Life on autopilot…

I realise that I have been deathly quiet in regards to my writing recently but unfortunately I have been really struggling with well, everything.

I have been finding that the trembling in the legs is becoming increasingly worse.  Standing is becoming extremely uncomfortable and impossible to do for very long as I am feeling the severity of the tremors and the buckling of them whilst queueing or whilst completing the washing-up for example.  With regards to standing, it has been evoking anxiety as I am always afraid that they will suddenly give way, which has been happening to much embarrassment.  It was not until I was speaking to a person who has similar problems to myself, that using two crutches maybe more beneficial for myself than using just the one as it offers increased stability when standing and walking and reducing the risk of falls.  I loved the idea of being able to save myself from falls as because I have been experiencing so many of them my bruises have bruises!

The owner of the gym even kindly let me borrow a couple of the crutches that have been donated to the Feelgood Factory.  Unfortunately, after using them for a few days around the house and even once whilst out with my carer, I have decided that this option is not for me as not only have I found using two incredibly awkward and uncomfortable, they have also proved to be inconvenient.  For example, whilst in the house on my own, I was unable to carry my lunch from the kitchen to the living room as I had no free hands to spare!  It has also been found to be inconvenient when out shopping as I am left unable to pick items from the shelves or racks and therefore offers me less independent than using the one crutch as I am reliant on other people to do my shopping for me.  In addition, because of the dizziness I have always found that holding onto someone for support, such as linking arms gives me comfort and confidence when out and about and so using two crutches also prevents me from having the support of another person.


So, I now have to make a decision to make whether to start using the wheelchair on a more permanent basis; although I do not always feel comfortable in using one because of the dizziness and vertigo, it has been put to me that because of the increasing severity of the trembling as I have stated above and the increased number of incidents of falls then it may be the time that I need to start thinking of using it for the majority of the time when I am outside of the house.  This is not only to keep me safe from further injuries, but also prevents my falls from injuring others or even from falling and damaging items that are on display in the stores that I visit.  It is not an easy to decision to make; for anyone it is difficult to admit weakness and further to admit that you need help.  It’s difficult to accept that my legs are getting worse and further that I may need further support such as the wheelchair to be able to get around when out of the house.


Fatigue has also been a big problem for me also.  As the pain and trembling have been bad during the nights, sleep as a result has been limited and thus leaving me exhausted through the day.  Naps has been my best friend lately and have found myself falling asleep during the afternoons.  These naps are more frequent and last longer after days where I am out and about I have also noticed.  Fatigue not only leaves you feeling absolutely exhausted but also leaves you with little energy (or in our case ‘spoons’) to be able to do things that we would ordinarily do with ease.  Completing one circuit of the gym has been extremely challenging, whereas before I could complete two with ease.  Chores has left me unable to function for hours.  Not only it has had an effect on my energy levels either.  It has also had an effect on my mood – not only have I been snapping with very little provocation but I have also been feeling very low.  I would not say it’s depression but am just generally low in mood.


In other news, I finally have had an appointment with the neurology consultant for early next month so I am hoping that all of the test results that I have had done over the past few months have found something, or there are ways in which they can help me and improve my overall quality of life.  When things are bad such as what I am experiencing at the moment, it can often seem as if we are just existing rather than living; if we are just going through the motions or living on autopilot but I am determined to continue to fight my way through the bad patch and find my silver lining…

Tweet: When things are bad it can often seem as if we are just existing rather than living via @serenebutterfly #spoonie

Sometimes we need to throw out the rule book…

These past couple of days, I have been experiencing the severe trembling sensations in my legs.  Well, I have these sensations all of the time, of course, however the trembling has been somewhat more severe recently.  It is not just these sensations which I have found to be particularly troublesome of late; the fatigue, and the pain associated with the spastic paraparesis have also been bothersome.  At times, living with all these symptoms as well as the constant dizziness has been increasingly difficult and miserable.  Everyone reading this who also experiences chronic illness, will know that when experiencing a relapse, or a bad flare regarding our symptoms, you need to balance the amount of physical activity whether it be exercising, going out or doing chores around the house, with resting your body and taking a break from activity that may exacerbate symptoms.

