I’ve survived another Christmas, which is no mean feat when you suffer from M.E. I’ve had my cold for 2 weeks now and am still coughing, still blowing my nose twenty times a day and what little energy I ever possessed has done a bunk, but I’m managing to take the dog out and do the bare essentials so it could be worse. My Mum has only been so drunk on one day it’s irritated me which is an improvement on previous years, and my Dad is doing so well following his hip replacement he is now walking a mile a day – he hasn’t been able to go out for a walk for two years and is like a different person now he can get out and about again 🙂 .
For many, New Year is a time of both reflection of the year past and contemplation of the year ahead. Looking back on 2019 it is one of the busiest years I’ve had since becoming ill and has not been without its challenges. I have:
- Fought for health care for my Dad, literally all year.
- Despite the fact the furthest I ever usually drive is 7 miles into town, I made nine 180 mile round trips to the RVI in Newcastle.
- I also made four 140 mile round trips to Hexham General.
- And four 180 mile round trips to Sunderland Eye Infirmary. I have no clue how I managed any of it, as I often had a migraine and could barely see and my back and hips were so painful by the time I got to where I was going I could hardly walk.
- Cared for my Dad after he had his hip replaced.
- Cared for my dog after an operation.
- Helped an elderly, disabled friend move house, then spent 3 months helping him unpack. I also probably saved his life after finding him feverish, hypothermic and with an irregular heartbeat on the floor of his home after falling out of bed.
- Made a 3 hour return journey up into Scotland to take part in EDS research only to be told I wasn’t eligible
- And I am finishing off 2019 literally as I started it, sitting in a hospital waiting room on New Year’s Eve waiting while my Mum has an endoscopy!
It has also been the most successful and fulfilling year of my sick life, and also one of my happiest. I:
- Won 2 trophies in an annual, northern, regional photography competition.
- Had an image chosen for a Wildlife Trust calendar for the 2nd year running.
- Was exhibited in a central London Gallery 300 miles away, which I attended even though the furthest I ever usually travel is the 7 miles into town.
- Became a double Master of Print.
- Was guest speaker at two Camera Clubs, one of which was a 120 mile round trip away in Scotland.
- Won 8 international gold medals, beating off competition from all over the world.
- Was awarded 2 further photographic distinctions. I can now use the letters AFIAP DPAGB BPE1* QPSA after my name!
- Was awarded a £1800 camera by Sony after they chose my picture as their favourite in a competition.
It has also been monumentally life changing because:
- I sold my house.
- I bought a mouldy, knackered bungalow which will be my forever home.
And y’know what? I did all of the above while going through the Menopause on top of everything else I deal with. Go me 😀
It amazes even me that after 26 years of devastating ill health I still have the enthusiasm and drive to live my best life despite huge limitations, very little help and if I’m honest being petrified most of the time! The human spirit is a vast, unfathomable and wonderful thing and when I’m struggling, feeling overwhelmed or utterly exhausted I always ask myself if I were told tomorrow that I had 3 months left to live how would I feel? It’s a reminder that each day is precious. I’m so thankful to my body for seeing me through the past year and am excitedly looking forward to 2020.
I hope the next twelve months hold everything you wish for yourself, and when life throws its inevitable curve balls you have the strength to catch the ball and throw the bugger back!
Happy New Year, with love from Jak & Bertie xx