A general update

I know I can be terribly annoying talking about the various new things happening medically but then never going back and updating you all. Unfortunately I have the memory of a goldfish, my husband will attest to that. I forget things, I continually ask the same questions  etc. It must drive him nuts some days but he patiently answers those repeated questions.

In April 2014 I was admitted into hospital for a medication trial. Luckily I escaped on the second day, the hospital setting drove me to the brink of hysteria. This was triggered by awful experiences of hospitals in the past.
I was started on 0.25mls Octreotide three times a day before meals. Whilst in hospital I suffered no side effects but with in a few days I was suffering from diarrhoea (neon yellow in colour!) and stomach pain. On the advice of my consultant I stopped the injections for a few days and then restarted them but just once a day. All went really well – it stopped my postprandial episodes, until June which was when I started getting repeated bouts of cellulitis. I decided that I would stop the injections whilst I waited to get rid of the cellulitis. I had four bouts of it in total, by the end of July I had simply got out of the habit of injecting and it fell by the wayside. My postprandial episodes had lessened so I just didn’t use it.

Last week as the episodes had come back with a bang I decided to bite the bullet and start using the octreotide again. I started off on a 0.2ml dose and that has gone really well. As there were no side effects I have increased this week back to 0.25ml, I had got up to 0.3ml before stopping it so I hope to slowly increase it back to that amount. So far so good, the weird thing is I can really feel it wear off with tachycardia coming out of nowhere once I get to the 90 minute mark after the injection. I see my consultant at the hospital in the next few weeks so I will update him them.

Fludrocortisone / Florinef:

I started taking fludrocortisone again back in February 2014 after the tilt table test sent my autonomic nervous system into free fall. Since then its been on and off until January this year when again I have taken another downturn health wise. I am currently taking two tablets a day which I find helps with the tachycardia and palpitations. It does zero for my blood pressure but if it stops the banging heart every time I move I am happy to take it. If I am having a very rough day I will increase to three or even four tablets.

Home Oxygen:

I still have my oxygen concentrator which is an enormous help to me….when I remember to use it. It is very reassuring to have the oxygen concentrator at home so that I don’t have to take a trip to hospital. There are several reasons why I use it, the first one is quite obvious I use it when I feel like I can’t breathe. This tends to happen if I am having tachycardia that wont settle even when resting. It is exhausting when your heart decides to run at a million miles an hour when you aren’t. It feels like you can’t catch your breath, so the oxygen just makes it a lot easier. On occasion it will slow my heart down as well so a double bonus. I also use it when I have a bad migraine, the oxygen seems to reduce the length of the attack and ease the severity of the pain. Since being on the fludrocortisone again I have had a lot more headaches an unfortunate side effect so I find I am using the oxygen more and more.

Back Pain:

Overall my back pain is 100 times better than it was back in August when I could barely get out of bed. I still have bad days and semi bad days usually when I overdo things however some days I can just wake up in agony. I am not brilliant at doing the Pilate’s I seem to have fallen out of the habit. I really need to get back on the case.

My back pain has also moved from being predominantly my lower back and now can be anywhere from the base of my skull down to my tail bone. For the moment I have stopped going to physio therapy as I really don’t believe that my back will get much better than it is now. I completed Pilate’s from the September to the December at a cost of £70 a month. We don’t really have the £70 a month to spend. If I can’t keep my back pain at the level it is now I will go back.

Bladder Problems:

My bladder has been doing much better since I have retrained it to wait for longer until I empty it. So far no infections which was my main concern as my going frequently was a habit I had got into due to recurrent infections. 

I have not cut out caffeine, fizzy drink, artificial sweeteners or the devils juice. This was my decision and just because I have done it does not mean that this decision would be right for you should a medical professional advise you to do the same. I knew that my problems were not related to my consumption of these items but down to a neurological problem. The bladder nurse was trying to treat me for an over active bladder due to me urinating over 26 times in a day. What she couldn’t quite get her head around was that if you drink between 6-7 litres a day you are going to pee more than the national average.

I am being taught how to self catheterise at the end of this week…..I am so looking forward to it. At least this is happening in my home and not in a hospital ward. Knowing how to do this will be an enormous help as my bladder is still refusing to empty properly or completely stop working. I am hoping that by being able to empty my bladder in this way will mean I will not need the district nurses coming around and fitting a catheter with a bag in future. Time will tell. I am sure there will be a blog post following this hilarious fun-filled episode.


