Yesterday I was told by a close friend that I was an ‘inspiration’ and that seeing what I went through with Crohns, made him consider his own mortality. He even said that he just couldn’t have endured what i did and kept the smile I always had. This got us talking more, albeit on the phone and not face to face which would have been better. I told him that i wasn’t smiling because i was happy but because if i didn’t, i would have given up. I said to him that when you’re in that situation you just survive by whatever means possible and by survive I mean go into ‘autopilot’, where you switch off your other senses just to deal with the prolonged shit. It’s your bodies defence mechanism or your minds, but I guess both are connected so both affected.
After having a good natter we said goodbye and promised to have a night out on the Beer together, get pissed and grab a late night kebab before being sick in an alley somewhere. Looking forward to that!!! When I put the phone down something hit me and no it wasn’t the wife, it was like a release, an overwhelming surge which quite honestly reduced me to a grizzling wreck for 10 minutes or so. My wife gave me a hug and we just sat there for about 10 minutes just quiet and saying nothing. When I finally finished this display of blubbering, my wife just gave me a kiss and made me a cup of tea. What a star!
I recalled one night in hospital when they were extremely concerned about my infections, the output from my six (yes 6) stoma bags, the vacuum pump sucking crap out of my body, and the realisation that my blood pressure was so low and my heart so quick, I was about to crash. I remember laying there and thinking I’ve had enough of this crap now, I want to go, I can’t do this anymore, I’m tired, I really want to go. I remember closing my eyes that night and saying goodbye to everyone and everything and really determined that I didn’t want to wake up. I really didn’t and to this day i know i really really didn’t. I meant it and was at peace with my decision on my terms. I had given up completely. This was the one moment in the whole of that time that I had given up.
When I woke up in the morning I was angry and I just could’t take the shit they were subjecting me to anymore. For several days nobody could speak to me, I didn’t respond and I made no effort to interact with anyone including the doctors and nurses. I was never abusive, as that’s not in my nature, but I was very aware I was being a pain in the arse. I think at that point they knew that I had given up. A TPN in my neck line was all that was keeping me going. That big red bag of stuff just keeping me alive. I was fading away and they were just keeping me going and fighting my will to give up. That was the most stubborn I have ever been. I really wanted to die. I refused all treatment and I even disconnected the TPN feed. If I could have got a flight to a clinic in Switzerland I would have. Two years of complete shit had taken it’s toll.
The doctors and nurses stepped up the game. They bought my family in and my children too so I would see there was something worth fighting for. It only fucking worked. The clever bastards had beaten me again and I know that was the exact moment when everything changed. I remember it so vividly that even writing this blog I’m holding back my tears. if they hadn’t had done that, I wouldn’t be here now, not a chance, I was fading fast.
Although it’s now been 3 years since “I was fixed” physically, it seems i still, like many others, carry the scars of battle. I consider myself well, happy, and emotionally OK, but occasionally I have these little episodes which are sparked by the strangest things like a chat with a friend, meeting one of the nurses at Tesco’s or even seeing another ill person. I am resigned to the fact that the trauma will always be with me, it’s part of what I am now. Anyone who has spent 9 months in hospital will know that something changes in you forever. I went in a wreck, came out fixed but still have the scars, both physical and mental. This shapes me.
I don’t think of myself as an inspiration but I do think of myself as a survivor. My story may inspire people but it’s just something that happened. There are people far worse off than me and more inspirational too. I just have Crohns and it’s kicked the shit out of me. The only thing I want people to take from my story is that they can survive even under the most stressful conditions. Never give up hope. Life will get better. I’m living proof, but only just!