Dangerous Medicine

We all know that all medications and that  medical procedures come with a certain amount of risk – the biggest  being death. However in this day and age you would think it would be virtually impossible for a patient to die of neglect. I know mistakes can happen, they shouldn’t but they do. Someone I knew of, was acquainted with has died this week due to being falsely diagnosed with FI – Fabricated Illness. You can read about Shawn here  (and yes the newspaper has managed to spell his name incorrectly.) 

We were ( the CSF Leak group ) so happy when he made his way to Germany where he believed he would finally get the medical treatment he deserved and which the NHS had denied him for so long labelling him as having a mental health issue and fabricating his symptoms to get attention. Because Shawn dared to question the expertise of those he sought help from and because his condition was outside the scope of their knowledge, that label was applied and prevented all other medics within the NHS to seemingly be able to view his case with fresh eyes and objectivity. They all seemed to just cop-out and follow the notes of his previous doctors. If enough doctors write on your notes that you have fabricated your illness, it basically means all help is withdrawn and Shawn had to die to prove to them how sick he was. When all he wanted to do was live. 

I am so angry and just so fed up with the medical profession’s arrogance and their inability to admit when they just don’t know. Too many people are being labelled as having a mental illness and when they eventually do get the correct diagnosis – the doctors are reluctant to remove the mental health diagnosis. I’ve had it happen myself, I ended up in hospital as my stomach had swollen ( I looked like I was pregnant with twins) and had reduced bowel sounds, I’ve had an intusscesception before as a child and I have had complications from bowel adhesion’s resulting in an open surgery to remove them. (info on intusscusception ) . As I was being examined a student doctor asked me how long I had been on seroxat ( an antidepressant) the year was 2010 and I had last taken seroxat in 1999. The suggestion being that the student doctor was already looking for a mental health diagnosis for my swollen stomach and reduced bowel sounds.  She seemed surprised when I suggested she had a look at my more up to date medical notes and that I hadn’t been on seroxat since 1999. She was forming an opinion on notes from 10 years ago. It must make life so easy if you can blame the patient for being sick.

On another occasion I was in accident and emergency due to the indwelling catheter that I was having to use blocking. My bladder and bowel had ceased working the day before so the district nurse had been called in and a catheter inserted to relieve the pressure on my bladder and allow the contents of my bladder to be emptied. Having had a glance at my notes before treating me the doctor asked me how long I had been suffering with somatiform disorder. An unusual question to be asked when a catheter is being removed from your urethra. Again the diagnosis was 5 years out of date but had failed to be removed. A tilt table test ( well two) had proved I had PoTs and Orthostatic intolerance and a private rhuematologist had confirmed my diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. My Beighton scale was off the charts as I was bendy in joints that were not included on the scale, along with my slow healing, wide paper-thin scars, stretch marks as a child etc etc.

It doesn’t seem to matter if you have a “proper” diagnosis ( not dissing mental health here I suffer with depression and anxiety) if you have a whiff of a mental health diagnosis in your medical records all problems from then on will be attributed to your mental health issues. Just take the trapped nerve in my neck and the numbness in my arm last summer being put down to stress. It was only when I was losing my ability to grip with my hand and had a proper examination was I informed that I had an impinged nerve and if Physiotherapy didn’t help me I would be looking at spinal surgery.

I know so many people who are struggling with depression and anxiety who refuse to reveal this to their doctors and get help because they know once the diagnosis is on their records ( and especially if they female ). Many of them in the PoTs group I am (one of) the admin for I reckon 99% of the 4k membership were told that they were suffering from anxiety when they first went to their gp about their palpitations / near syncope. It’s a nice diagnosis for busy gp’s who only have 10 minutes per patient. The problem is so many people with chronic conditions are hiding depression and anxiety because they know they will no longer be taken seriously that we are now sitting on a ticking time bomb and there will just not be the resources to deal with it when it finally goes off.

