Truth v Gossip

There is one thing that I have found since having several chronic health conditions that people simply do not understand and that is the fatigue levels that come with them. I know some people have created this fairy tale in their heads that either have withdrawn from society or that Mr Myasthenia Kid doesn’t let me out in the world. People stupidly believe this gossip rather than actually ask me. They are simply untrue, the reason I don’t go out very much is because I get so exhausted by doing very little outside the home.

At home I have an environment I can control. I have regular household sounds, lighting etc. All of which my body is used to. The minute any of that becomes too much I can go to bed, lie down, limit the light and sound. Out of the home I have zero control over the additional stimuli my body is bombarded with. Also these days I am using a scooter a lot of the time, the concentration levels involved in driving this even for a short period of 20 minutes, drains me. It makes it hard for me to manage a conversation and drive. The minute I don’t concentrate like when driving a car accidents can happen. I have almost gone off the sea wall down at the seafront because I was trying to talk and drive. It takes a lot out of me and unless you have to balance your activity and rest periods people just don’t understand it.

Since Sunday I have had an extraordinarily busy week, for me. For normal people this will probably sound like a leisurely few days. On Sunday we went to Pets at Home the big one so around 20 minutes in the car to get there. Then we went to Tesco to upgrade our phones which took about an hour. We had Dembe with us who behaved beautifully. There were lots of people in Tesco that I knew that haven’t seen me since I have lost 49lbs in weight and who also wanted to meet Dembe. So it was very busy. After the morning we had around 90 minutes sit down and then we went to visit friends with Dembe. It was lovely to see them both and Dembe really enjoyed his visit too. However by 6pm I was completely drained and was up in bed resting, before dropping off just after 8pm.

Many of you will be thinking how can that low level of activity wear you out? I wish I knew, my only explanation is the assault on all my senses just physically and mentally wears me out. The extra noise, people, lights, smells, physical activity of driving a mobility scooter. Being upright with my legs down and blood pooling, changes in temperature, all those things combined just zap any charge that was left in my batteries. On Monday it took me hours to get moving. I was fit for nothing until about 2pm, which is crazy. My body just felt like there were 15lb weights attached to each limb and my head, well I just couldn’t really focus on anything that demanded more than a limited amount of mental acuity. 

On Tuesday I felt a lot better as I had spend Monday recuperating, which again if you have never suffered from bone crushing levels of fatigue you would struggle to understand. We needed to take Dembe to the vets to be weighed and to get his worming tablets / flea / tick treatment. We were there around 20 minutes as we like to have a catch up with the staff as Dembe is very popular there. We then popped up to Tesco for a few items, we took Dembe with us to give him some more environmentalization training. We only needed three things but Dembe has such a huge fan club amongst the staff and customers that it took 40 minutes. I then spent as much of the afternoon as I could resting with my feet up as in the evening we had our first night back at our weekly dog training class.

Evenings are the absolute worst time for me to be out of the house. Purely because I go to bed every evening between 7pm – 8pm or earlier if it is a rubbish day. By then I struggle to hold myself upright, co-ordinate my movements and as I discovered last night I can also end up struggling to talk because my brain can’t channel the words to my mouth. Ending up with me looking like a fish out of water. I thought I would be ok, after all I did the dog training in the summer. But I don’t think I had been out as much during the day. The dog training lessons are intense. Even though I just sit there and let Jay do all the training. I can’t do the walking around or being up on my feet that much. 

I coped ok in June and July so it was really surprising ( and frustrating ) to me last night to get half an hour in and to start feeling really, really unwell. I don’t know about anyone else but I hate having to ask for help or potentially making a scene due to being ill. I have in the past been known to wait for everyone to leave the room before I have allowed myself to projectile vomit. Thankfully there was nothing for anyone to see, although I may have gone more pale than normal. I just suddenly had the internal organ sinking feeling, then felt I experienced some feelings of dissociation. I knew I was in the room but I didn’t feel I was part of it. Unless you have felt this it is a difficult feeling to explain. I can feel like this just before I faint and I knew that is what my body was preparing to do. As I was sat down I rapidly starting clenching my bum cheek and tensing my calves in an attempt to get the blood moving. The whole time I was absolutely terrified I was going to wake up surrounded by people having taken a nosedive from the chair.