And I have been doing this; I have listened to my body and took a break from attending the gym, as the trembling in the legs on the day I usually visit was particularly bad.  I even had to cut short my day out with my carer as I felt too unwell and tired to go anywhere else, on that particular day.  However, I have also found that whilst I was balancing the amount of physical activity I was doing and resting; the symptoms were still not improving.  So, when Thursday arrived, and as I hadn’t been out for a few days, and felt miserable as a result, I decided to thrown the rule book out of the window and enjoy the day without worrying about symptoms or maintaining that balance of physical activity with resting.  Of course, on the day I needed to take my wheelchair because of the severity of the trembling in the legs, but was determined that despite all this I was going to enjoy the glorious weather and spend the day away from my bed and the same four walls that I had been cooped up in for several days.

I am so glad that I went out despite not feeling my best and whilst battling severe symptoms.

I had a really enjoyable day out; the weather was gloriously warm and it felt so lovely to be out of the house and feeling the warm sunshine on my skin.  The symptoms, and especially the trembling in my legs were still so bothersome that I was unable to go to the gym, so we decided that instead we would spend the day visiting a little town near to where I live called Cowbridge. I had previously only been there once, and not for very long so thought it would make a change to visit somewhere relatively new and going into little shops and boutiques that I had never experienced before.  I even managed to treat myself to a gorgeous ring that I had seen online by one of my favourite jewellery designers Annie Haak, but had been unsure of purchasing as I was worried that it would not fit my very small fingers!  However, whilst browsing the shop windows in Cowbridge, we came across a little jewellery store that stocked these very same rings!  And after trying on the ring and found that it did fit my fingers, I bought it.  I am so pleased with my purchase and is a lovely reminder of our day out and triumphing over my symptoms.

The gorgeous Annie Haak adjustable ring that I bought for myself
The gorgeous Annie Haak adjustable ring that I bought for myself

“When we are experiencing more bad days then good, we need to make the most of those good days” (Click to Tweet)

The day was not just spent shopping; part of the day was spent relaxing in this pretty and scenic gardens that my carer came across on a previous visit to Cowbridge.  It was so nice just to sit and relax amongst the beautiful and colourful flowers.  It also created the perfect time to take some photographs to commemorate this splendid day out that I enjoyed so much.  In my experience of living with chronic illness, is that when we are experiencing more bad days than good, we therefore need to really make the most of those good days.  Living with a chronic illness, it is so wonderful to make lovely memories that we can look back on during the bad days and reflect upon.

The past couple of days after this day out has been very bad; the trembling in the legs were once again very severe, more so than before, and left unable to fully function.  Do I regret the day out now?  No, absolutely not.  As I said before, living a life with illness, where you experience more bad days than good, we therefore have to take full advantage of the days which are good.  Although it was not a particularly good day health-wise on this day, I felt that I could physically do more than previous days and so took full advantage.  I may be suffering after, however but I still have those lovely, positive memories to look back on and a gorgeous ring to admire.

So, although rest is vital and important when living a life with chronic illness, sometimes however it is just as important to sometimes throw the rule book out of the window and go and make memories to cherish and look back on when illness prevents us from doing anything else.  Let’s go out and live our lives, and take full advantage of the rare good days and make glorious memories in the process…

Recent 5 Challenges and Small Victories


Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.

Today’s prompt reads as follows:

5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories…Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus.  Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going

Again this is a post that has been part of the Health Activist Month Challenge before; I had thought of skipping this prompt, however, I then realised that life with chronic illness can change overtime and therefore, I have decided to do the and write about the challenges and victories of life with my neurological condition.  I will think of the recent challenges and victories that have been in my life, and without looking at the previous post that I had written and can then compare how my condition has changed over time.



