I so need one

The thief of life is at it again. I am so lost and confused this week. I can’t even hold onto the day of the week, for more than a few minutes. It feels as though, I have spent the whole week checking the calendar, or double checking what I am doing and why. I can deal with pain, with spasms, all the different memory problems, with any of the medical symptoms of my gang of assailants, but frustration drives me up the wall. Yes, I know, that is the nature of frustration, but it’s just so frustrating. It doesn’t matter how many times, I stop, relax, then start again, it just reappears, which winds me up even more. This whole week has been that way. It doesn’t matter that I have had a good nights sleep. That I’m as close to rested as I get. That I’m happy and ready for another day. None of that matters when you can’t remember if this is Tuesday, Thursday or even the one in between, that I couldn’t remember the name of earlier. Frustration has already found its way in. My PRMS really has got this whole game of illness polished brighter than any diamond. It needs stress to thrive, all the stress that I have over the years strived to remove, item by item. I had taken it’s greatest triggers and smashed them into a fine powder. So what does it do, it removes even more of my memory, it truly is a devious and clever opponent, as frustration, creates it food source with ease.

Frustration and memory are the perfect combination. It’s rare for me to get frustrated by my body, well, occasionally, as yes I am human. But there is no competition between them, memory is the perfect trigger, and wins hands down. At times, it can be perfectly clear. Last night, I was watching “Eastenders” and I could with ease, remember small details, from an episode that I saw years ago. Two seconds later, I couldn’t remember the name of the character I was looking at, or their current storyline. How can one brain do that? How can it send me somewhere to do something, then decide to wipe all knowledge of why I moved at all? Why can it cut out huge sections of my own life, when I need them, just for them to be there later on? How can it steal my words from my mouth? Why doesn’t it tell me that I put lunch on to cook over an hour ago and that it’s now quietly burning? How can it leave me lost, confused and occasionally terrified, by the tiniest change in my own home? How can it be so contrary about why, what or when? How can it do all of these things and so much more? For someone who adores perfection and precision in everything, it is the cruellest trick my PRMS could have chosen, from the list of possibilities. But the cruellest bit, the bit that makes it frustrating, the fact I am 100% aware of it doing them all.

I don’t know just what has upset me this week. Things had actually been quite a bit better recently, which rightly or wrongly, I have been putting down to the fact my breathing has improved. Within a couple of weeks of having my nebuliser and the new inhalers, I couldn’t help but notice that especially, my speech improved. It might just have been coincidence, but I really don’t think so. I know that I have I said it before, months ago, that I was sure my brain wasn’t receiving enough oxygen all of the time. It was, though, just my opinion and I have nothing to prove it was my COPD, or even back it up, other than my experience. Not only has my speech been clearer, but those long gaps while I searched for the next word, have been more than halved. My mind has been less fuzzed and far quicker, I just generally felt more like myself. When you have a shopping list collections of illness to choose from, what is causing what, or has been the trigger for anything, is almost impossible to workout. Add in the fact that illness is phasic, the picture is even more confused. What I do know is this. Right now, my brain still doesn’t feel fuzzed like it was pre-nebuliser, foggy at times, yes, but not that almost audible fuzz. My thought processing is sharper and my speech clearer than pre-nebuliser. My memory has fallen apart again, so this time, I’m blaming either my PRMS, or my Fibro, but my money is on the PRMS.

On the surface, my memory problems sound like nothing in the great scheme of things. It’s only when you actually take a few moments and think of the realities of their effect, that part of my frustration becomes even more understandable. Every time I forget something that is in another room, means I have to make another trip to fetch it. Every trip, planned or not, seeps away at my energy reserves, increases the fatigue levels in my arm muscles and frequently triggers spasms in my intercostal muscles. It also means that pressure is being put onto my hands, which increases the chance that my thumb and knuckle joint will dislocate, either then or later. Yesterday alone, I was forced into making 8 more trips than I really should have needed to complete. On Monday, it was more than double that. When you open up that picture and look inside, my agitation and frustration, starts to make more sense. The more frustrated I get by it, the more I seem to forget. For new readers, please don’t suggest any of those so-called memory aids, been there, done that, doesn’t work. Yesterday afternoon, I had to clip my nap as I really couldn’t put off having a shower. My shower was probably the only thing that went smoothly yesterday, and actually, took less time than expected. Because of how I was feeling, I headed back to my bed just to try and spend half an hour totally relaxed, but not asleep. My plan backfired, despite my having sat here, double checking, that I really did have half an hour to spare when I got up, I discovered that I had got the time totally wrong. I hadn’t just looked at the time on my PC, I double checked it by the alarm clock in the bedroom. Somehow my brain had done what it so often does, it had tricked me. My relaxation was wiped out totally, my frustration and stress levels shot through the roof. I stopped trusting myself with time a long time ago, but when Adam isn’t here to confirm things for me, this is what happens. If all of that isn’t enough, I started my day by going through just half of my morning medications. I used my nebuliser and inhalers but totally forgot, for two hours, until my pain levels were rising, to take all of my tablets, every single one.

