My Relationship with My Bed. 

My Relationship with My Bed. 

As someone with a whole host of chronic illnesses I have found myself in a love/hate relationship with my bed. I spend all day (for me meaning the four to six hours I’m up and about) with my body longing to crawl back into that warm, safe, restful place. Then, when I’m there, I wish I could be anywhere else. 

In recent months this relationship has skewed even more to the side of hate. If this was a marriage, I’d be seeking divorce! Why? Well, a huge part of the problem is the fact that I was duped by an unscrupulous online seller. I purchased myself a new bed and paid extra for the ‘luxury orthopaedic pocket sprung memory foam mattress’. What arrived was a flimsy, foamless thing that barely resembled a mattress let alone the words ‘luxury’ or ‘orthopaedic’. My old mattress would have been better, but seeing as it had spent a night in the garden during one of our beautiful British rainstorms, that wasn’t an option. Of course I tried to complain, but alas it was a fruitless endeavour. 

It’s only when stuck with a lemon of a mattress (after having a semi decent one) that you truly realise how important proper support in bed is. Since this change my symptoms have worsened ten fold. My back pain and issues with joints moving out of place has become so much worse. Each morning I wake in agony. The points where my body touches the bed scream at me. Begging me to do something, anything to help the immense pain they are in. Sleep should be restful. It should leave you refreshed and invigorated. With chronic illness that’s difficult enough to achieve, with a sub par mattress it’s impossible. 

That’s if I even manage to sleep. My insomnia has reared its ugly head along with the increase in my pain. All day my eyes droop and I long for my pillow. Once there, I’m awake! I toss and turn, desperately seeking a tolerable position to settle in. My body runs with rivers ov sweat as something in the mattress seems to exascerbate my already dodgy thermostat. Eventually I become still. Sweating and grimacing as the pain steadily engulfs me. Insomnia now overtaken by what we ‘in the know’ refer to as Painsomnia. When your body is exhausted, desperate and ready for sleep, but the pain curses through your being like a current of electric; forcing your body awake. Of course it’s a vicious circle. The worse you sleep the more symptomatic you become. The more symptomatic you become the more time you ultimately spend in bed. 

Snuggled up in bed with my daughter on a day I didn’t have the energy to get up.

It was as I lay awake in bed one evening, bemoaning my situation to a friend at the other side of the world, that I noticed the adverts adorning my Facebook feed. Almost all were aimed at ‘helping’ one aspect of my disability or another. Many of them were mattresses promising THE BEST NIGHTS SLEEP, EVER!! For all of a millisecond I felt somewhat perturbed that Facebook felt I didn’t deserve ‘fun’ adverts. Is this what my life had come to?? Mattresses and kitchen gadgets?! Then, as I changed position for the umpteenth time, I realised these Big Brother style adverts were actually exactly what I needed to see. I was actually ok with being spied on via my phone, because now I had access to products I otherwise wouldn’t have found. 

One particular mattress caught my eye. The N:rem Sleep System. This mattress has five different zones which you can tailor to your specific needs. Making each area as firm or soft as your body requires. I was intrigued. Even my decent mattress would cause me pain; to get the support I needed for my back it was too firm for my hips, causing them to displace and need clunking back on a morning. The idea of adapting a mattress to suit my needs was very appealing. Also, the mattress has a cool gel layer. A huge bonus for someone like myself who gets hotter than hell itself on a night in bed. Finally, the cover zips off to wash. Perfect! We all know that with disability comes gross bodily functions. A washable mattress is just what I needed! 

Immediately I contacted the company and offered to trial their product. Firstly because if I’m going to invest in something I want to know it is worth it. Secondly, because I was acutely aware these adverts were aimed at my community. Making claims of a better nights sleep and improved overall health. I wanted to see if that was true. 

It didn’t take long before I had my response. Whilst the company couldn’t send out a mattress to trial, they could provide me with the foam blocks which make up the various ‘zones’ of the N:rem sleep system. Obviously this won’t give me the entire package of benefits that come with a mattress, but I feel it will give a good insight into whether their claims are true. If these blocks can make my shonk of a mattress more comfortable, then I’m sold! So, the trial was set. The blocks were posted. They are currently adorning my inferior mattress. Initial results seem promising, but I’m going to give them another few weeks before I do my full review. I want to see if they will actually improve my overall health? If they do, you’ll be the first to know! 

In the meantime… if you decide you want to purchase this mattress for yourself, use code THISLITTLELIFE to get £30 off. 

This blog post is part of a sponsored review of the N:rem sleep system. All opinions within it are my own and in no way influenced by the company. This trial is not available to the general public. It is a one off that has been organised in order to create independent feedback on the product via my blog. 

