You may have noticed that I have been absent from my blog for a couple of weeks – totally intentional on my part because basically I had had enough. Since my last post I have had a really rough few weeks: I had been noticeably more tired with less energy, my concentration had been even worse, my aches and pains had been horrendous and I just couldn’t believe that I was experiencing such a bad flare-up when things had begun to look a bit brighter. Then, last Thursday night I discovered a little patch of about 15 spots on my tummy. Luckily I had a doctor’s appointment anyway for the Friday so I got it checked out then and yes….she confirmed it, I had shingles.
My ESR levels have gone shooting back up to 26 – where I was in October, probably due to the shingles virus but still, so disheartening. As always, my lovely doctor was brilliant, when I had my, “Are you being serious?” moment, laughing into crying meltdown in her office. She just looked at me sympathetically and said, ‘This is the last thing I wanted to have to diagnose today, I am so sorry Hannah.” So, a new NHS print out sheet was handed over to add to my ever growing pile and anti-viral meds prescribed.
It is so important with shingles to get diagnosed within the first 72 hours as after that anti-virals can’t be prescribed and the whole situation is then much, much worse. That is tricky as some people don’t feel unwell to start with or even notice the rash but if you do suspect, fight for those anti viral meds as I’ve heard so many horror stories of how bad shingles can be….as my doctor told me as I was leaving, it is commonly known as ‘a belt of roses from hell’ – yeah, thanks for that!
My experience of shingles has been bad enough – the sickness by far has been the worst; probably a combination of all the different tablets I’m on, tiredness and the actual virus itself. I just feel constantly sea sick so haven’t eaten a proper meal in almost a week although lemonade and rich tea biscuits have been a comfort! The area itself has been very itchy but the pain has been what knocked me off guard. In a very warped way, arthritis pain has prepared me for it as I have learnt to “deal” with it but the shooting pain that obviously runs on the affected nerve has been excruciating at times.
My sleep has also been disturbed due to the itching, pain and sickness which hasn’t helped with the fatigue from the M.E – I honestly don’t think my body knows what the hell is going on and my brain certainly doesn’t. I haven’t known what to focus on more and feel the most annoyed about, so, I just gave in and felt annoyed by absolutely everything and allowed myself to let go of any positivity for a few days and just let myself think how utterly rubbish the is whole thing is. Almost four months of illness and still no real light at the end of the tunnel, enough to make anyone reach crisis point!
It’s been another puzzling situation as the rash has been on my right hand side again – everything I’ve experienced – first alopecia patch, first lost eyebrow and eyelashes, most affected by reiki – all on my right hand side. No idea if there is any significance to this medically or otherwise – answers on a postcard please!
However, as with most things, they get better or more manageable with time and today the rash is less angry and I feel more human again. I finished the anti-virals yesterday so hopefully the shingles is well and truly on its way out. The last week especially has been really tough, I am so aware as always that even within my circle of friends things can be so much worse, but this week I really have allowed myself to be okay with the fact that within my little bubble things are horrid at the moment, my life is totally and utterly on hold and I have no idea what’s coming next and that I hate. Is it possible to have a mid life crisis at 29??
As my dear friend, now to be forever known as, the ‘reiki master,’ said last week, it’s perfectly okay to feel like Cinderella at times in your life. You see people doing amazing things, planning new adventures or simply going about their day to day lives and it’s like you aren’t invited to the ball. It’s jealousy but not in the spiteful meaning of the word. I’m not used to feeling stuck: I’m an organiser, I talk things through and help others. I listen and plan and I haven’t been able to do any of that for months now and I can’t see when I will next be able to…yes, I know that time will come and I appreciate everyone telling me that but until you’ve experienced such a debilitating scenario, you don’t understand quite how frustrating that is.
Last night I decided that today I would fill in my Happiness Diary again and find some new sunshine because otherwise I could see myself spiralling into some disastrous downward free fall which won’t help anyone! As always, I have been so lucky that people have read my blog and have continued to send me sunshine throughout the last week without even knowing this next little chapter and it’s cheered me up no end. At one point we had seven, yes SEVEN, vases full of flowers in the kitchen – the smells and colours were just amazing and helped cheer us all up -not just me!
