Thursday, 29 May 2014

Young Arse, Run Free

When I was around 14 years old, I was awkward, lanky and both wise beyond my years but totally naïve. 
My main concerns included worrying about kissing boys (it says in Cosmo I should bite their lips, but that can't be right?), growing boobs (can I get away with socks in my training bra?) and passing my exams (my life will essential be over if I don't). 
I dreamed of being an artist but I had absolutely no confidence I would achieve that goal. I liked my work for approximately 5 minutes, then the longer I stared at it the more flaws I could find and the closer it came to ending up in the bin. I was besotted with Andy Warhol and Gustav Klimt and Rene Magritte and had absolutely no one to talk to about these obsessions other than my geriatric, male, pot-smoking, art teachers.
I jumped into massive art history books and spent long hours in the art room drawing and actively trying to avoid the advances of the creepy class assistant who tried to woo me into the dark room on an almost daily basis. 

Don't misunderstand me though, I wasn't lonely, I had lots of lovely friends and lots of lovely laughs, but I just didn't think I was particularly worth bothering about. I wasn't depressed, I just liked my own company just as much as having company. I read books and sketched and watched Vic & Bob videos until I knew all the skits off by heart and they weren't funny anymore.
Apart from the lack of chest activity, I certainly didn't know my body was any different from anyone else's. 

Years later, when I was at art school and ensconced in a love-bubble with my then boyfriend, I had developed a 'party trick' whereby if I lay flat on my back, (you can keep reading Dad, don't worry) I found my stomach went into overdrive and made sounds akin to a whale giving birth. It wasn't painful, I just felt sick and bloated after eating only a few bites of food. Every time. But that was the same for everyone, right? I was just being greedy. Maybe I had a smaller stomach than my friends? Or maybe I was just eating too much chocolate and drinking too much fizzy juice? I've not actually been sick so it's nothing to worry about. I just need to grin and bear it, maybe eat less? 
I tolerated these weird feelings and barely ate for around 10years before I went near a doctor. They asked me questions that made me realise I've felt this way forever. I don't remember a time when I've ever enjoyed a meal without pain, bloating, diarrhoea or nausea. 
When I was around 25 and I began to find myself in unbearable and excruciating pain, I eventually went to my surgery. I could barely stand upright and walking was suddenly a concept that seemed alien. I had set foot on the long road to getting a diagnosis. I wasn't scared, I just wanted to the pain to stop. Anyway possible. 
When I was told I had appendicitis and I had to get my appendix out I was overjoyed. In a few hours I'd be better and the pain would be gone. Only I didn't have appendicitis, so my appendix stayed put and the pain was still there. A few months later I was finally diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and ever since, I've been sliced and poked and prodded and had implements inserted in orifices I'd rather not have. But enough about my private life. 
The reason I'm relaying this not so sorry tale is because I don't ever want anyone else to feel alone or frightened or that there is something about your body that just doesn't feel quite right. Talk to someone close to you; a friend or family member. If you can't do that comfortably then talk to a doctor. It's absolutely vital you share your fears with another human. They might not be able to diagnose you first time, or make the pain go away, but they can certainly bear some of the burden and maybe help you feel less alone.
Only you know your own body, if you feel something is not quite right then speak up. It's the only way you'll get closer to feeling better.


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