Happy New Year, everybody! I hope it's already treating you well, but if it's not, I hope it does soon!
I can't believe that another year has come and gone. (I'm actually surprised by how quickly the days have passed so far this year; how is it already the fifth?!) I'm not going to lie, 2014 was not a fantastic year for me. It wasn't full of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns; It was one of the hardest years I've ever had to face.
I wasn't able to travel, make many memories, or reach any of life's milestones; instead I spent most of the year alone, bed ridden from constant pain with just a laptop for company. Yes, that's as glamorous as it sounds! When I did escape confinement, it was mostly for hospital appointments in an attempt to get myself better. It didn't work.
However, 2014 was the year I first ventured in to private health care. It was the year I finally found a doctor who would take me seriously, after almost three years of begging the NHS for help but getting none. I found an amazing spinal specialist in June, who immediately began getting a diagnosis by sending me for X Rays, MRI scans, and CT scans. Each one discovered something new, and within just a few weeks from my initial consultation, I learnt I had multiple spinal problems, most of which the NHS had never picked up on.
Soon after, I had my first round of spinal injections; they only had a negative effect and worsened the pain.
I was sent for a few sessions of physio at a different clinic, and for the first time I had massage, manipulation, and ultra sound therapy. Sadly, I didn't respond well to any of them, either.
Then, a couple of months ago, I was referred to one of my specialist's colleagues for physio instead, on his instruction. I trusted / trust my specialist one hundred percent (a whole new experience for 2014!), so he said "jump" and I said "how high?" Both men are the best in their respected fields, so I wasn't in a position to argue. I trust his judgement.
November and December were filled with physio sessions. I threw myself in to stretches, massage, manipulation, cranial sacral therapy, and acupuncture; the latter which I'm currently being given. (Okay, not right this second; that would be a weird time to blog! My next session is tomorrow.) Frustratingly, I've not experienced improvement through any of them.
My physiotherapist is stumped. Apparently from a muscular and skeletal point of view (and his), my body shouldn't be responding this way. From my scans and my known spinal issues, he can't understand why I'm in so much pain, or why particular stretches or activities aggravate my pain levels and leave me spiralling down hill. Last month he told me I react to touch the way a fibromyalgia sufferer does. He also diagnosed me with arthritis in my lower spine a few weeks ago! It was a big surprise, but in another way it wasn't; suddenly all the years of joint pain that began before I hit my teens made a lot of sense. It leaves me wondering what I'm going to be diagnosed with next! (I'm having more tests done this week).
He had a meeting with my spinal specialist to talk about my case, and looked through every scan. He told me he wants to see me get better and is determined to do everything he can to help me. I got a little emotional; nobody had ever said anything like that to me before. He and the specialist are the only two medical professionals who have given me fantastic medical care and have promised not to give up on me. I can't tell you just how much that meant/s to me after three years of being told to "get on with it" by NHS GPs, specialists, and physiotherapists in my county time after time after time.
Even though I've not made any improvement in the last six months and their health care isn't free, I'm so glad I ventured in to private health care in 2014. I'm glad we found an amazing doctor who finally gave me some answers, and began suggesting routes to try; sending me down a road which led to a brilliant physiotherapist. It was a turning point in my journey, and it was definitely one of the best decisions my family and I made in 2014. I hope I can look back so positively and optimistically on my medical care this time next year! Fingers crossed I can!
2014 was filled with dozens of hospital appointments, and days and weeks on end spent in bed recovering from them, but I did manage a little fun here and there, too.
I got to see Fall Out Boy live for the very first time, and it was worth the nine year wait to achieve that goal!
I won a night's stay at a Travelodge (thanks, Rachel!), and spent a night in London with my sister and my best friend. We soaked up the festive atmosphere in Covent Garden, and took a boat along the Thames from The London Eye to Greenwich and back, sight-seeing along the way. We saw Linkin Park live at the O2, which was one of the best shows I've ever seen. I had such a great night away!
I explored a historic local church and graveyard I'd never stepped foot in before.
I enjoyed Bourton-on-the-Water in the summer sun, and in the glow of Christmas lights.
I made it to my local wildlife park, and survived the three hours. I saw my first baby anteater and it was adorable!
I made a few cinema trips through sheer determination to see my favourite book adaptations on screen.
I went to London for a CT scan... well, it was technically a hospital trip, but it was still nice to be in London during a 33'C heat wave!
I was taken out to lunch a few times by the sister.
I even did a spot of window shopping here and there, mostly just to get some exercise, and fresh air...
Sometimes the boring little things are the ones that you cling to get through the difficult times. I definitely appreciated every chance I had to get out of the house and do normal, everyday things. It is kinda worrying now I realise that a trip to the supermarket has become one of the most exciting things in my life, though, (beyond these four walls)! What happened to me?? Ha ha!
As difficult as being house-bound for a third consecutive year can be, I refused to allow it to break me, upset me, bore me or anger me. I did my best to wake each day with a content persona, and filled my time as best I could. I read; I wrote; I attempted to cross stitch; I watched movies; I got lost in music; I took photos; I edited them; I dressed up; I experimented with make up; I spent approximately 9972159 hours on Pinterest; and I dedicated far more to this little blog. I was rarely bored. In fact, there were never enough hours in the day!
This little blog of mine was definitely my biggest distraction during 2014. It kept me busy every day, and without it, I don't want to think about how much harder last year would've been for me to deal with. It's a life line I don't want to let go of. I know I wasn't the best blogger in 2014; I wasn't best organised, I got behind on all your comments, and I didn't always bring great content, but I enjoyed blogging just the same, and had some amazing opportunities with some fantastic brands. I hope to be a much better blogger this year, and I'm going to do my best to make sure I am! I've got so many ideas and goals for the year ahead!
For the first January ever, I feel excited for the year ahead, and optimistic about where it might take me. I know it won't be easy, but I hope 2015 is a fantastic year and perhaps even the best year yet! Who knows where it might take me.
I hope that your 2015 is filled with happiness, good health, great times, great people, real love, and everything you could possibly hope for. Here's to 2015!
Where do you hope 2015 will take you?