22 August, 2018
Up at 5am to get that blood pumpin’,
The early bird gets the worm, got it done and dusted
Rest and breakfast before dressing to thrill,
This aint no James Bond shit, just goin’ to work like a boring git,
Nine to five of hard grind, not always easy but I don’t mind,
The good outweighs the bad, positives aint hard to find,
Feels so good to be disease free,
Took my licks but whooped that UC,
Onwards and upwards from here, nothing can stop me,
The dark times are behind me, now a distant memory……..
And then I woke up. It was all a dream.
I guess it was too good to be true. I lay in bed for a while, staring at the ceiling, allowing the bitter let-down wash over me before getting up for my customary morning session on the throne. I sat down and did my business before taking a peek at the results.
Pinkish hue present.
Talk about a double whammy first thing in the morning. Reality fucking sucks. But on the bright side there was nothing but brown when I went the previous night. The game of hit and miss rolled on and I remained hopeful that it wouldn’t be long before any traces of red would vanish for good.
Come on, meds. Do your thing!!!!
I was unable to work out and couldn’t be as active as I’d like to be since I was still anaemic and was even forbidden from lifting moderate loads since any disturbance in my blood pressure could potentially spell trouble at my weakened state. Winter was slowly coming to an end and so the sun began to make more regular appearances in favor of cameos but it would still be some time before it would once again take the starring role. Still, I took advantage of this and went outside to soaked up the sun’s rays, hoping that the vitamin D would speed up my recovery.
I also did walking drills throughout the day to stretch my legs and keep my body mobile in addition to some light shadow boxing and movements such as arm raises, pulling motions, lateral raises and knee raises, the only real workout routine that I could perform at this point. I undertook this simple regimen every day, usually every hour or hour and a half, on a tiled area in the backyard under the sun, surrounded by the trees and plants that my father planted. Birds would sometimes fly in and out of the yard, frolicking within the tree branches before setting off and at other times they would sit atop the fence that separated our home from the streets, watching this strange man perform what looked like some weird military marching drill, peppered with sessions of shadow boxing. During ‘after hours’ I would perform these exercises indoors in the living room.
These sessions took only fifteen to twenty minutes at a time and did not require much space so it was ideal. More importantly, during those fifteen to twenty minutes I felt strong and free once more and served as a reminder that while I may have been down, I was definitely not out.
It was also around this time that I finally confessed to my friends that I had been battling a rather serious disease and was under doctor’s orders to live like a hermit for the next few months, or however long it took for me to recuperate. Most of them had texted me leading up to, and shortly after, my colonoscopy, asking why I had suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth and even before my hospital stay some had expressed concern over my pale and weak appearance. I was rather cryptic with all of my responses, simply replying that I was ill but on the mend, keeping the extent of my ailment in the dark from all but my immediate family. Let’s be real, ulcerative colitis was a nasty disease and the symptoms that came with it are rather disgusting and embarrassing. But patients ‘on the mend’ didn’t go on lengthy, unexplained exiles. It took some time before I was finally able to reveal the real truth but once I did, I received messages of support and encouragement. They were definitely a big help towards my recovery, I am truly blessed.
And of course I took my medication without fail as per Dr. B’s orders. Thank goodness that any nasty side-effects seemed to elude me.
I also went for regular check-ups with Dr. G, who was now in regular contact with Dr. B. While Dr. B focused on the progress of my bowel’s recovery it was up to Dr. G to monitor my anaemia and overall well-being. I also made the odd visit to some of the specialists at the hospital that I stayed at for follow-ups to ensure that I would not be a repeat guest. They, too, stayed in regular contact with Dr. G and Dr. B and kept each other on the loop about yours truly.
I was also ordered to undergo regular blood tests that both Dr. B and Dr. G would be notified of. Dr. G and I discussed my results after every test and while my haemoglobin levels continued to rise, they did so at a frustratingly-slow pace.
Man, a snail could crawl from New Zealand to Spain at a faster rate than my haemoglobin levels!
Over-exaggerating, obviously, but there were definitely times where my patience ran thin although slow progress is better than no progress or worse, regression.
