Saturday Submissions – With Denis Murphy – Parkinson’s Disease and Self Expression

Parkinson’s Disease and Self Expression.

Hi, my name is Denis Murphy and I’m from Cork city. I am currently living in a little village in county Sligo.
A major turning point in my life came in 2007 when, at the age of 48,
I was diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson’s Disease.

I would like to share some of my thoughts, feelings and emotions with you as I believe by sharing, we can better understand what we are going through,
which often seems like a lonely struggle.
It can also bring a better understanding to our family, friends and loved ones.

We can get caught up in our own worries and forget that our disease or condition not
only affects our own lives but those around us and they often feel as frustrated and
confused as we do.
I am very lucky to have such an understanding wife.
She has had M.S for over thirty years so she has great patience,
empathy and understanding through her own experiences.

As anyone who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease,or has a family member who does,
will know and understand that it brings about drastic changes, both physically and mentally.
It can be very difficult for people with Parkinson’s to
express their emotions, feelings and
to cope with their loss of power and independence.

One of the many physical conditions is called “The MASK “.
This is when the face muscles become stiff and rigid and expressionless.
The eyes appear to lose their sparkle and the mouth seems to be
permanently in a “sad” position. To the outside world this appears as if the person with Parkinson’s Disease
( or PWPD for short) is uninterested, bored and
apathetic. But behind this stern facade lies a sea of feelings and emotions.

Another symptom of Parkinson’s is a problem with vocal expression.
The voice becomes weak and we lose our strength and with
this we begin to lose confidence in ourselves.
We find it more difficult to express our opinions
and ideas in public as we struggle to be heard.
So between difficulties with facial and vocal expression
we can withdraw into ourselves and stifle our emotions.
All the more need for an outlet to express these
emotions, feelings and fears.

So many PWPD find this through art, be it painting or crafts or writing.
While Parkinson’s Disease severely restricts our physical and mental activities,
there is one advantage.
Whether it is the disease itself or the side effects of the medication
but it seems to stimulate the creative areas of the mind.
So it is only in the last two years I have begun
to compose and express my feelings through my poetry.

The main themes of my poems are about coping with Parkinson’s Disease
or any disability and the fears and hopes and also about our
relationship with Nature and with ourselves.

So enough about me, I hope that you will enjoy the
rantings and ravings of a mad Corkman and that my words may
stimulate your mind and make you think about life,
changes, and above all, appreciate this wonderful
gift we have been given.

–  c/ Denis Murphy 23 April 2017. 

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 Background information on the poem – A Parky in the Pub

This is the first poem I ever wrote about Parkinson’s. So it was an important step for me
in revealing my personal feelings and exposing my emotions publicly.
I used humour to write about a serious subject.
I do not like the term “Parky” but in this case it’s just a play on the word party.

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A Parky in the Pub

I’ll head down to the pub for a drink and the craíc
Sure I’ll be dead long enough on the flat of my back
So I make my way down to my local bar
On the other side of town for a chat and a jar
Some sit alone, some sit together
Talk of the match or of the weather
And after a pint or two
I need to visit the loo
So I shuffle and stagger around tables and chairs
Aware of the glances, the pity and stares
Through the noise and the clatter
The gossip and the chatter
I make my way back to my friends and my table
Slow progress but thank God I’m still able
The lads at the bar exchange advice and opinions
To the world’s problems and all their solutions
While the girls at the table share secrets and giggle
And walk pass the lads with a sway and a wiggle
The winking and nudging, the secret half glances
Some of the lads even fancy their chances
The smutty jokes and clinking glasses
The lad’s loud laughter like braying asses
As they drown out the music like crows in the nest
It’s time to go home for some peace and some rest
So I say my goodbyes in words and mumbles
And make my way home in staggers and stumbles.
The journey home seems twice as long
But I’m on the right road not gone wrong
Two steps forward one step to the side
Steady as she goes watch that stride
Left foot right foot no downward glance
Sure I might yet get to star in River Dance
– c Denis Murphy Aug 2015

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Thanks so much to Denis for todays Saturday Submissions post. Be sure to check out Denis’ own blog and make a connection. I love the poem and the play on words here to show the symptoms of Parkinson’s akin to those of being drunk. How do you feel about his poetry, does it resonate with you? Be sure to leave some feedback for Denis and share the love! 🙂

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

All you have to do is tell us a little about yourself and write a blog post (Any word count) in relation to your chronic illness, or how a relation/friend/patient with an illness affects or interacts with you, etc. 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 just be sure to put your details in the email so I can respond to you personally 🙂

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

Saturday Submissions – With Ciara Chapman

In Today’s Saturday Submissions, I speak to the lovely Ciara Chapman from ‘My Chronic Pain Diary’,

Ciara is from Cork here in Ireland and is 34 years old.  As yet she is undiagnosed but has been experiencing chronic pain as a result of a nerve problem for 2 years now and she’s been getting through the experience by creating a beautiful illustrated diary.

