Summer days out!!

Firstly I wanted to say that I was totally blown away by your response to my post on “the unspeakable problem”. Far from being unspeakable there was such an outpouring that I was totally in awe of the courage of people out there who, like me are dealing with incontinence everyday/all the time 24/7. People were sharing both with me and each other, I was so humbled by it all. I hope to continue to keep this conversation going by keep sharing with you all my appointments and experiences. I hope that possibly you might like to join me on my journey and if you would, that you might perhaps follow this blog for me. There is no pressure but by following you will get updates so can keep up with the trials and tribulations I will undoubtedly have when I go through whatever treatment I get offered. 

So to today’s blog post, which due to me deciding it was a good idea to do in the middle of the night I have already lost half of!!! Tiredness and phones don’t mix so I deleted a large part of it and couldn’t retrieve it. Moral of the story?? Wait until you’re awake before editing your blog!!!

So anyways we as a family don’t have the best track record with family days out. Whether it’s the weather, arguments, stress and planning something usually happens. Yesterday we decided to go to a pick your own place which isn’t too far away, and yes you guessed it out trip didn’t quite pan out the way we’d planned it!!! Being in a wheelchair usually means that we have to plan very carefully, every detail, we can’t really be spontaneous  (which in my case is a good thing anyway as I cannot cope with last minute plans or changes etc).  We have my 8 year old niece staying with us for 3 days and 2 nights while my sister is at a friend’s wedding. My niece is a fruit fiend, having once had a tantrum in Waitrose not for the usual sweets but instead for an apple, and she’s also an outdoor soul. Great combination we thought for this trip where we could pick some fruit and then have some lunch finishing the day off at the garden centre which is just up the road from the PYO. Hitch no.1 came when we realised 2 days ago that dad had a hospital appointment booked at 11.15am so our morning plan had to change so he could attend. We then decided to go after his appointment, have lunch first then pick the fruit; then afterwards if there was still time we’d go to the garden centre!!! After a fairly successful lunch the family all went off picking and I settled in the sun, with a coffee, to read……

This is the life!!!

But 30 minutes passed when back came the family, with no fruit or veg. The crops were bare!!! No ripe plums or raspberries and so my plan of making jam with our bounty were scuppered and no raspberries for the freezer either. 

So what do you do when you can’t get fruit?? Garden centre for cakes!!!! Lol, ok not healthy but instead of health we went for………..

YUMMY

Hopefully our next trip out will be more successful!!!

The unspeakable problem!!

I know it’s not something that most people talk about and there is a reason for that but today I want to talk incontinence. It’s not talked about because it is embarrassing, it’s not interesting and it’s not something that you want most people to know about.  It’s not something that you can just chat about with friends but when, like me, you have it you can’t just forget about it. So I’ve decided to be open with some of my struggles with it in the hope that at least one other person reads it and realises that they aren’t alone. I’ve got separate diagnoses for this, I’ve got mixed urinary incontinence functional incontinence and nocturia. What does that mean?? To be honest not 100% sure and to me it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I don’t get the normal urge to go to the toilet, my body doesn’t tell me that I just need to go to the loo instead it waits and only tells me when I’m absolutely bursting to go and this means that by the time I get to the toilet I’ve already started to go. As discussed before I have a big problem with staying asleep, but if I did stay asleep I’d be waking up needing to go and the same problem then happens in that I can’t get there in time. I have seen urologists, specialist physiotherapists and had tablets, exercises and even stimulation none of which has worked. I now have an incontinence nurse who prescribes pads. 

The biggest problem with pads is none are fit for my needs, well none that we’ve found. I either leak meaning I’m having to change clothes 3 or 4 times a day, or they’re uncomfortable or both. The new ones I’ve had from the nurse didn’t stick, and my niece wondered what was in my trousers. I think that the bigger pads are designed for older bed bound people not people like me. Sensory wise I hate having to wear pads and with having to change all the time so my GP and I agreed that something more long term is needed and so we’re looking into the possibility of full time catheters. It’s testament to the fact that I am at the end of my tether with this because I hate hospitals and the thought of another op fills me with dread, but I can simply not go on like I am. So it’s another waiting game, seeing if and who will consider me and then which sort of catheter I might be able to have. Who knows. But for this and future posts about this the unspeakable problem is becoming speakable, I’m not saying it’s not embarrassing but it shouldn’t be hidden away. We can’t help it, it’s our bodies having some sort of problem. Mine is my wonky body not working correctly again. 

