A Year Today!

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Can you believe it is a year today since I took my first trip over to London to meet with Prof. Rodney Grahame at the Hospital of St. John and St. Elizabeth?

While I was there, I had some tests and I received a confirmed diagnosis of EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) Hypermobility type with Gastro issues. You can read the full blog post I did about that experience Here.

The diagnosis and treatment plan I got there proved invaluable to me here in Ireland to help my Doctors treat me and even still, I am still waiting for my Harolds Cross appointment to help me get back walking!

I was due to go back over to London for further tests and much needed treatment but I have been too unwell and practically housbound when I am not in hospital over the past year to plan anything. I have been admitted to hospital 5 times since my visit over and I also have been diagnosed with Gastroparesis in that time.

However, things are getting worse especially in the Gastroparesis area of things and I still need to get back for the treatment as soon as I am well enough to travel and make plans.

The Medical fund is always open if anyone would still like to contribute or even just to share the link, I would greatly appreciate it, because without it, it would be impossible for me to pursue the correct course of treatment as there are no EDS specialists anywhere in Ireland and traveling abroad is not fully supported at all under the HSE travel abroad scheme.

I would just like to take this opportunity to say Thank you to everyone who has helped so far, to my family and friends and especially my amazing husband Keith. You have all been so supportive and helpful and I couldn’t have done it without you 🙂

Thank you,
Fainting Goat (Lette)

Admitted after the ERCP – Possible Bowel Pacemaker!

Things never just go straight forward, do they? Nope! and of course, this time was no exception!

In I went to the UHL on Tuesday the 21st at midday, all prepared for my ERCP procedure to be done and so I could be kicked back home that evening to recover, however, little did we realise just how long it would actually take!

They popped me on a trolly as soon as I arrived as I had been dizzy all morning and they didn’t want a risk of me fainting and deemed it best that I wait in as comfortable a position as possible as I could be waiting around for a few hours.

I said my goodbyes to Keith and the nurses told us to expect to be in until at least after 5pm. Keith went home and I lay on the trolly waiting for things to start happening. There wasn’t even signal in this particular part of the hospital for my phone so I had no internet, texting or anything to distract myself!

All was well until they needed to take some blood from me and wanted to insert an IV line. This is when all the fun started!

3 nurses tried and failed, 2 lads from the Cath Lab tried on not only my hands and arms but also on my feet (Very uncomfortable to say the least!) and failed, One of the theater consultants came out from doing an operation to take a look at my veins, checked them over and said, “Nope! I will hand it over to Dr. Moloney!” (referring to the consultant who would be doing my procedure in theater)

Finally at about 6pm, Dr. Moloney comes out of theater to take a look at my veins and decides, “We don’t need bloods anyway, not to worry about it and I will pop an IV in, in theater before the procedure”
So that ended the long wait around waiting for someone to be able to find a vein, now it was time to actually get this done! The nurse helped me into a very sexy blue paper theater outfit and pushed me into theater where there were 2 nurses, the first tall doctor who had earlier come out to check my veins and said ‘Nope!” and the good doctor himself who actually successfully found IV access after a few attempts, Excellent, time for sedation… am, about that…!

I have a sensitivity to Benzodiazepines, having ended up in ICU last year after being treated with them for seizures I started having in May 2014. It turned out the first seizure was caused by a complete once off event of a lack of oxygen to the brain after a Vasovagal Syncope where I had stopped breathing. The Ambulance staff immediately treated me with Benzos, the standard treatment to stop seizures, not realizing that the more Benzos they treated me with the worse my seizures got. I was treated for these seizures over the course of about 3 months with these drugs until such time as I ended up in the ICU before realising that it was the Benzos causing all the trouble.

Thing is, Benzos are used as sedatives in minor surgeries and procedures too, which was meant for this ERCP, so the Dr. decided to sedate me through the IV with something else they had, that would make me feel a little drunk, but I was still wide awake and feeling everything!

They sprayed the back of my throat with something nasty tasting to numb it and popped a round yellow thing in my mouth, between my teeth to keep my mouth open so that the endoscope could easily pass through. My eyes watered as the scope went down my throat, into the stomach and pushed through the duodenum.

I kicked out and squirmed in intense pain as soon as this happened. I gave the doctors and nurses a good fright too as they were under the impression that I was sedated!

The Dr. looks down at me,
“You’re still with me, yeah?”

I look directly at him while gripping my right side in pain and I nod quickly!

He looks at the nurses and said
“Ok, no cutting today, lets just do the Botox Injection to numb the site, make it quick!”

He tells the other doctor to give me extra pain relief and sedative as he quickly tries to inject the site. I feel the sharp pinches of the needle, they are completely bearable compared to the pressure and pain I feel because I presume of wherever the scope is after leaning.

The procedure is done quickly, I am given more pain relief and feel the earlier sedative continue to tingle the back of my skull but the pain is still there as I am wheeled into the recovery area to be monitored.

The Doctor comes out to check on me and says that if the pain continues I will have to be admitted. I am watched for a couple of hours where I begin to spike a temperature, a reg doctor is called for me, I am put on IV fluids and painkillers and am admitted to a ward by 8:30pm.

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In the confusion of trying to get me settled into the ward, make sure that I am properly assessed and medicated, the transfer of my regular meds list (Daily meds for Pots and EDS pain, some of which I cant just suddenly stop) to the nurses on the ward went a little askew and would come back to haunt me in the next few days, but ill get to that in a minute!

After many uncomfortable, sweaty, loud and painful hours they finally found a concoction of meds and opiates that got on top of my pain enough for me to want to rest for the night without feeling the need to moan loudly and annoy others in the room. I didn’t sleep, even with a sleeping tablet and much morphine but I really needed the rest.

