When the Pain Gets To You

http://www.sickoflupus.co.uk

It’s been 23 days since I went into hospital with chest pains and breathlessness. I’m still really suffering with the symptoms and I feel unusually upset about it. 

I finally got out of bed at 12.30 pm today, simply because I couldn’t get up any earlier. Every part of me felt beaten and bruised and my body just felt too heavy to move. I lay there feeling teary and my day hadn’t even started. 

This has basically been my life for months. When you have chronic pain, you can go a long time without thinking about it. It just is. But then there are times like now when you feel like your  future has been completely decided without you. I honestly feel that this could be a permanent baseline for me and pain will be the most constant part of my life. I feel alone and so frightened and it’s a constant battle in my head as to wether I should be strong and continue to fight or completely rethink my lifestyle and aspirations. 


I think I’m struggling more so than usual because I’ve been to so many medical appointments recently and I’ve probably spent more time with doctors than my actual friends! My painkillers are stronger and I’m taking more of them. I’m also not sleeping and I don’t have much motivation to take care of myself. 

Pain and fatigue has taken over my life and it just seems like I’ll never be rid of this feeling. I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

I think it’s time to sit down with the therapist again. I see so many doctors about the physical aspects of my disease but I can see that my mental and emotional health may need some attention right now. 

Sorry for the downcast update but this is the reality of a chronic illness like lupus; sometimes the pain just gets to you. 

Thanks so much for reading 

Until next time

xoxo

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Blue Badge Nightmares

http://www.sickoflupus.co.uk

Let’s get right into it! I think I’ve approached this topic before but I’m gonna talk about it again today.

Hands up if you have a blue badge? (Disabled Parking Permit)

Hands up if you deal with judgement everytime you use it?

Hands up if you don’t always use it because it’s easier to avoid confrontation? 

I can answer yes to all of these. I am 30, I look relatively well, (just a bit chubby) but I have Lupus and Fibromyalgia – and a blue badge. 

I got my diagnosis 13 years ago and I think I’ve had a blue badge for about 9 years.  Also, I wasn’t even the one who applied for it, my mum made the application as she watched my health decline. I was embarrassed and depressed in equal measure knowing that I’d need to start using a blue badge. This is what the typical badge looks like in England. You get a card that has your picture on the back, badge number and expiration date. You also get a clock to state the time of parking.  You aren’t automatically eligible for a badge either. You are thoroughly assessed by your local council and health professionals who will decide whether or not to award you a blue badge.

Who’d have thought this little badge could cause so much stress and upset for people who really need the help?  

(I should state the ‘aggressor’ I’m referring to, 99% of the time, isn’t a disabled driver. It’s a member of the public who feels they simply MUST intervene!)

The main problem is that I don’t look ‘sick’ and I’m certainly not in a wheelchair. Society still associates disability with not being able to walk. The other issue is that there is definitely a problem with able-bodied people using stolen or ‘borrowed’ badges for their own convenience. I hate being grouped in with these selfish people. 

So what does the badge mean to me?

– Less walking 

– Less exhaustion

– Less pain

And what do other people see?

– A lazy person 

– A healthy person 

– A capable person

– An arrogant, ignorant person who deserves to be reported.  There isn’t enough space on this blog to recall every incident I’ve had whilst using my blue badge. Unfortunately, when I’m stressed or experience adrenaline, I develop pain and pressure in my head and chest. Very often, I WON’T park in a disabled bay just to avoid confrontation with an angry stranger. To my detriment, I’ll leave the car further away, regardless of my pain or fatigue level because I just can’t deal with the stress. When my mobility is affected by a Lupus flare, it doesn’t just impact my legs and feet. It’s my chest and each footstep feels like my heart is ripping out of my chest. My legs and feet often feel like they’re being smashed with a metal pole or crushed in a vise. Most days I get the pain with the fatigue/dizziness and I can predict just how much time I have left before what little energy I have is spent. Still, I look absolutely fine. 

Without fail, I can expect to see people shaking their heads disapprovingly, pointing, people taking pictures on their phone of me and my licence plate, people demanding I show them my badge, swearing and people physically getting out of their cars to tell me just what they think of me. I’ve admitted before that if I hadn’t been diagnosed with Lupus, I might have been a head shaker or a pointer. Through my illness I’ve learned compassion and to avoid judging a book by it’s cover. Even now if I see a boy racer pull up into a disabled bay, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.   It’s a blessing and curse to have my illness be ‘invisible’. A blessing in my professional life, a curse when im forced to prove I have an illness that kills people every single day. 

I remember parking in a disabled bay when I went in for chemotherapy, I couldn’t be having a more aggressive treatment if I tried. Had I been in a wheelchair or better still, elderly, i wouldn’t have had a problem. 

And one more thing, parent and child spaces are often closer to entrances than disabled bays but none says a word! We accept that parent and child spaces are always closest to supermarket entrances for instance but none really questions why.

So how do you navigate through a blue badge drama? Many charities like Lupus UK have leaflets and factsheets that you can request. I keep the Lupus UK bookmarks in my car so I can simply hand it to them. Let the info do the talking. Try to keep calm and if you feel you have to defend yourself, try to keep what you say short and concise. 

“I’d love to park in a normal space but I have Lupus and I’m in a horrendous amount of pain.”

” Yes I look ‘fine’ but ask me again in 5 minutes.”

” If you have a problem with ‘people like me’ using a blue badge, it’s something you need to discuss with the council.”

However, also remember that you do not owe a stranger an explanation! Perhaps turn the situation around and say: 

“Congratulations, you DON’T have Lupus and aren’t forced to park here.”

I’m sure many of you will be able to relate to some of what I’ve written today. It’s sad that something that’s supposed to help us, comes with so many problems. 

