I always thought I’d be that girl,
The girl who grew up to achieve all wonders of the world,
I planned my future in depth,
An engagement, a wedding, a great job and maybe even kids one day.
As I sat there at 15-years-old, staring out at the hustle and bustle of A&E I began to doubt myself,
If I knew back then what I know now, I often wonder how much it could have changed things.
As time progressed things only turned from bad to worse.
My life became revolved around a monster eating away at my soul and my very being.
First it was the brittle asthma, the asthma which left me struggling for breath with a complete fear and panic of the impending doom still to come.
Soon multiple allergies and anaphylaxis were thrown into the mix where I was once again faced with the real reality I could die,
Intensive care stay after intensive care stay occurred,
I began feeling terrorised by the various conditions which plagued me.
School was hard, I wanted to do well, really, I did,
I knuckled down as best as I could whilst fighting a series of life-changing chronic illnesses and continued to strive high.
My overall ambition was to get to University, I faced setback after setback, I faced negative comments essentially instructing me to just give up.
My life had changed dramatically with the flip of a coin,
No longer was I the carefree teenager with only homework to worry about,
Instead of learning valuable life lessons I was learning what things like “arterial blood gases” and “tachycardia” are,
My life began to revolve around a place I should have never been able to define as “my second home” the various wards of the hospital where I fought constant battles to stay as okay as can be.
By 2012 I was hit by a blowback,
I made the decision to re-do my final year at school,
After school passed by I went to summer school,
On receiving my exam results I felt horrendously sick,
This one envelope is about to dictate my entire future,
1 B and 2 C’s, not meeting my conditional offer of 4 B’s,
However, I then learned I’d been accepted based on my summer school report,
Ecstatic didn’t even come close to describing that day.
On starting University things seemed to be looking up,
Sadly, the course of chronic illness never does run smooth,
I began suffering seizure after seizure, baffling doctors as to why it was occurring,
Within a few years I had my diagnoses,
Non-Epileptic seizures/Functional Neurological Disorder,
My seizures stole my ability to start taking driving lessons again,
They chased away my independence,
They lost me experiences and relationships
In all honestly, I felt like I’d lost it all.
I went on to repeat my 1st year at University,
My hopes remained high this was fixable,
I still wanted to do well,
My body however, caused me a series of problems.
By March 2015 I’d began to fight a new issue,
Inability to keep any sort of food or fluids down,
Doctor after doctor said:
“It’s just a bug”
“It’s something you’ve eaten”,
These assumptions were far from the reality,
My first feeding tube in April 2015 displayed just how hard things were going.
May 2015 was the month I medically withdrew from University,
Breaking my heart in the process,
So many unknowns began circulating my mind involving:
So much I couldn’t understand or comprehend.
I then came across The Open University,
A flexible, distance-learning University, available in the UK, which offers part-time courses,
Maybe this meant my dreams and hopes for the future did not have to disappear,
I jumped at the chance and enrolled onto a course I’ve learned to love and appreciate,
I’m thankful for my second chance.
I continued to live with a feeding tube,
My doctors remained optimistic this would pass,
They believed that as it started out of nowhere it would stop out of nowhere,
2 trial periods of 10 weeks each without a feeding tube brought about no improvement or answers, only worsening symptoms,
3 years passed and still all felt hopeless,
Feeding tube after feeding tube,
I cannot begin to describe the mental and physical pain that comes alongside it all.
A diagnosis I was finally given,
“You’ve got functional/psychosomatic vomiting” they said,
I was clueless and the internet held no clues,
I feel deep into struggling mentally uncertain of what my future would hold,
My condition is where my body registers food and drink I consume orally as harmful,
Almost like if you ate something incorrectly cooked and end up ill,
However, the difference between that and my new reality is,
My body is not under any “threat” as my mind attempts to protect myself from what it sees as something that shouldn’t be here.
It’s now April 2019,
So much has happened in the space in juat over 10 years,
I’ve faced countless terrifying situations, dealt with great deals of uncertainty,
I’ve struggled with demons, both mental and physical, I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
What keeps me strong through all of this is my support network,
My fantastic boyfriend who never walks away even during hard periods,
My best friends who see me for more than the illnesses I live with,
My family who visit me in the hospital in an attempt to make me smile.
I find it difficult to comprehend almost all of the time,
I live a life with so many unknowns, feeling so unsure about most situations,
I struggle to plan ahead, unsure what will happen tomorrow let alone next month,
However, I keep going, I keep fighting, I never give up no matter how difficult I feel things are,
I will not let chronic illnesses and mental health problems destroy the person I am,
I am much more than a series of symptoms, a list of conditions,
I love Harry Potter, stars and butterflies make me smile, I feel intrigued by medicine, it’s been a lifelong passion for me.
Many people ask, “well how do you do it?”,
Many people question how one can remain so strong through such adversity,
The truth is you just have to keep going,
You wake up some days and just never want to get out of bed,
You struggle to sleep at nights, leaving you mentally and physically even more exhausted,
Yet you never give up, you never let this win,
I am a fighter, I am a warrior, however, I’ve spent much of the past 10 years, nearly, living in the shadows of my adversity,
I’d get down, I’d think too much and I’d constantly just want it to be over,
Now I see things in a different light,
I see a future, I hold out hope for improvements,
Most importantly though,
I treat each day as a new beginning,
Today may be awful, maybe it feels like the worst day of your life thus far,
However, the “awful” today does not have to dictate how your tomorrow may be.
When living with illness one may concentrate on “I CAN’T do that” “My body and/or mind prohibits me from doing that”,
I used to think that way too, concentrate on the negatives of the situation, never understanding how there could be any ray of light in such a horrible situation,
Now I would say I view things in a different sense,
I concentrate on the things I CAN do,
I make adjustments and find ways to explore things I’d love to do,
Sometimes illness stands in the way,
Sometimes you may not be able to achieve all you want,
However, that’s okay,
Life is a challenge, not just for those ill but for those seemingly “un-phased” and “normal” people you are often exposed to in your day to day living,
We all face demons of some sort,
We all face challenges,
We all feel fear and terror,
However, it’s about how you deal with all of these emotions and experiences that shows the type of person you really are.