Someone I haven’t spoken to in a while over text sent me a quite innocent message yesterday, with Are you still alive? written on it. A running joke when catching up after a while. It meant nothing, had no other significant meaning. They didn’t know it was not so this time.
This time, it wasn’t so funny. This time I really meant it when I wrote back, Yeh, just about…
It was a literal answer… and one I was decidedly uncomfortable with. Especially when I didn’t tell them that, or why.
How do you answer someone else… Yourself… When the rest of the answer to that question is I could have died…?
I was desperately ill and point-blank refusing treatment and, well, in all honesty and reality, getting close to dying. Literally screaming myself hoarse in agony, until I was lost consciousness from the pain, for hours every day for a month, not realising my body was being attacked by a silent killer, tearing up my insides and leaving me barely conscious on a daily basis. But I still refused any help or medial treatment. The scars, the terror, the shame of the way I had been treated by medical “professionals” in the past meant I was too traumatised, especially in my current state, to go anywhere near them.
What an utterly terrifying thought… and nauseating right now, with 30/20 hindsight. I did it to myself. Unwittingly. But I still did it. And I quite possibly came a bit to close to maybe not making it. I became unreasonable, delirious, the agony too indescribable apart from being able to say it felt like actual torture.
Eventually, it seemed something in my brain snapped and I somehow, for some reason, decided to finally allow my parents to seek emergency treatment for me. I must have finally realised somewhere inside my subconscious my money was up and it was now or never, the last chance saloon. I don’t know because I don’t remember anything of that day except coming to around 5:30pm in a strange place, in a strange bed, somewhere that I only recognised as “a hospital”. Which or where I hadn’t a clue. My mother had to fill me in on the rest.
I was told I was dragged, barely conscious, downstairs and to the car, then taken to the out-of-hours GP service located in the main general hospital on Saturday 27th January. The time on my discharge note shows it as being logged in to see them just after 12pm. They rushed me in to the Surgical Assessment Unit and ran tests, put me in x-ray and gave me a CT scan. They pushed fluids for severe dehydration and vast amounts of strong painkillers to stop me screaming. I was apparently there for five hours before I became coherent enough to come around, the pain subsided much, but still quite agonising – although nowhere near what it had been – and I had to be told what happened to me and why there were lines in my arm and why I was in a hospital. And especially the question, Which hospital?
After negative scans and intensive blood tests, it turned out I had blood poisoning and a “horrendous” [their words] UTI (urine infection). Specifically, I had contracted Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. And I’d probably had it for weeks, if not months. The entire time I’d been feeling very ill all the way to the point where I’d spent an entire month screaming myself into unconsciousness from the mind-exploding incomprehensible agony I was enduring.
I ended up being hooked up to some kick-ass antibiotics for 3 weeks before I was getting better. But us took 6 weeks before I was given the all-clear to finally go home with clean and clear blood with zero infections left in it. Even when the ococcus infections had been dimming down, I still got 2 other infections on top of it, and one of them remains an actual mystery to this day, but it was so bad I got a temperature higher than I’d even had with the blood infection – hitting 40.7˚C at its worst. They couldn’t find the actual cause (and they looked a lot) so they dumped me right back on the antibiotics (I’d just got rid of that damn cannula the day before, too!) for another week and a half or so.
So, I spent 6 weeks in hospital trying to recover from my stupidity. For the first couple of weeks I felt it acutely that it was a fight, a real battle, to get on top of this thing (or things) and get rid of it. Once I started to get the upper hand, it was a slow but assured ascent to the top of the mountain of recovery. A couple of minor setbacks is expected, and otherwise it was a fairly smooth ride, if not long. Very, very long…!
I was very lucky the people there were really good and helped me with my little Aspie quirks, and were quite happy to help and make it as easy as possible for me. I also got a lot out of it that wasn’t just my life, or recovery too. I got actually got my life back in a different sense. Whilst I was there, I got more than I ever expected, and although the way I got there was, frankly, terrifying, I clearly needed to go there to get everything I got from it.