Medicine is getting dangerous, it is ignoring those that don’t fit the text-book definition of the condition they have been diagnosed with and doctors are handing out mental health diagnosis without a patient being assessed properly by a psychologist or even a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with somatiform disorder by a neurologist. It’s like having a podiatrist conduct your open heart surgery. It’s not a situation that would be allowed but many doctors who have no formal training in psychiatry or psychology are diagnosing conditions that will have detrimental ramifications on their patients treatment forever. 

You can complain, you can ask for a letter to be put in your notes, explaining that you don’t have conversion disorder, Munchausen by proxy, Fabricated Illness Syndrome, Somatiform disorder but doctors can and do choose to ignore it. Keep shouting loud enough that you don’t have the condition and it just acts as more proof that you are mentally unstable. Cry in a medical appointment discussing these falsehoods contained within your medical notes and you will be diagnosed with depression. You can’t win, the doctors hold all the cards and something has to change because too many people are dying due to neglect. When I mean neglect I mean wilfully denying treatment due to arrogance or ignorance. It makes me sick to my stomach and I am so very fucking fed up with it.

The other one they like to use against you is medical knowledge, even if you come from a medical background like nursing and would know about the condition or symptoms you are talking about. I don’t have a medical background so have had to research things because I can not trust the doctors to do it. The last time I trusted a doctor I ended up almost needing spinal surgery, as they told me my neck pain and numb arm was stress.

 Know too much about the condition and you are spending too much time on the internet looking up syndromes to have – real words spoken to me by an NHS consultant when I told him I was feeling the sickest I had ever felt. A few weeks later I was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease and a few weeks after that I found that my prolactin was raised and it was possible that I had a pituitary tumour ( thankfully I didn’t but we never found out why I was lactating or why the prolactin had been raised).

I have used the countless examples of where mental health diagnosis has been used as a cop-out by doctors to excuse their laziness / unwillingness to pursue the answer / outside their skill set on me to illustrate the point of how easy it is to suddenly find yourself fighting to be heard when you know you are sick. It is not in any way to take away from Shawn’s tragic story.

I am so angry because I have lost friends and relatives from medical cock ups. My dear friend who passed away last year was incorrectly diagnosed with COPD, only to be dead from lung cancer 7 months later. How they missed the tumours in her lungs and the one at the base of her spine I will never know. It wasn’t like she hadn’t had all the appropriate scans. The same mistakes keep being made and no one is learning the lessons the health authorities keep saying that they are.

I will defend the NHS and its principles with my dying breath but I can’t defend shoddy workmanship. The rotten apples need to be removed. The lessons do need to be learned because Sorry is no good when the patient has died.

 I feel quite strongly that we are living in a time of very dangerous medicine, where the cheapest disease is the one diagnosed, where tests are denied when there is already a mental health diagnosis present of which the patient is either aware of unaware of. The system is broken when patients can no longer trust their doctors to first do no harm.

For more information on how easily you can have an erroneous diagnosis applied to you please check out the links

It also usual plays straight into their hands if you are female.

Functional neurological disorder / conversion disorder

Medically unexplained symptoms

Conversion disorder / Somatisation disorder

Management of MUS

Factitcious Disorder

munchausens-syndrome

 

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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.

Medical arse covering

I know that this blog is called the Myasthenia Kid and yet of late I barely mention any Myasthenia like symptoms. Let me assure you I suffer almost every day with MG like symptoms. I think after my treatment at the hands of Doctors in 2009 and 2010, I just shut down. Those doctors who were the supposed experts did such psychological damage to me that I struggle even now ten years later to vocalise when the MG symptoms strike.

Currently the ptosis I suffer with ( daily to varying degrees) has been diagnosed as idiopathic hemifacial spasms ( and they ignore the fact that mestinon cures these “spasms” in around 20-30 minutes). The treatment suggested back in 2017 was Botox injections, funnily enough though no one has stepped up to do these injections, could that be because 1. I don’t have spasms my face is paralysed and 2. Botox and MG are contraindicated?

Its like the home oxygen supply I have,  apparently I don’t have any issues with my breathing well other than the suggested breath holding by the twat of a pulmanologist I saw ten years ago….. yet I have an oxygen cylinder and an oxygen concentrator. Do you see the running thread here at all? One might suggest there was a hell of a lot of ass covering going on here.

