Friday, 22 September 2017

Experiencing Numbness | MS Update September '17

I feel that now I have been diagnosed with MS, the feeling of 'not knowing what each day will bring' has escalated.
I'm a sucker for routine, there being a plan when just meeting for a coffee, structure to when my bed sheets need to be washed next and don't even get me started on the level of control I have to have over what my week will entail.
So now that I have an unpredictable illness, it's a struggle to deal with the uncertainty. I mean, do I really know what's around the corner in life anyway? No. But I pretend that I do :D

Earlier this month I noticed that my left elbow was numb. I didn't really put much more thought into it as it had been numb for a short while earlier this year. Then over that weekend I felt that the inside of my right wrist was numb. Shortly after that, when my right leg was pressed against something I could feel that the sensation wasn't fully there.
To cut a long story short, there were a lot of patches on my body that were numb.
I've never had that before. Whenever I have experienced numbness in the past, it has always only been on one side/one part of my body.
This is new to me.

I booked in with my GP when the numbness was still there a few days later. He recommended to me that I should get in contact with my MS nurse and that she would advise me what to do. The following day she returned my call and after discussing my symptoms, as I'm not uncomfortable and it isn't interfering with my daily life, we decided to just see how it goes. I came off of the phone feeling like I was in good hands and I was happy that I had reached out to find out what I should do.

I'm not in any pain and I'm perfectly comfortable, it's more annoying than anything else. I think in all honesty the 'pain' since the diagnosis is in my mind, I really cannot stand not knowing where this disease will take me. The fact that I was sat writing a blog post minding my own business then noticing that part(s) of my leg were numb shakes me up a bit.
I really feel now more than ever that I have no idea what the future holds for me and while that is a scary thought for me, I am adamant to overcome the fear and learn to accept it as a part of my life. Even if I didn't have MS, I still wouldn't have any more insight into my future than I do now.

I am still experiencing numbness nearly two weeks later. In the past, numbness has lasted anywhere between 2 weeks and 4-6 weeks. I could wake up tomorrow and the feeling could have returned fully or partially, for forever or for a short while. Who knows?
Everyday I am trying my best to live in the moment. To take everything as it comes, process and accept it. To let go of what I no longer need to carry. To know that, while Multiple Sclerosis is a part of me, it isn't who I am.

The best thing about having MS? It is providing me with an amazing reason to accept uncertainty in my life, something that I have struggled with my whole life. To not just exist. Carpe Diem and all that good stuff =D

Until next time, thank you for stopping by :)

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

My Palette Project

Just over a week ago, I decided to watch Julie and Julia.
- if you haven't seen this, you must. you must.
I have only seen it once before, a few years ago, but remembered thoroughly enjoying it. I was right. I absolutely loved it. Granted, I enjoy pretty much anything to do with Meryl Streep, but it's just an awesome movie.
Flash forward to this week, I have been lusting over a few new releases from Makeup Revolution,
- they get me e v e r y time
there are three new eye shadow palettes coming out. It is taking all of my restraint not to place an order.
Then today, amidst all the grumpiness of not having new palettes to drool over, I had a bit of a brainwave...
I was thinking about the idea Julie had to set herself a challenge : She gave herself a time limit of 1 year to work through Julia's cook book. Amazing.
I couldn't help but think about all of the eye shadow palettes I have... Unused/barely touched/mainly Makeup Revolution :/
I slowly opened up my drawer where I house my Makeup Revolution and I Heart Makeup palettes, took a deep breath and... counted.
29. 29!!
Now, I'd like to point out that that isn't 29 unused palettes but 29 palettes that are sitting in a drawer barely being reached for.
In recent times doing my makeup has become some what of a sprint. It is rare for me to take my time and enjoy it, so I often skip wearing eye shadow all together!
- who am i?! :'(
The frustrating thing is that I love them! Makeup Revolution is one of my all time favourite brands, the quality is spectacular and variety is super impressive.

So. I have decided to set myself a challenge.
I am going to choose a different Makeup Revolution/I Heart Makeup palette every week and create two looks with it. I will take pictures, do swatches and give a review of each of them.