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The Appointment Arrived… 

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may have read my Desperate Plea; an email I wrote impeaching a surgeon I’d seen months previously to help me. Basically I have prolapses galore since the birth of my son. That combined with years of bowel problems and slow transit has left me with severe difficulty when defacating, or even passing wind. To the point my bowel becomes incredibly sore and bloated, resembling that of a pregnant woman. This issue is really taking over my life, to the point I literally begged for the doctors help. 

Normal stomach and bloated stomach. This happens daily and you can see my tummy swelling.

Miraculously the surgeon actually read my letter and even responded within a few hours, promising to get me in his clinic. A promise he indeed kept. 

Yesterday was that appointment. The one I’d been simultaneously hoping for and dreading all at once. The one which is been mentally and emotionally preparing for. I’d steeled myself for the very real fact that he may tell me I couldn’t be helped surgically. I also looked into options I thought may be of help. Options which my friends and family believed would never happen. Never even be on the list. They were wrong. 

Yesterday, as I laid everything on the line to the surgeon he looked me dead in the eye and told me I had three options. 

1 – have a tube as small as a biro formed from my skin into my bowel which I would then flush through with saline every day forever. 

2 – have the prolapse repaired and then have the tube inserted if I’m still having problems. (Which I enevitably will have as my issues began as a small child)

3 – a colostomy bag. The option everyone but me thought would never happen.

I asked his advice. What do I do? He couldn’t tell me. Ultimately, this is my decision. It’s my body, my life, my choice to make. 

Whilst I understand that; a huge part of me wishes he had been able to promote one option above the rest. To take the responsibility from my shoulders and ive me someone to blame should it all go wrong. Or even if it goes right and I just have a tough day. 

Right now I’m in shock. I don’t know what to think and my emotions are all over the place. I’ve burst out crying and made many many inappropriate jokes since stepping out of that appointment. I’ve researched, and worried, and researched some more. There’s not been a walking minute where this huge decision hasn’t been nibbiling away at the corner of my psyche. 

People have said to forget about it. To put it to the back of my mind for now. My surgeon is going to discuss my case at the Multi Disciplinary Team Meeting. I will be having a Marker Study on my bowel to see which bits are pulling their weight. Then, in six to eight weeeks I will be back in to see him. Possibly signing up for surgery. It’s not that long to wait, but right now it feels like forever. 

I’ve asked around for people’s opinions. Many think have the prolapse repaired and just see how I go. Or just have the small tube. But, having lived with my problems, I know that neither of those will work without having both done. They cannot be done at the same time. So I’d need at least two operations. My surgeon couldn’t tell me if the flush outs would be painful. Only that they take at least one, maybe two hours and must be performed daily. Or every other day if you’re lucky. So even on days I cannot see straight, I’d have to get my ass on the loo, and stay put. If it’s anything like when movicol explodes through me.. it will be painful. I don’t know if that’s a sustainable option for me. 

So I come to the bag. A huge operation to form a (possibly irreversible) massive change to my body. Scary to say the least. The thought of never having to go through the ordeal of passing a motion through the traditional exit ever again though? That leaves me wanting to cry tears of joy. It’s not that simple though. I know I get a lot of mucous build up. So, if they don’t take my colon I’d still be having to go and evacuate that. If they remove my colon then the op becomes irreversible for life. Which would be the best option? Would I still be able to eat steak?  My body is super sensitive, could I cope with the adhesive of bags on me permanently? Would I still be able to eat steak? Would it be possible to stay hydrated so as to keep my POTS in check? Serously, steak? How would my EDS impact healing? Would it put my husband off me? (Regardless of the fact he claims it won’t.) Could I still sleep on my tummy? For the love of god, could someone just tell me if I could still eat steak???!! 

I have a lot of questions. New ones are popping into my mind by the second. But I’m trying not to focus on this too much. I’ve been called brave. But I’m not. I’m scared. I’m terrified. I’m frightened of having another operation. I’m scared of adjusting to a tube or a bag. Mostly though, I’m scared of having to continue as I have been for the rest of my life. I’m scared of missing out on my kids growing up. It’s that fear that pushes me forward. That stops me hiding in a corner and refusing surgery. I have a family to fight for. A family that needs me present, not locked away in pain. For them, I will do anything. 

** NB. The surgeon said my frank openness has been a great help in treating me. He wishes more patients would leave their modesty at the door and just tell him like it is. That’s perhaps something to consider at future appointments. 

The Gupta Programme… Cure or Cronk? 

The Gupta Programme… Cure or Cronk? 

