A hard week health-wise

The last week has been really hard health wise. I haven’t been the sickest I have ever been but I have certainly been sicker than I have for a while. There is no “reason” that I can identify for this other than perhaps the decline in my health that I have been waiting for since we lost Mollie and Frankie. Stress, emotional upset and change can all upset my chronic health conditions and it seems everything wanted to bubble to the surface last week. I did just power on through which now I am wondering if that was the right thing because I am having more and more MG like symptoms this week – shortness of breath, limb weakness etc sorry I should have said my idiopathic hemifacial spasm the latest bullshit diagnosis for my Ptosis, totally ignoring all the other issues.

If I am honest there is only one symptom that has me terrified and that is when I will suddenly and for no reason lose the ability to take a deep breath. No matter how hard I try to suck the air in my chest fails to move. I end up taking a series of short breaths to minimise the panic that rises in me. I have an elephant sat on my chest who is refusing to budge and I know that if I went to hospital my breathing would be ignored and I would be labelled with a mental health condition rather than the fact that there is something going on at the neuromuscular junction which has been proved time and time again with the ice-pack test. Apparently for the latest neurologist I have seen for these symptoms back in 2017 I believe, it is just a placebo effect. Words fail me.

Sunday freaked me out a bit as well. I wasn’t feeling great when I got up and knew there were a couple of jobs that I had to do, then I could sit around and rest for the remainder of the day. Once those jobs were completed I noticed my legs had become exceptionally heavy, like there were lead weights attached. I could walk but it was very slow and shuffling because lifting my feet was taking a supreme effort. I attempted to climb the stairs but that was impossible. I may as well have been sat at base camp for Mount Everest without oxygen, as those stairs were impossible. After attempting three I came back down on my bum and then wondered how the hell I was going to stand up again. Thank god for Mr Myasthenia Kid being home and with it happening on a Sunday. He could help me to my feet and get me to the sofa, plus organise my medication. 

You see I get to take Mestinon / Pyridostigmine Bromide for my PoTs symptoms. I usually dose as follows 7am 60mg, 11am 30mg, 3pm 30mg or 60mg depending on how I am feeling and then 30mg at 7pm. I have to be careful with Mestinon by body is extremely sensitive to it. Too much and I can be twitching all over but mainly my face and it can trigger terrible stomach cramps. It takes a lot for me to take another 60mg during the day but at both 11am and 3pm I ended up taking the full dose because without it my legs wouldn’t work. My legs not working is not a PoTs symptom, it isn’t an EDS symptom either. There is no medical explanation for this symptom, other than the fact the medical profession believe its all in my head. Which is why when my breathing gets difficult I panic. This medical condition that appears so much like MG / Neuromuscular junction disease will be ignored and it could end up killing me. I am lucky, my symptoms are mild but I have bouts like this especially when the weather gets warmer where my body fails to cope. I worry one day I will be so ill that the doctors refusal to think outside the box will mean that I will be killed by medical negligence and that is a fucking scary thought.

I mean if there is nothing wrong with my breathing……why have I had home oxygen since 2009? In the current economic climate of ongoing austerity since 2010 why if I don’t need support for breathing on occasion why has this precious money wasting resource not been taken from me? Home Oxygen can’t be cheap,  I have an oxygen concentrator a machine that pulls oxygen from the air and then feeds it down a nasal cannula at a purer form. In case of power cuts I also have to have a huge oxygen canister in the house, I have to notify the local fire-brigade and I am classed as a vulnerable service user by the people who maintain the power grid. The canister also impacts my home insurance cost. If I didn’t need it I would get rid of it, not only are the canister and oxygen concentrator ugly they are taking up valuable space in my small home. So in an age of cuts to all services who is covering their arse by allowing me to keep my home oxygen? 

Home Oxygen won’t save me if I end up in a full blown Myasthenic crisis. This is where the muscles around the lungs and the diaphragm become paralysed and can’t move so you can’t get the air in as when you attempt to breath nothing happens. In this situation you need to be in hospital on C-pap or Bi-pap or in the worst case scenario put into an induced coma whilst they ventilate you – sticking a tube down your throat and breathing for you ( intubation ).  Today as I am writing this the elephant has returned, breathing is hard. I took my mestinon at 7.30am already my right eye is starting to droop, its seems I may have to take my next dose earlier.

The Myasthenic like symptoms are the worst thing I currently deal with and I am lucky they are mild the rest of the time. Last week was like a smorgasbord of every medical condition I have. My PoTs symptoms were crazy – heat induced despite me upping the salt tablets ( to 8 a day ) there  were multiple episodes of pre sycope ( near fainting). I had vertigo luckily I caught that attack very early so I only had to endure the room spinning for an hour but it leaves me tired and feeling out of sorts. I had a migraine on Friday one of the worst I have had in months. It was actually the first migraine I have had since January 14th ( my last one was the Monday after Dembe came home with us). My Tinnitus has been so loud it has been difficult to hear the TV and radio. I have felt constantly exhausted .