I ended up staying in hospital over the course of a full week, in lots of pain and having major trouble with my Gastroparesis because of the opiates I was on. They wanted to keep an eye on my bloods and me to make sure nothing dangerous happened during the ERCP, incase I may have an infection or something as I was spiking temperatures on some days but thankfully this was not the case, I was just in a lot of pain.

On one day, I requested pain meds in plenty of time as I felt pain coming on only for the nurses to have been busy and left me without for a couple of hours. I ended up fainting after returning to my bed from the bathroom and I frightened the other ladies on the ward!

It turned out that when they initially admitted me to the ward my regular meds list got taken down wrong and they hadn’t been giving me my full regimen of meds that I normally take so my bp was all over the place and on the day I was due to be released my HR went up to 163bpm but settled again later with rest.

Prior to letting me go my Gastro surgeon came to talk with me and went through my meds and everything I would need going forward to help with pain and the Gastroparesis difficulties.

It looks as though things are getting worse in that department. I am losing weight, having difficulty eating anything without severe pain, bloating, nausea and vomiting and he mentioned the possible need for a Pacemaker in the bowel in the not too distant future to help with the ‘slow’ and sometimes ‘non existent’ transit in my gut, of which he wants to discuss further on my next appointment with him which is the 15th of Sept.

I was let go home a week after being admitted on raised pain meds and antiemetics with orders to take it slow and steady until they see me next month. I have been very sore and very sick. Pretty much bed bound nearly every day since being released and have even had a small seizure for the first time in over a year but I am able to keep the bright side out. Even lying in bed there are things to watch and I am eternally grateful for my wonderful husband who provides all of my supports.

So for now I am recovering slowly, I will see the specialist again next month and until then, I will keep you all updated with things as much as I am physically able 🙂 Ideally I need to get back over to London where they are specialised in those with EDS, to meet a neurogastroenterologist however, I need to get better before being able to travel once again, can you believe it has been a whole year this month since I first went to London for treatment? that story can be read here 🙂

Please remember, I am most easily able to keep the Facebook and Twitter pages up to date most frequently so be sure to check us out over there too for almost daily updates and thank you for following this humble bloggy! 🙂

ERCP In The Morning!

It is happening!

I got the appointment for the ERCP on my ‘Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction’ (SOD) a few weeks ago and confirmed the date for tomorrow, the 21st July in UHL.

I rang this morning to confirm everything was going ahead and I was told that because of a few emergencies that have to happen first, I may not be called at all so I was left waiting until after 4pm today to see if I would in fact be called for the procedure!

I was irked to say the least as I have been admitted to hospital twice since December for the pain and have been in constant pain since last being left home in April. The pain has also increased in the last couple of weeks and has gotten pretty bad the closer I got to this appointment. I think the pain meds I am on are losing their strength and the pain in the last few days especially has been bad enough for us to consider going to A&E, but I held off from going in knowing this appointment was coming.

It turned out that at about 3:30pm, I got a call back from the hospital and was told I was on the list for the afternoon and I have been called in so… yeah! It’s happening!

Until I speak with the surgical team tomorrow I am unsure if I will be staying in or not, but apparently this is only the first of a few ERCP’s on the SOD I need to have done. I was told that to weaken the muscle they would need to repeat the procedure a few times, but I know nothing else about what may happen or how often they need to do it, dates, recovery time, illness in between, anything! Which is currently preventing me from making plans to get back to London for further treatment. Until the pain is eased enough for me to travel (and I have been too unwell to travel since last December) and the procedures need to be out of the way but as soon as I see a clear path I will be making plans once again.

So in I go at midday, will hang around for a couple of hours I am sure, then will have the op, I will be knocked out for the procedure and it should be straight forward enough… have I ever been straight forward though?! They should monitor me for about an hour after to make sure all is OK and will then either admit me or send me home, no idea!

Either way, I will fill you in after the event!! 😉

The Sphincter of Oddi and Other Stories!

Say that in the voice of the narrator from He-Man and you have a pretty formidable title there!

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The last time I was admitted to hospital at the end of March, early April the surgical team came to the conclusion that I could possibly have something called Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction (SOD) that was being masked by what they thought was Gallbladder pain.

In the last blog post I outlined what this was and that there is a test to check for it called an ERCP, endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography, a procedure that uses an endoscope and looks directly deep inside the duct system while taking pictures and measuring pressure. You have to be sedated or under general anesthetic as it is way deeper into your system that they have to look than a regular esophageal, stomach endoscope or similar.

While they do this, they inject some Botox into the tiny sphincter itself which relaxes it and allows it to open again. If after about 2 weeks your pain is gone, this is a sign you have the dysfunction. Sometimes if the pressure in the bile ducts is measured as too high or if the surgeon deems it necessary at the time they will cut the sphincter muscle first time.

Cutting the sphincter of Oddi muscle surgically during an ERCP is called a sphincterotomy. It’s generally effective and relieves symptoms of SOD about 70% of the time.

The long term cure for it? a series of ERCP’s where again I will be put to sleep and they have to cut the sphincter to weaken it to the point where it can’t clamp up any more. This should take a few turns because if they do it all at once and cut straight through it, there is serious risk of heavy bleeding and Pancreatitis with this so they do it in small stages over time to make it safer.

A video of the procedure can be seen here, if you have the stomach for it! 😉

Since coming out of hospital in early April, I have had a number of follow up appointments. I’v been seen by a gastroenterologist in Nenagh General Hospital. He reviewed my case and changed my pain meds saying that the morphine I was on was a spasmodic drug and wasn’t helping the pain in my side so told me to ween off them and start other anti-spasmodic drugs which he prescribed. He also gave me new antiemetic meds for my stomach and gut as I am constantly having trouble with it. He said getting back over to London to a GI specialist over there when I am well enough is greatly advised, but to wait until I am well enough.
He also prescribed me with a spray for under your tongue, usually used for people with angina but said as it’s job is to open the blood vessels and relax muscles that it may help the pain in my side, and it really does, although drops my blood pressure and gives me a cracking headache but I would rather have that than the pain in my side!