So it’s onto the next stage for me, urology for possible catheters. More questions for now to then hopefully sort out my unspeakable problem!!! 

Eurgh look at the range, not the height of comfort or fashion in any way shape or form!!! (And these aren’t the worst!!) Pads are for illustration only and aren’t nearly as bad as my actual pads!!!

Blood test deja vous!!

Yet again two days ago saw me off to the hospital with mum for yet more blood tests!! We have researched and found out the quieter times because of my sensory problems and problems with crowds so late morning saw mum and me at the local hospital for my blood tests. Seems however that most of Horsham had had the same idea and we arrived and took our number  (Yes like a meat counter or other place you take a number and sit and wait to be called) I took number 76, but when we arrived they had just called 39. No seats in the waiting room or entrance to the room and my fear of crowds saw us waiting down the corridor on my scooter so mum was left standing. As discussed before our local surgery has stopped doing blood tests so this is our only option so we had to wait, because you cannot guarantee that if you come back at another time you’ll have any more luck. I’d forgotten my fiddle toy, as I’m preparing a going out kit bag and I’d been thinking of putting it in that. Because of that I’d forgotten to put one in my main bag. That was unfortunate because the sea of people and the lights and wait, plus the fact that the corridor has the toilets in it meant that I desperately needed something to calm me down!! Our wait of over an hour was rather difficult for me, this was our view……

Now I was glad that I was in the corridor but not sure how I would have got past the lady in the wheelchair even if I had wanted to be in there!!! So after over an hour we were finally called, by this time there was only 2 phlebotomists on duty and my stretchy crappy veins decided not to play ball!! Thankfully not as bad as my worst attempts, but I needed both phlebotomists, 20 minutes, 2 rooms, 3 changes of needles and thank goodness only 2 sticks and a vein massage to get 3 phials of blood!!! They better not need any more soon because I don’t think either mum or I could cope, and I can imagine the phlebotomists drawing straws to see who was unlucky enough to get me!!!

Arm 1

Arm 2…

But let’s see what these ones show shall we!! At the moment it really could be anything!!

It took a while to get over these my POTS and fatigue have been high since. I also have a nice bruise to remember the day!!  

Surveys surveys surveys!!

When I became disabled I was training for a teaching degree, which after postponements and an awful lot of trials and tribulations I achieved.  However since that time my health has become steadily worse and so I’ve been unable to work.  Life on benefits is far from what the media can make it out to be, far from a life of luxury enjoying the finer things in life it’s more like scraping for every penny.  I regularly have to make hard choices between those necessities that I need right now and those that I can do without for a while and save up for.   I am discriminated against because I live at home and I am unable to claim help with my housekeeping costs.  Free cars from motability are a myth, you have to be on a certain level of disability benefits and those benefits are instead paid to the car company to finance your car.  Fear not, I’m not going to get into some self-pitying rant about my finances and why I have no money that isn’t what I wrote this post for.  No what I did about my lack of finances was try to find something small that I could do when I was well enough, and something that I could do as and when I wanted and could.  Now a job was out of the question, there are very few jobs about where you can show up just when you are feeling good enough, do as few hours as you can manage and expect to be paid for the privilege.  Working for myself was also out of the question, apart from my crafting which I currently don’t do to sell, because I could never regularly work and complete things in a tight timescale.  So there isn’t really much I can do, that is until I found surveys.  I found a good number of reputable companies (one of which I’d been signed up with for a long time) and I have to admit that at least to start with I went a little mad.  I signed up for as many as I could some pay out, when you reach a certain threshold, by cheque.  Others you gather points and then are rewarded with vouchers.  I have now thinned down the ones I do because you can find yourself spending the whole day doing survey after survey without a break and it can get addictive.  So I thought that I’d share with you a few of the ones that I have found are good.  I am not being paid for my opinion, and this is just my personal view I cannot be held to account if you come across any problems with using them you use them at your own risk.

