Brain broked but stuff happened

Physically I have got better. Cognitively I have got worse. This is not unexpected but very annoying. I am struggling to understand even simple things like my bank account and emails.

Because of this, Johan is now my Appointee when it comes to the DWP. This means he’s responsible for contacting them, filling in forms, and my money now goes into his account (which he then sends to mine because the bills come out of it, but when we’re able he’s going to be added to my account so he can manage it as well). We were worried that they’d say I didn’t need an appointee but instead they asked why it had taken so long. It was very hard for me to admit that I needed that help, and as soon as I’m consistently well enough to manage it Johan is going to hand control back to me.

Johan had his PIP renewal. We were a bit scared as it was only a 6 page “has anything changed” form and then we didn’t hear anything for weeks, but it’s been renewed again at the same rates so we don’t need to worry for now. My DLA to PIP transfer is in progress- we’ve now got the form that Johan needs to fill in. He says it’ll be easier than filling in his own, and he even managed the phone call to initiate it okay. We’re going for our usual tactic of sending tons of supporting evidence (mostly my care plans, where it says they’ll find me in bed both calls) and hope it goes smoothly.

As I’ve been doing better physically I have been out of bed a bit. I’ve been in the living room and to Newcastle (I went to the yarn shop! I bought yarn!). I saw Snow Dogs and they are awesome. I also went to the local park for the fireworks display and it was good, though people kept climbing over me while we were in the queue for food (we think they didn’t realise how long the chair was so thought there was a gap when there wasn’t). I wore my penguin onesie and was nice and warm. I’m definitely glad I managed to go, and hope to go next year. We’re planning on putting lights on my chair and skipping the food queues though 🙂

I have a shower chair now so I’ve had two showers! Showers take a lot out of me and the chair isn’t quite supportive or padded enough but person from CFS team has suggested using towels to make it better and we’re going to try that. I am so glad that it’s here now though. The main thing stopping me using it is not being awake and well enough at the same time Johan is available to shower me.

Last week we finally got my new hoist slings with head support. I’ve tried them and they make it so much easier and mean my head no longer flops backwards and my neck doesn’t get sore! We’re not sure if one will fit in my normal going out changing bag, but if not I’ll just get a bigger one.

I saw mental health team. They can’t help me because I’m not at high enough risk. Blegh. I’m both glad that I’m not that ill mentally, and frustrated that they couldn’t help even with suggestions. Last night fireworks going off made me really out of it, but I was also able to describe what was going on to Johan (he was with me at the time). I think it’s the first time I’ve been able to do that, explain what’s going on in my brain while it’s happening, but I don’t know how to stop it and I was exhausted afterwards and slept all night then all day. That was not in the plan.

I went to the local hospital for a smear test and coil change. Was funny the first time I went as they didn’t know I’d be in a stretcher, most of the information they had was wrong, and they didn’t know where to put me. They figured it out though (they had a second waiting room that had a curtained off bit- they put me there with a guard nurse at the door) and the doctor took my smear. I went back a few weeks later for the smear to be repeated as the first one didn’t have enough cells, and this time the doctor changed my coil as well as he didn’t want me having to go back there again. The second time they had two rooms ready for me- one in case I could stay on the stretcher like the first time, and since I couldn’t (the ambulance guys needed it for other people) they kicked a doctor out of his office so I could go on the only bed in the department that lies flat. It wasn’t exactly fun, but the coil change went about as well as it could have and I was in less pain than the day before, so I appreciate that. My second smear came back normal so I don’t need to worry for 3 years now, and 5 years for the coil. I’ve been a bit crampy and moody since but hopefully that’ll calm down in the next few weeks.

I have a hospital appointment at the beginning of December about my dental surgery. It’s going to be at a further away hospital, which will be the furthest I’ve travelled in over 4 years. Hopefully it won’t take too much longer after that to have my broken teeth removed- one of them has had a temporary filling in for over a year.