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I have been to the Pain specialist in Croom hospital for more injections into my Sacroiliac joint and hips which usually takes about 3 days to a week to kick in, but of course I got cocky and tried to hobble out of the bathroom the day after getting them, without any chair, crutches or support, thinking I could do it and SMACK! I slapped off the ground hurting my hip, but thankfully not seriously so it has healed again and the injections have slowly begun to work to ease the pain in my lower back and hips. Unfortunately though they only ever last about a month so I am coming to the end of that relief already.

11205026_10203754927464867_7609355477687548601_nI was back into the University Hospital Limerick for a follow up from when I was admitted last and to see when my ERCP will be. I was told I should be called sometime this month so I am currently still waiting on the appointment and hopefully I will be called soon as it is getting very sore and uncomfortable.

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and finally… My powered wheelchair finally arrived! I had to chase it up through the local OT manager because I was getting nowhere emailling my OT about it. The manager got things moving immediately once she knew I had been waiting nearly 2 years and the replies to my emails were just one excuse after another, it finally arrived a couple of weeks ago, Miles too big for me, refurbished and not new but mine, great fun and gives me great freedom! The powered chair deserves a blog post of it’s own so I will do that as the next post. It’s name is Marvin and I’ll explain where that came from too! 🙂

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For now, that’s all my current news! 🙂

Admitted To Hospital, Possible New Diagnosis

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This was me getting ready to go home so I look a lot happier than when I was admitted first!

Oh dear! it happened again!

On Monday the 30th March, I was taken to hospital by ambulance after being bed bound and in severe pain with my gallbladder all over the weekend. I held out as long as I could at home because I knew nothing would be done over the weekend if I went into A&E.
On the Monday, things just got a little too much for me and we had to call for me to be taken in.

I am very disappointed with my GP in all of this. I had gone to him a couple of weeks before this happened, with a renewal script for some very strong pain killers that were prescribed to me when I was last admitted to hospital for the same thing in December. My surgeon had prescribed these opiate based drugs for the pain that helped and were needed. When I went to my GP to renew, he said only Cancer patients get these drugs and that he wouldn’t renew my script even though a higher authority than him prescribed me what I needed!

Then, when my Gallbladder pain started up again last week, we called him about getting referred into the Acute Surgical Unit (ASU) in the University Hospital Limerick, as this was said to me the last time I was in, that if I had more pain, not to go through A&E but to be directly referred in. He didn’t come through on this either. When we rang he gave some excuse about not having my files with him in the surgery he was at (His 3 surgeries computer systems are linked, he should have had all my information in front of him!) and when he called the ASU he couldn’t organise a bed for me so when everything got too much, we just called an Ambulance anyway and I had to go through the A&E system like everyone else. Which is fine but it was unfortunate the GP couldn’t come through. He has been very angry lately when we visit him. He is constantly giving out and very bitter about the HSE (Health Service Executive) and he complains to his already sick patients, This is not just coming from me but from other patients of his that I have spoken to. To be honest I am getting sick of his attitude and shortly I will be transferring to a lovely lady doctor who has come highly recommended!

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My hand reacted strangely to the morphine, the IV line was hardly hanging in my vein too so it didn’t last long!

So I was in the A&E about 10 hours, They did a chest XRAY first, then I was being pumped full of morphine through an IV line that was barely hanging on to one of my tiny veins. The doctor in A&E had tried about 5 times to find a vein and by the time I got to the ward the Line had already failed and they had to call another doctor up to fit a new one. He had some trouble and tried about 8 times before he got one and again it was just about in the vein and he said it may only last a few hours. My veins are useless and over the next week, I had three more doctors try about 18 more times to get veins and each line would fail or they just couldn’t get access, eventually during the week they give up on me and give me oral antibiotics when I am able to take them.

Just as I was in my ward Bed and getting ready to sleep, it was about 2am and they called me for an abdominal XRAY. It was over before I knew it, I was back to bed, Injected with something that helped the pain, popped on a drip and I tried to get comfortable enough to sleep.

Not a single wink was had!

It was quiet and all on the ward but I was sore, the surroundings were different, there were beeps and talking in the background and just everything that home wasn’t!

I was uncomfortable and twisted and turned through the night and into the next morning.

The following morning the surgical team came to see me and discuss my case, The same doctor and team that had me in December. He mentioned that he was happy to see me again but not under these circumstances and he felt by looking at me that I had lost weight. They ordered an ultrasound of the gallbladder so that they could compare it to the one from December when I was in then.

At that time my gallbladder was distended and had fluid around it showing infection. It didn’t respond to the fat test and showed it had dysmotility as well as gut dysmotility.

This time the ultrasound came back normal, no sign of infection in it or in my bloods. They mentioned about the possibility of taking out the gallbladder but as it looked healthy with the worry that my EDS may slow or aggravate healing, they were reluctant, as was I!

The head doctor said to give him some time as he wanted to speak with a colleague, the Dean of the Medical School at University Hospital Limerick, who knew surgeons in the UK who deal with rare cases like me. So now the waiting game begins!

I have to say he and his team are excellent. They have a real interest and go to great lengths to diagnose and be careful about removing anything they shouldn’t unless they absolutely have to! They also have an interest in learning more about EDS which is great to see. Unlike some of my other doctors who just don’t seem to care at all.

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Gadgety Bed!

Most of the time I was trying to sleep on the very comfy gadgety bed that I could move into all sorts of comfy positions or stoned out of it so all I could do was lie there in a sweaty trance trying to ignore pain and wishing sleep would come to me!
My BP was very low as I hadn’t been eating for many days due to horrible nausea and vomiting so I had missed my regular meds for those days. Over the week, once the nausea was controlled I was taken off the fast and put on a light diet, I could hardly eat anyway but getting a tiny bit of nutrition really helped. I was also able to take my regular meds which helped normalise my BP and I began to feel a little human again.

