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Carry on, Sir.

I really am making an effort to blog more! It just happens the only time I really have the time to sit down and do it is when I’m either in hospital or it’s the middle of the night.  So this time I’m in hospital and have time on my hands.

Part of this admission was scheduled so I could have my port-a-cath inserted at the start of my treatment(5 nights of IV Aminophylline), and then I was more likely to be able to get a bed.

PORT_1

 

So I came in on Wednesday night with the aim to having my port put in on Thursday morning. We spent all day Wednesday ringing every few hours to see if there was a bed, and by 5pm they had one for me. I was well chuffed because the bed situation has been dire lately, but they got me in, so I can’t complain. Came in, had to wait a while to see a doctor because I came in after all the ward doctors had gone home. But got my amino up and going around midnight and tried to get some sleep. Was first on the list for theatre the next morning because of my latex allergy, so they came to get me about half 9. They farted around in the theatre for ages and by the time they actually got around to doing the procedure, I was a total mess. Even after 4mg of IV medazolam, I was still shaking and terrified. I think next time I’ll tell them I don’t respond very well to medaz. Problem was, that wasn’t the only issue. Around 10mins into the procedure, my heart rate started climbing. And climbing. And climbing some more, finally settling on 190-200. That’s a bit fast given that a normal person’s average resting heart rate is about 70-90. With me my average is about 110. So it was still way too high. They ended up having to give me a medication called adenosine which is known to cause problems with asthmatics, so they had to speak to my consultant and I ended up needing a lot of medication to then control my chest because when the adenosine didn’t work, they had to give me a beta blocker, which also causes problems with the heart. So my chest ended up going to shit a bit. So instead of being away for about an hour and a half, I was in theatres and recovery for about 4 and a half hours. Whoops. We still don’t know what caused the very fast rhythm (SVT) because I’m already on medication for my heart. There’s a suspicion it might have been while they were messing around putting the line in and it may have just tickled a part of my heart and it got a bit over excited. But who knows?

One thing i’m struggling with at the minute is my right hip. I know I’ve talked about how I’ve had both replaced, but my right hip is playing up something shocking. I can’t put weight through it, I can’t turn or twist, can’t lie on my sides or it kills and it’s generally making my life a nightmare. I’m back on crutches, which is a total nightmare for dripstands. I can’t go anywhere without help cause I can’t push a drip stand and crutch it. I used to be able to, but that was when the pain was different. This is a new kind of pain which is what’s scaring me a bit. It doesn’t feel like bone pain, it feels like muscle or nerve pain, which are both treated fairly conservatively. I think the Avascular Necrosis has left me very paranoid. I had an x-ray yesterday and they’re going to get ortho to come and see me and see if they have any idea what’s going on with it. Fingers crossed it’s something easily fixable.

I’m really looking forward to getting home. I haven’t been home in about 2 and a bit years. I don’t expect much to have changed, but there’s something about Monaghan that makes me happy just being there. I’ll get to see my nanny who I’ve not seen in forever, and specially after her brain surgery, I just want to give her a massive hug. Sophie’s coming with me and I’m really happy about that. I know we won’t be able to do an awful lot, but i think a week of enforced rest will be good for both of us. No hospital appointments, no work, no uni, just chill time. Definitely needed. Let’s just hope our flight back doesn’t involve the anti-terrorism police and ambulances being called to the plane (I’ll never, ever let her live that down)!

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Tears and Fears

So it’s been a while since I blogged. Again, sorry, will try harder etc etc.

I think I only tend to go near my blog when there’s too much other stuff going on in my brain, and I need to get it out in some form or another, and blogging seems like a good plan, especially given that my blog is probably nearing 10 years old.

