Today, is quite a day. A year ago today I was going into hospital.
I thought that this was the end, so much went through my mind of what I could of done, what I wanted to do and what I should have done in life.
I was only in there for two weeks but that two weeks taught me a lot of lessons. I was guilty of allowing my health to take over my life, make me fearful and stop me living to the fullest. I didn't know how to cope or how strong I truly was.
Hospital pushed me to the brink, not just physically but mentally. I am still scarred in many ways by my awful experience and emotionally it haunts me everyday but I have a lot to be thankful for from the experience.
I look back at the night my Mum said goodbye to me and shut the door. It was early evening - maybe too early to go to sleep but all I wanted to do was avoid the nightmare. I sat in bed crying my eyes out, wishing for the world to end. I truly DID NOT believe I could survive this experience. I was so scared, beyond scared. This was all so alien to me and SO out of my comfort zone. The thought of not being given solid food for a week at least filled me with sheer fear. I was SO frightened, I had experienced the starving feeling in Cuba and I never wanted to go through that again. Now, I had no choice and no way of accessing food if and when I needed it.
I am used to not fitting in, being the outsider and feeling out of place. This REALLY highlighted this for me. I tried to make friends, to soothe my own fears and upset but nobody talked, they all cried and were all so quiet. I felt like I was annoyance or upsetting them when I asked how their days were.
Walking into dining halls with the smells of foods and seeing everyone else eat whilst you drink a small drink was torture. Two sips and it was gone. You had to wait until your whole table had finished too.
Nobody understood my disease or illness.
At first I know the other girls didn't know what to say to me, because they thought I was like them. They thought I wanted to be lonesome and independent. I can't just sit in awkward silence though and I needed something to keep me going through my days.
TV was selective. Certain programmes were not allowed, in case someone took offence and we spent a lot of time in the lounge together. Again, this was tough. I needed someone to talk to, to ease the pain of this experience.
The first few days were the worst. I was forcing myself on people with my conversations to keep my sanity. I spoke with staff and made friends with them, which was helpful because I felt I could relate with them a little more than the girls in the unit.
We all had our own rooms, this was nice because the little alone time we got, although I was checked up on every 5 minutes (EVEN THROUGH THE NIGHT). We all just love a little of our own space from time to time. It also made it a little more private when it was visiting hour and your guests came.
My daily guests WERE MY LIFE LINE. I would watch the clock and pray for the time 3pm to come around quickly. I was so lucky to have guests most days at either one session or sometimes both - which was amazing.
I had people who understood, could relate to me and I could openly talk to without fear of upsetting them and saying the wrong thing.
As the days went on the hungrier I got and the more panicked I became ( paranoid ) even. I would dream about food which I have NEVER done and look with envy at everyone else's plates. My health continued to decline. Everyday harder in some ways and easier in others.
Easier because I love routine and if I fit in ANYWHERE or ANYHOW it was with the routine - always early and once I knew what I was doing I settled into the timetable set out.
I made friends with the staff and they would fight to be on my table at mealtimes because they were guaranteed conversation and a good laugh. With that meant they wanted to know more about Lyme Disease and my battle with it. When they would run my tests they began to understand and see for themselves that my body was a mess and that it really was my disease causing the issues. They would never speak up about it to the consultants or doctors however. They knew the consultants were hell bent on proving that the NHS were paying for my care for what they believed I had and not Lyme Disease. Which meant when I needed a doctor, I was left and or given one paracetamol ( which did nothing.)
It was getting harder because I knew I was become more unwell and not getting the help and care I needed. I didn't dare go out on the 10 minute walks because I didn't want to pick up an infection.
I found it hard to simply 'sit around all day.' Trapped between a few rooms but mentally was so exhausted that I struggled to find motivation to keep up my blog.
I was becoming more hungry and so more irritable and just generally tearful .
I was feeling so unwell, but after two weeks I had reached the stage that I didn't really care. I didn't want my life to be this way, be so trapped and just almost 'time wasting' whilst feeling so unwell. I didn't care if my body just gave up, if I am honest.
What was also salt in the wound, was having a window looking right over to TGI Friday's, all I could think about was sweet potato fries. Awful.
After two weeks, my consultant from down South told my Mum to get me discharged and bring me home. For the damage done, the starving then feeding my body everything was intolerant to try and say I was lying about my intolerances - when they have evidence from my health during my stay and the consultants results stating I have intolerances. This damage would now take £13,000 and eight weeks of IV infusions to rebuild & repair my cell membranes.
At the time, I couldn't STAND the thought of people in hospital for another long-stay. Christmas was coming and my GOD I was just surprised to be alive if I am truthful.
I walked out of the hospital not believing I would have ever seen the light of day again - EVER. It was odd and so unreal.
I have never been a Christmas lover, but I did really enjoy Christmas but I was so thankful to have actually being able to spend it with my family and friends.
