What are Dysautonomia and POTS?

Hannah on Sunshine and Spoons blog has written this post about Dysautonomia and POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome).

She recently did a straw poll on a facebook group that we belong to and very few people had any idea what this medical term means.  I knew because I have it…..but had never come across the term in my own medical career.  Some of you will have read how my symptoms have been particularly bad recently, but I am now able to stand upright again!!

Please read the whole piece and share in order to help us spread awareness!

What are Dysautonomia and POTS?

What are Dysautonomia and POTS-

Did you know that October is Dysautonomia Awareness Month?

Let me back that up a little….do you know what dysautonomia is?

If you said no, you’re not alone.  Most people have never even heard of it.  I didn’t know what it was either until I was diagnosed with it.  I have Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome or POTS which is one of the autonomic disorders that falls under the umbrella term of dysautonomia.  Other types include Neurocardiogenic Syncope or NCS and Multiple System Atrophy or MSA.

Despite the fact that many people have never heard of dysautonomia, it’s not rare.  It’s estimated that over 70 million people around the world have it in one form or another.  Often, it’s a secondary condition to another disease or disorder such as diabetes, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Celiac Disease, arthritis, and more   The most severe cases can result in death.

What is POTS?
Your autonomic nervous system regulates different functions throughout your body such as your heart, digestion, temperature, blood pressure, etc.  People with an autonomic disorder such as POTS have issues regulating those things.

 

To read the whole post visit Sunshine and Spoons 

You will also find great links to Hannah’s Sunshine and Spoons Shop

POTSWarrior5

 

Fainting for my Motability Chariot

Fainting in the car showroom wasn’t something that I had thought would be a part of my week!  We had a phone call to say that my Motability car would be arriving and it has felt like the whole process has happened so fast.  Not so long ago I was still convinced that I would be deemed too “fit” to qualify.Fainting for my Motability Chariot (2)

 

It is a shame really that the “passing out” wasn’t due to excitement, but rather a POTSIE dysautonomic response!  My symptoms are always worse in the morning from the time I get up to mid morning – my cardiologist said having laid down all night (sometimes) the body is then put under immense stress from gravity and “baggy” blood vessels to keep circulating oxygenated blood to the whole body on standing. So the system concentrates on the major organs in the abdomen, blood rushes down away from the head, pools in the hands & feet – and I feel extremely dizzy or faint. Yes, out cold! So a 9.30 appointment was never going to be great – but add in stormy weather, bright fluorescent lighting and a hot showroom and Bingo! you have the makings of a “dysautonomic nervous system” episode. Sounds grander than it feels!!

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Image from a range of products available at http://stickmancommunications.co.uk/

Anyway, the salesman came back to his desk to find me with my head back, shoes off, feet up, grey and clammy. Not my best look…..but precisely the reason that I have been awarded the enhanced rate benefit. Of course add in the dislocations, pain etc…..all adds up to me getting a brand new car and not being able to drive it! So disappointing. My mum and hubby are the named drivers on the inclusive insurance – no, the student engineer isn’t old enough, much to his disgust – and I I grudgingly accept that passing out behind the wheel or pulling an arm out of socket whilst turning the steering wheel, probably isn’t the safest way to get from A to B.

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Grey really is not my best look! Post faint…

Busman’s holiday for hubby taking a car handover and the student engineer had the bluetooth wireless phone/stereo system programmed before we had even started the engine….great except he has no understanding of why I can’t pick it up in the same “on the spectrum” way that he does.  The ride feels smoother and hopefully this will be a huge benefit for my back pain, but I haven’t been well enough to go back in it this week.  Female hormones always exacerbate my symptoms and I have had several days when I have been unable to sit upright – another post for another time!  But I’m upright today and so writing a very speedy post having missed out all week.

Car
My Chariot!

Thank you Motability for a fantastic scheme that has allowed me to have a car to house me – comfortably I hope – my wheelchair, shopping and a dog!

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

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I am shattered today, PainPals and those pals not in pain!  Saturday was the day for the big reunion – that is 3 decades – 30 years since we left school.  I’m not quite sure which timescale sounds better!  How did that time pass so quickly? I remember my grandma telling me to value every day as the older you get the faster the time flies…but as a youngster I never took any notice.  Put together a group of people, some who haven’t seen each other for said 30 years, but who grew up together during those important teenage years….and it will feel like yesterday.  Similar theme to last week!

I was worried on Saturday morning for 2 reasons – firstly would anyone turn up and secondly I was feeling extremely POTSIE with the shakes and snow vision and forgot to take my midodrine pills with mine!  But on the up side about 20 people turned up over the course of the day/evening….and whilst I spent the first part of the day in my wheelchair the adrenalin seemed to kick in and I was able to stand for periods in the pub, sent out for my pills (good old Duncan) and was still in the pub for dinner in the evening.  It is amazing how you can push yourself when you need to and when you want to.  I find that it is about picking the occasions wisely to use your spoons, as it isn’t possible to live like this every day when a chronic illness is your constant companion.