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Mostly pain meds, an antibiotic and meds to raise my BP

On Friday, as it was coming up to the long weekend I was eager to get home, though still in pain and I had no clue as to what they wanted to do with me, I asked what was the possibility of me going home for the weekend? and they said no problem as long as I was prescribed everything I needed! YEAY!!! I was delighted then everything came together! I was visited by some doctors and got some information, finally!

I was seen by a pain specialist, she was going through my pain meds and what I needed to be comfortable at home until they call me into them next week where they can review everything and make a pain management plan going forward.

Later on, I was visited by a UK Surgeon, The Dean of the Medical school. He told me he trained and studied under Prof. Rodney Grahame (The Prof. in London who officially diagnosed my EDS) and highly respected his opinion. I was delighted to speak with him. He was a gentleman and explained to me what he thought was going on.

They as a surgical team discussed my case and came to the conclusion that the gallbladder may have been masking the true pain that could be coming from a thing called the ‘Sphincter of Oddi

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I know right, WHAT? Never heard of that before, but long story short, there is a little valve thingy under your gallbladder that allows bile though it to add to the pancreatic juices that feed into the digestive system to help you break down and digest your food. This sphincter opens and closes but if you have this dysfunction, it remains clamped shut and cramped and causes a back up of bile and severe abdominal pain. It is most common in people who have already had their Gallbladder taken out, I still have mine so it is a strange one!

There is a test to check for it called ERCP, endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography, a procedure that uses an endoscope and looks directly deep inside the duct system while taking pictures and measuring pressure. You have to be sedated as it is way deeper into your system they have to look than a regular esophageal, stomach endoscope or similar.

While they do this, they inject some Botox into the tiny sphincter itself which relaxes it and allows it to open again. If after about 2 weeks your pain is gone, this is a sign you have the dysfunction.

The cure for it? a series of ops where again I will be put to sleep and they have to cut the sphincter to weaken it to the point where it can’t clamp up any more. This should take a few turns because if they do it all at once and cut straight through it, there is serious risk of heavy bleeding with this so they do it in small stages over time to make it safer.

This procedure however, has never been done in the University Hospital Limerick and it is not licensed here. But they are seeing what they can do for me, if it can be done, I will be the first person they will have done this op on! If they cant license it here, I may have to go to The Matter Hospital in Dublin or even as far as the UK if needs be, however because I am being treated publicly, these procedures if done in the UK will be fully covered by the HSE. This is a huge relief!

So in the mean time, He and the surgical team looking after me are going to sit down with some other doctors in a Multi Disciplinary Meeting where they will discuss my case and how to proceed with it and once they have a plan in place they will call me in for the initial test. I feel kinda special! but I can see why this meeting needs to be done. If I do have this thing, those procedures need to be licensed and I am sure that includes some amount of paperwork!

So for now, I am happy to be home with the furry pup and himself, I am comfortable (enough) on the pain medication and I await my appointment for next week to be called back in to the Pain clinic and then the appointment to be followed up by the surgical team.

For now, I will try to relax and recover, it is hard on this medication as it has some nasty side effects, but if it helps the pain I cant complain! HA! could put that on a T-Shirt!

Anyway, that is all for now, I will update again soon 🙂

Lette (Fainting Goat)

Heading back to London

Or at least that’s the plan!

I have my email sent for a new appointment to see Professor Qasim Aziz over in the Hypermobility Unit at the Hospital of St. Johns and St. Elizabeth. He is a Neuro Gastroenterologist who works alongside Prof Grahame, whom I have already seen. I’v been told by both Gastros I have seen on the 23rd of this month that going back to London is recommended as the best next course of action, to see specialists knowledgeable in conditions related to EDS.

So I have opened the fund again as this is the only way it is possible for me to get treatment abroad at the moment.

Even if you could share this link ( gofund.me/LetteEDS ), I would greatly appreciate any help and support, thank you and as always I will keep you updated with posts on how everything is going.

Thank you all once again.

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I Was In Hospital yet again!

…but this time it wasn’t directly because of Dysautonomia, but kindof because of the EDS!

I ended up back in hospital 4 weeks ago because of serious pain in the area of my Gallbladder. I had been nursing a nagging in my gallbladder area for a few days prior then out of the blue, a faint and I woke to excruciating pain in my right hand side, up near my ribs. Ambulance called and I was carted to Hospital once again with suspected Gallbladder trouble.

It wasn’t long before I was admitted to the surgical ward under a new surgical doctor and his team who were excellent, their enthusiasm was like nothing I had been used to with my usual team of doctors.  The doctors suspected Gall stones or something to indicate the gallbladder was in trouble. A lot of tests later and it turned out luckily for me that there were no Gallstones but one test did show I had Gallbladder and gut Dysmotility meaning it was not emptying or behaving as it should and this was causing the pain, discomfort and other problems in my gut too.

I was very sick, uncomfortable and in a lot of pain, even though they treated me with strong pain killers and continued some tests. I was then free to go home the Friday of that week.

While at home I was still very unwell and everything I ate hurt me and made me feel worse until that Sunday night, I became very unwell after dinner, vomited and the pain in my side erupted, ten fold! I cant even begin to describe the pain I thought I had been skewered! This continued long enough for Keith to ring an ambulance again.

When the Ambulance crew came they transferred me into the back and called the hospital to fill them in of my condition saying my pain was 10 out of 10, that was no lie, I never felt anything like that before!