The weird thing was I could see poor Dembe trying to alert Jay to what was happening as hit lay down on the floor and had his head turned to me. He was watching ensuring I was ok. When I spoke to Jay afterwards to let him know what had happened he said “why didn’t you get up and go to the car so you could lie down?” which is a reasonable enough question as normally I do have quite a bit of warning so I can avert a faint. I just said to him that I felt so bad I was terrified if I stood up that I would go down with a bang. He then said “well why didn’t you shout me?” the simple fact of the matter was I just didn’t want to do anything that would draw attention to me.

 I really HATE the spotlight being on me, I hate it even more if it is because I am having a funny turn or have fainted. It is stupid I know but I just can’t, it makes me feel so very uncomfortable. Like I am causing a nuisance or being melodramatic. This probably goes back to various incidents at school and at work where I have been seriously unwell and been called a drama queen or that I was causing a scene. When I was younger I was never believed when I was sick, even when I have had major surgery, I had work colleagues say I was doing it for attention. How on earth you get a team of NHS surgeons to open you up from pubic bone to sternum just for fun I have no idea but apparently I can.

Thankfully my funny turn went after 10 minutes but it left me feeling seriously drained. I spent the entire journey home yawning non stop which is always a sign that my blood pressure has dropped. I was in bed by 8pm and asleep by 9pm.

Today ( Wednesday ) I am seriously pooped but like I always say I’d rather be knackered due to going out and having fun or just living a normal life than being this wiped out from doing nothing. Again it has taken me all morning to get going. I have been up since 7am and it is only now at 13.30 that I am starting to feel human and that I can do anything that needs any mental clarity. On days like this I have to take advantage of any window of opportunity when I feel well enough physically and mentally to be able to get up and crack on with something I want to do.

Obviously having the Weimaraners did curtail my activities outside the house. It was too expensive to get dog sitters in all the time and there are only so many times you can ask friends to do it for you. They were too destructive to leave by themselves, so in the end it just became easier to not go out or just one of us go, than stress out about finding someone to stay with them. Our friends have been fabulous, Imogen looked after them so much in 2015 when I had my CSF leak. If it hadn’t been for her I wouldn’t have been able to attend half the appointments I did. She also looked after them when we went to the Emma Bridgewater factory for the day which was a 14 hour (plus) stint . My friend Sharon also did us a massive favour when she stayed with them so that Jay could appear on Sewing Quarter TV. Both Ellie and Heather have stepped up too and looked after them, along with Tracey, Sarah and so many others over the years. But even with that massive pool of helpers it wasn’t fair to continually ask them to look after them. So our outside activities took a back seat, plus a lot of the time I just wasn’t well enough.

Now we have Dembe and we are training him to be my assistance dog it means the whole world has opened up to me again. It is really weird after having 12 years of not really going anywhere but the hospital, the doctors surgery or the dentist. Those visits also wiped me out. We are so used to being home we are having to force ourselves to go out. Which is another reason why we are doing all the training with Dembe as it means at least once a week I will leave the house and also that he will be a well behaved assistance dog whom we can take everywhere with us. But I will always have to pace my activities. I will never be well enough to go out all day, every day of the week. I just don’t have the stamina or physical reserves to be able to cope with that. And that is fine with me. I do quite like my own company and being able to do the things I want to do. I guess I am saying I like a balance.

So when someone tells you that someone is a recluse or that they aren’t allowed to go out. Have a good long think about that person’s circumstances. Think about if they have a chronic health condition, suffered a bereavement all manner of things that could be the cause of them not being outside in the world as much as you think they should. Don’t take the easy option and accept the gossip no matter how credible the source because it is just that their take on what they “think” is happening. Which doesn’t make it the truth.

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.