HEALTH UPDATE: JULY 2016

Life Updates

It could be worse.

That has pretty much been my life motto for the past two years and it’s actually worked out considerably well. As a result, I’m less prone to wallowing in self-pity, although perhaps I can thank my job for that, too.

After 20 months of uncertainty, pain, hospital admissions and tests, I’ve been told there’s nothing that can be done for my current health situation as there are too many risks associated with surgery. (Last resort and what we were subtly hoping for as a miraculous cure) There’s no medication left for me to take; I’m already on painkillers, plus chronic pain relief before I go to sleep, so a medicinal approach is also out of the question. Doctors have now suggested a “holistic approach” to dealing with the pain and symptoms that come with this confusing/unique health condition.

I’ve been a little weary when it comes to the term “holistic” because it felt like a cop-out when it was suggested on the post-consultation report. Almost like a “we couldn’t help you surgically, so try some homeopathy or yoga.” But looking into it further, it’s worth a shot considering we’ve exhausted every other avenue.

I guess the worst aspect of living with this/these health condition(s) is the absolute loneliness that comes with having to live with it. Of course I am incredibly blessed and lucky to have such supportive parents and family, as well as exceptional friends who have stood by my side since the day I was first hospitalised. Ultimately, however, having to live with ongoing pain and knowing there’s no real cure out there for me now is the worst thing. Realising that I’ve been through so much pain, horrid health relapses and symptoms, only to be told I should ‘go herbal.’ It’s awfully lonely; having to summon up the courage to say “okay Anisah, you’ve been through this before, you can get through this now.” Accepting that pain is a part of my life I just have to live with. When I have to leave a room, or take a break from work, or even duck to the loos when out with friends, I have to pray and beg that whatever’s causing my abdomen grief will just go away. “You just have to ride it out” is infuriating to hear; why me? After everything, why am I still suffering? Will it ever go away?

It sounds terribly despondent, I know, but I guess the lonely aspect of a health condition is something I’ve not touched on before, yet is imperative to consider nevertheless. It interlinks strongly with your psychological state of mind too, almost like a vicious circle. When I experience physical pain, my anxiety levels increase and I panic a little. As a result of living with these health issues, I’m prone to periods of feeling low and anxious for the future. I’m desperately hoping that a holistic approach helps me physically and mentally, because I am drained in both senses!

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Kahlil Gibran

A x

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Back to Work!

Life Updates

Ah. After five weeks of unemployment, I can’t possibly express how nice it is to finally have a job again, especially one I adore so much.

Thankfully, I’m back working in menswear at the same company as before, but this time in a better location and at an A list store! I’m just over a week into my new routine and it’s been absolutely crazy; the pressure of a better performing store is certainly intense at times but it’s something to make the most of. Furthermore, with this job I can now focus more on training to be a merchandiser, although merchandising here is a whole new ball game! From the team to the products, everything is wonderful and I’m super excited to work here until September.

Working in a new store also makes me realise how much I miss my old one! The little family we had back in my old branch was something quite special, and at times I miss having a boss who pretty much let me get away with anything and everything. I was incredibly lucky to have a supportive set of senior staff who looked after me as much as they did and being practically best pals with my department manager. However, leaving the store was the best decision I could have made, especially after having to endure bullying for three months straight by a colleague.

Finally, I’m just grateful to be working again! A health update is pending, but as of right now, working up to 30 hours a week is just what I need at this point – not only does it serve as a brilliant distraction, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun. It takes my mind of all the crappy stuff going on with my health right now, and I don’t have time to wallow in self pity/think about pain whilst I’m running around the shop floor.

So thank you to my old work family for transforming me into a menswear ace, and I look forward to great new adventures with my new menswear family.

Ciao, and Ramadan Mubarak!

 

HEALTH UPDATE: MAY 2016

Life Updates

The waiting game.

It appears I spend most of my time waiting for things to happen; currently, I’m waiting to be seen by a specialist in the field of Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction at Harley Street. Sadly, the NHS route proved to be an absolute disaster; I spent two months waiting for the appointment to come through to see a consultant who had an “interest” in the field of SOD at a tertiary centre hospital, only for him to tell me there was nothing he could do about my condition due to a substantial “lack of evidence” excluding my pain. It’s safe to say that I was livid after that appointment. His reluctance to do anything about my condition pretty much summed up why I have no faith in doctors – for over a year and a half, my condition has worsened yet they seem to intentionally brush over my three year-long suffering.

Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction is a tricky little condition; for one, the Sphincter muscle in my bile duct is so tiny that the best way to assess whether it’s working properly (or not, in my case) is to go inside and undergo a procedure. The problem is this procedure carries the risk of inducing pancreatitis; having already suffered a bout of it two years ago, I’m not too keen to risk any chances of having it again because the pain is horrendous. Pancreatitis also runs the risk of inflicting life-long damage onto the pancreas, creating furthermore health problems. However, having exhausted many medicinal routes to tackle to pain I’m in daily with SOD, I’m running out of patience and options. Being bombarded with pain relief doesn’t solve the issue and it appears the doctors I’ve seen are almost reluctant to cure it, opting for a safer, non-invasive method of treating the symptoms.

Another problem is the relapses. Whilst I was away, I suffered from an episode of severe pain which landed me in hospital – not ideal when you’re in another country. The relapses occur almost every other month, drastically impacting my life with its unpredictability. Doctors perhaps perceive my desperation for medical intervention as just another kid who comes in with pain in their stomach. They don’t realise how badly this condition has ruined my life for the past three years. They can’t imagine being in pain for a solid 18 months because they’ve never been there.

I know it’s wrong to desperately hope for something when I’ve already been disappointed so many times before, but I sincerely hope this consultant will give me some answers this time. If not surgical intervention then at least another option to consider would be preferable. Being written off has destroyed me, physically and emotionally.

So, hopefully, in ten days I may just get some answers!

A x

 

Anisah vs Her Body: Round 3

Life Updates

2013: Laparoscopic Cholecystectomy. 2014: Pancreatitis. 2015-present: Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction.

I’m stuck in a kind of stand off between myself and my doctors; they’re aware of how detrimental my condition is to my physical and mental wellbeing, yet they’re reluctant to take any action due to the potentially life threatening complications associated with it. It’s made furthermore frustrating by the fact that SOD is so rare in patients, especially at my age, too.

2015 was a year completely dominated by pain and I hope never to relive the experiences I endured that year again. When you’re in a situation such as mine, it’s incredibly difficult to adopt a facade of positivity and automatic “I’m fine” responses to the repetitive, rhetorical “are you okay?” In short; no, I’m not okay. It appears I’m fighting my body on a daily basis in the hope that it’ll stop trying to reduce me to my knees from unrelenting pain. But that’s not what people want to hear.

Thankfully, I appear to have inherited my parents’ strength and willpower; I am a survivor and I will fight this to the end, but its left me questioning – at what cost? I’m unable to go about my daily activities without being crippled by the pain at least twice during the course of the day. I can’t eat properly. The prospect of a (second) good university experience is hampered by pain. My anxiety is through the roof. It’s all a vicious cycle with no bright light – yet.

I’m a strong believer in things happening for a reason, by forces greater than us. There is a plan for me, I just need to trust in myself and those forces that I’ll make it through to the other side. It’s been a traumatising road these past few years and I’m incredibly tired of fighting, but I’m also desperately hoping this won’t continue for much longer and that this is just the final stretch in a (literally) gut-wrenching battle.

Throughout this ordeal, I’ve managed to retain a somewhat positive outlook on life fundamentally thanks to the strong support network of friends and family I have around me. I say this time and time again to the point where these words almost come across as empty but it’s thanks to my loved ones that I have come this far. My mother raised me to be strong, positive and almost certainly not a defeatist; my father raised me as a fighter. It is because of their support and unrelenting positivity not to mention belief in me that I’ve managed to make it this far. My true friends stood by my side and helped me battle against my health during my darkest hours, giving me the strength to fight when I thought I could fight no longer. I’ve come to know some truly wonderful people over the past few months who have completely changed my outlook on life, not to mention made me a better, stronger person. I cannot thank them enough for simply being in my life, and I know I’m blessed beyond words to have compassionate people around me. It’s because of these people that, during the dark hours, I can see a light. Perhaps it’s not the light at the end of the tunnel, but the promise of light is good enough for me.

So, amidst a sea of uncertainty, I’m going to give this illness everything I’ve got and battle through to the end, armed with a positive mindset and determination to overcome it before it has the chance to consume me. Forgive me if I backtrack every now and then, though.

