Balancing Act neck pain v embroidery machine

In last weeks blog post I told you all about my new toy, my embroidery machine. I’ve had it for 9 days (Tuesday) and I was very well-behaved last week. I had a quick play on Tuesday and then knuckled down to finishing off a whole heap of half-finished projects. I really dislike having incomplete work loitering and taking up space. Last week I had part made soft toys hanging around – the body parts of 15 toys to be exact and some part made Christmas stockings, along with three gnomes. I did have a really good crack at them and managed to clear all the owls, gnomes, Christmas stockings and two foxes. However one of the foxes still has his brains *stuffing* exposed as my hands have been too painful to attempt to close the turning gap. My hands are so sore this evening I am having to write my blog post using my speech to text function, which is fun!

 
My neck has at times been horrifically painful. Now I know how easy it is to exaggerate pain. People bandy around the word agony at the drop of a hat but still manage to get on with day-to-day living. When I say agony I mean no painkillers are touching it, my rib cage feels like it’s collapsing inwards, I want to puke and I can’t move very much. It isn’t like this all the time thank goodness but it can start within seconds of sitting at a table or doing anything that involves lifting my arms away from my sides. The only thing that helps is putting on my soft collar and heat. The problem with heat though is that it will trigger a hot flush or can make me feel faint. I’ve found that when it’s at its worst diazepam helps as it tends to trigger muscle spasms. As does gin but I don’t like drinking every day and I have to keep it to the bare minimum.
 
I thought the embroidery machine maybe a way of being creative without triggering the neck pain…I was wrong. Sitting in any chair where my back is not properly supported, is a massive trigger. I don’t tend to get the pain when sat on the sofa because I am not sat bolt upright. I am now waking up with the pain during the night, which means whilst sleeping something is slipping out of alignment. When this happens the only thing I can do is put my soft collar on for a few hours and hope that its enough to work as along with the neck pain I get a thumping headache. I do thankfully have a doctor’s appointment at the end of this month. I must have blood tests next week as the doctor was concerned that I possibly have vitamin deficiencies which are causing the pins and needles in my arms / hands / legs and face. However as a soft collar gets rid of all my problems I’d hazard a guess that my neck is unstable and this is the problem. Quite common in people with EDS but a nightmare to get diagnosed in the UK.
 
I had to limit my sewing to just short bursts with lots of breaks. Which meant I didn’t feel very productive at all during the week. I did manage to wait until Sunday before I played on my embroidery machine again.
 
Saturday my neck and back was awful so I spent the afternoon looking on my chromebook for free embroidery patterns. I downloaded quite a few. I also found on Etsy two really lovely Unicorn patterns. One cost me a whopping 87p! and the other £1.50. I was so proud of myself using my USB port adaptor as my new chromebook has a micro USB port, ( I’ve had to upgrade my chromebook as my mark one chromebook can’t transfer data between a USB stick and the chromebook or vice versa. It can read them you just can’t do anything with it, not very good when you have an embroidery machine that you can use downloaded patterns on). So on Sunday I decided I would give the USB stick a go on my embroidery machine. To my delight the patterns showed up straight away. I had been panicking that maybe I would have to format the USB sticks for them to be used by the embroidery machine but it all worked fine.
 
I decided I would try out the Unicorn patterns on some face cloths that I had bought as a job lot from Amazon. I already had some Madeira Avalon Film wash away stabiliser, so it was just a case of setting up the hoop – face cloth then stabiliser laid on top to stop the stitches sinking into the pile. Then place it in the hoop ensuring its wrinkle free and as taut as possible. This took me several attempts, purely as I just wasn’t feeling very confident with what I had done. The first one I messed up as I managed to sew the top right hand corner of the washcloth to the back of the design. I had to cut it out of the hoop! Apparently this is a common mistake so I didn’t feel so bad. The second one however came out perfectly.
 

I also managed to centre it on the wash cloth perfectly.
 