I had a very touching text from a friend who had been able to share my blog on anxiety with her friend who was suffering, bought some polos and had then been able to go to lectures and eat out – don’t laugh, polos are magical, wonderful little rings of mint! I also received a beautiful little colouring book and pencils which I was SO grateful for as I left mine in Dubai and had only said to Dad a few days back how I wished I’d brought them back with me. I’ve had cards and letters through the post and a wonderful phone call to my Dubai sister – so proud and impressed that you worked out how to get Whatsapp calls to work, clever clogs! And mum saved my bacon by going out and replenishing the only moisturiser that does anything to relieve the pins, needles and sensitivity in my face, ahhhh heaven! (Dr Organic aloe vera cream from Holland and Barrett)
It was also so lovely to be at home for Jack’s 23rd birthday, something that obviously hasn’t happened for a number of years due to him being at uni and then me being in Dubai. We love a joke present in our house and we took great pleasure in turning him back into a seven year old again by dressing up as Darth Vadar – amazing! I take a lot of sunshine from watching my little brother at the moment: he has truly turned into the most amazing adult; he’s working so hard on his teaching course and getting the feedback and praise he so deserves. At the same time he is fitting in training for the London Marathon for such a deserving cause, C.R.Y – I honestly couldn’t be any prouder.
The most overwhelming thing that happened this week by far though was a surprise from the parents of the children I taught last year. Teaching has always been a vocation for me, I love my job and the joy I get from seeing the next generation grow and flourish in my care is reward enough – although I’m not going to lie, teachers do appreciate every end of year present and card! There are children and parents that I will always remember but the class of 14/15 will always stand out. Teaching in Dubai is a totally different experience to that of teaching in England. There’s something different about the relationship you create with parents in Dubai. It may be because you are linked by the ex-pat community, or it may be that I just like to form those relationships because I know how positively that impacts the children. In the UK you would rarely become friends with parents of the children you teach but again, in Dubai, this isn’t unheard of. I have been lucky enough to maintain lovely relationships with some of the parents from my last class and they have been wonderful at staying in touch and giving me encouragement to get better and get back to Dubai. When one of them asked for my address I just thought it would be for the children to send cards or something – I NEVER expected the gorgeous flowers, hamper and gift voucher that arrived on the mat. It’s hard to express how much I mean it when I say I don’t need ‘things’ but honestly, people’s kindness has bowled me over since I’ve been ill. I know how lucky I am to be surrounded by the most amazing people BUT it never ceases to amaze me how thoughtful people are. I never did and still don’t expect gifts and cards, just maintaining contact is enough, thank you simply doesn’t cover what I want to say – there are no words.
I have been setting myself little challenges since being ill, to keep my mind working and to also track what I can and can’t cope with (I still can’t quite manage to solve the hard Sudokus, but who can, right?!). I’ve been doing my research into things I can do on a low/no budget and thought I’d share them incase any of you are interested too.
- The week of the 14th-20th February is random acts of kindness week. The website is fab and gives ideas to be used in school, for children to do and for adults and I think it’s just a brilliant idea. We can get so lost in our daily lives that we forget to be grateful and be nice to each other sometimes…have a read, give it a go, take some photos and share them with me – I think children and adults could have some fun here!
- I love taking a photo and there is a 30 day gratitude challenge doing the rounds. I think I might have a go starting in a few days and post them on my Instagram page, greenhannah86. Follow and have a go too!
- I always find it tricky to let a friend know you’re thinking of them when they are ill or going through a tough time, it’s especially hard if you live abroad but I have discovered a few super cool websites recently which I thought I’d share:
- http://www.sponge.co.uk You can actually send people (even yourself!) cake through the post, genius!
- http://www.hugbox.co.uk Several options, you can choose the theme of the box and what goes inside to send to someone you love who might need a hug!
- http://www.bearhugsgifts.com This site I adore. You can chose from boxes varying in price for lots of different occasions – tea and biscuits, relaxation box, new baby box…very quirky and cute.
I seem to be mentioning ‘Friends’ a lot recently but there was an episode where Phoebe was trying to decide whether there was such a thing as a selfless act. I think that any act of kindness towards another human being who you care for, whether it comes in the form of words (written or spoken), gifts, visits, prayers, they are bound to make you feel some sense of fulfilment because you know you’ve given that person something to smile about in what could possibly be a very dark period of their lives.
So, this week, or in random acts of kindness week, do something for someone else, someone you know or a stranger because you just never know what that person may be going through.
Happy Friday y’all (for my friend Nik in America who is preparing her Valentine’s costume for work which I think is brilliant and has definitely given me some sunshine today!)