Start with uni I suppose. I’m on my easter break at the minute, but I’m semi debating not going back and just restarting 2nd year in September. It’s either that or I drop out completely to be honest. I’m struggling with my mental health and I just have absolutely no motivation to go into uni whatsoever. I’m falling asleep in lectures, not able to concentrate in labs and I’m of absolutely no use in the workshops because I didn’t know we needed to do pre-work and I haven’t it done. I do enjoy it when I’m there and managing to stay awake, the work we were doing in second year was really interesting when I could stay awake during the lectures. But we’ll talk about that one in a bit. When I’m there and have done the work, I don’t get half bad marks and do manage to keep up, but the problem is I’m spending more time at home than I am at uni and that’s just not really a good system. I end up a week behind because I’ve been in hospital and find it totally impossible to catch up with the work I’ve missed or if there’s any assignments I need to have done. I think given the bashing my mental health has taken this year, I’m probably justified in wanting to start again. I’m just hoping my tutor will agree with me. I’m in hospital at the minute, but once I’m out I’m gonna set a meeting with him and work out what the best step forward is for me.  But with the amount of coursework I’ve missed alone, I’m not sure how I can feasibly pass this year.

So, my mental health (MH)…. Things aren’t great. And they haven’t been great since just after christmas and new year. I went to my GP around about January saying I was struggling, and things have just gone down from there. I saw my psychiatrist around then and he increased my quetiapine. Things sort of got a little bit better, and then went downhill again and I got referred to the Intensive Home Treatment Team (IHTT). As it sounds, they look after people who need a bit of extra care in the community. They come out and see you every day or every few days to make sure you’re coping in the community and if not then they try and intervene before it gets to crisis point. They have their own psychiatrist on the team so even if you need to wait 4 months to see your own psychiatrist, they can have you seen by one as soon as possible. This is where my problems start to really go nutty. As it is, I’m on 3 main psychiatric medications. Quetiapine, Venlafaxine and Haloperidol. All of these meds can cause problems with the rhythm of the heart, and unfortunately in me, it’s affected my heart quite a lot to the point that they want me off all my current psych meds. But they didn’t tell me about this. Nope. I was discharged from hospital about 3 weeks ago now with a tray with all these changes in it and not a clue what was going on. They had put new meds in, taken out doses of things and muddled with doses of others. I was furious. While I accept my meds need changed, changing them all without even mentioning it to me was totally unprofessional and I was very annoyed about it. To the point I refused to take the new medications. I was meant to have an appointment with the psychiatrist on the IHTT but because I got admitted to hospital with my asthma, I was unable to attend it. I don’t know what they’re going to do about it now, I’m almost prepared for them to just say I’ve been seeing them for too long and they can’t see me anymore. Who knows. The only main issue I have with the whole plan is they want me to start Sertraline, which I’ve been on before and it didn’t help, so we swapped it to Mirtazipine, And I was on that for nearly 4 years and only changed it when I had my nervous breakdown.  As it stands, I’ve absolutely no idea what’s going on with my medication when I get discharged from hospital. I’m going to get them to make me a tray up, because even my poor pharmacist hasn’t a clue what’s going on with my medications anymore, and that’s never a good sign. I’m so scared of my head getting back to the state it was in Jan 16. That was a terrible time for me and the people around me to go through. I can’t go through that again.

Life is stressful at the minute. I’m getting more and more paranoid that people think I’m exaggerating my conditions or that I like the attention. I know that it has happened that people do it. I don’t even know if I do. I like to think I don’t, and try to tell things as they are, but admittedly my memory has gotten a lot worse being on psych meds so I sometimes get things wrong. Does that make me a drama llama? It’s really playing on my mind at the minute. My psych symptoms are going mad because they’ve reduced them all introduced a new one but it takes time for things to settle and I’m really struggling to deal with my head. That’s probably not helping/is helped by the insomnia. That kind of made sense in my head. I think I’m trying to say insomnia doesn’t help my MH, but my insomnia is caused by my MH. I think.

