Travel Theme: Broken

Self Portrait in Hospital

Travel Theme: Broken

Well that’ll be me then! This post comes as a way of explaining my late responses to you all for comments on my posts over the last week or so. Both my immune and nervous systems are well and truly broken resulting in Crohn’s and Fibromyalgia. My consultants and I do everything we can to stabilise my conditions and I have a lot of support, especially from my wonderful Simon, to enable me to have as full a life as I can. I think you all know that I get a lot of joy and happiness out of life and I make the very best of the good days. This might be wordy so I’ll break it up with some pretty pictures! They were taken on my phone in the beautiful and quirky Igloo Flowers shop in an old Victorian ArchΒ  in the underpass that leads from Guy’s Hospital to London Bridge Underground station. I’d like to dedicate these flowers to all my fellow bloggers with chronic and life limiting illnesses like mine. You know who you are!

Sometimes things can go rather wrong for me. They certainly did last week! My teeth are in a bad way because of the Crohn’s and I’m seeing dentists at Guy’s Hospital in London now. On Tuesday one of my molars had to be removed as it’s been badly broken for a long time and I’ve been getting persistent infections. We still don’t know exactly what went so wrong but it’s suspected that the very large amount of local anaesthetic that I was given, alongside the severity of the infection, sparked off a really bad Fibromyalgia attack.

It hit me full on, without any warning, while mum and I were on the train heading home. I know I scared mum and I probably freaked out the other passengers too! It’s probably a bit like watching someone having a fit. Uncontrollable shakes, extreme sweating, complete weakness and horrific pain everywhere. To my shame and horror I had to be lifted off the train at my home station, by paramedics, before being rushed into my second hospital of the day. I do apologise to passengers on the 16:55 from Waterloo last Tuesday for having delayed the train! I just hope nobody missed any connections at Woking.

It was close to midnight before I was allowed home with Simon. The following day I still felt like I’d been in a car crash and my local GP prescribed some extra antibiotics as I still had a very high temperature. I so wish that that was the end of the sorry tale but by Friday my face was complete agony! My local dentist confirmed that the infection had spread through my upper and lower jaw and added in a third antibiotic, called Metronidazole, and codeine to take between doses of tramadol. Yes, shake me, I rattle!

I’m still in a lot of pain but I’m finally on the mend from at least this particular episode! The hospital will probably have to put me out before removing any more broken teeth. I’m not going through all that again I can tell you! My main image above is actually a self-portrait that I did in St Marks Hospital (a specialist bowel centre) the night before my fourth major abdominal surgery, three and a half years ago. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever share it but it certainly fits this week’s theme. The main thing is that I accept that I’m a bit broken, vulnerable and I do need a lot of help, but I’m certainly not useless.

I found a lot of strength in accepting my vulnerability. There’s no point in recriminations, regrets, guilt or anger. Life’s far too short for that and there’s so much to enjoy when you can. The help I get from my loved ones, friends and care workers enables me to do so much more than I’d be able to otherwise. I like to celebrate all the things I love in life through my photography and poetry, that you all enjoy what I do is a real confirmation that what I am able to do matters, that I matter.

55 comments on “Travel Theme: Broken

  1. Like or not to like? Ouch! This sounds like a dreadful week for you Sarah. So glad you are on the mend. As you know I am a huge fan of your photography and I am impressed you have managed to put these lovely floral tributes together. (And I confess to coveting one of those apothecary jars). And yes, you do matter. Lots.
    Jude, sending you a BIG hug (( {Sarah} ))

    • Ah, bless you Jude! You can like it for the pictures πŸ˜‰ It gets hard to keep up with the social media on top of ordinary life at the best of times but when it goes wrong you just need to shut yourself, rest and recover. I sometimes wonder at the amount of pressure we put on ourselves until I remember just what I get out of it and that I’d lose the plot altogether if I wasn’t doing something and challenging myself a bit. I love Igloo Flowers πŸ™‚ I get to go past it quite a lot and it’s nice to pop in and browse when I come out from the hospital. Yeah, those jars are gorgeous! Thank you for the hug Jude x

