Limbo

Next month I have an appointment coming up that I’ve been waiting for since August last year.

It’s a neuropsychological assessment for brain injury/damage. I am in a strange place of limbo at the moment in that the professionals at the pain clinic are unsure what the next plan of action will be.

It’s become almost embarrassing how much my short term memory has begun affecting me in my every day activities. At home and at work. I can literally get lost in what I’m doing. As though I blank out and cannot figure out what I was doing. I have also had two similar episodes of dizziness and drowsiness that have landed me in A&E recently.

I am also struggling to find words. It’s like there is a problem from brain to speech. All the symptoms I am experiencing are pointing to a brain injury. And it’s all stemming from a whiplash injury in 2018. Something I saw as a minor event, is now having a major impact on my life.

There are other problems around auditory and visual hallucinations which are believed to be as a result of a neurological problem rather than a mental health issue.

Cups of tea are essential in pain management

The chances are the chronic pain is all tied in with the other neurological issues I am experiencing. Either that or it is all coincidental.

I already have a diagnosis of diffuse Central pain syndrome. A disorder that has a cause. I feel like I’m now getting closer to discovering and understanding what is happening with me. And from there, be able to access the right support and rehabilitation services.

Life has been incredibly challenging since the accident. And raising triplet toddlers brings its own set of challenges. I’m lucky to have the support of my wife in all of this. We have both been through the emotional wringer as a result of the forced changes in our lives.

But for now, as always it’s a day at a time. And hope of better days ahead.

Book review

Hi all.

Just want to share with you a book review I had this week for my publication ‘From triples to triplets; The making of a triplet dad’.

A massive thanks to Ember at ‘Relentlessly Purple’ for taking the time to read my book and give this review.

If you haven’t already got a copy it is available on Amazon. There is a direct link to it on my home page.

From Triples To Triplets: The Making Of A Triplet Dad By S.C Wood

Making sense of pain

It’s good for me to be able to talk about what I’m going through. Which is difficult with a rare pain disorder because not many people can comprehend what it’s like. So when I do talk about it, it’s either within the online group I am in, or at a fortnightly pain clinic appointment.

At the moment I am in strange place of limbo with my condition. All the work I am doing with the pain clinic is to find ways to reduce stress – which in turn will make managing pain easier to do.

It was strange in the early days of developing central pain to be told by doctors and professionals that it is basically down to me to learn about my condition, and make sense of it. With the frustration of clear MRI scans and nothing showing in my blood results it became what felt like an isolating time. People wanted clear answers, such as my wife who was struggling herself to deal with the massive change in my physical health.

I was told it would be a very long time before I understood the complexity of my condition. And if you have for any reason looked into brain function, neurotransmitters or tried to understand how pain signals are sent and processed in the brain through the central nervous system you will understand why.

But as I have discovered, understanding the science is easy compared to the complexity of learning how to make sense of managing it all on a daily basis. I have worked closely with the pain clinic on this. The number one item in my tool box is no non contemplative meditation.

Because the pain is permanent, it takes a big toll on my mental health. As much as I try to manage staying out of flare ups through rest and minimal physical strain, I always eventually become overwhelmed through sheer mental and physical exhaustion. I can’t avoid flare ups. And with no real pain relief, the strength to cope must come from within my mind. In mentally dealing with the pressures and frustrations of a permanent condition. Which is constantly evolving.

I’m 18 months in with central pain syndrome, still early days in the scheme of things and it’s the toughest thing I have ever had to face. And even though I now know a little, I am still trying to make sense of the pain. I have to stay one step ahead of something bigger than me, and largely beyond my control. And there lies the real daily challenge.

