Most of you may not know what an L3 spinal injection is, and to be honest, neither did I until I had my first one earlier this year. An epidural steroid injection is a combination of a steroid with a local anaesthetic. These injections into the spine can help to relieve swelling and inflammation, and relieve pain by taking the pressure off of nerves and other soft tissues. The site of my injection was at the level of L3 (the 3rd vertebra of my lower back), as it is associated with feeling in the legs and would therefore help to manage my chronic pain.

Those of you who are familiar with this procedure, will know that it is normally straightforward with the patient going home after an hour or so, and many are able to resume work the next day. But due to my epilepsy this wasn’t the case for me.

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE.

I woke up at 04:30, went to the gym as normal, but made sure to push myself through a gruelling leg workout, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk easily after the procedure, and also that I’d have to miss a few days in the gym. I ate a good breakfast, worked in the office for a few hours and then made my way to St Thomas’ Hospital for day surgery. I met my brother, who only had a few days left in London before he went back to uni, and my sister in law, who happened to work at the hospital as a Radiographer.  They both decided to eat in front of me, knowing fully well that I had been fasting for the past six hours. Soon after, my sister in law said her goodbyes as her lunch break finished, but she didn’t go very far as she was actually doing the spinal imaging for the surgery that day. Knowing this made me feel more relaxed, as she would be there with me.

I enjoyed the time catching up with my brother, but couldn’t ignore his face filled with worry. I tried reassuring him that I would be fine, but in reality, I was the one that needed reassurance, as I remembered clearly the events after my first treatment. I spent over eight hours in recovery as I was not fit to travel home.

DURING THE PROCEDURE.

I was the last patient to enter the theatre room and was so hungry by this point as I hadn’t eaten since 06:30, and it was now 16:00. Before the procedure started, I informed the consultant that my left knee had been acting up over the last two months and asked whether they could do both knees today (both sides of my spine). The consultant laughed, and said that they didn’t normally inject both sides of the spine in one session, but thought that I was a ‘strong lad’ and so could manage. I knew the gym gains were starting to show!

AFTER THE PROCEDURE.

I can’t tell you much about the procedure as I was heavily sedated. However, the recovery was a nightmare as predicted. When I woke up, I felt high levels of pain in both knees and had uncontrollable myoclonic jerks. I was given 2.5mg of morphine every 10 minutes to help try and get the pain under control.  I was vomiting, but there was nothing to bring up as I still hadn’t eaten. Determined not to have a full epileptic attack, I tried to stay calm… The last thing I wanted was to be admitted into hospital. The on-call neuro consultant came to see me and even advised that I should spend the night, but I was adamant on not staying, I just wanted to get home and rest in my own bed.

Throughout the whole recovery period, my sister-in-law stayed with me and was a real help. I guess she got to see a whole different side of me and what I struggle with.

It took me about a week to recover from the procedure fully; my back was badly swollen, both walking and even sitting were an issue. I was so frustrated as I couldn’t go to the gym and had to rely on other people.

Would I get this procedure done again? Absolutely. Sometimes we need to go through short-term pain to avoid long-term pain. I’m not saying that I am pain-free but it does offer a slight reduction in the pain. Although I hate relying on people, I know that every now and again, we all need to trust that it is okay to ask for help.

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The last two weeks have been s**t, that’s the best way sum it up. If you have been following my blog you will know that I suffer with epilepsy and a host of additional problems (chronic pain).

In the last week I have been in out of hospital non-stop, spending a couple of days in at a time. My medication was changed twice to try and regulate my neural activity. They can’t  seem to really work out why I am having so many attacks and they hope that increasing my meds will help. When they change my medication dosage I’m irritable and ultimately more susceptible to having attacks, which I did have.

The doctors also told me that my kidney functioning has declined due to the high levels of Naproxen (another medication to help with pain) that I had been taking for the past three years. They all seemed shocked I was still on it and so decided to stop me immediately from taking it. So, more pain, more withdrawal symptoms and then my kidneys due to being inflamed became another issue.

