Goodbye 2018

It is new years eve and the end of 2018.

For me the year has ended with the same questions it started with… “why is my body not doing what it is meant to do?” Only, it has got worse.

This year has seen me fight for me and what I need. Which is something I havent really done very well before or even tried all that much to do.

However, having my kiddo 10 years ago and having to fight for her to get the support she needed helped me understand how to fight. Seeing her struggle with anxiety over my mental and physical health has given me the push to fight for me, but really for her.

So I finally started EMDR trauma therapy this year. It had a 25-33.3% chance of success in ‘complex trauma’ according to the clinical psychologist and other resources. They are slim odds and I didnt manage to make it into that category. So that is a bit of a downer. I also dont particularly get on with the clinincal psychologist and her understanding of me, but also of autism in general seems poor. This isnt helped by my communication difficulties. So that is something I need to sort out quickly in 2019, I dont really have many options as in the UK there is no long term mental health service for PTSD. There is barely a short term service that will only do a type of therapy with a low success rate. Also the clinical psychologist is the lead for psychological intervention for adults in my area and is one of few people trained in dealing with trauma in the NHS in my area which doesnt help either. I cant afford to go private… which leads me to the next part

Not only did 2018 start with feeding tubes and eventually a PEG tube in february 2018, in May I started needing a wheelchair. Which was a load of hassle and the NHS couldnt provide me with one, so I had to buy one myself, which is why I cant afford private mental health care, as it will take me 3 years to pay back the loan for this wheelchair… I say this one, it was delayed but should be delivered on the 10th of January.

I am now under 2 different hospitals, neurology locally and gastro in london. I have an MRI locally and an Manometry in London in the first 2 weeks of January. Not looking forward to either, but hopefully they will bring me closer to the answers of what is going on with me, that have completely eluded us in 2018.

PIP (personal independence payments) – A UK disability benefit paid in 2 rates (standard and enhanced) in 2 areas (daily living and mobility), that has been tough this year. Updated them on my PEG tube being fitted and they took all my daily living away, and they have decided, with no proof or evidence that I can walk 200m unaided with no difficulties. I managed to get my daily living back but at the enhanced rate, but they wouldnt reconsider the mobility. My advocate is helping me fight that in 2019.

After 2 years, I finally have a personal budget/Direct payments – I should find out in a few days if anyone has responded to my advert for a support worker/personal assisstant. That was a stressful process with a social worker who didnt do what she was meant to when she was meant to do it.

The only thing I never really had to ever fight for this year was things to do with my kiddo. Her social worker is awesome, her school are awesome, everything seems to be going well. Although I am pretty sure her DLA (child version of PIP called disability living allowance) renewal will come early. It is supposed to be when she turns 12, but she is 11 in February and I wouldnt be surprised if her forms come at the end of 2019 and her rates get reduced before 2020. It wont be a massive deal as long as my rates of PIP get sorted. She would still meet the criteria, but it is much harder to prove now that she is more settled in school.

I am pretty sure I have made it through to 2019 out of pure stubborness! Everytime I have been close to breaking point, I have stubbornly refused to break and come up with some way of feeling better about things- with the help of my advocate of course. She has been brilliant this year. I dont think I could have coped without her support.

I am hoping 2019 brings me answers and support and that my kiddo stays settled and happy.

I also Hope that 2019 is kind to everyone and doesnt make things harder than they already are.

All the best

Trish


My personal story – Going from fit(ish) and healthy, to tube fed wheelchair user

It has been a full on 2 years that has seen my health deteriorate massively and progressively.

It is mad to think that 2 years ago I was walking miles (walking from London Bridge train station, along the Thames via Southbank, to Parliament/Big Ben, up through St James’ Park, to Hyde Park, through Hyde Park, to Kensington’s Holland Park-¬† plus walking around Holland park and Hyde park for hours) catching Pokemon on Pokemon go…… now I can barely walk 10 metres to my car.