  1. The first challenge that has been rather large in my life recently is definitely fatigue.  The fatigue recently has been constant and unrelenting.  Often I have no energy, and when I do find the little energy to do things, then I am so shattered afterwards that I find I may need a nap but often that does not help the tiredness that I feel.  After being out with my carer, I often find myself collapsing on my bed, and before I realise I have fallen asleep.  It has also left me with a lack of energy to be able to do the simplest chores around the house, for example, my ironing has been piling up recently as I have had no energy to be able to tackle the pile of clothes there waiting for me.
  2. My legs have also been challenging for me as late.  If I am not battling against the pain, weakness and trembling in my legs then I am dealing with loss of sensation in them.  The last few days the pain and trembling has been particularly bad and therefore makes walking both painful and challenging, but more than that it has also led to several falls resulting in cuts and bruises on my body.  I am unable to stand for very long because of the spastic paraparesis, which in itself is a challenge as it prevents me from being able to chores such as ironing or cooking without the aid of aids.
  3. The dizziness is another symptom which I have also found to have worsened recently, which has made it extremely difficult to go out, especially when needing the wheelchair.  Because the dizziness has been so severe recently, I have had to rely on hats whilst out on trips with my carer.  Wearing a hat allows certain visual disturbances which worsen the constant dizziness I live with, or induces the vertigo to be eliminated from my eye line, therefore decreasing the severity of the dizziness and vertigo. The dizziness has been very severe lately, and because of it I have even had to cut short trips out.  More time has been spent lying down in a quiet room as the vertigo has been so intense; and suppose it has been such a challenge to live with, that I am not living life as I should.
  4. I have needed the wheelchair a lot more recently which is also a challenge; because of the severity of the dizziness just being in the wheelchair feels very uncomfortable due to all of the movement and visual stimuli that I am subjected to.  It seems that recently I have lost all confidence in using the wheelchair, but on the other hand I really need to use it because of how weak my legs are – am often in a catch-22 situation!  It is also a challenge as I am due to go on a cruise in 3 weeks, and will need the wheelchair a lot more, especially when off the ship, visiting the cities which we are stopping at such as Rome and Florence.  It will be a big challenge trying to cope with the severe dizziness and being in the wheelchair at the same time.
  5. Feeling reliant on other people most of the time.  It can be very demoralising when you are unable to do things that once came so naturally, and needing other people to help you.  I wish I could be a lot more independent, and feel so helpless when I cannot even go out somewhere on my own.  It’s very frustrating!



  1. I have mentioned this in a recent post entitled -‘I went and I conquered‘ but a recent victory of mine was definitely going into Next, a local retail store and being able to shop in there!  This was a big step for me – because of the dizziness, stores such as Next can aggravate the dizziness and vertigo and makes them a lot worse because of the layout of the store, the height of the ceiling as well as the fluorescent lighting used.  My carer and I have been trying for a long time for me to even set foot in there.  It such a joy, knowing that I can shop in-store, save myself the cost of postage and packing, and even trying clothes on; something I haven’t been able to do for such a long time.  I have since shopped in there several more times since the original blog post and bought several items that I need for the holiday we are soon to embark on.
  2. This actually links in with a challenge listed above regarding the use of a wheelchair.  Yesterday the weakness in my legs was significantly bad, and so as my carer and I were headed to a local garden centre, it was decided that I very much needed to use the wheelchair.  The dizziness was severe, and so I was nervous about using it.  But, I actually was victorious against the dizziness, and managed to stay in the wheelchair and even managed to wheel myself around.  I felt in control whilst using the wheelchair for the first time in a while.  This is a victory as it has really boosted in my confidence at the thought of needing to use the wheelchair on holiday.
  3. I think another recent victory was keeping up with the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge especially considering how severe the fatigue has been recently.  It has been difficult to do anything as I have felt so tired but being able to keep up with this writer’s challenge has been a real victory for me as it has been very difficult doing it, but shows that I am able to push through and come out the other side.
  4. One thing that really keeps me going are the networks that I have created thanks to social media.  The friends I have made really keep me going through the dark and difficult times and is always a ray of sunshine, receiving a message of support on a day in which you are really struggling.  I am really proud to be involved with a new online community for those with neurological conditions, and it is the work behind the scenes which at the moment is really giving me a purpose which is a great and important victory especially as living with such conditions can make you feel so dependant on others.
  5. My positivity board is a real victory and one thing that does keep me going despite living with a chronic illness.  A lot of people have contacted me regarding my board, and have even created one for themselves!  I love that I have inspired others and help make someone stay positive through their own illness or troubles.

So, those are my recent challenges and small victories!  To read about what I had written previously then please go to ‘HAWMC Day 27: 5 Challenges and 5 Small Victories…

What about your own challenges and victories – have they changed over time as your condition has changed?  Would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.  Please feel free to post your comments below…




Keep Calm and Carry on Wheelin’



Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.

The first prompt reads as given:

Keep Calm and Carry On…Write and create your own “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster.  Try to make it about your own condition!  You can then go to ( and actually make an image to post to your blog.




I have chosen this particular phrase for my own ‘Keep Calm’ poster as it reflects my life with my condition at this time in my life.  As regular readers of my blog will know that my condition, and a symptom known as spastic paraparesis causes severe stiffness and weakness in my legs; as a result, my legs will often give way and often without any notice.  In addition, the stiffness often causes a lot of pain (when I have feeling in them, that is!) and therefore unable to walk very far.  As these symptoms have been increasing in severity, I am therefore required to use a wheelchair when I am out for long periods of time, or somewhere which requires a lot of walking.