The first palette post will be live here on Tuesday 26th September :)

Wish me luck! And thank you for stopping by :)
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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

To Vlog or Not To Vlog?

Last Tuesday I decided to upload a 'vlog' or sorts onto my YouTube channel.
I realize that not long ago I mentioned that I was taking a break from making videos but one Thursday prevening I decided after watching a vlog that maybe I could take a whack at it.
I vlogged over the course of the rest of that week, attempted to upload in on the Monday, had technical issues and it successfully made it onto the world wide web on Tuesday.
The video is just over 30 minutes and consists of me talking about films, tv shows, food and a little about my MS... All from a - somewhat - comfortable position on the sofa.
Afterwards, I got to thinking about what I wanted to achieve. Why was I doing this? What was I hoping to 'get' from it.
Going into it I had decided no to apply any pressure and be loosey goosey about it : I'll vlog when I want to, not vlog when I don't want to.
- oh what a wonderfully freeing thought process

Then this week, I didn't feel up to it.
I vlogged on the Monday morning, a little on Tuesday and rushed through a 3(ish) minute clip on Wednesday due to me hearing people approaching the living room from upstairs.
- play the jaws music here xD 
And that's all she wrote.
I sat thinking about it and realized that I had felt the need to be quick and snappy with the videos all week. Seeing as the first vlog was 30 minutes with just 4 days footage, I think I was a little panicked. I thought, "Who's gonna wanna watch me sit chatting about boring stuff being a big boring boringhead".
I also had a low couple of days and didn't want to be down on camera and also didn't want to be fake and pretend that all was a-okay.

The first week
- ahem, four days ;)
of vlogging really made me feel happy. While I am myself when doing beauty videos, there is a certain level of editing that happens. Both in myself and in the actual editing!
When I did the vlog, I felt like I was just truly being myself and chatting as if to a friend. No editing required. It felt great.
I feel as though, although I said I was taking a break from making videos, this may be a break within the land of making videos. I am just sitting on a sofa discussing the things that are buzzing around my head and hopefully provide some form of entertainment for someone xD

Also, I looked up MS vloggers and was unsuccessful in my search. While I found vlogs that people had shared discussing MS, their story, a day in the life for example, I have not yet found someone who has Multiple Sclerosis and vlogs regularly, daily life kinda thing.
I don't want my vlogs to be about the MS, but I am hopeful that in documenting my life and inevitably, my journey, I will be able to show my side of having a chronic disease. Raise some awareness and maybe even help others in some small way.

After having the 'break'
- can you have a break after only 4 days of doing something?! xD
last week, I have noticed that there has been a small, but real gap in my day. I haven't been getting my camera out before breakfast to fill you (no-one, anyone, my mum?) in on what the day ahead has in store. I have been feeling a lack of motivation and a sense of 'I'm not doing anything WAH' that I'm sure contributed to my low mood last week.

So, I guess I have the answers to my questions.
What I'd like to achieve is? : I'd like to document my life, even just for me to look back on in the future. To share my experiences of living with Multiple Sclerosis in the hopes of adding to awareness being raised. I feel that being open about my mental health struggles will not only be beneficial to me, but also allowing others to see that they are not alone.
Why am I doing this? : Now that I have started, I have been enjoying myself! These days that's relatively hard to come by. So I'd like to chase it, and see where it takes me. Also, as no two cases of MS are the same, I am putting my own, unique journey out there. Hopefully in doing so I will be of help to at least one person.
What am I hoping to get from this? Joy and an insight into my own life. I experience it every day but I feel this will bring a whole other perspective on it for me. I'll be able to look in and really see who I am and what my life is :)

I haven't called my first vlog a 'weekly' vlog because I had the thought in the back of my mind that it may not always go to plan.
- man do i love being right... actually it's a double edged sword in this case but i'll take the win anyway xD
So I am just numbering them :D
Vlog 1 is now live if you would like to give it a watch...
click the image to be taken to the video :)

I am hopeful that these vlogs will be a regular occurrence and I'm genuinely, really, truly, looking forward to it :D

Thank you so much for stopping by :)

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Friday, 8 September 2017

Finding The Good

I have the belief that everything happens for a reason. And that there is a plan for my life.
These beliefs at times, have given me tremendous comfort. I feel like even when 'bad' things occur in my life, there is a reason and that it was meant to happen.
Having this mind set has been firmly cemented for me over the last few years in particular.

