The most gobsmackingly weird year to date.
Reading back on my 2020 goal post, written in the early days of 2020 feels like another time. A different time. Because who could predict anything that has happened, would actually happen? It feels like a cruel joke.
But, I look at the goals I set back then and actually, they were really complex issues.
As for goals, I set myself the following:
Only one of these things has failed to come to fruition because of COVID. I mean, of course, my exams were delayed due to COVID too but they were also delayed due to my surgery. But I can look at this set of goals with pride.
I did indeed pass my AAT course by the end of year. In fact, it was a week before the end, because I rallied after my operation to get my final exam done with its six week marking turn around for the end of December. And I SHOCKED myself with the grade and the pass mark I got. A huge achievement.
I still remain on no IBD medication. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions because being medication free feels like such an alternative, after having many years being on some sort of medication or another. I can look at this year and say with some certainty that my surgeries – all four of them! – were my saving graces. They were painful and difficult – recovery from Proctectomy surgery and a hernia repair is NO joke – but they have removed so much of the evil of my IBD from my bowel, that my gut can function so much better now.
And I am getting better at my trauma workshop. I say ‘workshop’ but its just me, processing my emotions and recognising the signs and symptoms of my GAD. I can tell you, that dealing with GAD on top of the expected COVID anxiety, it’s been challenging. But I’ve found some real clarity on my own underlining issues, so that’s chalked up as a win in my books.
Relocating – that was the stickler of the year. While we had planned to move back home to be closer to family, it’s just really difficult when I’m not working still. Recovery from hernia surgery is long and the job market is rather… uninspiring while we have this pandemic on, understandably. So I am continuing my studying and we are open to other opportunities; because that is the vibe I am going into 2021 with.
So, what have been the highlights of 2020?
- Hernia surgery – being without that mother in my abdomen is fantastic.
- Passing AAT with a Merit!
- Managing my mental health at home during a pandemic
- Surviving another year of health
- Not loosing my marbles during lockdowns
- Getting to grips with Type Two Diabetes
- Finally being able to find ways to relax!
- Continuing to be a valuable IBD patient – on and off line.
- Perfecting some really great recipes.
- Reconnecting with reading.
I’ve built on the key achievements I had in 2019:
“I continue to see most of the hospital as an outpatient – hallelujah – but even as we draw this year to a close, it’s been a while – in my world – since I’ve been inside there. It’s not been an easy transition and it is still coming along, but I am hopeful that I will see less and less of it as the month go on. I am not certain but hopeful, remember that; it could all change, as we know it often does with IBD!”
As being an outpatient changed in 2020, I still attended hospital and did have an admission – for my surgery. Something unthought-of this time last year, but surgery was probably the easiest its ever been for me, given that I wanted to be in and out without issue as quickly as possible and my surgeon made sure this happened. Forever grateful, and I’ll never forget having surgery during a pandemic.
“My proctectomy changed my stoma, for sure. While my surgeon did not touch it, it definitely reacted to being operated on. This has been good though, I know how to cope and deal with changes in that area much better now. Moving out of that sphere for my employment has also made my own stoma easier to manage and contemplate. It still sometimes gets lonely and I occasionally feel lost but the community is always there, and rightly so, for those moments.”
Proctectomy has fully healed, despite it having some leakage issues from time to time, reminding me that it is still very thin and friable skin so taking care of it is fundamental to my routine. But overall, no issues with that, even with my hernia.
“Living with someone is hard and even harder when one of you is ill and undertakes surgery. My partner has taken this year all in his stride; it’s changed our relationship and made it more grounded. We have more unspoken language and I love that at this stage.”
He looked after me so well during my time off work and during my surgery this year, so I continue to thank him endlessly for doing the best for us.
So, what have I learnt living with a chronic illness in 2020?
- There is no comfort like a heated blanket when you’re in pain.
- Being open to change makes change easier.
- Get involved with your medical team – it’s never a bad idea.
- Saying thank you is something that should happen more.
- Kindness is the currency of 2020
- Things happen, you can’t loose sleep over ‘what if’s
- Medical trauma is REAL and it is never to be underestimated.
- Determination can superseed negative thoughts, every damn time.
- Meditation really can help your overwrought mind.
- Finding peace in the noise of the world is bliss.
So 2021, I intend to continue to make the best of my time.
Reflecting on 2020 – The Six Month Update