Managing Daily Life with Multiple Health Conditions

A Lifelong Condition

Emma Buckett, 35, from Reading has multiple health conditions including Friedreich’s Ataxia, a degenerative neurological condition that causes damage to the nervous system and attacks the spinal cord, resulting in restricted movement.

“I’ve had mobility problems since I was 2 and started using a wheelchair more permanently at age 16. Having a wheelchair was easier and made me more able to move independently rather than struggling to walk. It was a relief to get one really.”

A common health issue related to this condition is diabetes, which Emma has in Type 1 form, plus she suffers from hypothyroidism and a penicillin allergy.

“I was diagnosed with all my conditions between the ages of nine and 25. My ataxia is a degenerative condition so I may develop other conditions throughout my life because of it.

Variety of Symptoms

Emma’s conditions have a range of symptoms and unfortunately her ataxia symptoms are likely to worsen over time.

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“I am a wheelchair user due to my ataxia, with reduced strength and coordination, so things like typing and lifting are difficult and time consuming. It has affected my speech, gives me hearing problems and severe tiredness.

“I also have a suprapubic catheter and have to take a lot of different medications daily.”

As her conditions are debilitating, she has to rely on carers for many daily activities.

“Ataxia has a real impact on my life. I need daily care because I cannot dress, go to the toilet or prepare drinks or meals for myself. I’m unemployed as I cannot work, write or type very well due to my medical conditions.

“As a precaution, I always have my phone with me to call for help. I have a three year medical driving license but I do not drive very far.”

Managing her diabetes alongside ataxia requires Emma to be very organised.

“I’m always conscious of my diabetes, what I’m doing, what I’m eating and whether I need to inject.  I try to prevent further complications by keeping it under tight control, which is difficult but I manage it with discipline.”

Conflicting Advice & Medication

As Emma has numerous health conditions, she takes multiple medications to manage them.

“I currently take four daily insulin injections for my diabetes, some of which I can administer myself but often I am unable to. I take Thyroxine for my hypothyroidism, Tolterodine for urinary issues related to my suprapubic catheter, Pantoprazole to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and Trimethoprim.

“My needs are so complex that some medications can have serious side effects as a result of my other conditions.

“I have had some bad experiences to certain medications in the past. Luckily these were not long-term medications and alternatives were available.

“Doctors often forget about my penicillin allergy and try to offer me medications I cannot take. I hope that my medical ID band will inform them of my allergy if I am unable to communicate for any reason.”

Because of her unique combination of health conditions, Emma has often received conflicting advice from doctors.

“I like to know all the facts and make my own decision as every practitioner has their own opinion and they can differ greatly. My current GP however is very supportive and will to listen to my opinion.

“Quite often I do not know which condition is causing a particular problem at any one time so they all meld into one big issue!”

Still Living Life

Although her conditions are severe, Emma tries to maintain a positive attitude.

“The most challenging thing about my conditions is partaking in social activities. I can never be spontaneous but by being organised more activities are possible.

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Pictured above: Emma wearing her medical ID band

“I try to lead a healthy lifestyle by maintaining my weight through a good diet, not drinking alcohol and not smoking. I’m unable to exercise so I have to focus on my health this way.

“I receive lots of support from my family and friends which I couldn’t live without.”

Medical ID Jewellery

Emma likes to stay up-to-date on research, treatment and news related to her conditions by subscribing to charity magazines. She also strongly supports Ataxia UK and Diabetes UK

She came across The ID Band Company through her online research.

“I had heard of medical ID jewellery as I have friends who wear some. I bought a silicone sports band as it has a large display area to clearly show all my conditions and is colourful enough to be noticed.

“I find it very comfortable and easy to wear, plus it works for all occasions.

“My band allows me a bit more independence whilst staying safe. It gives me peace of mind as I know if anything should happen to me, my band contains the important information that a medical worker might need.

“I’d definitely buy from The ID Band Company again and I have already recommended them to others.”

Emma’s last bit of advice to others with medical conditions is, “know your own mind, never take anything for granted and plan everything!”