A Personal Best – #RaceForLife

This started as a Facebook post to tell people what hairbrained scheme I’d signed up for next, but I had way more to explain than I could stick on a simple post, so let me elaborate…

I’m not going to bang on about it, but if you fancy having a giggle at me looking like pink covered death, I’m running the Worthing Race for Life next Sunday. Ok, not exactly running, I’m propelling in a wheelchair. Taking part is not only to support Cancer Research UK, but is a middle finger up to the stereotype of being ill.

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This morning, my mum hesitantly passed on a message & conversation she’d had with a local physio who called on Friday. It seems that pain management had referred me to the home visit physio who called to book in to see me (yay!). My mum explained that I wasn’t able to speak to her because I was at work to which the response was “well if she’s healthy enough to work, why has she been referred to me?”. People deal with their disability & chronic pain in different ways. Some can’t work & I don’t judge them. I do work as a distraction technique which works because I love my job (despite what I tell you after 4 hours of year 8). It takes a team of people to get me there & my health suffers as a consequence of pushing too hard, but there is a twisted vision of disability in the UK right now:

If you’re disabled, you should work. “Don’t expect us to lift you out of poverty”
If you work, you can’t be disabled because you’re health enough to work.

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Shock horror! People with disabilities are all different & we cope by being adaptive and imaginative (Cue my speech to text / video marking system). So yeah, this race is a fair bit about pushing my limits. One thing I won’t do is slide into this victim / saviour complex that health professionals use where I am eternally grateful that they deemed to lay their hands on me 😒. So far GP & OT have been amazing. Other local team are patchy at best. They’ve accepted defeat with cardiology and sent me to UCLH, next is to get them to do the same for Rheumatology.

So why do I need physio if I’m well enough to work?

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I’ve been in pain a long time. Like PAIN pain? There were signs early on. I’m too stubborn to give in. Mr Geek deserves a medal. Research is important for all conditions.

Right now, I’m in a lot of pain. My hip subluxes daily, my pelvis dislocates as much, my knees & shoulders dislocate more often than I’d like, my back is a weird shape as the discs degenerate, my hands vary from ok to weird bendy claws. I sound like a bowl of rice crispies! I take painkillers, but my body is resistant to their effects, so the dosage I need makes my head fuzzy. The number of times my lower back & SI have moved has damaged the nerves to an extent where I can’t feel my feet anymore & on occasions go full ‘floppy leg’. Nerve function also interferes with continence. Combined with stretchy insides, this requires some adapting.

I’ve made peace with things falling apart & have created my own rehab program to maximise on the bits that do work in my upper body & core which involves daily squeezing of muscles to get blood flowing, massage from Mr Geek, & pushing myself to just bloody well get on with being an adult (between naps) and being involved in wheelchair racing. I still find it hilarious that I’d call it racing at the speed I go, but I’m working on stamina not speed. An average time for a new runner for a 5k is 25mins, I’m currently at 45mins (Although this is based on how far I’ve pushed as I’ve not gone full distance yet). What I need from this sport is the muscle function to stop my shoulders from popping out as my muscles now do much of the work that the ligaments & tendons should do. What I get as I push myself slowly & lopsidedly around a track in a funny looking chair is shouts of encouragement, smiles, normalcy, and fresh air, all of which do me the world of good. Today was hard & my right shoulder was not playing ball. I fought my way through training and subsequently created a mega pain flare which meant spending the evening in a morphine haze, strapped to a tens machine, and reduced to non-verbal communication via whimpers & tweeting. It was worth it though. It wanted me to stay in bed, but I didn’t.  I may have been in an awful pissy mood, but I got out there & put my big girl pants on. Who needs legs when you have a lightweight chair?

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Thirty years ago (age 6) I had clicky knees and my teacher called my mum into school as she was concerned about my hypochondria. I was always sporting a support bandage for a sprain, or crying during PE because my ankles / knees / hips hurt. I was tall & skinny and covered in bruises from falling, or kneeling, or who knows. I loved riding my bike, but 10 minutes into an off road ride I’d be exhausted & my knees would hurt. I was a weak child. I wet the bed – this was never to be discussed outside of the house (to my knowledge I don’t think we even told the dr). We tried everything, but it continued way past an age where you’d want to admit to it. (I’ve not even blogged about it before, but it’s time to put that piece of the puzzle into place).