I have found this week so hard. I have shut myself off from the world and just imploded deeper into myself. I have felt both sad and angry. Angry at the world. It just cannot be fair that one person has so much to adjust to.

I normally always try to look at the positives but it was incredibly hard, consistently having attacks, not being able to sleep and the constant pain. I thought back to three years ago, being hospitalised, confused and angry. I think this time around feels even worse than then. Then and now I suppose writing is easier than talking.

I watched something online yesterday it was a video of Stormzy performing at Westfields  and for some reason the tune touched me. I can’t put into words why, maybe it was something I didn’t expect from Stormzy and this reminds me that the you should never judge a book by it’s cover and you never truly know whats going on in someone’s life.

Whenever we go through hardship in life, whenever things go wrong and we feel like we are being punished for something; people will tell you give it time and you need to be positive. It’s very hard to, but I know I need to bounce back. I am not saying for a moment it’s going to easy, but I am fighter.

Our mind works just like your body, you have to train it consistently and feed it with the right nourishment, otherwise you can’t expect it to become stronger. But instead of lifting weights (I love the gym) it’s about using your mind to reflect on your life and make yourself aware of your reality and your decisions. Instead of eating the right food you have to filter the thoughts you receive, the energy you let through to your subconscious mind. This is my aim for this week ahead and for the rest of my life.

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Right I am going to hold my hands up! It been months since I have touched my blog and I am holding my head in shame. When I started this blog it was meant to be a place for me to share the journey of my life and the recovery from my attack last year.

It’s that age old problem time and then work takes over! When I was in hospital I made  promises to myself and if I’m being honest I started off well, but have not really kept them. You know the kind of promise I mean:

• “I promise to take better care of myself- I’ll get back into exercising tomorrow”
• “I promise to spend more time with my loved ones”
• “I promise to have a better balance and stop working so much”
• “I promise to start being smarter with my money after the next pay day”
• “I promise I’ll start my new job search next week”

More often than not, we don’t live up to these personal commitments and we screw ourselves over. These are just some of the general promises that people make, there is so much more to life than just working every hour God sends. It’s only when something distract happens in our life that we are forced to evaluate where we are and what we have missed out on, isn’t this something we should do more often.

Yes, you guessed it I was admitted to hospital, it was only for one day but it scared the hell out of me. The reason why it did was because it was similar to last years event and I thought here we go again. Then I started to reflect on the promises I made when I was in hospital last year and realised I haven’t really fulfilled any of them.  So in short that’s why I am writing this blog to remind me who I am and what I want achieve in my life.

You may think I am being harsh on myself, but all I am doing is holding myself accountable. I want more from life, I want to be the best I can.

 

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New Heights

So after the intense last few weeks, I had a holiday to look forward to in Vietnam!!! I was going to see my right hand man Jo, I mean right hand woman (just doesn’t sound the same).

I was worried about going on this trip as this was the first time I had flown alone and especially after spending a week in hospital! However, I had decided nothing was going to stop me not even the the insane cost of travel insurance (£1007.44), I managed to get it down to £590.00 for 10 days, bargain.

Emmanuel was due to pick me up 9:00am but as usual he was late but 9.30 for him really isn’t that late. We left for the airport, however I realised at oval I had forgotten one of my crutches so we had to turn back. We arrived at Heathrow at 11:00. My flight wasn’t until 15:05 so I had plenty of time to kill. I got a coffee with Emmanuel and we discussed our goals and ambitions for the business when I returned. It was time for me to go through to duty free but I needed assistance, so I went to special services. I got a wheelchair and was ferried around by a beautiful lady. For the first time I found one advantage of being ill, you don’t have to queue at airports, get in there!