If my brain would just hold onto what it is supposed to be doing, this week, would have been a totally different story. I know we are only one Wednesday, yes, I checked. But I have been more tired than I should be and I have spent so much time just cursing myself, over time wasted and unavoidable confusion. My frustration values, clearly have been high, but there really isn’t anything I can do about it and it’s worrying. As I said early, frustration breeds stress, and stress breeds any problem you can think of that my health has ever done. I can see that the rest of this week is just going to be one long battle with the whole thing. I have frequently joked, “Who needs a brain”, well this week, that joke has run out. All I want right now, is even half of one, as long as it’s the half that seems to be missing.

Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 25/11/2013 – The hospital and back

I have been home now for a couple of hours now, just trying to catch up on all that hasn’t been done. I have to say the whole trip……

It’s all about sleep

There is nothing in this world as wonderful as a new pair of earplugs. I only use a set for a couple of days then change them, but last night their impact on what I could hear, seemed somewhat marked. I know I have said it several times, but I so wish I had bought both them and my eye mask 40 years ago. Just like there are occasions that you step into the shower it is so perfectly balanced in temperature and strength, that you just don’t want to have to leave it. Last night, when I put my earplugs in the closing off the outside world, was sublime. There is a perfection, even a joy, in finding yourself in total silence. Add the total blackness that the mask supplies and the comfort of my bed with the duvet fluffed and settled over and around me, and my isolated cocoon is complete. There is nothing like being allowed to be totally undisturbed by anything other than your own thoughts. Isolated and totally free of interruption. I was so ready to sleep last night that finding everything just falling into place without effort was wonderful. I didn’t lie there awake long. Just long enough to appreciate how good it all felt and to run through the day before drifting off into glorious sleep.

I was woken by the unmistakable demand of an over full bladder. No matter how it complained, I was finding it incredibly hard to find the conscious levels required to actually move. It is a feeling that I know all to well and it’s one that I really don’t like. It’s almost as though someone has drugged me and I am having to fight my way to a position where I could show I was alive. It is a real struggle, one that takes several attempts to actually achieve. Pulling myself to the surface over and over, then failing as I slipped back into a fitful sleep. Even when I do manage to actually move and pull myself up into a sitting position, I can’t even then actually move with ease. I sat there this morning feeling terrible and wishing that I could just lie down again. The world was moving, I could feel it although my eyes were shut, I also knew it wasn’t moving at all. It’s a feeling of dizziness but it is totally in my head. So much so that my actual brain feels as though it has been turned into mush that is swimming around within my skull. Often I wake to find that the machine that pulped it is still active and thumping in time with my pulse, whilst a strange sort of low whistle sounds in the background. In normal dizziness your eyes confirm what you feel, this has no affect on my vision at all. I was sat there feeling completely wrong and struggling with a simple question that had to be answered before I went anywhere. Pyjamas or just dressing gown? It was just 14 minutes until the alarm was due to sound, but I just wasn’t sure if I should just get up and stay up, or come back to bed for those last few minutes. I decided that getting up was the logical answer and once dressed I headed for the loo.

I have woken many times recently feeling like this, so I knew before I stood that walking was going to be interesting and that I was going to have to walk with care. My balance always starts to swim with my brain, one second throwing me backwards, the next to my side. Staggering along with what I can only describe as a penguin shuffle, is now a well-known start to my day. From doorpost to the wall and onwards until I find the safety of somewhere to sit again, this morning that was the much-needed relief of the toilet. It was a good thing that I wasn’t in a hurry to do anything else, as I swear that every drop of yesterday’s 2 liters of fluid was all there waiting to leave. From one seat to another in the next door kitchen was my next goal, along with the first cigarette of the day. something that didn’t go well. Just a few puffs and I had to put it out, I just couldn’t take it as it was making me feel even worse. I sat in the kitchen as I have found myself doing more and more when waking at night, not just in the morning. I was just sat there doing nothing, unable to do anything might be a better way of putting it. It’s like I don’t actually know how to move, I sit, blank and cut off from everything, almost as though I am about to go back to sleep exactly where I am. There is a numbness surrounding me and it closes in around my brain more than anywhere else. My mornings are becoming a battlefield, this is happening all to often for my liking. It takes time, a lot of time for me to actually start to feel normal. Today, it was just over an hour before the worst of it was gone, but I still don’t feel great.

