Brave

I don’t class myself as brave although I have had plenty of people in the past tell me I am. Most of the time I am a quivering wreck, my anxiety has been awful of late, if there is nothing to worry about my brain will find something and keep me awake at night about it. Dealing with people, crowds, noise or even just being in the outside world alone fills me with terror. Yes on many occasions I force myself out of the house and attend appointments alone, dropped off outside but once out of the safety net of the car I am on my own. After over ten years of being pushed everywhere in a wheelchair ( I don’t have the strength or the capacity in my joints to move under my own steam without dislocations and severe pain, oh and the risk of fainting) today I took a brave step into the outside world alone and went to my hospital appointment by myself. I have never done this. I have never seen a hospital consultant alone in the whole history of me being sick. This is huge.

Now a few people have got hung up on the fact that I didn’t travel the hours journey to the hospital by myself. Having pointed out the fact I don’t do crowds, loud noise, bright lights or social situations alone, what the hell do you want from me people? Public transport is shit, I just couldn’t have done the journey on my mobility scooter from my town to the city. Taking the bus or train would have meant multiple changes in places I don’t know. I’d have had a fucking heart attack, there isn’t enough valium in the world to get me through that. 

This is the person who freaks out about calling for a taxi let alone getting in one. One small step at a time folks you don’t run a marathon the first time you decide to have a jog, so why the judgement about the fact I didn’t travel alone? It was still fucking huge for me to navigate the hospital alone – one of the biggest in the area, to a clinic I have been possibly twice before ( as it location changed within the hospital).

I also need to point out any medical appointments set off my anxiety and can lead to me not sleeping properly for several weeks before I go. Due to the horrendous treatment I have suffered at the hands of the medical profession in the past. So I may go to doctor’s appointments at the gp surgery by myself and the same for dental appointments but it doesn’t mean I am happy or confident doing it. I hate it. It has got to the point where I just don’t like, feel / safe or comfortable if I have to leave the house by myself. My home is my safety zone where I control the light, noise, amount of people etc

So for clarity I travelled in our car for an hour with my husband Mr Myasthenia Kid and our trusty sidekick Dembe, who is in training to become my assistance dog and a bit of an emotional crutch as well to be honest. We tried to get parked up but there were no spaces, so hubby had to drop me off in front of the hospital, he set up my mobility scooter, helped me get on and left. Yes folks he left, I had the appointment letter in my hand and off I went on my adventure on a mobility scooter I have also never used by myself before – someone has always been with me. So many hours were spent last night panicking about it breaking down, knocking stuff over and getting lost. This hospital is not very user friendly and it is very easy to miss a turn and get lost.

This hospital is one of the largest in this part of the country ( South West of England) . Its main entrance goes on forever shops, coffee shops, stands for charities etc and hundreds of bloody people. Who’s walking speed resembles an extra on the walking dead ( For the uninitiated a Zombie). I am not massively confident on my mobility scooter owing to the fact on a couple of occasions I have only just managed to avoid being headline news in the locality…..once I nearly went over the sea wall because I was chatting and not looking where I was steering and on another occasion I moved the control in the wrong direction shot off the pavement into the path of an oncoming car. Despite the look of abject horror on my face I got a mouthful of abuse from the driver ( and I can’t blame them for that). So my nerves were a little frayed already and I had been having nightmares about old people going down like ten pins in my wake.

It actually went a lot smoother than I had imagined it would. That wouldn’t have been hard though as at 2am this morning, I was going over every possible scenario in my head. Members of staff asked me if I needed help ( that was probably the look of sheer panic on my face) asked if I needed doors held open, lifts held. In fact being alone on a mobility scooter I got more help than when I was with Mr Myasthenia Kid in a wheelchair. Which strikes me as a bit bizarre as even with him we still needed assistance with doors etc.

I checked myself in at the clinic and tried to find a place where my scooter and I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way. One of my major gripes with hospitals is that despite it being quite obvious that people with disabilities will use them, they do not provide waiting rooms with a space where you can park up a wheelchair or mobility scooter where you are out of the way. It seems a bit fucking ridiculous if you ask me that hospitals seem to not think about accessibility when it comes to their outpatient departments. They ram the waiting room spaces with chairs but when you bring your own it’s a bit of a bloody nightmare to find somewhere to park up and not cause a major obstruction for staff and patients. Anyway rant over. I found somewhere that I thought was out of the way and thankfully it was.

