Until very recently, the Husband and I practised this arcane art. We would buy very old very cheap cars, and lash them together with gaffer tape and hope until they came to the point where they fell apart, and became way beyond economical repair. We’d weigh them in, and then go out and buy another one.
Some of the cars were stellar – like the unbelievably dull grey Proton, which was just dull to drive but lasted a good while, until I scraped past a rock whilst parking one day and we realised the paint was all that was keeping the rust together… and the Starlet I’m driving now – which is good for another few years I reckon.
With most of the cars though, a point came where everything started to go wrong at once, and all unrelated things, some small and some more expensive to deal with. We’d fix whatever we could on a budget until it was obvious that the car had actually come to the end of its natural life, and off to the scrappy it went.
Right now I feel rather like one of those cars. I’ve spent more time in the GP’s surgery and the Royal Gwent in the last few months than I did in the whole of my childhood. Apart from the depression, my eye swelled up and required a trip to the emergency out of hours doctor (and an eyepatch!), I’ve had an ear infection so bad that when the doctor tried to look in my ear it was so painful I hit her, and immediately I got over that, I happened to cuddle my poorly children and picked up a nasty throat infection which is still giving me grief.
But more worrying than that, a few months ago I noticed some worrying symptoms in unrelated areas – rather like the cars we’ve known and loved. I realised that my breasts were incredibly sore and had been for months, and I also had some disturbing digestive symptoms – which I won’t describe in detail.
I took myself off to the doctor two weeks apart and in both cases was referred immediately to a specialist. The breast problem was solved first and fairly easily, following a mammogram and a visit to the breast clinic. It’s not my breasts at all, but the muscles behind them that are sore, probably from picking up small children to cuddle. Taking nurofen works, and it will no doubt settle down altogether when the children stop needing to be picked up, at least until the grandchildren arrive!
The other problem did not quite result in such a happy ending. I’d been extremely worried because my mother had the exact same symptoms and was diagnosed with bowel cancer five years ago. She’s recovered and is nearing the end of her five years of monitoring with no sign of cancer, but it was a long hard unpleasant slog for her and I was, frankly, scared.
The doctor made an urgent referral, and looked so unhappy when I described my symptoms that we decided to go private for the diagnosis. I had blood tests, an endoscopy and a colonoscopy. The oscopies weren’t pleasant, and the colonoscopy was rather painful but they were both over quickly and not as bad as I’d thought. The upshot of this was that I don’t have cancer. What I do have is ulcerative colitis, which is inflammation and ulceration of the lower bowel. It’s not severe, and is localised, but is not curable and will require treatment on and off for the rest of my life.
I was so relieved that it wasn’t cancer, that it didn’t sink in until a few days ago that there is something rather nasty wrong with me. Looking it up on the internet, always a good idea (!) revealed that if left untreated it will actually kill me. It will take a long long time, but it must be treated. I’m now waiting for an appointment on the NHS for the specialist who will decide on a treatment strategy.
Meanwhile, I feel really rough. The symptoms arose because the colitis has flared up, and although I’ve now got a diagnosis, I am not yet being treated, and the flare up is getting worse. Again, I won’t go into detail – but some of the less gross symptoms are pain in my stomach, constant painful ulcers in my mouth, and a feeling of sickness and bizarre and random appetite. I’ve put loads of weight on because I get ravenously hungry but don’t want to eat anything – but not eating makes me feel really ill, so I eat all the wrong things, things I know are bad for my personal health but are nice and bland… I can’t stomach very much processed or spicy food any more, and the only thing I tend to crave is tomatoes, which I can’t eat because they hurt the ulcers in my mouth.
Ah poor me:-( I am aware that it could be so much worse. It’s been caught early, and I’m still able to go t work (the most important thing because I get paid by the day and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid). But I am in constant discomfort, feeling drained and down and generally completely fed up. So there.
So – bring on the coping strategies…. lots of very dark chocolate, and I’m about to go out and partake in some retail therapy. One unexpected side effect of the antidepressants is that I’m now really bored with my wardrobe of black and purple clothes – so since I need to buy bigger clothes, I am about to buy the brightest, floweriest, size 20 summer clothes that they have in Bon Marche:-)