Then there was the joint pain and my right shoulder continually fighting to escape it’s socket. To be honest I have only scratched the surface of what I have dealt with over the last 7 days. I really don’t like to say much most of the time because I don’t want to be accused of moaning but if I stay silent about it people think that you aren’t as sick as you claim you are. You just can’t win, you’re an attention seeker if you say something and a liar when you don’t. It drives me nuts. I stay silent because to be honest it is easier that way. I don’t want Jay aka Mr Myasthenia Kid worrying about me when he is at work, I don’t want lots of platitudes on social media. It isn’t because I think they are false it makes me feel like I am drawing attention to myself and trying to play the sympathy card and that’s just not me. 

It’s been really hard this week being a puppy mum, I love Dembe dearly, I wouldn’t be without him but it is hard work trying to keep him occupied whilst using as little energy as possible. On the whole he is brilliantly behaved but like it is with kids there are days when he can be a little bugger and whilst amusing, it can be frustrating, especially when you aren’t feeling well. He is just a puppy though at a little over 6 months old and over time he will calm down. I guess I was so used to Mollie, Frankie and Willow being older and more sedate this has come as a real shock. Jay does loads, he gets up and does his breakfast, he does all the walking and he comes home everyday for lunch to give me a little break and check I am ok. I take my hat off to those of you who are chronically sick and have children, I don’t know how you do it.

It has been a hard week health-wise, I just hope things start to settled down very soon.

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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.

Am I moaning?

I think I am going through what a lot of people with chronic illness / chronic pain go through where they wonder if they have turned into a bit of a moaner. Obviously a lot of us have pretty reasonable things to moan about but I am started to get paranoid that maybe I have crossed an invisible line from previously what was an acceptable level of moaning to an unacceptable level of moaning, for those whose lives aren’t blighted by chronic illness.

 

I usually say very little about my health on social media, its like my own dirty little secret that most days I am wracked with pain or have ptosis or feeling anxious or whatever the hell is going on that day. When I do post it’s usually because things are much worse than normal. I have posted a lot this summer about my health because things have been the worst they have been for a long time. The heat wave although helping my joint pain no end made my PoTs symptoms absolutely horrific. Every movement kicked off palpitations, my blood pressure was horrendously low in the 80/70 range most days. Leaving me feeling faint and exhausted. I could barely manage to walk some days. Many, many days were spent in bed feeling very sorry for myself. And do you know what? I get very angry  when I feel sorry for myself because I feel weak and vulnerable.

 

Regular readers will also know that my CSF Leak has come back, although it’s not at the level it was in 2016 I have had several days over the last few weeks where I have been unable to leave my bed because the pain is so intense. It makes me want to vomit. I described the pain to someone as feeling like both my eyeballs had been removed and dipped in acid then rammed back in the sockets. Whilst the back of my head feels like I am being beaten to death with a shovel. Now if you were experiencing those levels of pain do you not think, honestly that you may mention it once or twice? Or however many times that you want to. Because believe me when you are dealing with that kind of pain you just don’t care what people think.

 

Along with the pain the CSF leak brings I have also had some additional symptoms like vertigo that only goes away with lying flat. Losing my balance very easily and being unable to bend down / lean forward repeatedly as this is triggering the leak headache. As I say I am lucky it’s not as bad as it was in 2016 but it’s bad enough.

 

In the last few months I have also had my migraines return, I have ended up having to take amitriptyline every night as a migraine preventer. It’s kind of working since taking them at the start of July I have had one migraine. However my migraines have come back as if they are amped up on steroids, I have to lie in a darkened room, vomiting into my bedroom bin because I can’t get up.

 

Bizarrely I have also had my left big toe, nail fall off, out of nowhere. I had an intense amount of pain in my toe. It actually hurt to touch the nail. I lifted up the side of the nail ( I had both sides removed over ten years ago due to repeated ingrowing toenails) and the nail came off in my hand. It hurt but it didn’t hurt anywhere near as badly as it had done just before the nail came off.

 

Have I bored you yet? Because believe me I am bored with it. I feel like I am in a never-ending soap opera where shit keeps happening and I have no control over it. So yes I may have mentioned on social media a few times over the summer how fucking awful I am feeling and to be fair I haven’t even touched on about 50% of the health stuff that’s been going on of late. This is just the stuff I can think of off the top of my head.

 

Admitting you are sick on social media is a dangerous game, post happy cheerful stuff and you are judged to be not as sick as you make out. Post stuff about how fucking awful you feel and you’re moaning. You can’t win. I don’t want my life to revolve around my health conditions but there will be periods of time when it does because all I can do is just keep my head above water.  To feel that I can’t express what is going on in my life, when I can go weeks where the only person I see or talk to in the flesh is my husband, just seems cruel. It’s not that I want someone to talk to – and thank you to all those who have offered me a safe place to vent. It’s just sometimes even I don’t believe what is going on health wise. I don’t think I have ever been completely honest with anyone because there is always more than one thing going on with me. I always just give those closest to me the headline news not the full story.

