21 May 2013

The vicious three headed dog of EDS, POTS & Chronic Pain

I'm writing this post as part of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month, with which both Son2 and myself have recently been diagnosed, along with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and Chronic Pain.

It's a fearsome triumvirate rolled into one, like Cerberus, the three-headed mythological dog that guards the entrance to Hades.

I'd like to write something positive about it but there isn't anything, as far as I can see.
In the last six months- in fact, I can now see it was building up for months before that- I have gone from being busy, capable and productive to feeling like a hollowed-out wreck.

I can no longer work a job as my health is too unpredicatable. I have to use a wheelchair to go further than a few yards, which embarrasses my kids, the rest of the time I need a stick to lean on. The simplest tasks use as much energy as a mountainous trek.

Not that I've ever been on a mountainous trek - I now know that I've always had EDS at a low level, undiagnosed, but I thought being low-energy, often dizzy and in a certain amount of pain was pretty normal.

Weak ankles? Slipped Disc and chronic back pain? Painful adhesions? Sore joints? Didn't everyone get this type of thing? You just had to keep going, didn't you, using whatever made you feel better. Which, in my case, is a glass of hot whisky. Sometimes two.

I'm a lifelong gym abandoner. I love the idea, but ten minutes in I'd get dizzy and nauseous so I'd eventually stop going. Now I know this is part of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, a feature of EDS.

Still I got this far. 46 in a couple of weeks or so. 6th of the 6th (no surprise there, many will say). Married to a very, very understanding man. Had two kids, both, as you know, with Asperger's. I almost certainly have that too. There is some anecdotal evidence the two have some links.

Keep going. Don't give up. Move forward. One day at a time. It's how I was brought up, to just get on with it.

Six months ago, it all blew up in my face. Doing too much, an over-reliance on adrenaline to get through the day, gradually feeling like things were spinning out of my control. Trying to keep on top of everything. I wrote a post here about the Tumble Drier breaking and it being the final straw. I didn't know then how true that was and how that was just the start of my life crumbling catastrophically before everyone's eyes.

I didn't realise back in 2009, just how apt the title of this blog about a life 'Not As Advertised' would become.

I've tried to make adaptations. Put a brave face on it. Laugh at myself so people don't pity me or feel uncomfortable. Pace myself (ha!).

I did a few things last week: Spoke on an SEN panel, hobbled through parents' evening having to explain over and over why I need a stick. Actually I needed a wheelchair, but the venue was on two levels and I was too embarrassed to get it out. I knew it would be a hassle for everyone, so I made do with the stick. Went for dinner with the family on Saturday night, was quite cheerful.

Paid for all that by spending the last three days in bed on Tramadol. Which is usually followed by throwing up, but a period of no pain is worth one session of vomiting.

Everything I try to do takes at least double the time. Talking to people, whether on the phone, online or in person is exhausting, because I put too much into it. It's not the kind of thing you can pace, talking. So I avoid the phone. I avoid people. I prefer to message or email.

I open up my laptop and see many, many unanswered emails. Feel tired all over again. Decide to pace myself by shutting the laptop again.

I can still do some things easily: enjoy listening to music (what a life-saver Spotify is for me to find new things to listen to instead of getting stuck in a middle-aged rut. It's not overly social though as most of my friends aren't on it!).

I still write, though less, and I can still read, though for shorter periods.

I can do some things with help: Cook and do some things in the house (see this post)

Now I've got a disability parking badge, I can go to occasional SEN meetings more easily. But the fact that I had to apply for one in 2013 when in 2012 I was "flying" is almost incomprehensible.

I still have my boys and my husband. There are no words to describe how wonderful my husband has been and how bad I feel for being so useless in return.

I have a few friends and even fewer family members who manage to be supportive without being pitying, which I would hate. Those few people (who should know who they are) manage it perfectly. I'm sure they feel bad for me, but they don't treat me as a sad case and they allow me to feel I still have something to give to them too. This is important to me.

My kids, well who knows? Son1 has made no allowances. He doesn't like change and so is ignoring that anything has changed.

Son2 also has EDS and POTS and, like me, is still going through testing/treatment. He was diagnosed first although I knew I had similar symptoms. It was only when they blew up in my face that I was forced to do acknowledge that this wasn't normal, actually.
He needs me to protect his interests and make sure he gets everything he needs. Ah, I still have a purpose, a reason not to give up.

But living for myself? That involves finding 'new ways forward', I have been advised.
I'm an old dog; not sure new tricks are my thing. Is the alternative worse? For others around me, yes. Not for me. For now, that will have to be enough.

Some useful links:
Join the RareConnect EDS Community
Join The Hypermobility Association
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19 May 2013

Not so silent Sunday

Some tunes I like for a sunny Sunday...

Find this playlist

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