EDS Awareness Month, and appropriately enough, MAYDAY MAYDAY.

Today I awoke at half past four, and watched the sunrise. All quite pleasant, actually – Dearest sleeping peacefully beside me, Dog curled up at our feet, half-awake and happy to have his ear scratched with my toes, sunlight streaming in from a deep blue sky and shining off the golden Yorkshire stone.

But, alas, I was awake in pain. My right shoulder, again, felt as if someone had heated up a 35mm ball bearing in a furnace until it was white-hot and shoved it under my scapula with considerable force. Lying flat on my back hurt (The ball bearing pressed into my ribs and levered the shoulder backwards), lying on my side hurt (The ball bearing rolled towards my spine, and the shoulder fell backwards over it), sitting up was marginally better (The ball-bearing seemed to slot into a gap in my scapula and the rest of the shoulder hung straight-ish) so that was the axis I chose to be in.

At 6am, the baths opened for a lane session, so I debated sneaking out for an early-morning swim and maybe a ramble around the graveyard again. A quick test of the shoulder showed that I couldn’t get my arm about my head without producing a painful grinding feeling and a lot of unsettling clicking, meaning that any attempt at swimming would result in pointless little circles, or in doing more damage to the muscles.

This was also about the time where I realised that my entire chest had gone tight, from the tension in the shoulder, and I was breathing so shallowly that I’d got a stitch. This was not helping matters.

Anyway, this is the part that makes this post specifically about EDS awareness (Becauase it’s EDS awreness month, aka Zebramas or Zebrannukah) and is also the par that makes it viscerally horrible.

At about this point, I got a horrific stabbing pain in my left hand side. Not stigmata, not a perforated ulcer, not my bowel finally rupturing, but, as it turned out, a menstrual cramp.

Even menstruation is not simple for zebras. As you may or may not know, menstruation is aided along by smooth muscle contractions in the uterus, which can temporarily reduce the blood supply to the surrounding tissues, causing the pain and the famous cramps. The famous cramps famously radiate into the back and the thighs, if you’re particularly unlucky.

Now, consider that as a zebra, your muscles are under constant tension, as they hold your limbs and torso into positions that would be “relaxing” for other people. Getting a menstrual cramp is thus like attempting a deadlift whilst someone kicks you in the stomach – The muscles are already stressed, are probably carrying minor injuries (The sort that the average zeb learns to ignore from about the age of four) and are suddenly having their blood supply cut. This is screamingly painful.

As such, as well as having to deal with the joy of getting up every few hours to replace a sanitary towel, forced transvestitism, and knowing that I can’t swim for a few days, every muscle between the bottom of my ribcage and the top of my knees is either burning, or completely numb (I cannot feel my buttocks and this is incredibly distressing).

Also, being another complication of EDS which can be made even worse by menstruation, my digestive tract has stopped. I don’t mean I’m constipated, I don’t mean I’m not hungry, I mean that peristalsis is not happening. Food is going in, is sitting in my stomach, then is occassionally coming straight back up.

We shall see. GP appointment on the 6th, as well as physio, so there might be some hope on the horizon, at least for my shoulder.


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