Son2 has just returned from a week's skiing to Italy with school. He went for the first time last year and loved it. Son1 also went but did not love it at all, so didn't wish to repeat the experience and in any case, he had his Maths GCSE to sit (second paper Thursday, wish him luck!)
Last year, Son2 had just been diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome but the skiing didn’t seem to bother his joints much. Not so this year. He managed half a week on the slopes and then the pain kicked in.
The staff dosed him up with paracetamol and ibuprofen and he spent the last few days making full use of the free Wi-Fi on his iPad.
He managed to stretch out on the extremely long coach journey home – though at least he wasn't in need of an x-ray as a couple of the other boys were – but since then has barely been able to move his legs without crying out in pain.
It's hard, seeing your child in pain and even more difficult because of my own EDS pain and fatigue. As a mum, you're supposed to be the great protector, the mother bear, and so you just have to try your best to put your own difficulties aside, however bad you feel, so you can help your child.
Son2 is now quite a lot taller as well as heavier than me, so heaving him out of bed requires quite a bit of effort. Additionally, the extra trips up and down the stairs to fetch things for him as he is currently off school, triggers my POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) making my heart race and my body temperature soaring with every step. Sweaters are out these days and layering most definitely in!
Don't mess with my boy, EDS
When your routine is one that is finely balanced to ensure a workable activity/rest ratio, any change can throw your body into a meltdown. But a mother's instinct over-rides any thought of what's best for you. If your child is in pain, you do something about it, or try to.
This morning involved a trip to the GP to look in their virtually empty bag of medical tricks to see what could help. I suggested a different painkiller that was duly prescribed and she suggested a physio referral.
Ha! Been there, tried that! NHS physios are overstretched and do not have the time or the knowledge of EDS to do the kind of physio that he needs. It's pretty pointless saying to a child with both EDS and Asperger's to go away and do a set of exercises supervised by a parent who is also in pain with EDS. Net result = Not happening. I simply don't have the available energy to convince a reluctant teenager to do a consistent program of exercises that don’t make him feel good.
I had a community physio myself who made a real effort but when she was replaced on rotation, the new one immediately discharged me because I could only manage one of a set of five set exercises. She said when I could manage more to get back in touch. Errr, hello? How am I supposed to be able to do more without help from a physio? I tried to explain what was happening in my body but the answer still came down to doing the exercises that are not designed for someone in chronic pain. The kind of physio that is more likely to help with an EDS patient is more hands-on ultrasound and the use of a Tens machine at the very least to start off with.
So I am fed up of waiting. I am taking him later to a private physio and, having been told by another mum about the Great Ormond Street Hospital Rheumatology team, have asked Son2's specialist about that too which sometimes has an inpatient programme.
Son2 is 14. He needs to get to school so he can pass as many GCSEs as possible next year. That will be quite difficult if he's in pain. I have my own long-awaited pre-rehab appointment in a couple of days. I need to do everything I can to be fit enough to fight for my son to have a pain-free future.
I realise that's fightin' talk for someone whose desk is an over-bed table in case I need an urgent nap. Watch this space!
RareConnect EDS Community Forum (I am a volunteer moderator here, swing by and say hello!)
EDS UK support group (I am a schools advisor here, ask EDS related school questions)
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