook page then you will know about this. So I apologise for going over old ground in the next few paragraphs but after that it’s all new, I promise.

So to provide you with some context back in July I saw a trainee gp or as I like to call them a 12 year old with attitude. They were terribly dismissive of my dry eyes, they looked at the Clinical Commissioning Groups dry eye pathway – so what drugs they are “allowed” to prescribe. They tried to palm me off with stuff that came under mild dry eyes and this was after I had the first corneal abrasion. So I had to point out that a corneal abrasion didn’t suggest a mild dry eye problem. So I was given more day time drops but no help at all for the night time ointment that I am allergic to. I got a shoulder shrug and was shoved out the door. Just a quick update though finally after waiting since July I now have an appointment for the Ultrasound that they were supposed to request……for the 10th October! Glad it is nothing serious eh?

So fast forward and blog readers only, this is where you will find out that exactly 4 weeks after the first corneal abrasion, I got another one. So I made a doctors appointment for the 27th August. I attended the appointment filled with hope as this would be with my gp, who had more experience and didn’t feel like they had anything to prove. Unfortunately that was not the case. I explained to the gp that I had suffered 2 corneal abrasions in the last 4 weeks, that I am allergic to three brands of the night time ointment that I had tried . I attempted to show them these photos to show how bad the reaction was but I was told quite firmly “I believe you”

It soon became clear though that they really didn’t believe me. They asked if I was allergic to Lacrilube which I told them I had used it in the past with no issues, however there is a national shortage of it in the UK, I was using the NHS suggested replacement and I was allergic to that. They then decided, despite the computer flashing up that there was a national shortage of this drug when they tried to prescribe it to ring the local pharmacy to see if they had it stock. I could hardly contain myself when I heard the pharmacist tell them loud and clear there is a national shortage of the medication. They then proceeded to tell me that she would prescribe me more of the ointment I was allergic too and if I didn’t want to use that perhaps I could get up 3 to 4 times a night to put my day time drops in.

I will admit to getting rather cross at this point and asked at what point would they consider repeated corneal abrasions serious enough for me to be referred to the Ophthalmologist? I pointed out that I have a connective tissue disorder Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and that eyes are made of collagen. I challenged them to explain why putting my sight at risk was acceptable as due to having EDS I was at risk of scarring. I was really angry, so angry I would have cried if I could produce the tears. My voice was shaking. They then said “you seem angry”. What is this naming feelings shit? It doesn’t make me calmer it makes me more angry, I am not a child who can’t identify what I am feeling. I got crosser and replied “Yes I am angry. I am angry that after two corneal abrasions and two gp appointments I am still being fobbed off.” They interrupted and said “I am not fobbing you off but the Ophthalmology department won’t see you whilst you are taking morphine as that will dry your eyes out.” I pointed out that I was diagnosed with dry eyes at least 5 years before I started taking morphine and I found it highly unlikely that morphine would now suddenly be making my eyes much drier than they had been for the last 14 or so years. 

To cut a long story short I had to demand to be referred to an ophthalmologist as they had tried all the eye medications open to them as a gp and now I needed a specialists in put. To pacify me I am sure she told me she would speak to the ophthalmologists and see if they would accept a referral. The attitude of this doctor to essentially prevent me from seeing a specialist when it was clear that my eyes were severely dry and causing corneal abrasions because my eyelids are sticking to my eyeballs overnight really upset me. Like I said earlier if I could have cried I would have done. I am so sick of everything being a battle and I am seriously worried for patients if they have conditions that need a consultants input that referrals are being barred for no other reason than financial. That is wrong on so many levels and against the hippocratic oath.

Funnily enough less than a week later I got a letter through to book an appointment with the Eye Hospital. Look at that, they did want to see me, even if I was on medication that could make the dry eyes worse. The fact that my letter came through so quickly made me even angrier because it was even clearer that this was about finances not what was best for the patient.

So today ( Tuesday 24th ) I went to the eye hospital. I attended by myself on my mobility scooter as on the letter it stated I could be there up to three hours doing tests before I got to see a consultant / registrar. That was way too long to expect Dembe to work as he is only 10 months and I won’t put him in situations that would be too much for him for fear of putting him off due to bad experiences. So Jay dropped me off and headed back home. 