I’ve been playing a lot of World of Warcraft since Legion came out. I’ve done all the current quest lines, got all three artifacts for my Priest, and am concentrating on levelling my Discipline one. I’m okay doing most World Quests, LFR and normal dungeons. I’m too scared to try heroic or mythic dungeons yet, though since I have a 853 item level I am geared enough. Part of the problem is that I don’t really know how to heal with the new Disc system- in LFR it doesn’t matter too much if I’m not sure what I’m doing as there are other healers, but in a dungeon I’m the only one. I’m considering learning Holy for it, but I think I need my brain to work better first. WoW is a lot of fun though, and I’m glad I’m able to spend a decent amount of time in it (mostly at night while Johan is asleep).

The biggest problem my cognitive issues is causing is I can’t initiate conversation now. I can know what I need to say and who I need to say it to, but without a prompt I just can’t do it, and I don’t know how to explain that. Replying to someone is easier but still really difficult, especially if I don’t know the person that well. I’m also muddling up or forgetting words and stuff much more these days, which if nothing else gives Johan something to laugh at (as he hears most of them). It’s so frustrating needing to do something but not actually being able to do it, even though I technically know how.

Johan is now very busy. He’s in Newcastle 3-4 times a week now, and he’s taken up running so does the 5k park runs most Saturday mornings, and goes to the gym when he can to do more running. If I’m asleep at the wrong times, I sometimes don’t see him for more than a few minutes while he sorts me out in between stuff and sleeping. Both the exercise and being out regularly is helping him a lot, and what he’s doing now might lead to a career in the future. I struggle quite a bit if I’m awake while he’s out, but it’s mostly feeling vulnerable- if something happens, I can’t do anything about it. It also means my pads leak more which isn’t fun. We’ve asked our social worker to change the call times so I’m not left alone for quite as long (the morning call moved to lunchtime so Johan can sort me out before he leaves then the carer can sort me out a few hours later) and also for the evening call to be made much later so I don’t need to cancel it whenever I’m able to go out. He’s put the request in but I don’t know how long it’ll take.

The agency finally stopped trying to send the bad carer in October. It took my social worker putting it in the contract not to send her before they’d stop. I’ve had several carers say they’d happily do those calls if asked, so it’s not that no-one wants to deal with me, but they kept insisting she was the only person available. I’ve still not heard anything about my official complaint (that I put in during July) so once everything else has calmed down we’ve got that to chase up. It’s the usual problems we’re having with the care agency now- most of the carers are lovely and do their best, but there’s a complete lack of organisation and communication, and I still don’t get rotas so get panicky every weekend as I don’t know who’s coming.

At some point I need to see my GP as my antiemetic has started causing tachycardia and palpitations, which stops me sleeping and is very uncomfortable. I can reduce my heart rate manually for a bit (by holding my breath and tensing my muscles- I discovered it myself years ago when I thought I was panicking but was actually having POTS attacks, and it turns out it’s an actual treatment) but it eventually goes back up and the palpitations stay. I’ve been on it for several years without problem so I’m really annoyed this has started now, as it was the third one I tried and I really like not vomiting. Hopefully we can fit it in around Johan being out all the time.

I’ve now written a blog post that’s too long for me to read. That’s probably a sign I should publish it. Hopefully there aren’t any massive mistakes in it.

Penguins Are Still The Best

It’s been a busy couple of months. I currently have an actual social worker, and he sorted out a care home (which went well) and is helping to try and sort out the care agency problems I’m having. They’re still sending that particular care worker that I can’t cope with, so I’m now panicking a lot and not having stuff I need doing done. My main care workers have complained, I put in an official complaint (which I’ve heard nothing about) and my social worker has complained, but they keep sending her. I’m not sure what to do as I’m spending all my energy on panicking instead of useful or fun stuff.

Johan went to Sweden and he had a very good time. I went into the care home I requested (as the previous one couldn’t take me due to renovation work) and though there were a few communication issues overall it went about as well as it could. I even managed two baths which was amazing! I managed to make a pair of slipper socks while in there, watched the ESA Marathon that Johan was in Sweden for, and went to a open day for the floor upstairs from where I was staying and stole two helium balloons. I also slept a lot and had to reassure the staff that was normal.