 

Any way that’s me, I am bored with this subject already and if I am bored with it I have probably sent the rest of you to sleep also. Mr Myasthenia Kid has been on holiday the last two weeks ( well just over ). It’s the longest holiday he has taken in years. We’ve really enjoyed the time we have spent together. We’ve managed to work on a few projects together, which I first touched on in my blog post upcycling.

We had so much paint left that we decided to upcycle our lounge coffee table  taking it from this – those dots on it are from dog drool

To this

 

Jay did the lions share of work because I am just not physically able to. I did a small amount of painting, basically just catching the bits that he missed. We have painted the stripped pine with hard wax oil which means the wood is now water-resistant and has a lovely finish. It took several days to dry and for a while we were concerned that the top of the table felt very rough. However as the hard wax oil has dried its left a silky smooth surface.

 

Jamie’s work also got the thumbs up from John Scott and Jo Carter on the Sewing Quarter. I don’t think I have ever seen Jay so proud as when they both said how lovely the table looked. I am very proud of him as it was no mean feat sanding the table top down.

 

 

 

Not happy with doing  just the bedside cabinets, the lounge coffee table on bank holiday Monday 27th August 2018 he also painted our kitchen chairs. They look fabulous and make such a difference. And we still have paint left from the 750ml of Scotch Mist Frenchic Furniture paint.

 

I also got a shout out on the Sewing Quarter Saturday 25th August – cheers John xx

 

 

Even Weirder

If last week was a weird week I haven’t got a clue what this one should be called! I had more vertigo, a migraine from hell, so bad that Mr Myasthenia Kid had to take the day off from work to look after me – more about that later and I can’t share any of my sewing makes over the last few days as they are all birthday presents for friends between 23rd June and the end of August. A little frustrating when I am so pleased with all of them, The good news is that my sewing job list on my phone for the months of May and June have reduced dramatically!

 

As I wrote in my last blog post I attended a course last Wednesday regarding how to use my overlocker. I was so excited about the course and I hate to say it but it was a real let down. It was everything a teaching session shouldn’t be. In a previous lifetime (1996-2005) I held the position of Training Manager at my place of employment. I was responsible for all the training that took place for the 350 plus staff we employed at the time. Not only that I was also sent to various other locations throughout the south-west to teach other Training Managers (they were also sent to work with me to get an understanding of their role) and to teach staff for new store openings. I loved the job and I am not afraid to say that I was bloody good at it. It broke my heart when head office in its wisdom decided to get rid of the role. Training quality immediately plummeted – in my workplace. I have been sorely tempted over the last few years to do  a  freedom of information request to see how many court cases they have had since removing the Training Manager role.

 

So with nearly ten years of teaching under my belt, I know that people have varied learning styles. Some learn by watching something and then having a go, some people learn by reading a manual and some people learn by a mixture of those two. Unfortunately the course seemed to be mainly the us the students sat at our machine with the trainer talking at us. So bored was I that I actually got my phone out and started to look at Facebook – discreetly. I didn’t want to be rude but I had to do something to keep myself awake as the stairs getting up to the classroom had nearly killed me. Oxygen was almost required – this was not suitable for the disabled sewist.

 

The course had been billed as getting to know your machine – I’d had mine since 13th April so rather than being terrified I had dived straight in. It became clear talking to the other 7 pupils ( excluding my mum, yes 9 people to one tutor how on earth could all of us see anything when she demonstrated at a machine?) that they had never even opened the boxes that their overlockers had come in, that possibly mum and I were too advanced for this course. I obviously wound the tutor up when after she dramatically cut all 4 threads on my overlocker and asked me to re-thread it and I had it done in less than 5 minutes. She told me off for using my machine when I was checking that it was chaining (working properly). She didn’t realise that I had threaded it and actually knew a little about what I was doing. The course went downhill from there.

 

Three people’s machines broke during the day and not once did the tutor offer any support, instead there were sarcastic comments dressed up as imparting information that certain brands of machines were basically crap and  It concerned me that someone who claimed to know so much about brands was unaware that Elna and Janome are the same company. One lady went downstairs and bought a new machine but still this woman ploughed on and didn’t recap with the lady what she had missed. The same happened when my mum’s machine broke.

 

By the end of the day I could barely maintain a civil composure, I was threading my mum’s machine to ensure that she had a working machine when we left the course – thankfully her machine was repaired there and then by the shop owners – I can’t fault them at all. I love their shop and they have always been lovely which is why I am not naming the location of the class as I wouldn’t want to damage their reputation, when this was someone who obviously comes in and works for the. The teacher was demanding yet again mum and I stand in front of a machine that we wouldn’t have a clear view of – when both of us have mobility issues which were obvious due to the mobility aids we were using. I practically hissed that I was beyond tired as was my mother and having a working machine before leaving the shop was slightly more important than looking at the backs of people’s heads. I then let her look at the back of mine as I got on with threading mum’s machine – something the tutor should have done when she was told mum was having issues seeing properly due to the light coming in through the window.

