Dotty has kindly invited me to guest on her blog. Much obliged Dotty.
2 years ago I was hit by lightning. Not really but that’s how it feels. I can imagine some poor sod in Johnny Foxes beer garden being singled out by Thor or whoever for a bolt out of the blue.
“Holy fuck” he’d say “what in God’s name just happened?” He’d grab at strangers cos he’d be in a bit of a tizz. “Who knows about this sort of thing? Did you ever see the like of it before? And what did you do? And what did yer man do? Is he still fucked? Why me? Were we standing in the same place?”
When I got sick, I went to the experts. They knew what I had. “Ulcerative Coilitis”. Happy to have reached a diagnosis they went on “Very serious, Very aggressive”. Lightning bolt.
Q. What happened?
A. Who knows?
Q. Why me?
A. Who gives a shit?
Q. Ok em is there anything you can do?
A. Oh yeah!
High fives all round. Not really.
So my bowel was inflamed and bleeding and painful as hell. Seriously getting in the way of my social life. I moved in to the hospital for a month and a bit. Closely monitored and hooked up to various bleeping machines, I slowly worked my way through all possible remedies. First off we’ll try steroids. They’ll fuck you up. Guaranteed. But they’ll also clear up your thing.*
*not a guarantee
If on the off chance the steroids don’t work then don’t worry, we’ll try unpronounceables. They’ll deffo do the job.
Now just cos we’re here let’s just say there’s a teensie tiny chance that neither of these things work. We may have to remove your bowel.
I’ve never felt so attached to that thing in my life. Better google it to see what it does!
After a month I must’ve looked a state. I had lost 2 stone, my skin was grey, my hair and beard were in the style of Jesus circa 33 ad. I wasn’t sleeping or eating and was quite irritable most of the time. That’ll be the steroids. They fucked me up as a side effect but their main effect was they didn’t work. Unpronounceable didn’t work either. That pissed me off too.
May 2012 was a lovely month. One hot sunny day I got out of my hospital bed and went for a walk. I put on my slippers and dressing gown, unplugged the bleeping machines, grabbed the holder for my drips and told my secretary to hold my calls.
Down the corridor, out to the elevators, down to the ground and out the front door. “Fuck them” I thought.
Past the smokers, across the zebra crossing, through the roundabout and on to the path towards the front gates. Here we go.
The driveway from Beaumont hospital to the front gates is way too long for an escape. I’m guessing here but it feels like a mile. Maybe half a mile but it feels like a mile. Especially when you’re in bits and moving at a snail’s pace.
A pint would have been nice but really I just wanted to get away from the hospital and clear my head. I asked myself what was wrong? what did I want? and what could I do?
What was wrong? I know now that my main problem was that I had lost control of my life and given it to strangers. I do trust doctors but I can’t give them total control. Nobody knows me as well as I do.
What did I want? The answer was simple: “I want to get back to my life”. I said it over and over in my head and then out loud “I want to get back to my life”.
This mantra carried me all the way to the front gates. It was the furthest I had walked in a month and I was knackered and parched. I sat for a bit and then made the slow journey back. I repeated the same 8 words all the way back to my bed.
Mayhem in the ward. I had been gone for almost 3 hours. “Your father has been in and we couldn’t reach you. You left your mobile here. And the blessed doctor just left”.” “Poor guy” I thought. “Call him back”.
Me: “This isn’t working”
Doc: “We’ll continue with the dose and give the medicine more time”
Me: “It doesn’t work. Nothing works. I’m done. I want rid of my bowel.”
Doc (Genuinely shocked): “It’s too early. We haven’t tried unpronounceable for long enough”
Me: “No. Tell the surgeon to remove my bowel as soon as possible. I want to get back to my life”
My large intestine was removed the following Friday and I was out of hospital on the Monday. Physically healthy but mentally traumatised I started seeing a psychotherapist a year later.
I have looked back since, cos that’s what you do in therapy.
I’m happy I went for a walk that day. That was the day I took control. That was the day I started to get better.