As usual whomever designs hospital waiting rooms seemed to have failed to grasp that some patients will need mobility aids such as frames, rollators, wheelchairs and scooters. The chairs were crammed together with no space for anyone using a wheelchair or scooter to get themselves into and out of that area safely. This total lack of awareness in a fucking hospital of all places really grinds my gears. This place should be the gold fucking standard of accessibility as surely the disabled are the ones who are going to be using this resource more than the rest of the population. Come on people its 2019 and we are still treating the disabled as an inconvenience or invisible.

I digress. I managed to find a spot for me to occupy that wouldn’t cause an obstruction. I was worried as many people attending the clinic are legally blind, so I checked with the nursing staff that I was ok. I had a quick vision test reading letters off a board  and then I was back in the waiting room. I would be called into consulting room 7, 8 or 9. I was called in reasonably quickly by a young lady doctor. She was exceptionally polite and courteous. I won’t lie I was terrified all of yesterday and this morning that they were going to treat me like a time waster and tell me I would have to come off morphine before they would treat me. After all this is more or less what the gp had suggested. This couldn’t have been any further from the truth.

The doctor was very concerned to learn that I have been suffering from minor corneal abrasions for a year before having the two within 4 weeks. Fingers crossed I have managed to avoid one since 10th August – I know I have probably just jinxed myself. She asked me what ointments I had tried at night to lubricate my eyes and attempt to prevent the abrasions. So I brought out the three tubes. I then said I am allergic to all three, so she asked me to tell her the symptoms. Thankfully in the waiting room I had the presence of mind to screenshot my photos from August so they were the first photos on my phone and I didn’t have to spend an age scrolling – I take a lot of photos. She was quite shocked at the level of swelling. I let her know it isn’t just swelling but the skin burns and itches. She said to me that I shouldn’t use the ointments with that level of reaction to them. Which left me wondering why my gp had issued me with another prescription for one of them? Had they bothered to look at my photos maybe they would have accepted how bad the reaction was. How I have got away with no abrasions since August I have no idea as at best I have probably used the ointments 2 to 3 times a week. As the swelling is crazy after one application and takes a couple of days to go down.

We then went through my day time routine with my eyes and the medications being used, plus my symptoms. I am pretty sure that the gp had stated that I had watery eyes due to dry eyes, which as weird as that sounds is a symptom that some people have with the condition. I never have. I used to have eyes that watered every time I yawned but they don’t even do that anymore. The consultant seemed genuinely surprised when I said no my eyes don’t water and she rechecked the letter she had in front of her. She was very pleased that I had taken matters into my own hands and tried different drops as it moves the situation forward ( I brought all my eye medications I use or have tried with me). She told me if I hadn’t of done this she would now have to try me on various medications to see if they worked. As this had already been done she could go straight to prescribing Ciclosporin eye drops. 

The Ciclosporin eye drops are to used instead of the night time eye ointment. She has warned me they will sting badly when applied and probably make my eyes water. If I can stick with it around 80% of people who are placed on them find they work for them. They will take 3 months to reach full effect. However she wants me back in clinic in 6 weeks as by then I should know if they are helping at all. At that clinic appointment depending on how they are working they may add steroid drops into the mix . She let me know if the Ciclosporin drops don’t work we haven’t reached the end of the of the road and there are still other things to try.

I also had a thorough eye examination. My retinas were checked, the surface of my eye was checked – I had the lovely yellow dye put in them. She flicked my eyelids up on themselves – that made me feel sick and she did it without any warning! She also prodded the bottom lid with a cotton wool bud ( Q tip ) looking at the tear production glands. She told me I have two issues. Firstly I have very dry eyes probably caused by a combination of factors my hormones – the delight of the menopause can make dry eyes worse, my medications – I dispute this as these medications I have been on for years and the dry eyes only took a turn for the worse 12 months ago. However I can’t be bothered to argue as they are treating me seriously and not fobbing me off. Thirdly your autonomic nervous system also controls your mucous membranes so it would make sense with mine being so naughty that it has a hand in this. I made it clear that I wasn’t concerned with what was causing the dryness more the fact I wanted the corneal abrasions limited if not stopped.