About four years ago I moved back home and found a job working at a shop. Over the following months my OCD would pretty much take over my life, leaving me with a feeling of no choice but to leave work. While I look back at this time and feel pain, it brought something wonderful my way. Whilst working there, I met one of the best friends I could ever dream of having. Eventhough we only worked together for a few months, there was an almost instant connection and we've been thick as theives ever since. I would honestly be completely lost without her.
Being able to look back on that time with fondness of the beginning of our friendship, really shows me that I was supposed to stop being a carer, move back home, get a job at that shop so that I could meet someone who is now an honorary part of the family.

Another example for me is: my current situation. When the first mentions of it being very likely that I have MS started, one of my first thoughts was 'thank goodness this has happened now'.
As I mentioned above, I was a full-time carer for a number of years for my then partner. While I had a couple of (what I now know were) symptoms over the years they didn't get in the way of me being a carer, girlfriend, daughter, friend etc.. I feel certain that if I had received this diagnosis then, I would have been completely consumed with how my partner was taking it. I would have woken up every day worrying if something to do with the MS would effect him in a negative way. I would have been totally concerned with how he was taking it, how he was feeling and how it would effect him. The thought of me possibly deteriorating over time would have panicked me. How could I be a carer if my physical health were to take a negative turn?
The relationship ended a few years ago and the fact that this diagnosis has come at a time where I am single, means that I feel a level of freedom towards it. I do think a lot about how my family and friends are taking the diagnosis, how they are dealing with it, but it is not as intense as if I were in a relationship. I feel that I have the space to be aware of their feelings and my own.
Being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis isn't fantastic but the fact that it has come at a time where I am working on myself, my life and trying to access my feelings about everything, really shows me that it has been brought my way at a time that I am more equipped to handle it.

Sometimes the good screams out to me, other times I have to work a little harder to find it... But it's always worthwhile when I do :)

Thank you for stopping by :)

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Tuesday, 5 September 2017

My Journey To Being Diagnosed With MS

This is going to be a long post so you may wanna grab a cuppa and/or an assortment of snacks ;D

Today I am going to be discussing my journey to being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
I just wanted to mention that if you recognize any of the symptoms I mention in yourself, it doesn't immediately mean that it's MS, it could be anything! But PLEASE take it seriously and be checked out by your doctor.
So here we go, lets dive in :)

In 2012 the right hand side of my face went numb.
It started out with the right hand side of my tongue. I could feel it, I could speak and eat normally but it just didn't feel right.
Then the right hand side of my bottom lip.
Then my right cheek... Jawline... Ear.
And it was like that for around 4-6 weeks.
If I didn't tell anyone, they would have no idea.
I went to the doctors, they did a blood test which came back normal.
They had said to go back in two weeks if it was the same, but by that time it had started to go away so I didn't make another appointment.
I would like to point out that I was very stressed at this time. I had a lot going on.
So after Googling it, I chose to put it down to stress and I carried on as normal.
I remember making jokes about it with family and friends, honestly finding it funny. “I'm so weird LOL”.
- sigh

A couple of years later in 2014 I was walking to work one day and noticed that my right knee was numb.
Over a short space of time, half my body and half my face on the right side were numb.
Again, I was very stressed (this was when my OCD was in a particularly rough patch) and I put it down to that.
I didn't go to the doctors because I thought “silly stress, why do you do this to me *eye roll* lol”
It lasted for around 4-6 weeks like the previous time and went away on it's own.

