Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jerome and Perry, the tale of a Port-a-cath and a J-tube.

It has been two weeks since Perry got put in and Jerome changed out. I'm just starting to get my energy back and finding my groove with two new men in my life. By men, I mean tubes with boys names. The first week was a write off in terms of me being physically able to do anything. It's not like getting Perry put in was some big surgery or anything, but because of the way my body works it knocked me out. When I was talking with the surgeon beforehand, I made sure he knew that I wanted Perry put up high on my chest. The reason for it is because I didn't want the tube going into my jugular vein to be pulled, and finding comfortable clothes would be easier. When they were doing the procedure, I reminded the team of it again. Sedatives don't really do much for me. So as it stands, Perry is on my boob and the tube going into my jugular vein is always pulled and tight. Wearing push-up bras, v-neck or scooped neck shirts kind of help things. It doesn't help that I use my pectoral muscles for everything that my shoulders should be doing. Having Perry placed where he is, has been taking a lot of getting used to. I'm getting a lot better at not hitting my boob and I had to learn to hug again. The first time I hugged someone with Perry accessed, it hurt like a mofo. The incisions are healing well and the bruising is almost gone. I love the fact that it only takes 1 attempt to get him accessed and it doesn't really hurt. It's so much better than multiple attempts at digging around and blowing out veins. I'm getting 2L of fluids over 3hrs everyday. I refused a pump and have the freedom to be hooked up in my room, the living room and the front porch. The funny thing is I'm taking better care of myself at home than I was getting in the hospital. I'm so thankful that I can do things my way.

Jerome, he's healing well with some funky scaring and I've had no problems with him. Except that I still really hate the type of tube that he his. I cut those white pointy bits off the tube and have found that my skin prefers to hold Jerome in place with Tegaderm rather than paper-tape, and the red plastic attachment is sharp and scratchy. I just really dislike the fact that it's uncomfortable and I can't un-hook this tube and forget about it like I could with the mic-key button. There are bonuses with this tube, one is that I don't need the expensive extension tube for the mic-key button, which does not come with a cap or lid, so I had been putting it in a Ziplock bag. Secondly, I can lay on my stomach comfortably which I couldn't do with the mic-key. However, now that I have Perry I can't really lay on my stomach. Bleh.

Overall, I'm feeling okay if I have my fluids and pretty much everyone who sees me says I'm looking better. I still have dysautonomia spikes but they're less frequent and not as intense. GI wise, if I'm not really using my Jerome or eating I'm okay. I still have the awesome puking abilities. Lentils and quinoa that I had eaten 12 hours prior didn't want to stay down, I even get lentils stuck in my nose as part of the side show. Aren't you glad I told you? I'm refluxing pretty much everything except that plain chips, rice noodles, mangoes and coconut juice are relatively okay. I still eat other things because I need the nutrients, I love food and if I'm going to barf, it's going to be worth it.

I'm still working out a routine and efficient way to work in Perry and everything that comes along with it. After a week of fighting with home-care I finally have a care-plan that works for me. The one they gave me had to be refused and worked out a couple of times. It was well worth it. Living with EDS means a lot of loss and a lot of compromise. One thing I will not compromise is my quality of life.

I still get headaches and migraines everyday but with the fluids, being in low light or darkness, quiet and laying down are helping. I've got the brightness on my laptop turned all the way down which helps a bit, but after a while it gets too bright,things get blurry and I see double. I can get about 3-4 hrs of being upright and out & about before I'm toast.

Meds have been pretty straight forward. I'm barfing a little less with Oxycodone and it's helping with pain reduction by about 50%. I chickened out again on doing a Propranolol trial, the weekend prior was just to nice outside to be wasted on experiencing side-effects, and this past weekend I was feeling gross so I didn't want to punish myself anymore. Since I'm using Perry everyday it means I need to have it flushed with Heparin everyday. We decreased the dosage a bit because I'm a bit of a bleeder to start with and also because of the frequency that I'm using it. That's all going well, I've noticed that little cuts bleed more, and my mouth gets cut and blisters a little more easily than before but nothing crazy.

I've got some pretty insane cabin fever at times, but manage to get Jack-Jack out for an hour's walk everyday. I can finally didgeridoo again which makes me so happy, I was going a little crazy for a while. Otherwise things are getting better as I'm adjusting and wrapping my head around having two tubes. I'm starting to trust more, letting friends help and not worrying about being uppity and energetic when I'm drained. The things I'm having the hardest time with is not being able to work or being active. Those two things were my life, which means I still have a lot of work to do and need to keep trying to find new outlets and passions. When I'm laying around at home during the day I feel lazy, like I should be working and that I need to always be doing something productive. When I start my day with pain-killers or anytime I take them, I feel like someone who needs to be on Intervention. I dislike how I feel when I'm taking them, and wish so much that I didn't need them. Then I realize after not taking the meds that I am always in pain, I am chronically sick and I can't work right now. I guess I'm paranoid that people see me as someone who's taking advantage of the system and getting a free ride. It's not like having one of those "sick days" where some people skip out on work for the day. I would love to be able to work again.

Since most of our bendy posse sees a lot of the same doctors, we often are in the neighbourhood at the same time so we like to try and meet for a bite to eat. Toronto has some excellent food options for any GI or TMJ friendly diet.
Last week a bunch of us met for brunch (which we found out isn't the best idea for some of us) and later on in the week we met for Thai, and had lunch with the most delightful, almost 11yr old zebra. Right now everyone in our bendy posse seems to be holding their own, which is so nice after the insane summer we all had. A bunch of us have big surgeries coming up and I think we're all enjoying the stability and taking it easy. And just for fun, I'm going to leave you with quotes from our bendy sista' Tiffany who had her tonsils finally taken out after 3yrs of doctor fighting. I love that girl.