After the appointment I was absolutely fucked. I hadn’t realised how very stressed I was due to the gp making out that I was wasting everyone’s time. I was worried about the information the referral letter would contain . The doctor I saw today was really pleasant and thorough. I felt listened to and validated in my demands to be referred to the hospital. Ciclosporin can only be prescribed by a consultant and will mean ( if I can tolerate it) that I will need to attend the eye clinic every 6 months. However after two corneal abrasions it should never have needed me getting so angry to push the gp to do this. Especially when they weren’t offering me any way to limit or prevent the corneal abrasions. I do worry for other patients all over the UK who have real issues that need consultant level intervention who are being denied access to them. I thank god that I stood my ground and got my referral.

Just for a few giggles – I went through the entire hospital and hospital grounds on my mobility scooter completely unaware that my face was stained with the yellow dye they had used on my eyes. No wonder I was getting a few strange looks!

It was worse than this, it was only because I had wiped my eyes I realised!

Time for a change

For those of you who have followed my blog for some time you will have noticed this week that on both platforms, Blogger and WordPress that my blog sites have had a makeover. 

The reason behind the change was two-fold, firstly it was just time for a change and secondly it was time to move forward. Both platforms used photo’s of Frankie as part of the blog. My Myasthenia kid page had a photo of Mollie and Frankie from the summer as its banner. Every time I went on the page it was a very real reminder of everything we have lost and the grief I feel. The time both Frankie and Mollie have been gone can still be counted in weeks, I still feel very sad most days. When you are with your dogs like I was 24/7 for the last 11 years they become a massive part of your life. It was like losing two members of my family, the family I have made with Jay. Still having them on the Facebook Myasthenia kid page and as a huge part of both blog platforms felt wrong. Although I will mourn them forever it was time to move forward and the new chapter of our life is now with Dembe our yellow Labrador. Not featuring him when he is a major part of my life felt disloyal to him. So hence the change.

I’ve known since the day we lost them both that the day would come that I felt strong enough to update the look of my blogs and Facebook page. I needed there to have been enough time passed that I wouldn’t feel guilty for changing things. It still took an awful lot to change the banner of my Facebook page associated with this blog. I wondered if people would think it was too soon or that I didn’t care about Mollie and Frankie. No one has said anything and deep down I knew they wouldn’t but you are still very conscious of how things may look to other people. 

The blogs were a spontaneous decision on Saturday night, when Jay was working late. I hadn’t like the look of blogger for ages and I needed to change the banner of the WordPress sites. I had taken a lovely photograph of some tree’s a couple of weeks ago and thought it would make a nice banner / background. I love Woodbury Common it has strong emotional ties for me. Every dog we have ever owned has been walked there, it was where I would go to forget the stress of everyday life before I became too sick to walk the dogs. To have that represented on the blog and it being my photograph gives me a sense of pride.

I also needed to change my Google Avatar. The photo had been a black and white one of me and Frankie. It is one of those things where every time I saw the photo I would hold my breath and wait for the pain in my heart to start. I have now changed it over to a lovely photo of Dembe. I wanted to start to look forward as I have been feeling a lot better of late. More like me and not totally bogged down in my grief. 

It has taken time for me to accept that I am allowed to look to the future and how our life with Dembe will be. Being an only dog he is even more the focus of my attention. He must some days wish that I would shut up as I talk to him constantly. He is the thing ( along with Jay ) that has got me through these last few months, who has forced me to get out of bed, to socialise when all I wanted to do was go to bed and just not have to deal with the world. Although it has been really hard on occasion I have made it through 100% of my worst days and that is an achievement.

The final thing I changed was my profile photo on my social media accounts. For a year possibly more it had been a close up photograph of Frankie’s nose. People always ask me about it as it was a cute photo but when you have just lost a faithful companion it can be really difficult emotionally to talk about it and people assume that he is still with us. I then have to say that he isn’t and that compounds the hurt. So I have changed this over to a photo of Dembe because when I speak about him I don’t feel sad. 

It took longer than I thought it would to change all the stuff. Whilst updating all my social media accounts I realised some of them were out of date and they still talked about Mollie and Frankie. So it was sad updating them but I do need to do this. I will never forget them they were a massive part of my life. They the three of them saved me when I was grieving for Travis our first Weimaraner and then when I became sick. I don’t know if I would still be here without their love and affection. Dembe has done the same shown me that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that it is ok to be sad as long as it doesn’t dominate every waking hour. 

