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!!!

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.

 

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!!

Naps are important!!

I have again had real problems with trying to think about what to write.  I have been aware that while I really wanted to connect to people about my disability and issues that I and other disabled people have, I also wanted to review products and share useful things that I have and use to help others and I haven’t had the chance to do much of that.  I haven’t been buying a lot at the moment for various reasons, and have struggled to know whether to review products that I’ve had for a while.  I hope that I can get more reviews in, and I will write more about the different parts of EDS and how they affect people but I think that it will take time and I’d rather write, at least for now, on day to day things.  I have been very lucky and my blog post on falling asleep throughout the day has been published on “The Mighty” and even was quoted in the last newsletter email from EDS UK.  I’m hoping to send more posts and articles into them so hopefully you will see me on there more and more people will find my blog though there.  So for the time being I am again posting on the insomniac side of the CraftyInsomniac!!!

It was very stormy here last night, something that my body and mind do not like.  My symptoms are much worse again because of the storms and I have a severe phobia of them.  So this morning (12.50am to be exact) saw me downstairs on the couch after having migraine meds, pain meds, and a drink listening to my music shaking like a leaf while the sky was continually lit up for hours with almost constant very (to me) scary lightening and the occasional rumble of thunder.  To those who enjoy storms it was, I’m sure, a spectacle.  To me, however, I spent the night on the couch enjoying first my music and then once the lightening had died down my Quantum Leap box set!!  I think I must have had a maximum of 3-4 hours all night.   So I had a really bad night’s sleep last night and it led to today me needing to have a nap to keep going.    But while that was exactly what I needed my body and the universe seemed to be conspiring to let me do anything but take that nap.  I first tried this morning, thinking that as I’d been up all night (pretty much) it would be better to have a sleep and then I could get on with doing my emails and concentrate a bit more on them.  So I had a drink and then settled down on the couch hoping to have an hour’s nap.  Now nothing was particularly going round in my head, it wasn’t particularly noisy  and my pain killers were working as well as they ever do but could I settle, of course not.  I tried but just could not fall asleep, I gave up but of course within an hour what was I doing?  Falling asleep while using my laptop and having a drink, in fact now I wasn’t trying to I could have quite easily fallen asleep.   I would have been very uncomfortable and woken up in a lot of pain but I could have, and was, dropping off easily.  It was lunchtime though so after I’d eaten I settled down again, within 10 minutes the phone rang.  Then again and again, 3 times, you seriously have to be kidding me I thought.

I did manage after this to drop off for a bit thankfully topping up my energy although I know, very probably, that I will still be struggling to stay awake tonight whilst watching TV.  However I just want to add a little side bar here that napping isn’t, for me and others with long term conditions, laze.  No it’s necessary, some days it’s needed more than others and some days it’s just topping up energy while others it is catching up on sleep.  So please when you see someone having a quick 5 minutes nap, don’t jump to the conclusion that they are lazy.  It might just be, like it was for me today, a very much needed sleep.  That is if you can actually fall asleep!!

Why making fun of me, for falling asleep, hurts so much….

You might think it’s funny when I fall asleep at 5pm or throughout the day, you think it’s hilarious that I can’t stay awake through a t.v. programme or a film but let me explain why that happens. Let me explain why it hurts when you think it’s so funny that I am always tired.

No1. It’s not just being a little tired, my whole body aches with the effort of trying to stay awake. I’ve had days where exhaustion just overwhelms. It is fatigue and fatigue is very different to tiredness. It’s very hard to explain but tiredness can be rectified by a nap or a couple of good night’s sleep. Fatigue is relentless, your mind and body are tired; lifting your arm hurts with effort. You can barely string a coherent sentence together and thoughts stay fleetingly in your head before flying away never to be seen again. You cannot stay awake however hard you try because the effort of staying awake is in itself a huge effort, think about trying to swim in a pool of treacle with a full near costume on, could you do that?? Not easily!!!

No2. I have insomnia and painsomnia and that’s not fun. Insomnia speaks for itself, I tend to go to sleep ok but cannot stay asleep. 2am is my normal wake up time where, if I don’t get up I end up feeling worse. I therefore have made binge watching box sets of dvds in the early hours a new art.  Painsomnia is something that people without a long term condition often haven’t heard of. Instead of just being unable to sleep painsomnia instead is where you cannot sleep because of pain. Usually I wake up because I’ve dislocated or sublaxed a joint. Waking up with a hip or knee on a glorious midnight walkabout is not really my idea of fun, if it’s not those it’s my shoulder making my arm do a great impression of no longer belonging to me!! It’s not exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep. The midnight dislocations are inevitably followed by the lenghthly relocation process, wriggling about until the glorious pop moment when you know it’s back where it should be.  I know then that I need some painkillers and a recovery period so again am to be found on the couch binge watching box sets. Now much as getting to watch my great dvds is good, the timing could definitely be better. I’d much rather be watching tv at a normal time and sleeping 7 or more hours a night, but my body has other ideas and so at an average if a 2am wake up time is it really any wonder I drop off at 5pm?? To me I’ve often been awake 15 hours!!!

No3. What takes you 10 minutes has taken me 40 and used every last bit of strength that I had left. Now a lot of people use the spoon theory to describe our energy stores. The theory goes that you start the day with x amount of spoons, during the day everything takes some of those spoons until you have no more left. Most people have the chance to replenish their stores during the day with either food or less taxing tasks. To me however there are no less taxing tasks, each one is hard. Some, yes, do take different amounts of my energy but they all take energy and so before the 3nd of the day I’ve already run out of “spoons”.

No4. You think I’ve been sat doing nothing all day, when in fact that “nothing” has taken so much effort I’m exhausted. Just sitting takes a lot of energy especially on a bad day. EDS makes any movement difficult, the threat of dislocation looms at all times. It is an effort even using brain power especially with brain fog when you cannot really even think what your own name is. You have to think about how to get up off the sofa, you have to think how to do everything to minimise either having symptoms or to make sure you don’t have an accident e.g. a fall or trip over etc. Having POTS and my other conditions means that maintaining an upright position even seated takes effort. My pulse races and so I constantly feel ill from that, it’s exhausting. Added to that you have a mountain of appointments, every few weeks you have to military plan how to get to said appointments, who can take and assist you and then you have to plan what you are going to say. We find that so many people in the medical profession haven’t heard of EDS or if they have a many more have lots of wrong ideas about how it can affect you, this means that you have to go prepared and read up on things too!! It can be a full time job. I also complete surveys, it keeps me busy and gets me vouchers to spend on things I couldn’t necessarily afford. These take a lot of brain power and again effort just to sit up doing them.

No5. It means that you don’t understand what I go through and why I’m so tired. Your teasing, whilst not meant to be mean, shows me that you don’t understand all these problems. You don’t understand how much just living day to day is. How hard I find it to do anything, how even sitting takes a lot of effort for me. You don’t see that I don’t like that I can’t stay awake, that I’d much rather be watching programmes I like and doing crafts. You don’t understand that however much or little sleep I get I’m still fatigued all the time and that you just don’t see that I don’t choose to fall asleep. It is simply that my body has given up, has no more energy left and has no choice but to shut itself down. 

So yes I do fall asleep a lot in the evenings, yes I can’t stay awake and am constantly tied. But I believe I actually have good reason why that is. I’m not after pity from anyone, but some more understanding would be appreciated.