"I'm a bit cheeky, so I'm wearing a Dr. Pepper shirt that reads, 'Trust me, I'm a doctor' to my surgery ;-P"

"I am working on my relationship with my couch. It's important to spend quality time together."

"Rosanne is getting her own reality show. You know who would make an awesome reality show? Celine Dion. You know you would watch. You'd be ashamed and wouldn't tell anyone, but you'd watch for sure"

I like my murse... He's taking good care of me." (In reference to her husband)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Introducing Perry, my port. On to plan "F" let's hope it works!

After jumping through what seems like a million hoops, and going in constant circles we finally have a game plan to get my GI craziness sorted. We're on to plan "F". Part of that plan includes a port for hydration until I get the Nissen Fundoplication. After the surgery, I'll be able to use Jerome again, but he'll be a g-tube.

I had a consult with a thoracic surgeon a couple weeks ago, and luckily it went really well. I'm not going to get into it, but he got to see me when I was at my best. I was hooked up the Joey-pump and refluxing like crazy, had a killer headache and my vitals were all over the place. Based on my long and complex GI history, paired with everything else he thought it would be in my best interest to see what he could do to improve my quality of life. We're going to re-do a whole bunch of my old tests, and do some new ones so he knows exactly what's going on with me. On the way home from one of my appointments, Jerome's balloon popped so he needed to be replaced asap.

Getting Perry put in and Jerome replaced was a bit of an ordeal. I had a date booked to get Perry placed and Jerome replaced, and was called the night before saying they were going to cancel because I was supposed to have blood-work done before hand. There was no way in hell I was going to let that happen. Jerome had been sticking out and was painful for 2 days already, I didn't want to risk infection and the thought of multiple attempts to get an IV going wasn't something I could deal with anymore. It was then decided that I'd to the ER stupid early, so they could do the blood-work and save the appointment. By then it needed to be a 2 in 1 procedure and I was at the end of my rope. Luckily the ER staff were fantastic, I got fluids, blood-work sent off and the appointment was saved!

Because of my awesome body, the surgeon had a hard time getting Perry in and Jerome out. I was given an insane amount of locals and sedatives, none of which really worked. I could feel everything they were doing and it was effing painful, especially when they had to really dig at my jugular vein. It seemed to surprise everyone that despite being given so many drugs I carried on a conversation with the team in IR the whole time, then walked out of the room like nothing had happened. My iron liver isn't just from practice...

Getting Perry put in was also an opportunity for me to face some big fears and do some growing. I have some major trust issues, especially when at the hospital. Lack of trust is also another reason why I don't sleep when I'm there, and am always hyper-vigilant. I knew the 2 in 1 would be a lot for me to handle, so I swallowed my pride, fulfilled my end of a bendy friend pact and asked for help. I was very lucky to have a friend who knows her stuff come with me. She knew when I needed something, didn't smother me, and made sure I was comfortable both physically and emotionally. It was the first time I've ever felt safe enough to completely let my guard down, and just be. She took incredible care of me and is officially the first person I've let take care of, and put meds through Jerome. I'm so happy and thankful that she came.

This was taken right after I realized that J popped his balloon. A mic-key button is supposed to last anywhere from 3-8 mts. Jerome lasted 5 so I can't complain.

Because we replaced Jerome last minute, there wasn't enough time to get funding approval for the mic-key button. It's back to the penis Jerome until the fundo when we'll put the button back. Notice it's twisted to the side, yeah I can't untwist it. Constant tape rash again, yes please! I hate,hate,hate this tube.

Perry in all of his glory. My boob is so itchy and bruised. I'm hoping we'll be good friends and he keeps me out of the hospital.

No more IV's for a while, Perry will be taking one for the team. I really won't miss being poked about 9 times to find a vein for it to only last a day or two.

Jack-Jack the healing dog. He always knows when someone isn't feeling well and gives the best doggy hugs. When I came home he wouldn't leave me, and sat beside me with a look of concern in his eyes during the post-op barf-fest.

"I apparently provided 3 hours of entertainment and a sing-a-long during my MRIs. Everything fromKid Rock and Michael Jackson to a stirring rendition of Candle In the Wind (complete with alternate lyrics and giggles from the awesomest and extremely cute rad tech)."

"So... would the MRI pics of the inside of my brain be considered zombie porn...?"


Sunday, August 28, 2011

When EDS kicks everyone's butts!

If you've been wondering what's been happening in EDS land over here, I have 3 big posts in the works.

*I went to the 2011 EDNF conference with most of our Toronto/Ontario bendy posse. I Had the time of my life, and I think I can speak for a lot of the zebra's who went.
*In the last month, most of our Toronto bendy posse have been on ER runs and in & out of the hospital, myself included. In the last three weeks, three of our bendy posse sista's got an ambulance ride to the ER.

*Our Toronto bendy sista Natalie passed away. She's on the left in this one. We'll all miss her kindness, compassion and those big blue eyes.

I'm so lucky to have bendy friends in my life. We all laugh at the fact that we only met a year ago and for some of us a few months ago, but we already have such a deep connection and dynamic. We each play an important role in our group that enables us to hold each other up, and provides a safe place to land when we fall. We always find a way to make the best of some very hard circumstances and know there's nothing we can't ask of each other.