One of the guys started to worry about my Blood pressure as it was reading only 80/40 (Normal reading is 120/80) and he was concerned encase I may faint and go into respiratory arrest as I usually do when I pass out. The pain was terrible but they called an advanced paramedic to meet us half way to the hospital and he could administer Morphine until I got to Resus in the Hospital.

I arrived in Resus, blood pressure very low, pain and heart rate very high, they started attaching wires and sensors while I groaned on the bed. This ended up being a very long night, my body started giving out and acting up to the point where a catheter needed to be attached as certain systems in my body had decided not to cooperate because of the strength of the pain meds I was on.

More tests, A very long waiting time in an extremely busy A&E and I was finally admitted to a bed on a ward upstairs.

Long story even longer, I ended up staying in the hospital another 2 weeks, making my overall stay with this thing just over 3 weeks. I had some xrays, other tests and Gut Transit studies done during my stay, these showed that my gut was in worse shape than they originally thought. It has severe dysmotility, most likely all caused by the EDS and Collagen problems in the gut. It is treatable but there is no guarantee it wont continue to get worse on its own.

Going forward my Doctor mentioned I would have to use certain medications to help with the gut transit issues and I have the be extremely careful with what and how I eat as my gut is in danger of dying altogether now that it has gotten to this stage, so I have to treat it like a baby! He mentioned following the Low Fodmap Diet as a matter of necessity not of choice. He also supported me going to the UK for treatment, he agreed that there are no specialists here that are knowledgeable in EDS and its related complications and he was kind enough to ask the ward nurse to look into any financial options that would be covered by the HSE. Unfortunately I heard nothing back on this but it was the first time a doctor acknowledged the need for treatment abroad. I will be making an appointment to see Prof Aziz in London in the new year.

So after getting this info along with a long list of prescriptions, he said I was free to go and he would refer me to his outpatients clinic for the new year to follow up on how I am doing. He also said he wanted me to see a specialist Gastroenterologist and I got an appointment just today, to meet him tomorrow morning, so I will be interested to hear what he has to say. The same doctor has a personal interest in EDS.

I will update tomorrow on how the appointment with the GI specialist goes, hopefully it is all good and helpful news going forward. I hope 2015 is less on the hospital visits than this year has been!!

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UPDATE: 23/12/14

I went and had the appointment with the new Gastro  Doctor in Nenagh General Hospital and he has put me on a new drug to stimulate my gut function, other than that there is no new news 🙂

Got To London & Met Prof. Rodney Grahame

We were off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of… The Hospital of St. Johns and St. Elizabeth, in St. Johns Wood in London, Professor Rodney Grahame. Specialist Rheumatologist.

On a rainy Monday morning, August 25th, we rose early to catch our flight into Heathrow from Shannon, leaving Ireland at roughly 08:45am and Landing in England at about 10am.

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I had never been to England before so I was looking forward to the trip. After Landing, we caught the express train into the city where we could drop our things into the hotel, grab some food and gently meander around the locality. Though that didn’t last long, I was wrecked!

Considering I got no sleep the night before and had to be up at 5am to check into the airport I had to come back to the hotel for a while and take a nap before we were to meet with some friends for dinner that evening, the day had already caught up with me but the nap did me well and I went out and about where our friends showed us around some of the city (In the milling rain!) and took us out to dinner.

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It was the following day we were to meet the wizard and after a long and busy first day, we slept hard that night!

So, Up on the Tuesday, we strolled down to St. Pancras and Kings Cross Station where we grabbed a bite to eat and went for a walk afterwards to kill some time before the appointment. The time came and we took a Taxi to the hospital.

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Accessibility in London sucks… like really badly sucks, the Taxis and most busses are equipped to take individuals in wheelchairs but the city itself, the pavements are damaged and rough, few ramps, dangerous roads, unreliable traffic lights and most shops, cafes and places in general were stepped without lifts or alternatives for wheelies. The majority of the underground Tube stations were not accessible and Also, I hate to say it, but most people on the streets don’t care if you are in a chair or not, they will walk straight through you, in most cases. For such a big city it (Accessibility wise) was a bit of a disappointment.

IMG_1756I wasn’t sure of what to expect when I got to the hospital, but I wasn’t expecting what greeted us. A modern, beautiful building, all level access for chairs, open and bright and it even had a concierge beside reception, A CONCIERGE!! Seriously, inside the door ready to help! 😀 I was highly amused by that!!

ANYWAY!! Up to the 2nd floor we went where I checked in and was told wait in the waiting room. Before ten minutes passed, a door opened at the far end of the waiting room, and there stood a tiny, slightly frail looking man wearing a classy suit and a smile, It was the wizard, He called me in!

Prof. Rodney Graham welcomed Keith and I into his office where he did everything to make sure we were comfortable, even asking if the air conditioning was ok!!

I have to say he made an immediate impact as being a gentleman. I was only supposed to be booked in with him for an hour, he saw me for at least 1 hour 45 minutes.

He started by listening to my full medical, family and symptom history, taking notes as I spoke, stopping me briefly as I went to ask questions and clarify some things. He then went on to ask me a list of questions relating to family, symptoms, hospital visits, all my broken bones and injuries, asked about my pots and Gastro intestinal issues, everything! Then a physical exam where he measured my arm length, measured the curvature of my spine, did the Beighton Scale on me (The Beighton score is a simple system to quantify joint laxity and hypermobility) Checked each of my joints separately for hypermobility. Checked the elasticity of my skin, the blue in the whites of my eyes, checked my flat feet, the inside of my mouth for a high pallet and overcrowding, asking about anesthetic resistance which I have had at the dentist many times before. He asked me about cuts, bruises, bleeding, checked my blood pressure, height…

He went out of his way for a full hour and a half to rule out EDS of any type, then sat me down in front of him again, looked at me and said:
“You came here knowing what you had, you do know what you have, don’t you?”

I replied:
“I think so, but I need to hear it from you, Professor!”