Although in saying that all, my nanny had the tumour in her brain removed last week. Nobody told me it was going on cause I’m a bit of a worry wart and would probably have spent the entire day panicking about it. But my 73 year old nanny, the OAP, managed 9 and half hour brain surgery and came out of it with absolutely no neurological deficits whatsoever. I am SO proud. Nanny is getting on in age, and although she doesn’t look it, she’s getting old. She’s done amazing and really has astounded us all. Ok, she had to go back to the hospital for a few days because her stitches came out and they wanted to check there was nothing untoward going on, but she’s totally OK and has no signs of infection or swelling on the brain. It’s one of the few times I’ve believed in god, because she needed someone looking out for her up there, that and a hell of a good surgeon! Mum has been fantastic with it all. She was up and down to the hospital in Dublin most nights, and is now staying out in Nanny’s so she can help nanny around the house as it’s Kieran’s (her brother) 50th birthday on the 1st April so there’s going to be a lot of people there and the last thing any of us want is nanny to go and overdo it and have a setback in her recovery. So mum is enforcing rest. Miffs me off a bit, when I was in hospital in Cavan she never came to visit. The only time she did was when James was in. It kind of hurts that she couldn’t come and see me when I was poorly but she can go to dublin for nanny every day. Different circumstances I assume. All of this brought it home to me that Nanny isn’t getting any younger. I’m the eldest grandchild and probably have the best relationship with nanny out of everyone, and the idea of losing nanny terrifies me. I’m hoping it doesn’t happen for a very long time, but I know it’s something that we have to start accepting is that Nanny and Pappy are both getting old and things do start going wrong as you get old.

Anyway, it’s like 1am, and I should probably go to bed. Being in hospital at night is crap when you can’t sleep. Poooooo.

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Comparisons

Two blogs in two days, blimey.

I’ve been thinking a lot today about how my health and treatment compares to friends. I think one of the things I need to work on is not comparing my health and treatments to others.

I’m fortunate in that I have a fantastic GP, chest consultant and support network. While it’s going to take a long time to be seen by psychology, I’ve got a fantastic GP who wouldn’t hesitate to contact my psychiatrist in an instant if he was worried about me. I spent a year having my head managed by my GP and he was able to start so much and sort so many things out for me that most GPs wouldn’t be willing to do. And I still moan. And I still get upset when other people get better treatment than me. And it’s making me so fucking angry with myself because I know that I do it, and I know that it upsets my friends. The fact that I can walk into a GP appointment and straight away they’ll increase my anti-psychotics, or will offer me any support they can is quite amazing. And I don’t think I realise just how lucky I am. Manchester may have the worst mental health care in the country, but once I was in the system, they’ve been mostly helpful with my care.  My GP has gone above and beyond for me, and he’s the only reason I haven’t left my current GP practice as the other GPs and receptionists are all arseholes. But Dr N has been amazing and I couldn’t ask for a more understanding, caring GP.

I have a chest consultant who has written me a fantastic letter for A&E, given me a PICC line pretty much constantly for about 3 years now and I still moan when I have to have a cannula, or don’t get a Port-a-Cath. Yet my best friend has to almost prove how poorly she is to get IV Aminophylline when she’s poorly and has had times in A&E where it’s taken ~20 attempts to get a cannula, and then they gave up and put a central line in. Whereas I got a PICC line the minute access started becoming a minute issue. It’s beyond the levels of fair. I had a new PICC line put in today, and ended up breaking down in tears in the Interventional Radiology theatres because it was so unfair that I was getting a PICC and Spud doesn’t. Despite being under the care of the same consultant. Don’t get me wrong, things can be shit, but when they’re shit I generally get sorted fairly quickly and don’t have to fight people for care as far as my physical health is concerned. I feel like a pretty shitty human to be honest. I know it’s not my fault where I live, but I feel like I could handle it so much better. I almost feel as if I gloat to my friends and rub it in their faces that I get the care they so badly want. I don’t intend for it to come across like that, in fact the fact that i’ve realised I do it has made me angry in ways I can’t even explain.

I want everyone to get the same treatment. We all get treatment under the NHS, so why the fuck does your postcode dictate how good your treatment is? It’s bloody ridiculous and it makes me angry and frustrated.

<Rant Over>

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Yoyoing.

The past few months have been a bit like an emotional yo-yo for me. I’ve had as many ups as downs and that’s difficult to deal with. It’s hard to get yourself into a mindframe that can deal with both in short spaces of time.

While the ups have been reasonably easy to deal with, the downs have been extremely difficult. I was home for my birthday in September, and brought Sophie home with me. That was a really good trip home,  even if it did end in Sophie being taken off the plane by the anti-terrorism police and an ambulance crew…. More on that later. It was good to just have a few days of doing very little and spending some quality time with my family. I hadn’t been home since January when everything kicked off with my mental health, and I really missed home.