So I hope you like what I have done to the blogs etc I think you will agree it was time for a change.

Dembe aged 24 weeks

Side Effects

Some weeks I really struggle to come up with a topic on which to blog about. This is one of those weeks. In fact it was quite by accident that I remembered this morning that I hadn’t written this week’s blog post which is due tomorrow. Nothing like an unwritten blog post for you to find numerous jobs to do instead of writing! I have practically had to chain myself to the Chromebook so that something, anything gets written. Unfortunately this weeks struggle is due to my medication being altered.

The new dose of antidepressants has knocked me for 6, yes my mood has improved greatly but I am just exhausted 100% of the time. When I am up during the day I feel like I am working through a haze best described like you had a couple of glasses of wine with lunch except its 8am and you haven’t been drinking. I may get a couple of hours in the middle of the day where I don’t feel so out of it but then it quickly returns. That isn’t the only side effect I am having.

Mirtazapine is known that it can play havoc with a person’s appetite. On 30mg a night Mirtazapine did nothing to my appetite it neither increased it or decreased it. Now I am on 45mg a night and I am hungry all day every day. Its like being on steroids all over again. Despite being on my restricted calorie diet and the fact that I shouldn’t be feeling hungry at all, I am battling daily to stick with it. The hunger hasn’t subsided at all and thankfully although I haven’t put on any weight, it isn’t nice feeling hungry all the time and knowing that you can’t eat because if you do, you’ll be the size of a whale very quickly.

It’s also making my dry mouth worse. I already drink an excessive amount day and night due to a faulty hypothalamus. Something I was born with, but it is getting ridiculous as the amount I am drinking through the night means hourly to half hourly I am getting up to have a wee. Lack of sleep or broken sleep is not helping the feeling of having to push myself through a fog to function. In fact as I am writing this I am realising that although my mood has improved it is coming at too higher price. I haven’t even told you about the worst symptom that the increase of medication has caused and that is constipation – there I said it, I’m full of shite!!

My bowels have always been healthy and regular. The only times I have ever had problems going to the toilet have been due to codeine, one dose of that and I am horrendously constipated or when my bladder and bowel decide to shut down for 24 hours. So I was shocked to discover that a well-known side effect of Mirtazapine is constipation. I have had enough to be honest. After two days of struggling to go and feeling like the process was more akin to giving birth than having a dump I decided I better take some laxatives. Again something I have rarely taken in my life. Morphine has no impact on my bowels – which causes all my doctors much consternation because apparently that’s just not normal. But it’s true I have no problems going at all. But I am in agony due to the constipation the increased dose of Mirtazapine has caused. 

Of course I could have just eaten an excessive amount of Sula drops – the constipation would have been over much more quickly. Instead last night I took a mega dose of Senna. Now I have been 3 times but I am still in pain. I managed to go without any problems but I just feel like I am still full of shite and it is making me feel well crappy to be honest. 

Due to having a history of bowel adhesion’s and having to have them operated on I don’t tolerate stomach pain very well. It is a pain that really gets to me quite quickly. Maybe I am over sensitive to it but it is not something I am prepared to put up with. Taking senna every night is not an option as all it does is cause my bowel to be overactive for the next 24 hours and causes me adhesion pain. So the only solution to the issue is to stop taking the 45mg dose and drop back to the 30mg one.  I will obviously monitor how my mood is doing and see the doctor again if I need to but feeling better mentally is coming at too higher price and too much pain. I have been on the increased dose for over two weeks and if anything the side effects are getting worse and not settling. 

Another thing I have noticed is that it has taken away my drive to sew or embroider. I haven’t really wanted to do anything and I am having to force myself to do anything at all creative or to do something other than just sit in front of the TV for hours at a time. Most of the time I can’t even remember what I have been doing. It is a crazy situation to be in.

With all medications you have to weigh up the benefits and risks. The risks to me is that I am just not feeling like me on the increased dose. I don’t like feeling like this. Maybe what I have taken has been enough to get me over this sticky patch. I will soon find out but I know I am not willing to persevere with side effects that are this bad on so many levels.