The feeling of failure

Over the last year I felt more often than not that I am not living up to being the supporting husband and father I want to be. This feeling of failing, which I’m sure all men experience at times, is just a reality of fatherhood. A result of the ups and downs we face in the stream of life, for whatever reason. I did after all, want this blog to be a place of honest reference. To share in the realities of fatherhood and the emotional ride it can be at times. The good, and the ‘not’ so good. Sometimes life gets difficult. I have ideals I try to live up to. And I do my best to live in a way that is a life of improvement for the benefit of my family. To work hard and be an example to my daughters is important to me, and for them to see that ethic in me growing up.
How I am in their eyes will be the man they judge all other men by. Which is why I meditate, to be a man of patience and tolerance. Not one who is easily rattled and affected by stress and the pressures of the world. It has been, as I see it, the one vital ingredient I need in my role to raise healthy confident children. I have always been aware that my wellbeing directly affects my family. I have written extensively on the subject since becoming a parent. Which is why this last year in particular has been so difficult for me. Before I had even heard of central pain syndrome, or considered a brain injury, I felt I had a good handle on dealing with all that went on in my life. Yes, having triplets was an event on the heavier end of the stress spectrum, but even still, with a past of serious mental health issues I was given strength to manage my situation with a strong sense of purpose. One I still hold on to. Which is why I find it hard to now feel as though I’m failing at times.
I am not one to admit that I struggle. That since all the forced changes in my life I have suffered bouts of depression from resenting those changes. No longer able to work full-time it has hit my pride hard. Because it has chipped away at how I provide for my family. The nerve pain and the memory problems are affecting me more than I’d like to admit. The stress I have had to adjust to, is creating other sensory problems. Ones that concern me at times. I have to accept life is different now and adjust accordingly. I am now accepting all the help I can get psychologically (without medication). If you have read my book you will know of the problems I faced growing up, significant life event’s that left me with a fighting coping mechanism of constant motion forward. Problems that I have never really stopped to deal with, that it’s now time to unravel. Because the easier I can deal with life, the better I can manage the pain. And the better I manage the pain – the better my mental health, and that of all those who are affected by it. Il get there eventually. Because I always do. Meditation is still my number one practice, it keeps me mentally above ground more than anything else. Bringing love to my family is still the most important thing I can do as a dad. And to not resent the changes and accept all that is occurring in my life without fear, to not be rattled by the pressures of life. Which now is sometimes easier said than done.

First book review – ‘From triples to triplets’

Hi all.

Just a short post to say the first review of my book is in. If you are interested, here’s the link. A big thanks to Jenny at The brick castle .

https://www.thebrickcastle.com/2020/01/a-meditative-parent-making-of-triplet.html?spref=tw&m=1

My book is now available on Amazon in paperback and on kindle.

Toddler life

Everything is interesting and life is never boring. And I absolutely love this faze of the girls development.

Of course they have their problems as they learn to understand the world around them. Like getting upset because they can’t get books in the bath, minor issues that can cause big upset. But they are finding their way. What is right from wrong and how to deal with the emotional firings they experience when they don’t get their own way. Just the normal development obstacles all toddlers face.

Always investigating

Above the little problems, Ava Blakely and Lacey are simply funny. The way they play and interact is fascinating to watch from ringside. I can already see Ava, in charge at the head of a company. She’s as bright as a light and confident in almost everything she gets involved in. She has a caring nature and is quick to point out if someone is sad and comfort them. She has also got in the habit of following me around, shouting ‘Dada’ at the top of her voice until she gets my full attention. A lesson in patience for me at times.

Ava

Lacey is a sweetie. After a trying faze of willful defiance she is now more content and calm. The naughty step has helped this along. She is definitely the most artistic of the three. When it comes to drawing and painting, where Ava and Blakely tend to got wild on the paper, Lacey takes her time and puts thought into what she is doing. She concentrates to create neatness and stay on the paper. She loves singing and dancing as they all do.

Lacey

Blakely is one of a kind. Slightly behind her sisters in little things like her speech but confident to always try new words. Her walking has come on in leaps and bounds – literally! Whereas Ava and Lacey are usually never far apart, Blakely is still content to make her own fun and keep herself entertained.