Twenty years ago (age 16) I didn’t know that everyone else didn’t ache like hell by bedtime. I certainly knew that it wasn’t normal to find yourself desperate to pee and not hold it. I couldn’t stay awake as long as everyone else who could party all night. I was miserable. We were teenagers, so walked everywhere and my hips would scream & getting to hot would lead to being so dizzy I could hear my heartbeat whooping past my ears. Consequently, I was told it was in my head & given antidepressants. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy with me believing that the physical pain was in my head. For a number of years I self harmed through traditional means, risky behaviour, and poisonous relationships.

Ten years ago (Age 24) I had two tiny people who arrived early, a c-section scar that tore and damaged the nerves in my stomach, shins of a 10 year old (bruised) and was in a whole lot of pain with my back, hips & knees. I had migraines & after getting really run down with babies, university, & working evenings at the theatre, I caught viral meningitis. I used sticks & a basic folding wheelchair on and off when my back was particularly bad. Physio tried to reposition my spine & damaged my pelvis permanently. Each injury was looked at in isolation & we had no idea why I had such bad luck with my joints.

A year ago I was in daily pain, taking regular painkillers and using sticks to move around most days. I had no idea why I was in so much pain & my joints were so unstable. Picking up.my laptop bag, I could feel my elbow & wrist separating, so Mr Geek bought me a bag on wheels. I was exhausted & aside from a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, was seeking help to understand my body. My GP was reluctant, but gave in when I begged for something more than just opiates.

8 months ago, I could barely move out of my wheelchair or keep hold of a meal & had trouble swallowing. I lost weight & we wondered how bad this would get. I saw a specialist in connective tissue disorders who put all the puzzle pieces together with a diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome type 3 (Hypermobility) with a type 1 crossover  (Classical). That diagnosis changed everything. Ok, it’s a diagnosis without a cure, but it’s one that explains to A&E why I’m there, it’s one that paved a way to pain management, it gave me a foundation to work from. The pain was real & now I knew why.

Now I’m going to propel myself 5k in a paralympic style racing chair (lent by the lovely Harriers Team). Mr Geek since we first met has been my relentless supporter, physio, carer, chef, comedian. He quite literally picks me up when I fall down. He has facilitated me fighting my own genetics more than any doctor or physio. He’s put a fair amount of his life on hold for me. This probably isn’t the time to get into why Mr Geek isn’t allowed to run alongside me (men get breast cancer too & yet are banned from this event)., but he’ll be there at the finish line as a real reason to make the full distance. I’m by no means better, but we have so much more of an understanding of my body & how it’s likely to function. Knowledge is power.

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So, I’m partially doing this as a thank you for believing that I can fight this in my own adapted way & also to support someone very special who’s kicking the big C in its balls. Cancer Research could save thousands of lives and countless more family & friends who are affected.
When the consultants finally get around to working together instead of intellectual willy waving, there is hope for a treatment for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Until then, I shall wobble my way along the track supporting & representing those who can’t.

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Ehlers Danlos Syndrome for Dummies (and orthopaedic/rheumatology consultants)

I was asked to guest blog about EDS and all my weird and wacky braces. It’s taken me an age to get to it due to yet another injury and total brain deadness. But here it is.

EDS. Three little letters that took me from asking “how do I fix this?” to “how do I live with this?”.

What is EDS anyway? Endless Drug Schedules? Expected Drug Seeking? Every Dislocation Smarts? Expect Drastic Surgery? Excessively Declaring Sexytime?(some hope!) Oh, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Wait, what?

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a group of inherited connective tissue disorders, caused by a defect in the synthesis of collagen. In normal person speak, collagen in a body is like cement and plaster in a house – it holds everything together and makes the walls smooth. If you have EDS, your genetic make up of your collagen is defective and this causes problems. Without the mortar, the bricks keep slipping and eventually all you have is a big messy pile of bricks asking for better drugs please. If your electrical connection also go squiffy, the signals through your house will also go wrong. Generally, for EDSers this means any connective tissue (skin, organs, muscles, ligaments, tendons….) is not so much elastic, but chewing gum. Things stretch further than they should and snap when they shouldn’t. Bones that should be connected to the next one find that they aren’t. Certain people also find that ironically the condition that causes so much pain also prevents the body from feeling all or some of the effects of many types of analgesia. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving!