My appointment went well, managed to get myself back on some medication to prevent my migraines as the amitriptyline isn’t doing its job, I have had two migraines in the last two weeks. Plus I really shouldn’t be on amitriptyline with PoTs

I managed not to crash into chairs etc as I reversed out of the room and turned outside. I did however manage to get lost on my way out of the hospital. Probably because I got cocky it was easily remedied with reversing and taking the turn I missed. When I got to the foyer I was just getting ready to find a spot to stop and get my phone out so I could ring Jay and left him know I needed to be collected, when I heard him say to Dembe “There’s mummy look”. Dembe was so well behaved, he came over walking beautifully on his lead and then jumped up and gave me lots of kisses. I can’t tell you how glad I was to see them both. I was no longer on my own and I could make my way back to the safety of the car.

It was also the first time since we had started training that he has walked with Jay and me, when I have been using the mobility scooter. He walked beautifully and I could fully concentrate on driving rather than worrying that I was going to run him over by accident.

Today’s travel and navigating the hospital corridors have left me exhausted. I don’t feel particularly brave but I do know this was a big deal. Maybe when I am not so exhausted I will be able to appreciate how very brave I was today.

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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.

Sh*t

My fear of the dentist has become sort of legendary on the pages of this blog. It’s now no longer a fear `but has evolved into a phobia, which would be fine were it not for the fact that I can see in my future lots of dental work being needed. Which fills me with dread.

The phobia really took hold last year, I was sat in the waiting room and I could hear the sound of a dentists drill going in one of the consultation rooms. As I heard the drill sick reached the back of my throat and I started to sweat. I felt incredibly light headed and I had to fight the urge of just getting the hell out of there…if indeed my legs would have worked. 

I have never had a very good relationship with dentistry. I have a high pain threshold everywhere apart from my mouth. I am incredibly sensitive even a dentists tool checking my teeth can trigger sharp nerve pain. I often wonder if I have more nerves in my gob than the average human being? I also wonder if it is because you are so vulnerable lying their unable to move or communicate effectively that my fear or phobia has now taken grip. Pain happens at every dentist visit, even check ups. My reaction gets the same response from whatever dentist I see, they simply don’t believe that their action has caused me pain or discomfort. To be constantly told that your pain isn’t real by the people who you are supposed to put your trust in just erodes it over time. I’d love to say that as I have got older my visits to the dentist have got better…they haven’t and now a week Friday I will be going for my first extraction since 2003.

Last year in May I was told I needed a filling. Instead of stopping there my dentist in his friendly way that he was probably taught at university as a way to talk to patients then gave me every minute detail of what he would do to fill the tooth. You see the tooth was decayed beyond saving. He would remove all the pulp you know the bit where the nerve sits, clean it out and then fill the tooth. Panic coursed through me as he continued to give me every last detail. You see for this patient the more technical detail I know the worse it is. My heart rate his risen just typing this, even though I know that he won’t be doing this to my tooth next week. Remembering the appointment still fills me with horror.

I duly made an appointment and the earliest I could get was July. Which was crap because it meant I had a two month wait in which to build to complete hysterics. I was all set for July 12th and then the week before the appointment the dental surgery rang and cancelled. My head was all over the place as that was the same week my mum had been told she had cancer but what type and how bad wouldn’t be known until she was operated on. They offered me an alternative date but we had visitors coming so I said I would ring them back and make an appointment. I never did.

I won’t lie it was easier just to forget about the dentist than deal with it and just get it done. That is when I knew that my fear had turned to a phobia because rational sensible Rachel should have taken over and just bit the bullet and got the filling done. Instead I have endured a year of toothache on and off and the fear of developing an abscess.

When my husband had a phone call to prompt him to book an appointment I asked him to book mine as well. I didn’t want to go but the pain in my tooth was becoming more severe. I’d rather go and get the tooth pulled than wait to get an abscess ( I’ve had an abscess before it took three months to sort out as I developed a dry socket). A dry socket is agony but that is still preferable to me than hearing the drill go whilst it is inside my mouth.