 

All I can say is thank fuck I didn’t pay full price for that class. I still feel ripped off knowing I paid £27 for it. I will be honest yes I learned some bits and pieces but not £27 worth.

 

Thursday was a complete right off as at 2am I woke up with a migraine, it was hideous. I couldn’t stop being sick and by the time Jamie found me lying in the dark at 9am I could barely speak. By 2pm I was starting to come around but I was just completely drained. However my back would not put up with me lying in bed any longer so I forced myself downstairs.

 

I was wiped out by the migraine for a good couple of days but I did get some sewing done. I managed to make a start on my floating triangle quilt, so the week wasn’t a complete right off. I have started taking pizotifen again in the hope that it prevents more migraines in the future or if not it at least reduces the intensity. I can’t cope with that again nothing stops the pain or the sickness.

 

My quilt pieces, this is as far as I have got as the rest of my time has been taken up making birthday presents,

 

 

Now all that is left to do is to join them all together in the right order!

Bl**dy Ears!

 

For the last few weeks I have really been suffering with dizziness, I haven’t really said a lot about it as I hate being a negative Nellie, I don’t want my blog to be me always moaning about my health but sometimes things are a bit shit and that’s what its like at the moment.

 

I had a cold a while back and I knew it had messed up my ears as they started to feel very blocked. When I went to the dentist a few weeks ago I could barely hear him when he was talking to me as I was so deaf that day. I have been taking stugeron (cinnazine) like its been going out of fashion as the dizziness has been so bad I have been falling over. I feel like I have water trapped in my ear and some days the dizziness is so bad I can barely move until the stugeron has kicked in. This morning I asked Mr Myasthenia kid to pop into the doctors and book me an appointment. Thinking I would probably get an appointment in the middle of June, so imagine my surprise when he rang to tell me I could be seen this afternoon at 15.30. I needed to go anyway as I needed to see if they would give me some diazepam to calm me down when I see the dentist – which they did.

 

At the appointment there was also a student doctor present. Apparently they don’t really get a chance to look in ears until they do an A&E placement – with little kids shoving stuff in their ears and up their noses or if they elect to do an ENT placement. So the student doctor had a look straight after the doctor did. That was quite good because the student doctor had to then explain to my gp what she had seen, so I got to learn a little about what was going on in my ear. Apparently my left ear the good ear is entirely normal however my right ear is very dark, light should bounce back in a healthy war. But as I have fluid trapped behind my eardrum it makes my ear a dark place. So for now I have to use my nasal spray religious for the next month. If that doesn’t clear it then I have to go back and get stronger steroid drops…..if they don’t work I am looking at the possibility of grommets again. The problem with fluid trapped behind the eardrum is that it F**Ks up your balance and hearing – it makes me feel very ill. It also puts you at high risk of getting an ear infection. Sometimes my ear is very painful with it, most of the time it isn’t painful at all. I would just like the constant feeling of water in my ear to do one now as once you acknowledge the feeling it’s very difficult to distract yourself from it.

 

I have had a couple of days where the dizziness has been unbearable and one day last week when I ran out of stugeron. Thankfully my dad came to the rescue and dropped some in to me. When it’s bad I can’t do anything until the meds start working, I have to lie or sit very still. If I can’t take stugeron ( as I have run out) then it will just get worse and worse until I can’t stand up without being sick or falling over. I find this incredibly debilitating. I know I have quite a catalogue of things wrong with me but there are just a few I really struggle to cope with, CSF leak(s), full-blown migraines and this. Everything else is a walk in the park compared to these three, Anything that prevents me from being (almost) normal, I really struggle to cope with.

 

Thankfully the dizziness does reduce significantly when I use stugeron, it would be much worse if I got no relief. I have been able to do stuff over the last week on the sewing machine. I finished my kimono and I am 90% happy with it.

I also started working on a WIP (work in progress) that has been hanging around for a while, I hate having unfinished projects hanging around the place. So last week I decided to finish the patchwork part of a quilted wall hanging.

The wall hanging involved quite a few 2 1/2 inch half square triangles. 32 to be exact, it’s the most I have ever had to make.

These then had to be trimmed down to ensure they were the correct size, something I always struggle with.


This was it almost completed just the borders to go on. One of the most difficult things I have made and I became acquainted with my seam ripper!

This is it with the borders on. I now need to quilt it, currently it is draped over the top of my sewing machine with wadding / batting and the backing pinned and glue basted on, waiting for me to decide how I will quilt it and what pattern I will choose. Its 24 inches square so not a small wall hanging. At least I know where it is going once it has been completed. If you had asked me Friday or Saturday I would have told you it was going in the bin!