Even if we ask for help to "clean" a J-tube. In all seriousness, we will leave no stone unturned in a quest to help each other out.

To my Zebras: it started out as an exchange of information. Doctor talk. OHIP talk. Pain in the $@&! talk.... But... what grew out of it was the deepest of friendships any of us had ever known ♥ "


Saturday, July 9, 2011

How do you measure, measure a year....

The adventures our lives can take over the course of a year, never fails to amaze me.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how dramatically different my life is now than it was last year.

Just over a year ago, I didn't know anyone with EDS. I lost most of my friends, and had given up almost everything I thought brought me happiness. I got sick with Dysautonomia, was going to get a wheel-chair, needed AFO's and put some serious thought into a G-tube. I had no idea what to do with myself, and pretty much lost all hope for anything good. I didn't trust anyone, felt like a total nuisance and completely alone.

Little did I know my life was going to change, and it was going to be for the better.

I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to go to the EDNF conference in Baltimore. I had no idea what to expect going into it, but figured I had nothing to lose. Those four days changed my life. It was then I realized that even if I didn't fit in with the rest of the world, there was a whole other community that I belonged to. A community with some of the most incredible people I know. A community that is pro-active, ridiculously supportive and a community of people who will never walk away. We have all walked that lonely road, and don't wish it on anyone. Bendy friends are vital to survival. I think if we didn't have each other our lives would plain horrible.

A year ago, I was just getting a wheel-chair and completely hated the idea of it. It was one more thing to add to the ever growing pile of braces and equipment. It was a reminder that I could no longer do the simple things most people take for granted. I hated everything about it. After talking to one of my best bendy friends about it, I realized that I had a choice. I could look at all my extra luggage and see it as something that is holding me down, or I could look at it as something that I can use with pride. I still hate the fact that I'm needing adaptive goodness, and I still sometimes have trouble accepting it all. There's no way someone can go through this and be excited about it every step of the way. Once I got over my pity for one, I committed to seeing it all differently. Using adaptive goodness essentially lets us participate in life. It lets us do more, conserves our energy and helps with pain, it's exactly what we need. We can use it as a canvas to express ourselves and send a message. It is something we can make our own, and wear with pride. Instead of being reclusive and passive, we are doing and being. Having adaptive goodness doesn't define us, but how we wear it does. We can do the walk of shame (in our cases probably hobble) or we can show the world that just because we're stuck in a body that's falling apart, it doesn't mean we can't truly live. This year, I'm really excited about getting some custom wheels. I know it will do a lot of good things for me, and I'm most definitely not the "poor girl in the wheel-chair".

A year ago, I was freaking out about all the things that I couldn't do anymore. One of the items on that very long list was work. I had been working 2 jobs at a time for years and loving them. I quickly started losing the energy to volunteer or take on the odd care-taking gig. Eventually I had to stop working completely and start relying on everyone else. That was a giant slice of humble pie, let me tell you that. Just recently, I have un-learned equating gainful employment with self-worth. I have learned that there is no clear definition for contribution, and the ones that aren't fiscal are the ones that make us all a better person. If we give back and do what we can, there is more self worth in those acts than a giant pay-cheque.

A year ago, I didn't think I'd ever be able to even adopt and raise my kids because of the whole EDS mess. Once again the universe gave me what I needed at just the right time. At last year's conference, I met a handful of bendy friends who've adopted their kiddos. I've always wanted to be a mum through adoption, and I was so terrified of that being taken away from me as well. I know I won't be able to do things like back-pack through Cambodia or paddle with them, but it doesn't mean they'll never have the opportunity. Now I am hopeful that being a mum is something that can happen, I'll just have to find more ways to adapt. Oh, and someone who's crazy enough to help me raise them.

A year ago I logged an insane amount of hours at appointments, in the ER and getting tests. Life with Dysautonomia began and I finally understood what being chronically sick really meant. Doctors and specialists that I originally had, started to turn me away because they didn't understand it, or thought I was beyond what they could offer. I've never fought with so many doctors in my life. Outside of all those appointments, I spent most of my days in bed. On the days when my symptoms were down to a dull roar, I could drag myself to work and barely managed to do things like grocery shopping. If I made it out of bed and was able to leave the house for 5 minutes, it was considered a good day. I resigned myself to life being that way forever and began to lose interest in everything. After months and months of trouble shooting, ER runs and hospital admissions we finally figured out exactly what my body needs. I began to start feeling better and being able to really live again. I can now say that it's totally possible to come back from a Dysautonomia crash, and riding it out is worth it.

A year ago, I had a pretty incredible 5 year plan, and was bound and determined to make it happen on my own terms despite being sick. EDS and Dysautonomia had other things in mind and wreaked complete havoc on my body. Those plans are still on hold, but now I'm really starting to see why...I needed to accept that I was disabled and sick so I could redefine my new life. I needed to grieve my old life, let it go, and start over again.

A year ago, my family didn't understand EDS and the concept of me being sick. I had a really hard time being around them, it felt so awkward and uncomfortable. I was getting looks and statements of pity, told that I didn't have EDS and was being lazy. I was told to be glad that I was born with it, instead of it just happening. My favourite one was that I had thrown away my money using natural medicine and that doctors were always right. The absolute worst was the constant comparisons between my twin and I. It never ended. To this day, there are still questions about why I "suffer more" but the answer will never change. I think the really big turning point was when the constant trips to the ER started happening, when I got a wheelchair, AFO's, Jerome and I finally gathered the courage to introduce them to this blog. I have learned to speak up when someone says something out of line, or still tries to "help" me when I have clearly expressed that if I need it, I will ask. The one thing that still drives me absolutely insane is that they can't step back to let me do things for myself. There is always insistence that I can't do something because I'll hurt myself, leaving them feeling guilty. News flash!!!! I hurt myself sleeping, injuries can't be avoided. Get over it. I know they have the best intent for me, but what they think is best and what's really best are sometimes two completely different things. Showing them that I'm okay, and that I have my bases covered all the time is what seems to have made the difference. Being banned from the hospital when I'm inpatient probably has something to do with it too. There's no way I could ever put up with it, so they get one phone call a day until they learn to chill out.

