Friday, 1 February 2019

Life Lately: An Honest Update

So you might have noticed it's been a little quiet on here and especially on my instagram. Although I've shared a bit on my instagram stories and quite a lot on my other instagram account I haven't really talked much about what is happening here on my blog.

The truth is I am not actually very well. For the past few years I've been struggling with multiple chronic illnesses that have just got worse and worse.

After my wedding where I was so unwell with food poisoning that I almost ended up in hospital the night before the big day I was left with a series of digestive issues. We still haven't quite got to the bottom of them but it's been diagnosed as viral IBS and I am having some luck treating it with diet and lifestyle.

On top of that I have also had a constant sore throat and ear ache for over two years which at first was thought to be caused by acid reflux from all the digestive issues but after an endoscopy the gastroenterologists aren't sure that is the cause so I have been referred to ENT. The sore throat has been pretty hard to deal with as it has stripped me of my ability to sing. For those of you who don't know I used to sing professionally and had just started my own business going into care homes and performing for elderly people with Alzheimer's disease when the sore throat started. I've not only had to give up doing something I loved that helped make a real difference to the lives of elderly people but I've now completely lost the ability to sing at all. As some one who has been a singer and a performer her whole life this has been pretty heartbreaking to say the least. 

I have also been suffering with knee pain for the last four and a half years which has become steadily worse and worse. I first noticed it when I had just moved to Oxford. I used to run three-four times a week and I suddenly found it was becoming painful to do so. I was told it was likely a condition called chondromalacia patella or runner's knee. This is very common in young people who are active and would take a little while to heal but if I rested I would get better.

After three years the pain suddenly became severe and at the end of 2017 I was in so much I couldn't walk or stand and had to quit my job. Luckily my parents offered to help fund me whilst I was studying at university so I was able to stay at home and rest lots. As the weather got warmer it improved and I finished my degree and took up a dream job as a school library assistant.

The pain was still there but it was manageable and I was seeing physios and doing daily exercises to help build up my strength and muscles. However, in late November the pain suddenly increased and I could barely stand let alone walk or drive to work. It was even more severe than the year before and I ended 2018 off work and only just able to hobble around.

That brings us to present day. I've been off work for weeks now and although the rest has dramatically improved my pain I still struggle to walk any distance, climb stairs or drive. I've had X-Rays, MRI scans, blood tests and I've seen so many doctors but no one knows whats wrong. I have now been referred to a rheumatologist who I will see next week and we are all hoping they will be able to at least give me a diagnosis even if there is no treatment.

January has been one of the hardest months of my life health-wise. I've been in so much pain and it's completely changed my life. It's so hard to suddenly be unable to walk or move, I have become disabled almost over night.

That being said I have been incredibly lucky with all the treatment I have received on the NHS. I am so grateful to live in a country where it is possible to have seen physio, podiatry, gastro, radiology, rheumatology and ENT within just over a year. We should never take for granted the wonderful gift we have in the NHS and I am so grateful to all the wonderful medical staff I've seen.

I've also had the most amazing support from my family, friends, church and especially my husband. I couldn't do any of this without him and the support has gotten me through these last few months with quite a good mindset considering the circumstances.

So what now? Well the problem is we really don't know. I am too ill to go back to work but I can't just stay at home forever. Financially it isn't viable in a place as expensive as Oxford but also I think I would probably go completely mad. We are looking into lots of options but our hope really lies on seeing the rheumatologist next week. For now I am trying as hard as I can to get as fit and healthy as possible. I try to exercise regularly and eat as well as I can. I feel that if I can get myself to the healthiest I can be with my weight, diet and fitness then that's the most I can do to help myself. The rest is up to the specialists.

I am documenting my journey over on my healthy life instagram if you'd like to see how things are going. This helps me on the days when things are bad to have a place to share my pain but it has also become a place to share the triumphs of battling chronic pain and illness and succeeding.

I am hopeful that February will bring more clarity and we can start to make a plan of action for the next few months. I hope you all have a good start to your month.


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