Jake just called me and when we were talking, I suddenly stopped. It was more than my normal forgetting words or what I was talking about. It was like those blanks that I get when sitting in the kitchen. It was so dramatic a silence that it was Jakes’ voice demanding was I OK that snapped me out of it. I said, “yes I’m fine”, then shut up again as I desperately tried to work out what had just happened. I still don’t know. My brain just stopped. I was suddenly nowhere and nothing, without a clue of how to get back. Even when Jake tried to help me get back on track, I struggled to find anything that matched the words he said back to me. I doubt the whole thing even lasted a minute, but it felt like it went on forever. That is the first time that has ever happened to me. I don’t like it. It somehow felt like a terrifying place to be and I don’t want to go back there. I often got lost in my words or forget what I was talking about, but this felt so different, it was deeper and stronger than anything I have ever known before. It has even managed to leave something behind it, other than that fear that it triggered. It has left me feeling lost. Not just about what happened, it’s a feeling of being lost about everything.

I said yesterday there are so many small things happening just now. I can’t pick one out which as being the most important or the reason behind it. There is nothing I can blame for it either, but what I do know is something is changing and something is growing in what it is doing to me. My right arm this morning was once again not quite right. It wasn’t as bad as Sunday, but it was numb and I couldn’t make a closed fist again. Now, it’s back to normal. The only common string seems to be sleep, all these new things seem to be worse when I wake, which is totally the opposite of how my life normally is. It feels as though I have two different things happening to me right now. My PRMS and this other thing, which I know is managing to make my PRMS worse at the same time. Whatever happened when I was talking to Jake, I don’t know, but I really don’t feel right, even writing is hard. I just hope it makes as much sense to you, as it does to me as I am writing it.

Please read my blog from 2 years ago – 21/07/2013 – First a funeral, then the will

Well the plans are started and we have talked through a range of things that we agree has to be done so that we can both move on and we can both make the most of the time we have with each other. Strangely it wasn’t……

Meeting aliens

I went to my bed early last night, I was so tired that I just couldn’t stay up any longer, but my extra sleep was wiped out by having to get up twice. I should have know before I headed to bed, when have any of my plans to make things better actually worked in the last few years. I thought that yesterday’s laxatives just hadn’t worked, but something was telling me not to take anymore yet, just wait, they worked sort of just before midnight. I say sort of, as it was followed by the wind that had been missing for the last two days and the unmistakable feeling of my internal contents repositioning themselves, a few minutes of relief from the pressure across the top of my stomach and it was back before I could even enjoy it.

I woke this morning both tired and cold, the house seemed to be freezing and 2 hours of having the fire on in the living room, hasn’t really made a huge difference. I had told Adam the other day that as we now do have the central heating off and as the house is holding it heat, that this weekend he could open the curtains for the first time this year, I so wish I hadn’t. We really don’t seem to be able to shack winter off this year, but having built up his hopes, I just can’t let him down as I know how much he hates the fact that I close the house down for winter, however long it lasts. I know it is something that a lot of people don’t understand, but there is a fact, double glazing or not, we loose heat out of the house through our windows, so I keep the curtains closed right through the winter to save money on heating. The nights are still cold, so I at least I can still get away with closing them long before it is dark, I doubt it will end our marriage long argument that sunset is when the bottom of the sun touches the horizon, not when it becomes totally dark, even showing him the proof online, hasn’t changed his personal opinion, he is right, the rest of the world is wrong, I just smile.

We sat last night and had a talk about going to the hospital on Tuesday, Adam wanted to know if I had finished writing the piece that I want to take with us. I had to tell him that I haven’t looked at it for a couple of days, as I just didn’t think the doctor would want to read everything that I had written, it is too long at a page and a half. He hasn’t read it yet, but still thinks that it is a good idea to take it with us and to at least try to get the doctor to read it and add it to my notes as we are in total agreement now that I can’t go on like this any longer. Anyone looking at me in the last few days can see that I am in permanent discomfort and frequently in pain, but getting that across, the actual impact of living like this, well I don’t know how to do that other than in the written word.

