Every year, for as long as I can remember, I have always taken the year that was and written a review of it. As a child it was in paper diaries; for the last twelve years or so it has been online, in a bid to support and encourage others who are on the autistic spectrum and/or have epilepsy.
This was my year. Not only the year that I began to make a major impact in the world of being an advocate for invisible disabilities, but in many other ways too.
This is the year that I truly began to push past all of my obstacles, climb over hurdles and start living. This has been The Year Of Gemma.
The beginning of the year – admittedly – got off to a rather shaky start. Severely weakened by the bloated and painful body that taking Lyrica had given me, I was still spending most of my time in bed and battling to learn to eat without panicking about my weight. This proved to be more difficult than I had expected, as the replacement medication – Topiramate – suppressed my appetite and I couldn’t have eaten if I’d wanted to. Not the best medication for somebody with an already-existing eating disorder, and so I had to contact my epilepsy (Sapphire) nurse and arrange an emergency meeting. Vimpat (Lacosamide) appears to have sorted me out in the short term, although there have been some “events” that I shall come to later.
Somewhat surprisingly, it was a TV show named Living With The Amish that began my “Resurrection”. I took an interest in their habit of pickling foodstuffs and so I decided to give it a try. This picture shows the results of my efforts in the run-up to Christmas; a friend requested some piccalilli and I decided that I may as well go the whole hog and make all of my favourites! I have found it to be a satisfying, relaxing hobby (when I’m not spilling courgettes all over the kitchen floor or accidentally putting them in the washing machine!) and both my blood family and my in-laws love everything I make.
In February I felt strong enough that we were able to book our long-wished-for wedding. Circumstances just hadn’t allowed it to happen before this year and so we booked it for May 14th at a beautiful civil venue in Braintree, Essex.
Naturally, everything that could possibly go wrong did go wrong! Firstly, I was duped by an online company that specifically targets brides. After finding the perfect gown elsewhere I was carrying the mess that I’d paid for down the stairs when I suffered an abscence seizure and this happened:
See that beautiful big toe? I have a tattoo with those colours! I also have very small feet and in these pictures even I can’t believe how very swollen they are. I walked out in to empty air because I didn’t know what I was doing or where I was, and I crash-landed with both of my feet underneath me and all of my weight on them. Serious bruising, two badly sprained ankles and a broken toe, which restricted me to bed for almost six weeks. It takes a minimum of twelve weeks for a broken toe to heal.
At least these confining injuries meant that my sister – who is lovely – bought and sent me How To Train Your Dragon so that I had something to cheer me up. There was still the matter of the wedding though; I had that fall on 28th March and the wedding was 14th May. Not enough time to heal!
Of course, I refused to let that stop me. Broken toe or not, I was going to get down that aisle! And I did.
I was still quite weak though, and a few weeks later I found myself in hospital with Status Epilepticus.
This was my first SE experience but sadly not my last – I was hospitalised twice this year, and when I was at the Discworld Convention a pair of paramedics calling themselves “The Ginger Duo” had to come and sort me out.
As you can see, I was subjected to several needles on this first occasion. One blood test and a failed arterial draw in my left wrist. My right wrist actualy did yield what the doctor was looking for (evidence that I’d actually suffered an epileptic seizure… because I really do go to hospital for fun; of course I do) and therefore I had a stunning bruise on that wrist the following week when we visited Cheltenham to see my son and attend our Best Man’s wife’s birthday party.
I really should tell you about Chris, our Best Man. Chris and D have known each other since childhood and have always remained firm friends. Ironically, Chris did the opposite thing to me – he moved to Cheltenham and married a Cheltenham girl, whereas I left Cheltenham and married an Essex boy! Chris and D often joke about how they both ended up with Cheltenham ladies!
Not long after my fun (not!) evening at the hospital I decided to take up dressmaking. This helped to improve my fitness due to the fact that I have to lay fabric and patterns on the living room floor, and contort and twist and turn to get everything done! I began to feel twinges in muscles that I’d forgotten that I even had.
I met a counsellor (Sheila) who boosted my confidence and I began walking again. I can’t walk without D and I still need the car sometimes, but progress is being made.
This month I finally conquered my “scared Gemma” demons and visited my local WI – where I was welcomed with open arms. I’m looking forward to next month since I’m paying to become an actual member. I also get a chance to visit BBC Cardiff and stand in the TARDIS!
I have continued with my pickling hobby; I have been filmed for Epilepsy Action; I have kept up with my cross-stitch. I also managed to rescue the plant I inherited from my Nan from killing itself with its own weight and have successfully cultivated cuttings from the “parent” plant that I pruned them from.
I have my good days and my bad days, but I am beginning to take control when it comes to fighting my eating disorder. On Christmas Day I couldn’t see my plate for all the food I’d helped myself to and I ate the lot!
I am no longer the woman who is trapped by her disability and ashamed of weight that she couldn’t help gaining. I am confident, secure and happy in both my marriage and myself. I couldn’t have asked for a better year.
Wishing you all a bright and happy 2013! I hope that the coming year is as good to you as 2012 has been to me!