Since then I managed to go out for my sister’s birthday, which was the same day as our 6th wedding anniversary. We went for a meal in Newcastle which was nice. I had Chinese starters and a couple of desserts as I was too slow and full for a main 🙂 It’s the first family event I’ve managed to make in a long time so I’m really happy I was able to go out for it.

I bought a Haribo cake for our anniversary, which we started yesterday. It is rather yummy and doesn’t have icing on that Johan doesn’t like, but does have sweets on top. Haribo Starmix are Johan’s favourite sweets at the moment, so it works well for both of us. 

Since I got home from the care home I’ve seen my social worker again, and have got dates for changing my coil and seeing the community mental health team. For the CMHT I got a bit worried when they said it was in a clinic, as I wasn’t sure I could manage talking for an hour and a half at the same time as sitting up (both use energy and mine is limited). Luckily they phoned Johan and told us that it was going to be at home so I don’t need to worry about not fainting in my chair, just on being able to manage an assessment for 90 minutes. I’m hoping they have some ideas on how to cope with stuff that affects me but I have no control over, because panicking and having meltdowns (they’re different) are both extremely exhausting even when you don’t have a chronic illness. 

The best thing that’s happened this month is seeing Sammie today 🙂 She came over to bring me presents from her holiday and chatting to her is amazing, as is being able to cuddle her in real life. I’m so proud of how she’s doing so well. Johan worries about her, especially when she stays up past her bedtime. It’s quite funny how he’ll keep reminding us what time it is. She’s still growing and is visibly taller than Johan now. I don’t think it’ll be too much longer before she’s taller than me.

I enjoyed watching the Olympics when it was on. I mostly saw some of the artistic gymnastics as I wasn’t well enough to watch all I wanted to see, and I was really impressed by Simone Biles and how she flies through the air. I’m looking forward to the Paralympics and hoping to watch a lot of that. Just need to have the energy to manage it.

When I get on my computer I’m mostly playing World of Warcraft. I’ve pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition of Legion, and if I’m going to be awake and well enough for launch I’ll get the digital version so I can play immediately, but if I’m not I’ll wait until the box arrives. I’ve been enjoying doing the prelaunch invasions and quests, and hopefully I’ll figure out how to DPS heal as a discipline priest before I get too far in. Johan has been levelling loads of characters through invasions and he’s not sure which one will be his main, or his first to level 110.

On my tablet I’m mostly playing Minesweeper. It’s slower and a bit harder than on PC as you don’t have separate buttons for flagging and uncovering, but I’ve managed to get under 200 seconds on expert which makes me happy. I’m still playing most of my other mobile games but only in bits and pieces. I’m also reading a lot of Reddit when I’m not feeling up to much, as it doesn’t matter if I lose track of what I’m doing. I hope to get back to reading books when things calm down. I’m still happy though, and have many plans that I’m working on 🙂

Blogging Against Disablism Day 2016: What I Want To See

This is a post for Blogging Against Disablism Day 2016. Please visit the website to see the other posts. It’s a day late as it’s my second attempt at a post (thanks brain fog).

These are things I want to see. It is not exhaustive.

I want to see more people like me in fiction, as normal characters. Disabled, different, maybe chronically ill, but that being only part of what the character is about.

I want to see more progress in making things accessible for more disabled people. More ramps, lifts, alternative formats for information. More changing places toilets (toilets with a hoist, adult changing bench, plenty of room for a wheelchair and carers and other facilities for severely disabled people). Less blocking access, displays making it impossible to pass in a wheelchair, less unnecessary noise and strobe lights.

I want to see disabled people accepted for who they are. Not used as inspiration porn or pitied. Disability is a normal part of life so should be treated as such.

I want less overt and covert discrimination against disabled people. Less refusal to make reasonable adjustments. Less making disabled people jump through hoops non-disabled people don’t have to do.

I want to see more access information provided on websites, and the websites themselves to be accessible. I want that information to be easy to find, not requiring looking through layers of menus to discover.

I want people to see disability equipment to be seen for what they are, tools that enable people to do what they want easier (or at all). Wheelchairs and scooters are awesome and allow so many people to do more than they otherwise could.

