About this time last year I caught a cold, nothing out of the ordinary. Chest infections have become somewhat an annual game of chess for me at this point: I get one soon after winter sets in and have to recognise it isn’t just a common cold, get treated and wait till it hits again after a couple days of calm. This cycle repeats itself constantly until the onset of warmer weather in spring. This is usually rather easy to manage but equally easy to underestimate. Last year, I underestimated my chest infection. It did not go well.
It’s probably important to note at this point that the infection itself, though dangerous, is not what truly frightens me. It’s the fact that while it is active I become more vulnerable to a plethora of complications that are equally or more dangerous than my “man flu”. Last year, I came a bit too up close and personal with one such complication.
Ironically, this is not something that is usually linked with/caused by chest infections. Not directly anyways. The chances of everything happening the way they did, when they did, are extremely low. But they happened anyway I spent the bulk of 2016 in bed. March to November.Literally, I’d written all but one blog post in 2016 from hospital or my bedroom. Fun times. -_-
Luckily the majority of that time was spent in recovery so only about 2 months in total were actually in hospital. It was during these months I met “Bill” The rest of the time was in the comfort of my bedroom.
This is where things got interesting though. You see, before last year I hated being in bed. Being laid in the same spot, unable to scratch an itch, turn/adjust my body for comfort, let alone sit up and have a glass of water was mind-numbingly frustrating. Especially when juxtaposed with the relative freedom I have when sat in my wheelchair. So, I would go to bed really late and get up really early; catch up on my sleep in my chair through the day and; find every excuse not to even enter my room. All this to minimise how much time I had to spend in bed.
But now, being forced to adjust to the personal “discomfort” of my own bed and the four walls around it opened my eyes to how much I had misjudged the situation. Being limited to one physical location forced me to become more creative with how I spent my time. I gained a new and profound appreciation for my own company and being left alone with my own thoughts. It wasn’t easy… oh by no means was it easy. It took time. I sometimes found myself in very dark places but with every night I went to bed feeling like the weight of the world was crushing me, I’d wake up the next morning alive and with another chance to try and enjoy the day. At the time it may have felt like an endless cycle of torture, but before long it dawned on me that even though I had lost count of how many consecutive awful crushing days I’d just crawled through, I was still me. Heart beating, lungs pumping, mind working. Fine my physical health had seen better days but I was still here. I was living through hell but hell couldn’t actually break or even hurt me. It was all an illusion, all in my head. I was and had always been the author of my own fate. And besides, I’ve literally been through much worse. How much my situation dragged me down was up to me. So… I began learning to love myself all over again. I began enjoying writing again. I cherished every second I had with my amazing family and friends. I even had the privilege of not being single for the first time in 4 years and I loved every second of it. I was becoming a much stronger person psychologically and emotionally. By the time I was able to get out of bed and back into everyday life again, the world had taught me some powerful lessons and I had a lot more to offer the world in return.
I was able to enjoy my birthday, Christmas and New Years with my family through December and even spoil myself a little for the start of 2017. Hence this is only being posted now.
All in all, 2016 was a rough year. I wouldn’t do it again if you paid me but I sure as hell am grateful. I’m not sure I entirely believe “everything that doesn’t kill you truly does make you stronger” but that was definitely the case here.