Some people are just flexible, and that’s not a problem. Being flexible doesnt mean you gace EDS (in face having EDS doesnt mean you’re automatically flexible). The problem arrives when having a few freaky party tricks causes long term pain and injury. Just in time for Valentines, I noticed that I can make a heart with my shins just by letting my legs relax…. Mr Geek didn’t find this quite so romantic.

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Some with EDS find that with the correct braces and physio support, they can lead relatively normal lives, whilst others are entirely unable to work and spend a large percentage of their days bed bound. I count myself very lucky that I’ve been able to maintain my teaching job through a combination of every brace known to man, highly sensitive adjustments from my employer, travel assistance, my husband acting as a carer, and me being so bloody minded. This is not to say that I don’t have days where I cry and ask to just stop this maddness, and by Thursday without fail I am beyond exhausted and in more pain than I can tolerate, even with the drugs. But, I will keep working. I won’t be lost to this stupid syndrome. Not yet.

There are different types of EDS, and even then each type includes a whole spectrum of symptoms and impact. These range from Classical EDS with its stretchy & paper like skin with widened scarring, to vascular with its seemingly less intrusive symptoms until you include that whole pesky sudden death from massive heart failure. I was lucky enough to be diagnosed with type 3 (hypermobility) with a type 1 (Classical) crossover. Some doctors refer to type 3 as ‘benign hypermobility syndrome’. Sounds harmless? Here’s a list of common symptoms for type 3:

Frequent joint dislocation/ subluxation (partial dislocation)
Migraines
Chronic pain
Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
Acute pain (from dislocation, muscle tears etc)
Chronic fatigue
IBS symptoms
Mitral Valve Prolapse
Intestinal Prolapse
Uterine Prolapse
Premature labour
Sight malfunction
Slow intestinal transit
Gastric paresis (stomach stops digesting)
Bladder paresis
… And others.

Benign eh? But that’s just the doctors who believe you.

I’d had strange joint pains from an early age, and have always made weird popping sounds as I move (like a nasty bowl of cereal) which were generally dismissed as just growing pains, then just attention seeking, then just pregnancy, then just poor fitness, then probably just osteoarthritis… As each went on, I acquired various joint supports that started as tubigrip and evolved to the fully hinged metal exoskeleton style braces I wear now in combination with a powered wheelchair. That was a lot of just being dismissed because doctors see the symptoms and aren’t well versed in putting together the puzzle pieces of a rare(ish) condition.

I have a number of supports that I couldn’t do without.

Robolegs – hinged leg braces that prevent the wonky knee seen at the top (that was taken after we’d yanked it back into place). And my trusty pill box which holds all the pills that prevent me chewing my own arm off.

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My wrist splints are now just part of me, and yet I have no photos of them?!

My inflatable neck brace gives me the ability to gently lift my head and take some pressure off of my cervical discs. This is one to be used with caution, especially amongst the more bendy people. The last thing we need is a neck injury.

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My more discrete neck brace, which is easily covered by a scarf. Particularly useful for travelling to stop the juddering rattling my head about.

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I was diagnosed at age 35 when a new GP saw me for yet another painkiller review after over a decade of asking for help. My mobility was becoming more and more affected by this strange joint pain and random injuries that seemed way over the top for minor trips or falls (like dislocating my pelvis by tripping over a rabbit hole! Or this week, dislocating my shoulder by transferring out of my wheelchair!). She had been reading my notes with a view of removing my long standing prescription of opiates, but when she saw me asked if I was able to do a set of tricks.

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Taking a set of photos of each new weird thing I discovered (that previously I had considered totally normal) prevented me from having to become a performing monkey at every appointment. Eventually, I created a behemoth of a mind map with these photos using a phone app and emailed it ahead of any appointment with a new medical professional.

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Some of the weird bendy stuff I do

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Not just bendy, but other freaky things like a high palette, sticking your tongue up your nose & the reverse namaste

I later found out that she was testing a thing called the Beighton Scale and that I scored 8/9, and it would’ve been 9 before slipping several discs & the rabbit vs. pevlis incident. Unlike every other doctor, consultant, physio, chiropractor and osteopath before her, and oh my there had been all of those and more, she recognised the signs of Ehlers Danlos, not because of any medical training, but because a friend of hers had been diagnosed with it.