Having asthma, one has to learn to deal with the unexpected and unwanted experiences. But I think one of those most unwanted things that could possibly happen is when you have an asthma attack on a plane and have to get taken off said plane by the emergency services. Which is exactly what happened to Sophie. Her chest had been rubbish while we were home, and my main aim was just to get her back to Manchester. Needless to say we did some rather foolish things in order to make that happen, but at least we got there. Her chest kicked off though on the descent into Manchester airport, and we had to let the crew know that she needed an ambulachariot. Unfortunately the way it works at the airport is that the first response is the fire crew medics, who decide then if you are poorly enough to warrant a proper ambulance. But if you are going to delay a flight, they have to deploy Anti-Terrorism officers aswell. For all they know you’re delaying it for some naughtier reason than naughty lungs.  But it was amusing watching them all arriving to get Sophie off the plane. Concerned friend and all that, I couldn’t stop laughing and asked them to handcuff her. I’m a good friend. Honest. But that meant that we didn’t get a chance to pick up our checked baggage which was a major pain in the arse. There was stuff like a lot of my spare meds that I needed in it, and my colouring books. Which were definitely an urgent necessity! And then I managed to end up in about 2 days later. So we were both on the respiratory ward at the same time. Thankfully we didn’t get a chance to cause toooo much havoc. I think.

On Wednesday though, something new and totally unexpected happened. I had a seizure. In the middle of WH Smith’s in the sodding Trafford Centre of all places. We think it was related to my adrenal stuff because I’d forgotten my evening steroids, and when Cookie stabbed me with steroids, I came round, but it was a fucking terrifying ordeal. I bit my tongue pretty impressively which made drinking and eating for the past few days a nightmare. It just scared seven bells out of both of us. I think it’s taught me I need to be a lot better at taking my steroids on time. Urgh, the idea of that happening again just scares me in itself.

I did however finally get back to uni this week. I should’ve been back at the end of September, but between being in hospital and my head still not being great it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I went in on Thursday for my first lab. Thankfully this year my lab partner is a lot nicer, and it was his first lab aswell cause he’d moved from Bangor Uni. I managed to spill a pH12 NaOH all over the bench though, I wasn’t flavour of the month with the people around me whose module books I managed to kill. Whoops. I’m in Ireland this weekend because it’s my Mum’s 50th birthday, so I was off on Friday, and missed todays lectures but I’m flying back on Tuesday, so I should be able to get back for my lab on Thursday.  I do want to get back, and it’s getting to me something chronic that I’m struggling so much to do it. I should be able to just go back and get on with work as if I’d never left. Not having my stupid head controlling everything I do. It’s stupid and it’s making me angry. I know I can’t help how my head behaves, but I just want to get back to being normal. Or as normal as I can be.

Tonight I got some news that’s shook me up a bit. In January when my head went to pot, one of the contributing factors was that I’d found out that my nanny had a lump in her temporal lobe. Up until recently they weren’t worried about it and had said they didn’t need to do anything. she’s had a scan recently and they’ve found it’s grown 2cm since they last scanned it in June, and want to see her as a matter of urgency tomorrow. It’s totally freaked me out. I don’t like the idea of ANYTHING being wrong with nanny, never mind it being neurological.  Brain stuff is scary. It could change her. And I don’t like the idea of that.  Nanny and I have always been very close, and the idea that there’s something neuro going on is scary. And unfortunately my science brain has gone into total over drive and is over analysing it all. I’m a bit mental at the best of times, and having something like this to read up on isn’t the best idea.

I understand that life is stressful. But I’d just like a break for a bit. Give me a few weeks of things just going right and easy. And £500 :P. That would help.

It’s been going being home though. It was mum’s 50th birthday yesterday, so the whole family got together on Saturday night for a meal. It was a really good night. It was the first time I’d seen all my family together since my Nanny’s 70th, and it was an opportunity for other halfs to be introduced. I hadn’t met Kieran’s(uncle) new girlfriend Esther and mum got to introduce her new boyfriend, Gerald to the family.  Gerald’s mammy was home aswell and she came along. I was dreading it to some extent because I don’t like big groups of people and I knew that there was quite a lot had gone on that I hadn’t a clue about and I like knowing, but I’m really glad I just bit the bullet and went. It was a fantastic night and I really enjoyed it, and so did mum. Which was the important part.