  2. It was hard to click the like, but I appreciate your positive thinking about life and that you found a lot of strength in accepting my vulnerability. Take care, Sarah! (((HUGS))) Amy

  3. Sorry to hear you’re having such a hard time again Sarah, I hope things continue to improve for you; I always enjoy your pictures, even when you are a bit broken! Best wishes, Ian

  4. If I could hug you I would ❀
    Thank you for sharing this Sarah… what an awful week for you.
    I love your outlook and your determination!!
    So glad your Mum was there and that you had the right people around you to help.
    Also glad you shared the self portrait… yes it fits. Raw, honest and beautiful xx

  5. I’m sorry to hear about your misfortunes but am happy that you are trying to make the best of it. I understand some of what you are dealing with as I have digestive issues I deal with myself. It is a really tough struggle as you have to be careful with what you eat along with other things. I had to change my entire lifestyle and it wasn’t easy at first but I’ve gotten more used to it. What’s more difficult than that is knowing that it is something that you know you will live the rest of your life with without any end in sight. I really do hope that things improve for you and you can continue to enjoy your life.

    • Change isn’t easy! I was actually stuck on a liquid diet for a whole year prior to that op three years ago. I’ll never look at soup in the same way again!! My diet is much easier to deal with now but, yes, that’s the rub of it, you never know when it will hit you hard again. I hope you’re not too bad at the moment? Thank god we have our art to keep us sane! Thanks for sharing your own struggle with me Justin

      • I’m not as bad as some and am thankful for that but understand what they may be going through. I’m not entirely sure what all I have as I’ve just self-diagnosed myself and don’t really trust the doctor’s with trying to help as they seem to just want to have me take medications rather than finding the root cause of the problem and trying to fix that. From my symptoms I’m nearly 100% sure that I have LPR and I know I have GERD, which I think is from my lower esophageal sphincter not working correctly. I also get a lot of gas at times so I think I have a buildup of bad bacteria as well. I do have times of sever acid reflux and gas and bloating. I’ve learned how to control it for the most part and have come off of the higher end medications and can cope pretty well with the OTC kinds now. I know that if I did go back to the way I used to eat though that it would cause me way more problems that wouldn’t be worth it. I think the hardest part for me is trying to remember to take pro-biotics every day and also trying to stay away from the desert foods I want all the time but shouldn’t eat because they give me so many problems. So like you said, I mostly focus on my photography to help keep my mind off of things and to keep me happy. πŸ™‚

      • Nothing fatty or acidic I guess? I have it too, probably because of damage to the bowel from the Crohn’s but they don’t really know. Had all the scopes, barium x-ray, tests for h-pylori bacteria so we know it’s just a functional thing. I take omeprazole which works well. It’s worth having all the scopes done just in case you have hiatus hernia which can be fixed surgically or the h-pylori bug which is curable too. My mum had her hernia fixed this year using a newish Linx procedure and she’s doing really well now. Peppermint oil and essence is good for bloating btw! My soon to be mother-in-law makes a wonderful apple-mint tisane from home grown mint, steeped in hot water with a spoon of honey. Works a treat and tasty too πŸ™‚

      • I’d like to say in advance sorry for the long response.

        Actually, fatty and acidic things don’t give me any problems. Nor do spicy things most of the time. What I tend to have more problems with are grain based and processed foods. Sometimes too much meat will give me problems too. If I just eat non-process foods, straight fruits, vegetables, and meats, then I tend to have no problems at all. If I ate pasta based meals and desert items, I’d have a lot of heartburn and gas. I try to balance it out because I’m too tempted by deserts to try and cut them out completely so I try to keep close to an 80/20 paleo style diet. I like it though because I like eating meats and vegetables more and as long as I keep the vegetable portions higher then everything tends to work out. I’m not sure if I have an hiatal hernia or not but I know I don’t have the h-pylori bacteria because I’ve been tested for that. I don’t really want to get tested for anything else because I’m not interested in getting the surgery done. The reason for this is because with a careful diet and taking just one pepcid complete a day, I essentially don’t have any problems. It’s when I start to eat more of what gives me problems when things start to go bad.