So I got on the plane, first stop was Doha, I must say the plane was absolutely brilliant you could get wifi while in the sky, result! So everything was going well the drinks were flowing (sprite and orange juice mixed together, I am bad arse like that) and the food was surprisingly good for aeroplane food. Moments after having my first meal I started to feel ill! I thought it was going to pass and then I had to quickly reach for a sick bag, just my luck I ripped it while trying to open it! I had to request a new one (why do they make them so hard to open?) the flight attendant rushed over with one and yes I did throw up into it. The kid next said “eugh”, I then started to become weak and felt dizzy. I called the attendant back and she guided me to the back of the plane to have a lie down, I’ve never been surrounded by so many pillows. The air attendant had collected so many little pillows to make me comfortable, bless her!

Unfortunately I did have an attack that lasted for 3 minutes, that’s not that bad when I get to 5 minutes I am in trouble. After the attack the chronic knee pain returned, I was in so much pain and this time a little crowd had gathered outside the toilet and opposite me. They starred at me with a look of pure sympathy if you know me, you know I can not stand it when people give me that ahh poor thing look or worse when they say the words. After a of couple hours I returned to my seat and went to sleep. I was in deep sleep when I felt a nudge, it was one of the audience, she had nudged to check if I was alive as I was sleeping with my mouth and eyes open, LOL.

I had finally reached Doha but before I was able to get my connecting flight I had to be checked over by the paramedics and be declared fit to fly by a doctor. The connecting flight was due to leave at 00:40 AM and it was 23:15. I had told them several times that I was ok and I wasn’t going to miss the connecting flight but they said I wouldn’t be allowed on the plane unless the doctor declared me fit to fly. When I finally got to the doctor he examined me and said my blood pressure was fairly high and didn’t think I should fly. Believe me (drake voice) I wasn’t missing my holiday after last summer. I declined his advice and went to the check in desk and told them I was flying, they had to call down the manager for the Qatar airlines to speak to me. I asked him if there was a waiver form I could sign but nothing like this existed, in the end I wrote a letter stating that they would not be liable if anything was to happen to me. Yes I got on the plane after holding it up.

I really needed this holiday, if you have read my previous posts I am sure you will know why! I just needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of London to reflect on life and find myself again. I am not saying that when I come back my problems won’t still be there but at least I will be well rested and will have set some clear goals. My main aim is to have more days of a genuine smile rather than having the famous forced  Tij smile.

 

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It’s been a while since my last blog, It’s been a tough six weeks. I also didn’t have the words to describe them. I am going to try my best to do so from 35,000 ft in the sky.

 The first week started off with me visiting the hospital and finding out my condition had become worse, it was hard to take in. You think I would be used to hearing bad news but when the neurologist was explaining i just zoned out and thought fuck! At the end she asked me if I understood, I replied no; “why is this happening to me?!” I don’t really want to go into details of how it has got worse but what I will say is; I am not dying however, the quality of my life will decrease.
Right off to the next appointment, I thought  I was being efficient by booking my appointments on the same day, big mistake. I went to my orthopaedic surgeon to see if they could shed any light on my chronic knee pain. He wasn’t able to do so but discovered another problem, he informed me that I am also suffering from something called a degenerative joint disease. My reaction was; ok, what else can you hit me with? So, on black Monday I discovered that my epilepsy has caused some damage, i was told there is a high percentage I could have another issue and I have a degenerative joint disease! What a fucking day!
The journey home from hospital seemed  to take forever. While waiting for the train at London bridge all noise disappeared and I felt so alone.When I left hospital I felt so numb, I didn’t tell anyone for a few days because I couldn’t process it. It was just a shame as I was starting to feel like old Lawrence and feeling really positive about recovery.
Fast forward  a couple of weeks and I had a full epileptic attack. I fell down one flight of stairs. I don’t really remember the attack but this is what I’ve been told. The paramedics came to check me other and I appeared  fine, I was able to walk out to the ambulance. I went to hopistal to be on the safe side as I banged my head. I had a further two attacks in the hospital and the chronic knee pain returned, they decided to admit me. I ended up staying in hospital for a week; where they almost killed me with an overdose of morphine. On top of this I felt highly fustrated as I had already received bad news as mentioned earlier.
With everything that had happened in this short amount of time s well as everything else i have been through this year i genuinely thought, how much can a guy take and so I became quite withdrawn from the world. There is only so long you can keep that smile on when inside you are struggling with things.
You feel sorry for yourself for bit but unlitmtely you have two choices, give up or keep going. I chose the latter, I am not saying I have come to terms with the news but I have to accept that I am not going to be the same but I have to adapt. No matter how long I have on this earth I am determined  to do something big and create a legacy.