I was diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency at the end of the summer. I had the standard 6 injections and then was supposed to be given the injections every 8-12 weeks. After 6 injections it was clear that I needed far more B12 than was being offered on the NHS (despite the NICE guidelines informing doctors of the correct practice). As soon as the B12 injections wore off my neurological symptoms came back. So since then I have been initially injecting every other day. I then spaced that out until every 3 days then every 4 days and now I am down to once a week. Any longer than that and the burning sensation in my left leg and foot comes back. I was obviously a lot more deficient than my B12 test accounted for.

Overall Health:

As I have a hospital appointment coming up in the next few weeks to see the consultant who looks after me for PoTs I have been thinking long and hard about how I am doing. I haven’t seen my Dr since April due to a massive balls up within the hospitals admin department. Hand on heart I can honestly say my health is slowly getting worse each year, which is upsetting and a little depressing. I don’t know where this decline will end and that is scary. No one seems to know or discuss it. 

I am now starting to suffer from random drops in blood pressure when sitting. I am used to my blood pressure dropping like a stone on standing and have coping mechanisms in place for this. What alarms me about this new symptom is it is happening when I sitting with my legs raised. I will be reading or using my Chromebook and all of a sudden the screen will seem to scroll up or down. This is actually my eyes rolling in my head, within a few seconds my heart will feel funny. The only way I can describe it is that I get the sensation you have when you are falling in a dream, only I am awake. The attacks can last for just a few seconds or several minutes. I may get one in isolation or repeated attacks throughout the day. I know that whatever it is that is happening is causing my blood pressure to drop as I have been lucky enough to capture an episode on my BP monitor. This is just crazy and when I put some feelers out within the PoTs community only one person replied and said their son suffers from them.

I worry about these attacks as I have no warning that they will happen. For the moment I have placed myself on a driving ban until they have stopped for a few weeks. I feel like I am hanging onto my independence by a thread. Losing my driving licence – even though I only drive a few times a year would devastate me. Obviously having an accident and hurting other people would devastate me more. It is just that I feel that this illness has taken so much away from me I would hate to lose yet another thing.

Weight loss:

I am still sticking to my diet and I will admit it has been very hard at times. I have lost 21lbs since starting and I am just 3lbs away from what I weighed on my birthday in November which is what my first target was. I still have a long way to go, I am not even half way yet. I have found that reading my cards that I have made up with positive affirmations on them reminding me of the reasons why I want to lose weight etc have been really helpful especially on the days when I am finding it a hard slog.

One last quick update:

 This one is regarding my mum. Those of you who are regular readers may remember I wrote about the length of the waiting list for my mums spinal surgery. She still hasn’t had the operation and has deteriorated further. She saw her surgeon last week after her gp wrote to the surgeon explaining how badly my mum was now doing. Her case has now been marked as urgent and she has completed all her pre-operative tests. She is now just waiting to hear when the operation will take place. Fingers crossed it takes place soon as she really needs it.


“Trust takes years to build, seconds to destroy, forever to repair”

Author unknown

I love this saying because it sums up the issue of trust so eloquently and so much better than I ever could.

Trust is  an intrinsic part of any relationship. In romantic relationships we trust the one we love will be faithful and love us completely despite our flaws. In friendships we trust our friends will keep our confidences. Employers trust their employees to follow the rules. 

The chronically sick have to build up a trusting relationship with those medical professionals that provide their treatment. Without trust in this relationship you end up with a noncompliant patient. 

So many of us within the world of chronic sickness or disease have had our trust in the medical professionals that treat us sorely tested or even shattered. Doctors need to think carefully how they treat their patients as this affects the way that the relationship builds trust. Fail to gain or simply lose the patients trust and the words the medical professional utters will never be believed again.

Due to the way I have been treated in the past by the many doctors I have seen, from gp’s to consultants, my trust in medical professionals has been completely destroyed. I have been told one thing to my face and completely different things have been written in my notes. I have been diagnosed with somatoform disorder but not been told about this diagnosis or been given treatment for it. The diagnosis was not made by a psychiatrist but a neurologist overstepping his boundaries. I have also been placed on medication that there was no clinical rationale to back it up other than to keep me quiet.

