So yeah, on top of dyspraxia, a nervous-anxiety-riddled-disposition, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness roughly 2 and a half years ago now.
I had a flare up of pain in my knee and my back when I reached about 16 (I was just coming to the end of highschool) and it went within a few days. Odd. Then it happened a few more times. So I saw my GP, and was packed off to Physio. He told me I was hypermobile, I said, ok whatever.
Then, as I started college for the second time, taking A levels in history, sociology, religion and philosophy, and ICT, aged 19 (long story for another post, maybe- there was a lengthy battle with my mental health inbetween) I started with awful pain in my lower back and knees. A lot worse than the time before.
A year later, in the time I was supposed to be preparing for university, I was crawling up the stairs at home to reach my room.
So I went to my GP.
Then I sat my exams, with difficulty to sit in the 2 hour exam without shuffling round on my seat in a great deal of pain.
I went back to my doctor.
I was informed it was growing pains. At this point I was 21 years old, a pretty lanky, slim built young woman who filled out and had plenty of growth spurts by then.
I went to collect my exam results in the August, I’d got into my first choice university. A Russel group, all singing, all dancing one. A ‘posh’ uni as my friends put it who were going to polytechnics. So I was moving out the following month to start my degree in History and Sociology.
I went back to my doctors once more, because before I went anywhere, I needed to know what was going on with my body.
By chance, it was a locum doctor on shift that day, who agreed with me that the pain needed more investigation, and I was sent to a rhumetologist.
At the rhumetolgist appointment, I was diagnosed with joint hypermobility syndrome.
In lay men’s terms, it’s a chronic condition where the joints have a wider range of movement than they should (that’s the ‘hyper mobility part- it’s being double jointed) and having that wide range means that soft tissues and ligaments become damaged and painful, which then becomes widespread (as painful as fuck, might I add)
Fast forward 2 years later, and my life basically consists of uni and hospital appointments, because I don’t have the energy for much else.
I’m determined to finish my studies, but my God, there are days where I just want to give up.
I sometimes get really upset that I now can’t remember what it feels like to wake up and not feel pain everyday.
But in other ways, the condition has made me a lot stronger.
I’m a very determined, very strong willed, and I’ve developed empathy on a level I didn’t realise existed.
I’m also a lot more forthcoming- if I don’t like you, you know about it.
I’ve lost a ‘friend’ in these two years.
But I’ve also become closer to others, who really will me to carry on and not give up!
A true test of character really does come, when life really throws you a curveball in the form of a chronic illness- and it’s a real test of friendship too.