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Set back

Today has been incredibly frustrating for me. New year, new goals and progress to make, it’s just a shame my body doesn’t always understand that message.

Lying in bed this morning, my legs decided not to work, so I had to wait for them to wake up. I got out of bed and onto my normal morning routines, I felt ok except a little niggling headache. Luckily school was an INSET day so no kids for the day.

During the training session at school my knees started burning and then it got progressively worse. I got up to leave the room, made it out of the hall only to collapse and have a grand mal seizure (whole body jerking but still conscious). I had another short-lived seizure and on recovering the level of pain in my knees was excruciating, it reached the level of pain I felt in the summer.

Despite my protests I was forced to go to A&E where the gas and air on tap helped to relieve the pain and calm things down. A hilarious and buxom paramedic kept knocking her assets into my head as she cared for me! That sounds creepy, it really wasn’t that creepy and I was grateful for any distraction from the pain.

Once I arrived at the hospital, the normal long-winded routine from the doctors, the repetitive questions and answers that never seem to tell the whole story. Obviously they can’t offer any new advice or information…things are under investigation.

To be fair they were quicker to respond than previous times and a helpful doctor gave me further prescriptions and understood I just wanted to go home.

So here I am, at home. Frustrated, a little irritated that my body doesn’t understand it needs to get better. But I know this is part of my journey and my outlook is the thing I can control. I don’t choose to see this as a failing, I choose to think about all I things I need to do and haven’t done yet.

“Every setback is a setup for a comeback”

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Wow, what a year it has been! I think that’s the best way to start this blog. For those of you who have been following me know that it’s been five months since my unexpected month long stay in hospital.  I am finally feeling stronger on my legs and gotten rid of the crutches. This was helped by me keeping away from Grace (my friend who likes to push injured people over).

It’s been hard work coming off the crutches and I am under no illusion about the strength and endurance training I will have to complete to get back to where I was physically last year. But I am more determined than ever to keep push through  rehab to get back to being me.

I still have lots of further tests and scans scheduled for 2015 in order for the doctors to try and find out more about what happened. I guess my mantra has to be not to let the symptoms of a condition define me but to appreciate life’s positives and live my life to the fullest.

Once again a big thank you to everyone who has been there for me the last couple of months.

The best is still come from me, Roll 2015! Tij is coming is coming for you!

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The thing I have missed the most is going to the gym! The gym is my release, I go there to be alone (sounds silly with all those sweaty people there) but once those ear phones go in I am in the zone! So it has been really hard not being active and I’ve noticed I’ve put on weight. I think I’m a big boned person at heart, I have to work to keep in shape.

Before returning to the gym I booked a meeting with my old athletics coach Nigel to ask him to train me again. Not for sprint training but to help me with my recovery. Sometimes I can be my own worse enemy by pushing myself too hard and I end up doing more harm than good so I wanted advice. Trust me I don’t want any further set backs, I’ve had enough for a life time (If you are wondering what happened read the blog more regularly, I joke I joke). So I knew I needed his advice. The meeting with Nigel was productive we set out some ground rules and got started.

The first session was just to see what I could and couldn’t do – to get some baseline data. I went on the bike for 12 minutes on level 1- please don’t laugh, remember I am still on two crutches. It felt ok to start with but my pain returned so had to jump off, sorry mean hobble off.