 
 
I did the second one later on in the day. When I started it I hadn’t realised there were 21 thread changes. The first Unicorn had been 10, so a massive difference. I loved the small details of the flowers and leaves which you can’t really see in the photo. Again I managed to centre this one properly as well. So these will be Christmas gifts. The stabiliser washes away. I cut off the excess as I will be able to use that on small bits of embroidery and then put both flannels in lukewarm water where it just vanishes. I put them both in the washing machine to ensure all traces of stabiliser had gone.
 
 
On Monday afternoon I had a quick play as I fancied seeing what the redwork would look like. 
 

It’s not a good photo and to be honest I am not happy with it. The tension is out or I have threaded the machine poorly as bobbin fill has come to the surface so there are lots of little white dots all throughout the redwork. Mr Myasthenia Kid wants to frame it and take it into work for his noticeboard. So I will cut it down and run a zig zag stitch around the edge so it doesn’t fray.
 
Today I had a go at this Christmas Wreath. The wreath came out beautifully but the “Merry Christmas” has come out terribly. Again either the tension was off or I had threaded the machine poorly. It’s all  a learning process. I have spent a bit of time this evening looking through the manual and found out lots of things I should have known!
 

 
 
I am really enjoying using the machine and learning all about it. The patterns it comes loaded with are really stunning. It’s only the unicorns that I have bought and a dear friend on instagram lent me some USB sticks with lots of designs on to copy.
 
So if I can get a balance between my neck pain and time that I can use my machines I will be happy!
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Solitary confinement

I’m used to my own company, I am in fact quite a solitary character. I don’t need to be surrounded by other people, as I can entertain myself. However sometimes the loneliness of chronic illness really gets to me. I am having a wobble.

 

Mr Myasthenia Kid had two weeks off work (as annual holiday) in August, it’s the longest he’s taken as holiday in years. Normally he takes a week here and there throughout the year. Always holding some back in reserve in case he needs to take time off to look after me or take me to medical appointments. Usually by the end of his weeks holiday I am happy to send him back to work, as I have my own routine and ways I like to get stuff done. This time however I am finding hard to adjust to not having him home with me. We had a lovely two weeks together, laughing, talking and generally just being together and now the house just seems so empty and quiet. It’s been quite hard to g back to it just being me for long stretches at a time.

 

It is really hard to explain how empty the house seems, it’s not like he takes up lots of room or that he makes loads of noise. It’s just I got very used to his presence and having someone to talk to. When you are chronically sick and virtually housebound your world gets very small. You only see the people who can be bothered to make the time to see you. Being below retirement age all of my friends are working and have families of their own, so I am very grateful for the time I do get to spend with them . With the pace of life these days, it’s very easy to be forgotten about, out of sight out of mind. I found that back in 2008 when I left work, that all these people who I had known for 12 years who I believed were my friends, just disappeared. They think a quick comment on your Facebook page is a get out of jail free card, it doesn’t replace seeing someone in the flesh and having a conversation.

 

Most of my friendships are now online and I have made some truly wonderful friends. Particularly on Instagram amongst the crafting / sewing / creative community. I am lucky to have got sick in an age where to talk to someone I just have to open up my computer but it doesn’t replace the physical presence of another human being. I am grateful for the online friends I have but I would imagine they would agree that proper physical contact with other human beings trumps any other contact with the outside world.

 

I have always been quite a solitary character, my own company isn’t something that has ever daunted me. In fact there are days where I cherish the time I spend alone. I like being able to step back from the outside world but I also like to spend time in it or as close as I can. I like a balance of both but due to my health being so utterly rotten this year, I have barely seen anyone since the end of June. I have literally gone weeks and the only person I have spoken to is Jamie. Can any of you who aren’t chronically sick imagine what that is like, that the only contact you have with the outside world is with one person? It’s no ones fault, this isn’t a dig at any of my friends as it has been me doing the cancelling due to not being well enough. Is it any wonder now that after having two weeks of company I am finding going back to being alone so very difficult? I am grateful that we have the dogs but their conversational skills are very limited.