I have breathing problems on quite a regular basis. A lot of the time the shortness of breath can be alleviated with a booster dose of mestinon… you know the tablet that doesn’t work. On my very bad days I will use my oxygen concentrator. Tonight maybe one of those nights. I know why this is happening it is because I have been pushing myself so hard physically the last few days trying to get jobs completed. It’s the first time in around a year that I have done this much and as usual I have totally ignored the fact it will knock me on my ass.

Due to me having PoTs I take mestinon (also known as pyridostigmine bromide). It raises standing blood pressure, I can’t say that I have noticed any effect on my blood pressure but it really helps with the Ptosis and muscle strength which I lose as the day goes on. But obviously the muscle strength thing is all in my head and the ptosis resolving is the placebo effect. I just think it is another case of arse covering.

Some days when things are really bad the mestinon does nothing. It doesn’t help the breathing or the ptosis. Those days I stay in bed and pray that I don’t need the hospital. Years ago I told Jay no more trips to hospital unless I was unconscious or I asked specifically asked. I don’t do hospitals anymore because I always get treated like I am a time waster who “thinks” I have Myasthenia Gravis. 

Even though I have multiple conditions now diagnosed, some doctors still ignore all that – even with the positive test results and jump straight onto the fact that I was diagnosed by a neurologist with somatiform disorder – notice I say a neurologist. Which is a bit like asking a cardiologist to do spinal surgery.  They also like to bring up my mini breakdown in 1999 – yes 20 years ago and use that as a reason why I am unwell. Despite the fact I went many years without any depression due to the hard work I put in through two years of counselling and CBT.

Yes at the moment I am suffering with depression and anxiety which I would consider perfectly normal considering the losses I have dealt with in the last two years. I have lost 4 friends, my grandmother and my three dogs. Obviously Frankie and Mollie passing within 7 days of each other really knocked me back. I ended up speaking to a doctor last week – more on that in a second, and had my antidepressant dose raised and was given some diazepam for when I can’t get out of the panic cycle. Thankfully since the antidepressants have been increased and I have the diazepam I have been feeling quite a bit better. It’s just as well as I have to be honest I really wasn’t coping, I was doing a great job of masking it and some people can’t get their heads around high functioning depression. Believe me I can keep going even when I feel dead inside. It takes a lot for me to finally crumble. And last week it finally happened.

Anyway a slight diversion just for a laugh, I am on the phone breaking my heart to this doctor, saying about the panic attacks, the anxiety, the grief and the depression. I kid you not I was asked if I had considered taking Kalms (  see what they are here ) and then the piece de resistance had I tried rescue remedy (here ) if I hadn’t been breaking my heart I would have launched at her. What the hell was she doing ??? look at the medications I am on does she not think that I am way past some fucking Kalms and 3 drops of rescue remedy? I couldn’t get off the phone quick enough, despite that she still managed to bang on about using meditation. I pointed out it doesn’t work for me and leaves me feeling worse.

I do a guided meditation when I can’t sleep and my mind goes nuts with useless information flying through it. It makes me seriously worry that if someone was suicidal this berk would have offered them St Johns Wort and wondered why they hung themselves. Obviously the last sentence isn’t funny its a genuine concern, when depression isn’t taken seriously and the problem here was a locum gp who wasn’t aware of my magnificent mental health history, they may try to fob someone off with mindfulness. Mindfulness is fine when people feel a bit down or stressed but it won’t treat someone who is very / severely depressed. Same as rescue remedy will not treat Generalised anxiety disorder or OCD. It is only because I can and do speak up for myself that I got what I needed, increased meds and some extra meds. I knew I just needed a bit of breathing space to put myself back together. Had I not forced the issue, well I don’t want to think about it really because I was teetering on the edge of becoming seriously unwell.

Anyway I digress, don’t I always. The way I have been treated by the medical profession especially any time that Myasthenia Gravis is raised has left me with a fear of doctors and a phobia of hospitals. I have spoken to so many other people with chronic illnesses who say the same. We stop going to the doctor because we know we will be fobbed off.