        I used to be on different PPI medications but eventually things caught up and because of the way I was eating, I’d get severe heartburn where nothing was working. I went to the doctor with a plan in place and wanted to do a few tests to try and find the underlying cause of the problem but all they wanted to do was increase my dose and told me that if medication is helping, then there’s no reason for tests. Instead of throwing more and more money to the doctors I decided to start doing a lot of research to find other alternatives. I finally found a way to get off the medication and am glad I did because it has changed my life for the better. I have less problems and I have more energy.

        You could say that I’ve probably done more research on my health problems than I’ve done for photography. When it comes down to it, you have to think about what the main purposes of our bodies organs are for. Before I explain this I’d like to say to me it makes sense so that’s why I continue to do what I do. The stomachs job is to break down food properly so it can be digested. In order for that to happen it needs acid. When taking stronger medications, such as PPI’s, you are essentially removing a very vital part of what makes the stomach work. This can cause food to stick around in the stomach for far longer than it should and also can cause bigger portions of food to make it into your intestines. The acid is also important to kill off bacteria in your stomach from either food coming into it or bacteria moving from the intestines to your stomach.

        These bigger portions of food can’t be digested properly which causes two things to happen. It gives more food to the bad bacteria and the nutrients aren’t able to pass into your body as easily. Because of this I decided that I need to allow the acid to be there because I need my food to be processed correctly. Going off of this I have a more understanding of how important certain foods are. Our bodies continuously rebuild off of what we give it. If we eat junk, then our bodies don’t have much to work with. If we eat healthy then it has more to work with.

        With this knowledge I started to do more research on how to get the most nutrients to my body but still have a diet plan that I can stick with. So I need to still eat things I enjoy but at the same time make sure my body gets what it needs. I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and it has helped drastically. I juice in the mornings to get a high dose of nutrients that get digested quickly. I also make sure that my meals consist of a large portion of vegetables and a small portion of meat and make sure the overall size of the meal doesn’t fill me up too much. I also grow my own sprouts for additional nutrients. I probably get about 8-12 servings of vegetables and fruits a day on average.

        Some may say I’m crazy I guess because I went from having plenty of time to do a lot of different things because I went from eating fast and easy to make meals to now preparing every meal from scratch with fresh vegetables and meats. Every night it takes me about an hour to prepare and cook, this is after a 10 hour day at work, but I think it is worth it. It’s also a little harder trying to keep up with meal plans because of how fast things can spoil when working with fresh foods. But again, I like eating like this more.

        So to sum everything up, I believe that by giving the body the proper nutrients, it can heal itself. So what I’m trying to do is heal myself on the inside by providing my body with as much of a variety of nutrients that I can in higher quantities. I think that 8 years of being on different PPI medications and eating mostly just meats and breads has caused my body to not be very good so it’ll take a little time for it to recover. So far this first year on my journey I have seem some drastic changes so I’d say that it’s been working and I’m off to a good start. Now I’m just kind of coasting and trying to keep on track and hoping for the best. In a couple more years I’d be very happy if I could say that I’m completely off all medications and have no problems at all. Whether I’ll get there or not I’m not sure but I can cay for certain that I am much happier now than I was a year ago with how my body is.

        Again, sorry for the long response but this is a topic that I have a lot to talk about.

  6. Get better soon. I too suffer from a chronic condition and frequent infections – even dental abscesses. It isn’t nice at all. What helped me was my cat. My jaw was so swollen after being attacked by the dentists at our local hospital and when I was lying in down he would lie on the pillow but so close to me that his body warmth would soothe my pain. He always knew when I was really sick and never really left my side. Unfortunately he is gone now but he was a true companion. Take care and get lots of rest.
    I love your photos. My photography helps me forget how I am feeling. Even when all I can do is play around on my iPad. ❀