Taken from the ‘About’ page on her site:

“I started ‘My Chronic Pain Diary’ in January 2016 as a form of Art Therapy to help me cope with the mental and physical toll Chronic Pain has taken on me. It’s a very lonely and isolating experience, even if – like me – you are fortunate enough to be surrounded by and supported by the people you love. I found the medication I was prescribed made it difficult for me to read, the words were fuzzy and I had my fill of television so I turned to my love of drawing. I hope by sharing this diary it will reach people in similar situations, whether you are experiencing physical, mental or emotional pain it is so important to remember we are not alone.” – Ciara Chapman – http://www.mychronicpaindiary.com

Please take a look at these images, I think they are so full of meaning, fun and life, very beautiful and excellently executed. I love them! Enjoy!

 

33_Twostepsforward

One step forward, two steps back.

3_Physio

Physiotherapy

5_OpinionAfterOpinion

Opinion after opinion after opinion…

7_Endless nights

Endless nights with little sleep

9_V2OutToSea

Out to sea

51_HelpWanted

Help Wanted.

52_RainRainGoAway

Rain, rain go away

53_Knowingyourlimits

Knowing your limitations

56_IveStartedMeditation

Meditation

14_Ifeelguiltysometimes

I feel guilty sometimes

36_TimeFreeze

Time Freeze

 

Thanks so much to Ciara for sharing her wonderful illustrations with us, they really are stunning, please be sure to check out her link above and make a connection and please leave a comment or feedback if you relate to any of these images.

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

All you have to do is tell us a little about yourself and write a blog post (Any word count) in relation to your chronic illness, or how a relation/friend/patient with an illness affects or interacts with you, etc. 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 just be sure to put your details in the email so I can respond to you personally 🙂

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

Saturday Submissions – With Stephanie Baxter

I know, I know! I am late with this again, I am so sorry, I just couldn’t get to the computer the last few days because of the health once again. I will have to do them during the week and have them publish automatically on the Saturday morning. I will do better, I promise!

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In this weeks Saturday Submissions, we speak to a good friend of mine that I know through Facebook as ‘Tuffy’, She has a host of chronic illnesses and this is the first ever telling of her own story. So lets hear it for Tuffy and give her a warm welcome to the world of Blogging! 🙂

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Saturday Submissions With Stephanie Baxter

I’ve never told my story before because it’s weird and I’ve ended up with a bunch of rare things. People tend to get either bored or uncomfortable with the full version. I’m having to come up with some creative reasons why I’m in my wheelchair.
I’ve summed up with a Sword fight. I don’t get such a fun reaction. I’m thinking of changing it!

Anyway, I’m an old lady (48) But I’ve had issues with my heart palpation since I was 17 or so. When I was 20 I was pregnant with my first kid. The doctors wouldn’t listen to me. The palpations were so bad anywhere I would go I would have to stop everything for about a minute. Only because my heart was beating so fast and hard. Talk about a massive head rush! But I was also told they were side effects of pregnancy.

So, after a few years and another kid (I really was terrified of dying during birth) everyone around me told me I was fine & if the doctor wasn’t worried, why should I be? Ok First Lesson people!! If it’s your body and Your scared, Start Screaming for Anyone to listen!!

I put up with this for 10 Years before I Finally was diagnosed. I had to get a blood clot first, But hey, your body has to do what it Needs to do. So, I’m 27 years old and finally I’m seeing a Cardiologist. I told him that my heart goes super fast. He asked me if he could check it out. I thought, heck why not. It’s probably nothing.. Wrong Answer!! I’ve got stickers all over my chest and this readout starts printing and the Doctor gets All excited!!!

OK, Lesson number 2, When a Doctor gets Excited, be Scared.. it’s Not good News! I have an inherited disease called (WPW ) Wolff Parkinson White. My electrical pathways were kinda not working right. So it was (is) making my heart palpate.