A year ago, I didn't think it would be possible to make new friends who would be accepting of me and my EDS. Forget about any relationships, I was certain that no one would be interested in a girl who was sick. I know EDS doesn't define who I am, but I won't deny that it plays a role in absolutely every decision and action I make. I was most terrified that if I made new friends, they'd walk away like almost everyone else, because having a sick friend was to much to handle. I am so glad to say that I was completely wrong. I've made a bunch of really good friends. Friends who haven't walked away despite all the EDS induced craziness. They understand it as much as anyone can, and are always going out of their way to make my life easier. There is no judgment, criticism of how I'm choosing to live, or hard feelings when I have to cancel plans. The best part is that for the first time in my life, I feel like I truly belong. I am with the right people. I have learned to trust again albeit very slowly, understand that people want to help me, and that it's not out of obligation. I've learned that there are guys out there who will see me for me, and all the EDS stuff is a minor detail. It still blows my mind, but that's for another post. The friends in my life now only dish out love, kindness, compassion, respect, honesty, humor and positive thoughts.

As I reflect on my past year and the gong show that it was, I wouldn't change anything about it. This road has most definitely not been easy or fun, but it has been filled with the lessons in life that I desperately needed to learn. When something goes "wrong", I've realized that it's actually going right and there's a reason for it. The most important lesson I've learned is to trust my instincts and not to worry about what the rest of the world is doing. My life appears to be in shambles and despite that, I am happier now than I have ever been. Take that negativity!!

"You have brains in your head.You have feet in your shoes.You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.You're on your own.You know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go."


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Flippity, floppity. Copy+ paste.

I've got 6 posts that are all on different topics, all half written.
This pretty much sums up the past couple weeks. It's another copy+paste post!

So after recovering from my stay at Chateau Sinai, and digging myself out of the pit of doom, my GI system has decided to wreak havoc again.
I'm back to refluxing anything that I eat or put through Jerome.The last two days have been a barf-fest as well. Extra-strength 24hr Gravol has nothin' on me.

I'm not exactly sure what to do other than to try and ride it out. I don't have the energy to go back and end up inpatient right now. The last visit ended up going okay, but it sucked the life out of me. I had to do a lot of fighting. Because of my wacky body, I've got to be hyper-vigilant because stupid mistakes happen all the time, and it can be really dangerous.

If the whole thing doesn't improve over the weekend I'll go back because really, I don't have a choice. I need fluids.
It would be awesome if I could get the fundo surgery right away...although odds of it happening are pretty slim. Chances might be better if I go to a different hospital (Toronto Western) where one of my referrals went to, but no one knows me there. I'm still waiting to hear back from everyone I got a referral for. Waiting sucks.

Otherwise everything else is good. I started using the Percocet so I'm taking 1-2 every 24hrs with Gravol. It's not what I wanted in terms of being able to avoid drugs, but my quality of life is so much better. I'll take it around 7pm, so I can enjoy some time being in less pain before I go to bed. It's so nice to go to sleep without my ribs and back hurting when I breathe, or feeling like I'm being gnawed on by some invisible jaws. I end up getting a really good sleep and waking up without difficulty. I've been able to have some of my life back and can do things like protest, spend the day outside with my friends and take the dog for 2hr walks through the ravine everyday.

Oh yeah, I've got foster-dog. His name is Jack and he's awesome. He will not leave my side when I'm feeling gross, and cleans up all the chip crumbs in my bed. He seems to get that things aren't quite right with me, and is really careful around Jerome along with my adaptive goodness.

After wrapping my head around the fact that I'm more sick than I'd like to believe, I've been meeting with social workers so I can get what I need. I shouldn't have to much trouble getting the new feeding pump, jerome 2.0's, adaptive goodness and accessible housing. Crossing my fingers!!!!

I've started learning Reiki, and practice everyday. Energy work is pretty awesome stuff, I can't wait to see what happens with it.

Here's to hoping my next e-mail won't be sent from the hospital, but on a day when I'm feeling like a million dollars. It could happen....

Dear: Jack Attack, thank you for keeping me company and cleaning up all my chip crumbs. You're more than welcome to lay in my bed all day. I have lots of those...

p.s. I'm glad you had a bath.

Not only does Jack Attack clean up my chip crumbs, he's fine with my didgeridoo and loves the
hammock. It's tough being Jack....

My name is Jack-Jack.
I like going for long walks in the ravine, cuddling, being Nakki's shadow, and fighting coons. Oh, and I really like big fluffy dogs. Nakki tells me to be a gentleman and stop humping them, but I just can't help myself.

Do your joints hang low, do they wobble to and fro, can you tie 'em in a knot, can you tie 'em in a bow? Can you hang them over your shoulders like a continental soldier, do you joints hang low?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The pain in my......

Who knew an e-mail that was to be sent to my holistic medicine peeps, would turn into a blog post...It's time for another edition of copy+paste.