Take the doctor in July who told me the pain in my neck and the numbness in my arm was stress. In December I went back, because I was now losing my grip and the numbness was worse and I am told I have an impinged nerve, I need physio but the doctor believes I will probably need surgery to decompress the nerve. Thankfully I have avoided that by paying to see my private Physio. Someone who works with me and lets me know that she understands I know my limitations and she can’t push me.

So no the MG symptoms haven’t disappeared I doubt they ever will. They will just be a host of additional symptoms that no one is prepared to say without a positive SFEMG or blood test what it is and lots of medical arse covering will take place.

Me on Monday afternoon. Does this look like a spasm to you or paralysis? As you can see both eyes are trying to close. My right pupil has drifted to the side of my eye socket. The left eye is desperately trying to stay open by pulling the eyebrow up but as you can see the eyelid is trying to close. The fuckwittery I have to deal with is outstanding!

Hoping for a quiet 2019

My last post was published on the 10th of January when I felt like my whole world had caved in. The last few weeks have been very hard, I miss Frankie and Mollie so much that my heart aches. There has not been a day that has gone by where I haven’t wept with the pain of losing them as suddenly as we did. To lose two dogs in 7 days is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t have got through it without hubby by my side. In fact I would have probably given up completely had he not been here.

 
Due to the shock, upset, grief hubby has taken some time off work. He already suffers with anxiety and depression and to ensure he didn’t take a nose dive he saw the doctor and got himself signed off. He didn’t want to see anyone or talk to anyone. Losing Mollie hit him very hard as she was his dogs. Plus it was very traumatic for us over 24 hours where it became clear that she had suffered from a stroke and there would be no recovery from this. We nursed her overnight and made sure she wasn’t suffering. Right up until the end she only wanted her dad, whenever she was out of his sight she panicked. Jay stayed with her until the end as I had stayed with Frankie just the week before. To say our hearts were broken would have been an understatement.
 
I took a break from this blog as since the beginning back in 2008 the dogs have featured quite heavily in it. My Gravatar is me with Frankie, Frankie is the banner on WordPress, on Twitter his photo is my profile picture and its the same on Facebook. Although I have managed to change my about me pages on both blog platforms, I can’t remove his photo from any of my social media profile photos.  It feels like a huge chunk of my life has just vanished. Life as I knew it was taken away from me in the space of 7 days. I never knew I could feel so utterly broken by the passing of three dogs in just a little over the year.
 
For a few years Mr Myasthenia Kid and I had talked about what would happen when we no longer had any dogs. Initially we had said we would get a Labrador ( black) then we talked about a Beagle and also a Bracco Italiano. However for the last few months I had said I didn’t know if I wanted another dog, I knew losing our last two Weimaraners would hit me really badly and by getting another dog meant at some point in the future I would have to go through the pain of losing it all over again. Jay was not having any of it, he said that I was already completely socially isolated and without a dog I would have no company at all. He felt it would be very damaging to my mental health. He was right, as 7 days without a dog in the house were the worst thing ever. I missed everything about having a dog, the cuddles, the mess, the unconditional love, someone to have silly conversations with.
 
By the Sunday after Mollie’s passing we decided that we would get another dog and we started looking on-line for Labrador puppies. I had to give myself a crash course on Labrador’s having not ever owned one. I located several breeders who had litters on The Kennel Club Website. Luckily one lady immediately responded to my email and told us she had two male yellow labs for sale. Obviously we had originally said we wanted a black lab but by this point it didn’t matter what colour it was. We needed our house to feel like a home again, we were both distraught and sinking fast. We arranged to travel to see the 2 pups available the following day.
 
The rest is history, we now own a 9 week old Yellow Labrador called Dembe. We chose his name from the TV programme the blacklist, it means peace. Which you will probably agree we need by the bucket full. Dembe came home with us on Friday 11th January. You can read all about him   here as I have started his own blog for him. I will from time to time have photos of him on this blog but it is much easier to have all the news about him on a separate blog. Every Monday I will give a run down of what he has been up to the previous week. 
 