Her colleagues however, were less inclined to agree and demanded a rheumatologist make a formal diagnosis and continued to refuse that I was in the daily pain I described. By this point I was using a wheelchair on a daily basis and was described to another doctor (in front of me, but over the top of my head) as having “taken to her chair” like being in this bloody thing was a lifestyle choice! Or, something out of a Jane Austen novel. In one particular appointment, I dislocated my jaw to show how easy it was. That worked.

It took over 6 months to see a local rheumatologist, in which time I had declined rapidly. It seemed that the virus earlier that year that had prompted me to visit my GP had been a catalyst for things to decline. By the time my local rheumatologist saw me, we’d already been privately to the London Hypermobility Clinic for advice & a diagnosis and instigated private referrals for autonomic testing and gastric complications. Arriving at my NHS appointment, I was exhausted from months of investigations and the dreaded disability paperwork that comes with getting ill. I was unsurprised that he confirmed the diagnosis, and by that point was used to doctors saying they weren’t experts (by now, the only ones who were charged more than a month’s salary for a 30 minute chat). What disappointed me was being discharged from his list to the pain management team with an assumption that’s all that is required.

So, those regular checks for potentially lethal mitral valve prolapse? Ignored. Investigation into why I can’t swallow properly? Not needed. Plan to deal with daily subluxed joints? Morphine & neuro blockers.

Doctors don’t like Ehlers Danlos. They signed up to fix people & we can’t be fixed. Instead we are shuffled off to be someone else’s problem.

One day, I’ll be more than just a drain on the NHS. Until then, despite my frustration with certain senior clinicians, I continue to support the junior doctor strikes, because it’s the front liners with smaller egos who listen, want to learn more, and ultimately stick me back together like a Lego creation to go and figh another day with the orthopaedic team. These dudes and dudettes are still perky after the longest of long shifts and mean that despite the odd moment where a limb tries to divorce my body, the nights I sit up blogging because x and y hurt too much to sleep, and the drugs that make my once trademark hair come out in clumps, I can get on with life. Albeit with some high tech adjustments.

Be cheerful. It irritates the crap out of people 😉

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I Have Faith, It’s just Not Your Faith

It’s Christmas and there’s lots of people celebrating in their own way, and whilst out shopping for my beautiful girls’ gifts I was approached by an utter stranger with the words “he will heal you when you let him into your heart”. Unlike last time, (and because it Wasn’t a child) I responded with my actual thought of “Don’t be ridiculous”. Also stop touching me. Personal space please.

I fully expected to laugh about it on the way home, but instead I packaged it away in my head. And waited until now in my safe blog space to explore it. So welcome to my 1am painsomnia party. Anyone in the house who can’t sleep despite both diazepam and oramorph shout “heughhhhhh!”…..  oh. Ok. Just me then.

I know a lot of people who have enormous faith, some Christian, some Muslim, others Buddhist. They are kind, wonderful people that I am richer for having in my life. I was raised Christian,  but given the freedom to make my own choices (with a healthy dollop of Catholic guilt should I choose to leave the church). But whilst the amount of water remains the same, my glass got bigger.*

My first bug bear was the idea that I got ill because of something I did. Sin makes you sick… or I did something to deserve this stupid genetic condition that wreaks havoc with my internal organs and encourages my skeleton to separate at every possible occasion. I deserve this pain because I sinned. How very Catholic. If this is the case, had I known, I would’ve enjoyed that sin a lot more.

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The other suggestion I’ve had from people of faith is that God has a plan and this happened for a reason. So, this all loving father tried to kill my daughters (which were saved by science) and has had a fair few pops at me and because I’m the weeble that won’t fall down, we’re just throwing pain in my direction because there’s a reason I feel like death on a daily basis, it’s just on a need to know basis. Bollocks.

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EDS has been slowly stretching me like chewing gum for a decade (and much longer when you consider childhood injuries), although this year the stretching went nuclear, but to add to that CRPS developed in my pelvis. I will not be stronger because of this, what I will be is physically addicted to opiod medication because this is levels of pain that no amount of praying is going to touch. In those wee small hours in the early days when my bones felt like they were running with acid, I prayed,  I begged, I would make bargains. In the end, the being that made it stop, or at least tolerable, was a GP with a recognition that I needed something to work on my neuropathic system. If you are reading this and still think you should post a passage from a 2000 year old book to tell me why I feel pain, please study the chart below. Now live that pain daily until science rescues you.