So I have absolutely no intention of coming off as a drama queen, or a whinger. I've been in an insane amount of pain since the hospital (it started when I went off the supplements), and haven't really slept since. It's hard sleep when you feel like the things they use to resurface a road is rolling over you. Over the last 3.5 days of living from the hammock, couch ,bed or tub I've come to a little revelation.If I could only take my own advise...

With all of regression I've had over the years, especially with the last two being really grueling, I'm thinking it's time to start looking at using pain killers in addition to our arson of super-powers. My stay at Chateau Sinai gave me a pharmaceutical that works and doesn't make me sick like all the others. It's Percocet...It takes the edge off (I only took 1/2 dose) and I can either crush it up and put it through Jerome or chew it.

I've had a bottle of it sitting around for a couple of years and have been terrified to take it. Fear was the biggest reason why I've done dental surgery and two J-tube surgeries without any pain-killers post-op. I guess the good thing about it, is now I'm not afraid of pain, and I can handle intense/localized pain with breathing and being still. It really comes in handy when anesthetics don't work or are dangerous. At the hospital I had a lot of time to think and process, and I've realized that this shit isn't getting any better and symptomatically I'm having a lot more bad days. Pain flares that were once uncomfortable joints and muscles that lasted a couple days at most, have turned into days spent laying on the floor puking at it's worst. As my joints have become more bendable and my tissues doing their own thing, holding my body together is exhausting and painful on a good day. There are days when I can almost function like a normal human, but they don't happen often. Absolutely every movement I make results in a painful consequence, requiring me to spend unnecessary energy evaluating, organizing and using purposeful movement to make it through the day.

Dysautonomia makes everything so much harder to deal with, because of my inability to always regulate sensory input and react to it normally. Some of the tricks that helped with pain no longer work, or are contraindicated. Hot baths are the best thing in the world, but dysautonomia doesn't like it, and having temperature regulation issues, tachycardia, blood-pressure drops and black outs aren't exactly safe. Or fun. Because of my insanely high pain-tolerance I don't really get much relief from my TENS machine anymore, things like ice and heat help but they're short-lasting and I burn or freeze my skin. Adaptive goodness helps, but an exoskeleton can only do so much and after a while braces do get painful. Treatments are my favourite thing,they're really effective and have saved my life. However, sometimes they're short lasting and at most take the edge off (on those laying on the floor puking days).

I think I spend so much energy on slapping a smile on my face,moving forward and finding possibility that I forget, or rather choose not to look back. That means I can't always gauge my symptoms over long periods of time. So many crazy things are happening all the time, I forget so much of it. During consults and follow-ups when actually I listen to what I'm saying, I realize that none of it is anywhere close to normal and it's not any way to live. Because I'm always in pain (except for when I'm floating in a warm pool) it's just part of life. What I forget, is that pain and exhaustion are not a normal parts of life, never mind the days spent in agony. There isn't much left on the "can do" list, and pain essentially makes me give up being able to really live. I don't ever expect to be able to paddle, climb, play soccer, work, taiko drum or have a real girls night out again; but I would like to maybe get back some of the things that aren't so out of reach. Things like being able to propel myself in a wheelchair, walk around for a few hours, more upright and unsupported sitting ,cooking and baking from scratch, writing more than a few sentences and just going out with my friends.

One of my bendy friends compared having EDS to being tortured everyday for your entire life. She's pretty accurate...I haven't really started on the osteoarthritis thing yet or all the craino stuff, and I know I have a lot to look forward to. I'm so fortunate and lucky to be only affected the way I am, when some of my bendy friends are running out of pain-killer coctails, getting spinal-cord stimulators implanted and even thinking of amputation. All because of pain.

I think it's time to swallow my pride, take my own damn advise and do what I have to. Start with the Percocet so I can live my best life.

As for the hospital stuff I'm getting a referral to a surgeon who does the fundo at Toronto General or Western I think...I don't know, I'm at them all for one thing or another. And I'm also getting a referral to a new GI specialist who I've been told is fantastic. I'm pretty sure I want to go with the surgeon on Hamilton though because he's bad-ass at fundo's and takes EDSers. That means he's educated in it and can keep me pretty safe. I'm hoping I won't need to advocate and be on top of things as much. This last stay there were 3 dangerous mistakes that could have been avoided if they took things more seriously and paid attention. 1) I wasn't getting enough fluids for until I raised all hell 2) They wanted to give me blood thinners (because they give them to everybody to prevent clotting), I'm a bleeder, spend just as much time in bed and am ambulatory. It was offered everyday. 3) Gave me test results that were from when I was inpatient in January and wanted to start a treatment plan from it.

I do NOT give the hospitals consent to:
1) Give me medication without informing me what it is, and asking if I want it.
2) Put anything up my ass.

Jerome is back to normal and taking the 300mls/hr and feeds with a little refluxing, but not the craziness it was before. Dysautonomia has calmed down as well.

I think what happened was the medications didn't do anything for symptoms and I reacted to them which made the dysautonomia even more crazy. Sound logical?
And now I just re-opened the wound, woot! At least this didn't happen in the hospital...

A bendy friend Barbra passed away this week. Our Toronto bendy posse friend Michele is fightin' like it's nobody's business, her intestine ruptured and most of it had to be removed. During surgery her spleen got knicked and bled out, so it had to go as well. The EDS and Dysautonomia community has been slammed in the last month, so in the words of my bendy friend Tiffany:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Staying at Chateau Sinai again

Bleh, I'm at Chateau Sinai for the insane reflux stuff.
It got too crazy for me to handle at home and I couldn't deal with it anymore.
I've got a lot to write about, so an epic post will be coming soon.