 

It’s hard to explain but my heart hurts with the loneliness and the missing Jay. I know he’s only 7 minutes up the road but the house is so quiet it  is deafening.

 

Every year around Christmas time there is always a campaign about loneliness and the elderly. Every year I want to scream at the TV it’s not just the elderly who are lonely in this country. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of people whose lives are blighted by illness who see no one for weeks on end other than their caregivers or partners. It is assumed that if you are aged between 18-67 that you are in work but there are many of us who can’t work, who are housebound who are crying out for some company yet we are the forgotten ones. I don’t know if it is because people don’t understand chronic illness and can’t get their heads around the fact that there are working age people, who through no fault of their own do not have the social outlet of work and are just forgotten. It’s like we don’t exist.

 

I am extremely lucky I have friends who do come and visit me. I really appreciate those visits and I hate it when I have to cancel due to my health deciding to have a hissy fit. It takes a lot for me to cancel because I don’t know when they will be able to visit again. There are lots of people in my position who never see anyone. I know I am lucky, I am just sad this week as I am finding it so hard to adjust to Jamie being back at work.

 

I know given a few more days I will have got myself back into a routine and I will be used to being on my own again. I thank my lucky stars for my cyber friends who are so supportive and caring. Even though I am shit at messaging people because I am always in my own little bubble. I have an issue where I think of someone, say to myself “oh I must message them” and two weeks later I realise I haven’t. I’m currently struggling with what day of the week it is. Not because there has been a bank holiday it’s purely that I have no clue. To give you an example of how bad it is at the moment, I had no clue today was Thursday and was quite surprised when I started to get notifications on my blogs Facebook page. It was only when I looked I realised that my blog post for this week had been published. I tend to write them in advance and schedule them in to be published automatically. This morning I had no idea that it was Thursday. I do however know who the prime minister is and what year I was born! Just in case anyone is concerned about my mental status. It’s just the days are currently blurring into one.

I also know that the way I am feeling now is probably a reaction to all the stress I have been under lately. My mum has had some pretty major surgery that was needed out of the blue. Adrenaline has carried me through for weeks. Now things are starting to calm down, I have the time to spend analysing my feelings because during that time period it was just getting through that day that mattered. It was a frightening / stressful time. In a year of horribly stressful and sad events. I know I just need to get back into a routine and allow myself the period of adjustment instead of being so hard on myself that I am struggling to adapt.

 

This probably  seems quite a depressing read, I’m sorry. I have just really been surprised at the depth of feeling that Jays return to work has caused me. I don’t think in the nearly 22 years we have been together that I have ever missed him so much. Silly really as every night he is home, every morning he is here. Just at the moment being in the house alone seems a little like solitary confinement.

 

P.s Its over a week later and I am back into my old routine. I am enjoying the time I have to myself and have been really productive on the sewing front.  I have also had a visit from some friends which was really nice. Obviously I still miss Jay during the day but it’s not like the deep ache in my heart I had before. I  am much happier now that I have re-adjusted to the time spent alone.

 

Am I moaning?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

To this

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

Misunderstood

 

One of the things that has always wound me up since becoming chronically sick due to a myriad of medical conditions is the complete lack of understanding from about the conditions or the way they can make me feel. Despite Fatigue being a symptom of PoTs (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) and EDS ( Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) medical professionals seem really surprised when you tell them you are knackered 100% of the time, no matter how well you slept. If the people who are supposed to get it, you know the experts fail to comprehend that you are dealing with levels of exhaustion they can only imagine, then what help is there for the non medical people in your life?

 

A few years ago I really lost my shit with someone who should have known better, they asked me how I was and I said I was really tired. Without thinking they said “yeah I am really tired too”.

“ No I mean I am really f**king tired, like I feel like I am walking around in a dream” I snapped.

