Sunday, 30 August 2015
Thursday, 27 August 2015
Monday, 24 August 2015
In the interests of giving back some of the kindness that's been dabbed over me like a warm flannel over the years, this second installment of my semi-regular feature where I spread the love evenly and thickly all over the best women in my life today looks at Sam and Jen..
Sunday, 23 August 2015
Friday, 21 August 2015
That's why its of the utmost importance to be open and honest with the people you love in order to maintain a continued support network. I am incredibly lucky in that I have a wonderfully supportive family and friends who have been by my side at every turn. So, in a semi-regular new feature on my blog, i'd like to pay tribute to a few of the best women in my life.
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
An occupational hazard in living with chronic illness, is the ‘glaze over’. This involves you (as the sick person), mentioning your illness to a (non-sick) friend/family member/cat, and watching as their eyes glaze-over with pre-emptive boredom, followed by a crushing stare of ‘here we go again’ written all over their face. In my mind this happens in slow-mo and everything goes quiet and blurry and a single crow flies overhead.
This GlazeOver™ is probably entirely unintentional and out with their control; much like my own faces’ default distain setting, it’s probably a knee-jerk reaction to hearing you mention your condition. Not a nice expression to be on the receiving end of, I grant you, but it happens, and fairly regularly.
When you are met by this face, the result can be quite internally catastrophic for the recipient. Suddenly you don’t want to talk. Suddenly you feel embarrassed and ashamed. You feel like the World’s Most Boring Conversationalist 2015. You feel confused that you are now left feeling this way. Even more so when the one who’s visage has left you reeling, actually instigated the conversation in the first place.
Of course I’m no innocent; we are all guilty of The GlazeOver from time to time. Don’t try to deny it, you know what I mean. When that colleague starts telling you about the latest documentary he’s watched, or that drunk man at the bar tries to tell you a horrendously sexist joke about mother-in-laws.
The GlazeOver™ is prime for health discussions – because let’s face it, not many people actually enjoy hearing about other people’s health woes. It IS boring sometimes, and I often get bored to death even talking about it. So I can’t really blame those of you who glaze over, and I don’t. It’s just something that needs a little work from all of us, and a request to bear in mind that sometimes it can stunt us in opening up about our fears and anxieties.
Listening and learning are vital in educating yourself about anything – so if we want to share with you then the very least you can do is tolerate it for a little while – it’s really not all that dull believe me. (You’ve read this far so you haven’t quite glazed yet!) But do feel free to speak up when we are overstepping the mark – when we would yap on about our woes so much we would make Mother Theresa loose the rag - please kindly tell us to cease immediately. It might sting at first but we’ll see it’s coming from a place of care and potentially an attempt to salvage your mental health/hair being pulled out at the roots.
So when the moment arises and you feel the Glaze Effect sweep over you like an icy breeze, try and remember to 'Turn that Glaze into Praise'! No? Or, 'Don’t get Glazey Act like Swayze!' Yeah that’s terrible I know, ehh, 'Treat that Graze as Just a Phase!'
Look I didn’t say I was good at snappy catchphrases’ alright, I clearly struggle with that side of it and I didn’t say I was any good at…. Oh you’ve glazed over. Right. Well played.
Monday, 17 August 2015
Saturday, 15 August 2015
The ways in which a chronic illness can ravage our bodies are tenfold, and can be ultimately embarrassing, and make patients feel ashamed. We are often left feeling as though we have to hide ourselves away, so I totally agree that it’s important to de-stigmatize our illness in any way possible. Just personally baring your bits is not for me. I generally don’t need to see more scars, wounds, cannula's or all of the medications you are taking - I HAVE ENOUGH OF MY OWN TO BE DEALING WITH.
With the greatest of respect, I don’t want to read about your stitches and staples; I don't particularly want to see your stomach or your scar. No, I'm not prudish, and no I certainly don’t believe our diseased bodies are ANYTHING to be ashamed of, but I don’t necessarily want to parade mine for all to see either. It’s MINE, and it’s covered in my own history and experiences. It has that birth mark on it I've had since I was first brought into the world, and that big scar on it that serves as a reminder of how I was saved from going out if it. I has that one long toe that I've hated since I first knew what hate meant and it has that miraculous rack that has gotten me many a free cocktail. Only a privileged few get to see these bits, including me, my partner, 2 cats and that man who cleans the gutters when I’m changing and have forgotten to shut the curtains.
Adapting to my body post-diagnosis, and subsequently post-surgery, has been a long and bumpy road and it’s only now I feel a little more confident in baring it in public. But the relief there is that I don’t actually have to. It’s private; in the same way it was before I had a scar and before my stomach would swell to the size of a small house on impact with a potato.
I don’t feel flashing my flesh will help our cause: I think talking openly and without shame will. I think helping those who are afraid to open up about their fears will. I think not shying away from the impact IBD has on our mental health will. I think learning how to conquer our anxieties will. Learning as much as I can about my disease will. Educating those ignorant of our condition will. But again, this is my choice and mines alone; if you want to bare your tum or show the world your bum then the world is your lobster. Just remember to close your curtains when you’re having your gutters cleaned.
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
Sickness and all that goes with it, has become such an all consuming part of my life, that I often find I can't remember what it was like to be 'healthy'.
I suppose I never really was; I always felt a sinister undercurrent that something wasn’t quite right and/or, that I was internally acting like an raging hypochondriac. I felt terrible most of the time, but that was my 'norm'.
So when you spend a large chunk of every day thinking, feeling and being BORED by chronic illness, it makes it all the more infuriating when people around you seemingly milk the udders of illness for their own milky gain. (Yeah I'm not sure where I was going with that analogy either, I just really like cows). They do this, either through implying they have conditions they do not, or making unwell mountains out of ACTUALLY FINE molehills.
Those people who don't take advantage of how lucky they are to be well are one of my pet peeves. Those who force themselves to be sick; mainly through Oscar-worthy performances of 'visible' symptoms. The sniffing, the sighing, the grasping of head, the hot water bottle on the tummy, mummifying themselves with gauze, the list (like their symptoms) is seemingly endless. They apply gargantuan issues to minor ailments.
I've got a cold= flu.
I've got a sore head= brain tumour.
Sore foot= gangrene. AMPUTATE IMMEDIATELY.
Now of course I'm not in any way advocating that anyone should ignore unusual symptoms; quite the opposite! If you are GENUINELY concerned and fear something sinister is going on within the realms of your carcass, then please, PLEASE visit your doctor.
But if you have a cold, and you KNOW it's just a cold; please, PLEASE GET A GRIP.
The state of constant bubbling rage I find myself in when people around me take their health for granted is quite powerful and I often fear spontaneous bile combustion.
I can be as empathetic as they come, but you must understand that expecting someone who's own internal organs are slowly trying to kill her to mop your fevered brow is a wee bit of a kick in the teeth.
What I'm trying to say in my usual clumsy and distainful way, is that its important we focus on the good in our health not the bad. If that means you are someone who is well 99% of the time, then please relish that! I'm more envious than you can know. Seriously, I can't tell you, it would make me look like a jealous ex and I've already got restraining orders in place from Jon Hamm.
If you are unwell 99% of the time, then relish that 1% and clasp it to your bosom like a freshly laundered kitten. Use the time you are well to recharge your batteries, and to try to ensure that you enjoy a higher percentage of good times in the future. Don’t wallow on the negatives as that in itself is merely adding to the ever increasing pile of negativity that comes with chronic illness.
Let's agree that if you have a cold, its just a cold. And I'll agree not to murder you all in your sleep. A pretty fair deal all round I reckon.