  1. A few tips first though:
    1. Sign up to one or two first then if you enjoy doing them and can manage you can sign up to more after.
    2.  Give yourself a limit.  It’s very easy when doing surveys to spend hours and hours completing them only to find you’ve got to the end of the day and don’t nothing constructive.  Allow yourself a couple of hours or how ever long you can spare and ignore any others that come after that time.  You may miss out on the odd survey but you will find that you have more of a life!!
    3. Don’t expect to make your fortune, while these surveys give you some vouchers or a little money it can take you a long time to save up.  For the ones that you get money for it can take over a year depending on how many surveys you complete, the voucher ones tend to build up a little quicker but you are often limited to the places you can have vouchers for!!
    4. Be prepared to be screened out regularly.  Some you are lucky and you get to do every survey you are sent, others you have to go through a good number of questions before you get chucked out.  It can get very frustrating especially as some companies don’t offer you any points for the time you’ve already spent on the survey, others give you a token amount of points e.g. 5 or 10 for the effort.
    5. Be discrete.  Most of the things that you review haven’t been released yet and you will usually have to agree to keep the idea’s secret, they will not want or allow you to tell others about them.

So to the sites.  I won’t bore or inundate you with all of them but here’s a few select ones which I have found quite good.

1. Yougov – http://www.yougov.co.uk is a good one. You don’t get screened out of surveys (or it’s extremely rare once you’ve completed a number of surveys). You get generally around 25-75 points per survey and it pays out when you reach £50 or 5000points. It takes a while to build up but the more you complete them the more you are offered ones that pay out slightly more.  It has taken me between 6 months and a year to build up to payment.

2. Valued opinions – http://www.valuedopinions.co.uk can be frustrating as lots of screenouts but you only need £10.50 to get a pay out of a £10 voucher. This pays in vouchers and has lots of choice (Amazon you have to save up £15.50 though so be aware) you get lots of surveys a month/day so you can do as many as you can. It doesn’t take as long to save up. Surveys pay out usually 50-100 points and you get some more. Occasionally you can try out products too.

3. Survey Bods – http://www.surveybods.com is good. You don’t get as many surveys as others but also don’t screen out as often as some other sites. Surveys range in points and you have to get £15.00 for pay out although this often takes me a few months. This only pays out in Amazon vouchers.

4. I.say from ipsos – http://www.isay.com is good. You have to get 1380 points to get a £10 voucher but builds fairly quickly. Vouchers are a little limited they have a high street voucher, Amazon and some others. They’re good because if you screen out you usually get 5-25 points for the work you’ve done so you don’t feel that you’ve done work for nothing. Occasional product trials from this site too.

So see what you think, if you sign up hope you enjoy. As I said this is all my own opinion I’ve not been paid for these and cannot be held responsible for any problems or issues you have.

 

Phew, that wasn’t as bad as expected!! But has anyone seen my knuckle??

Today was D-Day, my first appointment with my new doctor.  I can’t say that I was looking forward to it.  My brain was in total overdrive and the two nightmares I had last night definitely didn’t help.  I had written my list, an essential piece of my doctors appointment equipment for without it I am a blithering idiot, a list that unfortunately had become rather long in the time since I last saw anyone because half of what needed doing hadn’t been.  I had my other piece of essential equipment my fidget toy, today’s preferred one was my fidget cube.  So with that in hand I went, I was shaking I have to admit and although my mum was with me (she calms me down) I really was dreading it.  I think part of it was just my usual doctor nerves, my sensory overload was in overdrive, but there I was in the waiting room.  I have to admit seeing the new doctor (a female when I’ve had a male for ever!!) in my previous GP’s room was rather surreal but it did make it slightly easier, and joy of joys she was nice.  I wasn’t expecting her to be horrible, I just didn’t know what to expect and for me that is always a no-no.  The unexpected and change for me are two of the things I find hardest and along with my sensory processing problems are why I suspect that I may have an un-diagnosed autistic spectrum disorder, but at 38 and with all my other problems I have to admit that it isn’t something that I’m particularly in need of exploring.  So anyway I shan’t bore you with the details of the appointment, but I shall simply say that 30 minutes later (as I had a triple appointment) 3 referrals to new specialists, 4 prescriptions, multiple blood tests requested and half a dozen problems we are putting a proverbial pin in I’d say it was a success.  I even have an appointment for next month.  I have slightly settled since, my heart rate has gone from a resting 135 to a more normal rate (my POTS always goes mad at the doctors as it’s too hot, I’m uncomfortably sat in my wheelchair and there’s too many people the list goes on) and I’ve had two much needed a drinks!! After that a rather nice curry, and an evening of dropping off while trying to catch up on emails I have now, I think, just about recovered!!!