“Yeah I get that when I don’t sleep well” They replied

I am not ashamed to admit that I really lost my temper as at this point I was in a cycle where I didn’t have more than 2 hours sleep a night for three nights and on the 4th I was sleeping 12-16 hours but waking up still feeling drained. I was hallucinating on the third day due to the level of tiredness I was experiencing. I had discussed this frequently with the person in question, they were not unaware of the difficulties I was experiencing on the sleep front. Yet even with all the information in front of them they couldn’t connect up the dots that going without sleep for nights on end didn’t just leave me tired, they left me barely functioning. It left me feeling as though a) this person had never actually listened to me when I was talking to them or b) that they didn’t believe me when I said how little sleep I was getting or c) they actually didn’t give a shit, I was always moaning I was tired. Any one of those scenarios is not one that leaves you feeling good about yourself.

 

After losing it with them and having to educate them in the difference between my tired – it doesn’t matter how much I sleep I am always feeling fatigued / wiped out and their tired, if they have a decent night’s sleep they feel refreshed, they never tried to claim that they felt tired in the same way I did again. Now don’t misinterpret me, I am not saying my tired is special or I am the only one in the world who feels like this. Ask most people with a chronic health condition / illness / disease and they will tell you the same, that sleep no longer leaves them feeling refreshed. Yet so many people in the medical profession will deny fatigue is caused by a person’s current illness / condition and will offer another label such as chronic fatigue syndrome – that’s a rant for another day!

 

I’ve noticed now the CSF leak is back how very few people actually understand it, I am talking close personal friends who witnessed how sick I was in 2016. So I am struggling to understand why they don’t remember that I have to lie down when the pain strikes etc. It is deeply frustrating but maybe I am expecting too much of them? Am I falling into the trap of believing that I am so important that they should remember this? I am also shocked by the number of people who have said things like

“ Oh that’s such a shame after you’d healed as well”.

Whilst I have said I have self healed I have also been careful to state it was to an extent, it had never gone away completely. I was able to spend many more hours upright but by the end of the day I was getting positional headaches that would only be relieved by lying down. I would also get photophobic at the end of the day, bright lights from screens including the TV would feel like they were burning a hole in the backs of my eyes. So whilst I was aware things had vastly improved for me, I was also aware that I was still leaking just at a much more slow rate.

 

I’ve also been really clear to those around me that it was highly likely that the symptoms of a full-blown leak would come back. The leak was probably caused by me having EDS,  as I have a weakness in the dura due to a previous lumbar puncture ( the protective covering around the spinal cord and brain) there would always be a weakness. So it’s frustrating when people question that the leak has returned – like the gp did last week. There is no mistaking a leak headache once you’ve had it. It is a pain like no other, it’s the only head pain that makes me clutch my head. I also get stupid comments from people like

“oh when I get a bad headache I soldier on because I have to. Not everyone can just go to bed because their head hurts”.

That’s when you know that person isn’t experiencing a CSF Leak headache because I will be blunt there is no fucking choice with a leak headache. You know when you see medical dramas and people collapse to the floor in pain, that’s what a leak headache is like. It hits you like you been attacked on the back of a head with a shovel. It makes you drop to your knees, if I could cry with the pain I would but when it strikes I am unable to do anything because it literally takes my breath away.

 

Somedays I am lucky and I can manage a few hours upright before I have to lie down. Other days I am upright for minutes and then I have to lie down. It is not a lifestyle choice it is the only way I can survive. It’s still not currently as bad as it was in 2016 and I am determined not to let it get that bad. Before I would push through until I was at the point of collapse. Now once the head pain starts I lie down, yes it’s frustrating but I’d rather lie down immediately than keep pushing to the point where I am bed bound for days on end. The only thing that works for a lot of people with a leak is lying flat however there are those who have leaked for so long that lying flat no longer reduces the pain that they are in.

