Okay Body, You Win

Since Monday, I have finally realised that yes, I am actually ill. This may seem silly, but even though I’d accepted that I had M.E. and that it was affecting me, I wasn’t accepting just how ill I was, so still trying to do things I really shouldn’t be doing. I’ve learnt my lesson.

On Monday, I went to college. I vomited on the bus on the way there, as sitting up for more than 10 minutes = bad idea, and motion on top = even worse idea. Turns out other bus passengers are either disgusted or concerned when someone is throwing up in front of them. When I got to college, I lay on cushions on the floor of the chill out room as I couldn’t do anything else, and did not make it to my lesson. It was the first time anyone at college had seen me that ill, though it’s been my normal level for the past month. I went home in a taxi about 2 hours later, and was vomiting in there, too.

Tuesday I had an appointment at hospital about my teeth. Got there on time, went for an x ray then had to wait nearly 2 hours to see someone. If I’d known I’d be waiting that long I would have cancelled the appointment. When going through the list of medical issues, I finally realised just how bad I’ve got. Had any blackouts? Yes (once just after using the commode while having a bad day, the other time after trying to sit up in bed, also on a bad day). Any seizures? No, but I get jerks in my limbs that can throw me off the bed, as well as muscle spasms and milder jerks in my limbs that last for hours (and can jerk me out of my wheelchair, with the seatbelt on). Dizziness? I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t dizzy, but it can get really bad if I sit up, even on normal days.

I managed to contain the vomiting on Tuesday by swallowing it. Not nice, but I didn’t want to upset any other bus passengers. I’d also lost 4lbs that week, as I found out at Slimming World on the Tuesday morning (too ill to go really, but I was still being stubborn). That was in the week I wasn’t really following the plan.

So what’s come out of this? I checked where I am on the AYME functioning scale again. Answer: around 10-15% normally, lower on a bad day. No denying I’m severely affected any more, though it’s still hard to accept. When I was going out, yes I could do it, but I was trying to ignore how ill it was making me. I’ve asked how to join the SAMs (severely affected members) list at AYME,

I’ve told my tutor that even distance learning isn’t going to be possible, as I’m just too ill. I can’t even concentrate on a TV show all the way through without it making me more ill, so trying to study would be far too much (not to mention I’ve already fallen behind and not heard from my lecturer about what I’ve missed). So I’m going to be withdrawn from the course. I’ve also let the Interface students know via the Facebook page. I’m really going to miss college, as it was the last bit of normality in my life, but I need to keep what functioning I still have.

I’m also putting Slimming World on hold, at least for now. The meetings are making me more ill (as much as I didn’t want to admit it) and trying to follow a diet while spending so much time nauseous is probably not the best idea. Also, since coming off the quetiapine my appetite has reduced drastically, so I’ll be able to lose weight just be being sensible with what I eat. I’m also not going to pressure myself to lose weight- I just don’t want to gain any. I’ll be weighing myself at home every Tuesday morning on the Wii Fit to monitor it, and will change what I’m eating if I start gaining, or losing weight too quickly. I shall be emailing my Slimming World consultant after I’ve finished this blog post.

I’m also not going to be having any more baths, at least until the bath lift is fitted. I’ve been stuck once, been close a few more times, and it’s not worth making myself ill over. We tried washing my hair in the sink, but I’m too tall to make that work, so I’ve bought an inflatable hair washing thing for use on my bed. Bed baths are also a lot less tiring than washing in the bathroom, so it will be better overall (I still get exhausted when trying to do it myself, though).

No more going out unless it’s necessary. I’ve a doctors appointment on Tuesday, so will be going to that. I will also be going to the hairdressers next week. This may not seem necessary, but it’s been over a year since I last got my hair trimmed, and getting it done will make it easier to brush. It will also allow me to get my hair washed outside of bed :p Today nice Icelandic carer put my hair into a French plait, which keeps it pretty tidy even spending 22+ hours a day in bed.

I’m also slowly compiling a list of all my current symptoms, that I’ll be giving to my GP and consultant. Hopefully they’ll have ideas on how to deal with some of them, but if not, at least it will mean they’re aware of them. I’m also trying to figure out the baseline for activities, but this is hard as it’s in direct competition with my problems with transitions (if I try and stop an activity before I’m ready, then I get incredibly anxious and may panic, which uses more energy than just continuing the activity for a bit longer). I have made it so I’m only sitting at my computer for an hour at a time, maximum, and reminding myself after half an hour and 45 minutes that I’ve only so much time remaining. That worked well today- came off after 45 minutes because I’d reminded myself after half an hour, and I was at a good stopping place in levelling on my mage in World of Warcraft 🙂

I’m not doing so well on the getting to sleep at the same time every night, but I’m less worried about that. I managed 12 hours yesterday (from 1am to 1.30pm, with a half hour dozy resting period when the carer arrived at 10am) so it looks like I can sleep naturally. It does mean that it’s 2.08am now though, and I’ll probably not be going to sleep before 3am. Oh well- one thing at a time.