Some of you may be judging us, that we got a new dog too quickly or that we didn’t love our other dogs that much because we replaced them with Dembe. Dembe is not and has never been a replacement. He is an addition to our household. He is very much-loved for the dog he is and will become. Anyone who thinks any less of us for this can just fuck off as far as I am concerned, your opinion is of very little value to me.
 
So whilst I took a break from here, I have been setting up Dembe’s blog. I managed to keep writing which out of all the things I do creatively was the only thing that I could keep going. I hadn’t been able to sew since Mollie passed away. I managed on the 16th January after a break of nearly two weeks to sit and do a small piece of embroidery. Mainly to ensure that Dembe wasn’t scared of the noise the machine made. The only thing that has freaked him out so far has been the ironing board and it does the same to me if I am honest.
 
My health has been hit quite hard by the sudden turn of events. I have suffered vertigo, continuous headaches, back spasms, Eczema, migraines and ptosis. As usual it a few days after the event before I started to go down hill. Thankfully with Jay off work we have been able to manage Dembe’s care and socialisation process. To be honest without him I would have crawled into bed and never come out again. This little chap has saved us both. The lady that we are friendly with at the vets ( who had a soft spot for Frankie) called Dembe our miracle dog. She knew how much our lives focused on our dogs and also knew that without a dog in our life we would fall apart. 
 
So many people have told us that we have done exactly the right thing. It doesn’t mean that we loved our Weimaraners any less, it is because we loved them so much that we had all this love to give to another dog. 
 
Dembe has bonded with us both. He is such a happy, laid back dog. His tail wags continuously. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him. I thought at one point after Mollie had passed away that Jay looked like he was going to drop dead from a broken heart. He was just an ashen colour. I have seen Jay poorly many times but this was the worst I had seen him look for a long time. Since Dembe’s arrival he is looking so much better, we both feel like there is a future in front of us. In the immediate aftermath of losing both dogs it felt like we were staring into the abyss .
 
I am hoping that my health stabilises shortly, it is going to have to as Jay goes back to work from Monday 21st and it will just be me and Dembe. However Jay will be coming home at lunch times to help with feeding and toileting. He still has a few weeks until he will be able to go out for a walk. Whilst Jay is home though I am trying to take it as easy as possible. Jay has been doing everything for me as usual.
 
2018 ended in a way that I didn’t see coming and 2019 started in a way we never envisaged. All I can hope for is a quieter year for the rest of 2019.
 

 
 

 
I will never forget the love that these three beautiful loyal dogs gave me. Run free my darlings, we will miss you everyday for the rest of our lives.

What are your aims with this appointment?

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

The storm has passed

The last 4 months have been a particularly trying time for me. Obviously some stuff I have alluded to such as my mum being diagnosed with cancer however there have been other things going on as well, which for reasons of my own privacy I won’t be sharing. I do try to share as much as possible with my readers but sometimes you have to hold a little of yourself back. When I write I always think do I care if my worst enemy has this information? If the answer is no then it gets written about, if yes well it never makes it to the blog.

I do like to have a division between my world and my life in cyber space. Like all people do in real life we have the public face the person we choose to present to the outside world and the private face, the person who only the very closest people to you get to see.

Thankfully what has been going on behind the scenes has now resolved and life can move forward again. Its feels like a massive weight has been lifted. For those 4 months I didn’t feel like me at all but someone who had a huge black cloud hanging over them constantly. I really didn’t feel like I was living and enjoying life merely  surviving. The anxiety the situation induced was off the chart. I found that the only place I felt any happiness was sat at my sewing machine, purely because you can’t ruminate ( well I can’t) and sew. My attention has to kept solely on the job in hand. When my mind wandered so did my stitches! Sewing yet again has got me through a very difficult period in my life. It is just such a shame that as I mentioned in last week’s post sewing is at times getting painful, causing me pain in my neck, back and causing pins and needles in my hands, arms and face. I now have to restrict the amount of time I spend sewing. I have found wearing a soft collar prolongs the time I can spend sewing.

