In addition to a, frankly insane, amount of medication, I also use a number of medical devices and aids which either assist in the treatment of my various conditions, or make living with said conditions just that little bit easier.
- Mirena IUD – This is the hormonal IUD, and the constant low-level dosage helps by increasing the length of each menstrual cycle, meaning that triggers for flare-ups occur less frequently, as well as eliminating mid-cycle pain.
- Strapping tape – I am literally held together by this stuff! It provides much needed stability for my joints when I am doing physical activity or have an acute injury. Unfortunately I can’t use this for too many days in a row as I’m, to varying degrees, allergic to pretty much all brands and types (under-wrap, rigid, k-tape etc.)
- Knee brace – This is for my right knee, which needs increased support after a subluxation in order to prevent subsequent injury
- Ankle braces – My ankles are pretty wonky, they don’t normally bother me too much but sometimes I just cant seem to stay on top of my feet! These help me to stay upright and functional when my body starts to misbehave.
- Metal ring splints – Just about all of the joints in my fingers hyperextend, and have extreme instability, which makes simple tasks more laborious. I wear splints on the MCP joints in my thumbs, on my middle fingers and right index finger. Since being fitted for the splints, I can type for longer, hold a pen properly for the first time in my life, and am able to do everyday tasks like push the call button for the lift.
- Orthopaedic boot – I often have foot and ankle injuries, both soft tissue and bone, but I need a boot which is as light as possible so that it doesn’t pull my hip out of alignment. This is why when I’m injured, my doctors always are slightly surprised when I bring my own with me.
- Underarm crutches – Fairly self-explanatory, I use these when I have an injury to any of my joints from the hips down that prevents me from weight-bearing completely on one leg. However, I try to avoid using this type of crutches as they cause issues with my shoulders, usually pain but sometimes full dislocation.
- Ergonomic forearm crutches – I began trialling these after an acute hip dislocation, where crutches were a necessity but a shoulder injury precluded the use of conventional underarm or forearm styles. These crutches were available in a wide variety in sizes to allow for an almost custom fit from an ‘off the shelf’ product, as well as ergonomically designed handles to increase comfort and reduce pressure on the wrist joints.
- NG tube (not currently in use) – As a result of my gastroparesis, I was unable to consume enough calories orally to hydrate and nourish myself. In order to prevent malnutrition, in early August I was admitted to hospital and received enteral nutritional support via a nasogastric (NG) tube. Although jejunal (NJ, PEG-J or J) tubes are more common with gastroparesis, as they bypass the stomach completely, my team tried a different approach. They tried to use a combination of high calorie formula, pushed at an extremely slow rate, and various pain, prokinetic and antiemetic medications to allow me to tolerate the gastric feeds. The purpose of this was to try and retain what little gastric function I did have, which eased the transition from enteral feeds to consuming high calorie liquids for myself. I am very fortunate that I am currently do not have a feeding tube placed, but also so incredibly grateful for this life-saving treatment.
- Vogmask – I work in the CBD in Sydney, an area which is normally quite smoggy and polluted, which exacerbates my asthma. On days where there is a lot of pollution, or when there’s been back-burning and there’s lots of smoke, I find it very difficult to breathe, but I can’t always just stay inside, so I wear this mask which filters out 99% of airborne allergens.