When you have been ill for a long time, you begin to see that the worst symptom is the one that is dominating your life at that second. It changes, day to day, week to week, but no matter how bad the pain or discomfort that I am living with right now, at this second, the symptom that is getting to me the most is my brain. I hate this, I hate feeling that I am locked inside with a limited ability to get across what is happening. That stress of just talking to someone other than my family locks me even further inside, it wipes away all those things that I want to say and I find myself searching around an empty mind for not just the words, but the fact as well. Add on to that the stress of being outside my home, my cocoon, and I diminish into a silent lump that says little and when I do, it is interspaced by stutters and word searches that can go on forever. This is one of the problems that I suspect happens to everyone with a condition that affects our brains, when we are talking to people who know that, who understand it, we have a freedom that helps in a strange way to keep us more fluent, even if only in our imagination. Put us in front of someone, especially a doctor who is, in fact, a doctor who doesn’t specialise in our condition, but are a god when it comes to our health and we fall apart. Yet there we are because we have no choice, no other route into getting help, any help with how to manage what is happening to us, searching for the person or solution that can put the breaks on to the spiral we are caught up in.

There is something so wrong with this whole process, this determination by the outside world that we are part of it when, in fact, we are clearly not really part of it at all. I am incapable of functioning like every other person out there, I freely admit that I know without a doubt that I am not capable of it any longer, not just physically but more importantly mentally. It is an alien environment for someone who hasn’t put a foot into it in 8 years, yes I have been out, I have been to the hospital but I still haven’t put a foot outside. I haven’t been out there by myself, having to deal with people, with conversation, or even with talking to a doctor by myself, I always have Adam with me, as I would be a million times worse if he wasn’t there. There is a limit though to what Adam can do for me, he doesn’t live inside my body, he just watches me, he doesn’t know the pain or the discomfort that I am in, he just watches it and rightly or wrongly, I hide as much as I can. Take me out of here, take me into that alien world the place that now means nothing to me other than fear as I might as well be being dumped on the moon, as my memories of it are as clear and as detailed as my knowledge of a world that has changed beyond my comprehension. If those doctors whose care we are in really wanted to help us, they should come to us, they should speak to us in our own environments where there is a good chance that we would be more able to actually tell them the details that they need to truly be able to make our lives better. I know that there is as much chance of that happening as there is of my actually stepping on the moon.

Being housebound changes so much about how we see life and the world we can no longer reach, it is a little like moving city, then returning to it several years later to find that someone has rebuilt it since you left and nothing is where it once was and the people you once knew, have all been replaced. My world ceased to exist 8 years ago, what is out there, the people who are out there, are worse than aliens, as aliens aren’t familiar, aliens don’t speak a language that you sort of understand nor do you feel they should understand you. I am locked in a time warp, I am a person who is out of sight and out of mind of those who I still depend on to make the life I have better. I am in a position that until you share it, I sincerely doubt that anyone can truly understand the impact that it has on everything and every day. That is truly where our care falls down, no doctor who hasn’t been that ill that they have become unable to leave their homes, or who live their lives locked in pain can possibly understand just how it destroys you, all they can do is half observe what is there in front of them, I say half observe as that is all of the picture that is available to them.

Today I am going to try again to put into word something that a doctor will read and will feel, if only slightly what it is now like to be me and hope that somehow they can actually give me the help that I need. It’s now my fifth month of living like this, my fifth month and I have had enough, there has to be something they can do to make it more bearable.

Read my blog from 2 years ago today – 16/05/13 – Withdrawal or Overdose

I have now for years always taken my final medication for the day at 7pm, I started taking it at that time as I was up daily at 4:30 am for work so it fitted well into the required cycle. 7pm is also the time that I always switch mentally from daytime mode to night time, I pour out my glass of coke and replace the contents of my glass with a well deserved Gin and Tonic. Well deserved then as I would have been working from 5am almost….


At this second in time I would just love to have a little consistency in my life, yesterday morning I ate my breakfast without the slightest problem, this morning, I managed about half. Why that annoys me or even surprises me I don’t know, consistency has been missing from my life since my very first flare, life in the unknown zone is the only consistency there is once your own immune system has decided you are an alien to be destroyed, mind you I have also been aware most of my life that an huge number of people would agree with the alien bit.