I’m flying back to England tomorrow though, and hopefully can start getting my teeth back into uni. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to at least trying. Here’s hoping it all goes a bit better than last year.

 

 

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Making tough choices.

The past few weeks have been totally manic for me. Between myself ending up in hospital, Cookie going to Spain and my head going to pot, losing one of my best friends, having to cremate said friend, making the decision to resit first year and making the choice to bring Sophie back to Ireland with me.

At the end of August I was meant to sit my end of year exams at uni. Because of my mental health, my GP, Cookie, Sophie and I had made the decision to defer my May exams to give me the best chance of getting my head into the best place as possible. Unfortunately, I ended up in hospital during the first week of the exams. I managed to make the first one, which was Cell Biology but wasn’t well enough mentally or physically to sit the rest. This left me in a bit of pickle in that I wouldn’t be able to proceed into second year because I didn’t get enough credits. So I attended quite a bit meeting in uni last week with my tutor, lab module co-ordinator and student welfare officer. We have decided that I’m going to redo 1st year as a clean slate and not have to sit the modules I passed, which were Study Skills and (shock horror) Cell Biology. I was totally gobsmacked to see I’d passed CB! It’s my worst subject!

Making the decision to resit 1st year and not just go “fuck it, I’ve had enough” was not easy. Every part of me at that time was not believing I was in anyway smart enough to be doing this course or well enough to be able to keep up. I just wanted to be able to do it in 3 years like everyone else. I know not everyone else didn’t have the crap going on that I did, but still. There’s so much I need to be able to do to keep up, and I’m scared I’m not going to be able to again. And then it’s essentially 2 years of my life and about 15 grand wasted. But I enjoy uni. I love having a reason to get out of bed and do something, I love learning new things and I’m excited to see what the future will hold for me. So I’m going to give it another go. Hopefully now we  know my head is doing a lot better(touch wood), I’ve had my shoulder surgery and hopefully my chest consultant will pull his finger out, things will be a bit easier this year. But I have another reason to work hard, and I’ll explain that in a minute.

I’ve had some rotten luck with the DWP lately. I got back from Leeds and the meeting at uni on Wednesday last week to a letter from the council telling me my housing benefit had been stopped. At this point I totally panicked and rang the council. They told me it had been stopped because it was up for renewal. I’d heard nothing about this and had no letter about it or anything, so needless to say I was a total mess.  At this point I rang the DWP to find out what was going on. They said that they hadn’t actually been cancelled or up for renewal, but in fact they were only suspended because I hadn’t sent in proof of my student finance for this year. I hadn’t a clue I needed to and was surprised when they mentioned it. The woman on the phone told me that they should’ve sent a letter out but didn’t for some reason and the only thing they could do was fit me in at the job centre in person to get the relevant documents sent into them quicker than it would be by post. Thankfully it was pretty much sorted by that afternoon, and hopefully things are semi sorted. Unfortunately due to a change in my student finance rate, my ESA rate has dropped considerably which is causing me a great deal of worry at the minute. I’ve been struggling to manage as it is. I’m debating cancelling a few things that aren’t totally necessary and seeing how much I can knock off monthly bills.  It was just a really shitty week.

I’ve spent a lot of time in Leeds lately. Sophie ended up quite poorly in her local and unfortunately her mum was in the Scottish Highlands and couldn’t get home, so I said I’d hang around to make sure she was OK and not on her own. I ended up with a sore arse from sitting in hospital chairs for so long! But we picked her up from hospital when she was discharged and the difference I saw from when I left her in the evenings during the week was astounding and was good to see. It was absolutely gutting and soul destroying to see her in so much pain and not being able to help or do anything. She really is an amazing human and I wish she understood that. But knowing that she wasn’t on her own has helped us both deal with it a bit. It was a very difficult admission for her, both mentally and physically, and being able to be there to hold her hand and show her the difference that she makes to me when she does the same was rewarding.