 

Painkillers just don’t work on this headache, nothing I have ever taken has ever stopped the headache and that is the same for almost everyone with a leak. You get relief when lying flat when you have a leak because the fluid is no longer fighting gravity to be circulated around your spinal column and brain. By lying flat you increase the level of fluid surrounding the brain, which is what provides the pain relief.  Somedays within 30 minutes of lying flat the pain is gone other days it can take several hours and I am still left with a headache. However once upright again the headache will return. Obviously life spent flat on your back is not very fulfilling, its reduced the amount of sewing I can do as not only does the leak cause me pain this time it is affecting my vision. Its giving me quite a bit of double vision / blurred vision. I am having to use a magnifying glass and my reading glasses to be able to thread needles ( that is whilst using a needle threader both on my machine and when I hand sew). It makes things so much slower but I have to keep my hand in because without sewing I would be lost completely.

 

I have managed to make  a few bits, quite a bit was completed before the leak started and some of it has been completed in snatched moments when the levels of head pain are low / manageable. I have been able to finish items by hand whilst lying down so that’s a bonus. So here are some photos of what I have been making lately

 

I’ve been making a lot of baby bibs, some have been gifts and others have been paid to make.

 

 

Cushion cover made before the leak started – 

Travis bag for my Instagram Friend

 

I also made some voodoo dolls for a bit of a laugh, I never thought in a million years that people would want them but my (twisted) friends have gone crazy for them. Thankfully they all know how poorly I am at the moment and don’t expect me to rush to get things done. One of these is making its way to the USA as we speak. It’s my very first item that has gone to the USA.

 

So I still managing to do some sewing, it’s not as much as I would like but it’s enough to keep me sane at the moment.

 

A trip of a lifetime part 2

As expected I am completely wiped out after our trip to Stoke on Trent to visit the Emma Bridgewater Pottery factory. We had an absolutely amazing time and I would do it again in a heartbeat but just not right now as I can barely think straight or keep my eyes open.

 

We both learnt so much from our tour around the factory. Our tour guide Jane was brilliant ensuring all our questions were answered. The staff were all great too, I did feel a little sorry for them as they must feel a little like animals in the zoo, with people parading past and staring at them. How they manage to get any work done is beyond me and shows how totally dedicated and professional they are. I don’t blame them for wearing headphones to drown out all the distractions they must have with multiple tours daily.

 

The disabled access was pretty good. A few of the doors were just slightly too narrow for my wheelchair to get through that was quickly remedied by other members of the public or staff opening up the other door (very few of the doorways were single doors). The disabled toilet was huge, more than enough room for me to turn the wheelchair around. Another bonus was that it wasn’t being used as a storage area which happens more times than I would care to mention. We also managed to bag the disabled parking spot right outside the factory.

 

This is all I can write for a minute as I really need to recover. I also managed to forget that Wednesday was my birthday – as in I would only have Tuesday and Wednesday to write this week!

 

So here are some photo’s from our day at the factory.

This is where the clay delivery comes into the factory.

These are mugs that have been removed from the molds.

 

Discarded Clay. Nothing is wasted and this will be used again.

The factory doesn’t just make mugs but also teapots, butter dishes, jugs, dogs and cats! To name a few things

 

We also tried our hand at decorating in the pottery cafe. I used sponges painted with ceramic paint for this salt pig. This type of decoration is known as (in my case badly done) spongeware.

Clutching at Straws

The letter I had been dreading the arrival of turned up on Saturday. I had almost begun to believe that such was the inflammatory nature of it contents that, I had been denied a copy on the grounds it would be perilous to my mental state. The letter was from the neurologist I saw at the end of July. It’s contents were only slightly better than anticipated.

 

I had believed that the letter would suggest CBT or a visit to see a neuropsychiatrist. It wouldn’t be the first time it had been suggested due to my obscure symptoms and the belief on the various neurologists part that because they didn’t know the answer my symptoms were psychological rather than physiological.

 

I have now been diagnosed with Hemifacial spasm of unclear cause. Now for those of you who don’t know what a Hemifacial spasm is, it’s basically a muscle spasm in your face. Having done a little digging around on the internet I have found out that Hemifacial spasm can be due to Dystonia, MS, Compression of a facial nerve, lesion on the brain stem, brain tumour or of unknown cause. It is also an incredibly rare condition with Patient Info (https://patient.info/health/hemifacial-spasm-leaflet) stating that it affects 4,000 in the UK.

