After spending most of last week feeling unwell with some sort of cold/flu thing I thought it was time I shared my personal health story with you all as I realised I’ve never told any of you about it.
Before I write this, I feel it’s important to say that not many people currently know what I’m going to tell you (even some of my closest friends)…until now anyway. This isn’t a sob story or anything like that so please don’t think I’m looking for sympathy (because I actually hate showing my weaknesses, yep I’m that person…the one who likes everyone to think they are invincible).
The reason I’ve decided to share this is to let you all know a bit more about me and maybe (hopefully) help anyone who has ever experienced anything similar…
I have a few medical conditions (but who doesn’t, eh?) and in the past they’ve totally disrupted my life. From the age of 14-16 I spent most of my time in bed as I had glandular fever, which developed into M.E. I regularly struggled to even get out of bed every morning, and I don’t mean in a lazy teenager kind of way, I mean that I physically couldn’t lift my head off the pillow.
After a few years I found a way to cope with M.E and accepted my energy levels would never be the same as a ‘normal’ person, and then a few years later my health deteriorated again and after over a year of blood tests and hospital visits I was diagnosed with a rare blood condition called cyclic neutropenia. This explained a lot of things I’d been experiencing for years as it meant that my body didn’t produce enough white blood cells to fight infection and that every time I got ill I would struggle to fight it.
I always manage to find a silver lining though, and in this case it was that I was now officially one in a million – that’s how rare the condition was!
For about ten years I spent my life going from feeling great and living a ‘normal’ life down to feeling like junk and not being able to get out of bed…other than to go to see the doctor. It was a total yoyo feeling, I’d go for months without a single symptom and then all of a sudden I would ‘crash’ again. You may find this hard to believe because of how active and healthy I am now, but only a few years ago I was taking an average of 3 different courses of antibiotics each month (so I could live my ‘normal’ life). I hid it very well but there were days when my M.E kicked in and I struggled to get out of bed, let alone jump around and workout. I regularly got signed off work sick for weeks/months at a time and was not in good health.
The amazing thing is that over the past few years my medical conditions have calmed down. They’re still there in the background but they rarely bother me anymore! Due to my blood condition I take longer than most people to heal so frustratingly, whenever I do catch a cold or anything, like last week, it takes me quite a while to get over it…but even though that drives me crazy, I know after years of struggling that it’s something I have to do. I have to allow myself that extra time to recover because otherwise I could end up making myself worse.
In general, I’m active, eating well and my life has improved dramatically over the years. I feel better than I’ve ever felt!
What I’m trying so say is…over the past year or so I’ve exercised on average 5-6 times a week and I’ve had loads of energy. I’ve felt ‘normal’, in fact I’ve actually felt better than how I perceive ‘normal’ to feel, and have loved it.
I honestly can’t believe the changes that have happened to me, particularly in the last 12 months! I don’t have any photos of me around the time I was really unwell and in bed for most of the time because that’s not exactly something I would’ve wanted photographed, but I feel like a completely different person now!
I’ve fought back against my medical conditions and feel stronger and healthier than ever before! In an average week I no longer feel any symptoms of any of the things I used to feel every day, all day. I get up every morning full of energy and make the most of everything.
Yes, I do still get times where my M.E and neutropenia fight back (and my experience last week obviously prompted me to write this post), but I’m a determined git and refuse to give up the lifestyle I love that I’ve worked so hard to achieve because I see myself as a completely different person to who I was when I was on a constant cycle of antibiotics.
I’ve learnt to learn to listen to my body and take time to rest, but 99% of the time I’m living a healthy, happy lifestyle and I love it!
For those of you who do have the same conditions as me (or any other medical conditions), please note that I’m not medically trained and I’m by no means saying that exercise and clean eating can fix any medical issue – I’m just saying that this has really helped me. I cleaned up my diet and started gradually becoming more active and over time I started to feel healthier and stronger.
I’m fortunate to only have mild neutropenia and (after years of learning how to cope with it) I also now only have mild M.E. But everybody is different and (as much as this is going to sound all health and saftey-ish) I did actually talk to my doctor about my plans to start trying to improve my health and got his advice and approval from the beginning. I also kept getting checked out every few months to make sure I wasn’t overdoing it and I did as he advised.
Please do talk to your doctor to get their opinion on what your body can handle because I know that it took a long time for my body to adjust to my current lifestyle and I did it gradually over the years. I didn’t just wake up and start working out five times a week straight away, and I still get times where my body lets me know it’s struggling so I ease off. Obviously I love the healthy active lifestyle I have now, but my medical health is obviously of huge importance to me so when my body is telling me it’s had enough for a few days I do rest.
If I had tried to make these changes years ago when my M.E and neutropenia were at their worst then I could have caused myself a lot of issues because my body was nowhere near ready back then, so definitely talk to your doctor and find out if they feel it’s safe for you to start making any changes. Oh, and this may sound like obvious advice, but make sure you listen to them!
I really can’t emphasize the importance of listening to your body enough too. Whether you have any medical issues or not, you need to learn to listen to what your body is telling you and, as much as my stubborn streak is begrudging writing this particular sentence, if your body is telling you to rest then you have to give in and do it.
For me, exercise and clean eating, along with a positive attitude, has dramatically improved my quality of life but I understand from the way my life used to be that it isn’t always possible for some people to exercise – the reason I’ve written this post is to give you hope. We can turn our lives around. For some, it may be a small change but any improvement is something to celebrate!
I’ve learnt that you should never give up on chasing your dreams and making them into goals, so I hope this will help you to believe in yourself and give you the confidence to believe you can achieve your goals. It doesn’t matter if you have an obstacle (like I’ve had, or otherwise) making it take longer than you’d like it to. Just never give up hope. And always listen to your body.
Please follow my blog: