Meeting Prof. Qasim Aziz in London

Day: Saturday 13th May

Time and Itinerary:

5:30am – Wake up, get ready!
6:30am – Arrive at Shannon airport

6:35am – Check in
6:45am – Get Breakfast

7:00am – Board Plane with the help of Disability Services

7:15am – Flight Take Off

8:15am – Flight Land at Heathrow

8:45am – Get through security and make our way to the Heathrow Express Train

9:15am – Heathrow Express arrives at Paddington
10:30am – Hang around Paddington for a little while, get coffee

11:30am – Taxi to Consultants Appointment at The Physicians Clinic at Devonshire Street
12:15am – In appointment place, fill out forms and go into meet Prof. Qasim Aziz

Prof. Aziz was very welcoming, I found him to be thorough, interested, very educated and deeply experienced with EDS and it’s comorbidities.

I had everything written out over two A4 pages, Which he said he was delighted with and wished more people would come prepared! It had My Diagnosis, Investigations done to date, Medications, All my doctors listed, Current Symptoms etc. So he went through everything with me.

To make a long story short I was there over an hour, he didn’t rush us at all and listened to everything both my husband and I had to say about all the symptoms, pain and weightloss I have been going through with my Gastrointestinal problems.

He did a few basic tests with me while I was there and then sat me down to explain what he believes is going on with me.

He reckons I am high in ‘Histamines‘, meaning that I am all inflamed and raw throughout my body as a result it all contributes to my various symptoms even outside of gastro problems. He said that a ‘Low Histamine Diet‘, would be of huge benefit to my lifestyle for 6 months and then I can introduce other foods back into my diet.

He added things like, taking probiotics 2 to 4 times daily with the diet as well as the supplements that I may be lacking in like, Vit.C, Vit B Complex, Omega 3 and Chelated Magnesium.

He went through all my medications and changed them about as well as adding some to help my tummy. Apparently a few of the meds I am on to help my gut are in fact paralyzing it, so I have to cut back on those and my opiates as they are slowing my gut function down.

As the LowHistamine Diet is sugar free, he has also changed the Fortisip Compact calorie drinks I have been taking as he said they are full of sugar, so he changed them to E028 Cartons instead.

He mentioned that he has had people like me come into him in wheelchairs and after this diet and the other extensive recommendations he gave, they are now walking, relatively cured and back to work, living a normal life once again as the symptoms are now controlled.

He also said that everyone is different and what may work for one person may not necessarily work for me but it is certainly worth a try for 6 months at the very least.

I still have a lot of research to do to get my head around this new diet but he wrote out loads of recommendations so I know what to look for, I found him to be very helpful.

I have already received his full report, he had it emailled to me within 2 days, by the Monday after the appointment on Saturday, I thought that was very smooth and professional.

14:00pm: Finish appointment and get Taxi to the Hotel.
14:35pm: Check in and unpack and relax for a few hours to recover from the morning.
14:55pm: Pass out for around 2 hours
17:00pm: Wake up and go get some food
17:15pm: Make our way to the food plaza across from our hotel and find a sushi place

17:30pm: Too tired to deal with crowds so decide to bring sushi back to the hotel to enjoy in peace. Then just relax watching TV for the rest of the evening as we were both wrecked and I was beginning to feel really poorly after the busy day. I did ok though but we didn’t get much sleep as there was a Hen party in the room next door to us so it was really noisy at times but either way we got through the night and were up bright and early the next morning, Though we were both impossibly tired and I was barely able to move!

We get up, shower and get ready, check out of the hotel and get a Taxi to Paddington again to get the HeathrowExpress train into Heathrow Terminal 2 to catch the plane.
We grab breakfast and all goes as normal through security and onto the flight.

I always laugh at the sheer difference between the security in Heathrow compared to Shannon, Shannon are so lazy about everything and you literally walk straight through without little hassle but in Heathrow they want to examine every inch of you and your bag, which is great that they are so thorough but the difference in the two always makes me giggle.

Either way we got home safe, landed, went to collect our dog from my parents house and hit for home where we both crashed and burned pretty hard! I know right, just one day and were done, useless we are! I felt incredibly sick and my husband caught a flu on our travels so he has been hit pretty hard too since coming back. We both still haven’t recovered properly!

Next up now is to make sure my doctors and consultants here get a copy of the report he has sent me and to start a food plan to get this diet started once and for all. I am still following the Low Fodmap diet until I have everything I need to start this new Low Histamine diet.

I am looking forward to the adventure over the next 6 months or so with this new lifestyle change, and of course I will share it with all of you as I go along!

Thank you once again to everyone who made this trip possible, John Steele and Mick Dolan for organising the Bowie Gig in February which raised €2000 each for both Zondra Meaney and myself and also to everyone who contributed through my Go Fund Me Page. I am deeply appreciative to all  of you for your help and support, thank you.

Lette (Fainting Goat!) xxx

#REDS4VEDS Vascular EDS Awareness

 

It’s that time of year again where we all try to raise awareness of Vascular EDS, the scariest of all the EDS’s. It is in conjunction with Annabell’s Challenge and originally organised by @TheZebraMom and EDS Awareness Ireland. This campaign has gone global now (Well done to the creators!) so lets keep it going!

1: Wear Red
2: Snap a Creative Selfie
3: Be sure to use #REDS4VEDS
4: Share on all your social media accounts
5: Tag or Share with 3 others so that they will do it too and we can carry on the love!

Thanks Folks

Happy #REDS4VEDS Day! 🙂

May Is EDS Awareness Month – 2017

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Yes, it’s that time of year once again folks, May is EDS Awareness Month and this year, I update my diagnosis story as it just grows in volume and substance every year since all this started in 2011!! So here I go again, it’s 2017 and my story is in need of a clean up and update, so let’s jump right into it!

So firstly, What is EDS?

Put simply, EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or ‘The Ehlers Danlos Syndromes’, as it is now known since March 2017) is a group of connective tissue disorders. Here is a better explanation according to the EDS Wiki:

” Ehlers–Danlos syndrome (EDS) is a group of genetic connective tissue disorders. Symptoms may include loose joints, stretchy skin, and abnormal scar formation.[1] These are typically noticed at birth or in early childhood.[2] Complications may include aortic dissection, joint dislocations, scoliosis, chronic pain, or early osteoarthritis.[3][1]

EDS is due to a mutation in one of more than a dozen different genes. The specific gene affected determines the type of EDS. Some cases result from a new mutation occurring during early development while others are inherited in an autosomal dominant or recessive manner. This results in defects in the structure or processing of collagen.[1] The diagnosis may be confirmed with genetic testing or a skin biopsy. People may be misdiagnosed with hypochondriasis, depression, or chronic fatigue syndrome.[3]

There is no known cure.[4] Treatment is supportive in nature.[3]Physical therapy and bracing may help strengthen muscles and support joints.[3] While some types have a normal life expectancy, those that affect blood vessels generally have a shorter life expectancy.[4]

EDS affects about 1 in 5,000 people globally.[1] The prognosis depends on the specific type.[3] Excess mobility was first described byHippocrates in 400 BC.[5] The syndrome is named after two physicians, Edvard Ehlers from Denmark and Henri-Alexandre Danlos fromFrance, who described it at the turn of the 20th century.[6]” –

Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Wiki

If you would like to know more about EDS types, symptoms and a host of further information then I highly recommend The Ehlers Danlos Society Website for more info.

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My Personal Diagnosis Story.

Though I have had many medical issues throughout my life, my Chronic Illness journey only began properly in 2011.

One Tuesday morning in March, I woke to not feeling very well and as I was exiting the bathroom I called out to my husband who just happened to come and catch me as I passed out in his arms.

I continued to come to and then pass out again every time I straightened my legs. My Heart rate was racing and my Blood Pressure was dropping really low. My husband called the doctor for advice who told him to immediately call an ambulance or take me to A&E. He decided to drive rather than waste more time waiting for an ambulance which would take at least 30 minutes to get to where we lived.

On the way to A&E my husband had to keep shouting at me in the car to try and keep me alert as I kept needing to pass out. We finally arrived at the hospital, I was rushed inside and long story short, many tests and doctors later I was kept in for nearly a month where many further tests were performed, one of which was a Tilt Table Test with which I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (Pots) and Vasovagal Syncope (VVS) or Neurocardiogenic Syncope (NCS) – they are both the same thing, basically neurological fainting!

 

So where does EDS come into it?

In the 2 years following the diagnosis of Pots, I was hospitalized many times because of the fainting, low blood pressure and other complications. In the process of trying to figure out what caused the Pots, Hypermobility was mentioned a few times by a couple of doctors and physios, however, whenever I mentioned it to my Pots doctor (he is a geriatrician but he is the specialist who looks after me for my Pots), he didn’t seem to think it was anything to be worried about, even though I did have chronic pain and I did feel it was affecting me at the time.

As time went on, the pain became worse and I felt a formal diagnosis of Hypermobility would benefit me, though there are no EDS or Hypermobility specialists anywhere in Ireland, I still felt a diagnosis would help me.

I had heard about a Rheumatologist in Cork who knew about EDS and Hypermobility so I decided to pay him a visit just to see what he thought. Down I went to see him and within a few minutes of him seeing me he had me diagnosed with a ‘classic case of Hypermobility EDS’, with possible Classical EDS overlaps. I was surprised and kinda happy that I had finally confirmed my inkling that I had it.

However, this diagnosis from the Cork Rheumatologist wouldn’t be worth the paper it was written on… with my pots doctor anyway. He never accepted the diagnosis and just ignored it outright so I just had to live with the fact that my Pots was probably caused by the EDS but there was nothing I could do about it.

To help, my Pots doctor did organize for me to see a Rheumatologist in Croom hospital who confirmed my possible hypermobility and organized for me to do Hydrotherapy and physio at their facilities in Croom Hospital. Even that physiotherapist confirmed I had possible hypermobility but she never believed I had EDS. I found the HSE as a whole were fine to say hypermobility but would never confirm EDS (for fear they would have to treat me for it if they confirmed the diagnosis! I have always been paranoid that was the reason anyway… maybe not!)

You Said You Always Had Some Medical Issues?

Yup! I was even breached for a while before birth but thankfully righted myself before being popped out! When I was born then, I was born with a Fissure and a broken Tail Bone and throughout my life I always had gut issues, travel sickness and dysmotility and I was never without a cast, sling, crutch or some other bandage or plaster thanks to stupid injuries and broken bones which, even though broken bones are not symptoms of EDS I put a lot of my past injuries and ailments down to my EDS as you’re born with it, it’s with you from the start and I seemed to have a lot of various symptoms.

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I am currently severely deaf and wear Bi Lateral Hearing Aids, I have and have had since the age of 7, Bi Lateral Sensory Neural hearing loss and Otitis Media with under developed eustachian tubes and auditory canals. My younger life was plagued by ear infections and severe ear pain.

When I hit puberty and teenage years the fainting, feeling really weak, Nausea, Dysmotility and chronic pain got bad with a vengeance and again all the way through school there are photos of me in slings and on crutches, it was crazy! I did do Karate though from the age of 13 and I was constantly breaking bones from it! Baaaaad idea with EDS but sure I never knew and the A&E at the time only ever treated the individual injuries and never looked at everything as a whole!

My teeth and gums gave me problems too. From the age of 13 to 16, I was with an Orthodontist and had braces for the full 3 years. As well as always having gum disease for as long as I can remember, They could never successfully freeze my gums, they had to do lots of injections and finally had to bring in a heavy chrome looking contraption thing to freeze the gums, either way lots of freezing needed. I also had receding gum and bone and every time the braces were removed my teeth would start quickly moving back to where they had been! I now know all these teeth things are problems of EDS.

Things Improved and I Returned To Work

After a little while things slowly began to improve, life from 2011 had been turbulent but in 2013 I decided the time was right for me to return to work. I had been working as self employed while I was running my Media Production Company from 2010 after I had finished my Masters of Science in College and it went very well while I had the energy for it and obviously while I was sick I became unable to deal with 12 hour days traveling all over the country for day long photo and video shoots so I decided something slower paced would suit me better and I found the perfect job working from home for Apple Computers. I absolutely loved the job and because it was from home it was sedate enough for me to deal with some symptoms and still be able to work but just as things had started to go well, about 4 months in I tripped over my Mums dog we were minding and wrecked my hip. Symptoms seemed to crack up from here!

Things Then Got Worse and I Went Into A Wheelchair and Had To Stop Work

Things got worse and worse from here, my hip pain was daily and excruciating, I had to go into hospital for investigations where I was advised to stop work because of my illness and to start using a wheelchair to help my mobility. Of Course, I didn’t want this at all and resisted it at all costs but had to give in, in the end as I simply just needed it and now I am glad I have decided to use a chair as it has given me much freedom in this restricted state.  Work however has stopped and has not restarted since stopping in 2013. It doesn’t look likely that I will ever go back to work as this is a progressive disease.

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The symptoms continued to get worse and worse, I started having seizures, ended up in the ICU at one stage for a couple of days and I decided that going to a specialist in the UK was the right thing to do. I was hospitalized so many times where the doctors didn’t know what to do with me and didn’t accept my EDS diagnosis from the Rheumatologist in Cork and I was left with very little help or treatment.

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Even my hydrotherapy and physio had stopped early in 2014 as I had fainted in the pool because of my Pots in the hot water and the physiotherapist didn’t want to see me back at the pool or gym until such time as I stop fainting… which is never! So unfortunately I havent been able to get back to that either since it stopped!

Prof. Rodney Grahame, EDS Extraordinaire in London, was the next port of call.

The Hospital of St. Johns and St. Elizabeth in London

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I started a Go Fund Me and started fundraising to go to London. So many people generously helped out, Thank you to all, everyone was amazing, even a quiz night was organized and everything, I was blown away! I finally had enough to go and so I did, You can read all about the trip HERE.

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Long story short, we got to London and I got a confirmed clinical diagnosis of EDS Hypermobility Type with secondary GI Issues and possible Classical EDS overlaps, from the Professor himself. He did up a great long letter and treatment plan to send to my doctors that couldn’t be ignored and I have found has helped me hugely since getting it. He referred me to Harold’s Cross which I did in Feb 2016 and you can read all about that time HERE and I find all doctors and nurses take the diagnosis far more seriously than the one from Cork. I have had no more trouble from anyone on believing or disbelieving the diagnosis. He wanted me to return to see Prof. Aziz a Neurogastroenterologist for further tests and treatment and I had hoped to return sooner than I am able to. I will be returning in 10days time (2.5years later) to see him and I am excited!

Why Didn’t You Return To London Before Now?

Simply put, I was too ill to fly. The past 2.5 years have been by far the worst in terms of my symptoms. My Nausea is daily and intractable, my dysmotility causing so much pain and trouble that I have been hospitalized loads of times because of it and what I have been diagnosed with called Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction has been causing severe pain and again I have been hospitalized because of this and other chronic pain. I have also been diagnosed with Neurogenic Bladder Dysfunction and have had complications because of that also.

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My Neck has been giving me huge trouble. I am receiving Occipital and SI Joint Nerve Blocks for severe pain. My pain specialist thinks I have instability in my neck but that cant really be checked without an upright MRI, which I may also need to get, but again there is none in Ireland so this will have to be done in London if it is needed. At the moment he is treating me as though I have instability in my neck with the Nerve blocks and opiate pain meds until such time as I can get it checked properly. He has me in for a lie down regular MRI for which I am waiting to be called but he doubts it will show anything.

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My Gastro issues are probably my worst problem. They are what I am hospitalized for the most and they never seem to go away. This is why I decided to visit another specialist in Cork, this time a Gastroenterologist who has studied with Prof. Aziz (the Dr. I am seeing in London for my EDS Gut related issues) I went to see him in Cork and he immediately identified all my problems and symptoms, took note of all the medications I am on and booked me in for a number of tests that may be asked for in London anyway.
In Feb this year I had a Barium Swallow test that showed up all clear which is great. Next Monday I have a Gastric Emptying test to do which is happening just before I go to London to see Prof Aziz. I will be flying out the morning of Sat May 13th. The reason I decided to go to this doctor in Cork was that he understood EDS, I heard great things back about him and the fact that he studied under Prof Aziz all meant that he could possibly help me out and so far I feel he has. He was the one who wrote the referral letter to Prof. Aziz for me and he said he would work with whatever Prof. Aziz says in his treatment plan.

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So, When Are You Off?

All going well with my health (it has been very up and down lately, mostly down) we hope to fly out Sat Morning the 13th May at about 07:30am and landing in London around 09:05am. From here we may grab a bite to eat before heading to the appointment with Prof. Aziz at 12:30pm at The Princess Grace Hospital, where afterward we return to the hotel to rest.

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That’s the plan anyway, lets hope that’s how it works out! I tried a dry run of trying to stay up for 11 hours (sounds easy for some but for me I find it difficult to stay up past 4 hours before needing rest) as 11 hours is the time it takes from being up from about 05:00am that morning until about 4pm which is roughly the time we will make it to the hotel at, thats 11 hours up. I tried that the other day and actually failed at 9 hours and needed to crash so bad! so I am worried I may not be able for this trip but I will persevere and hope for the best. My husband will be with me so at least I wont be alone when I go to London and of course I will update you all when I return. I really hope the good professor can help! 🙂

Lette (Fainting Goat!) xxx

Off To London Again!

Finally I have a date set to go to London for a consultation and possible treatment with a Neurogastroenterologist who specialises in EDS named Prof. Qasim Aziz at The Princess Grace Hospital.

I will be flying out on Saturday the 13th of May early Morning and the appointment will be at 12:30pm in London. I am going, not only because I have been recommended by my doctors here, both in Cork and Limerick that I should go for advice and more targeted help by a professional who knows EDS but because of all the trouble I have been having with my gut related issues, by far my gut problems give me the most trouble and upset with almost constant pain, nausea, vomiting and weight loss as well as occasional swallowing problems and my already diagnosed  Gut Dysmotility.

My Doctor in Cork is coordinating his treatment with Prof Aziz in London so I am having a Gastric Emptying Test on the Monday before I fly out which will help as one of the tests that needs to be done before going over. I have already had a Barium Swallow X-Ray done in February and thankfully that was all clear, so thats another test already down!

I am really hoping Aziz will help me out if he can, it would be great to finally get some sort of relief from all the symptoms. Even if he can get a treatment plan sorted that my Doctors here in both Cork and Limerick can do more needed tests and know what more to do with me, that would be a help in it’s self but he may also want me to complete treatment or tests in the UK which I can’t plan for until I know if that is even happening, so I will have to wait and see and I will keep you all posted as usual.

Keith, being my carer as well as my husband will obviously be going with me as there is no way I would be fit or healthy enough to do it all by myself.
Even as it is we have the flights over booked but won’t be able to book accommodation or flights home until we know more from the appointment, as Prof. Aziz may need me to stay over for further tests etc. So we will leave that until the last minute when we know more.

That’s kind of it for now until we fly over and it won’t be long before we will be at the day, it’s going to be a long day traveling for me and I am not the healthiest at the moment, I have had to cancel going to London from the last time until now as I wasn’t strong enough to go for a long time, but I can’t wait any longer and it must be done now. May was the closest appointment I could get so I took it.

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who fundraised and helped with my medical fund over the last while to help me get there, without you these trips wouldn’t be possible and with no EDS specialists in Ireland, with I as well as others fast running out of any help, we have to travel for treatment and help as we are completely alone here, medically, in Ireland.

Thank you all once again and I will keep you updated on everything that happens.

Lette (Fainting Goat!) xxx

Saturday Submissions – With Evie from The Zebra Mom

I’m Evie and I come from Cork, Ireland. I’m a 29-year-old mother of two baby zebras. Alex is 7 and Olivia is almost 2. I am diagnosed with Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), Orthostatic Intolerance and Vasovagal Syncope. I first heard of EDS after interviewing a young woman with EDS for the paper I used to work for. Something about this woman’s story stirred something inside me and I became passionate about raising awareness of the condition. A year later I was diagnosed with EDS. When I’m not blogging, looking after my two children or lying in bed ill, I help my husband run our wedding videography business and co-host a radio show on Saturday evenings from 7pm (Irish time) on www.clonlineradio.com.

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I write about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome an awful lot and with where I am guest posting today, I decided to focus on Dysautonomia. I recently wrote A Simple Guide to EDS on my own blog so now I’m going to write A Simple Guide to Dysautonomia. I hope that this blog will help people to understand the complexity of Dysautonomia; if they are newly diagnosed or want to help their loved ones understand. I have omitted a lot of medical jargon and used easy to understand language so this can also be accessible to young people.

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What is Dysautonomia (DIS AUTO NOMIA)?

The Autonomic System is the system in the body responsible for every automatic thing your body does. It is responsible for the way you breathe, the way your heart beats, the way your blood pumps around your body, the way you digest your food and even the way your contractions work in child birth. The Autonomic System is very important.

So, when your Autonomic System doesn’t work correctly this is known as Dysautonomia. Dys simply means “bad”, “ill” or “abnormal”. Dysautonomia is a general term for any condition that disrupts any aspect of the autonomic system.

What causes Dysautonomia?

This is a complicated question. There are many, many reasons why Dysautonomia occurs. It can be the result of other conditions, for example it is believed that Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (AY-LERZ-DAN-LOSS-SIN-DROME) is responsible for Dysautonomia in some patients but that hasn’t been officially confirmed. It can be induced in pregnancy, can be inherited or can occur when the autonomic system has been damaged. Even being deficient in certain vitamins can trigger Dysautonomia.

How does Dysautonomia affect people?

Depending on the type of Dysautonomia you have, the symptoms vary. One of the most common types of Dysautonomia is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. That’s a mouthful, right? Most people just call it POTS for short.

POTS basically means that when you are in an upright position your heart beats faster than it should (at least 30 beats faster than when a person is lying down or sitting). This can make people feel very ill. POTS can cause people to faint when they’re upright or exercising, they can also get very bad headaches, have chronic fatigue (being tired all the time) or find it difficult to sleep. A big sign of POTS is red or blue coloured skin in the legs and feet when they’re standing or sitting. This shows that their blood is having trouble pumping around their body and is gathering in the legs and feet. This is often the reason why people get dizzy and faint.

Another common type of Dysautonomia is Orthostatic Intolerance (OI).  OI means in the simplest term that your body does not like being upright. Almost like you’re allergic to standing up. Some people with POTS also have OI. The symptoms of OI include palpitations (your heart pounding very hard), light-headedness, chest pain, trouble breathing, nausea, brain fog (trouble thinking or speaking coherently) and fainting.

Exercise, heat, alcohol or even eating a large meal can bring on symptoms of these conditions.

Other types of Dysautonomia include Vasovagal Syncope and Neurocardiogenic Sycope (NCS). These conditions also display similar symptoms.

How is Dysautonomia diagnosed?

If you’re experiencing symptoms of Dysautonomia, the first port of call is to discuss your symptoms with your doctor. Unfortunately, medical professionals fob off quite a lot of people. Patients are told they just need to get more sleep or exercise more.

If you do think you may have Dysautonomia, do suggest the possibility to your doctor. Like any other human, they won’t be able to remember everything they learned in college. You may just see a light bulb going off, and find that your doctor is suddenly able to help. Once a doctor focuses on the possibility, they should take a detailed medical history and perform a careful physical exam.

If your doctor is unwilling to take the possibility of Dysautonomia seriously, consider seeing another doctor. Patients lucky enough to be taken seriously by their family doctors are likely to be referred to a specialist.

The type of specialist you will be referred to usually depend on the predominant symptom they are experiencing. The specialist will then decide on what tests you need and then come up with a plan to help you treat and manage your symptoms.

Can you tell someone has Dysautonomia just by looking at them?

No. Dysautonomia is considered to be an invisible condition. Even though you can’t see it, it still exists. It is a disability and should be treated like any other visible disability. To a trained eye, Dysautonomic signs can be spotted like the pooling in the legs and feet like we discussed earlier.

Can Dysautonomia kill people?

Generally? No. There is a type of Dysautonomia called Multiple System Atrophy (MSA) that is fatal. It has symptoms vey similar to Parkinson’s disease, but has quicker progression. People with MSA are rare and the condition usually occurs in adults over the age of 40. The cause of MSA is unknown, and no cure or treatment slows the disease.

But generally, unless you fainted and hit your head or fell from a height, you won’t die from your symptoms. However, many people have a very poor quality of life due to the severity of their condition.

What treatments are available for people with Dysautonomia?

Luckily, most people can manage their symptoms with prescription medications given by their doctor.  A common medicine known as a vasoconstrictor can stop the heart beating too fast and the blood pressure dropping too low. While these medications can help relieve the symptoms of the heart problems, it does not solve the underlying issue causing Dysautonomia. Sometimes medications can make things worse or cause new symptoms.

Dysautonomia is generally considered a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. When the Autonomic Nervous System becomes unregulated it can begin causing damage to the organs. For example, some people suffer from a condition called Gastroparesis (GAS-TRO-PAR-EE-SISS). This causes the stomach and intestines to become paralysed. This means food often sits in the stomach and digestive system for too long. This means that people with the condition can be very ill. Some of them even need to be fed with a tube. This is why early diagnosis is important.

Treating Dysautonomic symptoms can be very tricky because there can be a huge range of symptoms. Some people will have to take different types of medications to treat all the different symptoms.

Luckily, there are some new treatments becoming available but they can be difficult to access, especially in Ireland where there are no Dysautonomia specific specialists or clinics.

I know someone with Dysautonomia who uses a wheelchair. Do all people with Dysautonomia need wheelchairs?

No. Not everyone who suffers from Dysautonomia needs to use a wheelchair. Some people have symptoms so bad that they need to use the wheelchair for their own safety just in case they faint and hurt themselves. Other people use wheelchairs sometimes when they are having a bad day with their symptoms. Some people with Dysautonomia have other conditions like EDS which means they have even more trouble with their body like chronic pain (pain all the time) or they are susceptible to dislocations (their joints pop out of their sockets). They may need the wheelchair to get around.

Some people don’t use wheelchairs at all; they may use a stick or not use anything at all. It varies from person to person.

Can you catch Dysautonomia?

No.  Dysautonomia is not contagious. If you know somebody with Dysautonomia, don’t be afraid, you’re not going to catch anything from him or her. So, if you’re avoiding someone with a type of Dysautonomia, go make friends with him or her.

How can I help someone with Dysautonomia?

Be there to listen if they want to talk about it. Some people are afraid to tell you how they feel because they think friends and family don’t want to hear them complain. Ask them how they are and if you can do anything to help them. Doing shopping or household chores can be a huge help and it would be most appreciated. If you’re friend or family member has Dysautonomia and can’t access appropriate treatment like here in Ireland, write to your local representatives to tell them about Dysautonomia and the lack of care that is available. Help raise awareness in the public by sharing articles or pictures about Dysautonomia. Dysautonomic conditions are incredibly under diagnosed and many of the tests needed to diagnose some of the conditions are not available here in Ireland.

If someone with a type of Dysautonomia that makes them faint collapses in front of you:

– position them on their back. If the person is breathing restore blood flow to the brain by raising their legs above the heart level. Loosen anything they are wearing that might be tight or restrictive. Usually someone with a fainting disorder will come to without any further problems. Give them a glass of water and when they’re ready, help them up slowly. If they are not ready to get up, sit or lie down with them.

young man who loses consciousness

It can be embarrassing to faint sometimes so it’s nice to have someone lie down and chat with you to make you feel better. Fainting can be very disorientating and the person may also be sore so let them rest. If you’re worried that they may have broken something or banged their head hard, take them to the hospital or out of hours doctor to get checked out.  If the person does not come to, starts seizing or stops breathing call 999 or 112.-

Well, I hope that I’ve explained Dysautonomia in an accessible way and that it is worthy of a share.
 
You can find more of my blogs on my own website, The Zebra Mom  You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat (evienevin87).

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Thanks so very much to Evie from The Zebra Mom for doing a Saturday Submissions blog for us and a very appropriate post it is too. Do you have any further questions in relation to Dysautonomia for Evie or myself? Please leave a comment below and tell us what you think!

——— Wanna Be Part of Saturday Submissions?———-

All you have to do is tell us a little about yourself and write a blog post in relation to your chronic illness, all welcome!

You can include photos (preferably your own, if found online be sure to add links to where you found them)

Be sure to add links to your social media accounts so people can link back to you OR You can write it anonymously if you like 🙂

You can send your submissions to: irishpotsies@gmail.com

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Updates and Everything Falls In March!

I have been so unwell over the last few months that I have missed and had to reschedule a lot of hospital appointments and now they all seem to have come in March!

I was last admitted to hospital in November last but never got around to writing about it, I was in for a week with another bout of agonizing pain in my right side and gut, all stemming from the Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction/ Gallbladder pain I had been having all along and that already hospitalised me over 4 times in the one year previously. They took real note of my weight loss this time and started me on new calorie drinks, some new meds, as well as doing some further tests, ultrasounds and abdominal X-Rays all leading up to a second ERCP on the 28th of March, of which I will write about below!

Yesterday I had a manual wheelchair assessment with my Occupational Therapist, I have now been measured and fitted for a new manual chair as my current one is loose, rickety and near impossible for himself and myself to push, not to mention that it is far too big for me at a size 18 where I need a size 14 or 15. Yesterday, I was fitted for the new Invacare Action 3NG  (In Ocean Blue!) and have been put on the funding list for it, which means if approved, I will get the chair through the HSE but if not I simply wont get it at all, especially since I was already approved for a new Motorised Wheelchair (Invacare Spectra XTR2 Pictures Below) a few months ago (But is only good for outdoor local use and we do not have a modified car to transport it so I need a manual one to use in the home and transport) There is no guarantee that I will get approval for the manual one, We will just have to wait and see.

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March kicks off with my birthday on the 5th, I have nothing planned only to celebrate with hospital appointments which start on Monday the 6th with a follow up appointment with my doctors who look after my Pots care in UHL. This usually involves looking at the current meds I am on, seeing if they need an update, they ask about my symptoms to date and see if I require another Tilt Table Test or some other tests etc. This will have been my first ‘Pots’ appointment in over a year now so it will be good to catch up and see if any changes are needed.

 

Wednesday of that same week, the 8th, follows with a Urology appointment to check my kidney and bladder function. This Urodynamics Test needs to be done every 6 months or so now that I rely on catheters for painful urinary retention, it can leave you more prone to kidney and bladder infections and kidney dysfunction so that needs to be checked frequently to try and catch infections and Kidney dysfunction as early as possible to prevent any damage.

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Image of a Type 1 Arnold-Chiari Malformation. The cerebellum has descended 7mm and there are herniated cerebellar tonsils into the foramen magnum. – Wikipedia

The next day, Thursday the 9th, I have an MRI of my neck and spine, as ordered by my Pain Specialist, to try and rule out Chiari Malformation or other complications because of the severe pain and headaches I am getting coming from around the base of my skull/ top of my neck area, I already get ‘Occipital Nerve Blocks’, for that and ‘Sacroiliac Joint Nerve Blocks’, for the pain I get in my lower back and hips, but I find these nerve blocks are only helpful for a very short period of time (sometimes, if at all!) and are not advised for long term treatment. I have been getting them on and off for over 3 years now altogether as well as continuously taking two types of Opiates (Fast and slow release), meds for neuropathic pain, anti-inflammatories and also muscle relaxants, daily, even with all of these and the injections there has been no proper ‘cure’, especially for the severe neck and head pain, if anything that has gotten worse, so he wanted to investigate that further. We spoke and he explained that he understands that EDSers usually don’t show any evidence of Chiari during a lying down MRI, it is preferred that an upright MRI is performed for a more honest view, however there is no upright MRI in Ireland, one of the closest being in London. I may not need an upright one at all, we will see what the lie down one shows first but he said he would refer me to London if needs be. I will also be returning to London, (privately as none of this is covered by the HSE!) to see another GI specialist that specialises in EDS very soon and I will also see what that specialist suggests I do because the pain and headaches have me bedbound most days now and have worsened my quality of life, where it was very low to begin with! 😦

The following Wednesday the 15th I am back down to Cork University Hospital to see the new private GI specialist I started seeing in November just gone. I won’t mention Names here but, he was recommended to me by a good few people on the Irish EDS related Facebook Pages stating that he is an excellent GI specialist who is very well read up on EDS (Also having studied and worked with the private GI Consultant who specialises in EDS, in London, that I had already heard about (and spoke about in the previous paragraph) and had planned to go and see.) It was recommended that I see him before going straight to London as he can do (in Cork) a lot of the tests they do in London, so I said I would give him a go, and I am so glad I did.

I have to say first that My Limerick GI Team in UHL are fantastic in that they have tried almost every test they could to see what is causing all my gut trouble. Since starting all the GI investigations in December 2014, up to now, they found out that I have ‘Gut Dysmotility‘ and ‘Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction‘,  but beyond medicating and treating me for those, they do not know what is causing my Nausea, Vomiting, Trouble Swallowing and Severe Gut Pain that has hospalised me more than 4 times in the last year, nor do they know why I have lost over 3.5 stone and continue to lose weight even though I am keeping my calorific intake as high as possible on as many days of the week that I physically can. The team have read up on EDS where they have needed to and continue to educate themselves as we continue to investigate (The tests in Limerick are ongoing, even with another ERCP Operation with Bile Duct Sphincterotomy (where they cut the muscle) at the end of this month) but I feel we are still coming to a dead end, Especially when the symptoms have eased only a little and ultimately continue to cause daily trouble and the head GI specialist of the Limerick Team came to me already and said that it would probably be better if I went to London to see what ‘The EDS Experts’ have to say. So on hearing about the GI doctor in CUH who knew his EDS, I made an appointment and went down to see him and get his advice before I decided to go straight to London.

 

The first Cork appointment came in November and I was pleasantly surprised when I met him. He was very well read with regards to EDS, listened to my full medical history, symptoms, complaints, procedures, tests and operations that I already had. Went through the medications I was on and went through some with me that I had never heard of before but he wanted to do a few tests and X-Rays before changing my medications. When he heard I was interested in going to the GI specialist who he trained under over in London, he was delighted to refer me over and suggested that it was a great idea to get his opinion as he would have the most expertise when it came to treating GI trouble in EDS patients and he thinks this London specialist should be able to help me.

He immediately wrote up a referral letter as I was there as well as booking me in for some new tests in Cork hospital that are not available in Limerick. He said these test appointments would be sent to me in the coming weeks after the appointment and sure enough, they did, they came through very fast, a lot faster than I have experienced in Limerick. I had a Barium Swallow X-Ray done in January and still waiting on the results of that which will probably be given during the clinic appointment I have on Wednesday the 15th of March and I am currently waiting on a Gastric Emptying Test appointment which should arrive, I am told, in the next few weeks. Either way I am very impressed with this Cork based GI Specialist who knows his EDS, I will certainly stick with him, as well as the Limerick team, for now while I wait for my London appointment to come through.

Not finished yet! I have a Gynae appointment in the Maternity Hospital on Monday the 20th. Then that Friday the 24th I have an EEG back at the UHL and finally, The Big One! I have another ERCP operation thingy with a Bile Duct Sphincterotomy the following and last Tuesday of the Month, the 28th.

 

The ERCP and Sphincterotomy is to treat the severe pain, nausea and vomiting I am having because of what the GI doctors in Limerick think is Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction. I have written and You can read about SOD and the ERCP procedures HERE.

I have already had the first ERCP procedure where they injected Botox into the SOD and you can read all about how (Kinda bad, though it inevitably worked!) that went HERE.

and that’s it!! That covers all appointments for March only! Every month there is usually something and it feels like, I only get out for doctors appointments these days! but what can you do?! 🙂

Lette xxx

David Bowie Tribute Gig

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Thanks to John Steele and all involved for organising this years David Bowie Tribute Gig as a fundraising gig for both myself and Zondra Meaney (She is also from Limerick and also has Dysautonomia, EDS, and many serious secondary conditions) with all proceeds going towards each of our respectful Medical Funds.

It is on Friday the 10th of February in Dolans Wearhouse Limerick. Tickets are only €10 and can be purchased HERE, Last year this Bowie Gig sold out fast so be sure to get your Tickets early!

It has an excellent line up of local talent including: Falldogs, Shardbourne, Eammon Hehir, Parliament Square, Theme Tune Boy, Siobhan O’Brien, Ronan Mitchell (Foxjaw) The Alvin Purple Experience and The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra, to name just a few!

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To raise extra funds there are also beautiful posters designed by Ken Coleman especially for this night, They are size A3 on a matt card finish at a price of €20 each, there are only 50 made and a lot of them have been taken already so to be in with a chance to get yours put your name down HERE asap.

If you cant make the night but would perhaps like to find out more or donate to the funds separately you can do so at the links below:

Lette Moloney’s Go Fund Me

Zondra Meaney’s Go Fund Me

Alternatively, sharing this blog post to your friends would be hugely appreciated.

Thank you all and again to all involved,

Lette 🙂