Sunday, 7 December 2014

...And a Happy New Rear

It's rapidly approaching my favourite time of year. CHRISTMAS. I love it. I LOVE IT. It's when the snow falls, robins and local women plump up their breasts, people wear SEQUINS and supermarkets offer wonderful bargains on Tia Maria.
Of course it's easy to get wrapped up in the gifts, parties and overindulgence and forget about the true meaning of the festive season: Watching ‘Elf’ and ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ on repeat whilst downing the remaining Advocaat that's been gathering cobwebs at the back of your cupboard for 12months.
Inevitably, following the Christmas festivities comes a new year, and it's often hard to buy into the optimism of a new beginning when the once crisp snow is turning to dirty slush, sequins are missing from your FAVOURITE TROUSERS and you've drunk the remaining Tia Maria dry. Problems, I'm sure you'll agree, we can all relate to.

My first Christmas with Crohn's Disease was in 2010. I was on a liquid diet and faced with the horrific prospect of having to watch my family tuck in to a delicious feast whilst I sipped on a nutritious (and absolutely rancid) milk-shake. FYI a 'liquid-diet' is nowhere near as fun (and alcohol fuelled) as it sounds. It involves cutting out food entirely and drinking 4 or 5 shakes per day instead. This is used for various reasons; mainly in an attempt to control symptoms and allow your insides to rest without the stress of trying to digest food. The process is bearable for a day or so but it can be torture at times, when you smell food, or when people are eating or preparing food around you, or ALL THE TIME.
Anyway, during this particular Christmas dinner around the table my boyfriend’s Mother uttered those immortal words "Would you like me to put some Turkey in the blender?" and I almost threw up and sobbed in unison.
I eventually caved and ate a little. I had an internal (and probably external) tantrum. It just didn't seem fair. I was having such a rubbish time and making everyone else feel rubbish in the process. How could anyone enjoy piling their plates high whilst I looked on longingly imagining each one of them around the table as varying sizes of chicken legs like a bad Tom & Jerry cartoon?

After I'd demolished a poultry (geddit?) slice of turkey, and a teaspoonful of gravy, I felt I could truly relate to Jesus and his suffering. We were both starved and wearing awkward and uncomfortable headwear in front of a crowd. Not really of course, (sorry Mum), but I did find it all very difficult. I struggled with overcompensating and trying not to make it 'all about me'. I was "FINE!" all day, and that was rough, because I was far from it. I was a mere few days away from having my surgery, terrified, and in agonising pain.
Every Christmas since has been infinitely better. My families have gone all out to make me comfortable and find food to suit. I no longer struggle with embarrassment and borderline shame when they try to cater for me. It's not awkwardness, its kindness. I’m no longer uncomfortable in asking for more or less of something, and I’m not ashamed of my condition.
I'm looking forward to this Christmas because I'm alive and kicking. This year I can eat and WILL eat and if I'm in pain afterwards I'll maybe have a nap and try not to beat myself up if I sleep a little longer than I should. It's a day to try and forget about the miserable bits of the daily grind and focus on all the goodness in our lives. Less sprouts more turkey.
Less chipolatas more sides of ham. The latter being a rule to live by in all areas of a young woman's life.


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