Project 365: Day 7: 24th June 2011 – The Sad Onion

The Sad Onion

It was the last day of college today, so I forced myself in. To start with, the Metro I needed to get was off because of cable theft, so I had to get the bus in. Luckily we didn’t arrive too late.

In Interface there was a talent show, which was awesome, though it was very loud at times. I sang with the band (I think they called themselves “In Your Face”).

After leaving college, we decided to go into South Shields to get lunch, and we fancied some cocktails, so had some 🙂 It was fun, though we both had too much food 😛

We then had a bit of a look around the shops. While in Poundland I spotted a bottle of PVA glue with a Sad Onion on, that is 0-5 instead of 0-3. It has 2 more years of sadness! I also found the whiteboard markers that I like (and bought a packet for my Computing teacher, as she wanted to steal mine), and some coconut hair stuff and batteries.

I also bought a new MP3 player from Argos, to use as a backup when my phone battery dies. I put the pink cover on it 🙂

I was getting rather tired by this point, so we decided to go home, so I could nap before the carer came to give me my bath. That didn’t go to plan, as someone decided to slash another person’s face with a knife on the Metro we were on. That meant the Metro and the station were crawling with police, and I panicked 🙁 I don’t think the injuries were too serious, though the guy retaliated by beating the other one up.

We finally got home about 5.20pm, but it was too late for a nap. I had my bath when the carer came, and after a rest have been on the computer since then.

Project 365: Day 5: 22nd June 2011 – Prom


Woke up very late today, gone midday (I can’t remember exactly when). Was totally exhausted, and felt pretty rough. Was unsure whether to go to the prom today, but after much dithering decided to go. Got ready, then we left.

The Prom was brilliant 😀 There were most of the Interface students, both current and past. It was nice seeing some of the old students again 🙂 It was quite loud, but alcohol works brilliantly for pain, anxiety and copingness, so I managed okay. Even danced a small bit in my wheelchair 🙂

I had a great time, and I think other people did too. Got home just before midnight, and have been looking at motability cars since 😛

Level 25

Saturday was my 25th birthday. It went well.

In January I reported my change in circumstances to the DLA people, as by that point I was unable to walk outside at all. They decided to ignore everything I said in the letter, and kept my original award of higher care, lower mobility. While I was waiting to hear from them, I went from being able to take a few steps to not being able to walk at all, so I felt that I should be entitled to higher mobility (for those who are unable, or virtually unable, to walk). I put in an appeal, and they contacted my GP, consultant, then sent out an evil ATOS doctor last week to do a medical. It must have convinced them, as on Friday I received a letter saying my appeal has been stopped as they’d changed their decision and awarded me higher care, higher mobility 😀 My reasons for having higher care have also been changed from mental health (which is much improved, if not completely fixed) to physical care needs, which is more accurate now.

The back payment came in on Saturday, so I sent Johan out to buy my new television. It does iPlayer and YouTube and stuff, as well as being a million times better than my old one, which is nearly dead. It was less than £300, which for a 32″ LCD with internet is extremely good 🙂 It’s also nice being able to operate it from bed 🙂

What else has happened? I’ve still been really ill. I now spend most of the day in bed (about 20+ hours, sometimes nearly 24) at least four days a week. My sleep is a bit all over the place- little things stop me getting to sleep for hours after my meds would normally knock me out, then I struggle to wake up in the mornings (though to be fair, that’s not unusual).

I had my Computing exam. It went better than expected, so I’m hoping for at least a B, despite not being able to remember anything I’d been taught since Easter. I did the exam in the first aid room, but the bed was too high for me to use it. I took some beanbags but ended up not using them either, as by the time I needed to lie down I only had 3 short questions left, so I answered them, checked my answers, printed it off and went and lay on the recliner in Interface for an hour, napping for quite a bit of it. We stayed in a hotel near the college the night before so I didn’t have to worry about the journey in (we got a taxi from the hotel) and it was nice, though I couldn’t get my wheelchair into the bathroom, despite it supposedly being a disabled room. I crawled instead, and let them know when we were checking out.

Apart from that, I’ve not been in college as much as I wanted to. It’s the last week next week, and there’s the leavers ceremony, prom and things. I want to go but will have to see how my health is.