The reason I had to leave Leeds was that I had to go to the funeral of one of my best friends. Simi passed at the beginning of August, but due to circumstances we were only able to say goodbye properly last Thursday. It was heartbreaking. I was in no way ready to say goodbye. Simi was doing the same course as me, all be it at a different uni. But it brought us so much closer together and we spent many a night moaning about uni politics, lecturers and the stress of assignments and exams. She would’ve known exactly what to say when I made the decision to resit the year. She always just knew the right thing to say and I can’t see how it’s ever going to not hurt. To not be heartbreaking when I see a picture of us both or to make me cry when I think of good memories. I’m just glad she was able to fill the last few months of her life with things she enjoyed. And that brings some comfort to us all.

I’m going to be going to Ireland on Wednesday for the first time since January. I absolutely cannot wait. I’ve not been home since January because of many circumstances. I’m taking Sophie home with me for the first time ever. I’m totally beside myself with excitement. I’m counting down the days. It’s logistically a nightmare, but the idea of giving Sophie a break for a few days and seeing where I grew up is fantastic. It’s coinciding with my birthday as well so I’m hoping we can all go out for a few drinks. It was tough making the choice to ask Sophie, as she has a lot of medical problems that could stop her flying and is taking a lot of phone calls and toing and froing to try and get it sorted. But I made the choice to ask her if she wanted to and left the ball in her court. And she made the choice to come over! And I’m glad she did! I’ve already started writing my packing list and tidying my room so I’m not having to come back to a bombsite!

 

So anyway, it’s nearly 4am and I’m not asleep.

 

Until next time people x

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Dear best friend

Dear Spud,

 

As you’re lying beside me snoring and making dodgy sleepy noises (I just poked you to check you are breathing by the way), It reminds me how lucky I am to have you.  It’s not easy being friends with me. I have a lot of baggage. But when you have as much going on in your life and you’re doing as much as you do for me is one of those things that is just amazing.

On the 11th March last year you posted on a support group we both use saying you had been transferred to my local hospital and I asked if you wanted a visitor.  You’d been quite poorly yourself and were quite far from home. I remember bringing you smoothies and juice, a colouring book and markers and a small cuddly frog (there may have been other things, but I can only remember those and you turning down a bacon sarnie on the basis you’re a rabbit). It was the beginnings of a friendship that I hope I’ll never lose. I didn’t expect to speak to you again for a bit when you were discharged because you’d been really poorly. Although I was worried about you, I thought you needed some space. But you messaged me when I posted a message on Facebook saying I was having a rubbish day and felt poop, both mentally and physically. This was only about 3 days after you had been discharged, so as much as I was pleased you’d messaged me, I was totally surprised. But it was yet another reason why I think you’re fantastic. You spent ages talking to me that night and I was able to go to bed and not have a total meltdown over something, that looking back, probably wasn’t actually that big a deal. But a year down the line, I’ve totally lost count of the amount of times you’ve done the same, sometimes even staying up until silly o’clock with me.

I remember getting the train to come see you about 3 weeks later and we spent hours just sitting talking and putting the world to rights. We both talked about stuff that I’d never even spoken to my lifelong friends about. But I trusted you as if I’d always known you. I think because we’ve both been through so much and have similar health problems, we just got each other. You understood what goes through my head when I get frustrated about the restrictions my asthma and joints place on my life. Very few people truly understand that, and it was so good to finally have someone that I didn’t need to try and explain myself to when I didn’t have the energy to do something that most people would expect me to be able to do without hesitation. And you knew about “The Spoon Theory”. Bonus. I know there’s other people around me to talk to. And I feel truly grateful to have them. But I don’t know. You just understand so much more. You understand the fear of ABG stabs in A&E. The fear of cannulas in certain places and the fact that sometimes I just want to stay in bed and not move because I just don’t have the energy.