In the mean time you can check this out....

"Do you want me to bust you out tomorrow at lunch-time?"

Sunday, May 29, 2011

When you can't tell if it's a side-effect, or a dysautonomia crash and it scares the shit out of you.

As you can tell, it's been a blast and I've had the time of my life.

With the Zofran I only ended up with all the side effects, and no relief.
It messed up my skin and turned me into a bleeder, everything seemed so fragile.
Jerome 2.0 had finally healed and the burn on my butt was coming along. I started the Zofran, and my skin was not happy. I ended up with friction rashes from my clothes, heat rash, peeling skin on my hands, scrapes in my mouth and on my tongue from food that was "sharp", and Jerome opened up again. My skin also didn't want to tolerate IV's for more than a day at a time. There was other stuff going as well, but I don't want to get into it. Now, my skin is healing from all of it. When I was at Chateau Sinai in January, on the 2nd day my skin from the entire bottom of both feet peeled off in the shower, gross I know. It seems as though my skin hates GI meds.

Anyway, my quality of life sucked, and with symptoms being gross in a normal person; with ESD everything is so much worse on top of what we already have to deal with. For example the rate of healing is 6x's slower, and the rate of infection is 6x's higher. No to mention an incredibly low success rate with pharmaceuticals, and just about everything else. So on day 4, I decided to scrap the Zophran plan. We do have a couple other drugs that can be tried, but their side effects are more brutal. I've already tried the top 3 without success, and pretty much everything in between. This is the girl who's been taking stuff for reflux since age 11, slowly knocking them off of the list because they stop working.

For now I'm still feeling the same, and trying not to get discouraged...but am getting a little bit of respite here and there. The rest of my body is okay, my joints aren't happy but it's hurting Jerome to put them all back and I really want it to heal. I guess you should also know that my body is tolerating alcohol much better than food and fluids. I have NO idea why. I said "eff it" and went to a bendy party where vodka was my friend. I figured since I wasn't feeling any better, I might as well make it worth it so J had a few drinks. To think of it, I've never refluxed on it. Hmmmmm.

Then I tried the Scopolamine patch . It was a complete disaster, I only had the side-effects and no relief. Surprise!!!! It ended up being really scary because I thought I was having a bad dysautonomia crash, and was very close to calling an ambulance. I've never had to do that, and have never felt that shitty before.

Drowsiness, confusion and disorientation hit me pretty hard. I felt like I was in a constant state of coming out of sleep paralysis and really had to fight to stay conscious and oriented. I have sleep paralysis all the time, but I couldn't come out of it no matter what I did. I was also really shaky and weak.

Dry mouth was horrible, no matter what I drank, how much fluids I put through J, or how many tic-tacs, lollipops I consumed, I had insane pasties. It also made my secretions really thick and I was constantly choking on it. It wasn't just dry mouth, it went all the way down my throat and esophagus. I thought I had food stuck in there and nothing made it go away.

Blurred vision and dilated pupils were interesting. I woke up, and couldn't see in front of me. Everything was so blurry, I was seeing double and my depth perception sucked. I was really light sensitive and had a hard time looking at anything. The dark was my best friend. I had the brilliant idea to decorate my new neck brace with Sharpie markers, it looks horrible hahaha.

I was retaining fluids like it was nobody's business. I think I finally had to pee after 2L of fluids concoction...yeah a bladder isn't suppose to hold that much but I'm stretchable...

The spins and blood-pressure drops were insane. I had a really hard time going from laying to sitting, or sitting to standing. As soon as I did any of that my BP would drop, I'd black-out, sometimes fall, and was really dizzy. Then the tachycardia would start and I'd get really bad pain in my brain as my body was trying to get the blood back. Then I ended up with a killer migraine. I crawled everywhere I went, because getting up was so difficult.

All of those were side effects, but they present exactly like a dysautonomia crash and some of them like a neuro issue. Since EDSers are prone to blood-vessel rupture and all kinds of crazy neuro things, I didn't know what to think and was scared shit-less. When you've seen your bendy/dysautonomia friends go into complete autonomic failure ending up on life-support, or dying from ruptures, it doesn't take much to shake you up. I had 3 days of that fun stuff, and I never want to do it again. It's a good thing I woke up today feeling better, otherwise I would have gone to the ER.

As for the GI stuff, it's still all the same. Constant reflux, upset stomach and if I'm lucky I can get food to stay down. So it's looking like it's back to the drawing board, however I think taking a break from the pharmaceuticals would be a good idea right now. We've pretty much tried everything, and I'm tired of feeling extra-gross, it doesn't do anything for my quality of life. How strange is it that I actually get excited for surgery, that fundo can't come soon enough! First we have to find someone to do it, haha.

"Jerome just probably needs some more vodka."
(Bendy friend Tiffany)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's a EDS Zebra Sleep-Over Party!

Once upon a time, princesses from the Ontario EDS posse got together for a sleep-over party. It was their girls night in, since going to the ball was not something they could do anymore. That's okay, because princesses can party like it's nobody's business in their own EDSy way.

Our wonderful hostess princess Chuckles decorated the ballroom with flowers, balloons, a whole bunch of disco-balls and accessories for everyone. It was also the night of the supposed "rapture", so the princesses wanted to make sure their fate was sealed.

She also made grab-bags filled with the perfect items for a zebra princesses spa.

The princesses were served the most delectable gluten-free cupcakes, they all had at least three.