So yesterday despite the mounting panic rising within me I went to the dentist. The dentist tried to tell me off about not coming back for the filling so I just told him my mum got diagnosed with cancer and that I just forgot. I didn’t forget I just chose not to remember. He shut right up and apologised. I then told him that the tooth that needed a filling now needed to be removed and that I wasn’t taking no for an answer. He tried to tell me that he wouldn’t remove the tooth if it didn’t need to be taken out. So I told him either he did it or someone else would. He was quite shocked as normally I am really polite and don’t say boo to a goose – always being terrified that being rude would cause more pain. I explained the tooth had been giving me toothache at a low level for months and that I just wanted it out. It is right at the back of my mouth and its being missing will make no difference cosmetically. He said he would take a look. So with my heart beating out of my chest he lowered the chair.

He took a look at it and asked me again if I wanted it removed to which I said yes. He informed me that the tooth was now fractured right down the middle. There is very little left of my actual tooth as it is being held together with a filling. He said due to the state of it he would remove it for me but he would need to keep an eye on the tooth in front of it as that had developed some decay and would need a small filling. I immediately jumped in and told him I didn’t want any detail. Small filling fine I can live with that. I just don’t need to know what that entails.

I was quite surprised during the appointment to find out I still have a fully erupted wisdom tooth. I was under the impression that they had all gone when I was a teenager as I had a few removed due to them trapping a small piece of gum between the wisdom tooth and the next tooth as they erupted. That piece of gum would then balloon forming like a pink bubble that would then cause horrendous pain. So all my previous wisdom teeth had been removed at the dentist. He explained that the wisdom tooth was showing signs of decay and due to its position it would be nigh on impossible to put a filling in. This again would need to be watched as it would need to be extracted. I don’t know if he means by him or if he meant I will need to have to have it done at the hospital. News to me anyway that I have an erupted wisdom tooth.

I was in and out on that appointment, I booked next weeks appointment and then went out into the fresh air. My legs had turned to jelly and I felt pretty close to passing out. Which isn’t nice when you are alone and waiting for hubby to get the car. I thought ( I don’t know why) they had a bench outside and was going to park myself on that. They didn’t so I had to balance myself against a wall in such a way that if I did pass out there would be minimal damage to me.

Two hours later and my legs were still jelly and I was still feeling like I was going to vomit. Just from the feeling of panic that a visit to the dentist will produce. Jay kept telling me how brave I had been to attend when I hate it so much and for stating my case for getting the tooth pulled. I didn’t feel brave I felt awful. Its a difficult feeling to describe. You know logically the fear and how it controls you is out of proportion to the event but you can’t help it. There is no logic to it and it isn’t a case of talking yourself down. For me it is a whole body reaction, I feel faint, I feel like I am going to be sick, I find it difficult to speak, my legs turn to jelly and feel like they will crumple under me at any moment. The whole time my brain is screaming “Shit get out of here”. My heart rate well is probably close to the 200’s the way my chest feels and all the while my exterior maybe cool and showing none of the inner turmoil / fear that I am feeling.

Maybe that is the problem? It seems no matter how many times I tell people I am terrified of the dentist, it is dismissed with “well nobody likes the dentist”. But it is just so much more than that. I will be honest last week when my tooth was really sore I contemplated going to the kitchen shit drawer getting a pair of pliers and removing my own tooth. Just so I could avoid going to the dentist. If you think that is normal behaviour for someone who doesn’t like the dentist… then you have a screw loose.

My gp tried to help and told me there was CBT online courses I could try to get over my phobia / fear. I told her I was sure there was but when your own dentist fails to appreciate how much going to see him fucks you up then me doing all that work is pointless. It’s not like I can up and change dentists any time I like it took us years to get an NHS dentist when we moved here. Many of them now have closed lists. So it simply isn’t a case of moving and finding a more sympathetic one. However Jay spoke to his dentist that morning and she said she would accept me onto her list if I wanted to move. I am giving my dentist one last chance. If he blows it this time I will be taking her up on the offer of moving within the practice.