The naughty step has little effect on this one. From being the most chilled of the three when she puts her foot down in defiance she means business. She has a fire in her but it rarely surfaces. Singing and dancing are probably her favourite things, and we love the entertainment they all bring.

Blakely

No matter what is going on in the stream of life, there is never a dull moment in this family. The girls are hard work, but that’s heavily outweighed by the joy they shine with.

If you want to read more about how they got here, and how I finally found my way in fatherhood. My book is now available.

Involved men make confident children

Most of the conclusions I have come to around parenting have been drawn from my own experience. And in understanding my own failures, to then being willing to see the changes I would need to bring into my own life as a dad. It hasn’t been easy at times.

Children need stability. I see more than ever that raising healthy and confident children takes certain vital ingredients. Of course those certain elements that we as parents are adding in from day to day will not always be given with balance, because the tectonic plates of life are constantly moving. But working together to bring consistency to our daughters lives is important.

Four big responsibilities

I spent the majority of my life resenting a dad that didn’t have any time for me. His involvement with himself and his personal issues didn’t afford him a great deal of time to focus on a relationship with me. And to see the relationships others had with dads who were proud of their kids, who took an interest in their lives was hard for me to take in. Throw in the abuse and his addiction and our relationship was so far from anything I could see my friends were experiencing. It was bound to affect me and did.

Over the years it became apparent that there was a common thread in others, like me, who had been failed by the one man in a their lives who should have been the constant figure of stability, strength and love. They all suffered emotionally from the damage of that damaged separation. Anger problems, addiction issues and unhealthy relationships centred around control and fear became normal.

Some men go into fatherhood knowing exactly what their role is. And how his own conscious approach to dealing with the massive pressures coming will impact his family for the better. A lot of men don’t, not because they are bad. But because they, like me grew up walking a very different path to one of knowing and understanding the importance of the principles of love and tolerance with a family.

A beautiful connection

A fathers involvement in the most stressful event can tip the balance of an already emotionally volatile situation for the better. The smallest gestures from day one can ease tensions and bring confidence to a pregnant partner who is already going through the emotional wringer. Early bonding for an example, can relief stress and give a show of commitment. It is also a way to begin to connect. To make a start on a relationship that will not always be easy.

From day one involvement is everything to a father/child relationship. Patience and tolerance, if put at the centre of a home can make all the difference. But it takes a willingness to practice those simple principles in his life. To be willing to outgrow his fears and shortcomings, to grow as a man in his responsibilities. If the weight of his role can be carried with care and attention. His children will benefit and thrive under his love. And Mum will also benefit from his stability.

High voltage

I have been asked by a friend, who is admin of a central pain syndrome support group, to share my experience to be kept as a file within the group as access to new members as a reference of sorts. So that someone else who has been diagnosed may read another’s experience with this bizarre, brutal and exhausting condition. And more importantly how I deal with it on a daily basis.

So this in short is my story so far…..

In june 2018 I was hit in my car on my way home from work, by a guy in a van who didn’t see that I was sat stationary at a junction. His van and my car were both written off. I was in shock but felt physically okay with all the adrenaline running through my body. My air bag didn’t set off and my head and neck took a big jolt with the impact. A few hours later I began to feel burning in the back of my head. Within a couple of days I had stiffness and pain through my neck, shoulders and back.

The gp put it all down to whiplash. I was told it would take a while to recover but it would all be okay.

A few weeks later the burning in the back of my head began to flare up, it felt like a hot pressure, accompanied by electric shocks on my scalp and numbness and burning on the left side of my face. I had experienced these symptoms before. Randomly and with months between episodes that lasted only a few seconds. Only now the pain returned to be permanent.

I also began experiencing electrical pain through my spine and burning in my lower back and hips. I was also getting intense electrical currents in my feet. Also now a permanent feature.

