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

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

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

 

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

Ambulance Time Once Again!

On August tenth we had to call an ambulance yet again!
I had been in bed for weeks at that stage nursing a savage pain on the right side of my abdomen. This wasn’t the first time it has happened, and probably wont be the last! It got to a stage where I was trying to manage the pain myself at home, trying to avoid going into hospital, but I had to face facts and call it as it got too bad to manage on our own this time.

The Ambulance arrived promptly and began to tend to me. They were a crew of two, Male and female, and were excellent. Friendly, Professional, funny easing the mood when needed and seemed to take a genuine interest in what both Keith and I had to say and contribute.

Unlike the last few ambulance calls, this visit from them wasn’t rushed. It was calm, sedate and gave us time to properly prepare to go into A&E. While they took their time trying to locate a vein on my foot, Keith ran upstairs to the computer, got ready and printed off an A4 sheet with simple information on it about me and my condition, highlighting the main issues I present with, medication I am on and what would be needed when first admitted like fluids, Pain control and Catheterisation, etc.

The reason for this sheet was because through previous experience we have found to be constantly repeating ourselves while giving out my information to different people and yet only parts of the overall story get heard by all different people and nobody has the full story! This time we  said we would try getting this sheet in as a common denominator of information in my files so that everyone will be literally be on the same page regarding my care and see what happens. It was worth a try at least.

After getting a vein in my foot and administering some morphine for pain relief, we were eventually ready to go to the hospital and the ambulance crew were brilliant with everything as well as taking on the information sheet, which they said they thought it was a fantastic idea and wished more people were that organised!

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We quickly made it to the hospital, after getting more Morphine on the Ambulance, I was brought straight into the A&E main area, Thankfully I wasn’t rushed into Resus at any stage this time, it was calm and sedate and a far better visit this time round.

I was delighted to hear back from the Female paramedic that she passed on the sheet Keith had given her, to the triage nurse and that the nurse also commented on what a good idea it was to have all the main things highlighted on one page where everyone can see it. She said she would put it in my file so that all the doctors would see it too. So far so good for our little A4 sheet!

While waiting around for a short while, waiting on the triage nurse to find a place to put me as it was busy in A&E that day, The Paramedics were chatting to me and told me they knew some student and new paramedics who were doing papers based on me for some exam that was due the next week! Morto! I found it funny that they would pick me based on my rare or under diagnosed EDS condition or as I like to call it, ‘my awkwardness!’ :p

I once again had terrible trouble getting veins in me, doctor after nurse after doctor tried and failed and it started getting really sore. The vein the Ambulance crew had gotten was already failing just a few hours after it was put in, my foot swelled up  and they were worried as they really wanted to administer fluids and iv meds so they wanted a vein soon. Throughout the following week while in the hospital, this continued. a vein would be gotten and it would fail almost immediately until in the end the anaesthetics team had to be called and they had no trouble getting a vein and thankfully now a note has been put in my file to say that only anaesthetics are to place a cannula on me and no one else, so hopefully all the prodding and poking will come to an end now.
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After spending no more 24hours in A&E this time around, I was admitted to the surgical ward. While in the A&E I had all the usual tests, xrays, scopes, exams, the usual trouble of about 50 different doctors trying to get a vein after a brief moment of being cocky and saying something like, “Oh I’m good at this, don’t you worry”, or,”Oh really? Bad veins, huh? well, I like a challenge!” and then just end up being unsuccessful anyway! That always provides me with a giggle especially towards the cocky ones who think I wont post a problem, cha! Say that to me after 20 mins of trying hopelessly! :p Being admitted after 24hours was quick though, considering that I have often had to wait over 46hours before.