Time for a change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dembe aged 24 weeks

Upheaval

Currently our back garden is in a state of upheaval, I know that the end is in sight (fingers crossed it will be completed or at least almost completed over the Easter weekend) . We knew it would need to be done this year but had hoped that it would wait until the summer. At the time we had discussed the plans we still had the two Weimaraners and not a puppy who was hell-bent on discovering every piece of rotten decking and turning it into a huge hole, or carrying bits of rotten wood into the house.

I will be honest I don’t cope well with change, I don’t like not knowing when things will be completed. I must have a plan or my anxiety goes through the roof. I often wonder if my inability to cope with change, tell a story just going from A to B, rather than all around the houses, my problems with textures of foods, materials, clothing, dirt on my hands is a massive signal that I have some sort of sensory processing issue or the fact that I am on the Autistic Spectrum.

 I have noticed at my physiotherapy sessions that I take my therapists instructions literally, I have to look at her to see what she is asking me to do as invariably I will do the literal interpretation not what she has asked me to do. I wonder also if my need to control everything is also born from the possibility of being on the spectrum. I like order and control. I like a routine, changes in routine cause anxiety.

The other “issue” I have although I don’t see it as an issue it is just mildly irritating is that I will get fixated over words and repeat them endlessly in my head. A few years ago for months I was fixated on the phrase / word Beth Din after listening to a programme on radio 4 about Jewish courts ( a Beth Din) and getting a divorce ( a Get ). The word Get also became part of this never-ending repetition of words in my head. I now sometimes panic if I hear the phrase Beth Din worried that it will start-up the never-ending loop of this word bouncing around in my head. Sometimes I will also say the word out loud but it is always when I am by myself. That’s not deliberate it just tends to be when I am by myself the word loop can intensify if I am not distracted. 

I know some people might say that this sounds more like OCD but there is no dread or sense that bad things will happen if I don’t say them or have them on a loop in my head. It is just something that happens and I can go months without having a word doing a loop, today’s word seems to be parallelogram. The words can be because of the way they sound or the way my mouth moves when saying them. I know it’s a bit bizarre and I may regret being so honest about sharing! 

So as I said earlier I can’t get to a point without going around the houses and there was a diversion definitely in the paragraph above. So the garden looked ok to those that didn’t realise that a lot of the plant pots were covering holes in the decking. It was getting to the point where we just didn’t have enough pots to cover them as Dembe was always busy making more.

We are doing the work ourselves helped by friends who have offered up their time and expertise. 

On the Sunday Jay started he pulled all this up really easily as it was all completely rotten. The balustrade was also completely rotten through. Jay made a start before our friend Leanne came over to give him a hand. due to my medical conditions I am not physically able to help and it really upsets me that all I can do is plan and order the things we need. Whilst everyone else does the physical labour. Before I was sick I would have loved to have got involved ( wearing gloves of course!).

In 4 hours Jay and Leanne removed loads of the rotten decking but were stuck when it came to the joists. In some places the joists were rotten so it was easy to saw through them and remove them. However quite a few parts were not rotten and sawing them by hand was taking forever.

Jay asked one of his colleagues from work if their husband had a chain saw and within an hour they were here making light work of the joists that had caused so many problems.

Of course to complicate matters we live in a mid terrace, with no rear access. So everything that is removed from the garden has to come through the house. On the following Tuesday Jay removed all the decking and joists that had been piled up in the back garden and brought them through the house. Cue lots of mud and bits of wood. It then took him a couple of hours to saw the large pieces into bits small enough to get into our car. Thankfully it was only two car loads to get it up the tip.

The following Sunday, Mark who had helped us with the chain saw the previous Sunday came over and helped Jay remove the remainder of the decking and the joists. This time they took everything out through the house the same day so that Jay didn’t have to do it by himself on his day off. This last bit only took around two hours.

The next phase of the garden will be completed (fingers crossed) over the Easter weekend. Due to the soil being heavy clay and water-logged we need to install a drainage system called a French drain to remove the surface water or the gravel that will be going down to replace the decking will just turn into a bog. 

The garden did dry out a bit when we had a few days of sun and wind but as soon as it rains it turns back into the mess you see above.

