The Aftermath of my Appointment.

The Aftermath of my Appointment.

So, I’m here again. Trying to kick off my writing..

I have spent the last year fighting tooth and nail to get help with my neck problem. I raised money. I got it diagnosed. I saw specialist after specialist and finally I got in with one of the best neurosurgical teams in Britain at, apparently, the best hospital.

They dragged me down there for appointments, pressured me into dropping my other doctor, then discharged me with no help whatsoever.

When I say no help, I mean it. “Sorry we can’t do surgery on you” (yet admitted they would for anyone with my issues without EDS) “You’re discharged.” That’s all I got. No advice on how long to wear my collar, what collar is best, where to turn for any form of palliative care, if I’m going to degenerate further… The list goes on. I never even got to see the doctor I was referred to. Yes I did ask. I also asked all my questions. I was met with shrugs and I don’t knows.

Then the worst happened, I fell apart. I fell into a million pieces in front of both of my kids. (My specialist was in London and we had no choice but to take them due to circumstances at the time.) I saw my life stretching before me and it terrified me. It still does. I’m desperately trying to piece myself back together whilst reassuring my kids I was just overwhelmed at the doctors. I am not lying, I was overwhelmed, but the thing is I still am.

That evening, so my children didn’t have a night of listening to me sob in a hotel room, we dragged my broken body and soul to Winter Wonderland. I couldn’t walk round, so we went to the circus. My children thrilled at the spectacle in front of them and seeing them happy made me and my husband smile, at least for a little while. We took lots of photos of the pretty lights, it may seem we were there for an age. We were not. It was the circus then home. Home being a hotel room where I fell into bed in agony, an agony of my body, mind and soul. An agony unlike anything I’ve ever felt.

The next morning was back to our home, but to make the visit a little more special for the kids we took them to the Natural History Museum first.

It may seem strange, ‘claiming’ to be in so much pain but still pushing on. However, as a mother, something took over me.

A need to push the memory of me breaking down out of my children’s heads. Show them I’m ok, even though I’m far from it. I wanted to fill their minds with wonder and excitement so they were the lasting memories they brought home from the trip. Me too I guess.

Again many photos were taken. Again many smiles were seen. All were uploaded on my profile. I love to share the fleeting moments of being a ‘mum’ to my children. Most of the time I feel almost ghost like in the home. They know I’m here, but I’m never quite seen. The museum was genuinely a wonderful experience and great for access. So was Winter Wonderland (or at least the small part we saw). But inside, I was millimetres from falling apart. The whole time I was going out of my mind at the thought of a life like this, wondering how far I’d decline, how rapidly?

As the photos uploaded the likes from family and friends rolled in. They know how important these times are to me, how hard it is for me to achieve a few hours out and about. To keep that smile on my face.

Sometimes though, sometimes I wonder if I’ve gotten too good at it. Comments consisted mostly of how nice it was to see me ‘genuinely happy’. Even on the evening after my appointment where I’d originally told my husband I didn’t want to be in any pictures because I couldn’t force a smile. The evening I made sure I was too exhausted to sob myself to sleep so my children didn’t hear me. Even then I looked genuinely happy.

That scares me. It scares me because how can I reach for the help I need if people can’t see the cracks that run so deep? Why would anyone believe how bad things really are when I hide it so well? Am I hiding it for my children’s sake, so they’re not afraid, or because I can’t face it? Because if I do I’m afraid I just won’t be able to take it? Honestly I don’t know the answer. But I do know this..

I’m not the only person that does this. Many of us in the disabled /chronically ill community hide our pain. We put a veneer of smiles over our heartbreak and show that the phrase ‘you can’t polish a turd’ really isn’t true. My life had honestly gone down the toilet, but a few sparkly lights and a smile I ensured reached my eyes and all was well. I also know I’ve not been writing here because when I write I open up and a culmination of exhaustion, depression and certain events, has left me afraid to do so. But I had to write this. I had to get it out. Because I can’t fall into old traps.

The last time I hid too well behind a mask of smiles I left myself completely alone at the point in my life I was most vulnerable. I almost lost myself entirely.

I will not do that again. To those of you also hiding behind those smiles, the posed photos which hide the pain; some even making their illness worse to appear ‘normal’, I implore you to try to open up. I used to. I’m going to try to again. Not to seek attention. Not to garner sympathy. Simply to show the truth of my life. To help me accept it and hopefully find a way to come to terms with my new reality in the best way I can. This, this is the reality of that night…

Trying to hold it together as I lay full of worry in a room with my family.

Please note comments have been turned off on here due to trolls who hide behind no name, if you’d like to comment please do so on my Facebook Page @Littlelifeofmine where all posts are shared.

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.