I also managed to knock up this box cushion dogs bed for Frankie to sleep on in Jays room.

I bought the sheep material a while ago I love it. The bed has been filled with foam from an old bench cushion that has been in my loft for a few years and some old throws. It is much bigger and softer than his previous shop bought bed and he can really stretch out on it.

Due to the fact I have been feeling quite grotty with my ears I have also had days where I have been taking it easy and using the time to do some slow sewing. I have been making an English Paper Piecing quilt for Jays room. This is my progress so far

 

I managed to get so much done that I ran out of the little kite shapes that sit between each octagon.  So I had to make some more of those as well.

I took my slow sewing down to the doctors with me today, just as well as I was waiting 45 minutes for my appointment!

Let me just say it  – Bloody ears!

Bouncing Back……I wish!

Well it seems 2016 wants to emulate the crapfest that was 2015, only with its own individual twist on things. In the last week I have managed to have three different courses of antibiotics, a nasty allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics, an abscess the size of a quails egg and a uti (urinary tract infection for the uninitiated). Not bad going really seeing though it is only just February.

I have spoken in the past about how I suffer from the chronic skin condition Hidradenitis Suppurativa Link. It’s a condition that produces painful abscesses on the body mainly under the breasts, on the buttocks and groin. Yeah I know it’s a laugh a minute. No one knows what causes it and it is very common amongst type 1 diabetics of which I am not. So my case is even more peculiar. Thankfully I know I am not alone dealing with this and have actually found out that I have a few friends who suffer with this. We tend to suffer in silence because who wants to admit that they have an abscess in their groin or under their bust ? It’s not a great conversation starter. The word abscess alone either conjures up images of IV drug users or bad personal hygiene. Personal hygiene has absolutely nothing to do with it, I have washed in hibiscrub and still developed enormous abscesses.

A week ago last Monday I woke up with an abscess in the crease of my thigh, the top of my leg, how can I describe this? Between your thigh and your lady or boy bits. A medical term no man’s land. It was huge and had come out of nowhere. On a scale of abscesses I have had before this was f**king huge, the pain actually woke me up. The pain wasn’t contained to the site of the abscess it also was creeping down my thigh. No position was comfortable and as the morning went on the bigger it grew. By the time it had reached 10am the abscess had hit the size of a quails egg hanging down from my thigh. If you are curious to see the size of a Quails egg click this Link.. Now obviously a Quails egg isn’t that big but it feels bloody ginormous when it is hanging from the top of your leg. I was so uncomfortable that I had to borrow a pair of my husbands trunk style boxer shorts as my own knickers were lying right across the abscess.

By 10:30am I was lying on my bed crying, I was going to have to ring the doctor’s surgery. Due to having chronic health conditions I hate running the gauntlet of the doctors receptionists. A number of them know me now and when I ask to speak to my own gp have no problem with asking him to ring me. However there are a number of newer staff who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting me and stick with the line Dr XXX isn’t the duty doctor today, which is exactly what I got. Thankfully my doctor must have been having a look at the list of calls needing to be made and he rang me back in 30 minutes.

I explained to him it was the worst one I had ever experienced. I forgot to mention that over the Christmas period I had been dealing with so many small abscesses I actually lost count. This is what is known as a HS flare, it is one of the most painful things I have ever had to endure. I am no baby when it comes to pain having endured a lumbar puncture and the removal of the side of big toe nail with a local anaesthetic that was no longer working. The only time I am a wimp is at the dentist. So I was prescribed the antibiotic Flucloxacillin which I have taken for years and had no problems with…..

I was lucky that my abscess burst the very next day, it was utterly disgusting, enough said. With the pressure gone the pain went. I was still feeling pretty rotten so I continued to take the seven-day course of antibiotics to avoid a secondary infection and the need for this abscess to be drained at the hospital.

Wednesday I woke up at 1am and took my antibiotic. About an hour later my face felt very itchy. I thought nothing of it, sometimes I get very itchy skin. With it being my face I tried not to scratch but as the morning went on it was becoming more and more uncomfortable. At 7:30am (having not been back to sleep) I took my next antibiotic within 30 minutes my face had erupted in small bumps and was bright red looking like I had been sun burnt. As I waited for the doctor’s surgery to open I could see that the redness was no longer confined to my face, it was now spreading down my neck and onto my chest. I knew having had these kinds of reactions before it was imperative that I took some antihistamine to slow the reaction down. I also very naughtily applied a weak steroid cream to my neck, face and chest. The itching was hitting an unbearable level and when it didn’t itch it was very sore.

 

 

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It’s not a great photo but you can see how nice and blotchy I am.

 

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In this picture it has calmed down a little but you can see how bumpy the skin on my face has become.