It started with just feeling fatigued a lot, not garden variety tiredness, but need to sleep 14 hours a day, ¬†fatigued, where I am used to 6-8 hours sleep. I went to the GP but because of my communication difficulties, I couldn’t explain how I felt or if there were any other ‘symptoms’ that the doctor needed to know about. So I was given a blood test form and went for my blood test. It came back normal levels for everything.

I repeated this a couple of times over several months. No one ‘likes’ going to the doctor, but I have spent years being fobbed off by doctors and treated like a child. I don’t go unless I really really have to, and that is usually when I don’t feel well enough to look after the kiddo.

My advocate, who is amazing, but really went ‘above and beyond’ as did my LIMA (low intensity management for autism) support worker/autism specialist- came with me to the GP when I explained that I was struggling to eat and drink enough.
My GP kept sending me for blood tests and said that I wasn’t ill enough for any help … yet. She didn’t think to make referrals or anything, just left it to the point where the LIMA support worker phoned an ambulance as I barely had enough energy to walk to the loo in my ground flat.

The next few months were spent in hospital, not being listened to, with consultants with huge egos and no empathy.

I couldn’t keep food or fluid down. I lost weight, and was constantly dehydrated. After several tests, and then a few more, I was referred to the hospital psychiatrist, because Autism and PTSD must mean that because it wasn’t an obvious thing, it must be in my head! (EYE ROLL).

In the end they couldnt keep me in hospital indefinitely using nasal gastric tubes (their policy is that adults are not allowed NG tubes at home), I was cleared by the eating disorders team as not suffering from an eating disorder, so they had to come up with another option. In the end, I had a PEG tube fitted, and as soon as I was allowed, I came home.

I have since been referred to St George’s Hospital in Central London to see top specialists.

With being home, fed enough and being hydrated I felt a lot better in myself, but that is when I started with the severe fatigue again and then my muscles in my legs gradually over a couple of months, stopped working like they should. According to the physio I have global muscle weakness which is impacting on a pre existing knee condition- but, they dont know why.

I was given a walking stick, and the physio agreed with the GP that a wheelchair would give me the chance to get out a bit more for longer days as I just cant walk far enough. So I have a very very basic folding active user wheelchair. It does the job, but I will need a slightly better chair down the line as it is still too heavy as it is not an ultra light chair and there are a few add ons I cant use, which would make my life easier, because of the way the chair folds. There are also a few other things which make the chair not exactly suitable for me longer term. However, I do love the chair as it has given me my freedom back a little. Even if I do need extra help to go to places.

The GP referred me to neurology in the end, I don’t even think she knows what is going on. So far the only explanation is that is could be nerve signals from the brain not working properly.

So when I get asked why I use a wheelchair, and have a feeding tube… my answer is not simple. It is frustrating as there is nothing I can do to make my situation better.

Physio wasn’t going well at all. It was confusing and made no sense. The strengthening exercises were about moving to a range of low discomfort and then holding for 5 seconds, which then caused ‘severe discomfort’ and he said to not do anything which causes severe discomfort.

I also hated the fact that the physio department in the hospital was a long walk which meant I was barely able to do the basic movements by the time I had got to the waiting room and then got to the therapy room. It probably isnt actually that long, but just the thought of having to walk to and from the car even with the stick, just filled me with dread.

I had one of my ‘screw everything’ moments when I was stressed and cancelled all future physio sessions – not that it matters because their website says they don’t deal with neurological conditions – and seeing as I am being referred to neuro, it could be neuro – so I don’t think it actually matters.

So that is how I got to where I am with my failing physical health.

32 years old and my body just doesn’t want to do what it was designed to do.

My mental health is also sketchy with the PTSD – maybe if I were a horse they would put me down… But I’m human – so I get the opportunity to struggle on and try and figure this crap out and try to make the best of the situation.

Although there are days where I think that whoever first said

When life gives you lemons – throw them at what/whoever is giving them to you

Is a bloody genius!

I guess a post on ‘why I hate the fact that now I am physically disabled and autistic – I have double the pressure to succeed and “overcome” my disabilties to make some NT able bodied people get the warm fuzzies’ will be my next post