Can you believe that? I had an army of doctors and specialists monitoring my progress. On good days I felt like an elite athlete with an eclectic team of trainers around me while on not-so-good days I felt like a science experiment gone wrong with a team of scientists forced to work into overtime to fix me up. And of course my family and friends were extremely supportive and regularly encouraged me to keep going. With a solid network like that there was no way that I could lose.
A few days after my sister’s birthday, my uncle and aunt that lived interstate had left their car in our garage before going on holiday and a few days after my follow-up with Dr. B they made an overnight pit-stop at our place upon returning to recuperate before driving back home. Both of my parents had left for work earlier that day and so I prepared the breakfast table at the house’s extension room that we nicknamed ‘the glass room’ due to its glass windows and door after I finished my own breakfast (the guests had slept in, as one would upon returning from holiday without having to go to work the next day). My uncle was the first to rise and quickly washed up and got dressed before making his way to see me in the kitchen.
“Good morning,” he greeted before pouring himself a mug of coffee, the drowsiness still evident in his voice, “how are you this morning?”
“Feeling better,” I returned, “still got a way to go before full recovery, though.”
My uncle ran his hand across his grey hair before sipping his coffee and gradually began to perk up as the caffeine made its way through his system. We conversed as I prepared the food for him and my aunt, who was still busy getting dressed. We discussed everything from family to work and my life before ulcerative colitis.
It wasn’t long before the conversation inevitably led to a sermon from my uncle, who was a pastor. His homily lasted probably all of five to ten minutes, interrupted only by sips of his coffee. No, he didn’t use any dramatic hand gestures nor did he raise his voice like the preachers that one might see on TV and in the movies. He was rather laid-back and conversational in his approach and touched up on the usual subjects, like how we will all be tested throughout our lives, that even the strong can feel broken at times but that in the end, the strong rise to the occasion and carry on and that God will help those that want to be helped. All I had to do was place my trust in Him.
In other words, he was merely echoing the same sentiments that my mother, who was quite religious herself, would remind me every single day, sometimes more than once.
Trust me, Unc, I know.
Still, I sat in silence and let him have his say. It’s nice to know that I also had his support. My uncle drank the last of his coffee once he had finished preaching and folded his arms across his broad chest.
“Do you understand?” he inquired.
“Yeah. I appreciate it, Unc.”
“Anytime, Son. Anytime.”
And with that he helped me set the dining table in the glass room and I laid out the food; some eggs, bacon, bread and fresh fruit. My aunt eventually joined us and she greeted me with a hug and kiss and asked me about my health.
“All good,” I answered, “I’ve been taking my medication and the doctor prescribed me some additional medication that specifically targets my bowels.”
“What types of medication are they?”
“Imuran and Mezavant. Don’t worry, I am aware of the side-effects and I haven’t felt any.”
A registered nurse, my aunt was glad to hear that.
“Just follow your dosage,” she smiled, “you’ll beat this in no time.”
“Yes, I will.”
I cleaned up the table and washed the dishes after they had finished while they returned to the guest room to pack up their bags before beginning the long drive home interstate. It was around 10am when I helped them load their bags into their car – mind you I was only allowed to carry the light loads – before they drove off.
My aunt gave me a quick hug and kiss and wished me well. “Stay strong, Kid,” she said, “you’ll get through this. We’ll pray for you.”
“Thanks and will do.”
My uncle shook my hand before giving me a hug, echoing my aunt’s words. But he was also sure to add that I should do my share of the praying, too.
“I sure will.”
Their car slowly reversed out of our driveway and my uncle checked both directions of the street for any oncoming traffic before reversing into the road and driving off. I stayed in the driveway until they were out of sight before returning to the backyard to begin another round of my exercise routine under the morning sun.
By the way, later that night I told my Dad about the dream I had. He responded by encouraging me to use it as motivation.
“That’s a glimpse into your future, Son,” he said optimistically, “this is only temporary. You will be back to normal in no time. Just fight back.”
I had every intention of heeding his advice.