My gp diagnosed trigeminal neuralgia, and with a 7 month wait to see a neurologist, in absolute agony and at the end of my rope, in the December I saw a private neurologist who discussed the possibility of Multiple sclerosis. He ordered Mri scans of my head and lumber reigion. The blood tests all came back clear. And after a worrying wait over Christmas, so did the MRI results. The neurologist then discussed, and explained central pain syndrome to me.

I was told it was a rare disorder in which the pain signals being sent through my spinal column, brain stem and brain are not functioning properly. That faulty pain signals are being sent. In short my brain is getting warning signs, it is creating pain for no reason other than my central nervous system is dysfunctional.

So began learning to understand my bizarre disorder. Physically I am in healthy condition. I don’t look like I have a disability that affects everything from my vision, to my cognitive functions to my muscles. This made it incredibly difficult for others to understand in the beginning. Especially my wife who was now having to deal with a husband who was struggling to physically and mentally cope with normal daily routines.

It also prompted a long period of experimenting with finding a nerve medication that worked. Regular pain killers such as opioids don’t touch the pain. Instead I take anticonvulsants. Medications that slow down the signals in the nervous system. Heavy drugs with heavy side effects.

There were days I sat in tears at the doctors during flare ups. Desperate for relief. I have been to A&E on more than one occasion begging them to inject my head with steroids – or give me anything that would give me an hour of freedom from the relentless voltage shocks in my head.

I was finally diagnosed with diffuse central pain syndrome in June 2019 after months of testing to rule out other diseases.

I’ve experienced bouts of depression, anxiety and insane frustration at the lack of help for what is a permanent condition. It’s almost broken me mentally. I experience hallucinations (which began prior to taking medication), most likely down to the stress of round the clock pain.

My saving grace has been the support of the pain management clinic who i see regularly, and have been attending since the beginning of 2019. They have given me a better understanding of what I am dealing with. And on the pain management course they organise, I met others suffering from similar conditions. It was relief just to know I wasn’t alone.

I can’t stress how important it’s been to connect with others. I found a central pain group on Facebook after my wife pushed me to start finding out ways to manage it. And when living with central pain syndrome it all comes down to one thing – management.

Once the realisation set in that pain was going no-where, and found a shred of acceptance I was left with one sole job. Manage the pain and still be able to function as a worker, a husband and a father to a demanding home routine.

Not always easy. I soon discovered that my central nervous system is in a constant state of threat, or wind up. With a life of it’s own which is exaggerating pain around my body. I figured out that I need to stop it from winding up to the point of flare up. Pushing through is off the table. If I overdo it physically and mentally, I pay badly for it.

I have settled on 600mg of pregabalin and 10mg Amitriptyline which helps to lower the pain levels so I can physically function, carefully I might add, I feel very step I take. My back feeling like it’s on the verge of shocking me and snapping. I’m constantly vigilant about movement. I’ve also had to work with what my cns is doing. If I feel levels rising I have to stop, get still and lie down, until it settles enough for me to continue with the day. Which I rarely get through without a nap.

I keep a journal of my pain. For the reason of the length between neurologist appointments. In a short meeting the more information you have the better you can be helped.

I am currently waiting to see a neuropsychologist for a brain injury assessment. The likelihood is that I have an existing injury. Probably caused from a lifestyle of alcoholism. Minor felt problems that I rarely experienced such as the shock pain in my face and head. It would seem that the accident has exasperated this damage and created more permanent injury.

As far as management goes, 90% is dealing with the mental strain. Not just of the major pain. But the secondary problems it has caused. Like the forced changes in lifestyle and in work. Which I now only work three mornings a week. I have had to adjust to the fatigue I now suffer from. Financial issues, relationship pressures all add stress, and as the main problem is centred in the brain, and as stress causes physical symptoms I need to stay as relatively stress free as possible. Low stress = lower pain.