He fully confirmed a diagnosis of EDS type 3 Hypermobility type, with gastro issues. Explaining to me in full how this is not a benign condition and that it needs treatment. He said he would write to each of my doctors and to me with a confirmed diagnosis, a full treatment plan and a recommendation for me to be referred to both a gastroenterologist and to  Harolds Cross in Dublin for intensive physiotherapy and rehabilitation to get me back on my feet.

He said we would wait and see how the Irish doctors and the HSE reacts to his letters and if nothing happens fast enough in the next few months he will recommend for me to come back over to his team for me to see Prof. Aziz (Neuro Gastroenterologist) and Prof. Mathias (Autonomic and Neurovascular specialist) for faster, although private treatment.

I also asked about the seizures and if Dysautonomia could cause them. He said he was not a neurologist but that people with EDS and Pots have had Non Epileptic seizures before, but he did not know if the seizures were caused by dysautonomia or something else, but that it has happened. He also agreed that it was most likely the medication that they were giving me to ‘treat’ the seizures, in fact, made it worse, giving that now I have stopped being prescribed these meds, I have had no more seizures.

I was delighted, It was so worth the money to fly over and meet him, even for the confirmed diagnosis itself. I haven’t received the letters as of yet but as soon as I do, I can presume my doctors will have gotten them too… I am very curious as to how they will react to what he has to say. Prof. Grahame is considered one of the worlds best Autonomic specialists, I would hope they listen to what he has to recommend for me and that treatment can finally get a proper run for its money! I would really love a chance at Harolds Cross for Rehabilitation. Anything to help me back on my feet again 🙂

IMG_1758We had one more day in London before flying home, we booked an extra day not knowing if Prof. Grahame would send me for some diagnostic tests or not but we had the day to ourselves.

A dear Irish friend of ours, now living in Stoke On Trent came down to London to meet up, it was the first time seeing her since Christmas and it was brilliant to catch up. We decided to go to the Natural History Museum to see the Dinosaurs and because it is free in! It was amazing! After a short wait in the queue to get in, the museum itself was fantastic. Not entirely accessible though, just be aware if you go there, not all areas can be accessed by wheelchairs but overall it is still definitely worth going to see and ended up being one of the highlights of the trip overall 🙂 Unfortunately we arrived on one of the last days that kids were off school, so the place was packed and the queue for the dinosaur area stretched the entire way across the museum, it would have taken well over an hour to get in and we decided not to wait, either way there was plenty for us to see, check out the photos I snapped on the phone! 🙂

IMG_1804After being about three hours at the National History Museum, we decided to head to Covent Garden where I picked up some pressies for the family and we caught a bite to eat, walked around for a bit and took in the sights and sounds before getting our friend back to Euston Station for her train back to Stoke on Trent, we said our goodbyes and Keith and I headed back to the hotel room, started to pack and prepare for the flight home the next day, then fell into bed.

The following morning we grabbed some breakfast and headed out to Heathrow, before long we were back on the plane home and it was all over. If I am to head back over which may very well be a possibility very soon, I will only stay for 1 or 2 nights as opposed to 3. London is expensive and you easily notice the extra day on your pocket just with eating and getting taxis alone But we didn’t know what to expect from our first trip and it was well worth going over to meet the man. I couldn’t have done it without the Medical Fund, and hopefully now treatment will get underway properly without any more doubts from the HSE.

My next appointment is on the 15th so I am interested to see how that goes and of course ill fill you in, so that is all for now, will leave you with some other shots from walking around London! Toodle pips! 🙂 🙂 🙂

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This time I ended up in the ICU!

It has been a crazy month, to say the least! A lot has happened, so this is going to be a long one, bear with me, I do these posts to refresh my own memory of everything that goes on too. There is a ‘too long didnt read” at the bottom of this for those of you who don’t want the nitty gritty, This post will include pictures and a short video clip of one of my seizures, so lets go…

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Just after I woke up in resus!!

Once again, on the 15th of July, I ended up having a Nurocardiogenic syncope at home followed by a prolonged seizure that required me to be sedated, intubated and rushed to Accident and Emergency via ambulance.

I was in resus until my breathing and everything was stable enough for me to be admitted, where then I waited on a trolly in A&E for 34 hours before being given a bed on a ward. 36 hours is the cut off point where a patient HAS to be given a bed, where I presume legal action can be pursued after this point, I don’t know to be honest.

After being admitted into the ER, waiting for a ward bed.

After being admitted into the ER, waiting for a ward bed.

It was 3am in the morning, I had been waiting around drunkards and violent drugged up assholes who had nothing better to be doing than shouting abuse and pulling off their bloody bandages where I could see where they had split their own heads open by falling backwards onto a kerb, probably falling only over their own feet or after starting some fight over something trivial. Either way I was finally given a bed on a ward, in a single room for the night where I really needed to catch up on some much needed sleep!

The following morning I was moved into a 4 bed ward nextdoor where it was quiet, lovely and peaceful, unlike the usual geriatric ward I normally end up on when I go into hospital. Here I caught up on sleep got a little better over a few days, then had another few seizures. Everytime I got medicated for the seizures they seemed to get worse, to the point where one day I had a seizure that made me end up in the HDU (High Dependency Unit)

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Epileptic Seizures are usually treated with drugs called Benzodiazepine’s or Benzos for short. Given in high doses they can cause respiratory depression and can stop breathing to a point where you may need to be ventilated. This happened to me and that’s why I ended up in the HDU so that I could be watched closely by nurses more ready and able to treat me faster than those on the ward. I was only there for a few days until a bed became available on another ward. The geriatric ward I hated so much!