I have been given this Gupta Programme trial as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

As you may be aware, since my blog has taken off I’ve decided to use my opportunity to trial some products that market themselves as being useful for the disabled community. This is because I often read reviews and wonder if they’re really true? Or if our community is just being used as an easy target audience for various companies. Knowing we are desperate for an improvement are they just taking our money with no real benefit? 

Recently I had the chance to trial The Gupta Programme. I partook in a three month programme which included live weekly seminars, DVD materials, workbooks and a gigantic infographic (the use of which would become clear on taking the course.) This particular course aims itself at people with Fibromyalgia, ME/CFS and Chemical Sensitivities. I cannot comment on if it helps with Chemical Sensitivities, but having a diagnosis of Fibromialgia and Chronic Fatigue, I can let you in on how it has (or has not) affected those. 

Firstly, a bit of the theory behind the course. Basically it is my understanding that Ashok believes research proves the Amygdala (a part of the brain) is the root cause of these illnesses. The theory goes that this part of the brain, which controls the bodies ‘fight or flight’ response is in a state of hyper arousal. The aim of the course is to re train this part of the brain, essentially calming it down and improving/curing these conditions. Apparently Ashok himself had CFS/ME and is now 100% cured! Something I’m sceptical of, but honestly I’m a sceptical kind of person! 

Image of the brain found on the Gupta Programme website.

Initially I was very sceptical of the course on a whole. It was only a state of complete desperation at my situation that lead me to join in with this trial at all really. In fact I even told Ashok about my reservations. He assured me it didn’t matter. As long as I followed the principles of the course I would still see improvements. I can’t deny, he did start to win me around as I fully took in the seminars. Things sounded much less crazy to me as many of the principals Ashok believes in are echoed by the several medical establishments I’m treated by here in the UK. He just takes them one step further and offers what I feel to be a ‘multidisciplinary’ approach. Where at hospital you would see a dietician, psychologist, pain managements team and sleep clinic all separately. This course addresses all those issues and more under one umbrella. Meaning, if nothing else, it’s definitely a very unified approach. 

Obviously I cannot go into too much detail about the course, it was three months long and included a whole range of information. But I can tell you that for me, it was the seminars that were the most useful part. Particularly when I was able to catch them live as it meant I could ask questions and give feedback. Seminars were at 6pm each week, the link being sent in advance. Though ideally you’d see them all live, you are able to watch at a later date. This can be to refresh, take notes or if you’re too tired to catch the original. Ashok is a huge promoter of pacing, so it’s important not to push yourself to join a seminar if you’ve already pushed yourself to the limit that day. 

Ashok articulating his point during a seminar.

The seminars were both interesting and enjoyable to watch. I certainly didn’t feel bored or zone out throughout any of them. He doesn’t advise taking notes during the original sessions as it’s important to listen and take in what’s being said. So sometimes it’s worth re watching if you think there’s things you want to note down. I even had a few lightbulb moments during the seminars. One being very early on in the course. I asked a question in which I referred to myself as ‘unable to be fixed’. Somewhere along the way I had lost the belief that I would ever get any better. Without that belief I had huge barriers up to improving my health. 

Along with the seminars was the workbooks and little homework tasks. It does sound overwhelming but on the whole it was doable. There’s nobody checking whether you’ve done these things, no qualification at the end. So no pressure. Basically you get out what you put in with this course. If you don’t bother following the principals then you’re not going to see any improvement. However if you give it a fair try, then who knows? 

Personally, I do think I’ve been helped by this course. Have I been cured? No. But I have other illnesses on top of those listed. So I would always have had those. Genuinely though, I do feel I’ve improved. I don’t know if my pain has reduced, or if I’m just coping better with it. But I do feel less burdened by the pain I’m in. Also, I have been managing to get out and about and do more. I took to heart the idea that an idle mind has more time to dwell on pain. So I have taken on some new challenges in my life. Things that I perhaps wouldn’t have done without this course. 

So, is it worth the money? Though it hasn’t been curative for me (at least not yet) I have found this course beneficial enough that I do feel it would be worth the investment. It does need to be understood that it’s not just a financial investment. As I said before, you really do get out what you put in with this Programme. If you’re not willing to work at it, then you won’t see the benefits. Also, it’s not a quick fix. You have to make life long changes. I myself started slipping back into old habits recently, and soon saw a decline in my progress. 

I’m glad I took this opportunity to trial The Gupta Programme. I’ve even recommended it to a few friends. Mentally and emotionally I feel it’s placed me on a much stronger footing to deal with any health trials I may have to deal with in the future. I’ve even recommended it to friends and family! Particularly as there’s a money back guarantee, so even if they don’t have the progress I have had they don’t lose anything. 

So while I cannot personally profess to being cured by this course, I can say it’s been of benefit to my life. I will continue to follow the principals in the future and am hopeful those benefits will continue for my future.