The doctor told me I was in the 10% of the population, oh and I needed an ablation right away or I can go into a heart attack and die. Yeah, my inner voice yelled at me for listening to all those Stupid people!! Who in the end, didn’t really give a crap.

As I said, listen to yourself… so, I went in for my first ablation. Well, it ended up 2 of them because the first one didn’t quite take. After about 2 or 3 years I started taking Hawthorne supplement. Because my palpations started to come back.

Then after a few more years and a Great deal of stress I was Finally diagnosed with Pots and the WPW came Roaring back.

Now just so we all know, my paternal grandfather had wpw, they didn’t have a name for it in the 2nd war, he would be driving his supply truck in Germany and a bomb went off, he just ended up in the ditch with “heart attacks”. Which is what they were. But there was nothing they could do for him.

Personally it really sucks! Plus the pain is right Nasty. Chest pain and all. Back to me, I got to play with beta blockers & calcium Channel blockers to keep my heart under control, it just ended up confusing my heart, it was up to 300 then it would drop to 30 in just a few seconds. Thus me checking on the floor making sure it wasn’t lonely. I Never did get to pass out, but ya know.. I’m a blonde asthmatic dyslexic.. why add on to that??

The doctors got mightily concerned and decided I needed a pacemaker. My first. Wow, I got to name him. Something fancy, so I came up with Engleburt Humperdink! (You young ones look him up) it fit great!! I went in & as the doctors who have been putting in pacemakers for Decades, they put in the first lead.. that went smoothly it was the upper lead they had major issues, my heart took off and I’ve Never seen 2 Cardiologist freak out before. They couldn’t slow down my heart for anything. They never had this happen before. I suppose they finally found the relaxant. Yeah, it’s a fun story. They stapled me together and within 6 months I had to go in for another ablation.

They made me stay awake. All together in 10 years I’ve had 9 ablations. Yes, they made me stay awake during all of them (the first 2 were exception) as I’ve said I’m Really rare and different. I felt every ablation, just as I can feel my heart go into tachycardia. The last ablation they tried to make me completely dependent on my pacemaker. They were only 95% my heart still goes off but now only for a limited time. Few seconds here and there. Nothing like it did. Now I’m dealing with the pots.

But I found out more family info. My mother had the same thing, so does my niece’s (2) so now I’m finding out its genetic. When it’s genetic the symptoms are severe. Where I Live, I was told that all they can do is just treat the symptoms. I’m getting new symptoms and they are not pretty. So, we moved to a new state for better medical care. My timing couldn’t be worse, Spring is kicking me around like I’m it’s new punching bag. Being bed bound is hard enough, but now we’ve got to find another place to live and paperwork to do plus finding doctors that might just care.

If your wondering, I found Irish Dysautonomia back when I was around 30ish. A Long Time ago!! I found you guys on YouTube. It was the first time I was introduced to what the Crap I really do have. I’m thankful for the support and information that I’ve found. It’s very personal and individual in its attacks.

I’m also bipolar 2. So I’m on a few meds right now. Fludicourt for my blood pressure is the main thing, but then I’m finding out that anxiety is a symptom as well. Which having bi-polar 2 & ptsd Really makes me realize how severe this crap is. I’m very open about my mental health as well as my physical health. I’m one person, why separate? If my stress (anxiety) is affecting my heart why treat my mind and my heart seperate?

So, I’m really big on coping strategies. They Really do help. Anyway, I’m around sometimes on Facebook my name is Tuffy Baxter, I would like to be on Facebook a lot more, but it’s difficult.

Thank you for reading this blog. It is my first at telling this story. I hope if anything helped give a smile or 2. I suppose I shall see you all soon in the funnys!! 😍😍😍

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Thanks hugely to Tuffy for that Blog post, please be sure to check her out on Facebook and make a link and please leave a comment below if you relate to Tuffy’s post 🙂

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

All you have to do is tell us a little about yourself and write a blog post (Any Wordcount) in relation to your chronic illness, or how a relation/friend/patient with an illness affects or interacts with you, etc. 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 just be sure to put your details in the email so I can respond to you personally 🙂

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

 

Saturday Submissions – With Dr. Liam Farrell

It’s a day late, I know, I know, I’m sorry – (It will be worth it, promise!) I haven’t been well in the last few weeks, I completely forgot all about Saturday Submissions last week and then I do it a day late this week, oh dear! I can do better than this, surely!!

