So, let me begin with the top end of 2016. The relentless battle with my stomach. It was the year to end all of these problems, so again, pretty relevant and quite a nice, positive note to start with.
I had lived with 15 years worth of stomach problems, which held me back on everything, from job opportunities to relationships with friends. My Mum and I always sought for help through the doctors which lead onto various referrals but unfortunately, we were continuously knocked back with the label, IBS.
By somewhat accepting this constant conclusion, I ended up spending a lot of my life as a dummy for medication as nothing worked. I have a list as long as my arm of the total amount of drugs I’ve tried including holistic remedies too. The only thing that could ever, to some degree, help my stomach traumas was a hot water bottle. I would end up scolding my stomach just to feel some sort of relief and if I could show you the pictures, you’d be mortified.
I don’t discredit the medication I trialed over the years, it worked in some form but it wasn’t extensive enough to aid my condition, which wasn’t IBS. I do know a fair few people that cope with IBS and it’s mostly with the help of medication which I had given ago, it just depends on what side of the spectrum you are as to what would work for you. IBS is manageable in most cases, with medication if needed, as mentioned but what I had been dealing with over the years was far from manageable and that was the problem.
In my early twenties, now with Andrew in the picture, he was determined to get this resolved. We were back at the doctors and it became very tedious again. I will admit, on this occasion, I felt as if I was looked at more seriously but not to the point where they were determined to get this nipped in the bud. I went down the same route again, trying new medications on the market and other drug theories that could potentially work but if anything, it got worse.
At 23 years old, unlike my Mum who had similar issues, I still hadn’t grown out of mine and A&E was becoming my second home. I believe that the last time I left accident and emergency, they sent me off with a bottle of Oramorph and another bottle to pair with it, which was liquid Movicol. Cheers for the morphine sulfate to alleviate the pain and to bung me up but I suppose another thanks is due for the 500ml bottle of laxatives to solve that issue, I guess I’ll be fine now. That last visit was the straw that broke the camels back. Enough is enough. Now it’s important to note that I think that the NHS is a fantastic system and we are incredibly fortunate to have it readily available to us in the UK. However, with the circumstances I was in, time and resources were not on top form.
Holding onto an illness that was continually swept under the carpet and disregarded as severe, was not only demoralising and stunted me significantly as a person but it made it difficult to feel hopeful again. Being able to even see myself confidently leave the house, was a big question mark. Why would I put myself in a position where I could potentially experience crippling pain, panic and then pass out? It was very possible because there was never an apparent pattern which meant it wasn’t worth the risk and as a result, not only did I lose the remainder of my self-esteem but my social life became dormant. Therefore, after giving myself time to save any birthday or Christmas money I could, as well as any work, with my Dad, that I could attempt to pick up, it then gave me the option of going private, so I did.
Before I go on to the positive side of this post (there is one, I promise), this was a very poignant time where I can reference the relationship I had with my Dad. Whilst I would see both his partners, over the years, whisked in and out of Harley Street on the regular, I was made to feel as if I should ‘get over it’, that a disability, regardless of whether or not you can see it, made it all the reason to stop complaining. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Maybe it’s a generational thing, and I’ll forgive him for that but maybe it’s not. I wasn’t looking for a gleaming five-star medical service at said Harley Street practice but having my health addressed sooner than I was able to achieve, could have served me well.
A big part of what I struggled to deal with in the last weeks of my Dads life, was seeing him be compassionate towards me, regarding my stomach condition. In no way, shape or form will my condition ever be comparable to what my Dad experienced with his bowel cancer but it took him to get to that place, to be able to relate to what I might have gone through, for 15 years. The compassion and understanding from him was something I’d longed for and I’m heartbroken. It felt fulfilling for him to finally acknowledge my condition and it was to some degree interesting and a little funny that the medication he was given since diagnosed, most of it I had tried. I felt of use due to my knowledge of the drugs and I made him feel as comfortable as I could with any tricks I had used over the years. Although I will be forever thankful for those moments where he saw it from myself and others perspective, retrospectively, I would happily live without the compassion or understanding to bring him back.
Back to shitting (no pun intended) my money away on private help, however, no begrudging the fact that within the small time frame of 6 weeks I was diagnosed with STC, Slow Transit Constipation, lovely. It only took the procedure of ingesting radiopaque markers to work this one out, not invasive at all, I was just left with empty pockets and not an empty bowel it would seem. It’s not the best of names, agreed but it is very self-explanatory. However, in summary, my large intestine is blood lazy and doesn’t keep things ticking along as it naturally should but with taking one tablet a day, which consists of 2 forms of laxatives, for the rest of my life, I now have this under control. I’m by no means cured, this is not yet a possibility but the medication has done wonders. Of course with everything in life, there can be blips and with my tablets I have mine, but very rarely and nowhere near as bad. The flare-ups I tend to get seem to be stress induced or diet related, I can control it to a certain degree, they’re never frequent and that’s ‘normal’ enough for me.
Becoming a whole new person, from one tiny tablet a day, gave me the opportunity to get some boxes ticked. Working became the first priority on my agenda and although anxiety had struck on the work front, my Dad supplied me with a solution, working with him. I had been working with him part-time on and off over the years but a role was needing to be assigned and that was full time. Of course, this was something I wanted to jump at, as part-time wasn’t cutting it but it was all I could manage for the time being. My Dads business was based in Essex and I had to make it as manageable for myself as possible, as being on new tablets was still fairly new and the commute required a lot from me.
As much as I would suit this full-time role to a T, I had to consider my position with Andrew and what we thought could work, as this full-time role would involve a permanent move to Essex to make things more practical. At that particular time, I felt it was too sudden and quite daunting to branch out independently in Tunbridge Wells and with what my Dad was offering for not only myself but for Andrew was something we didn’t want to say no to. It was an opportunity for me to not only work full time but for us to save some money. Another main reason I wanted to move, other than being able to save money in this shitty climate, was to be able to put time into mine and my Dads relationship. Working full time wouldn’t only give me the fulfillment of ticking one of my boxes but would also give me the chance to spend time with him and work on our relationship. Maybe that was a little naive on my part but I grew up living an hour and a half away from him since my parents split when I was 5, so although we shared something special over the years, it felt quite tarnished and that was something I wanted to rectify.
After a few lengthy discussions, we decided to make the move and made it happen in October 2016. The move certainly resolved some issues, mainly allowing me to pursue work full time and even some evenings but I don’t think it would’ve been possible unless Andrew became flexible, where he could work mobile. Being a co-founder of a start-up that was created a few months prior meant that if he was connected to the internet and near a train station – he was good to go. This officially made the move an option and the transition easy, until it wasn’t.
See you on Wednesday.