Institutionalisation, at certain points of extreme chaos, apparently suits me. It allows me to reset, obtain new and better habits, in a safe environment of regiment and set patterns. Whilst at hospital, their set mealtimes reset my non-functional non-eating habits that for a long time had kept blowing between starvation and binge-eating. Even stopped me being completely terrified of food after realising there were bland and basic things that could be eaten without feeling overwhelmed and shaking. I learned that some medication didn’t outrightly hate me and worked well – and for the first time in 4 years I had adequate pain control that did not require a distillery. It was such a relief. Even anti-nausea medication given alleviated the horrible nausea from the pain and allowed me to eat easier. Even Oramorph for when the pain momentarily got out of control again. Not one single side effect – just what it was made for, for a change.
I actually got people to arrange referrals for me to help with the fibromyalgia, as well as a few followups regarding what I had been through. This was the first time I’d ever received adequate assistance, support and referrals for my condition… and that was probably because this was the first time that medical professionals had spent 24/7 over 6 weeks to see what I was going through. I even had a wonderful OT (Occupational Therapist) organise my being able to see my dog downstairs whilst I was stuck there, and I ended up managing it twice, which was wonderful.
By the time I left, I really was ready to go home. As in I was clear of any and all infections, everything had been put into place, and I was going home with support and medication that was going to make my life easier to live with. It may not have been the best way to end up getting help, but somehow having a serious illness had managed to bring the never-ending freefall of Hell I had been spinning in, and send me in a completely new direction.
Yes.. Life Is Strange…
I’m finally back upstairs now… It’s been about 3 months since I was up here.
After a horrific time at the Premier Inn at the Black Cat, I came home determined to overhaul my room to make it more safe, more “mine”. We changed the room around yesterday, so the TV is under the back window, with the bed almost right in front of it, so it’s like a safe hidey-hole. It was a massive effort, and somehow, I managed to build the TV stand (with Dad) myself – which amazed me.
I immediately felt safe – something I hadn’t felt here since I arrived. It’s pretty amazing really.
Today I saw a new doc at the new surgery… and shares my birth-name, which is a pretty rare one, even in Wales. Like me, she’s also sensible, efficient, and knows what she’s doing, and does it the right and proficient way. She even shut me up and cut me off when I was going on, without apology.
She had a few home truths to offer regarding my tummy problems and my eating disorder(s) – namely that erratic eating patterns, starvation, binging, eating at random, all contributes to IBS problems. Which is obviously very, very true… and she gave me some basic antispasmodic meds to try to see if it helps with any bowel spasms that might be causing a lot of the issues, given that the spasm causes backlog in the bowel, pushing gasses and yukky stuff back up, and causes bloating and pain in and of itself.
Also, because I have such a bad reaction to gluten foods, she’s giving me a test for Coeliac’s Disease, to rule it in or out. Oh, well… it’ll hurt to eat a bunch of gluten for it, but it’ll definitely taste nice!
The main reason to really go, though, was for the CFS specialist team referral. Which she did for me. It’s amazing how easy it is to go to this surgery… I’m so sad I didn’t go there first…
Weather’s getting worse now – another reason I hastened changing my room, because the tent now blocks cold and draughts coming up from the hallway downstairs. I’m getting constant alerts for Weather Warnings on my phone, mainly for ice, as temperatures continue to plummet. No snow yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we had some.
It’s of course wrecking havoc in my Fibro, and (very unfortunately) my temperament. But that has been somewhat tapered with more calm from changing the room up into a safe little den, or Hobbit-hole. I’ve managed t be inspired to do this just in time before being frozen. Now I’m safe, comfortable and toasty-warm in my room, and I’m actually happy to stay here for the first time.
To top it off today, I also got a new tablet/hybrid: The Lenovo Yoga Book (2-in-1 2017 edition) today. I’m sick to death of Apple (don’t get me started on them now!) and saw this and thought it was pretty cool and more like what I needed, but also more… modern, techie, innovative and imaginative.