I did manage to make it to Flamingo Land with the college on Friday though 🙂 First of all everything that could go wrong, did. I struggled to get up after not being able to sleep until 1am because there were people talking very loudly outside. We were slightly late leaving because we forgot something, so we missed the first bus by about 30 seconds. The second bus wasn’t accessible, and we got on the third but I reacted badly to a woman’s perfume so had to get off at Blaydon. We got on the forth bus, but were running really late by then. We missed the metro by less than a minute, so ended up emailing the college to let them know we would be late. One of the support staff picked us up from the metro station, which was good 🙂 Then the lift on the coach wasn’t working properly because the road and path are uneven there. It took 25 minutes until I was lifted onto the lift so I could actually get on the coach 😛

After that though everything went well. I got a disabled band and Johan got a carer band, so we didn’t have to queue for the rides. I went on the first roller coaster to see how I’d manage with it, and it turned out that because they had good back support and I don’t get scared I could manage them fine, so I went on a few 🙂 I also got to see the penguins, which was awesome. I’ve been tired since, but overall I’ve not been much worse than I was anyway, so it was more the long day that did it than being at the theme park itself. Luckily it was pretty quiet there.

I went to little Martin’s birthday party on Monday. He’s getting so big 🙂

I am having problems communicating beyond just Twitter and Facebook at the moment. Instant messenger is exceptionally difficult, even with friends, and emails and letters are pretty much impossible to write. I keep losing speech, which makes communicating with the carers difficult when it happens. I am currently creating an Android app that should help with that at least.

I’ve also started project 365. I’ve posted the first two days to Facebook, and I’ll copy them over here in a minute. I’m hoping that taking a photo everyday, no matter how crappy, will give me something to do 🙂

An (overdue) Update

A lot has happened since my last update in February. The big thing is that Johan’s depression became really bad, which resulted in him having to go into hospital for a bit on 27th March. You can read more about that on his blog here. This was mainly because we still had no help from social services, and even though they’d been warned he was getting that ill they didn’t do anything.

Because Johan went into hospital, social services had to start providing my care. The morning the nurses came out on the Monday (Colin stayed with me overnight on the Sunday, but had to leave for work at 6.30am) they realised I needed a lot more help than two visits daily would allow, as I need help with getting drinks, getting to the toilet, getting food and stuff, as well as things like washing and dressing. Because of this, it was decided I needed to go into a care home while Johan was in hospital. One was found that would take me, and then an ambulance came to take me there (social services suggested a taxi, until Louise (from college) told them I couldn’t walk and was in an upstairs flat, so would need help getting down the stairs). I managed to forget things as I normally do, but it was sorted in the end.

The care home itself was okay. It’s designed for people with physical and learning disabilities, and the other residents were nice. My room was okay, apart from being very brown (I don’t like brown that much) and the doors being too heavy for me to open. This meant that I couldn’t manage to take myself to the toilet after a while, as even though I could crawl there (until I got ill- more on that in a moment) I couldn’t open the door. There were other problems as well, that we’d not realised would happen. I can’t ask for things for myself and I can’t cope with open questions, such as “do you need anything?” (this is a communication problem caused by my autism). This caused problems. It became a big issue on the Friday when I couldn’t ask to get into pyjamas, so had to sleep in my day clothes, including my big hoodie (I can’t lift my arms above shoulder height, so need someone to help me with my top half of clothing).

By Saturday I was ill- I’d overdone it (crawling to the toilet, lifting my bottle of diet coke so I could have a drink, getting myself ready for college on Wednesday morning because the staff claimed I’d changed my mind about going, when I hadn’t, and things) and I couldn’t sit up unsupported or move much. I was in a lot of pain, and I became non-verbal, which is normal when I’m overloaded. The staff’s response was to keep asking me to talk to them. I couldn’t- I couldn’t remember how to speak, and my attempts to do so failed. They had been warned that this could happen, and it was on my care plan, but it must have been forgotten at the time. One of the care staff even touched my face (there was a big sign on the door telling them not to touch me without asking) which didn’t help, and caused me to panic.

Because of my inability to communicate, I went without a drink or going to the toilet for 19 hours. This was not good. I still have a mild UTI from this. When I finally was able to type on my phone, and get one of the care staff to look at it, I was able to tell them that I couldn’t speak, and that the pain was unbearable and I couldn’t take codeine (on the Monday I’d taken some and the abdominal spasms where horrendous even with the buscopan). They called the doctor out, and while I waited (it took him 6 hours to arrive) Johan came and saw me.

