A quick update

I have had so many of you getting in touch to check I’m okay and send your love (thank you!) – so I just wanted to say how much I appreciate it and post a quick update on here.

I am officially sick of the sight of my bedroom! I’m now able to stand easily and walk around for about 10/15mins at a time but I haven’t yet conquered the sitting down comfortably without getting those nasty electrical pulses going down the legs, and my back completely stiffening up like an ironing board – before having to head back to bed in a huff.

What’s helped? Stretches. Stretches stretches stretches every few minutes – and a session on the foam roller when I’m feeling cocky. Though if I roller my back too much then it gets ‘angry’ and I end up getting stuck on the floor for a little while!

Also, my Forever Living Heat Lotion is a god send and soothes my lower back. It’s pretty much Deep Heat but we all know I’m a lover of the aloe so that’s my go-to one.

By some miracle I’m sleeping like a log (the pain is exhausting so luckily I’m shattered and I fall asleep easily). Each morning when I wake up it gets easier and easier, so I’m just being patient with myself, and hopefully in a day or two I’ll be feeling more human. Mustn’t get inpatient.

I’m very lucky to have such supportive friends and family. Usually within about a minute or two of posting, my mum and dad are both on the phone asking if I’m okay. Mum will usually then send me lovely hourly ‘whooaaahhh here comes a hug’ messages for a day or two! And Wayne of course is amazing looking after me the whole time, giving me reassuring cuddles and making me laugh when I cry.

Joey

xXx

When hypermobility becomes a real pain…

joints

I’ve always known that I had pretty good flexibility from a young age.  I was born with a ‘clicky hip’ (hip dysplacia); my knees bend backwards way too much, my elbows and writsts twist round a little too far and my fingers bend backwards too weirdly. And of course my spine is too flexible – which has caused me a LOT of trouble in the past with my slipped discs, scoliosis and kyphosis. It’s also another reason I suffer from sciatica a lot; where my sciatic nerve gets trapped easily in my lower back and pelvis. I never really thought it could do any damage though; until now.

For the last few weeks I’ve been suffering terrible stabbing pains and constant ‘aching’ in my hands and wrists – to the extent where I find I can’t type or write some days (not ideal for work) and it keeps me awake at night when I’m trying to sleep. I just want to rip them off the ends of my arms, it’s so frustrating. I’ll also wake up with numb hands and pins and needles in my fingers (god knows what I’m up to in my sleep). I was starting to worry it was a flare up of my Psoriatic Arthritis so I went to see my consultant who, luckily, quickly dismissed it. She did however recognise it was a problem.

She referred me to a neurologist a couple of weeks back, and off I went for some tests including an EMG (Electromyography) test.  It involved being hooked up to numerous cables and pads and having electrical currents sent through me to make my muscles jump and look for any abnormalities in my skeletal muscles and the nerves that travel through them. I’m used to being a bit of a lab rat so I embraced it and surprisingly didn’t find it too bad, albeit a little uncomfortable with all the electric pulses. I learnt a lot too – my doctor was very lovely and didn’t mind me asking lots of questions throughout.

As he talked me through what he was doing during the tests, he also showed me the results that were coming up on the screen – he said I had a mild form of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – which is the compression of the nerve in the wrist, where it gets ‘caught’ inbetween the ligaments in your hand known as the carpal tunnel. (The nerve travels from your spine all the way down your arms and through to the ends of your fingers – well, all but your little finger for some reason). For anyone that knows me, one mention of the word ‘nerve’ and I just go numb – always have done from a young age – can’t deal with it for some reason, it’s like people who faint at the thought of blood! So let’s stop talking about nerves now.

Whilst I was pissed off that I was given ANOTHER thing to deal with (what on earth have I done in a previous life!?), I haven’t really been too bothered or upset, mostly annoyed that it’s stopping me from carrying out simple everyday tasks (like holding my phone or typing/writing at work). It’s also why I haven’t blogged in a few weeks.  I was told to wait to be referred to see a Hand Therapist for physio to get started on treatment.

I had my first Hand Therapy session last week where my lovely new physiotherapist, Nina, talked me through everything and had a look at my joints. Literally within seconds of looking at my hand and asking me to do a couple of stretches, she told me I was ‘extremely hypermobile’. Now like I said I knew I was a little hypermobile but ‘extremely’ was new. I kind of laughed it off but she explained more about it and how she thinks it’s caused my carpal tunnel-like symptoms in my hand.

Biology time: If you’re hypermobile, it basically means that your ligaments are more ‘stretchy’ and are able to move and extend more than they should. Whilst your bones are attached to your ligaments, they’re not meant to move into the positions that your ligaments push them to; so eventually, after a while, the damage kicks in and the effects of years and years of ‘overuse’ and ‘overbending’ means that you end up in agony.

Whilst that worried me with thoughts of ‘how bad can it get’ and ‘how painful will it be in my later years’, what she did say is that with a lot of strengthening, and a few months of special joint exercises and wearing splints at night (sexy), I should be able to reverse the pain and learn how to control it.  If it doesn’t get any better in the next couple of months, they may well recomment surgery in my wrist to help free the nerve from the pressure in the carpal tunnel.