Then in August 2016 something weird happened with my left eye.
Whenever I looked a certain amount to the left everything was doubled.
I wasn't in any pain, didn't feel uncomfortable. It was more annoying to me than anything because whenever I looked to the left, I got into the habit of having to close my right eye to see clearly.
My mum made me an appointment to see an optician to get my sight checked.
At this point I hadn't had my eyes checked for over ten years because I've always had 20/20 vision :)
So it was the fifth day of the weird double vision thing that I went to my appointment. I explained the issues I was having, so they did a run of the mill set of eye tests.
Everything was p e r f e c t.
There was nothing wrong with my eyes, I have better than 20/20 vision
- a-thank you ;D.
The optician was typing up on the computer when I jokingly said :
“I should have warned you, I get weird stuff wrong with me all the time! Half my face went numb once and then a couple of years later half my face and half my body went numb *MAJOR LOLZ*”.
I think the optician was quite shocked that I hadn't been seen by a doctor (I explained it was down to me for not going. I'm stoopid what can I say?).
I was given a note that said “Urgent” on it
- nothing like the word urgent to make your stomach flip
and was told that I needed to go to an eye doctor the following day to be checked over in more detail.
My mind was racing, 'what's with all the haste??'. 
I was seen by the doctor, who did the same tests and asked me questions about the numbness I had experienced in the past.
On the inside I was like “dude, that's the past, let's live in the now, the issue is with my eye”.
I think that they too were surprised that I hadn't gone to the doctors :/
I was asked to come back in 4 days to be seen by another eye doctor.

The day before my appointment the double vision had gone, I kept my appointment and went to be seen by the other doctor.
I explained that the double vision had gone – which I was pleased about!
The same tests were done and I also had the drops in my eyes to open my pupils. My eyes were checked over and I once again, was told that my eyes were absolutely fine.
I was honestly so relieved to hear that my eyes were healthy, the whole thing had made me begin to worry a little.
Once again I was asked about the numbness and the surprise was there again that I had not gone to the doctors.
It wasn't until being seen by these doctors that I realized how careless I had been in not taking my symptoms seriously.

After discussing my symptoms with me, the doctor said to me that I may have had a stroke.
Excuse me, what??
I nearly cried. Right then and there in front of a stranger.
They checked my blood pressure – which was fine – and I had to take some aspirin.
They said the numbness could have been caused by a stroke and that the eye may have been a stroke passing over...
(that may not be the correct words used but I was feeling quite stressed and words had lost all meaning to me at this point so don't take that as gospel).
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
As a result, I was told that I would need to be seen by a neurologist.

That was one of the scariest days of my life to date.

Within a few weeks I had an appointment letter through to see a neurologist in about 6 weeks time.
In the letter it said that I may need to go for an MRI to rule out MS.
To be honest, at this point I didn't really know what MS was, so I, of course, took to Google.
Unfortunately when reading the list of symptoms, I was quite taken aback at how many of them I have experienced.
Between then and my MRI in December I was looking up anything and everything to do with Multiple Sclerosis - which I knew wasn't healthy but I just couldn't seem to stop.
I was worrying and I was trying to comfort myself by 'having all the facts'.

The time waiting for my appointment to see the neurologist seemed to take forever but when it came around, we had a good chat about everything.
My symptoms, the timeline of them happening etc.
He mentioned to me that he felt fairly certain that I have MS but that's why we were doing the MRI, to have a look and confirm anything.
Before leaving I had a blood test done... I forgot to ask what for. Once again, I think words had lost all meaning to me. I was pretty shocked.
I was imagining all of these scenarios in my mind of what was going to happen to me/my life/e v e r y t h i n g.

I went along for my brain and cervical spine MRI some weeks later.
Here is a *link* to my full post with all the details on how I got on.
Just under a week after having the MRI, I received information that my results appointment was booked for a date in January.
And then, it was Christmas.
It was present in my mind but I just tried to enjoy the season and look forward to my birthday in the coming weeks. I'm grateful that this all happened around this time as it was a huge distraction.
- children running around excited for presents really takes your mind off of things xD

When I had my January appointment with the neurologist, he talked me through and showed me what my MRI results showed. I have some lesions on my brain. My spine was clear.
I was kind of not expecting it - if you can believe that.
He told me that I would need to go for a lumbar puncture which would be used to confirm his belief that I have MS.
He said I would get an appointment within the next month or so and that I would meet an MS specialist before hand.