It also runs full Windows 10, has a hybrid pen that has a stylus pen for on-screen drawing and real ink nibs available to write on supplied special paper, which gets transferred into the system via the pressure plate that sits where the physical keyboard usually is. This plate also doubles as a holo-keyboard, known as the Halo Keyboard. It appears as a hepatic holographic or Augmented Reality virtual keyboard on the aforementioned pressure plate, and takes a bit of getting used to, especially as a touch-typist.
My Dad is getting my iPad, and with it being excellent condition, he’s getting a good deal! Instead of buying a new iPad for himself, he’s got me this, which was nearly half price in the Amazon Cyber Monday sale, at £299 (supposed RRP £549). Hopefully this now means everybody wins…
My PIP “mandatory reconsideration” was a few weeks back now. Ever since I’ve struggled with extreme pain, illness and stress. There have been two huge storms. My niece was born prematurely. I’ve been under such enormous stress from all angles, I’ve just broken down. I’m being tested for CFS/ME. My Hemiplegic (and normal) Migraine is acting up. Don’t even get me started on the Paraesthesia. I’m a wreck, and only getting worse.
Thoughts of a subsequent Tribunal took a backseat. This is not a system that helps those desperately ill, exhausted, crippled, mentally drained and disturbed, or have chronic illness of any kind. This is a system only designed for those who are robust enough to endure it. The hypocritical irony would be laughable if it didn’t destroy so many lives.
Thusly… Now I think it’s just not worth it.
I’ve been asked about it and I’ve thought about it, especially having written my part on the Parliament forum about it. However, how can I justify – and better still, how can they justify – putting myself through applying for a Tribunal, going through the immense stress, strain, pain, anguish, and super-hyper anxiety that would go with it? As one person on the forum put it, the entire thing is barbaric.
However, both the PIP woman and the Mandatory Reconsideration knob lied through their teeth when it came to summarising the case they put forward. How do I let them get away with that? How can I stand by and allow them to desecrate what I endure every moment of every god-damned day? How can I let them be so crass, derogatory, hurtful, harmful, and not put their words and myself in front of a Tribunal?
I printed out the “booklet” for writing up the form for applying to the Tribunal. It’s 35 pages long and just huge. How are people like me, and especially worse, supposed to be able to manage to read that and write up their form? It’s not like the DWP or PIP have people available to assist in writing them out for you… Instead you have to go and hope the CAB has an opening for someone to assist you. Or if you’re like me, write the whole thing out for you too, because [hand] writing is so hard. Way too hard. Typing is hard enough.
I return to Spoon Theory. I like Spoon Theory because it makes sense, it’s logical and it’s about number and not feelings. I am in “Spoon Bankruptcy” right now – if it were a currency, I’d be homeless and living in a box.
I don’t even have the Spoons to even go to the bathroom, I need help with even that now… So what Spoons do I possibly have to concentrate, study, and then write up the Tribunal form… even before the anguish and stress of not only waiting for the reply, but then having meltdown after meltdown worrying about it before I go, more meltdowns after I’ve been, and then more after that as I wait for the result. And no matter the result, I’ll have a meltdown because of it – because at the end of the day, it’s emotionally all too much.
This system wasn’t built for people like me… i.e. the chronically ill. You know, the people it’s there for… We struggle with enough, that’s why we need it. It’s even worse for those with emotional and psychological difficulties and understanding. There is no excuse in making matters worse, making us more ill, by having such a flawed system it punishes those who need it the most. Those who are healthy are the ones who can get whatever they want from it, because they have the physical and emotional capacity to do whatever the hell the system asks them to. We don’t. It’s messed up completely.
Should I take this to Tribunal? Oh, with jingle bells on every toes I should. However, in doing so, I am jeopardising my health, my psychology, my conditions, my family life, my parents’ health (and they’re over 60 now). Do they take that into account when they do this to you? Hell, no. I am torn between protecting what little I – we – have, and doing the right thing.
It’s my very own Kobayashi Maru… and I don’t think there’s any way of cheating in this one…