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The side effects of Neurotonin which was prescribed alongside a whole host of painkillers for the non-neuropathic pain, are similar to those following a mild stroke. The drug prevents synapses from being formed and as suc, words are temporarily lost from my vocabulary and my short term memory worsens. I quite literally did give CRPS a piece of my mind.

My faith is placed with my doctors who have dedicated their lives to solving the mystery of dysautonomia and eds. They do not declare themselves infallible or omnipotent, but so far they have been brutally honest about a lack of a cure, whilst helping to reduce pain and set me on a path where I’m strong enough to help myself plateaux rather than slide down further. I do not worship them, rather respect them and trust them quite literally with my life.

I will finish the same as I started. If you have faith, that is a wonderful thing. I commend you for holding onto that light in a world that’s pretty hideous right now. But, please don’t try to convert me. I am a humanist – I deeply believe that we should attempt to treat each other how we wish to be treated and take care of the things around us. When I die, I believe that it is the end – my body will go back to being part of the earth and I will live on genetically in my children. What matters is the here & now rather than any afterlife.

Christmas to me is a Pagan festival which celebrates the winter solstice and the idea that hard times are over half way through. Spring will soon be here and with it the warmth that will sooth my bones and food that will support my slowly failing body. Despite this, it’s also a holiday adopted by other religions to promote a sense of community, and anything that makes us look at someone and ask them if they need a hand (or leg, or shoulder) can’t be bad.

So to you, whoever you are. I hope this week brings you a small piece of love or joy in the form that you hope for. And if you possibly can, this week pay it forward – ask at a coffee shop if you can pay for the next person’s coffee, go sit with the little old lady sipping tea on her own and listen to her, see that lady in a hijab looking uncomfortable on the bus? Go sit with her and smile if she looks at you, listen to the carol singers at your door and thank them for bringing you music, however bloody awful and put of tune it was, ask the lady in the wheelchair if she needs a hand. Be nice. Human nature is not to be cruel.

*kudos to you if you got the reference

The Machine That Goes BING!

Today was ‘doctors day’ with three different appointments all booked throughout the day. This meant taking the day off from work, but they were very kind to put it all in on one day to minimise disruption.

We started off with some blood letting, for no other apparent reason than I haven’t had a random blood test since June and let’s cause some new bruising. Hey, at least this time I’ll know where the bruise came from…

The nurse was a bit confused as to why I was there and asked if this was a diabetic review. Err no? She mumbled something about it looking like it because of the types of tests that the doctor had asked for. I suggested that it was probably because of trying to rule things out from me being dizzy. “Are you ok with needles?”. “Yep, I’ll just wish you luck finding a vein in there”. And so it came to pass that another medical professional spent 10 minutes slapping my arm to try to get to a vein. Eventually, were were in and it dripped out into those tiny tubes for some lucky soul to gaze at.

Next came my mystery appointment with the Registrar after the physio had a panic at the GPs.

I have to give the guy his due – he was fantastic. He listened, he looked through my notes and he winced when I showed him the photos on my mindmap. He asked if they were all me. I said yes & bent my thumb behind my hand to show him. “urgh!… Oh god, sorry. That wasn’t very professional.”. I assured him that it was fine. And yes, it’s ok to use the word ‘abnormal’. I’m pretty sure my hands aren’t mean to do that.

After looking at my notes, he agreed that the weight loss was indeed down to me just being stressed and dragging myself about despite more pain and who wants to eat tonnes when you have reflux anyway? He also said that he wasn’t an expert on EDS – instant win. I’d way prefer you to accept your limits than try to be an omnipotent GP with me the lowly patient.

We discussed whether the gabapentin was a goer, and decided that it was messing with my head and stomach, so he added another pill to the daily doses for the reflux and upped the gabapentin. Apparently the idea is to hit a fine balance between being able to tolerate the pain and being incoherent. Just to add insult to injury, he also suggested a flu jab. Before I could smile and nod (and put it on the ‘to do’ list), it was there and I’d been stabbed.Yay, no flu for me 🙂

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I, on the other hand have added the TENS machine back into the mix to see if I can try something that isn’t mind bendingly narcotic. I bought some new pads and plugged myself in. It basically feels like a massage from bees, but is nicely distracting as long as I have it on the setting which switches around every 10 seconds. It’s a good way to get through the final few hours before the next set of drugs.