This week is going to be an odd one, as Adam is off work for the whole week, once again they have been pushing him to use up his annual leave so he has this week and a load of days here an there off through the remainder of the year. I didn’t see that much of him yesterday as he hid himself away in the kitchen working on an essay for his college course, it’s odd how life travels in circles, nearly 30 years ago I was in the same position with a husband studying, at least this time I don’t have 2 children under the age of 2. When I went to bed he announced that he was on a role and really felt he was getting somewhere, when I woke at 5:30 am to go to the loo, he was still in the kitchen working, with no intention of calling it a day. I used to be like that, unable to stop doing something and totally disregarding the clock as what I was doing was just to important to me. I have to say in a way, it made me proud to see him applying himself to his work, education was something that had sort of escaped him, even when he went to college after he left school, it turned into one long drinking session, which was still going on when I met him. It’s strange, but I actually envy him, I had had plans so many times to do a degree or college course, but it never happened, now, well I have the time, if I stopped everything I am doing on line, but I now believe there is more to gain here than there is in having letters to add to a grave stone. Adams HNC course had nothing to do with me, but I did push my first husband and many others in to education, in fact the company I worked for, for 13 years before redundancy was a distance learning company, selling courses from hobby to degree and I sold my share of them, in my first role with them. Yet here I sit without any qualifications, unless you count a handful of certificates from when I was working in the hotel industry, I’m a qualified cellar person and keeper of real ales, not much use these days. Outside of those I taught myself everything I needed to know to get me work and through life in general, so many people always assume that I have some degree or other, or that I must be well read at the least, the truth, I haven’t read a book since my first marriage ended and what I did read was mainly science fantasy, not much of everyday value there really. I honestly believe that we can make ourselves what ever we want to be, but not until we are past the age of 25, after that, well no one ever actually asks what qualifications you have, they just ask what can you do for us, then us for you.

My problem with time seems to be getting worse again, I haven’t for months now been able to hold on to the correct time of day, or what is happening at what time. I’ve mentioned it a few times in the past few months, like the fact that Adam now has an alarm set on his phone to make sure that I take my medication at night. I know that I have been taking them for years, but for some reason I started to forget to take them, then would lie in bed in pain trying to work out what was wrong with me. Some days I remember but recently the occasions of Adam telling me to move or my staring at his phone trying to remember how to shut it up, are increasing. In the past week it has been 4 evenings out of 7, that I have blissfully just sat there unaware of the time, but the issue is growing and I am not the only one noticing. The most obvious is my total lack of ability to work out the length of TV programs and how many we can fit in between 7pm and 9pm. I know just how stupid that sounds, but I do it again and again, even when I try hard to make sure it doesn’t happen, it is Adam who has to correct me, or even tell me to go to bed as 9pm has arrived and no we can’t fit in a third one hour show. Yes, I can and do make a joke out of it and Adam has repeatedly told me that “it’s not stupid at all”, but that is how it makes me feel, it is the kind of mistake that not even an average nine year old would make, unless they were hoping no one would notice and they would get to stay up later. You might wonder why if I want to watch something more, don’t we just do so, easy, I wouldn’t reach half way through without going to bed and I would be dead the next day. On it’s own it may not sound like a big issue, but it is one of many examples of how my brain is vanishing.

I have always been bad with names, but not like I am now, it has got to the point that we can be watching TV and talking about it and I will not be able to find the name of the character who is on screen that second, in a program we watch nightly. My sitting there pointing at the screen and saying “thingy, there, him right there, what’s-his-name, you know” and feeling myself getting exasperated with myself, is now a nightly event. Adam is incredibly patient with me, but I know it must get to him at times, just as it does to me. Like everything else, I have good days and bad days, but a good day might mean it happening twice in a night, on a bad it’s every second one and I just shut up, well when you can’t talk, silence is your only option. Trust me silence is easier on me too, as it’s clearly not just names, the times that I can’t find the next word is growing as well, once the frustration starts to build, I then start to stutter and the whole thing turns into a nasty mess. I did have one triumph last week, I managed to book the ambulance to take me to hospital next Thursday, Adam booked the last one, but I decided to do it and despite of the stupid press button system and the same stupid questions they ask every time I got there without getting wound up. I actually think it was helped by the fact the guy on the other end couldn’t pronounce the name of our street, it Scottish and a bit of a tongue tier, so we sounded as bad as each other.

I can still laugh at myself and the mess that I call talking, but when you feel fine inside your head and words can pour out of your finger tips, only getting stuck once or twice in a couple of sentences, to then find that your mouth is your obstacle to the world, is painful. My voice has been the one thing that made up for my lack of education, I was given election lessons and with a relatively soft Scottish accent and a fast brain, meant that being a DJ, or a sales person were perfect roles for me, when I started to stutter and get tongue tide, selling was clearly no longer my forty, but my logical mathematical brain took over and took me through to the end of my working years as an Operations Manager for the same company. Just the idea now of sitting in a boardroom meeting would be laughable, I never once thought that of all the things I would loose this would be the one that is the most life changing and the most devastating when it comes to me, myself as a person. Next to our appearance, how we sound, how we put together our words and express ourselves, well they are us, loose it and we are loosing ourselves.

Read my blog from 2 years ago today – 2/11/12 – The visit > http://bit.ly/Po4vRW