 

I was gutted by this allergic reaction as it means there is now another antibiotic I can’t take. Flucloxacillin has been my go to for years as I have had so many reactions in the past.
The pool of antibiotics that I can take safely is now little more than a puddle. It is starting to get quite dangerous. As I still needed to be on antibiotics to ensure the abscess was no more I was placed on Clindamycin. I had no allergic reaction with Clindamycin but the side effects of this medication were just too much. I lasted three days, I hate throwing in the towel with antibiotics but there are only so many bouts of explosive diarrhoea a girl can take and I can’t run that fast or at all really.

My face was slowly starting to subside and was no longer itchy, just very, very dry where the skin was starting to come off. I have had this reaction before with CT contrast dye so I knew what I was in for. At least this time I knew to moisturise like crazy, Vaseline has become a good friend as I plaster my face in it before I go to bed. I had a couple of reasonable days at the end of last week other than a disturbing symptom, I kept losing my central vision for a few seconds at a time. A black / grey dot kept appearing and then would disappear. I wont lie I was slightly concerned with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome there is a remote possibility that my retinas could detach. I decided that come Monday I would have to see my gp and discuss this with him.

On Sunday morning the dot kept appearing then disappearing. It was annoying me so much I mentioned it to my husband in a totally casual manner so as not to alarm him. Only an hour later I was struck down with a classic migraine, I had just been experiencing the longest prodrome I had ever experienced. For more information on the four stages of migraine click this Link. This was a classic migraine with aura, nausea and a lot of pain. The rest of Sunday was a right off and Monday wasn’t much better as I dealt with the after effects of the migraine. I hadn’t actually had a “proper” full on classic migraine since 1st November 2013 (my 40th birthday), thankfully that day the headache part of the migraine wasn’t too bad either that or it was masked by the copious amounts of alcohol I consumed. Having a migraine out of the blue like this was a shock, I normally only get them when I am stressed or over excited. I am hoping that this was a one off and that they won’t be coming back on a more regular basis.

By Tuesday I was still feeling rotten but I quickly realised that I had developed a UTI, cue more antibiotics. I also woke up that morning with a cracking bout of ptosis. Thankfully this went away within 35 minutes of taking mestinon. However it shows you how low everything has taken me. Its going to take me a while to bounce back.

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It has taken me years to feel brave enough to post pictures of myself with ptosis. If you look very carefully you can see that my right pupil has also drifted and is no longer in alignment with the left pupil.

So it’s now Wednesday (3rd Feb) the day before my blog is published, by the seat of my pants I am getting the piece together. Today has been the first day I have felt well enough or had the concentration span long enough to write anything. I am hoping that this isn’t the start of another year of continued shitty health. As I said at the beginning of this post 2015 was a crapfest from the 26th February onwards I was constantly fighting to stay healthy. I lost, badly, I ended up being diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease in September and my prolactin levels decided to rise on their own accord making me hungry, fat and tired. I was so glad to see the back of 2015, I honestly thought this year I would be on top of the things that made 2015 so bloody awful. There was nothing now that I couldn’t handle.

I spent an hour in bed yesterday throwing a pity party for one wondering why the hell this was happening to me again? The answer always came back why the hell not? I climbed out of my bed after my mini tantrum and watched a film with hubby. Nothing was to be gained by lying in bed all day other than a really sore back. I refuse to give in and will push for as long and as hard as I can to ensure I control as much of my life as possible and not the motley crew of chronic health conditions I now have.

So to cheer everyone up here are some pictures of my hounds. They love me whatever is going on with my body!

 

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Mollie

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Frankie

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Willow

Finally how I look makeup free without an allergic reaction going on.

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Exhausted.com

Exhausted is an overused word however it is the only way I can describe the state I find myself in. Yesterday (Tuesday) was my trip down to Plymouth to see my new consultant, (after I got rid of the one who accused me of spending too much time on the Internet looking up syndromes to have) and catch up with family and an old school friend. 

The appointment went really well however due to two road traffic accidents in Plymouth which caused complete gridlock in the city, the rest of my plans went awry. The traffic was so bad it actually took us an hour to get out of the multi storey car park at the hospital. With my husbands blood pressure slowly climbing and me rapidly fading, I had visions of the red cross coming to our aid as I couldn’t see how on earth we were ever going to get home. It took us over two hours to get back to my parents house, a journey normally of 20 minutes to pick up my medication and various other bits and bobs that I had left there before setting off for my appointment. We then had another hours travelling time to complete the journey from Plymouth to Exmouth. All in all yesterday I spent over 4 hours in the car. This catastrophe was not in our plans and being in the car so long has caused my legs to refuse to work properly and climbing stairs is now an endurance sport which has to be completed by shuffling up the stairs on my bum. What a glamorous life I lead!

So my blog post this week will not be a long one, when I say that it just depends how much I can write before crashing completely. I have got up very early to compose this post because the worry of not having it completed was keeping me awake. I do like to have something to worry about.