I then attempted the rowing machine which I was a bit apprehensive about as I thought it would hurt my knees. Proud that I managed to do 11 minutes, however I couldn’t fully bend my knees as it was too painful. I then spent 2 and a half minutes on the cross-trainer (tougher than I thought).

Onto the weights room where I started with the leg press (just to put this into context I normally squat 130 kg) but this time I was only able to do 10 kg for three reps which was a real struggle. Just before I got on the leg press one man wouldn’t stop staring at me and asked me whether I was sure about using it. I nodded and used his question as motivation to try. I did a few light reps and then some other machines (my chest game is still strong!).

Overall it felt good to be back in the gym but I could not help but feel annoyed and frustrated, this was nothing like any gym session I’ve had before. But ultimately I am determined to get back to my old self or somewhere near it. Nigel was happy with my baseline performance but made me  promise not to push too hard myself.  The recovery  program he designed for me is actually called ‘patience’ and that is exactly what I’m going to need.

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I had my first hydrotherapy session today at st Thomas hospital, I was nervous to return back to the hospital I had previously spent a month in. When I arrived at the physiotherapy gymnasium I was surprised  to see a large group of elderly people in the middle of a vigourous warm up (bit baffling as I was expecting to see a pool of some sort). I had to ask for directions to the pool, but I guess I wasn’t really listening as I ended up getting changed in the dry changing room instead of the wet changing room. Obviously confused to find no pool I returned to the gymnasium in just my swimming trunks (the Female OAPs stopped their exercising to cop a look). The phyiso shook his head surprised at my confusion, told me I didn’t listen and then led me and my belongings to the pool area.

I was greeted by a different phyiso who went through the rules with me (basically the same as any public swimming pool). Pumped and ready for action I approached the pool until I noticed one of the instructors was shivering. Just my luck the heating wasn’t working! As I started to submerge myself into the freezing cold water I briefly forgot the pain. I was instructed to warm up by doing six lengths of the pool, it felt good to be walking with less pain.  I then did 20 squats, 20 calf raises, 20 Lateral Lunges, side and back kicks on each leg (with weights) and 20 Step-ups.  That was the first session done, ah yeah! As I left the pool the pain level crept back and I instantly felt the workout I had just done.

The steps I took today were small but I feel I’m heading in the right direction. Right I am off to have a well earned nap!!!

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So I just finished watching ‘Rise of the 300’, which was a complete waste of time. I can’t remember anything memorable about the film. There was an over reliance of both CGI and fake blood which was constantly splattered across the screen.

Anyway, the film finished at midnight And it was time for bed, I couldn’t wait as I was falling asleep on the sofa. You know when you get that feeling like you’re about to sleep and your counting down the minutes to crawl in bed and murder that sleep all night long. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for me something else was waiting.

As I lay my head down, I started to suffer from sleep paralysis (one of the most scariest things ever, when you feel like your drifting off but you can’t move your body). It happened a few more times so I decided to sit up. After a while I lay back down to see if I could get off to sleep.This time I started having involuntary movements a.k.a. spasms. The spasms were different from other spasms that I have suffered, these were more violent and intense.

I then started to suffer with paralysis in my legs. I was unable to move them, they just felt like heavy logs. Then the myoclonic jerks started. I was fully conscious and felt every tremor in my body but I couldn’t control my movement.

I had to call the ambulance as this was getting serious. The ambulance took four hours to arrive (called 111- didn’t really want the flashing lights as I could still breathe ok). By the time they arrived my symptoms started to settle down except the movement of my left. Even as I am writing this my left leg is not doing what I want it to do.

The paramedics that turned up were really helpful and checked my vitals. Everything was pretty much alright by then except the paralysis in my leg. I sort of ended up feeling like I had wasted their time and a annoyed that I can’t always control the things that happen to me.

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