The feedback has been fantastic – we had a great day renewing old friendships, reminiscing (being thrown out of choir, altering the wording on the carol service leaflet, sending Valentine cards, hockey, rowing, detentions for pranks…..the teachers) but also learning how everyone’s lives have moved on.  We had doctors, a headmistress, lawyers, an acupuncturist, a sports coach, a teacher, a horticulturist, an entrepreneur….the list goes on. Families have grown..and shrunk. Life goes on!

Class of 87 pic
Class of 87

So whilst I have had to sit back due to a self imposed inability to stand, I have found some new blog posts for you.  This week we have blogging posts, a yummy looking recipe site, a musical tribute and the feelings encountered when a pet is found to be very sick.  I am delighted to report that my list of blogs I have shared here has grown to 230 and many of these have been featured several times.  What a wonderful community you are!

Hope you have a cuppa in your hand, an hour to sit back and the enthusiasm to enjoy and explore these fantastic blogs.

https://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2017/09/activists-plan-day-long-musical-tribute-to-radical-and-brilliant-robert-dellar/#.Wb7PB7KGPIU

http://www.youcanalwaysstartnow.com/2017/09/11/is-the-universe-pushing-your-buttons-deal-with-it/

http://www.blessingmanifesting.com/2017/09/self-care-awareness-month.html/

http://riverandquill.com/2017/09/identity-theft.html/

https://beinglydia.com/2017/09/17/what-finding-out-my-dog-is-sick-has-taught-me/

http://www.livingnaturaltoday.com/2017/09/heart-goes-texas/

http://raisingzebras.weebly.com/blog/brain-mri-and-the-wheelchair-arrives

https://starbrightcooking.com/21-tips-classic-comfort-cooking/

http://www.strugglingwithserendipity.com/blog/accepting-harvard

http://www.angiecruise.com/what-i-learned-in-my-first-year-of-blogging/

Please, please share, pin, like, comment to let our bloggers know that you have enjoyed and value their writing. Have a lovely week!

Claire x

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Picture from Struggling with Serendipity blog

 

Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!

Another week, time for another Magic Monday!  The events in our household really pale into insignificance compared to the natural disasters taking over so many parts of America at the moment.  The majority of us, thankfully, will never have to encounter the devastation that these natural phenomena wreak, but I want to send support and good wishes to all our American blogging pals who are living through this.  There is an additional blog post this week that my pal Cheryl at Chronic Mom blog wrote last week about what no one tells you about surviving a natural disaster with chronic illness – but I think that there are  probably aspects that apply to everyone!

 

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We had an unexpected trip over the weekend – hence no blog post – and as it was a long trip for this chronic bird to make in a day, we paid an impromptu visit to old friends to beg a bed for the night.  Panic not other old friends, we gave them 24 hours notice!!  We haven’t seen each other for about 5 years, yet we have known each other for nearly 30 years – we “girls” did our nurse training together and the blokes have always been hifi and gadget buddies. Not forgetting that this fellow hifi nut was hubby’s best man 25 years ago!  With just a few precious friendships the years roll away and it is possible to appreciate the long and deep connections that you have with each other. As two couples, we have had our fair share of traumas over the past couple of years – we decided we should form the “Happy Pill” brigade as we must have shares in antidepressant companies between us – but we have survived and it is testament to our friendship that we can come together as if it was yesterday!  How many people in your life can you call on and truly rely upon to be there for you no matter what?  Quick shout out here for our fab friends’ facebook page – check it out (chocolate brownies to die for) Keeley House Bakery 

 

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I have found some great blog reads for you this week including  becoming a real mermaid (just read it!), a fab book review, and using your imagination when putting pen to paper.  There is also a piece about the scandal currently coming to light about the use of mesh implants in surgical procedures.  So grab a cuppa, put your feet up and enjoy some fabulous writing in these inspiring blog posts!

http://www.chronicmom.com/2017/09/what-no-one-tells-you-about-surviving-a-natural-disaster-with-a-chronic-illness.html/

http://www.nataliemabbott.com/quitting-everything-to-be-a-mermaid/

http://moonglotexas.com/2017/09/10/book-review-death-at-thorburn-by-julianna-deering/

https://1stimeblogger1232.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/every-scar-tells-story.html

http://www.meaction.net/2017/09/01/reading-matters-lets-hear-it/

https://dystoniaandme.com/2017/09/10/5th-blog-birthday/

http://www.amundanelife.co.uk/2017/09/anxiety-is-not-trend.html

http://invisiblyme.com/2017/09/05/the-mesh-scandal/

https://globehousesitterx2.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/a-pen-paper-and-my-imagination/

https://mindovermetablog.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/how-to-deal-with-toxic-people/

https://ginlemonade.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/when-the-accessible-hotel-room-is-inaccessible/

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Please share this post and make a blogger’s day with a like, share, pin or comment….it makes it all worthwhile.

Have a great week!

Claire x

 

 

A Chronic Comparison?

I’ve had this post roaming around my mind for a couple of weeks now, and finally put pen to paper…or rather put the finger splints on and attacked the keyboard.