In January this year, my mental health crashed in a big way. I overdid it with revision for uni, staying up until 2/3/4am and getting up about 8am again for about a week, it was my stepdad’s 2nd anniversary and things were going downhill with my chest, fast. This triggered a breakdown for me, and you were the first person who picked up on it and acted on it. You helped talk me down when I was psychotic, and drove over and dragged me to the GP about it when my exams finished. I don’t think I’d have had the guts to go on my own, and although my flatmate would’ve taken me eventually, I didn’t tell her how bad things had gotten and I don’t think she’d have gotten the message across in the same way. But you started the ball rolling in getting me the proper help I needed. You stayed with me for about 2 weeks in total, and every night when I was having a nightmare, you’d wake me up, help me calm down and then get back to sleep again. When I was absolutely terrified of something most people would consider stupid, you didn’t patronise me or make me feel small for it. You took me back to the GP again and again until they finally started doing something. I went through a phase where I seriously struggled to take any of my medication, which when you have multiple medical problems, isn’t really a sustainable scenario. You helped me get to a point where I was able to take most of them, and when I went into hospital with my chest, you made sure they knew I was struggling.

When I had surgery last month, you came to stay. You got up at 7am to be at the hospital with me before they brought me down to theatres because you knew how scared I was. You demanded they let you into recovery afterwards despite the fact they don’t normally allow it. When the anaesthetist changed everything they had promised me the night before the operation, I was 90% close to telling them they weren’t doing the operation, signing out and going home. I was scared beyond belief. But between you and Nugget, you got me to a place that I was able to get some sleep and wasn’t completely terrified. I’d let them operate. You made sure that the staff knew I was scared and have done so many times beforehand.

Things have been pretty rubbish in my life lately, but things haven’t exactly been easy for you either. You’ve had a lot to deal with in terms of your own physical and mental health, and have juggled a job, lots of health problems and coming over to see me at least once every 2 weeks since January. Most people wouldn’t have done the amount you have for me, purely because you have so much in your own life to deal with. But you stuck by me. And as much as I’ve told you it over and over again, I don’t think you truly understand just how much this means to me. Life’s difficult when you have a chronic illness. Looking after yourself takes up so much energy, but when you add in looking after other people, it increases the energy need tenfold. But you do it and don’t moan about it or make me feel bad for asking.

I feel safe with you around. Things aren’t as scary and I know that when I have a nightmare, panic attack or become psychotic, you will help as much as you can and if you can’t help at the time, will make sure Nugget knows I’m struggling. I know lately you’ve had to make some pretty tough decisions for me and I know you think I hate you for making those decisions, but things couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve been the person having to make tough decisions that you’re not sure are the right ones, but I promise you from the bottom of my heart, I’m not angry and I’m not bitter. And I will never, ever hate you for making those decisions. If anything, I’m thankful that you made them. Because as much as it might anger me in the short term, in the long term I know it’s the right thing.

So thank you. Thank you for sitting with me in A&E. Thank you for making me be sensible when I want to sleep and should be taking steroids and drinking Lucozade (and stabbing me with hydro when I throw a strop and don’t take my steroids). Thank you for staying up until 2am and talking me through a psychotic episode. Thank you for being able to explain things to my GP when I can’t. But most of all, thank you for being someone I can call my best friend, who I can pour my heart out to and will never, ever judge me.

Love you Spud.

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Cookie.

So I’ve mentioned Cookie a lot on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually explained who she is. Cookie is Vicky, my flatmate. But with both of us being Vicky, it got a bit weird. We became friends about 8 years ago on the Kick Asthma message boards, which was the kids version of the AUK boards. We chatted for years online but nothing ever came of it until I moved to England in 2009. The first time we met, I came up to Manchester to go to a dentist appointment with her. At the time she was terrified of the dentist and had a root canal due. We were sat talking about it at 11pm the night before, and I decided that night that I’d get on a train the next day and come to the dentist with her.

The second time we met, was when I was flying home from Belfast after a close friends funeral. Cookie had been really struggling with her mental health and not much was being done about it. I told her to book a doctors appointment and I would fly back into Manchester and go to the doctors with her about her depression. That was the first time she had confronted it and actually gone to get help about it. Scary to think that’s over 5 years ago. It was Friday 6th March 2009 that I finally realised how bad things were, and to see how far things have come since then is a massive eye opener. I often wonder what would’ve happened if I didn’t come up that day. This is one of those times where I believe in fate.