This I personally do by practicing non contemplative meditation. The link is on my menu page if you are interested. When I am in a conscious headspace, the waves of electricity are easier to handle.

And in a flare up. – I have no advice other than buckle up and do what you can to get through it. If you feel your mind snapping get to A&E. Just know that it will pass, it may drag you burning through the gates of hell as it does, but it won’t last forever.

So now after 19 months of relentless pain, and all the other problems I have had to deal with, my advise to anyone would be to investigate all you can. Connect with others who can understand what you are going through and offer advice and support. Push your gp for the referrals you need and don’t give up, no matter how dark your head gets.

If you have family members, be patient with them. They will find their own way of understanding and helping you. Remember that your condition is affecting them also. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need. Show them how they can do this.

I hope this has been useful in some way. As for me, I need a nap. Writing this has exhausted my brain. And I’m starting to hurt.

A glance back at 2019

As was pointed out to me recently my life is not normal. In many ways it never has been.

From the self created tornado I got thrown out of 6 years ago before meeting Stacey, we have had little time to stop to breath. A year after getting married a triplet pregnancy brought me into another tornado, one that gave me more purpose than I have ever felt.

If you follow this little corner of the web, you will have followed our journey as a family. And it’s been an intense ride.

From having to adjust to a doubling of my family unit overnight – to having to step up to the emotional pressures I faced as a first time biological dad, I’ve had to stay on the ball to overcome the fears and concerns that arised in our situation. Having missed Frankie’s early years, being baptised into the fire of newborns with triplets has been no joke.

This time a year ago on new years eve I was taken into to hospital for an MRI scan, unable to walk and overwhelmed with widespread nerve pain. So as well as dealing with home-life over the year I’ve been faced with the discovery of a permanent pain condition and now testing for traumatic brain injury. But today I feel good, rested and positive about the road ahead.

Works changed, my personal life has been physically and mentally limited but they are new adjustments that I will overcome and adapt to.

As for my daughters, Frankie is now at high school, loving the experience and doing well in her classes, exceptionally in some. She has found her place as big sister to her three bossy little sisters, she has a patience with them. A principle I strived to bring to my family that is continually paying off.

My wife has become the ultimate mom. I am in awe at her natural ability to manage our daughters needs. She has a flawless intuition to deal with them in a loving no-nonsense way. Her strength and ability to find humor in any situation has been a rock for us this year as I’ve struggled at times with accepting my condition.

I also managed to complete and publish my book in the summer. A labour of love which documents my journey into insanity as a result of my own dysfunctional upbringing and lack of a father’s support. From overcoming the damage of my past to becoming a loving parent and how I dealt with the pregnancy and first six months of the arrival of triplets. I wanted to give an example of the difference a father can make to his family when love and tolerance become central principles to his home.

The title has recently changed so as not to be confused with it being a self help book. ‘From triples to triplets: The making of a triplet dad’ is now available on Amazon.

Now as the year closes to and end I still feel a sense of achievement, one that comes from faith, and stepping back to see my family thriving and growing in confidence despite the challenges we have hit along the road.

I have no doubt the road ahead will continue to bring its struggles and highs and lows, but as dad it all comes back to one thing for me. To stay strong and to do my best to raise my family with the love and light that has brought us this far.

I wish you all the best for the new year. And that it brings you all you need – and a little bit of what you want.

Si x

5 years!

Five years ago on a beach in Dubai, after a beautiful church service I finally tied the knot with the beautiful Mrs Wood.
I was the most memorable day of my life. I even had a ring made for Frankie and read her vows, she started calling me Daddy from that day.

To say the last 5 years have been a rollercoaster would be an understatement. Among the inevitable ups and downs of life we have stuck together and grown together to create a loving family, one God saw fit to entrust us with the triplets.

Stacey I am proud to be the man you chose to be by your side through it all. And proud to be your husband. I love you and wouldn’t want to share this beautiful insanity with anyone else x