Those that have followed me blog will know I have a plethora of health issues from having my pelvis split whilst pregnant with my son, needing surgery to put metal plates in it to pull then back into place, to slow healing from surgeries, bladder issues, prolapses, dislocations and a subarachnoid spinal cyst and that’s not half of it…
Well around June I saw a rheumatologist at the Nuffield orthopaedic hospital regarding the reoccurring sacroiliitis which was made worse by the fact I have excessive movement in the back of my pelvis ie Sacroiliac joints. He was very thorough and we spoke about the almost daily subluxations and the dislocations and he said what I had “known/suspected for years” that it looks like I had EDS Ehlers Danlos syndrome, (ill explain in a bit) and that he would refer to University College Hospital in central London to see the UK specialist but warned me about the huge lists.
I was surprised how quickly I received a letter; the first letter was simply to say that they had received the referral and that I was on the waiting list to see Dr KazKaz.
Now this was a name I recognised, she was the top of the crop, she was the big cheese BUT on the many support pages on Facebook that I am a member of I had read horror stories about her, that she refused to diagnosed this person who said had EDS severely and that she was …. Well a bit of a bitch (on reflection it was only a couple of people but they had posted a fair few times) anyways I was pretty nervous, what if she was horrible, what if she said it was all in my head and that I was nuts – if that happened what was next …… I stressed quite a bit about this if I’m honest.
From memory my appointment was late morning, thankfully G took the day off to come with me and I’m not sure I would have got there without him (I cannot fathom the London underground – it might as well be Swahili) anyway we arrived 10 minutes before my appointment and initially saw the nurse and my BP was sky high, given its usually in my boots she told me to take a seat, relax and try to calm down after navigating the tube and she redid it and it had returned to normal.
Doc Kazkaz calls me in, and straight away shakes my hand and greets me like a friend. She reads what she has on her screen and checks all is correct, she then asks me about my pain and I explain I pretty much have pain in all joints apart of elbows ankles wrist and fingers, and that I struggle with muscle spasms often.
She asks about my normal blood pressure, which is low at 100/58, she asks if I get kiddy when I stand up quickly, I tell her I quite often pass out when I do it too quickly, I then tell her we discovered in my recent hospital stay that when I’m laying down my pulse is 80, then sitting is 100 to 120 then standing is 150 up to 180…. It does come down a bit if j stay upright but not all the way, she explains that it’s a condition called POTS (Postural tachycardia syndrome). (More info at bottom)
We then talk about the dislocations and the subluxations (like a half dislocation). She then says to strip to pants and bra and asks me to initially stand, and bend forward and put my hands on the floor and then backwards (she tells me to stop when I’m doing it backwards as it was too far for the joint, but I could have bent way more). I then have to walk up and down her room several times, she was looking at my balance and the muscles and most importantly the joints.
Then I lay on the exam bed, she closes the curtain half way and starts her exam, looking at all my scar and my skin looking for characteristic scaring or paper thin skin (I will have the info below). She tests my ankles, and finds them very hypermobile, my knees slightly over extend ie bend the wrong way, my hips are massively hypermobile as is my back, my wrists are and I can put my thumb to my wrist, my neck is stiff due to the cancer treatment ..she probably did more but I don’t recall.
She explains there’s a new criteria for diagnosing EDS and that I would have just about scraped through the beighton test, but the new criteria is much better and looks at more joints and the whole person.
So I get dressed and she shares her findings, she confirms that I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome..
EDS has lots of different types 13 I believe, some are very serious and can even be fatal. She believes I have hEDS which is the best type to have (although its not great), BUT due to the fact that I have issue with my veins, (they are hard to find, I’m almost impossible to cannulate and if they manage my vein bursts) and I have a slight leak on one of my heart valves (I had a ultrasound hear scan) and I bruise extremely badly often with no apparent cause and I think there was another thing but I forget.
Because of these there is a possibly I have one of the other types of EDS so she has referred me to genetic testing, hEDS cannot currently be proven genetically but the other types can. Should I have one of the others I may need the children testing just in case.
She was so very lovely, really kind and explained everything and nothing like what I was expecting at all, I’m so relieved to have my official diagnosis, there is no cure, or treatment really but it means I have a reason for lots of my problems and most importantly it means its not in my head !!!
What is EDS
The Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a group of thirteen individual genetic conditions, all of which affect the body’s connective tissue. Connective tissue lies between other tissues and organs, keeping these separate whilst connecting them, holding everything in place and providing support, like the mortar between bricks. In EDS, a gene mutation causes a certain kind of connective tissue – the kind will depend on the type of EDS but usually a form of collagen – to be fragile and stretchy.
This stretchiness can sometimes be seen in the skin of someone with EDS; individuals with the condition may also be able to extend their joints further than is usual – this is known as being hypermobile, bendy or double-jointed. As collagen is present throughout the body, people with EDS tend to experience a broad range of symptoms, most of them less visible than the skin and joint differences.
These are complex syndromes affecting many systems of the body at once, despite this EDS is often an invisible disability. Symptoms commonly include, but are not limited to, long-term pain, chronic fatigue, dizziness, palpitations and digestive disorders. Such problems and their severity vary considerably from person to person, even in the same type of EDS and within the same family. (https://www.ehlers-danlos.org/what-is-eds/)
What is POTs
Postural tachycardia syndrome.
Postural tachycardia syndrome (PoTS) is an abnormal increase in heart rate that occurs after sitting up or standing. It typically causes dizziness, fainting and other symptoms.
Pots is the malfunctioning of the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary bodily functions (e.g. breathing, heart rate) is common with hypermobile EDS. Symptoms include fast heart rate coupled with low blood pressure, digestive and bladder problems, and temperature and sweating dysregulation.
You can manage the condition by drinking more fluids, improving your cardiovascular fitness, and if your daily function is severely impaired, taking medication.