Candy was also on the menu, commonly known as princess fuel.

There was talk of bacon flavored cupcakes and lip-gloss, all essential in a princesses day.

In a few weeks, these princesses will be going to Nakki's orthotist for a consult and casting to get some glass-slippers for Chuckles. Everyone else in the kingdom calls them AFO's. They aware that princess Nakki knows her stuff and won't take any crap. Hopefully, it will make finding those slippers much easier for princess Chuckles. Otherwise, they're going to have to deal with the wrath of princess Nakki and it's not pretty !!!

In the land of Baltimore last summer, the princesses were introduced to the Apples to Apples game. It was very popular among the other zebra royalty.

Guess which princess came out of nowhere and beat everyone. She's really a ninja in disguise.

Tiara's are a MUST at royal balls such as these.

The term "night out" is used loosely among these princesses. A night out to us, is a night out of bed and somewhere else besides the couch. (Read the label on the bottle)

Being a princess is hard, it takes some major dedication and team work to polish off all of those Jello-shots, there were a ton.

Princess Nakki met Princess Smiles last year after they both had appointments at the royal hospital. These princesses don't need much of anything in order to be comfortable, just a floor. They have laid down pretty much everywhere, including the time they went to see the Dalai Lama. When they were in the land of Baltimore for the EDNF conference, the princesses we so excited to see lots of other bendy friends laying on the floor. Cause' that's how we roll!

Bendy princesses firmly believe that hysterical laughter can fix anything, or at least make pain more manageable.

Then it was time to play a game called: Is This Normal?!
Princesses Nakki and Chuckles are definitely royalty as their feet were starting to turn a nice shade of purple. Blood pooling is awesome!!

Some of us lived off of cupcakes the entire time. This princess couldn't get enough of the strawberry icing, and thought it would be even better with bacon.

She wanted to fill the cupcake bling with bacon grease so it could be lip-gloss.

No longer a princess, but instead the Queen of Bacon!!

I constantly asked how I manage to stay positive and laugh at pretty much everything, when stuck in a body that is falling apart. Bendy friends are instrumental in keeping each other from going insane and giving up hope. There are always bendy friends to talk to at stupid o'clock in the morning because none of us really sleep. Going to bendy posse events, has got to be one of the best things we can do for ourselves. We don't have to try to pretend everything is sunshine and lollipops,we don't have to shield people from some of the really ugly stuff EDS can do, and we don't have to stand or sit in a chair. Being with bendy friends is the one time where we feel completely understood and are accepted as a whole package without any judgment,comments or criticism of how we're choosing to live. Bendy friends need each other because otherwise, we'd be totally lost and very grumpy. Not to mention being in the hospital a lot more. We essentially rely on each other to get info and advise so we can advocate, when nobody else knows what to do with us.

I think everyone in the Ontario bendy posse would want the same for other bendy's out there. Please go out and start your own bendy posse and get together regularly. Having support like this is priceless. It's like the conferences but smaller, a lot less overwhelming and more fun. Alcohol is also much more affordable, since it doesn't need to be purchased from the posh bar at the hotel. I don't think the posh bar serves Jello-shots either...

If this post doesn't make sense right now, it's because dysautonomia wanted in on the party and I'm super brian-foggy.

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual and call it love."
(Dr. Seuss)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Awesome GP does it again!!

I went to see Awesome GP yesterday to see what he could do,so I could get help with this GI stuff ASAP.

I won't bore you with details, but let's just say I've got it good!!!

Awesome GP didn't like the idea of me be being suck in the hospital getting fluids and things while I waited to get the fundo surgery. So he set up for home-care to come and hook me up. I'm at home with fluids and Zofran while he finds a young, open-minded surgeon who will take on me and my crazy body.

Another pump?! There's no way I'm going to use this gigantic dinosaur. I'm sure it's just as loud and obnoxious as the hospital pumps. I'm kicking it old school and using gravity! Then I can take my fluids anywhere in the house, and even hang the bags from a hammock. The poor delivery man was so confused when I wouldn't take the IV pole either.

Some needles, tubing, canula's, Zofran and fluids! I'm going to look like such a junkie after this...

I just finished packing up at box of supplies I don't need, and then got another one. Anyone want gauze? I have about 4yrs worth of it.

I got an "I'm proud of you" from my nurse today. I guess they're not used to having patients who are independent and can advocate like it's nobody's business. I didn't have to fight for anything today, after we cleared up the fact that I refuse to use the pump and IV pole, and we're doing this MY way.

The bendy posse is getting together again this weekend, so there will most definitely be a very entertaining/messed up post with pictures to come.

I also want to thank all my bendy friends for their advise and support. I've decided to scrap the TPN but still push for the fundo surgery. There's no way we'd make it through without each-other. It was so nice to talk with a bendy friend who's also getting fluids & Zofran at home, and kicking it old-school with gravity. It's because we're awesome :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

The simple things are really the finer things

Well, I'm still feeling really gross but I'm also finding lots of enjoyment during these really long days. Sounds contradictory doesn't it ?

Guess what? It's not. Here's why:

I've found that getting sick as given me lots of opportunities to learn to enjoy the simple things in life. Like, bare-bones simple sometimes. I've always been someone who enjoyed those simple things, but only in small quantities. I would get bored, antsy then I'd feel powerless. In hindsight, I know exactly why that would happen. It was because I had to face some really hard things and eventually work through them. When I really started to regress over the last couple of years, I had to stop everything I loved. I was someone who was always on the move, and the faster I was going, the better. I didn't have time to be still and quiet, nor did I have any interest in it. To me it was like torture. As my symptoms got crazier, I eventually had no choice but to learn to be still and quiet.

