As of today, I am no longer on sick leave. I am officially 100% back to work!
While it is a relief to know that I can fall of my bike and break a leg and still get sick pay for the few weeks it takes to be able to drive again, it is more a relief to know that surely today signals not the end of my illness but certainly an auspicious moment on my road to recovery.
It is hard to believe that it was only November 2013 when I was struck down by an illness that was initially and perhaps ultimately unexplainable. Suddenly, all that I knew – all that defined me was gone! A little dramatic perhaps but certainly true.
The discovery last August that my greatest problem appeared to be my breathing and not M.E. (as previously thought) was understandably a massive relief. My rapid improvement from that day forward has been exhilarating. To do the things I used to do and to discover new things that I can now do is life fulfilling. I can now say that I can walk 11 miles (with 2 pub stops on route), I can Husky Mush (beginner style), I can do Kinesis and I am learning Yoga; this is fantastic.
All of life’s experiences are perhaps not worthless but certainly less rewarding if you can’t say that you have learnt from them. So what, pray tell, have I learnt over the last 18 months:
- I was extremely lucky: lucky that I didn’t have M.E.; lucky I had a friend who made medical recommendations; lucky I had a specialist who was willing to question the accepted ‘truth’ that I had M.E.; lucky that I won’t be sick for the rest of my life. I am simply lucky.
- I am more determined and stronger than I ever imagined I could be.
- Being determined to do something, sometimes largely consists of admitting you need help.
- If I could deal with this illness, I can deal with anything my future throws me.
- Life is for living and not for passing through.
- Doing ordinary everyday things should be seen with as much joy and excitement as more unusual things are.
- Friendships and family are crucial to my emotional and ultimately my physical health.
- I have an incredibly powerful friendship and family support network.
- You are not brave when you are ill; you are simply getting on with it because what other choice do you have?
- It is very easy to over-estimate what you are capable of on the road to recovery but it is equally easy to allow your fear of doing too much allow you to under-estimate your abilities.
- Work is important to my self-worth but it no longer needs to define it.
- Work-life balance is too often ignored: it is vital to continuing my renewed health.
- There are those out there being wronged by their families and friends and sadly the medical profession. Those who really suffer from M.E. are, more often than not, not given the respect and access to treatment they not only require but also deserve.
I hope I will also remember those M.E. patients who offered me such unconditional support. I hope I will not forget what they continue to suffer day to day. I hope I can continue to inspire those around me to be open to people’s illnesses and not to question people when they say they are suffering: to accept and offer unconditional support in return.
If I can remember half of these lessons, then I will emerge from this illness when I eventually completely recover (hopefully in the next 12 – 18 months) as a better person: a more fulfilled person.
This is not my final blog: I hope far from it. I will however have two guest bloggers over the next few weeks. Two students from school who wrote so personally and so inspiringly I wanted to share their words with my readers. If a 12 year old can inspire us, surely we can all do whatever we want in life, nothing can stop us.