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So, down I went, into the geriatric ward. I was so out of my mind on all sorts of sedative drugs, I don’t know how long I was on that ward before I had another seizure, this time a really serious one. Luckily as it happened, the head Neurologist happened to be in the ward at the time speaking with another patient so he came over and saw the whole thing happen. Over the course of 2 hours and 40 minutes I continued to seize and as usual they treated me with a huge amount of Benzos to try and stop it, but as usual, I seemed to resist, things became worse and I had to have my airway ventilated to the point where they decided to move me to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) as the seizure was so severe and I wasn’t coming around from it and they thought I may need to be ventilated for a further period of time or may need to be given even more serious drugs to help me wake up.

My Husband had been called in as this had obviously gotten serious, he had been called in a few times at this point because of prolonged seizures but even he was surprised to hear about me going to ICU. Keith has been amazingly supportive throughout and is always by my side for everything, I can never thank him enough for his love and support. He called my mum and they both rushed in to be with me.

Thankfully though, I did eventually come around on my own, stoned and confused, I thought I had woken on the Starship Enterprise or something, ICU, I have to say, from a Techy point of view, looked totally cool!!

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I hadn’t a clue where I was, I tried to lift my head to get a better view of my surroundings but the room spun, all I could see was, there was glass everywhere, amazing looking machines and monitors, all connected to the ceiling, giant robotic looking arms and tables with instruments beeping and clicking, where the hell was I? I almost immediately fell back into a sleep of utter stupor from the drugs they had filled me with until I heard a ladies voice…

“Hey you, welcome back to us, we got worried about you there for a while… You are in the ICU, my name is Dr. …”

The ICU?!! being told that even in a drugged up state was quite a bit to take in, she explained what had happened and that they were going to keep me there until they were confident that I was safe enough to be returned to the HDU (High Dependency Unit)

Keith and mum arrived in and it was nice to be awake for them, even if I was still stoned out of my noggin, I slowly came around properly and thankfully there was nothing cognitively impaired from what we could all tell. My heart rate dropped so low at times it set the monitors off a few times but my stats got eventually better, I was allowed to eat a little and have a wash before being returned to the HDU.

In the HDU, I didn’t recover very quickly, I was feeling terrible, slept a lot and refused to eat for a few days as I was so nauseous which in turn made my symptoms worse, my blood sugar dropped very low to the point where my nurse begged me to eat and drink something. I tried and things slowly improved.

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While in the HDU I had to endure feeling sad about having to miss the benefit gig, but I got a massive surprise one day when Keith arrived into me at visiting hours and said, “Someone is here to see you” … when they popped their head around the curtain it took me a minute to register as it was such a surprise, a dear friend came to visit me, all the way from America, just for one night to be at the benefit gig, she is a pilot so she has the freedom to jump a plane where she can and hitch a ride wherever, I couldn’t believe it, we embraced eachother, it was so cool, what an incredible gesture, one I don’t even know where to begin on how to thank her!!

I was in the HDU for 5 days and because the Neurologist on the ward originally saw the bad seizure, he fast tracked a bed for me in Beaumont Hospitals, EMU (Epilepsy Monitoring Unit) in Dublin, for an investigative Video EEG to find out are these seizures Epileptic with electrical activity in the brain or not and caused by something else.

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I was transferred to Beaumont via ambulance where I stayed for 3 days under constant monitoring, 2 cameras, a ton of electrodes glued to my head and 2 seizures later I was seen by their Neurologist.

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The seizures showed no sign of electrical activity in the brain at all so I was delighted to hear that he was confident enough to say I didn’t have Epilepsy, excellent, so, what was causing my seizures?

He said it was one of 3 things, 1 or 3 being the most likely:

1: They could be a symptom of the POTS or EDS, like Dysautonomic Seizures, but as that was not his field, he was unqualified to say and it would be best to speak to Prof. Grahame, whom I will be meeting in 10 days time in London.

2: It was purely psychological, which he wasn’t willing to believe as the seizures were very real and I was most certainly unresponsive with erratic stats during those episodes and have no evidence of past traumas or psychological problems.

3: Which he said was the most likely cause, was that the first seizure I had back in May that started all this may have been a complete once off and that the drugs and Benzos they treated me with and prescribed me with actually exacerbated all my symptoms, didn’t suit me at all and made everything far worse, so he was immediately going to cease all antiepileptics I was on. Which was outstanding news because since May all I have been doing on the new drugs was sleeping and not progressing at all.

Once that was settled, he wrote up his observations for my team of Limerick doctors and on the 3rd day I was returned back down to Limerick via ambulance and was put back into the geriatric ward where it was quite literally like a crazy house in comparison to Beaumont where everything seemed to run so smoothly by comparison!

A night goes by on the ward, old people moaning, crying out, the smell of poop and vomit… I needed out and fast, but I did notice one thing. Other than tremoring a little from coming down off the amount of Benzos they gave me, I hadn’t had a single seizure since they took me off the antiepileptics!! That was 3 days seizure free! I was feeling a little brighter and not a sniff of a seizure type headache, I was delighted and as it was the Friday prior to the long August weekend, I felt I didn’t need to be sitting, wasting a bed on the ward until the following Tuesday and I was eager to get home to Keith and the pup, it had been nearly 3 weeks in at this stage.

My medical team came to see me, asked me about how Dublin went, go through my charts, recognize that I am to be removed completely from all antiepileptics and if I am to have another seizure I am not to be given Benzos as they simply make matters worse. They will monitor my progress off the drugs until they see me next time and see how I do.

As part of their diagnostics and to rule absolutely everything out they want me to speak to a Neuropsych anyway just cover all angles, which I have no problem doing, we are all pretty confident I am sound, it is just another diagnostic. They completely recognize the fact that it could have been a once off dysautonomic seizure that was treated with medication that didn’t suit me.

Considering I have been out of hospital 15 days now and not a single seizure in sight, I am pretty delighted that is most likely the case. I am brighter, healthier, need less naps and have less symptoms in general since coming off the antiepileptics, that in itself is a wonderful outcome.