 

The only problem with this diagnosis is that this never started out with the twitching that is described by every website I have read over the weekend. Google Hemifacial spasm and one of the first things you will read is muscle twitching.  Of course I have had muscle twitches but they have never been so bad that I have sought medical advice for them. This spasm / ptosis / condition came on overnight. Also it is the right side of my face that is affected, where this condition mainly affects the left side of the face. Hemifacial spasm is not treated by the use of mestinon so this diagnosis ignores the response I have to this medication. So it’s the usual horse shit that I have got very used to over the last ten years.

It’s not the first time I have heard of someone with ptosis being told that they have Hemifacial spasm. I can remember years ago on a forum a woman in the UK being told the same thing, despite mestinon resolving her ptosis and her not having muscle twitches. It seems this must be the go to diagnosis when they can’t admit they don’t know or if all signs are pointing to MG.

 

Apparently according to the letter “On observation of the facial problem today although there was some flattening around the corner of the mouth, the predominant problem is in fact of eye closure on the right hand side rather than ptosis, ie there is a contraction of the orbicularis oculi muscle rather than a weakness of the levator palpebrae superioris. The remainder of the facial movements were at times a little limited….” All this without actually doing a neurological exam, assessing the strength of my eyelid closure etc? *Sarcasm*

 

All the medical papers I have read so far in a limited time period have said about the corner of the mouth being pulled up by the muscle spasm in Hemifacial spasms. That doesn’t happen with my mouth, the corner of my mouth droops. I have in the past had muscle spasms where the side of my mouth has pulled back but it’s not lifted up or dropped down. It also prevented me from opening my mouth and I ended up with a NG tube in for a few hours.

 

I am a little sceptical at this latest diagnosis, as you have probably guessed because it really doesn’t fit properly. There are aspects of it that do fit like the muscle spasms I deal with on a daily basis in my back, hips and feet, if the diagnosis was generalised Dystonia, which can run alongside EDS. However my ptosis never resolves with heat, which if it was a muscle spasm you’d think the heat would be enough to relax the muscles? The only thing that resolves the ptosis is rest, ice or mestinon (pyridostigmine bromide).

 

However the doctor did pay me a massive compliment by knocking ten years of my age! In the opening sentence it says I met this 33-year-old lady…. Happy days or they were simply getting confused with the notes from ten years ago.

 

What really irritated me was that this doctor has claimed that there is nothing wrong with the muscles in my face, the nerves or the neuromuscular junction yet Hemifacial spasms are a neuromuscular disorder. Also according to https://www.bcm.edu/healthcare/care-centers/parkinsons/conditions/hemifacial-spasm website my EMG wouldn’t have been normal if I had Hemifacial spasm “ It will show irregular, brief high-frequency burses (150-400Hz) of motor unit potentials”.   When I found this out I roared with laughter, so apparently I can’t have MG because my EMG was normal but I can have Hemifacial Spasm with a normal EMG despite the fact it should show abnormalities. Welcome to the world of neurology where we change the rules of diagnosis depending on the condition.

 

The consultant has recommended I be treated with Botox to relieve the muscle spasms. However one of the side effects is developing Ptosis………………………I know you couldn’t make this shit up could you? Also Botox is contraindicated with MG. So would I really want to risk a Botox injection for a condition it seems highly likely I do not have.

 

There is nothing worse than a doctor clutching at straws, especially in this day an age where a patient can debunk their diagnosis in a matter of minutes. I truly believe that this is what has happened here, they know they can’t get away with saying there is nothing wrong with me so come up with this drivel. I am embarrassed for them.