I want people to be valued for who they are, not what they’re able to do. We all deserve a full, peaceful, dignified life, making our own choices as much as able.

I want variable disabilities to be understood better. Just because someone can do something at one time, that doesn’t mean they can do it the next time, or in different circumstances, or more than once.

I want the harassment of disabled people to end, especially by governments and the media. I want benefits to be easier and quicker to claim, without the presumption that we’re all frauds. We’re not to blame for the financial crisis.

I want to see disabled people living where they want, with the help they need to do so. I want to see hospitals only used when absolutely required and for the shortest period that’s needed. I want carers to receive the help they need to care for their loved ones if they want to.

I want people to be seen as individuals. We all have our own life experiences, likes, dislikes and thoughts. We’re not just a collection of diagnoses.

I want to see a nicer, more equal world. I believe it’s possible.

How Did It Get to April?

The problem with sleeping a lot and randomly is that time somehow disappears so one day it’s February and then suddenly it’s the middle of April.

I’ve been very up and down the last few weeks. Still got issues with the care agency. ESA form is in so I’m waiting to hear if I’m still in the support group, and if so for how long. Some time spent on my computer but nowhere near as much as I’d like, and not at all for about two weeks until this week. I’ve not been in my chair much either, though did go into the living room for a bit and outside for 5 minutes to try and spot the International Space Station (and failed due to clouds) at the beginning of the month. I’m hoping to be able to go properly out again soon. Esther has moved out, as our flat was just too small for the three of us, especially with my health being affected by everything (she was a great flatmate, and her new place is better for work so I’m hoping it goes well for her).

Easter was good. Eggs and bunnies were bought and eaten. I managed to watch the church service on the telly which was awesome as I miss going to church. I’ve looked into inclusive church services that happen at a time that I can actually get to them (there’s no chance of me getting anywhere for 10am, especially on a Sunday) and I’ve found one that looks really promising, so when I have the spoons I’m hoping to email them about the stuff I need to know (how accessible is it, whether there’s a set routine or service I can learn and follow, how noisy it gets). Emails are hard even when I know what I want to say.

April is also autism awareness/acceptance month. I’ve done pretty much nothing for it, other than speak to my GP for help with my anxiety and ways of coping before I end up in meltdown (unfortunately happening all too regularly due to care agency stuff, like being yelled at by a care worker, or someone I don’t know letting themselves into our flat and into my bedroom with no notice, name or ID- the first I knew of it was when I rolled over and she was there, as I had earplugs in). I think this was the first time I’d told a doctor about my meltdowns, as when they happened once a year it wasn’t that important for them to know. It’s also in my care plan now, along with what to do (leave me alone and if Johan is in, get him- it might be scary seeing me hit or bite myself but I’m not likely to hurt myself too badly and the worst thing you can do is talk to me or try and touch me). Unfortunately most of my coping/prevention methods involve things I can’t do due to being so ill with ME, so I’m not sure what to do, especially when our ways of trying to prevent them (like telling the care agency not to use the key safe except for care calls, and to contact us in advance before turning up) are being ignored.

My GP was awesome as always. She seemed to understand that a meltdown is different from a panic attack (though I still get plenty of them, normally at night when the neighbours are arguing). She’s not got many ideas yet, but she’s going to see if there’s someone who understands autism who may be able to help me come up with some coping strategies. I don’t get why I’m so nervous about seeing her when she’s always so nice and tries to help, even though I’m not the easiest person in the world to deal with (yay neurological illness with no currently known effective treatment and communication difficulties due to autism!). She even sorted out an antihistamine prescription for Johan even though it was my appointment.

I’m still getting used to the side effects of cetirizine I’m taking for hay fever (even though there are no leaves on my tree yet there’s definitely pollen around). Mostly extra drowsiness and dopiness, though it might also be why I’m getting worse headaches than normal. Luckily it’s nothing that I can’t cope with and it’s worth it so my eyes aren’t as sore and itchy.