I said that I wouldn’t bore you with all my symptoms but a new and rather strange one is that one of my knuckles has gone A.W.O.L.  My fingers have been bad for ages, I wear both wrist splints and finger splints on both hands (see pictures) but my knuckles are both dislocating and the disappearing one is a strange one.  It’s making everything, from operating my mobility scooter to writing and typing, really really difficult. Not really sure what’s going on apart from dislocating and swelling, but as the hand therapist I’ve been seeing has now finished we’ve got to find a new one!! That is one of my appointments, when and if we can find a new specialist!! 

So all in all it wasn’t as bad as expected. Even my visit to Currys PC World wasn’t too bad, quick and all sorted out for me. Thank you #curryspcworld. So until next time, thank you for reading!!!

My A.W.O.L. knuckle (you can just about see the bump of my ring splint where my knuckle should be!!)

My ring splints. I may post a review of these soon, please let me know what you think in the comments

My first ever disabled dream.

So the other night I had my first ever (or that I can remember) disabled dream.  I think that having been able bodied before and having not used a wheelchair for a lot of my life I have always dreamt that I was still able to walk about.  My dreams seemed to be an escape from my everyday life which is full of pain, dislocations and disability.  Instead of being confined to my wheelchair, in a dream I can run free and do the things that in my normal life seem a distant memory.  In my dreams I can do things that I never could or would do even when I was able bodied, because as Albus Dumbledore says (yes I am a HUGE Harry Potter Fan) “For in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own”.  I don’t know whether it is a more conscious thing that I escape to my dreams to have the existence that here on earth seems impossible, or whether it is just that my subconscious has never got used to my disability but whatever it is I just seem to dream that I am still able bodied.  However the other night I had, as I said, my first dream where I was actually disabled.

Now it wasn’t your everyday dream, it was actually quite boring on the surface of it, no particular fantasies or fluffy pink unicorns just everyday life played out.  I was electric wheelchair shopping, so this part was still doing something that in my day to day life is beyond me as I still have yet to qualify and be helped with an electric chair (despite now very much needing one).  I was even shopping with a boyfriend, who because I don’t and haven’t had a long term one I never saw the face of.  However there we were looking thorough rows and rows of sparkling wheelchairs, all meeting my own personal needs (again rather a fantasy part as no shop would sell wheelchairs only suitable for one user).  I was being pushed and helped by my dream boyfriend who was kindly lifting me out of my current chair so I could try the different ones, this was again more a fantasy than reality as any “normal” sized chap would struggle to lift me at my current weight.  So anyway here we were happily trying out chair after chair after chair, even moving onto hoists afterwards (which thankfully apart from at the swimming pool I don’t currently need) so it wasn’t a sad dream.  It was after this that I woke up.  Now I don’t know whether it was the dream or that it was just a particularly bad day, it could even have been that I had moved more in my sleep but whatever it was I woke up feeling worse than I remember feeling in a long time.  Usually, even if I wake up with a dislocation, I wake up feeling even slightly better than I did when I went to sleep.  But I felt awful, like I’d normally feel at the end of a particularly bad day.  I ached, I felt really low and my body was reluctant to move.  I personally, if I thought about it, would have thought that waking up after a dream about running or doing able bodied things would have made me feel lower.  You know waking up to find that it wasn’t a dream that you were disabled, that you cannot walk without support and sticks and that you need a wheelchair.  But it didn’t, this simple dream about trying out wheelchairs and being in my wheelchair seemed to make me feel worse.  As I say I don’t know whether I would have felt this bad even if I had had my “normal” sorts of able bodied dream, but that one day I struggled to get through on so many levels.