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This week I speak to Dr. Liam Farrell, yes, a real doctor, or at least used to be a family GP, now better known as an award winning columnist and broadcaster. You can find Liam over on Twitter as @drlfarrell.

 

Why presentations are best served rare

We are doctors; we do terrible things to people. They come into the surgery like healthy folk and go out as patients. If they’re really unlucky we confine them to an institution where the occupants are routinely left immobile, deprived of sleep, fed a diet that is tasteless and nutritionally marginal, and experience the de-humanizing indignity of being half-naked all the time.

‏The average age of a patient in general practice is 75 years old.. Many have multiple diagnoses, and their care is incredibly complex, and above all requires more of our time. But our time is in increasingly short supply, so much of it wasted on the worried well and on health promotion. If we reckon on 15 mins per consultation, a family doctor with 2500 patients would spend 7.4 hours per day to deliver all recommended preventive care and 10.6 hrs per day to deliver all recommended chronic care.

‏This leaves a generous 6 hours every day for those pesky acutely ill patients, sick certs, insurance and passport and DLA forms, paperwork, eating, sleeping, banging our heads against the wall in sheer frustration, toileting and reproducing. But what is never understood, by patients, the general public, the media, bureaucrats, managers or politicians, is the huge numbers of people family doctors see who aren’t sick, and who have nothing wrong with them; this really can’t be comprehended unless you sit in with a family doctor for a whole surgery. A huge part of our job is telling people what they don’t have. Unfortunately, ‘nothing wrong with you’ is a retrospective diagnosis and can only be made after the consultation.

As the threshold for attending healthcare services grows ever lower, there are more and more worried well, too much screening and over-treatment. It becomes harder and harder to pick out the really sick person from amongst the ranks of the worried well; when you are looking for a needle in a haystack, the last thing you need is more hay. There is consequently not enough time and resources to the really sick; so everyone loses, especially those with hard to recognise rare diseases.

As The Fat Man said in The House of God, when a medical student hears hoof-beats outside a window, he thinks it’s a zebra.

Which might be true, of course, in certain circumstances – if you were in practice in the Serengeti, for example (curiously, I was once in the Serengeti, heard hoof-beats outside my window, peered through the early morning mist and saw only an old cow).
A medical axiom used to be that common things are common and uncommon presentations of common diseases are more common than common presentations of uncommon diseases. But this is now known to be misleading. Taken all together, rare diseases, and rare variants of common diseases, are not uncommon. And diagnosing rare diseases is very difficult; it’s not as if there is a are disease specialist we can refer patients to.

I do have some hard-earned experience. As an intern, I saw a young lad in casualty. He had fainted at a disco (yes, it was that long ago, Saturday Night Fever was quite fashionable. Old age is creeping up on me, not sure why but fairly sure it’s up to no good) and he had a few unusual skin lesions and a labile BP.

These days, I doubt if I would be able to recognise a phaeochromocytoma ( a rare tumour of the adrenal glands) if one walked up and assaulted me with a blunt speculum (I’ve been flogged into apathy by too many URTIs and sick certs, rare and interesting diseases only present to other doctors), but I was young then, fresh and sharp and so hip, I could hardly see over my pelvis.

I wrote ‘possible neurofibromatosis?’, ‘possible phaeo?’ on the chart and admitted the young man to the ward. I was too green to realise the importance of hoarding unusual cases to myself, for my own advancement, and sure enough, the rumour spread around the hospital as fast as an epidemic of flaming gonorrhoea.

Later, when I went to check up on my patient, I found him buried under a tide of medical students, SHOs and research registrars, all keen for a piece of the glory, all ordering 24-hour urines, all dreaming of a case report for the peer-reviewed journals and another notch on their CVs.

‘Help me, doc,’ he said, desperately, ‘they’re suffocating me.’ I whipped away the students, but the others were far above me in the hierarchy and I could offer little succour.

‘Sorry, pal,’ I said. ‘It’s a common complication of uncommon diseases.’

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Thank you so very much to Liam for providing todays Saturday Submissions!
What did you think of his post?
Do you relate as a medical Zebra?

Please leave a comment and let Liam know what you think, be sure to check out his Twitter Link and make a new connection! 🙂

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

All you have to do is tell us a little about yourself and write a blog post (Any Wordcount) in relation to your chronic illness, or how a relation/friend/patient with an illness affects or interacts with you, etc. 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 just be sure to put your details in the email so I can respond to you personally 🙂

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

Saturday Submissions – With Caroline from Living With PoTS!