I had to order 25 metres of land drain which is the black coil of pipe in this photo. Rather unrealistically I believed that it would come in a box – obviously my spacial awareness is lacking. It doesn’t look to big here but it is enormous and had to be rolled through the lounge and then the kitchen to the patio. The small amount of patio that Dembe has had to do his business on has got smaller and smaller as more items are delivered.

We have fence posts, fence panels, garden gate and 3x 800kg of gravel. For someone who likes order and routine it is a lot to deal with on a daily basis.

All the fence posts, panels and garden gate also need painted so we are waiting for three days of dry weather so that we can slap a coat of Sea Grass on them ( same as the fence in the photo above).

I know it will be fantastic when its been completed and that Dembe will have a lovely space to run around in, where he can’t slip and hurt himself or chew through rotten decking boards. And although it is being done earlier than we had planned at least we will have the summer to enjoy it. If its anything like it was last year Dembe will be getting a paddling pool to enjoy as he loves water!

So if everyone could keep their fingers crossed for a relatively dry Easter it would be appreciated.

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

 

Dembe

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that sadly I lost, well we lost our beautiful Weimaraners 7 days apart at the end of last year beginning of this year. I let you know that we had also got ourselves a beautiful yellow Labrador ( he has a bit of fox red in him as well). I haven’t really spoken about him much here, not because he is some state secret but because mainly my blog has always been about the Weimaraners and because our lives have changed so completely with losing them and having Dembe.

 Mollie

 Frankie

Willow

Our lives have always revolved around our dogs and they always will. With the Weimaraners our lives were quite restricted, when left they would destroy our home ( chewing furniture, banisters, carpets basically anything they could get their teeth into) and sing to the neighbours. It meant if they were ever left we would have to pay for a dog sitter or beg friends to come and sit with them. They were fine as long as they had someone with them they just had awful separation anxiety when left alone. We could have taken the easy way out and given them up / rehomed them. If you ever look on websites for dogs you will always find Weimaraners on there 6 months to a year old who are being rehomed because they can’t be left alone without causing damage or noise. It breaks my heart. 

We decided as that as we had wanted them we would have to adjust our lives accordingly. It meant no going out together as one of us would have to stay home, ( they also destroyed the car if left in that with Willow eating the handbrake one day!). They dominated our lives for 15 years but although it may seem like a huge hardship they gave us so much love and so much companionship for me I never saw it as a hardship. We loved them dearly and due to that love we were prepared to put our lives effectively on hold for the time they were with us. Those years went past in the blink of an eye. The hardest part of those 15 years was some people just not understanding that our dogs would always come first and that we would miss events because of not being able to leave them. 

Now I am not slagging of the Weimaraners, a lot of their problems were caused by me and Jay. I fell ill 3 months after Frankie and Willow were born and due to the stress of me being ill and genuinely not being well enough their training was rubbish and so was their socialisation. They also got attacked several times when they were puppies by other dogs, so they became nervous aggressive. Walks became so stressful it was easier to walk them at 5am, which then became 4am which then became 3am. Jay would then be up for a few hours and then would go back to sleep getting up time would depend on whether he was working that day or not.  Evening walks would have to take place in dark on the common like the morning walks so that they wouldn’t bump into any other dogs. It was stressful, we were always worried about dog owners who had no control over their dogs who would let them get up in Frankies personal space despite us telling them he was nervous aggressive.

When Willow passed away in 2017 things got easier, mainly because there were only two dogs to control and the fact that she would whip the others up into a frenzy. We missed her greatly but it would be a lie to say that things didn’t get easier. Frankie no longer reacted to dogs out on the walk, he stayed well clear of them but you no longer had to worry that he would get aggressive due to his fear. Mollie was always really good with all dogs and we never had any problems with her. 

With Dembe it has been a clean slate, training started from the minute he arrived home and has been consistent. We don’t get dictated to by him when he goes out for a walk, where as the Weims would start crying and pacing due to being creatures of habit. For Dembe we have deliberately kept his walks unscheduled, so he doesn’t know and therefore doesn’t start acting up demanding a walk. He fits in with us not us with him. We don’t love him any less or any more than the Weims, we just decided that we wanted some of our life back.