So anyway I have been thinking about it since and have come to the following conclusion about it.  I do believe that it was the dream that made me feel particularly bad, not because I am in denial about my disability but rather because I need to escape the reality even if just briefly.  I need to run about and play and not have to think about wheelchairs and access and equipment, I need to dream about these things if just for a bit so that I can better cope with my everyday reality.  So I hope that in the future, even if I dream that I am in my wheelchair, that it still includes fluffy unicorns or some escape from normal everyday life!!

Migraines and Mishaps

I’ve suffered with migraines since I was approximately 4 years old,  but you try telling the schools nurse (we had school nurses when I was at school) that you have a migraine and that you can’t do anything about them when you’re that age.  I heard that I was making them up, or it was just a headache as 4 year old’s cannot suffer with a migraine but it was a mistake that teachers and nurses alike only made once.  When I was young my migraines hit with no warning and the after effects lasted for days.  The only telltale sign that I had a migraine was uncontrollable yawning, a symptom that I carry to this day.  So I would promptly, if I started with the headache, tell the teacher “go and lie in the snuggly corner” was their usual response but falling asleep with a migraine I would really fall asleep.  Comatose was probably more like it, my earliest school memories are being woken up by my mum picking me up after such incidents with a worried teacher looking on and explaining that they’d never seen anyone fall asleep so heavily!!  The other mistake they often made was if they told me that I should take a tablet, it has only been in the last 20 years that I’ve been able to take any at all and even now I still struggle with them.  Projectile gagging and, or various incidents of them trying to get me to take paracetamol tablets really didn’t work.  I think however the worst of my migraine stories happened when I was first at secondary school.  Still having to fight to get people to believe that my migraines were real I went to the nurse to say I needed to go home as I had one.  The usual first response was suggested, that I lie down for a bit before I could go back to class, however my other rather unfortunate symptom of migraines was my rather impressive vomiting skills.  I have never been the neatest of pukers, one rather impressive feat when I was young was managing to throw up right down the stairs from the top to the bottom and unfortunately there are many many other stories of other rather unfortunate incidents.  However on this occasion the school nurse, having not believed that I needed to go home, had left me on my own in the medical room.  I managed to make it to the toilet, which was one good thing, however my aim wasn’t that good.  The nurse returned to me having managed to vomit over the entire wall, toilet and floor in the room.  Funnily enough after that if I said I needed to go home, I was sent home!!

So to my migraines now.  I have two distinct forms of migraines now, one being the same full blown migraine and the other being a manageable migraine which I call a migrainey headache.  It’s the same symptoms but I can usually take tablets in time to stave off having to go to bed for the day.  I can just about cope with migrainy headaches usually having them on and off for a day, but staying just bad enough to be felt.  I still yawn way more than you would normally expect and you can see in my eyes that I have a migraine but I can just about function as normal.  However I have a rather unfortunate side effect of a migrainy headache (because a normal migraine I have to stay in bed for I don’t actually know if I have this symptom with a full blown migraine too) of being even more comically clumsy than normal and very dopey too.  Now today I’ve had one of my migrainy headaches, it’s been there most of today.  This morning while getting ready for town, mum was trying to help me into my cardigan and at the time I also had my crutches instead of my walking sticks.  Mum offered me one arm, I managed to sort out which arm however trying to get it in was rather fun, tangles and turning the wrong way, bag straps over sticks and you have to have a bit of a giggle.  Driving my scooter into town was rather comical, although I think that the sudden urge I had whilst waiting for the crossing to change of pressing my power and surge forward into the traffic was rather more worrying however I did manage to quell that one!!  

I couldn’t work out today if my trigger was the air pressure and humidity or if it was simply my POTS playing up, it might have been both. I rarely know what has triggered one, cigarette smoke is definitely a trigger but that and stress are the only triggers we’ve identified. I have fairly regular migraines and migrainy headaches I have thankfully just got my migraine medication back after a few years without it being manufactured. I’m so glad it’s come back though as it’s the only thing I’m allowed to take and the only thing that works too! I don’t know why I’m so clumsy and ditsy when I have a migraine though but I do think perhaps that might be yet another reason why I don’t actually go out on my own, it’s probably a good thing I don’t really; can you imagine the stories if I did???