Sunday, April 3, 2016

A year down the line

It was a year ago yesterday that my life completely changed. It was the day I went to see a client in Cambridge and collapsed ending up in Addenbrooks Hospital not knowing anyone and having no charge on my phone. I just had time to contact a friend who set up Team Crazy Legs (a roller derby group that skates to raise awareness for invisible illnesses and has a confidential support group). She arranged for a couple of people to visit me which meant so much to me. Those until a few days were so scary, I didn't know what was going on besides I had four large ovarian cysts and problems with both kidneys. Cancer was eventually ruled out and I was diagnosed with severe stage for endometriosis. 

(In hospital in Croydon just after my first operation last June)

If you've been following my journey you'll know it hasn't been an easy ride. I've had five surgeries to date including having a loop ileostomy (stoma) which has now been reversed. I can't have children and one of my kidneys no longer works at all.

Realising I've been ill for a long time has caused all of my life to change. I was made redundant and was unable to go back to work after being hospitalised last April. This has meant I've had to move back to Liverpool from London, put my flat on the market, apply for benefits, leave my best friends behind and try and start completely from scratch in a new city. I lost a few close friends along the way when I first got sick which hurt a lot. 

My depression came back with a vengeance and my anxiety peaked. I'm taking medication for both and still working on getting some therapy to help deal with everything that's gone on. I'm being tested to see what's causing the constant exhaustion I feel, it's been getting worse and not better as I recover from surgery. My surgical wound from December is still open and causing me a lot of discomfort and I still have days where I lose complete control of my bowels. 

However, I'm still here. Still doing the best job I can to make a life for myself. I'm back playing roller derby when I can and recently did my first mixed scrimmage in a year. I'm able to jam again (skate fast and score points) and am working at rebuilding my strength and endurance (multiple abdominal surgeries destroyed all my core strength so I'm rebuilding it from scratch). I've made a couple of new, close friends here in Liverpool which is helping me feel like I'm starting to put down some roots. 

(I'm on the far left with three Liverpool Roller Birds at a mixed scrimmage last weekend)

I work three days a week as an intern at a job I love and I'm rediscovering my love for photography. Spare time not sleeping is spent crafting or reading and I'm hoping to start being able to be a bit more sociable and go out for half days out soon. I got really excited recently as I was able to climb a tree! I used to be super active and do indoor climbing which I really miss (I'll get back into it once finances and energy return a bit more), so being off the ground felt wonderful! 

(Me hanging out in a tree with the sons of two friends)

I won't lie, it's still really difficult. Getting out of bed most days is extremely difficult, but I am doing my best to refuse to give up and to keep pushing through. I miss my best friends in Croydon, but have discovered Skype and hung out with them for a couple of hours recently which felt amazing. As they say in Galaxy Quest, "never give up, never surrender!". 


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