I always like being admitted to the surgical ward. Not only does everything seem to be more up to date and cleaner, but Compared to the medical wards, The mood on the ward is generally brighter both from the staff and the patients. The Nurses seem to genuinely care, are not as dismissive as others I have encountered on the medical wards. They get upset when you get upset, they don’t like to see you in pain or discomfort and as much as they are able, they won’t keep you in pain for long and will treat you asap when they are asked to, a lot of the time, they don’t even need to be asked, they will notice themselves and will get you what you need to help ease your discomfort. Also, the electric beds are well cool! :p

I saw My Surgical team the next morning bright and early and they took the situation serious when they saw I had lost over 3.5 stone with the nausea, vomiting and general pain and discomfort I have been having with my gut issues.

As well  as my pain team to cover my Occipital and Sacroilliac joint Nerve Blocks which were due once again, They called in a dietician, a tissue viability nurse to talk about any difficulties I may be having with the chair, thankfully theres nothing serious going on there but she wanted to refer me to a Dermatologist for a small bit of irritation caused by the chair that was easily sorted with some long term antibiotics (starting with an 8 week course and if it needs to continue after that it could go up to 16 weeks), will just have to wait and see how it works. Then they wanted to get a serious OT assessment for me as my own local OT never properly assessed me for manual chair or a bed, given my situation, these are the two basic things my surgical team wanted to be covered while I was admitted.

The Dietician was concerned for my weight loss compared to my height and prescribed a high fiber, high calorie diet as well as Fortisip Calorie drinks to take twice a day along with my usual daily food intake to help at least maintain my current weight if not try to increase it. Sshe also prescribed a new tummy med to take with the other ones I am on to try and help with the nausea and vomiting as well as to try and increase appetite. So I have now started these and I was thinking of doing quick video reviews of the different drink flavours on offer, if you are interested that is! Let me know and I will do it if you like 🙂

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Throughout there was non stop testing to find out what was causing the pain in the right side. Xrays, Ultrasounds, CAT and MRI scans, Scopes, blood tests, you name it, it was done.

In the Ultrasound Room!

In the Ultrasound Room!

One outcome is that they have ruled out any Gallbladder issues. There definitely seems to be Sphincter of Oddi, Severe Gut Dysmotility and Neurogenic Bladder Dysfunction problems, as well as a large and painful Lymph node on the inside of my right hip which is causing a lot of pain too and is currently under investigation, all these are contributing to the pain as well as the Ehlers Danlos Pain itself, but they have ruled out Gallbladder and Appendix issues, which is good!

I had 2 major cardiac events while I was in, though I had been battling low Bp all week, these events were the opposite, they came out of nowhere in the middle of the night, they were raging high bp and very fast heartrate, the ecg showed some abnormalities but thankfully they didn’t stay long (about 2 or 3 hours) and after they administered some medication to lower my bp and hr, I seemed to return to my regular low bp self, they were scary though as the pain in my chest when it happened was frightening and I was soaked through with a tempreture. The nurses seemed concerned as Long story  events came out of nowhere. Thankfully though after a few hours I returned to normal and could get some sleep.

Long story short, I got to see everyone that was called for me except OT. The final team was the pain team with the good professor who loves to give injections and this time was no different! He administered my usual Occipital and Sacroiliac joint nerve blocks under ultrasound which he did at my ward bed, he had a little portable ultrasound machine or at least that’s what it looked like and he went for it there and then. The pain team in conjunction with the anestetic team said that I may have chronic piritonitis ( information or even tearing of the abdominal lining that holds your organs) this is still being investigated and will continue as an outpatient appointment along with all the other teams I had to meet while I was in.

The surgical team try everything they can and they are so good to want to learn but they still are not sure exactly what is causing the severe pain and weight loss. I had mentioned to them about a Gastroenterologist specialist in Cork university hospital who is very well up on EDS and speaks regularly as well as trained under Prof Aziz over in London whom I hope to see as soon as i am able to travel. They said go to see him, just to see if he can help and my surgical team said they would be delighted to consult with both him and Aziz going forward as they are of the mind that more on the overall team to help me then the better!