Since July I have been sewing like a woman possessed! I decided earlier on in the year after my success in selling Star Christmas Tree toppers in the run up to last Christmas, this year I would experiment with opening up a little “shop” in cyber space. I’m not on Etsy – at the moment I couldn’t handle the stress that would involve! I have set up a little Christmas shop on a social media platform where my customers are by invitation only. As this is an experiment to see what sells and what doesn’t I have limited the numbers. It’s also filled with people who know me, who know that my health is very up and down and who wouldn’t hold it against me if I was slow to respond to a query etc. If I set up an Etsy shop I wouldn’t have customers who knew me and could be put under a great deal of pressure by their demands.

It has really given my self-confidence a boost. To this day I am amazed that people want to but the things that I make. Not that I think my items are crap – my heart and soul goes into them and I am my own harshest critic. I just can’t believe in 13 months how far I have come. I still have days where my self-esteem has a wobble but that’s life and I can deal with that. Living under a black cloud for 4 months is not something I want to repeat in a hurry. I didn’t feel like me at all, I didn’t act like me at all and I can’t have been a bundle of laughs to be around if I am perfectly honest. Its amazing what a difference a week can make and I feel like I am me again.

I’ve been making all sorts of things for my cyber shop since the end of June beginning of July,

 Christmas bunting / garlands

Christmas Tree toppers

Christmas stockings

Soft toys

Travis bags in various designs

 Lavender Ravioli

Norwegian Santa’s / Christmas Gnomes

Christmas tree decorations

Christmas door wreaths

 

I am still making a few more bits and pieces and will do throughout November. Then at some point I need to bind two lap quilts I made for our sofas, make Mr Myasthenia Kids fabric advent calendar. Plus make family and friends Christmas presents.

And as if that wasn’t enough I treated myself to an embroidery machine, which I am calling the beast V2 as my Atelier 5 (janome) is called the beast. I can’t wait to start learning how my new machine works. I bought a Brother Innovis 800e which is a mid range stand alone embroidery machine. It has a lovely big hoop which means I can work on several sizes of design. Jamie has already put in a request that he gets some new handkerchiefs that have been monogrammed by me! It has so many inbuilt designs and you can buy more designs on-line or can get them for free.

 

 

 

 

However buying the embroidery machine also meant upgrading my Chromebook. My old Chromebook couldn’t transfer data onto a USB stick nor download information from it. I tried resurrecting my old laptop – which ran on windows 7 ( so it was basically an antique) but it was painfully slow and I find windows as an operating system, a pile of shite and illogical, especially when you have been using Chromebooks and chrome ever since they were on sale in the UK.  I spent a small fortune on the Chromebook its an Asus Flip, so you can turn the keyboard behind the screen and it works like a tablet. It is amazing how the technology has advanced over the years.

New Chromebooks can transfer data to and from USB sticks, all I needed was a USB hub as the Chromebook comes with a micro USB port. I picked up a reasonably priced one from the place that has the same name as the South American River and within seconds was transferring data between USB sticks like a pro. It is something I have never done before, there was nothing to learn, no drivers to install the screen simply tells you a new device has been located and do you want to open it. I felt like the king or should I say queen of the world teaching myself how to do this in seconds. With me and windows stuff never took seconds it could take months or even years for me to learn the most basic of tasks as it just never felt logical to me. I often felt like I was being expected to juggle and balance a plate on the end of my nose!

So although my new Embroidery machine arrived yesterday ( Monday ) I didn’t have a play on it. By the time it arrived it was close to 3pm and my back had given out completely. I must have been a sorry sight as the delivery guy brought it into the house for me. Thank you DPD! It stayed in the box another hour whilst I waited for the back pain to subside and to stop the feeling that my ribs were being crushed. I then very slowly unpacked it and set it up in my sewing room come kitchen / breakfast room. I am hoping later on today will be when I get to have my first go on it.

And hubby and I had lovely birthdays last week. Happy birthday dad xxx

PoTs and the Lightning Process

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Resources / Links

Official Lightning process website

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

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

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

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

http://skepdic.com/lightningprocess.html