Last week I took part in an on line research forum into chronic lower back pain.  Due to confidentiality clauses I can’t tell you any details, but a group of us were required to spend at least an hour each day answering a series of questions, or giving our thoughts and feelings about our conditions.  We were also encouraged to comment on each other’s posts and interact as on any forum.  The week before Duncan and I went to an EDS support group, where we were joined by about 20 others and asked to think about our coping strategies for different aspects of the illness.  The final trigger was a tv programme featuring my chronic condition, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.ch7jwb_weaaooad

So I feel that I’ve spent a lot of time recently reflecting on my various conditions and revisiting my “journey” – don’t you just hate that expression, very X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing!  It was suggested for the forum that we plot a picture of our individual pain journeys, and I was surprised at just how long it took me to do this and how much was on it.  Of course, I needed to go back to childhood as when I looked back I cannot remember a time of being without pain, but as a child and teen I assumed that everyone else felt the same way.  file_000-9

I know that it isn’t particularly clear but this is my “map” detailing the EDS and the original back injury and subsequent chronic back pain.  Those of us drawing these maps all had very different backgrounds & experiences, and I was really inspired and moved by some of the other stories. I started to become aware that some people were being put off the idea of certain treatments (eg surgery) because of the negative experience of others.

The support group was a night out for us the previous week, and we even managed a meal before.  It is good meeting with others in similar positions and it is always great to welcome new people who attend, particularly as we are a very new group. We were able to come away with some advice for dealing with extremely anxious teens – there is a lot of literature out there now that recognises a direct link between anxiety  and EDS.  I must admit though, that I do feel a little conflicted sometimes in these group situations – the support on offer can be fantastic, but it can also be tricky taking on board a line of treatment/therapy that someone else swears by that either hasn’t or may not work for you.  When another person has gone on, for instance, a special diet and all their symptoms have gone into remission giving them a new lease of life…..I used to see this when I was working in palliative care and patients would wonder if  they hadn’t tried hard enough with a particular diet or vitamin regime, that it was their own fault that they hadn’t halted their illness when this had cured Mr X.

I wonder if it is just human nature to compare ourselves to others, in sickness and in health as the saying goes. But just how infuriating is it when some well meaning person tells you about the wonderful remedy that Auntie Ethel has just used with great success for her back pain/migraines/or even a serious illness cure?  Do you not want to scream out “Do you really think that I haven’t tried?” because I know that I do!  But of course I don’t…..

When these comparisons happen, be it ourselves or others making them,  I wonder if there can be a thin line between support and competition.  I do realise that this probably sounds awful as no one who is chronically ill wants to compete with anyone else over symptoms.  But with some of the multi system syndromes that we spoonies have, no two people will ever present in the same way and the list of ailments we have can be endless.  I have been reading facebook posts only this evening from frustrated people who find that their own families don’t believe their diagnosis because “cousin Freddy has that and he is much worse”.  I think that we all know that there are still medics out there who call into question the legitimacy of some syndromes and the severity of patient symptoms.

Just because a certain operation helped me doesn’t mean that it will help you;  just because you have found a particular drug fantastic doesn’t mean it will help me; just because my health regime allows me to walk for miles every day doesn’t mean that it will get you out of your wheelchair (it doesn’t BTW – I use my chair more and more!).  My back & leg pain and the treatment that I have had to undergo to find any relief is very different to the chronic EDS pain that I also suffer.  The only people who have really understood the former have been my group on the scs pain programme and those in neuromodualtion groups.  Yet whilst some people who have fantastic success with the stimulators have had a new lease of life,  I have actually deteriorated physically despite the stimulator being a success.

My deterioration is down to my EDS, escalation of POTS and an increase in my EDS pain.  Ironically the requirement to wean myself off the opiates in order to have the stimulator to reduce one type of pain, resulted in an increase in the other!  Many people who have had back problems would be amazed that even with the metal screws fusing my spine and the electrodes to control the pain, I can still hold a pretty good downwards facing dog yoga pose.  But of course my zebra friends know that this is actually down to being bendy and that sometimes being able to get into those strange positions is, for us, more dangerous than beneficial.

I am probably my own worst enemy when it comes to making comparisons and always feeling that I have little to complain about.  This happened when I watched the BBC DIY SOS which featured 18 year old Antonia who has Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and had been hospitalised for 3 years. 15831613-large The programme was great for highlighting EDS and this amazing young lady – I watched it twice and cried each time.  Of course I turned to my lovely teen girl and said “I feel guilty for making a fuss!” and whilst her brothers would probably have agreed with me, my lovely girl (now suffering her own dislocations, hand pain, anxiety, etc) told me off for thinking that way telling me “It is all relative”.  Out of the mouths of babes….

So what am I trying to say?  We are all individuals.  We will all experience a common cold differently (think man flu!!).  So for the many debilitating chronic syndromes out there, no two sufferers will experience the same symptoms, the same reactions to therapies or the same psychological impact as another.  I must allow myself to live with my condition in the best way that I can and for you to do the same – and somewhere along the way we can support each other and hope that the healthy world will do the same without expectation or judgement.

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A Chronic Comparison pin