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About illness

#beingillisawesome

Spoiler: it’s really, really not.

Here’s a bit more about my illness. After having a longterm intestinal infection and ongoing digestive complications, I was admitted to hospital in March. When I was admitted, I was dangerously dehydrated, had lost 6 kilos in a month, and was still trying to work 50 hour weeks. A normal ‘inflammation marker’ is 5. Mine was 400.

It was terrifying. After two days, my gastroenterologist told me I had Ulcerative Colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease which can make life pretty unlivable. I was devastated, and spent several weeks researching and coming to terms with this.

Fortunately, though causing me more distress, they later revoked that diagnosis – and replaced it with “We don’t know.” They know I have inflammation in my intestines, they know I have developed severe allergies to foods I used to be fine with, and they know my immune system periodically tries to attack itself. But they don’t have a name for it, and they don’t know when, or if, it will stop.

For several months, this was about all I ate:

Breakfast Having such a vague prognosis is one of the things that has made my journey so difficult. I’ve learned that there is so much about our bodies, and medicine, that we just don’t understand. I always presumed that I could present to the doctor, he could diagnose me, and I could be fixed. But my GP and my two specialists are just taking shots in the dark (although my GP is the only one who has admitted to me that he is at a loss).

I never expected to be sick for so long, and really, it’s only been a few months. I really feel for people with chronic pain and illnesses that they’ve been dealing with for years. It is an incredibly hard road, for many reasons.

Breakfast2

Obviously, I had to cut back on work and that has had massive implications for me, which I want to discuss in later posts. I have to deal with pain, medication, an extremely strict diet, and many, many questions from people who want to support me but who don’t understand – and there’s nothing more I can tell them.

I’m ill. I’m exhausted, often in pain, often nauseous, and a lot of what I loved in my life has had to be put on hold, until I don’t know when.

But feeling sorry for yourself is a sneaky hate spiral (hat tip to Hyperbole and a Half) which will only make my health worse, and I try not to do it very often. I have bad days but most of the time I try to focus on the future, and remind myself I live in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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About writehandedgirl

Sarah is a writer who is passionate about social justice, feminism, politics, and cats. She is a columnist and poet and currently lives in Nelson. You can follow Sarah on Twitter (@writehandedgirl) or read more of her writing at writehanded.org

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