    • The infections are a total mare aren’t they? Over the years my pets have been the most wonderful companions and so sensitive to the pain we’re in! Will you get another cat? We have two young cats and they’re just brilliant. Whenever I need to crash out during the day they always curl up with me which is such a comfort. Thanks so much for sharing your story Raewyn! None of us alone and it seems that many of us find great solace in our art πŸ™‚

  7. Sarah, I’m really sorry to hear you have such a hard time with your illnesses, I had no idea, yet your positivity and strength shine through. Even when you’re in the midst of dealing with such trauma, you’re looking for the positives through photography, poetry and people. You’re an inspiration.. πŸ™‚

  8. Hope you are feeling a bit better today. What an episode! I’ve also been meaning to confirm your address so I can send something to you. The last person I sent an unexpected package to, it resulted in it being returned to me. If you can email me that would be great. Speedy recovery dear Sarah

  9. I’m truly sorry to hear about these recent events. But I can tell in reading this, that your strong character and positivity shines through. I wish you happy thoughts.

  10. Oh Sarah, I had no idea. I’m so sorry to hear how sick you have been. You are an amazing girl with such strength. Thank you for sharing this and your wonderful photos .. I do so hope that you are feeling better. Big hugs

    • I am a lot better now! Antibiotic concoction finally did the trick. Quite positive tonight as I’m seeing a new specialist physio tomorrow πŸ™‚ Every now and then I’ll write up something about my health, mainly to spread awareness, but my focus is always my art! Thanks for the comment and the hugs Julie πŸ™‚

  11. Sarah, this is a very moving post, and you are a very courageous person. For a start, I really admire you for posting that selfie; its an excellent picture, but what it portrays, and the fact that you had the motivation and courage to take it – and now to post it – dwarf any considerations of photographic quality. And I want you to know that I agree absolutely 100% totally with your words “I found a lot of strength in accepting my vulnerability. There’s no point in recriminations, regrets, guilt or anger. Life’s far too short for that and there’s so much to enjoy when you can. ” There is absolutely no point in all those negative emotions, they’re just for unimaginative people. That you accept what you are is the thing, no silly fantasies – “This is me, I’ve got a wonderful partner, and I’m going to get on with things!”. Good thinking, my friend – go for it! Adrian

    • Thanks so much Adrian πŸ™‚ The hospital were not happy when they found out that I’d brought a camera in with me! It often seems to me that the people who struggle most with their illnesses are the ones who refuse to accept that vulnerability. I’m glad you really understood that message πŸ™‚

  12. Sarah, I can’t say I know how it feels, because I have no idea. But I can only imagine how hard it must be. And yet you come across as one of the most positive, upbeat people, and you deserve every happiness you make. I’m sure Simon knows what a lucky man he is to have such a special, strong woman in his life. Coming to this post after your comment about perspectives on my post this week makes it an even stronger statement now! Just keep doing what you are doing! :o)

  13. So sorry you had a rougher than usual few days, hope you’re feeling much better πŸ™‚ Your photos are gorgeous as always. It seems a few of us do words & pictures to distract ourselves from chronic illness. Take care x

    • Thanks Lisa! Yes, I’m so much better, thankfully πŸ™‚ So many people are affected by chronic illness these days. At least awareness raising right across social media is starting to bring down the barriers of old, to allow people to talk about it when they need to. Take care too x

    • Thank you so much Rob! I really appreciate your kind words. Although my main focus of the blog is my photography, I still feel that sharing my own story to raise awareness, and encourage others to talk openly about their own conditions when they need to, is important.

  14. Oh Sarah, so sorry to hear about your health challenges. I hate being sick or being in pain and I will do anything to get well. But I can’t imagine having a condition over which I have so little control, that comes and goes and immobilizes you. Wishing you strength and patience and unexpected out-of-the-blue recovery (it happens)…thanks for letting your readers know what’s happening with you.

  15. I’m with Jude. My ‘like’ is meant as an acknowledge of your honest post. While I really like your photos, the context of your post isn’t likeable at all. It’s such a hard contrast. I really hope, medicine will help you live a livable life. For you and your family.

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