Covid 19 / Corona Virus

I hate to be one of those people who look like they are jumping on the bandwagon but even I am finding it hard not to get a little anxious about the huge fucking elephant in the room which is the Corona Virus or Covid 19 to give it, it’s official term.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

People I talk to about it automatically assume that as I go out very little I am effectively self isolating / quarantining myself. What they forget is that Mr Myasthenia Kid works in retail, after healthcare probably one of the worst occupations to be in for exposure to this virus. Why? well because of customers firstly, many of these superstores have customer bases in the tens of thousands not just the 100 people that you may notice whilst you are in store shopping. Then there are the staff, who will drag themselves into work rather than face the indignity of the attendance policy and have a black mark against their names. So we have the 7th circle of hell right there. So whatever Mr Myasthenia Kid is exposed to rest assured he will unwittingly then be sharing with me. And that really concerns me.

Technically I am not in a high risk group, although I have PoTs it isn’t an issue with my heart. It is a problem with the autonomic nervous system, whilst when I get an infection it makes the PoTs symptoms a million times worse ( causing more palpitations, shortness of breath and syncope / fainting) it won’t kill me, unless I happen to faint in a dangerous situation. EDS also doesn’t mean I am at any higher risk, my only issue is that whilst I am used to joint pain etc – it still hurts, I can’t lie around in bed for days without causing myself more pain due to my back. So whilst I may feel like I need to be in bed I will have to get up and sit / lie on the sofa to ease my back. What worries me and is the name of my blog is the possibly seronegative / undiagnosed Myasthenia Gravis that I have been dealing with since 2007.

Myasthenia Gravis can cause a respiratory crisis which means the patients muscles become paralysed and they can no longer move their rib cage or diaphragm and therefore can’t breathe. I have been blue lighted to hospital back in 2008 with such an issue and was very close indeed to being placed on a ventilator so that they could take my breathing over for me. I was taken immediately to resus and placed on oxygen at 15 litres a minute. After a few hours I was doing a lot better but I was exhausted and slept close to 48 hours solid after that little adventure. I still have home Oxygen now a cylinder and a concentrator as I have the super power of suddenly being unable to breathe properly. I also use the oxygen in the treatment of my migraines, when I am not in such a bad way that I can’t remember I have it. So this is my fear, whilst technically I don’t have a diagnosis of Myasthenia ( when I started the blog I did it was removed in 2009/10 ) I respond well to the treatment of Pyridostigmine Bromide also known as Mestinon which resolves my ptosis and weak muscles within 30 minutes of taking it. Maybe it isn’t MG but some other neuromuscular issue whatever it is this is what is scaring me about Covid-19.

My other fear is should I be unlucky enough to end up seriously ill with the virus, a doctor with no idea about my life or the quality of it could ( due to limited resources ) be making decisions about whether or not my life is worth saving. They may not realise that I have lots of friends, a loving husband, a gorgeous doggy, a very happy fulfilled life with my sewing / embroidery / quilting. That I help run the largest PoTs Support Group on Facebook for the UK and ROI ( nearly 5k members) all they will see lying in front of them is a disabled woman who hasn’t worked for 12 years and is my life worth less due to their views on disability? I have actually found those in the medical profession can be the ones with the worst attitude towards the disabled and do see things as black and white as who is economically worth saving. The medical profession like all walks of life hold a variety of views on the disabled some nice and some totally abhorrent. I should imagine their are many other disabled people out there worrying about whether their lives will be deemed worthy enough to save should difficult decisions have to be made because resources within the NHS ( ICU beds, HDU beds and ECMO machines).

In some ways this all feels like we are sat here waiting for the zombie Apocalypse to start. There have been many complaints that the NHS 111 website is potentially missing many thousands of possible Covid-19 sufferers due to the questions it is asking. Basically unless you have been to an area that is now rife with it or have been in contact with a person with a diagnosis of Covid-19 you aren’t being tested. The main issue now is that many people who have this illness very mildly are  now amongst us spreading the virus and there will be those who are super spreaders who show no symptoms themselves but pass it on to everyone around them, latter-day Typhoid Marys if you will. There are so many known unknowns with this new illness that no one is quite sure how badly countries will be affected.

The fact that just this morning ( Wednesday 11th March ) The Bank of England has cut interest rates and they believe that the UK will now be entering a recession just adds to my concern that this is going to be a very scary time. When have you ever heard of the Bank of England cutting interest rates due to a virus?

I know many people who read my blog will have their own health anxieties and I really don’t want to add to them. But I do believe it would be ridiculous not to talk about this. I can’t be the only one that is worrying and I want to let you know it is ok to be concerned and to practice extra hand-washing. Whats not ok is to let your fears take over your life and stop you enjoying life.

So just some practical tips – not encouraging bulk buying in any way

– Ensure that you have all your regular medications and keep on top of your repeat requests. Just so you don’t run out.

– If you were to have to self isolate do you have family members or a friend who can get shopping for you? reach out on local community pages and find out if there is anyone willing to lend a hand should you find yourself in this position and you have no close friends or family nearby.

– Ensure you don’t allow yourself to run out of the basics. Keep a note pad in your kitchen and when you see something is running low write it down. Then next time you go to the shops or have some one go / order online you won’t forget. Again I am not encouraging bulk buying but ensuring you have enough to last a few days so that you aren’t in a situation with nothing at all.

– Wash sheets and towels on a 60 degreeC setting to ensure you kill as many germs as possible. Try and stay on top of these tasks so that at least you have clean towels and bedding should you get sick.

– If you don’t have it set up get internet banking or a mobile banking app set up. So you can pay bills, buy online etc So if you are sick you don’t have to worry about getting to a bank etc 

– Have pets? ensure you have their food in. We did a bulk cooking session for Dembe on Sunday and have frozen it. So if we are sick he will still have food. If you have a dog and they need walked speak to friends and family and see if they will help out should you need it.

– Ask anyone that visits to not come if they are feeling under the weather. If they are bringing stuff to you get them to leave it on the doorstep. I would rather upset someone by saying I would rather they didn’t spread their germs than have them coughing and sneezing all over me.

– If you have prepayment metres and can afford it ensure these are loaded up. If you can’t speak to your supplier and see if they can help at all should you become ill and not be able to top these up. Many people are going to be in the same boat, so I should imagine they will be getting plans in place to ensure customers are supported. The press will have a field day if people are being left without power.

If you can think of any other hints and tips please leave them in the comments.

Stay safe and stay well.

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.