1999 and all that

I don’t really want to talk about this year. Yet I must. Firstly and this can’t be stated strongly enough I was happy, life was going well for once. Yet come Holy Week my UC flared up and I was signed off work. I had no idea I would never work again. The usual high doses of steroids were to be taken. Visiting the Dr he had a trainee with him and asked questions he perhaps might not have asked. I explained all the normal side effects but added a new one concerning my tongue. This flagged something to him and he drew blood. Later that afternoon he phoned me my Blood Glucose levels were 32 (normal range 4-7). I had diabetes. What a relief to get a diagnosis at last! And no worries about having been around diabetes since I was a young lad. Quickly brought under control. And then without warning the darkness descended and I wanted to kill my self. I wouldn’t of course because I am a Christian. But boy did I think and plan it every waking minute. Unknown to me knives, pills etc were all hidden from me on the Dr’s advice. Then I became almost catatonic. Everything moved so slowly in my mind that it could take me an hour or more to find the energy and ability to answer a simple question that required a yes / no answer.

By May 2001 I was retired on grounds of ill health. Never once though did my faith leave me if anything it grew stronger. 

Eventually I ended up under the care of a psychiatrist. She was good. But while I improved a little over time I never and to this day it remains true returned to my old self. Then the difficulty in using my right side began to get worse and the chronic pain started.

Enough for today this is way way too painful to write about. It doesn’t help. It is not cathartic. Without my lovely wife things would have been different perhaps. I survived it all even although for months and years there was only God’s light to guide me.

Was it all darkness no? There are, as anyone who has ever suffered with depression will tell you, rage and anger beyond comprehension. Violent outbursts, smashing my head off a wall, plunging knives into kitchen units. Uncontrollable rage. It’s part of the disease one of the symptoms. Then there is of course the paranoia, the anxiety so intense and prolonged it cripples you to a standstill. It is an emotional rollercoaster of incredible depths. There are no heights, no breaking the water into sunlit breathable air, just drowning.

I live now in the shallows of that experience, I cannot get to the shore and the call of the depths is always beckoning. A great black shadow threatening always to encircle me. It is survivable.

If you are suffering from Depression do not listen to the killing voice. Like me you may never recover but you can and should survive.

Augustine x

Random Photo of the Day

I nearly died

No regrets! That I realise is my motto. I didn’t choose it, I didn’t force it on myself,I realised this morning that I have accepted everything that happens not exactly with joy but with acceptance of the reality. With acceptance comes the realisation of no regrets.

I can longer sit at a table, cut up my own food, walk my dog. I have rubber handled spoons and forks depending on what I am eating out of a bowl. Sounds awful but it isn’t that’s just me adapting to reality. The same with my sight loss. My eyes have never been very good but but years of heavy steroid intake have scarred my retinas. Of course nobody knew they would do that. When I first started on them I had to carry a card saying so and had to get adrenalin injections at the end of each course of them as they thought it was necessary. Now they just pump people full of them without a second thought. So much for being in at the beginning of treatment. Medicine wanders around in the dark even today. Just a side note those are disability problems not age related problems.

So a brief history. Back in 1975 my problem bowel starts to bleed. Undiagnosed. 1977 asthma finally diagnosed. 1979 my bowel bleeds again, I come close to death due to a bit of incompetence before I am rushed to hospital. A possible diagnosis of ulcerative colitis but one consultant surgeon disagrees. Who knows what was put down in my notes. A GP three years later is treating it briefly with tranquillisers. No internet of course so no opportunity to do much research. I assume this is a one off illness nobody tells me this is it for life. So that disease continues to rule my every waking moment. A mental map of every toilet becomes a way of life. Accidents become normal. By 1983 I am suffering from extreme tiredness. Diagnosed three years later as result of medication and chronic illness. Wrong. It was diabetes. But it will be 1999 before they work that one out. 1989 my bowel is in meltdown, now diagnosed by an expert with UC and told my bowel is now so badly damaged it will never work properly again. He was a lovely lovely   man and all my doubts fade away from 1979 that I might not have it. So as it continues to dominate my life it flares up several times a year. Sometime in the early 1990s after one of my regular colonoscopies I am so tired I can’t get out of bed. Diagnosis : side effect of the sedative and chronic illness.

From 1996 onwards I begin to lose power in my right hand side. Crippled with tiredness which now affects me so much I can’t move till it passes. Usually a couple of hours. Find myself regularly trapped in my car unable to drive because of tiredness. I begin to see things that aren’t there. Things speed across my vision startling me as I hunt for phantom mice. I can no longer walk properly. Everything is an effort. Of course the Drs care, well most of them, by now I have monthly appointments. I have MRIs, see neurologists, one is horrid. Get the feeling  they think I am making up my symptoms. Every year more flare ups. 

Then comes 1999. The subject of my next post.

Old Photo of the Day Australian National Maritime Museum