The change in both of us has been immense. Jay used to suffer terribly with fatigue, we put it down to his methotrexate for his psoriasis and the stress of looking after me and the dogs. In reality now we know that it was night after night of broken sleep. Being awake for a few hours in the middle of the night from 3am until 5am then going back to sleep was destroying him. He never wanted to do anything or go anywhere because he was always so exhausted. Who can blame him he was dealing with extreme sleep deprivation. What I haven’t said is that when he was on an early shift ( quite often he would have had a late finish the night before so he wouldn’t have gone to sleep much before 11pm) he would get up at 3am and that would be him up until he went to bed that evening. 

Jay is now up every morning by 7am, 7.30am at the very latest. If he is on a late night we get to do stuff all together before he goes to work at 12pm.  We have a cup of tea and have a chat and then we will take Dembe out. Depending on how I am feeling or where we are going means that sometimes I can join the boys using my mobility scooter. Dembe is limited at the moment as to how much exercise he can have so that we protect his joints . Currently he can have 20 mins a day in just over a weeks time he can go up to 25 minutes as it is 5 minutes for every month of his age. 

Jay and I would be lost without him but we have really struggled to accept over the last 10 weeks that he is actually ours. That probably seems a really weird thing to say but I think because he came into our lives during one of the most traumatic periods we have lived through, although we loved him immediately there was almost this feeling that he didn’t belong to us. I would forget he was in the house with me and he would bark and I would jump out of my skin. His care was never, ever compromised it was just we were overwhelmed with grief and all this love we had for this little ball of fluff. 

He seemed so very little when we first got him home at 8 weeks, despite the fact his weight has increased by at least 10 kg and he has got so much bigger he still seems very dinky to us. After having three huge Weimaraners for over a decade I am guessing anything would seem tiny.  He is a very affectionate dog, he loves cuddles and kissing. He really loves Jamie and they have a little routine that when Jay gets into the car he looks into the back and Dembe smothers him in kisses. For me Dembe is my little shadow, I can’t go anywhere without being followed. He has also started to pick up on when I am unwell and adjusts his behaviour accordingly. We are not at the stage yet where he will happily lie on the bed with me all day but he will snuggle up next to me on the sofa. When I had a migraine Sunday afternoon and went to bed at 6pm he came up with me and settled down with his head over my feet. Just like Frankie used to. He also likes sleeping curled up on the top corner of my pillow. He gives me a little kiss goodnight when The Archers theme tune comes on at the end of the programme and settles for the night.

Without him Jay and I would have fallen apart. We have both really struggled mentally and physically over the last three months. I finally have started feeling more like my old self again but I am very quick to tears. Anything about Rainbow Bridge and I am gone. If anyone posts that their dog or cat etc has passed away I break my heart. The pain is still very raw but I am able to function in the world where as initially I felt so disconnected and as if I was trying to work on autopilot. 

I have neglected a few friendships because I have just been overwhelmed by the grief of it all. I know some people just wont understand at all how you could be so upset by an animals death. Believe me you can. I wish every night the last image in my head wasn’t Frankie passing away or seeing Mollie unable to walk or lift her head due to the catastrophic stroke she suffered. I had to stop watching this weeks episode of the walking dead when the heads on spikes mouths were moving despite them being dead. Frankie’s mouth muscles twitched for the whole time I lay on the floor with him after he passed away. It was too much and sent me straight back into flash backs of losing him. I was quite proud of myself being able to write all this without sobbing but I have fucked that up now.  I hope some day those horrific images stop waking me from sleep and stop being the last images in my head before I fall asleep because I do know happiness despite being so sad.

Without Dembe I wouldn’t be here, it is as simple as that. I could not have carried on under that weight of grief. I am not saying that to be melodramatic but for a few days there I wanted to die myself. My heart hurt and no one except Jay understood what I was going through. I have never seen Jay look as ill as he did during those 6 days that we had no dog in the house. When Dembe came home the colour came back into his face and it forced us to start living again. He is our miracle boy and our saviour. Even when he is being a wee shitebag.

If you would like to find out more about Dembe he has his own blog at http://www.thedembediaries.com