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Joining the dots … Ehlers Danlos Syndrome EDS


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.

My appointment

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/)

W

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.

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The battle continues ….. smiling still (occasionally through gritted teeth)


Hello and thanks for reading if your here. I haven’t updated in quite a while which i’m taking as a good thing as i think it means i have not needed this outlet, and perhaps we haven’t had too much going on…. that’s sort of true.  although i am about to have a small operation to put a new PEG in as i have had so many issues with it.

I will start with the amazing fact that we are now post 5 years (2 months) since i finished my treatment, BUT what many people don’t realise is that this is not always the end, ill start with something i shared on my facebook page.

Life after Cancer –Fun fact – When i eat orally, which i don’t do often, but food quite often goes up my nose — and there’s only one way out!
Its a horrible sensation and at times painful but more than that its like the feeling when you get water up your nose when swimming, you know?? then you have to force it out your nose …. sexy no????

Life after cancer for many is a new normal, weather it be a breast cancer patient with lymphedema in their arm or arms or a head and neck patient dealing with a physical change to the face and neck (one that other may see).

Cancer for many leave mental scars that no one will see, for example if i slip off my pillow and wake up laying flat I cannot get up – my neck muscles have atrophied and been cut in places — when this happens my mind jumps back to the times that i was attached to a metal table by a face mask – unable to move – my head squashed in a plastic jail – its a feeling of helplessness, of panic – it doesn’t last long, but long enough.
please join me in saying #fuckcancer 

Another fun side effect is travel sickness …. to such an extent we take sick bags everywhere – i throw up after i have been a passenger for anything more than 10 minutes – sometimes less —- we have tried sea bands but due to the anatomy of my left wrist (donor site) they don’t seem to work – cyclizine – gives me an extra 10 minutes and ondansetron sometimes works … its not just vomiting its a woozy headache that makes me feel rough – its the physical pain of vomiting violently, when you have a PEG vomiting pulls the tube and it HURTS – then theres the effects on the children and G – they seem mum throwing up heaving and looking poorly all the time – Now i don’t get sick when i drive but i suffer from fatigue and at time take strong painkillers so cant always drive!!

 

All of my readers aka friends will know my health is fragile its a balance, both from my cancer side effects (ie radiotherapy damage mainly) and spinal issues, which include cord impingement symptoms and discoordinated bladder etc and my pelvis problems (post metal fixation causing hypermobility in SI Joints causing sacroiliitis). I have to trust how i feel – i get infections that go nuts quickly –  and have UTI infections monthly, but i am extremely lucky to have an AMAZING doctors surgery – so amazing that they see me same day when needed (i don’t use this facility unless needed), from D and J on the reception who know i need a double appt as a rule to the nurses who work with my incredibly difficult to find veins for my regular blood tests. To the pharmacist who has to work extra hard as i need all my items in liquid form for my PEG or for them to be crushable (some you can’t crush – or may be known to block pegs) – she always has a smile and nothing is every too much … & the DOCTORS my goodness they are simply out of this world – here’s a few phrases they have said *you know your body better than anyone tell me what you need from me! *do you think you need to go in? (inpatient hospital) – they always have time for me they have never in my hundreds of visit have made me feel like i have wasted a second of their time or that they are not genuinely interested in me… its a lovely feeling to know this fantastic facility and safety net is there for me.

 

More recently i have been having a few problems, i lost 10kg very quickly and without meaning to ( now i don’t mind but as it wasn’t on purpose it can be a sign of other things) and i have been having muscle spasms … so very severe in my neck, they go into spasm and contort my face – i cannot speak or move my neck and it is extremely painful and they come in groups (for want of a better term) as soon as one stops another starts and some even affects my tongue muscle… OUCH … and the past 2 weeks i have felt like i have a pneumonia ie unable to take a deep breath and having to catch a breath at the end of sentences and a ring of solid muscles mid back round to sides – this is restricting breathing as well.

TRYING TO HELP MYSELF

** I went for a massage with Becca at Scruples who are BRILLIANT in hope of getting the **muscles released but, in her words she *couldn’t get through* and shes awesome so it **certainly wasn’t for the want of trying so that didn’t help.

**I am also addressing my diet – or lack of as i live on ensure drinks via peg and odd **snippets when i’m able to swallow (it comes and goes and technically i’m advised not **to try solids at all). Anyways i have decided that i am going to be adding some juicing to me diet (super shots) alongside some specific natural additives

  •  Manuka honey – which has amazing healing properties – i even had manuka        dressing on infected wounds in the past – its THAT good …. and its tastes AMAZING
  • Aloe juice with cranberry – also is great for digestion and healing and the cranberry is good for bladder health
  • a probiotic which is something most peg users need.
  • Turmeric – which had been proven to have powerful anti inflammatory effect and a strong antioxidant
  • Cacao boost – which is Cacao, Lacuma, Hemp and Maca > these are antioxidants, packed with vitamins and minerals, high quality protein with lots of amino acids and a good source of fiber
  • Flaxseeds -Omega-3 essential fatty acids and fibre
  • Supergreens from bioglan which has iron, Vitamins B12/C/E/Zink

I am not going bonkers with it (it was after weight loss btw) i am adding a few things each week to make sure they agree with me etc. With the amazing advice from my jetsetting sister Jo i am hoping to help improve my overall health – even if it makes it 1% better it has to be worth a shot ??

 

I will just add how amazing lucky I feel to have a fantastic family – we are just finishing out 6 weeks summer holidays and i don’t think i have shouted at me kids once !!! They have been amazing and Gary had been great he took 2 weeks leave staggered over the 6 weeks, which allowed me to rest (i slept for 23 hours in one go last week).

 

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