As usual I suffered very badly with pre hospital visit jitters which meant a pretty much sleepless night Monday into Tuesday. I woke up at 02:30am and didn’t get back to bed until gone 9pm, I have woken up at 4am this morning. This is just begging for a Meniere’s attack to happen, which I can already feel building up. I had been told by numerous people that the doctor I was going to meet was lovely but in the back of my mind there was a niggling doubt that I could be the one patient that he wasn’t nice to. You see my neurologist I saw many years ago was treated like a god amongst the Myasthenia Gravis patients, not a bad word was said about him. The problem was that he was a consummate performer who was very nice to your face but had a nasty habit of writing utter shite about you in his notes. The neurologist treated me very badly and I highly suspect that it was him that diagnosed me with somatiform disorder. So I guess you could say we (both hubby and I) have trust issues when it comes to doctors.

When the doctor called my name in the waiting room, I had my back to him due to the lack of space provided for wheelchair users (that is a rant for another day that hospitals seem to be so unfriendly towards wheelchairs). When I turned around to face him, there was a look of shock on his face. He then said something like “you need no introduction, I can see the family resemblance”. This Dr treats my sister also and due to that has also met my mum. People say that we all really look-alike but I just don’t see it. Yes we look like each other but it’s not (to me) like we are clones! So that was nice as he hadn’t seen my sister for a few weeks but he recognised me. My last consultant also saw my sister but never actually acknowledged the link between us despite me referencing her on more than one occasion simply because we have a lot of the same symptoms.

The new doctor was really friendly and open to ideas. In fact he brought up stuff that I had on my list of the most important things to discuss with him. My list read as follows

1. Mast cell activation disorder

2. Fluid intake

3. Stomach / bowel problems / adhesion’s

4. Alice in Wonderland syndrome or Todd’s syndrome as it is also known. This would be brought up if I was feeling brave enough as I have never mentioned it to any doctor before in case they thought I was nuts.

As it happened one of the first things we talked about was the Alice in wonderland syndrome. This was due to the fact he brought up the Myasthenia Gravis / Ptosis / Nystagmus and breathing issues. He doesn’t think I have MG, he thinks my Ptosis (droopy eyelid –You can see a picture of it here) is being caused by hypoperfusion (so not enough blood flow to my brain, essentially low blood pressure in my head). I brought up the fact that when I have Ptosis or MG symptoms my blood pressure is normal but he quite rightly pointed out that it doesn’t mean my blood pressure is normal locally (as in my head the pressure is low). I can’t argue it makes sense, mestinon or pyridostigmine bromide as it is also known raises blood pressure, if the blood pressure is low in my head the mestinon would have the effect of raising it. I did mention about the ice pack test also being positive and that is an indication of a problem at the neuromuscular junction. He said he felt it was possible that both my sister and I had issues with the ganglionic receptors in our brains. As I told him I roughly understand that but much more and it goes over my head.

As we were talking about MG symptoms I brought up the nightmare of 2013, when I had all the constant nystagmus and the weird visual symptoms that lead me to believe I have Alice in Wonderland syndrome. He agreed with me that it sounded like I did indeed have this, what shocked me more was the fact that he had heard of it and didn’t treat me as if I was a complete loon, when I was describing watching birds flying across the sky only for them to rewind and do it again.

He also believed I could be suffering from another weird syndrome that causes sudden desaturation (not enough oxygen in your blood). He did tell me what it was but its name was far too long for me to remember. He told me at the start of the appointment that he had only had a quick look at my notes however it soon became clear that the poor man had taken an in-depth look at them and had already come up with a treatment plan.

Due to my exhaustion I can’t remember the exact flow of the conversation and what we talked about next and in what order. So I will be brief and explain what I can remember.

My excessive fluid intake would come under psychogenic polydipsia, as I do not have diabetes insipidus. He thinks that title is harsh because I have had excessive thirst ever since I was a baby and I could in no way be able to form a habit of drinking too much from that age. So there is something wrong with the hypothalamus part of my brain that controls thirst but we will probably never know what.

He believes I have Mast Cell Activation disorder just from reading my notes and looking at the strange reactions I have had with many if them. The closest I have come to full-blown anaphylaxis was when I had CT contrast dye injected. It’s an experience I don’t want to repeat. I was also able to show him the blotches that had come out on my neck that very morning, despite not eating / drinking or doing anything different. Due to the Mast Cell Activation Disorder or MCAD for short he wants to change my Betahistine that I take for Meniere’s disease to Cinnarizine (stugeron). As MACD is caused by histamine the Betahistine will not be helping me and by strange coincidence since taking it I have noticed that my skin has become much more reactive. He isn’t convinced that I have Meniere’s disease, I am, so he is requesting a copy of my audiology notes as they hadn’t been included in the file that was sent to him.

He thinks a lot of my stomach / bowel / adhesion issues are being triggered by MCAD. If we could get the MCAD under control it maybe that we can get those issues under control. The adhesion pain has been quite bad since the 29th November. I am having sudden onset of really sharp pains which take my breath away and leave me doubled over. As fast as they come on they go again.