Anyway, when I moved back to England after my exams and had split up with Chris, we got talking a lot again. She was having a really rough time with her mental health, and a lot of the medication she was taking for different problems were interacting and causing her to get really sick and she wasn’t keeping food down. Her GP knew they needed to stop all her meds and restart them one by one to find out which one it was that was causing all the problems. But with her MH being the way it was, it wasn’t the safest of options to have her alone during this period. Her GP wanted her admitted to the psych ward, but if you’re physically ill, which she was with the vomiting, then the psych ward won’t take her. But the medical wards considered it psych’s problems. At the time I was sleeping on my friend’s floor in Loughborough, and was stuck in a bit of a hole. It was rubbish and my head wasn’t in the best place. I said that as there wasn’t any use me sitting looking at the same four walls in Bobby’s flat, that I may as well come up and stay with Cookie while she was going through all that. I was meant to stay for a week, and I never really left.

The thing is, a lot of people have said that I made the wrong decision in coming up to stay. And this is something I’ve thought about a lot since I made that decision in Oct 2011. I have a best friend called Vicky. My best friend was in trouble, and I was in a position to help. I’ve been the person who has needed someone to be there and there’s been nobody, and I know how alone I felt at that time. I’ve lost count of the nights that we’ve sat up playing card games because she’s struggling to sleep and her head’s misbehaving, or the times I’ve put her back together because of Self Harm accidents. I’ve spent many a night with her in A&E after an overdose and a lot of other nights sitting worrying about her because she’s my best friend and we worry about best friends. In 5 years, I’ve sat with my best friend as the doctors told me she’d been deprived of oxygen and may not wake up, I’ve held her hand as she’s sat rocking back and forwards because the voices in her head were shouting things I can’t even comprehend coming out of anyone’s mouth. I’ve had to restrain her as she’s tried to escape from a ward when she’s been under a psych hold, and been the one to get the blame when she legged it off the ward regardless. But at the same time, I’ve been the one who has ended up having an asthma attack because I’ve laughed so much at something random we’ve been talking about, the one who has learned patience, empathy and a hell of a lot of compassion. I make it sound like it’s been horrific. And yea, at times it was. But when she was sectioned in 2012-2013, I had to make a decision. Would I abandon my friend in the biggest hour of need? Or would I stick around, make sure she got better and that she had a home to come back to when she got out? Needless to say that I chose option 2. Since she was discharged on the 9th April last year, the difference I see in her is unreal. She has become so much better at dealing with her symptoms, and recognising when there’s problems. She is a much better friend to me and most people have seen a complete change in her attitude to life.

From reading this blog, you all know a fair bit about me. About my health, mental stuff and problems with my stepdad. Cookie was there for me throughout it all. She sat up all night with me when James was drunk and yelling through a locked door at me, trying to kick it down to get in. Back in the days of MSN she would keep me talking all night about absolutely everything and anything to try and keep my mind off what was going on, despite the fact that we would both have school the next day at 9am. Since I moved in with her, she has become my carer, cook, sister and best friend I could ask for. I’ve been bed bound for pretty much the past 18months because of my hip. During that time she’s cooked for me, taken care of the bills and things arising with the flat, helped me with the showers, gone shopping with me and generally been at my beckoning call, and not once did she complain. She makes me laugh on my shittest days, and knows exactly when to give me a hug. She motivates me in the gym and makes sure I take care of myself and eat right. She says that she’s done nothing special, but so many people would’ve run a mile when they first met someone like me. But we look out for each other. If you ever find this and read it Cookie, then please remember that you’re special. You’re my best friend and have stood by me throughout absolutely everything that’s happened. I know you say that I’ve done the same, but you had a lot more going on in your life than I did in mine. And it was a lot more to take on when I moved in looking after me. You’re awesome, and I love you to bits.

Cookie is more than a friend to me. She’s my big sister, my confidante, my non-lesbian lover and all round good egg and I couldn’t ask for a better friend. Everyone has friends, but best friends like this are few and far between, and you should make the most of them and treasure them.

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