I have a health issue that will be with me forever. There is no way it will get better or stop affecting my everyday life. It is part of my existence. I have had to accept that.
When I say get better what I really mean is that there is no way that the condition will go away. It also will not get any worse, unless something in my routine changes. And that’s exactly what happened at the beginning of this year. Something changed.
My doctors were unsure that the medication that I have been on for several years was still effective so they thought that it would be a good idea if I stopped taking it. After all I had become a woman of a certain age and they presumed that changes were afoot in my body. Willing to be guided by the professionals I concurred. I was wrong.
Within a week I felt odd. My whole body was behaving in a different way. My moods were altering as I experienced the withdrawal symptoms from medication that had been balancing my life for the past three decades. I tried to manage my days but it became harder to focus. I lost my ability to concentrate and tears were always available for the slightest of reasons.
After a while I had forgotten that I was once on the medication. I had forgotten that I was now off the medication. All I knew was that each day I woke up and tried to get through the next minute without forgetting that I had responsibilities to take care of.
All I wanted to do was to sleep and cry. Oh yes, and to eat. I really wanted to eat. All the time. As soon as I woke up I felt I needed to eat.
Eating became my replacement drug. I was never full or I was always hungry – even when I had just finished eating a full meal. I have an odd relationship with food and even as the constant grazing was saturating my mind I hated what was happening. I was drowning in food. I could no longer think.
This was another factor in my new life that didn’t make any sense.
But because I couldn’t think straight then I couldn’t do anything about it.
There were weeks within the period when I was exiled from my normality that I saw a glimpse of what was happening, it was at these times that I began to exercise obsessively, I behaved like it was the only thing that could keep my head clear. I spent hours each day doing punishing routines and trying to sweat the fog away from my mind.
For the duration of my exercise time and for a few brief moment after I had finished my workout my mind was clear and this gave me a new high, something that I tried to repeat each day. And I did, until I became too tired to exercise. Then I gave in to what I saw as the inevitable decline. I allowed the television and food to become my constant companions. The only deviation to help my mind was the occasional game of online Scrabble.
Scrabble kept me sane. I know that now.
The words that I made on the Scrabble board were the only link to my former world that was filled with words each day. I needed Scrabble to hold on to my past and to take me back to my future.
After four months in the mire of uncertainty I decided to go to my GP, not the oh-so-wise-consultants that had taken me off my medication, and I asked for a blood test to ascertain what was going on in my body. I could feel the changes but I could not identify them exactly without some medical assistance.
The day the results were due back I rang the receptionist at the GPs and she read some of the results to me then there was a long hesitation before she put me on hold. After an interminable wait to mind-numbing music she came back on the line and said that certain numbers were unusual so she had just been to talk to my GP to check.
I wanted to know what they were; she didn’t want to tell me. I pressed her for the answer until she revealed the figures to me. She added, as some kind of vain assurance, “The doctor said that the figures are normal ... for you.” My numbers had changed by about 800% but they wanted me to remain without medication as the trial period still had about six weeks left to run.
I was not happy.
In addition, not surprisingly, my body was expanding. My clothes were tighter and everything was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable from the inside out.
I was not happy.
I cried. Often. Alone.
I was scared.
In the day time I smiled when I could and I carried on, my son needed me to be there for him. I put all my energies into that alone. I could not let him down: this one thing I knew.
After another month of sinking I reached rock bottom. I called the GPs and made an appointment. I decided that enough was enough.
I had noticed more physical changes in me that meant dormant issues were now active again. It was time to put a stop to this experiment with my life.
I arranged for another blood test and by the next week I had the results. They showed that the numbers were now another 300% higher than at the last reading; since I was taken off the medication my levels had risen by around 1100%. I laughed.
There was no humour in my laughter yet I laughed.
I laughed because I knew. I had felt it happening. It had been like the slowly deepening darkness on a winter’s evening.
I was now at midnight.
Since I have resumed the medication it appears that the dawn is beginning to break somewhere over the horizon ... but my night was so settled I know the day will take time to arrive.
My body has to get used to the medication again so I am experiencing a whole different range of tolerance issues. However, I am looking forward to the sunshine. I can tolerate these changes because I know at the end of this journey I will see the smooth sands and experience the peaceful sound of gentle waves in my life. The storm is passing. The fear is now subsiding. I can see the clouds changing from the darkest indigo into a peaceful shade that is merely a curtain to my new day.
This is a change I am embracing.