Hospitals, Spoons and the ‘P’ Word

Hello, there. I hope you are having a fantastic Tuesday. I’m currently writing from a room that’s eerily similar to one I occupied in my first year of university (minus the bullying that happened daily…thank god) and it’s rather nice to be back in such a social environment but with less of the stress this time round. This week I’ve been working at a Talent Development Program at my university and it’s been a lot of fun. I’m mentoring a group of soon-to-be undergraduate students and am helping them to complete a presentation on a particular topic. The presentation itself will be assessed by professors of the university, so I can imagine they’re feeling a little intimidated at present (though I know they can do it!). It is a lot of work, but it’s a breath of fresh air to be back in university working with students and my group are all wonderful.

Despite the fantastic week, I have had a fair few appointments/medical emergencies and my spoon supplies are feeling just a little bit depleted so I’m snuggled in bed as a consequence (for the ‘Spoon Theory’, if you don’t know what it is already, head over to But You Don’t Look Sick . It has become a fantastic way for many with disabilities/chronic illnesses to articulate their experiences to those without chronic conditions). This all started on Friday. Things were relatively great until then and I was just about managing to cope with things/have enough spoons to do the things I wanted to. Michael, a close friend from university came over, (he has been working on the same project as myself at uni so came to stay with me) and we spent lots of time catching up, sipping G&Ts and watching wonderfully silly things on tv. It was fabulous…

… until Friday afternoon. We went for Italian food, which seemed innocuous enough. And so we enjoyed pizzas and chatted a while and then strolled home feeling rather content.

Until my body decided it had other things to do, that is.

It all started with itching…lots and lots of intense itching all over my scalp and face, which made me want to scratch my skin to shreds. It all happened so quickly but by the time we got to my flat I was so uncomfortable I tore off my clothes and desperately hopped into a cold shower. Nothing was alleviating my skin and by this point I was covered head-to-toe in a violent, angry, itchy white and red rash. Nothing escaped; it was all over my back, my chest, my legs…and maybe unsurprisingly, I began to panic. I became dizzy and light-headed and by this point I was running around the flat naked (I know, poor Mike!). We took the decision to ring an ambulance as soon as I found I was struggling to breathe and the paramedics burst through the door to me, completely stark-naked, struggling to breathe in a heap on the floor. It was probably hilarious.

Turns out I had a severe allergic reaction, although I’m yet to find out what it was brought on by. I was given a strong dose of anti-histamine by injection and was offered to be taken to hospital. I politely declined and thanked the wonderful paramedics for all their help (whilst apologising for my initial lack of clothing…im never going to live that down, am I?!) and that was that. it was over almost as quickly as it had started but I have been strongly advised to go for an allergy test.

Not only that, but yesterday I went to see a consultant neurologist for my hemi. The fabulous news is she’s referring me to orthotics, physios AND an occupational therapist, which I’m absolutely thrilled with and I’m hoping they’ll all be able to relieve my pain/help out even if only slightly. it would be a fantastic help to the quality of my life. Today I went to my weekly pain management appointment which was painful, but I am starting to see results in terms of muscular pain so I’m willing to put up with the short-term pain for now.

Tonight I have been thinking, and I’m just beginning to realise that this will probably be the way things are for a while this year, but I think that’s okay. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about receiving all this treatment but I do, I really do. Sometimes I sit and think that I make too much fuss/that I shouldn’t be feeling the way I do because, although I do struggle with pain and hemi and MH and everything else, I am so SO lucky to have been given a life like this one. I guess it’s okay that there will be hospitals and things probably for the rest of my life, and I need to understand that I’m entitled to that. Really it just makes me feel hugely fortunate to have such wonderful healthcare available, because I honestly can’t fault any of the care from my recent appointments. I don’t really know where I’m going with this post, but I felt like I needed a good old talk about things. I think tonight i’ll just stay in bed and wind down.

Hope you’re having a great Tuesday, whatever you’re doing.

Heather x

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On the Mend

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here, and for that I do apologise. Things have been extremely busy with university study, but I thought now would be apt to share my recent experiences particularly with regards to the counselling treatment I’ve started (see https://nosuperhero.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/validation/ ). I have to say I didn’t really know what to expect when it came to my first session; the only ‘insight’ I’ve had into counselling/therapy consisted of jokey allusions to it via shows such as Family Guy which is perhaps rather unfortunate. The set up was what I expected though: me and the counsellor in a small room, perhaps with a cup of tea, boxes of tissues and sheets of paper to fill out. My first steps into the room were apprehensive ones. Though I knew it was an amazing thing to have got there, I still wanted to turn back and leave. I wanted to turn around, run through the front door and seamlessly merge back into the crowds walking the streets of Hull; I didn’t want to have my life probed and picked apart. I knew though that there was no going back. This could prove to be the beginning of something wonderful, something life-changing.

