For the past year I have been tortured by my body. I have long since had SI joint dysfunction as part of my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, but in the past twelve months it has developed teeth and been accompanied by neck problems, numbness and stiffness on a grand scale. The pain would be annoying, but bearable, during the day but the second I lay down at night to sleep it would go into overdrive. The area around my SI joint would throb, I had shooting pains down both legs right to my toes, it felt like every ligament was burning and tearing and within minutes my left leg would be numb from my hip to my ankle.
For several months I barely got any sleep, being woken every hour on the hour by pain and when I did finally drop off I was woken by menopause induced hot flushes. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted. In addition, many mornings I would wake with both arms completely numb, a very sore neck and as stiff as a board from my head to my feet, until it felt like there was not an inch of my body which was pain free.
As we’ve been in lockdown for most the last year, there was no opportunity to be referred to the specialist EDS physio at my local hospital and it was pointless asking my GP for advice, as she clearly admits she knows nothing much about hypermobility disorders. I was on my own (no change there!).
I tried all the usual tools in my armoury. Having a hot bath before sleep. Wearing very tight cycling-style support garments to bed, which cut me in two and gave me horrible stomach ache. Two SI belts, which helped a little in the early stages but then ceased to give me any relief. Massaging my trigger points, which actually made the pain worse. Kinesy tape, which left me with the worst hives I’ve ever had, and making sure I was well supported by pillows all around me (which aggravated the hot flushes 😕). Nothing helped and by the beginning of 2021 I was just about demented.
I was talking it over with my bestie a couple of weeks ago and she asked me if I’d considered a memory foam topper for my mattress, which might help with the pressure points and numbness if nothing else. I have no idea why, but I hadn’t even thought about my mattress until she brought it up – I just reasoned my hEDS was playing up probably brought on by the menopause and I would just have to lump it. However, I was desperate enough to try anything so I started investigating mattress toppers.
I have a king sized bed and discovered that a good, supportive, memory foam topper was going to cost a couple of hundred pounds so I reckoned if I was going to be spending that much money I might as well go the whole hog and buy a new mattress. Mine was 15 years old and I spend nearly all day every day in bed, so it’s had a fair amount of hammer. However, there are loads of different types of mattress to chose from and I was totally bamboozled.
I’d seen an advert on the telly for the Emma mattress, which is foam based, so decided to have a look at that one first. I read the thousands of Trustpilot reviews and it was 5* virtually all the way. The good thing about the Emma is that it comes with a 200 night trial period, at any time during which you can return the mattress free of charge if you don’t like it. In addition, if you think the mattress is too hard or too soft the company will send you a free topper to change the feel. It has a 10 year guarantee and the fact there was a sale on and I would get 30% off the £729 asking price, giving me a king sized mattress for £516, was the icing on the cake. I looked at similar types of mattresses, such as Simba and Tempur, but they didn’t seem to offer anything different to the Emma and were more expensive, so I placed my order and just hoped I’d made the right choice.
48 hours later my mattress was delivered! It came rolled and vaccum packed in a box, which was weird considering the size of a king mattress, but which enabled me to drag it up the stairs myself. The worst part was hauling my existing mattress off the bed on my own (bearing in mind we’re in lockdown and I have no-one to help me), but I somehow managed it and was then able to place the new one on the bed slats, before taking off the plastic wrapper with the special tool sent and unrolling it in situ. It started to inflate immediately, which was properly weird, though I’d say it took a good 3 days to reach its full size. When placing your order, you can pay £30 to have your old mattress taken away by the courier but as I didn’t know whether I’d like the new mattress or not I decided to keep mine for a while, and will pay the local Council £30 to take it away if needed.
The first night on the Emma was a revelation! It was soft, squishy and comfortable but at the same time very supportive – I have no idea how the company have managed to achieve both softness and firmness in the same mattress. I only woke from sleep twice rather than every hour, and both of those occasions were due to hot flushes not hip pain, and I woke the next morning with half the level of pain and stiffness I’d gotten used to. It’s now a week later and my hip and back pain are significantly better already 😮. I can’t even begin to tell you the difference this mattress has made to my life.
The worst downside has been the off-gassing. The smell this mattress gave off for the first 3 days was so bad it actually made me feel sick, despite the fact I had the bedroom window wide open 24/7. I’ve now had the mattress for a week and it still smells, although less than it did and at least I’m now able to close the window. For someone with MCAS who struggles with chemical smells, though, I expect it would cause huge problems.
The other downside is that my neck is actually more sore and I have woken with a migraine every morning since I got it. It could be nothing to do with the mattress and everything to do with my hormones which have been playing up big time this past week, or it could be that my neck needs to get used to being in a different position as my back is more aligned. I guess time will tell. I already have a supportive memory foam pillow, but maybe I need to get one which is height adjustable in order to find the correct position for my neck now. I’m sure I’ll be able to find a solution.
All in all, though, I am delighted with my new mattress and wish I’d thought about getting one five years ago! My daytime back and hip pain has diminished by about 75% and my night time pain by about 55% and I’ve only had the thing a week ☺. My bestie, who also has a foam mattress, tells me hers softened over the first few months of use so I’ll have to see how it settles down, but if it becomes too soft I can always request a firmer topper from the company. If only my hot flushes would cool their jets and I could get a full night’s kip I’d be one very happy bunny, but for now I’ll settle for not being in agony.