Johan was able to get me out of my hoodie (when I’m that ill, I alternate between sweating madly and feeling too hot, to being freezing, so wearing a big hoodie was not the best), get me a drink and somehow get me to the toilet. He was also able to tell the care staff that I needed more help than they were giving me. Louise also phoned the care home (we were in contact via email) and told them about how my autism affects me, and that they need to ask closed questions, such as “do you need a drink?” or “do you need the toilet?”. After she’d spoken to them, things improved a bit, but there were still times they only asked open questions and I couldn’t answer.

Luckily while Johan was there I slowly got the ability to speak back (being more comfortable and being able to talk with him using messenger helped) so when the doctor arrived a few hours later I was able to explain to him that the pain was unbearable and I was too scared to take codeine because of the abdominal spasms being nearly as bad. He gave me a prescription for nefopam, which I’d never heard of before. The care home promised I’d be able to get it in the morning (it was quite late at this point).

Sunday I was still in a lot of pain, and still unable to get out of bed except to go to the toilet, but at least I was now able to drink. My visit that day also cheered me up a bit, which helped. Unfortunately, the chemist the care home uses decided to not be open that day because of a wedding, and hadn’t told them so I wasn’t able to get any painkillers that day at all. I survived though.

On Monday I finally got my painkillers, and they helped a lot. This meant that by the evening I was feeling much better, was able to sit up, and finally got a bath so felt a lot more human (I’d meant to have one on the Friday, but it didn’t happen). Tuesday I was able to go back to college, but by this point the stress from the weekend, on top of the anxiety caused by not knowing if my needs were going to be met meant my mental health had started to get worse, and I started having my first thoughts about suicide in a year. By Friday’s meeting with my social worker and the home care staff (I had been reassessed during this time- the previous assessments weren’t good enough for the physical disabilities team) I was desperate to get home, so when they said that the home care would only be another 10 days, Johan agreed that it would be better for both of us for me to be home. I’ve been back a week and my mental health has gone back to being mostly stable, so I guess it was just the stress.

The good news is that the home carers start on Monday 😀 I’m getting 12 hours a week from them, some in the morning, some in the evening. They’ll help me with getting up in the mornings, getting ready for bed at night, baths three times a week, and also help with doing some basic housework on days I’m not having a bath. This should take a lot of the stress off Johan (who is doing a lot better), which should help a lot.

Okay, what else has happened? I have seen the M.E. specialist, who wants to make sure my tiredness and stuff is not caused by depression (erm, apart from the blip caused by the stress of being in the care home, I’ve not been depressed for a year) or being autistic (even with the explanation I was given about it being caused by overload, I’m not convinced it can cause such exhaustion that you can’t walk). Hopefully once that’s happened, and the M.E. is confirmed again, I should get some coping strategies and things to help. I know that M.E. can’t be cured, but I’ll accept any help at the moment I can, as my functioning is really poor.

I also got my exam result from my AS Computing. I got an A 😀 This is awesome. My predicted grade for the next exam is either an A or a B, depending on what sort of day I’m having. I’ve been enjoying the programming part of the course, even though Visual Basic.net is a bit weird in how it does things. I’m still slightly behind, as I’ve missed a lot of lessons because of being too ill to get in, but I’ll be able to catch up as it’s the Easter holidays now.

Interface has been good. I’m now running an Internet club for the other students, doing stuff like how to send emails, how to behave appropriately on different parts of the internet, how to keep yourself safe and things. I’m hoping it’ll go well.

Tomorrow I’m going to a friend’s wedding. Yay! This will be the first wedding I’ve ever been to as a guest, so it’s very exciting. I may blog about it afterwards 🙂

On my functioning- well, I can stand up for a few seconds on a good day (yay!) but there are so many things I can’t do or need help with. I can’t walk at all, I can’t lift anything heavy so need someone else to pour my drinks, I knock things over all the time (the M.E. has made my dyspraxia much worse). I need someone to brush my teeth, wash/brush my hair, help me with the top half of my clothing. I need my food cut up for me as I can’t do it myself, and often have to eat with my hands because holding a fork or spoon causes my hand to shake uncontrollably. I can self propel my wheelchair for a few seconds, but it’s normally just enough to get around the toilet or get through doors if needed, and if I try to do too much I end up stuck in bed. I can type, but writing is nearly impossible. This is all on good days- on bad days I can’t get out of bed, can’t sit unsupported, and sometimes need Johan to feed me or hold my cup to my mouth. I hate being so dependant on other people, but I’m starting to get used to it.

Okay, I think this blog post is long enough now, but I may do that 30 day song challenge thing I’ve seen on other blogs, starting tomorrow. No promises, though 😛