The dizziness, that I experience however, makes it feel very uncomfortable to use the wheelchair due to the motion upsetting my vision and causing severe dizziness and vertigo.  But, as my legs are often too weak and the pain and trembling make it considerably difficult to walk, then I need to disregard the dizziness, and use the wheelchair anyway.

In nearly four weeks, I am going on a cruise, and of course, part of the holiday is going on excursions to some of the cities that we are visiting.  In doing so, it requires a lot of walking and due to the severity of the symptoms, I am going to have to use the wheelchair no matter how bad the dizziness is – and therefore I will have to just ‘Keep Calm and Carry on Wheelin’!

Being visibly invisible: The debate of stigma and invisible vs visible illnesses


Welcome to the seventeenth day of the National Health Blog Post Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health.  Every day during the month of November I will be writing a new blog post related to health and living with a chronic illness based on given prompts provided by WEGO Health.

Today’s post reads:

Invisible Illness versus Visible Illness: What are some stigmas you have experienced with your invisible OR visible illnesses that have made you feel invisible?  How have you tackled them?


Etymologically the word ‘stigma’ derives from the Greek word stigma, meaning a mark of disgrace either made from branding or pointing.  The mark was used to mark individuals who were seen as different, and by branding such individuals with visible marks it made it possible for society to avoid them.  In modern times, although many groups of society are not marked in this way, they still are shunned by society.  And those individuals living with illnesses; either visible or invisible are just one example of a group that are still being rejected by the wider society.

As I am someone who has lived through illness at times when it has been both invisible and visible, I can categorically state that stigma occurs in both of these categories.  Obviously, when the illness is invisible, however, it is harder for people to stigmatise individuals with such conditions as you cannot tell that there is a problem with them, unless it has been divulged to them.  These social networks however may be an example of a group that stigmatises an individual because of an invisible illness.  For example, I know many people who constantly live with fatigue, and often as a result have to cancel appointments or plans with others because of it.  Friends and acquaintances however do not tolerate or accept this behaviour as they cannot imagine or accept that tiredness can have such an adverse impact upon a person, and as result can perceive the individual as being lazy or uninterested in their friends.

We need supportive friends when living with an invisible illness and to be believed and supported
We need supportive friends when living with an invisible illness and to be believed and supported

Also, with many invisible illnesses, those suffering with such conditions do not always look sick, and consequently many do not acknowledge the fact that they are in fact sick, and the term “But you look so good!” is therefore banded about.  It is this lack of looking unwell, that results in many not believing a person when they do divulge that they are sick and has become one of the most common stigmas of invisible illnesses.  Another common stigma associated with invisible chronic conditions is the train of thought that such individuals do not deserve such privileges such as a disabled blue badge; a stigma that I myself have faced on several occasions and have written about in a previous post entitled ‘Becoming Visible in an Invisible World‘.

Being in a wheelchair can make you feel as if you are invisible!
Being in a wheelchair can make you feel as if you are invisible!

However, as I am at the stage where I need a wheelchair going out, my condition therefore is now much more visible, so what are the stigmas that I have faced whilst living with a visible chronic health condition?  The first that I have really noticed is the feeling that the condition and disability is taking over my  personal identity; the often feeling that people see me as the ‘girl in the wheelchair’ rather than the person I am.   An example, of this is the fact that when I have been out recently, people often talk to my carer or the person I am with instead of talking directly to myself.  This can be demoralising, and feels as if people perceive all individuals with disabilities as being unable to hold a conversation.  My problem is with my legs and not my intellect, I often feel like screaming.  It’s as if that because people need to look down on us, in the literal sense, then it must mean we all need to be pitied or looked down upon, metaphorically speaking.

When people do not talk to me directly, which I have encountered on numerous occasions, this definitely makes me feel very much invisible.  The way I have tackled this problem, is by holding my head up high and starting conversations with people on checkouts; and in shops as a way of subtly letting them know that although I am in a wheelchair I do not need someone to talk for me; I find it does work and the same cashiers have not done it again!


Do you live with an invisible or visible health condition?  What are some examples of stigma that you have personally faced?  As ever would love to hear your thoughts and experiences as well as any other comments you may have!  Feel free to comment below…

Chronic Illness and its awkward situations can be embarrassing but they can also make us grow…


Welcome to the sixteenth day of the National Health Blog Post Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health.   Every day during the month of November I will be writing a new blog post related to health and living with a chronic illness based on given prompts provided by WEGO Health.