Hi everyone! I’m Caroline, I’m a 21-year-old student, blogging about life with a chronic illness. You can find me on Twitter , The Mighty , and at my blog Living With PoTS


Screen shot 2017-03-25 at 17.05.44

Whilst not yet diagnosed, I’ve been suffering from PoTS symptoms for around 7 years, which have dramatically worsened over the last few years. My main symptoms are severe dizziness and fatigue when standing, as well as joint pain (which is probably related to some other undiagnosed condition). Recently, I made the decision to use a wheelchair for the first time, which was a pretty big decision and something I want to talk about.

I want to start off this post by saying that choosing how and when to use a wheelchair is an incredibly personal decision, and this is only my own experience.

 

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Why a wheelchair?

Ever since I realised that there was a genuine health reason for me being in so much pain, and not felt like I was being lazy, I’ve been trying to work around it. Whilst I can manage my day-to-day life relatively well, trips away are a massive struggle. Last month, I had what should have been an amazing trip to London planned for my best friend’s 21st birthday, two whole days of sightseeing, shopping and shows. Obviously, with it being such an important birthday, I wanted to make sure she had an amazing time, and that me being tired and in pain didn’t get in the way.

Worries

It’s safe to say, I had a lot of worries about starting to use a wheelchair. The practicalities: how do you borrow one? How do you steer it? Where are the brakes? The stigma: what will people think when I ask for one? And when I’m able to stand up out of the chair? And personally, admitting to myself that it was something that I needed, on occasions, and that it wasn’t a big deal, that using a wheelchair for a special occasion like this wasn’t making a commitment for the rest of my life.

How did it go?

After chatting to a few friends, and browsing museums to find one that hired wheelchairs, I decided to go for it, and on arrival at the Natural History Museum I went to the cloakroom, signed a disclaimer, and 30 seconds later was equipped with a wheelchair. After a bit of figuring out how to fit me, my coat and way too many shopping bags in it, we were go.

I started off being pushed, but the lack of control really bothered me, so I decided I was going to push myself which worked much better (after a few incidents getting around corners anyway!). Whilst my arms were so sore the next day, I think that’s something I’d get used to.

Practically, it was better than I expected. People were on the whole really polite, happy to move out of the way, and no-one I noticed gave me any weird looks or anything. In terms of the museum it was hard going; I couldn’t see quite a lot of the displays, and trying to find lifts was mission impossible.

Overall though, it’s a big thumbs up for the wheelchair. Whilst it is not something I would want (or need) to use every day at this point, for occasions like this, where I’m trying to pack a lot of activities into a few days, it makes things so much easier. It means I can do so much more, without the repercussions of the next few days, and more importantly (for me at least), it means I’m not impacting on others as much.

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Thank you so very much to Caroline for providing todays Saturday Submissions!
Do you relate to how she felt?
If you use a wheelchair, did you find the initial transfer to using the device difficult?

Please leave a comment and let Caroline know what you think, be sure to check out her social media links above and make a new connection! 🙂

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

All you have to do is tell us a little about yourself and write a blog post (Any Wordcount) in relation to your chronic illness, or how a relation/friend/patient with an illness affects or interacts with you, etc. 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 just be sure to put your details in the email so I can respond to you personally 🙂

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

Looking for Guest Bloggers Please!

guest-blogging

 

Hi folks,

I am still on the lookout for guest posters for this little bloggie, I would appreciate hearing back from anyone with or in contact with a chronic illness. Patients, Partners, Family, Friends, Carers, Therapists, Doctors, anyone who would like to take part. If you know of anyone who might like to, please share this with them, thank you!

It can be completely anonymous or open, whichever you prefer, please just follow the steps below to take part and I really look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Also, a very BIG Thank You to those who have submitted something already, I hugely appreciate the efforts, thank you 🙂

——— Wanna Be Part of Guest Blog Submissions?———-

All you have to do is tell us a little about yourself and write a blog post (Any Wordcount) in relation to your chronic illness, or how a relation/friend/patient with an illness affects or interacts with you, etc. 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 just be sure to put your details in the email so I can respond to you personally 🙂

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

 

 

Lette 🙂

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.

evie blog

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.

POTS-for-dummies

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!

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