All that is left to do now is meet Prof. Grahame in 10 days time in London and hopefully he may be able to shed even more light on my prognosis.

Too Long Didn’t Read?
Had severe seizures, ended up back in hospital, longest seizure 2 hours 40mins which landed me in the ICU, was transferred to Dublin for tests which confirmed I didn’t have Epilepsy, turns out the first seizure may have been a once off dysautonomic seizure and it was the antiepileptic drugs they had me on that made matters worse, off them now and not a seizure since, WOO!!! 10 days till my trip to London to see Prof. Rodney Grahame.

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This time in Hospital, Seizures!

It was Friday morning and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… except for my husband, Keith and my sister, Jessica frantically calling out my name trying to wake me out of a syncope that had just happened after I got onto the floor to play with our pup Boo who now found herself up on my chest trying to worriedly figure out what the hell was happening to her mom.

There is a video, but I wont traumatise you… unless you want to that is, if so, let me know and I will share the video of my husband giving me rescue breaths while I fail to breath while out cold. It’s not a pretty site, I assure you.

I hadn’t come too, Keith called an ambulance and continued to give me rescue breaths for a further 17 minutes until they arrived.

All hell broke loose on the landing of the stairs while they proded and poked me with IV lines, Blood Pressure monitors, temperature readings and heart rate monitors and as I wasn’t breathing very well they decided to intubate me into my nose which immediately sent me into a full blown seizure, just to add to the mix for good measure!

This is what I am told of the day, as of the moment I passed out on the landing while petting Boo, I don’t recall a single sausage!

I was rushed to hospital in a state of Status Epilepticus while they tried to stabilise me and filled me full of every sedative probably known to man while I promptly and apparently completely ignored them and kept up the shake and vac, just to spite them!

Keith bagged up everything I needed, along with Jessica and Boo into the car, dropped them at my parents house and rushed into the hospital to be with me where I was in re-suss continuing to seize, even while doped up to the eyeballs and completely out of it.

A CT and full set of bloods was ordered and subsequently came back clear, yet I was still seizing and in and out of consciousness and while conscious, I apparantly kept looking around myself in utter awe and repeatedly asked, “Where is this place?!”… What an idiot, LOL! but in my own defense I was completely wrecked at the time and on all manner of wonderful drugs!

I was in the hospital for roughly 13hours before I started to make any manner of mental sense. This had them worried in that all day I was acting completely confused and not at all myself. They hadn’t been sure up to this point whether it was the drugs or if I had very seriously suffered some sort of oxygen deprivation to the brain.

Eventually I started to come round, still a little confused but as Keith explained everything that had happened, it was like all emotion suddenly connected with his words and I started to cry, a little in confusion and a little in the guilt I felt in all the bother I had caused everyone, especially Keith and my family. A completely irrational feeling but I couldn’t help it.

They admitted me and Keith decided to head home for a rest. The next day, Saturday, I don’t remember much of either as I mostly slept and puked and had a few more seizures, just to keep them on their toes!

Sunday is the first day I truly remember and I felt absolutely dreadful. My muscles were stiff and sore from seizing and I kept getting ill because of all the medication in my system and I had one hell of a headache and very low blood pressure.

I was in hospital after this for 2 weeks where I recieved just one more diagnostic test in all that time, an EEG. They were testing me for Epilepsy.

The EEG came back clear also but the Neurologist (now my newest addition to my team of doctors) informed me that he had seen people with epilepsy going through years of EEG’s before being able to catch the electrical activity in the brain so that they were going to start treating me for it anyway, and would continue testing as an outpatient, as I was continuing to have seizures and signs of the condition, like waking up with bites on the inside of my cheek and blood on my pillow. He said I had all the hallmark signs of it and so he started me on the new drug Keppra and sent me home on exactly the 14th day of my stay in hospital. I was delighted to be going home.

He told me to prepare for tiredness but boy, that was an understatement! The addition of this drug to the rest of my medications make my total daily tablet intake number 22 and has completely knocked me for six. The quality of my life is currently down due to the amount I need to rest and how ill I feel, especially after a seizure but hopefully once I get used to the new med in my system, I will be back on the right direction again.

The Keppra seems to be working also, any seizures I have had since coming home have been very mild and nowhere near as intense as they had been while I was in the hospital which is surely a good thing.

So now as well as Dysautonomia, Pots and EDS, I am now being treated for Epilepsy too.

I tell you one thing, I have an extreme new found respect for anyone who has lifelong Epilepsy, seizures really knock the crap out of you!

So where I stand am, now is that I have a lot of tests left to do, as an outpatient. Why they couldn’t do these as an inpatient ever yet boggles the mind, but there you have it. My hormones are so out of whack I may infact have a pituitary gland adenoma but no MRI was requested… this will be done as an out patient, if needed.

I have to have more EEG’s done as well as some Video EEG’s but they dont do them in Limerick, instead I will have to wait to be called to Cork or Galway, again as an outpatient.
Bloods, as an outpatient,

Urine, as an outpatient,

Life, The Universe, Everything, Outpatient!

Deboned, grated and put on a pizza, Outpatient!

Le sigh… but at least I am home and on the mend.

Also, because of these ongoing delays in my treatment (and in some cases the complete lack thereof) I have decided to set up a medical fund to help me get to London to Prof. Rodney Grahame and Prof. Mathias’ clinic who are specialists in Dysautonomia and it’s related conditions.

The treatment fund has been going amazingly well and the support has been amazing, I cant thank everyone enough for their contributions so far, once I reach the €5000 mark, I should be able to make my first trip over to get the ball in motion with my treatment.

That is all the news I have for now, I just wanted to update all that had happened while I was in hospital and there you have it! Hope you are all well 🙂 🙂 – The Fainting Goat 🙂