Other links for information on Hemifacial Spasm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemifacial_spasm

http://www.empowher.com/hemifacial-spasm/content/hemifacial-spasm-uncontrollable-muscle-contraction-face

http://www.dystonia.org.uk/index.php/about-dystonia/types-of-dystonia/hemifacial-spasm

Doubt

It is a horrible situation to be in when you lose faith and start to doubt yourself. I know so many people with chronic health conditions who have felt the same way due to the way one idiot doctor has made them feel. When you aren’t believed, your symptoms are minimised or you’re told there is nothing wrong despite the fact your body is screaming at you that there is something very wrong, you can lose faith in your ability to be objective. You can start to let that seed of doubt lay down roots. Those roots do a number on you and you can start thinking that you are a hypochondriac / there’s nothing wrong / you need psychological help. Despite trying to remain strong after that awful appointment nearly three weeks ago now, seeds of doubt had entered my mind.

 

I know how ridiculous that sounds. I know that there is something wrong with me, I know that despite the doctor claiming that there was nothing wrong – despite not actually examining me and looking at what was in front of them. It has been niggling away at me, I have been doubting my symptoms and that is a dangerous position to get into as it messes with your mental health and it makes you play fast and loose with your physical symptoms. The last three weeks I have been having an internal dialogue all about the appointment and what I could have said and done differently, even though I know that the decision had been made before I even entered the hospital.

 

I have also found myself doubting that I still have ptosis, although no magic wand has been waved to make it disappear. So much so that one morning when I could feel it coming on, I deliberately waited to see what would happen before I took mestinon. I had almost convinced myself that since the neurologist believed that there was nothing wrong and could provide no explanation as to what was wrong, then my ptosis would simply disappear. However I was soon persuaded that this was absolute rubbish when it took a good hour to get rid of this when it happened just after I’d had a shower.

 

But what if I had been having breathing problems and I convinced myself that there was indeed nothing wrong with me? What if I had ignored all the signs that were pointing to the fact I was having a MG crisis? I could have died purely because I had believed the word of a neurologist who didn’t even show me the courtesy of examining me.

 

The appointment has made me really angry, not only because the neurologist had a closed off mind and had decided before they had met me that I didn’t have MG, but because it brought up all those feelings of doubt that I had ten years ago. It has really shaken my confidence, I am doubting and second guessing everything. I have become quite withdrawn and I am spending a lot of time in my head. All due to one stupid appointment that didn’t last more than 30 minutes. Do the doctors that treat patients like this realise what they do to us? Or do they not even care because we aren’t their problem?

 

I am lucky I am strong enough to know what is going on, that my mind will be all over the place for a couple of weeks whilst I process all of this. I have good people around me who lift me up when something like this happens. I’m also savvy enough to know that I am the only person that can break me out of this funk and that it is vital that everyday I do something I enjoy and that I am good at. Even if my self-confidence has been shattered it is important to get up every day and try.

 

What I really love to do when I am in a funk due to an appointment / doctor / life in general is get creative. I have loved taking photographs for years. I really enjoyed doing a six-week photography course when I was at university. The older I have got the more I have understood about lighting, composition etc. I know the best room in the house for taking photos in natural light is the kitchen, if I take photos in the lounge I am left with artificial looking colours due to the flash going off, or sunlight bouncing off surfaces causing glare. The only camera I use is the one on my phone ( I can’t wait to upgrade as I didn’t get enough memory on this one), I use the filters on Instagram but I wouldn’t know how to Photoshop unless someone sat me down and gave me very basic instructions on what I am doing. Taking photos and getting feedback is something I love and it boosts my confidence. Especially when someone famous likes your photo (or several of them) or when Emma Bridgewater’s social media team contacts you and says they’d like to use your photo. That has happened to me 6 or 7 times now and I have only been posting photos of my Emma Bridgewater stuff since January. So I am pretty pleased.

 

I am an amateur when it comes to photography but I really find it relaxing and the positive affirmation I get through Instagram has lifted my mood. You can find me here.

Here are some of the recent shots I have taken if you don’t use Instagram


 

When my head is full of doubt I know that taking photographs or looking at other people’s work brings me a sense of calm.