We looked at the timescales for the referral to musculoskeletal people at the hospital and he raised eyebrows about not hearing from them yet. We agreed that they’d probably been chased enough, but we’ll give it another 2 weeks and if I’m still waiting after half term, then he’ll light a fire under them. Apparently this will also apply if I do hear and the appointment is some point after I retire.  So, now we wait. I have painkillers. referrals have been made to everyone. And everyone is awaiting a message from the heavens from Rheumatology.

The final appointment of the day was an ECG. Again, because of the dizziness on standing. The Registrar contradicted the GP I saw earlier in the week when we talked about this saying that dizziness on standing would usually subside if it was blood pressure related. Whereas I am ok on standing, but it creeps up on me after a while and doesn’t fade. Instead we go all tunnel vision and dark until I sit down. Apparently, the ECG will rule out anything horrendous, and is a gateway to asking for a tilt table test. Boxes must be ticked.

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Later on, whilst sending back student work from home (I love Google Classroom – they can’t escape me even when I’m hooked up to machines!), the hospital physio rang back. It’s been agreed that I’m too complex for them and I need to go to the Pain Management Team. So… the physio has referred me to my GP who referred me to the Physio, to refer me to the Pain Management Team. I’m reasonably sure that wouldn’t make sense even off the painkillers!

Stop Trying To Save The NHS Money With Your New Fangled Technology….

We’ll have none of that hocus pocus technology around here.

I actually did a full on Patrick Steward faceplant in response to a perfectly polite email I sent to my GP surgery this morning asking about PoTS.

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I happened to have the email of our practice manager and thought that rather than wasting an appointment as I’d literally seen my GP last week and I just needed to forward some readings in, I’d pop it in a quick email.

I asked for an extra referral and if they could pass on some heart rate readings just for reassurance as the chest pain I’d mentioned was still around.

From the response, you’d have thought I’d emailed her a picture of my genitals! I was given a thorough telling off via an email which told me not to use email to converse with the surgery (irony anyone?) and that it was highly inappropriate to send her medical details… because you don’t get to see those working in a health centre?

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Then a phone call at 6pm.

Perhaps I’d got it wrong? Maybe the Dr had taken a look…. nope. A receptionist passing on a message that the referral was made but they wouldn’t look at my other information unless it was through “normal channels” – an appointment,  phone call, or letter.

Hang on… a letter? What you mean like a printed version of the electronic letter (That’s what email stands for you know) which takes more than 24 hours to reach you and can be opened by anyone? Or a phone call…. like the one we’re having right now? Ffs (I didn’t say it, but I THOUGHT it really loudly).

I explained in words of one syllable  (6pm…. I’m too tired and in too much pain for this crap) that their appointments are only bookable between 8am – 8.30am (if you’re lucky) which is during my commute to work. She suggested I used the Internet at this time to book an appointment. I asked if she made a habit of using the Internet whilst she was driving. Ok, I may have been a bit tetchy by then.

Final suggestion. Find another Dr as we won’t make this any easier. Nice.

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I’m totally feeling the love right now.

And so, people of the Internet, does this look a bit potsy to you? (I’ve been vaguely dizzy on and off since Feb when I mentioned a weird ‘bra too tight’ sort of pain feeling which is still hanging around in and off). These screenies were laying down then just standing up. No jumping jacks, or exciting moves (ha! As if.)

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(I will, rather than just asking the wisdom of the internet, apparently be wasting another GP appointment tomorrow to ask what could’ve been sorted by a quick phonecall… grumble grumble… but could do with a bit of reassurance )

Help Needed From Other Spoonies :)

I’m all about the blogging this weekend it seems.

In fact, this is actually a request for help from other spoonies rather than the standard ‘this is what’s happening’ type blog.

The medical profession scares me, mainly from the previous visits to GPs and consultants  who have used the actual phrases “man up” and “well, what do you want me to do about it?”. I currently have a brilliant GP, but live in fear of trying to explain what’s going on with my body to another doctor or physio, or worse still a PIP assessor. (I’m far too scared to apply for a blue badge despite using the chair daily in case we return to “it’s all in your head”).

So, as a backup (and to stop medical people asking me to remember my whole medical history in a 10 minute appointment and do tricks like a performing monkey), I’ve been creating a mind map of all the dots I’ve been joining up.

If nothing else, it might help my friends understand a bit better what it is and what hurts.

Anyway, I’d really appreciate some input from other EDSers from a “is this a good idea?”, “have I missed anything?”, “have I genuinely lost the plot?” perspective!

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