On a final note, thank YOU to everyone who’s taken the time to simply read my blog, not to mention commenting on it, too. From my work colleagues to best friends to family friends: your support means the world to me. I don’t even need to tell you I love you; you already know. Without you, I would not be half the person I am today.

A x

LIFE UPDATE: FEB 2016

Original Writing

We’re nearly three months into 2016 and already I feel that this year is going to be a bloody good one.

Firstly, I’m chuffed to confirm that I’ve made it through the second month of 2016 pain free, to a certain extent. There are times when the pain strikes, leaving me relatively incapacitated for an hour or so but I can deal with that. All in all, my health is doing very well and hopefully it stays that way for next few months.

Secondly, I’m furthermore excited that I’ve been offered an unconditional offer to study at Reading University! Three years ago, Reading was my dream uni to study at but sadly I was just too sick to even contemplate it as a possibility. Amidst recovering from two operations and subsequently developing an eating disorder whilst accepting I suffered from social and general anxiety, I was definitely not in the right place to consider moving onto campus at a university miles and miles away from my parents. It was decided at the time that a university in London was a better choice and thus, we’ve ended up here. Not only is the course absolutely perfect for me (THERE’S A MODULE SPECIFICALLY DEDICATED TO POETRY!) but it allows me to explore different career avenues such as teaching and publishing. The university also do a placement scheme and an international transfer scheme which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to be given a chance to go there.

I’ve also been given an absolutely wonderful once in a lifetime opportunity this April: I’m travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah. It’s a necessity for every Muslim to go at least once in their lives and since this is the first time that I’ve been in good health, I’m taking full advantage of it.

On a sadder note, I’m leaving my much loved job just before I go away for Umrah. It makes me incredibly sad to think I won’t be coming back to such a fantastic team but my goodness, it’s been an experience I’ll never forget. Not only have I learnt so much from everyone but I’ve also toughened up a considerable amount since starting! And Aaron, I’ll miss seeing your wonderful face every day. Thanks for being the best manager I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for. It’s onto great, new adventures for me but I’m incredibly grateful for this one, too.

So far, so good 🙂 I hope you’re all having a cracking 2016, too.

A x

Out With a Bang: Farewell 2015!

Original Writing

2015 has been the toughest hurdle to jump over; everything was thrown at me with so little time to prepare for it and I can’t bring myself to accept that I’ve survived it. (Just about)

The year began with hospitalisation and a new health condition: pancreatitis. Over the course of 7 months this developed into Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction. (SOD) Now, my doctors are so baffled by my health conditions, they’ve put me under the care of another surgeon. So that’s put me under the care of two surgeons, a gastroenterologist, a pancreatic specialist and a laparoscopic surgeon over three years. I really do get around. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I am pain free and have been since being discharged from hospital at the end of November. I’m hoping it’ll stay that way, too.

I also said goodbye to people I thought I couldn’t live without. I embraced new friendships and was reminded what love felt like. Ultimately, I loved and I lost. 87% sure that’s a song lyric.

I exceeded every expectation I, and many others, had of my success both academically and personally. I was nominated for four blog awards in the space of one year, with 12,600 views and 7,200 people clicking onto my blog around the globe. Oh, and now 2 blogs to my name. I managed to bag myself a 2:1 in my first year at university despite being hospitalised 11 times during the year. Flippin’ crazy.

Finally, I am blissfully and disgustingly happy. Being surrounded by wonderful parents who’ve supported me since forever has been the only thing to keep me going: their invaluable advice and commitment to my happiness has been something I’ll never take for granted. For the rest of my time on this planet, I’ll never be able to thank them enough for everything they’ve sacrificed and done for me. I love you both incomprehensible amounts and hope I’ve done you proud so far. The friends who’ve stuck by me during my best and worst hours are all godsends I’ll be forever grateful for, too. The poet I met this summer changed my life; he taught me so much about life, love and poetry that I’ll carry with me into my future. The love I have for him is simply indescribable. My best friend who I so nearly lost came back into my life; I’ve learnt that the term ‘soulmate’ doesn’t necessarily carry romantic connotations. My best friend is my soulmate – I can’t live my life without him in it and I’ll love him until the end of time. I stumbled across a job which I’ve fallen utterly in love with: my manager is the nicest (and sassiest) human being I’ve ever had the pleasure of working for and the people I work with give me nothing but joy every day. Everything has fallen into place. 🙂

I’m incredibly lucky to be alive, as healthy as I can be and to have everyone I love around me. Thank you to everyone who joined me on the journey I took this year and to everyone who stuck by me. I’ve learnt the hard way that those who are destined to be in your life will always be a part of it, and you, and will find a way back to you no matter what. Those who never had the intention of sticking around, or who walked away – well, they’re a lesson learnt for the future.