I got selected from the waitlist to buy Here Active Listening ear buds. They work well for what I want them for (turn down certain noises while still being able to hear what I want, such as turning down background noise while still being able to hear speech) but only when I can actually get them working with my tablet. Unfortunately the left one doesn’t seem to like turning on every time and I’ve had difficulties getting it to connect to my bluetooth, but I’m hoping that it’s just teething issues and they’ll work better soon.

I’ve also recently updated my tablet to Android Marshmallow from Lollipop. While doing so I took the time to encrypt it, so it’s now more secure (though I’ve also turned on smart lock so when I’m at home with it then it’ll automatically stay unlocked, as typing in the password every time would be too much for me). The only bug I’ve found is that the IR Blaster doesn’t seem to be working, which means I can no longer control my telly from my tablet. When I’m not able to press the buttons on the remote myself I’m needing Johan to do it for me. Hopefully that’ll be fixed soon, or I’ll have to look into a touchscreen remote control.

I’m getting excited for Overwatch coming out next month. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get on my computer to play it, as I preordered it. I’m probably going to be terrible but it looks fun anyhow. Today I managed to get my Diablo Wizard to level 70, which only took a couple of years. Hopefully I won’t take as long with my next character 😛

I’ve been enjoying watching the Penguin Cam at Edinburgh Zoo, which shows the gentoo penguins and their stone nests. Watching the penguins mate has been interesting, especially as they keep being interrupted by other penguins wanting to steal their stones while they’re doing so. There are quite a few eggs now and hopefully in the next month or so there will be some chicks. Until then there’s lots of stone stealing from nests, and occasionally the king penguins invade, especially at feeding time.

What’s Health Again?

A quick blog post as I want to blog at least monthly, but this month I’ve not been well even for me. January relapses are normal but this one is lasting longer than I’m used to.

I have a cold. I’ve had it now for several weeks, might now be months. I’m sleeping a lot, though my FitBit is telling me that I’m getting a lot less sleep than I realised (will sleep for a 13 hour period but only actually get 8 hours of sleep in that time, as I’m waking up so much due to pain/not being able to breathe/nightmares). I’m very lucky if I manage mood than an hour of uninterrupted sleep a day. I don’t even remember what a sleeping pattern is.

I’ve managed to go on my computer twice, which is less than normal for me. There are some things I can only do on my computer so I’m frustrated but pushing myself results in being worse. I spent 15 minutes in my chair at the beginning of the month to have my sheet changed but haven’t been well enough to go back in it. That small amount of extra dizziness, pain and exhaustion makes such a difference in what I can do. Anxiety because the care agency still isn’t doing what I need them to doesn’t help.

Good news is Johan almost has a passport. He went for the interview on his birthday and it went well so he’s just waiting for it to arrive. It’s awesome seeing him so excited. He’s planning on going to Sweden in the summer to play games very fast and see friends who also like playing games very fast. When my body has been behaving enough I’ve been eating the goodies we were given for Christmas. Gingerbread penguins and posh fudge are very nice, and not too bad when they reappear multiple times 😛 I’ve also had McDonalds which I caused me less pain than most other foods, because my body is weird (only the lettuce caused issues).

I’ve got so many plans for when I next go on puter and go out. Taking my Deed Poll to the bank to get my name changed, and sending it to the people we’ve not managed to contact yet. Playing World of Warcraft. Talking to Sammie (I miss her the most when too ill to talk). Going for a meal with Johan for his birthday (he went out by himself but it’s not the same). Hopefully writing letters/emails, though they take more cognitive energy than I’ve had for a while. Having proper cuddles. I’m hoping this cold will be over soon, or at least I’ll have another slightly better day so I can manage something. I’m sure it’ll happen 🙂

I’ve been so grateful for my friends the last few weeks. Sending me penguins (especially for Penguin Awareness Day). Giving me (online) Squishes. Being understanding when I disappear from Twitter and Facebook for a bit. My cousin Elka linked me a penguin shirt that had a picture of a penguin made up of lots of little penguins, and I bought that and it arrived yesterday. I can’t wait to be well enough to get changed into it. It’s purple and long sleeved and awesome.

This ended up longer than I expected. Brain dumps are definitely the easiest form of communication. Time to go back to sleep and hopefully stay asleep this time. I can hope 🙂