That time was also the peak of the depression fun that we all find ourselves in when we realize that this is it. Life will always be this way. If we were lucky, there might be a few things that we could do again with lots of adaptation and most importantly caution. Our lives would be filled with countless evaluations throughout the day, for us to determine the impact of our every move and the consequences that would follow.

With a lot of work and perseverance, I finally learned how to be still and quiet. I distinctly remember the first time I actually chilled out. I was camping with the guys, after what had been a really bad past couple of months. It was a beautiful, quiet afternoon in the middle of no-where and I went to lay on a rock just beside the lake. I made a conscious effort to focus on breathing and relaxing. After about ten minutes I realized that I was chilling out!!! Then I yelled to the guys that were doing their own thing, "Hey guys, I just chilled out!!". I can't say I was relaxed after that, because holy crap...I chilled out. From then on, I knew it was possible and I wanted more.

Now a few years later, and with a lot of practice I can be still and quiet almost anytime. For me, habitually taking my mind off of life and EDS for little chunks of time each day has allowed me to retain the little sanity I have left. Maybe I wouldn't say retain, because as life gets crazier I'm more at relaxed and at peace than ever before. So we'll say I'm taking back my sanity and perfecting it. It's also the one thing that helps with pain control when nothing else does. On those days when everything hurts so much that I find myself on the floor, I turn off my brain and focus on breathing. Nothing else. It allows me to get from one moment to the next and to be completely relaxed so I can ride the whole thing out. I could be yelling at the top of my lungs about pain, but for me it's counter-productive. Yelling makes for more muscle tightness, it's loud and makes me,and anyone else around panic. No thanks...

Anyway, this whole being quiet thing has given me so many opportunities to experience the world in a different way. After perfecting this skill over the last year of being sick in bed, I am finally putting it into real practice. I can now experience things simply, and there's nothing like it.

I've been reading my books for school in a hammock in the sun. I'm surrounded by flowers that smell wonderful, and lots of greenery. I've been laying on the grass, looking up at the sky thinking about nothing, sweet nothing. On windy days I'll go for walks and spread my arms out so I can feel the wind on my whole body. Sometimes after work I'll walk down to the beach and hang out there for a while. I'll play in the sand, wade in the water and soak up the sun. Tonight it started raining and no, I didn't go inside. Instead, I took off my sandals and AFOs' and got to re-experience the feeling of wet leaves and grass under my feet. Then I went back to the hammock and just lay in the rain. When I'm outside doing anything, that's when I truly feel grounded and connected. Most of the time the thoughts of EDS and what it's doing to me, melt away and I get some much needed respite.

Since feeling a lot better (not right now, but on the whole), I've been able to participate in life again. I've been able to make plans and keep them for the most part. It doesn't mean that I'm doing anything crazy, but I'm really enjoying the time with my friends doing nothing in particular. Just hanging out, and enjoying each others company. Now that it's been getting warmer, we've been spending more time outside and it's been awesome. Everyone always asks what I've been up to or busy with.Other than paperwork and EDS fun stuff, I just been enjoying life. Most importantly the simple things,that are really the finer things in life, and that's what makes me happy.

This week two of our bendy's friends have gone to meet their maker. Zak and Kim won't ever get to enjoy the simple things anymore. They left this earth to soon, and none of us know when it will be our time (whatever you believe in).If you're not already doing it, make it a habit to find the simple and fine things in life, and enjoy them. It might take a lot of practice, but it's totally worth it. If I can weather the storms that life unleashes, so can anyone. You may also develop a bit of an "I don't care" attitude, and that's awesome. Because at the end of the day, does it really matter if we broke a glass, or ran out of peanut-butter or forgot to take out the garbage? Probably not... Tomorrow is a new day, and it's never a day to be wasted.

I found a backpack that is perfect for the Joey-pump, and so much better than the one that is made for the pump. It's also about $60 cheaper, and looks far more cool. I'm a bit of a MEC whore, they always have what I'm looking for and it lasts forever.

And..............I found some sandals to cover my AFO's. From May until mid-September the man shoes are gone. It only took 3 attempts to find these and I love the fact that they're orange.

Some of our bendy posse got together. It was a beautiful sunny day, where we spent it mostly outside. First we stopped for lunch where we started with some drinks. Jerome had vodka shot, and an audience. I guess people aren't used to seeing a girl do shots through a feeding tube. They wanted me to do it again, because they thought the whole thing was hilarious, so I happily complied. Insta-drunk again, don't mind if I do.

Then we stopped for some desserts in the sun.

Later we went on our way for more food. We stuffed ourselves silly and had a fantastic time.

This is where I'm spending a lot of my time. I don't know how I ever lived without a hammock. Jerome was being fed with gravity, I just clipped the fluids bag on the top of the hammock and kicked it old school. Nothing better than fluids, brain-food and being outside. Yes, PenAgain makes hi-lighters.

This is what I see when I look up, no boring ceiling to stare at.

Nothing better than unwinding at the beach after work.

Happiest feet on the face of the planet.

Last year's birthday was spent in bed with a subluxed neck and the beginning of life with dysautonomia. It was also supposed to be my last day at the job I loved thanks to EDS. I missed both, but luckily this year I got a re-do! A b-day celebration with some of my work friends at an Ethiopian restaurant. I'm a lucky girl.

"Celebrate we will, because life is short but sweet for certain"
(Dave Matthews)