I received the appointment letters within the month for the lumbar puncture and to see the specialist.
Both were in April.

In this time I tried not to Google things/watch YouTube videos about MS as much. The lead up to my appointment in December had been a nightmare, spending most of my time thinking about MS... I wasn't even sure I had MS!

It came together that I had an appointment to see the specialist a week before my lumbar puncture.
It was an initial meeting kind of thing where I once again discussed all of the symptoms I have had to date, when they happened, how long for etc..
During my appointment, he went into a little more detail with me about my MRI results. He showed me more images than I had seen before.
I was horrified when I saw the lesions. I thought there were only one or two - I wouldn't like to guess how many there were, but it was more than one or two.
I mentioned that I had been (still am) having issues with my balance, to which he responded by showing me that I have a lesion in that part of my brain.
I feel like this is when it started to become a little real for me.
I was made aware that the lumbar puncture results held the key to where we go from there and that he didn't disagree with my neurologist's thoughts on what was going on.
The results would tell them if I did indeed have MS and if that was the case, we would then discuss treatment.
I felt as though I was in very good hands, I didn't feel rushed and that I didn't need to worry because they are in control.

A week later, I went and had the lumbar puncture in April.
Now I must admit that I wasn't looking forward to it... Who would be?! But I knew it had to be done and then that would be the end of it.
Here is a *link* to the full post about my lumbar puncture experience.
After a number of days I felt completely back to my normal self, like I had never had the procedure done. And then I waited.
The specialist had told me that the results would take up to 3 weeks, and that his team would contact me with an appointment. I would hear from them roughly by the end of May.

By the third week of May I got an appointment letter to be seen in a number of weeks time.
What came to mind was “if it wasn't MS, I wouldn't be seeing him or a member of his team. Looks like I've got MS.”

The appointment came round rather quickly. Before I knew it, it was time to go.
I was waiting a little while and then in we went.
This was it. What was going on with me?
We had a bit of a catch up, I filled him in on symptoms I had had since seeing him last and discussed my lumbar puncture results.
At some point sat in that room I was told that I have Relapsing-Remitting MS.
There it was. The answer to all of my questions.
I have Multiple Sclerosis.

We had a conversation about medication.
Since the idea of having MS had been mentioned to me, I had always been of the mind-set that I would need to go on medication.
So we discussed my options and after finishing my appointment, I had a blood test to check that I was able to begin taking it.
I met with an MS nurse for a chat, she answered all of my questions. I was told that, all being well with my blood test results, my medication would be ready for me to collect in a few weeks.
I was given an information booklet on the medication to read over.
- The story of my experience with the medication will be in a blog post to follow if you are interested in the process, side effects and anything else :)

I was a bit shaken up.
Although the idea of it possibly being MS had been in my mind for the last 6 months or so, it was as if it was the first time anyone had mentioned it.

I spent the time between then and the collection date of my medication pondering whether I should go on it or not.
I've never been a fan of medicine and avoid it at all costs.
After a while, I felt that for me personally, it was the right choice to make.
I picked up the medication and started taking it.

I was assigned an MS nurse who is there for any questions/queries/anything I may need help with.
It is a comfort knowing that I have someone there for support who is fully in the know of what I may be experiencing.

A month or so later I had my second MRI. This time only on my brain.
It is my belief that as they only found lesions on my brain last time, they didn't feel the need to scan my spine this time around. That combined with the fact that I am to date, not experiencing any physical symptoms, only sensory, which would indicate no lesions on my spine.

And  b r e a t h e  xD
So that's my story, up until now :)
Well done if you made it the whole way through this, you deserve a prize! :D
I hope that it was insightful and sheds a bit of light on what the journey is like towards being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (for me anyway).

Thank you for stopping by :)

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