Thankyou so much for reading. Feel free to share, it may help spread much needed awareness of all invisible illnesses! 

XOXO

http://www.sickoflupus.co.uk 

Happy Pills – My Update

http://www.sickoflupus.co.uk

Hello!

Let’s just jump in!

So it’s been a good few months since I took my first ever ‘happy pills’ or as everyone else knows them, antidepressants. For those who are interested, I’m on Citalopram. I’ve never seen any shame in taking antidepressants, I’ve seen them help so many people. 

I wrote a blog about why I started taking them (see blog archive) due to how hopeless I felt. I was rushed onto them after finding myself in a truly awful situation. I could see how my emotions and my behaviour was breaking my mother’s heart and I knew I had to do something.

My GP warned that things would get worse before they got better but actually, I saw a change pretty quickly. I took my tablet at the same time everyday and this routine in itself made me feel better. It could have been a placebo effect for all I knew but I was feeling better so I didn’t care. 

After a few days, it occurred to me that I hadn’t cried. Only I know how I am behind closed doors and it was normal for me to cry most days. 

Being on Citalopram has come with a few issues however. I’ve needed a ECG because apparently it can impact the heart. I’ve also had to stop taking ibuprofen completely because the interaction between the tablet, ibuprofen and hydroxychloroquine can potentially cause a stomach bleed.  

I found this quote on good ol Pinterest and it’s such a brilliant description of how life can feel when you’re, well, medicated! 

Because I’m not having therapy alongside the medication, I know that I’m basically masking unresolved issues. I don’t feel sad like I used to, I do feel vacant though. It’s a very bizarre feeling to get used to. 

The tablets mean im nolonger ruminating about things I cannot change. This is such a weight off my shoulders. Before, I would literally go over and over the same worries and fears, stress myself out, cry and repeat EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

Here’s another image I found on Pinterest:

  Now, I don’t know if this quote is about antidepressants or addiction.  I can relate in some ways but I also feel that for me, I’m not trying to numb the pain, I’m trying to cope with it.

Physical pain vs emotional pain is such a complex subject. I’ve had the most severe physical pain any person could go through – countless times! but the feeling of heartbreak is in a totally different league. When you’re able to remove the giant burden of emotional pain, you’re left more able to manage the physical side of your illness.

I’ve found that citalopram has given me back some control. It’s also lessened my anxiety. I feel I’m able to process things a bit better, I feel stronger and more able to cope. However, it still feels like ‘Botox for the brain’, meaning I sometimes feel like I’m not responding to situations as I should. I also worry that I’ll be reliant on them forever.

As it stands, there is no cure for Lupus. I’ll most likey have this forever. They told me over 11 years ago that I had Lupus and I’m STILL coming to terms with it. I don’t think you can ever really receive news like that and go forward with clairity and acceptance. As long as you’re living a life that causes you sickness, aches, rashes, fatigue weakness, but most of all pain, there may be a time when you need more help than a friend, relative or doctor can offer. This is where I am. I’ve decided to continue with the pills for the foreseeable future and I consider it just another part of my daily medication. 

Thankyou so much for reading. I know depression is still quite a taboo subject  but it happens. If you’re finding life abnormally hard, please speak to someone. The GP is a good place to start. Lupus UK is also a great resource for everything Lupus!

The first part of this series is called “The Thing None Talks About” and can be found in the blog archives. 

XOXO

http://www.sickoflupus.co.uk

2016

http://www.sickoflupus.co.uk

Hi all,

I can’t remember the last time I put thumb to iPhone and blogged!
I have 2 main reasons for being slack:

1: I’ve been really unwell.

2: I’ve been struggling with depression again and I don’t like to post blogposts that are full of negativity.

However, this post will be more negative than positive, sorry.

For the last few months, I’ve been really busy and haven’t been living my ‘pacing and planning’ lifestyle.

I have been really terrible at writing this year. Thankyou for continuing to support my blog, I can see that a lot of you are still reading.

2016 has been the hardest year yet. I’ve lost count of the number of doctors appointments, hospital appointments, hospital stays and referrals. I should also take this time to acknowledge the amazing care I’ve had from the NHS. It’s easy for people to criticise the NHS, but I find that they are the ones who don’t spend too much time in hospital and so are unable to appreciate how much of a lifeline it is.

My 2016 NHS snapshot:

Thousands of pills, atleast 3 hospital stays, 3-5 trips to A&E, atleast 10 rheumatology appointments, around 10 GP visits, 3 appointments with a specialist nurse, chemotherapy, 2 steroid infusions, 1 ambulance called to my home, 2 brain scans, 4-6 X-rays, an attempted lumbar puncture, 2 trips to the brain centre, 2 trips to respiratory, the flu jab,2 visits to the sleep clinic, countless phone calls to the rheumatology helpline…

It’s no wonder that I’ve continued to struggle a lot this year with anxiety and depression. It’s impossible not to be affected by the disease itself and the mountain of other things that come with chronic illness. It’s the multiple appointments that you have to balance  with work, the waiting for test results, the constant fear of what might happen, worrying about meeting commitments when you’re in pain or when you’re just too tired. And all the while looking completely fine! (But that’s another blog post entirely)

It’s hard to enter a new year when people around you are setting exciting goals and resolutions and you’re just trying to survive the day. Lupus and fibromyalgia just don’t care about your plans or aspirations and for me, this is one of the hardest parts of the illness.

However, I’ve still made plans! Both personal and professional. I can’t let lupus win, it doesn’t deserve to! 

As I write this, I have so much pain in my chest, shoulder and arms so I’m gonna sign off here. (I currently have costochondritis) 

I’m planning to get back to weekly blogs and to share anything I feel may be useful to others in my position so check back soon!

Until next time X