I left people girls that in some ways I had bonded with. Especially one or two. When they realised I was open to hearing their stories and that I did generally care, they let their walls down a little with me. This helped me, because I was able to offer advice and give them a dose of motivation which in turn motivated me because I felt like I was being productive and not just waiting for the sun to shine and only thinking of myself.
These girls came across as cold and closed off but they lack real love, real support. I saw this within them, because in some ways I could relate to them on that level and once I had shown and proved to them we did have something to relate together with they let their guards down a little.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am surround by love and support and I AM SO GRATEFUL, more than words can explain but I have gone through periods in my life where I have felt lost, lost love and being unable to explain my health for others to understand and therefore support me. I know in some ways they felt the same. The way they were was their coping mechanism.
Always willing to learn, I went to most of the nutrition, anxiety and depression help talks. Not just to understand my own anxiety and depression issues but to understand these girls a little more so maybe I could help them in some way, shape or form. The staff were amazing don't get me wrong and they have the hardest job but its very difficult to be on someone's level or understand them if you haven't been in their shoes for yourself.
This was a turning point for me. I didn't ever play games after dinner because I didn't ever have the mind for it - brain fog and migraines. I did however have a little colouring circle going on in the middle of the room. We would share pens and I would try to open up about my worries in hope the others would too and to help them feel less alone. It worked. So many of them were so talented. I mean I was blown away but they weren't getting any credit for me. Again, they coped with this by punishing themselves. I tried my HARDEST to understand their hobbies and really tell them how talented they were. They were all so creative, they would create such amazing colourings, cards, pictures. I tried showing a few of them how to set up a Depop shop to sell their amazing works. They would spend hours trying to create xmas gifts because they wouldn't be able to go out and go shopping. (Just goes to show that the personal gifts are the most meaningful. ) They never received credit for their work though but their attitude changed and they began far more positive when the were been given credit for their hard work.
They would open up to me about their dreams and goals. I would ask them, why are you still here then? Go and get your dreams and goals.
Talking to the girls helped me realise that once I was home I couldn't allow illness or fear to stop me.
I didn't want to just be talking about my dreams, I wanted to be chasing them and living them. Two weeks was enough time wasted for me. I felt shattered emotionally and my body was so incredibly weak but my fire within had been re-ignited and that's all I needed.
Turning 24 was hard for me, I had dreamed I would be in Dubai, my body would be in its prime and I would be living life. It was my lucky number and supposed to be the best year yet.
I felt deeply upset and broken by the fact that my dreams hadn't happened.
I kept in mind all I had learnt through my hellish two weeks and I got out there. YES, I cried because I felt like I had been dealt the wrong cards and knowing how precious life was I could never re-wind and re-write any part of my story and journey. Yet, it pushed me and inspired me to make the most of every moment, every opportunity and every adventure.
My year has been worlds away from what I had 'planned' for myself but its surprised me in the best ways and I have experienced opportunities that were more than dreams!! I am so vey grateful and blessed.
I hope this experience goes to prove that we are so strong, and stronger than we ever believe. Nobody path or journey is ever easy or goes to plan but its how we deal with the blips and the tough times that matters.
I struggle being alone now and often find it hard dealing with silence, as being alone unwell never knowing if alone you can deal with any blips - haunts me.
I always lived independently and prided myself on being able to live that way but now its still so very difficult and that has been hard to come to terms with that I do need the extra hand, I do need to hear someone in the house to sleep knowing help is there when needed. It is funny how much experiences change us.
We have to go through the bad to appreciate the good.
Do I regret my hospital stay?
I think I would have to say no, I don't.
That is the big question, it put my health at high risk and did more damage than good.
-I wouldn't have achieved the dreams and successes I have this year without realising my strength, the value of life and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
-I wouldn't have met the AMAZING people I have this year.
-I wouldn't have all the awesome memories I will cherish forever.
-I wouldn't have grown as a person like have.
-I may never have realised my purpose and self-worth and the BIG lesson that helping others soothes our own souls. Helping others brings us together and we feel less alone in our battles. In turn making us a lot stronger.
You may think I am crazy and in some ways I am. This day does haunt me with sadness and great upset. This blog has been so hard for me to write. It also inspires me and gives me proof of who I am as a person, what I have achieved and that if I do believe I can achieve. No barriers are ever too high.
I could have dealt with my hospital stay so differently. I could have become cold and closed but what would I have gained from that? Being angry at the world and trying to find someone to blame for my pain?
So I have to say I am proud of myself for surviving and bouncing back stronger, with more knowledge and motivation.
To the girls I was with, I truly hope that their skills and hobbies are celebrated as they should be and deserve to be. I hope they re-find a lust for life which deep down I know they had. I hope they realise that their dreams and goals are worth more than the pain and hurt they hold on too.
For me, there is so much more to learn, so many ways to improve, so much more to see and do.
I hope this blog gives you all a sense of hope, motivation not to give up EVEN WHEN YOU REALLY WANT TO, and proof we can all achieve our dreams.
It is ok that our lives don't always go to plan but the way it does pan out - make it a story worth telling and a best seller.