Today’s prompt reads:

Well, that was embarrassing…  What’s the most awkward situation your health condition ever put you in?  (Don’t be bashful, we’re all friends here).  Maybe you can look back on it now and laugh, but it wasn’t so funny then

I suppose, one of the benefits of living with an invisible health condition is that when you are out of the home and walking amongst the healthy, others are not aware that you have a chronic illness and you are able to bask in the pretence that you are just like everyone else.  I used to be able to do just that; walk around as if I was perfectly healthy, ignoring the dizziness, pain and weakness that was reminding me that I wasn’t like everyone else.

However, after the condition started to worsen, the awkward phase of my neurological condition began to present itself – frequent fall in public.  Yes, it happened in shops, at home, at houses of friends and family as well as the centre where I used to volunteer – my legs would suddenly give way which resulted in my entire body collapsing to the floor.  I found this extremely embarrassing , especially at the times when I was unable to get up straight after the fall because of the weakness in the legs.  Looking back I do not think it was just the situation that I found awkward and embarrassing, which I did especially given my age and partly because at that time I didn’t know what was wrong with my body.  No, it was also the attention that it caused from others who were around, the stares and the fuss that these falls caused; it was especially embarrassing when it happened in shops and being helped by elderly people who were much older and obviously fitter than myself!

Of course, this happened, not just the one time but happened extremely frequently for several years.  Then, once it happened right in the middle of a popular clothes store in town when I was out with my carer, and because of the weakness in not just my legs but throughout my entire body, I was unable to get back up for approximately ten minutes and so had to be helped by several members of staff and my carer to a stool that they had lent me.  The shop at the time was quite busy and there were several members of staff, so as it happened in front of so many people was very embarrassing especially given the stares and people asking me if I was alright and if there was anything they could do (don’t get me wrong I find that to be very kind and thoughtful but still it doesn’t make any less embarrassing!).


Looking back at this particular incident however, I now realise that it was an important part in accepting the deterioration in my mobility and overall condition and finally accepted the need for the wheelchair.  Perhaps, it is an incident that was awkward but one which was enlightening and shone the light on an aspect of my life that was changing but could do something to help me adapt to the new situation.  It also shows that awkward and embarrassing situations, although can be upsetting and distressing, they can prove to be situations that cause us to learn and grow…

Has your health condition caused you to have an embarrassing incident?  Would love to hear your comments and thoughts as ever!  Please leave any comments below!…

Please, don’t judge me…



Welcome to the sixth day of the National Health Blog Month Challenge hosted by WEGO Health.   Every day during the month of November I will be writing a new blog post related to health and living with a chronic illness based upon given prompts provided by WEGO Health.

Today’s prompt reads:

Say WHAT?! What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard about your health condition?  Was there any context? What did you think at the time you heard it – and what do you think of it now?


This is a tough prompt relating to my health condition as because it is rare and few people really know about it, then as a result I don’t really hear ridiculous things regarding my illness.  So, I had to go back to the thinking board for this one.  Then I remember a comment I heard whilst out with my carer.  The incident happened a couple of weeks after I started using the wheelchair.  This one week we arrived in our local town and decided to go for a drink and so after my carer got the wheelchair out of the boot of the car and set it up, I then got out of the car to get in the chair.  To do this, I took a tentative and wobbly steps to the wheelchair, and when we were ready I wheeled myself to the local coffee shop.  After ordering, and whilst waiting for the order to be ready, I went to look for a table for us to sit at, and as my carer was still at the counter waiting for our drinks, I began to check my emails, when i heard a conversation between a middle-aged couple at the next table.  “Tsk, I saw her outside walking to the wheelchair; she obviously doesn’t need it!  She must be lazy!”

I was so shocked and upset that I didn’t say anything to the couple and instead focused on my phone, and then as my carer arrived with our drinks, put a smile on my face and started a conversation.  Afterwards, I was very angry – how dare they judge me!  How dare they judge a situation that they don’t know and obviously do not understand.  It saddens me that judgements regarding disability still hasn’t changed despite the so-called legacy of the Paralympics from last year.  I’m not saying however that these judgements are representative of the majority of people, but there are still a minority who assume that just because I am physically able to walk, means that I am not in need of a wheelchair.  I am sure they would think very differently, if they had seen me stumble around and legs giving way because of the weakness.  Yes, I can physically walk but doing so not only causes great discomfort and pain but am also on edge and waiting for them to give way, so using such an aid not only saves me from endless falls but also allows me to enjoy trips out without the worry of when they are next going to give way.

Have you heard something ridiculous about your health condition>  If so, what was it?  How did you feel or react?  Feel free to comment below…