In the meantime my team wanted to bring my case up at an EGM (emergency general meeting) where the head consultants and specialists of a department get together and discus special cases at a count table meeting so that other people’s views and suggestions can be taken on board, then once they have news they  will call me for a new outpatient appointment or send me for further tests if required.

 Unfortunately the OT never turned up and there were questions as to wether she would turn up anyway as she usually only sees Stroke and Neurology patients so my surgical team along with the head nurse on the ward rang her boss as well as had to write a letter in order to argue the case as to why they felt I was a special enough case for her to make an exception and come and see me, alas I was left waiting all over the weekend just to see her and she never turned up so my team decided to send me home at this stage with some new meds and a ton of outpatient appointments and they would follow up with her to get me a much needed appointment as my local OT isn’t really doing what she is supposed to do. 

In the meantime I have made a new appointment to see that Gastro specialist in Cork, his name is Akbar and I have heard great things so I really hope he can help. That appointment is on the 20th of this month (September) and of course I’ll fill you in on how that and any subsequent appointments go.

For now, I’ll just chill and try to recover 🙂

Thank you as always for taking the time to read.

Lette ( the fainting goat!)

Finalist of The Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016

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I am delighted and so proud to announce that I just found out that The Irish Dysautonomia Awareness Blog here has made it as a Finalist in The Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016 under the Health & Wellbeing Category! 😀

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I never imagined we would even make it to the Shortlist when we did, but to make it as a Finalist? I can’t tell you how excited I am about this, and I have YOU, yes, all of you reading this, to Thank for making it this far.

This Blog is all about raising awareness of these under diagnosed conditions, and having people check out the blog for judging means that even just a few fresh eyes will see the blog and may learn something new that day about a condition they may have never heard of before, if that alone is all that is achieved from this then I am absolutely thrilled. I can’t believe we have made it this far, I am so happy! 😀

Thank you all!! ❤

From here, this Finalist List will now be judged by a panel of Pro Judges (Those who know the industry well) and no open voting this time. That final list then will be the ones that go through to the awards to possibly win.

I am utterly thrilled we have come this far and even if we don’t go any further, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome so far. 🙂

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to extend a massive congrats to Catherine Colbert of The Cripple Baby Blog, she also made it as a finalist and Blogs in the same category about Dysautonomia and related issues too! Nice one Lady! 😀

And of course, congrats to everyone who has made it this far in the Awards!

Once more, I can’t thank you all enough for your votes and support, fingers crossed this may go further, but if not, I think we did good! 😉

Cheers, I’ll keep you all updated as I find out more, Thank you so much for reading,

Lette (Fainting Goat)

Shortlisted? – Was Not Expecting That!

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WOW!! So in the last week a lot has happened.

I was admitted to hospital on Wednesday the 10th after a few weeks in bed, nursing a savage pain in the right side of my Abdominal area. I was released yesterday after a really productive week in! I will do a separate blog post highlighting what happened, but this post is about something most unexpected to me! 😀

I am delighted to announce that on Tuesday the 16th of August, I got an email to say that Irish Dysautonomia Awareness, had made it through to the Shortlist of the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016! 😀 YEAY!

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Public Vote:

So now the voting begins and this is where I beg for your votes! –  Well it begun on the 17th and runs until the 23rd but I have missed out on a few days because of the hospital stay.

The public vote opens at the Shortlist stage, and accounts for 20% of your mark (80% comes from peer judging).

If you would be ever so kind as to click on the image below and hit the Vote Button, just be aware It will open in a new window or tab. I would be eternally grateful! 😀 It will ask to verify your vote with giving an email or signing in with Facebook, this only takes a few seconds, so thank you so much in advance.

Please Click Through Here To Vote

Please Click Through Here To Vote

Remember, this is not about winning, and completely without trying to sound humble I don’t expect to get anywhere further, but to raise awareness of this condition through opening this blog up to even just a few more people, would be fantastic for all of us. Thank you!

Lette – Fainting Goat =)