How is that building a trusting relationship with your patient? I warily trust the two doctors I deal with now but I know at a moments notice that one false move by either of them and I will be back to square one, trusting no one who treats me.

When you lose the trust you have placed on your doctor, it breaks your heart a little bit. You initially held such high hopes when first meeting them in a state of wide eyed innocence. I have yet to meet anyone who has taken the familiar road of chronic illness, who hasn’t endured the same kind of treatment I have and unfortunately it’s usually at the hands of neurologists. On this journey the next time you meet a new doctor you are just a little bit wary, by the third / fourth doctor you are positively jaded.

When trust is lost you become angry with those who are supposed to be helping you. When you meet the 4th/5th/6th doctor (delete as appropriate) you are positively withdrawn during your meetings. Keeping your answers to simple yes or no’s, you’ve already learnt that an intelligent / informed patient is a threat. Acting either just below or of average intelligence will get you by, it feeds into their superiority complex. ( Apologies to all the good doctors out there as I know there are some.)

My trust in my doctors is being tested at the moment and has been ever since I left hospital in April. There has been what can only be described as a mammoth debacle in my care since then. I like my doctors and I think that they like me, as much as any doctor can like a patient.

In April as those of you who follow my blog know I have been trialling Octreotide which is administered by subcutaneous injections. I am supposed to inject myself daily, 40 minutes before my lunch. However due to repeated bouts of cellulitis and an ongoing issue with my supply of needles and syringes I haven’t injected octreotide since the start of June.

What should have been the issue, obtaining the octreotide (because I am using it off label to treat postprandial hypotension) has been an absolute breeze. I have glass vials of the stuff in my fridge waiting to be used. The issue is the method of delivery.

On leaving hospital I was given ample supplies of needles to draw up the drug and needles to inject the drug along with copious amounts of syringes. All went well initially until I started to run out of needles. Then the games commenced.

My drs surgery informed me that they were not able to supply me with the same type of syringes or needles issued by the hospital. Those size needles / syringes were simply not available on the NHS for prescriptions in the community. I explained that I only had a few needles and syringes left and then I wouldn’t be able to use the drug and was issued with an emergency supply whilst the prescribing team tried to sort the situation out. This was at the start of May 2014.

A few days later after the emergency supply dried up again I was left with the situation again of having no needles or syringes. I got my consultants secretary, the hospital pharmacy, the prescribing team involved and all that happened was that everyone just blamed everyone else for the situation.

Blame is fine once a situation has been sorted, perhaps you can apportion blame when you look at the root cause of the issue. However everyone blaming everyone else has got me no further. I have 200 drawing up needles, 200 injecting needles and ten syringes and its now July 2014. 

I need to start taking the octreotide again the postprandial hypotension is wiping hours out of my day. After my evening meal, an hour later I am in such a deep sleep I can not be roused for several hours. It means that I am very rarely actually spending an evening with my husband.

Octreotide comes with side effects that after a few weeks rapidly decline. However if I only have ten syringes what’s the point of putting up with them if after ten days I will have to stop taking the drug again. It seems to be an exercise in futility.

I am in a very difficult situation. I am within my rights to make a formal complaint about both my gp and my hospital consultant for the way this has been totally mismanaged from the start. Thank goodness I am not diabetic because with the follow up care I have recieved I would be dead by now.

Complaining is difficult due to the fact that my gp is the first doctor who has believed me when I inform him of my problems. It is the same one that came and saw me when my bladder decided to go on strike and instead of getting me carted off to hospital ( a place I hate ) got the district nurse to insert a catheter. He knows what EDS is and he knows what PoTs is. My hospital consultant is the one that gave me the tilt table test which proved I wasn’t the basket case I was being made out to be by the neurology department of the same hospital. I have a good relationship with him ( or I thought I did as I am yet to hear from him since April, no follow up appointment to find out how I am doing).

Making a complaint about either of them could land me in the position where I have no one to treat me or who believes in my conditions. You heard how well I got on in A & E recently. What the hell do I do?

I have an appointment with my gp on 30th July where I will be bringing up the stupid situation I am in where I have the drug but no way of administering it. I will also be bringing up my long standing issue with my back and I will be refusing to leave until both situations are resolved or have more than a casual “I will sort it out”.

My trust in doctors is being tested yet again. It won’t take much to shatter it. I wish medical professionals realised that destroying a patients trust means it colours every future doctor patient realtionship.