After completing the mandatory paperwork (filling out scales 1-10, ‘how easy has it been for you to get out and about? etc) the session started. Almost immediately afterwards, the tears began to flow. Tears not only of anxiety and sadness and frustration, but tears of relief. Someone was sat in front of me who genuinely seemed to express an interest and concern for my life. They made me feel (for once!) at ease somewhat. And most of all, things started to make sense. I’ve had two sessions so far and I’d like to think I’m finally on the right track, or at least headed in the right direction, whichever that is. I’m under no illusions. I know this will take time and although each session has been emotionally exhausting, I just feel like for once I can see a glimpse of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel. It’s a glimmer of light I couldn’t be happier to see.

Here’s to hope and new beginnings…

Heather

Validation

Hi everyone. I hope you are having a great Saturday. This will be another somewhat informative post following on from the last, https://nosuperhero.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/anxiety-taking-baby-steps/ Yesterday was a real turning point for me. In my last post you might remember I opened up about my struggles with anxiety and coming to terms with the fact that I’m at a point where I need some help. Yesterday was my first appointment with regards to my anxiety, often referred to as a mental health assessment. It was a really weird day. As expected, I was really worried about going. I knew it was the one thing I needed to do to keep the ball rolling, but that alone wasn’t enough to stop me from panicking. I knew I was going to find the day tough, so I wanted to take things slowly. Drew was kind enough to offer to come with me, so in the morning I opted to make us breakfast. I attempted to make American pancakes filled with blueberries, and although they looked alright they were slightly underdone in the middle. I got really upset about this; it’s such a silly thing, but at the time those pancakes felt like the most important thing in the world. We managed to rectify them, but by the time they were okay I was too upset to eat them. It appeared that breakfast time set the mood for the entirety of the day. They did look okay, though.

Pancakes for breakfast

The journey to the health centre was filled with anxiety. After being coerced to leave the house by Drew (which resulted in tears), I sat panicking whilst waiting for a taxi at the local taxi rank. Once the taxi arrived, I felt somewhat relieved, (at least I wasn’t going to be late) but I was on the way to a part of town I’ve barely heard of before, nevermind visited. The wait in the waiting room was horrendous. It was loud, uncomfortable and my appointment ended up being nearly half an hour later than intended. I was jumpy and close to tears, so it took all my strength to stay. Drew and I did decide that we’d make pizzas from scratch for dinner, which did help a little. At least I had the thought of homemade pizzas to look forward to! By the time I was called in I was overly emotional. Almost as soon as I sat in the room I burst into tears. It was at this point I realised I’d have to recount some very painful and traumatic memories. Once this was over however, I knew I’d be one step closer to the help I so desperately needed.

The hour seems like a complete blur to me. There were questions after questions, and lots of numerical scales to fill out. I was constantly worried that I’d give the wrong answer or say the wrong thing, but I got through it. I knew anxiety was the issue, so it came as no surprise that they said I have severe anxiety (according to the scales, so not neccessarily completely accurate but definitely in the right area). What was a bit odd was the conclusion that I also have moderate depression. Initially I was surprised, but it does make a lot of sense having thought about it. With these conclusions came overwhelming relief. Finally, someone was telling me the things I’ve been going through aren’t normal. Someone actually sat and told me that these feelings aren’t a figment of my imagination. They provided the validation that I needed, the validation that said ‘yes, I am entitled to help’, and ‘yes, I can and will receive that help’. I’m so glad I stayed. I’m so glad I got through that appointment, despite the tears and my bright red face.

I have decided that counselling will be the first port of call. I think having an outlet where I can vent my frustrations and anxieties will help me immensely. They did mention medication; that’s something I am open to thinking about, but for now I want to try alternative measures.

I left the appointment feeling both relieved and apprehensive. What will come next? Will it help? I’m certain I can get through this. I’m under no illusions and I know it will take time. But making that first step means the solution is nearer than it was before, and that can only be a good thing. I went and bought a new mini cupcake tray, pizza and cake ingredients.

Yes, we did make pizzas. They were definitely worth the wait.

pizza for two

mmm

I also went ahead and made cupcakes. Expect a recipe post soon as they were pretty good considering baking is a weakness of mine. This whole weekend is turning into a cooking weekend, as tonight I’m attempting to make a lasagne with handmade pasta. Cooking is proving to be great therapy.

cupcakescupcakescupcakescupcakes

I think brighter days are certainly on the horizon.

Have a  brilliant weekend, whatever you may be up to.

Heather