Thursday, 19 May 2016

I’m not superwoman…….but I’m going to give it a damn good try

Dear world,

In the last 2 years since diagnosis I have been living a life with caution, worry, resentment, anger, depression…I could go on, but I think you get the picture. So when you add in a break up to the mix you wouldn’t be surprised if I was to completely go off the rails and just give in with life. I mean “what’s the point, right”?!

I had 8 weeks of a certain pattern, it involved fitness, drinking and barely eating, at least something good came out of it, after all, I needed a bikini body for Australia! Most people I’m sure go through exactly what I did when their whole life is completely turned on its head, but what surprised me was that my body didn’t give in. For a good few weeks after the break up I waited for my heart and lungs to pack in and just say “right I’ve had enough now”. Not because I wanted to, but added stress is definitely not advisable for someone with PH. Not only did I survive but my body showed me how resilient it could be. I was running on some kind of adrenaline and due to my stubborn nature I just thought I am going to push myself until something makes me stop. I got ill a few times during that time, not PH ill, just generally run down ill. I was really worried that once I got off the fastest speed of the treadmill when I arrived in Australia that my body was going to go into shut down mode. Apart from one blip, which I will talk about later, I’m delighted to say that I am feeling the best I have in 2 years and if I’m honest probably even before I started to become ill.

When I realised that fitness was to become my saviour I became really obsessed with it. Constantly thinking of when I was going to train; looking forward to actually wanting to train, which for anyone who knows me may find this shocking to read as I was the least fit person in the world. It was during this time I realised how strong I was and how I was able to live so much more than before. I was able to walk so much more, carry and lift so much more and even sometimes totally forget I have PH, which is something I haven’t done in 2 years.

The last few months since leaving the UK I have really surprised myself with what I have been able to achieve. Not only did I manage the 14 hour plane ride from Dubai to Melbourne, which normally would have seen me bedridden for days after, but Katie and I managed a night out 24 hours after arriving, we then travelled to the other side of Victoria 2 days later where we had a full on weekend of meeting new people, cooking and hosting for people I didn’t know, barely slept and drinking excessively, (thanks Juzzy). We then went away for a few days where I coped with lots of walks, both hilly and flat and I even managed a 4 mile walk in flip flops which on the return trip was mainly on an incline. Juzzy and I then went on a 12 day epic road trip around Victoria which saw me climb the Pinnacle Mountain in the Grampians; it was a steep climb of a radius of 4.2km. So worth it though, the views were stunning and I even managed to crawl my way to the edge for about 30 seconds before I felt sick due to the sheer drop down at my feet and needed to run down away from the edge! I barely felt breathless and apart from the odd photo break I really surprised myself at how easy I found it. 

Juzzy and I half way up the Pinnacle Mountain

                                               At the top of the Pinnacle

I spent nearly an entire day at the Pioneer settlement in Swan Hill, North Victoria, which has an interesting history of immigration focusing on all the European settlers coming into Victoria, and I spent all day walking round, soaking it all up. Again something 6 months ago that my feet after about 10 minutes would have stopped me from doing due to the swelling I would have got. I train most days for 30-45 mins at a time and not having a car has meant that I have found my sea legs and am now walking a lot more than before.

Anzac weekend was full on, again late nights, socialising, Juzzy getting us lost walking in Melbourne (I thought men could read maps?!) and then a very early start for the Dawn Service. It was just after the Dawn Service I realised maybe I’m not quite as invincible as I had been thinking I had been lately. I had flashbacks of when I first collapsed at the fish market in London, the intense heat came back, I could barely breathe, the breathlessness was insane, my eyes started to lose vision and I just became a floppy dead weight. I could barely stand up, just leaning on Juzzy as I had no energy whatsoever. How we made it back to the apartment god knows and I realised once I got back into bed how much of a bad way I was in. It was like I was paralysed, I couldn’t move anything, including my little finger. It was a really scary time. I stayed in this position for a good few hours and I can only describe the feeling as being like a frozen chicken that over time started to defrost. Weird analogy I know but in my head it just makes sense. For Juzzy who this is all new to, he remained so calm and was amazing with me. Not a mean feat for a boyfriend with a sick girlfriend who for the 4 weeks before had shown no signs of the disease at all. 

           Juzzy and I at Anzac day, an hour before I nearly collapsed. Shows how quick the                        condition takes hold from normal to not being able to move.

It’s really hard not to let the negative thoughts over take your mind and with this slight set back it did make me think it could be the start of deterioration. But after some long thinking I realised that I was just being over dramatic and in fact I had actually done really well to get this far. I’ve only had one true bad day this year, which is amazing when you take into consideration the amount of turmoil I have gone through. I actually look at my bad day now and am grateful that it happened as it made me come down to Earth with a bit of a bump and made me get back into real life. I would be forgiven for thinking that maybe I had started to cure myself of PH as I was pushing my boundaries so much. But this bad day has made me realise that yes I still have the disease however I’m in a really strong position currently and I need to carry on living my life as best as I can.

I’m sure you will have seen the mammoth amount of photos of me dashing all over Victoria. Luckily I’ve had a really good tour guide and I have seen way more than I intended too and built up a great memory bank. I only have 3 weeks left in my adopted homeland and I intend to carry on enjoying myself, hopefully with no further blips.

Speak to you back in the motherland.

Lots of love,

Gem xx