Here’s to a great 2016. And never looking back.

Anisah x

HEALTH UPDATE: OCTOBER 2015

Original Writing

I’m back! (Ish)

After what seems like forever, I’m finally getting into the swing of things again with regards to university assignments and blogging 🙂

The last time I updated you all on my health, it had a rather dreary tone to it; I was left in the lurch with what I was actually suffering from and there never seemed to be an end to the pain. Not all that much has improved with regards to the pain, but I have a diagnosis!

Sphincter of Oddi Dysfunction. It sounds complicated (and it is) but ultimately, it all boils down to the after-effects of having my gallbladder removed. My body is currently struggling to process the flow of juices flowing from my liver to my pancreas, and the muscle which controls the flow of pancreatic juices from my bile duct into my duodenum (eh, such technical terms) is overwhelmed with stress to regulate all these juices, so it goes into spasm. Thus, the pain hits. Every time the muscle spasms, the pain hits my left side, where my pancreas is located, my right side, where my gallbladder used to be and my shoulder; I’m still unsure as to why and how my shoulder comes into this. At times the pain becomes disabling to the point where I cannot move, sit or stand without doubling over but most of the time, it is a background pain which is awfully uncomfortable.

After having a consultation with my former surgeon, he agreed on the above diagnosis which is apparently common with people who have undergone a cholecystectomy such as myself. The only problem is how to tackle it!

Having explored every avenue possible including CT scans, MRI scans, X-Rays, ultrasounds and an endoscopy, which all came back with no indication of a latent stone or any obstruction to cause such pain, I was put on chronic pain relief. Having been on medication since the beginning of the year, both medical professionals and myself believe it’s time for something to be done. The next possible avenue to explore, however, is surgery. Nothing elaborate, a simple cutting of the muscle which is causing the agony. The only problem with this surgery is the risks involved; they’re slightly worrying! I have an appointment in 2 weeks time with a specialist in this area of surgery to discuss the pros and cons of the procedure with my parents and I.

So, thats the update so far! It’s not all doom and gloom anymore, despite being in pain for two and a half years 🙂

Ciao for now,

A x

May Update!

Original Writing

Evening, fellow bloggers!

As you may have noticed, I’ve started getting into a routine of blogging again (finally!) It’s been a while, what with moving house, starting my new job and completing my final assignments for university. I can honestly say, it feels great to be back on the scene again; I’m a little rusty but working on it. The 4am starts and 9.30pm finishes are relatively challenging, I have to admit, but working in an airport gives me a bit more free time during the week, and whatever free time I do have I’ll spend working on my site to make it the best it can be.

I’m loving living in the countryside, too. It’s slightly daunting being away from the city, as I’ve lived in London all my life; nevertheless the house is beautiful and the town is extremely picturesque. The space and the rolling hills have seduced me into a lover of the country already. Luckily for me, I’m very close to someone who lives not too far from me, meaning exploring! The one thing I love more than anything is travelling and exploring new places, which is why this is such an exciting time for me; not to mention, it’ll look fantastic on my photography portfolio.

Moving on to my blog, I’ve recently started exploring the world of Rumi, the unimaginably talented Persian poet and mystic. I’ve started reading Whispers of the Beloved, and I’ve fallen in love with him, and his poetry. I can honestly say I’ve never come across poetry, or in this case, quatrains, that speak directly of and to the heart and soul. There are some quatrains that are so invariably moving, I needed to stop reading just to fully appreciate all Rumi stood and still stands for. His devotion to spirituality, not to mention Shams, the beloved friend of whom his poetry relates to, weakens and strengthens the soul all at the same time.

I’m going to create a category of Rumi’s work to add to my other categories! His work is too beautiful to keep to myself, and from the overwhelmingly positive response I’ve received from all you wonderful people on my blog posts and original pieces, I’m sure you will fall in love with his work if you haven’t already.

Thanks for the subscriptions, likes and comments over the past few days! All your support means the world to me.

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