Just another day:
I’m sorry it has been so long since my last post. I have a million excuses as to why, but none of them are really good. I’ll give them to you anyway: I wasn’t home. I’ve been busy. My hands keep cramping. I have the attention span of a gnat. I have lost my train of thought on what to blog about next.
Okay, so some of those might be good reasons.
So, what’s happening with me?
It’s almost 10 months since I developed hyponatremia and subsequent myelinolysis! I can’t believe it’s almost been a year.
I have to say that some of my more concerning symptoms, mainly the speech issues, have become significantly better. Oh, I’m not going to pretend that I’m completely back to normal, but from where I was to now, there’s been a dramatic and miraculous improvement. I am extremely grateful. It gives me a new appreciation for people who live with speech impairments. They say people first judge you on how you look, but the very next thing is how you speak.
Despite the fact that I work at Victoria’s Secret Catalog, I do not have an extraordinary fashion sense…well, I do have a pretty good fashion sense, I just don’t have the financial means to support it. So, the fact that my almost everyday ensemble consists of jeans, a tee shirt, and a pair of worn out Asics sneakers, probably doesn’t scream fashion guru or speak volumes about who I am as a person, that means that the way I speak probably has a little bit more influence on people’s opinion of who I am.
This means the more that I stutter, stammer, and trip over my thoughts, combined with the super sloppy, casual wardrobe choices that I can afford might lead a person to suspect, I’m slightly retarded.
Previous to my impairment, I had the ability to impress people with my wit and vocabulary fluency. I was viewed as more of a nerd who didn’t need to worry about fashion because I had more important things to be concerned with than wardrobe choices.
Ok, so to prove my point…it has taken more than 30 minutes to write this. This isn’t an epic story. It’s not even utterly brilliant. It’s just an explanation of my speech issues. My mind skips like an old vinyl record.
I will literally go from thinking about what I want to write, to trying to find the words that I want to use, to trying to convey what I mean in a way that makes sense to everyone else.
It is so freaking frustrating!!
It really is, and if you have CPM/EPM, than you might understand exactly what I’m describing. If you have a brain injury or learning disability, you might also understand. It’s not WHAT you know or understand, it’s an inability to express what you know and understand.
See, just writing this jogged my memory; I wanted to continue to write about brain injuries and how to find support through the Brain Injury Association.
So, now, I’m thinking…I should be writing about the BIA, but this is the wrong place to write about the BIA. I need to stay focused and try to regain a sense of this post.
Getting back to my original topic…my speech has improved, but I still have ongoing issues, especially when I’m nervous. I would have to say my biggest obstacles are the movement issues (tremors, jerks, spasms and cramps), and cognitive deficits (learning impediments, memory problems, attention problems, and recall).
The movement issues aren’t extreme. I mean a person with late onset Parkinson’s has greater issues than I do. Some person’s with CPM/EPM have greater issues than I do. (I’m going to post a few YouTube videos to demonstrate my point), but I still have movement issues.
Right now, I am having a hard time keeping my left hand steady enough to type. My left thumb keeps twitching rapidly. It’s so annoying. I can’t do anything to stop it. Then it becomes painful. I really have lost function in my abilities to do certain things.
I was at the Columbus Zoo several weeks ago, and I tried to make a video of a leopard stalking an unexpecting rabbit that had wandered into its cage. After about five minutes, I was unable to hold my cell phone up to take the video, my arms were cramping so badly that I couldn’t hold the camera.
These movement issues are getting worse. I am not certain as to why. I know that some people who have experienced damage to the basal ganglia have late onset movement issues with dystonia and Parkinson’s like tremors. I am 90% certain that this is what I’m experiencing.
However, I have autoimmune issues, and I have to wonder if my autoimmune issues are contributing to the neurological manifestations of EPM.
I have a feeling that it will be extremely difficult to get an answer to this, but if I do find out more, I will keep you posted.
The other new symptom that has become apparent is autonomia. I’m not sure if I’m classifying this correctly. It’s actually a dysfunction in your autonomic nervous system. There has been reports of having irregularities in heart rate, blood pressure, central nervous system caused sleep apnea, etc.
When I had my sleep study (after diagnosed with EPM), I had one instance of central nervous system induced sleep apnea. I had taken ambien and I think that influenced my study because I did sleep better than what I normally do, but I do not know if it would make central nervous system induced sleep apnea better or worse.
I had issues prior to EPM with tachycardia. My heart rate has now become extremely erratic. I will have a pulse varying from 45 to 116. Literally, I will watch my pulse go from 59, 65, 80, 95, and then drop back to 50 in 10 to 20 second intervals.
My EKG has also shown “new” abnormalities.
The abnormalities in my EKG appeared when I was seeking treatment for EPM before I had an official diagnosis. I’m almost 100% certain that EPM caused the change in my EKG.
I hope to get further testing that might be able to determine if my issues are being caused by my autonomic nervous system, but it most likely won’t occur until July or August. I will keep you posted.
I have to say one of the most positive experiences I’ve had recently is meeting with my cognitive therapist.
I am seeing Angela C with Kettering Medical Center, Kettering Ohio. I can’t say enough about this person. She has offered me hope for the first time in my recovery.
She completely understands what I’m experiencing, and that is refreshing both physically and mentally. Trust me, not all of the doctors I’ve seen in the past 1o months have been supportive or understanding. Angela gets it. She KNOWS where my deficits are. She understands that I was bright before my injury and that I was inspiring to be a doctor, and she is working with me to manage the deficits that I have to navigate around them to learn ways to succeed.
I am really excited to be working with her! I highly recommend that if you are experiencing any type of brain injury or even ADHD or ADD to find a cognitive therapist to help teach you techniques so that you can become more successful.
One thing that Angela has stressed that I want to share: Be kind to yourself! It’s easy for me to criticize myself when I hit a wall, when I can’t think of a word, or when I become distracted for the 100th time in an hour. She’s teaching me to not beat myself up over it. The more I stress over these mistakes the more I derail myself.
The other thing I’ve been working on: breathing. Yep, I really didn’t know how much I tend to hold on to things when I’m not exhaling. I’m great at inhaling, but exhaling..well, I’ve got to practice. More importantly, breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale loudly and completely through pursed lips…a slow, steady exhale. It really does help.
SO, there you have it folks. I’ve discussed the physical and mental issues that I’m experiencing with EPM at the 10 month point.
I hope it helps 🙂
Have a great night, and feel free to contact me with any questions!!!
Oh, yes the videos…click below to see some of the videos of CPM, EPM issues. Keep in mind, I think these are extremes. My movement issues pale in comparison. I’ll post a few of my movement videos in the future.