The weirdest revelation of all was that he doesn’t think I have PoTs……….. He believes that my problems stem from my blood pressure being all over the place, my heart (or brain you could say) is responding by beating faster in an attempt to keep my blood pressure elevated. He wants to do another tilt table test, I have politely declined for the moment just due to the fact how ill I was after the last one.

He was incredulous that I had never had an echo cardiogram ( a bit like an ultrasound for your heart) to check that it was actually working ok and that I don’t have  a mitral valve prolapse. This should be a standard test that is carried out of everyone who has been diagnosed with EDS. For some reason my last consultant didn’t think so and I can’t seem to get my gp to move forward with this probably because I have so many problems it just gets overlooked. So my new doctor is going to ask that I get one done. If I don’t get it he will arrange for it to happen in Plymouth.

So due to his theory on it being my blood pressure causing the tachycardia he has started me back on Midodrine at 2.5mg once a day for a few days to then increase it to twice a day, then three times a day. Then I am to slowly get myself up to 5mg three times a day. We all hope that by slowly titrating it I won’t react as badly to it as I did the last time when I ended up with awful bladder problems and adhesion pain. 

When we talked about the bladder problems, I brought up the possibility of Fowler’s Syndrome. When I brought this up with my last consultant this was when he accused me of looking things up on the Internet, so I could have more syndromes. This doctor knowing my sisters history, that she has a sacral nerve stimulator so that she can use her bladder, agreed with me. He told me because not many doctors had heard of Fowler’s Syndrome this was perhaps why I had encountered such hostility. The Fowler’s syndrome would cause the acute urinary retention and the problems I have had when in hospital or at home when they have fitted a catheter and my bladder has still refused to empty due to the fact the valve at the neck of the bladder had clamped around the catheter. Again he couldn’t understand why I had been taught to self catheterise and hadn’t had the bladder issues fully investigated. I explained to him that when I raise this issue with my doctors I get told I have already had lots of tests done. It is infuriating because the doctors seem to blame me for the wrong tests being done, so now nothing gets investigated and it is only the symptoms that get treated.

I have just looked back at the amount of stuff I have written after claiming I wouldn’t write much. I don’t know how I am putting this together as I am so tired I can barely string a sentence together let alone see the screen.

Anyway back to the Midodrine, once I can tolerate this medication at the full dose of 5mg three times a day, the doctor wants me to then slowly add in Ivabradine. I have tried this drug before and it was wonderful at stopping the tachycardia but my blood pressure dropped very low. This is what my new doctor has picked up on, where as the old consultant was happy to just say “you obviously need a fast heart rate to keep your blood pressure elevated”. This doctor wants to get to the bottom of this and raise my blood pressure and then drop my heart rate. It was actually something (on my extended list) that I wanted to suggest. I have to say I was  in shock when it appeared both the doctor and I were on the same page. That has never happened.

I can’t really remember much more from the appointment and I will be honest I am starting to fade a bit here. He wants to see my print outs from my tilt table tests to see what my blood pressure and heart rate did. My old consultant handily forgot to include them in my notes. My new consultant ordered a load of blood tests, one for my testosterone levels (due to my facial hair), a repeat of the prolactin to see what that is doing and countless others, I was robbed of 4 vials worth of my blood. 

The assistant that took my blood wasn’t great, she had a constant sniff (that always makes me feel sick and is a pet hate of mine), she managed to jab the first attempt straight into a nerve and then had the gall to shout at me when I moved. She tried to tell me she hadn’t hurt me, I asked her “why would I shout out and jump if you hadn’t hurt me?” I was furious. I have never moved during a blood test, I have had 100’s of them, I have had 3 doctors jabbing me in the feet and both arms at once to get blood. So I don’t jump about when people are trying to get blood from me. My point was proved when she then got a vein on the back of my hand and I continued chatting with her whilst she got my blood. It didn’t help that I was tired and dehydrated when she was getting my blood but to try to tell me she hadn’t done anything to make me jump was ludicrous. My husband was getting quite tense at this point as he has seen me having blood taken on many occasions and has never seen me react like that.

Despite the horrible blood taking episode I would describe myself as slightly elated after that appointment. This doctor wants regular email updates on how I am doing……I know what doctor does that? My last doctor gave you ten minutes of his time and you didn’t see him again for 6 months if you were lucky and they remembered to book you an appointment. I had this doctor for 80 minutes.

My husband informed me last night as we were going to bed, I didn’t let the poor man finish a sentence without interrupting him. He said I was gabbling away like a loon, like I always do when I am nervous. Hubby is happy, he said he feels for the first time in a very long time that we are starting to get somewhere. As I told the doctor yesterday, I know that there is no magic wand, I know that there is no cure, I would just like to feel better and be taken seriously.