So, that brings me up to date.  I’ve now got splints which I need to wear at night on both wrists to keep them straight, and some ‘physio putty’ (aka the world’s toughest play-doh) to help with the joint and muscle strengthening, and hopefully over the next six weeks I can minimise the pain. I’ve also learnt not to push my limbs where they shouldn’t be pushed – like locking my knees back (bad habit) and overstretching my arms/hands.

Right, I’m off to go rest my hands after all this typing…

Joey
x X x

splints

^ My VERY ATTRACTIVE splints ^

 

 

 

It’s a silent ‘P’

Psoriasis.

Pronounced ‘sore-eye-a-sis’. SORE is one word to describe it. Itchy, flaky, niggly, dry, patchy are just a few others. Psoriasis can show in many forms but, in essence, it’s a skin condition where (usually small) scaley patches of dry skin appear on your body.

It’s an immune system disease which causes the over-production of skin cells, suffered by 2% of the population. It’s known to be passed down genetically (my mum also suffered with it once in her younger years) and can be set off by a number of varied triggers from stress to infections and so on.

I was diagnosed with Psoriasis in 2013, aged twenty five. Whilst my mum did also have it, I actually put it down to the amount of stress I was under at the time. I generally don’t deal well with stress – at all. Any sign of it and I’m poorly; it’s like my body finds an excuse to not deal with it. I’ll reflect more on work/life balance and stress in a future post, but for now let’s focus on the Psoriasis.

It can be a nasty little fucker and really affects my self confidence. Sometimes I can get teenie tiny spots of it – perhaps on my elbow or on my side or my back and it doesn’t affect me too much. Places it can be easily hidden.

But every now and again it appears on my head. That might sound like nothing. Easy to cover you might think. Sure. But we’re talking blood, puss (ugh gross, sorry) and flakes of skin all over your head. When you touch it, it’s sore; when you wash it, it stings; when you brush it, it’s irritated. The really bad pics on the left hand side were taken in 2013 when I first got Psoriasis. The one on the right – taken in February of this year (2017) it came back a little, and crept on to my face too.

 

The really annoying thing is that there’s no ‘one treatment suits all’ cure. It really depends on your body and how it reacts. Some people can shift it easily, others not so much. But here’s how I found some of the different treatments out there and what triggers it for me…

  • See a dermatologist – I did try this – along with steroids, steroid creams and shampoos, but nothing seemed to make it budge.
  • Go to your GP – again, for me, steroids and creams didn’t help here, it just seemed to aggrivate it more.
  • Change your shampoo – this soothed it for sure, but didn’t get rid of it. The best shampoos to soothe your scalp are parabenScreen Shot 2017-08-28 at 18.21.29 and sulfate free. You should also make sure that it’s sodium chloride (salt) free, minimising any harsh actions on your scalp.  When your scalp is that sore and has open wounds, scalp-treatment and tar-heavy shampoos (for example T-Gel) will cause pain I can assure you.
    The best shampoo I’ve found to help soothe and reduce irritation is this badboy – Klorane shampoo with Peony. It smells gorge and is just the best.
    It’s not the cheapest (around £8 per bottle available from your chemist or online) but it’s worth it.
  • Reduce your stress levels. Probably the most accurate yet unhelpful piece of advice – I mean, we’d all love to be stress free. But this is my main trigger for psoriasis – hands down. Put me under any form of stress or pressure and you can guarentee I’ll have a little scaly patch somewhere by the end of the week.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol realllyyy affects my skin – from blotchyness to inflammation to spots and now, psoriasis.  I’ve never been the sort of girl to crave a glass of wine in the evening after work – luckily. BUT when I do drink socially I do love my wine… and gin… and prosecco… and – well you get the idea. Give me a couple of days or week where I have social events or engagements and here it goes again, the Psoriasis is back.
  • Be strict on your diet. It’s no surprise that what we eat affects how we function – what we put into our bodies will show on the outside. When I get psoriasis I know I have been eating either too much sugar or bread – or not enough greenage (not sure that’s a word?!). Again, all it takes is a few weeks off-focus and it’s back again.
  • Take a holiday. Now if I could take a week in the sun every time I got a new patch, I’d be broke. Obvs it’s easier said than done. But it really does do the trick (for me at least). Vitamin D is SO good for the skin and getting rid of psoriasis. It of course does wonders for the stress levels too. Get me on that sun lounger asap please!

More recently I have been flake-free which is great (putting it down to my recent holiday to Kefalonia with the mother). However I have started to see a few patches come back again. It can be hard to clear them but by knowing that I can when I put my mind to it, I’m kinda not too bothered. They’ll come and go with stress for me, so I know what I need to do to try to control it. That plus eating some more plant-based food and upping my vitamins and hopefully I’ll be back clear again in no time. Just stay away from my head… pretty pleaseeee.

Joey xxx