I have two things that seem to be the bane of my life, one of them is IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the other is recurrent tonsillitis.
My tonsils have hated me since I was a kid. I practically drank my bodyweight in pink liquid penicillin as a child and hoped it was something I would grow out of. After having had too much antibiotics in a short space of time it turned out I had developed an allergy to penicillin.
Pink Elixir of Life – or Death in my case (Image from eivf.net)
My repeated use of antibiotics in childhood and adolesence helped in part to destroy the normal functioning of my bowels. In my early 20s I started to struggle with feeling bloated and getting ill a lot. It became difficult to juggle working with the constant need to be within 50 paces of a toilet. I kept food diaries and tried my best to avoid foods that triggered an attack. The list just grew and grew. So many things that I love to eat and things that are healthy and good for you are on that list. Brown bread, apples, pears, raw spinach, beetroot, any kind of root veg, popcorn, sweetcorn, cabbage…
But the problem with IBS is that it’s not all about food, it’s about stress too. So even if I avoid all the foods on my death list, if I am stressed or worried about something I get ill.
Why don’t I have my tonsils out you might be thinking? It was never brought up as a child, even though I probably had it several times a year. When I asked about it as an adult I was advised that doctors do not like to offer it to adults as there is a high risk of post operative bleeding which could be fatal. They apparently only offer it if you have tonsillitis over 5 times a year. For me it’s probably about 4 times a year on average. Sometimes it’s just a sore throat, but other times – like the bout I am having at the moment – is full on fever, cold like symptoms and the worst earache known to man, swallowing normally is impossible and talking is a no-no.
I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. Last week my IBS decided it hated practically everything I ate meaning most of the week I was in agony and very ill. Some women have likened the pain of IBS abdominal cramps to contractions. I’ve never had a baby (and probably wont) but if I do – at least I’ve been through hours of waves of pain already to know what to expect.
So on Monday of this week I was looking forward to feeling better, to getting back into doing some stuff I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Not to be – I was sat there checking my emails and thinking ‘Mmm it feels weird to swallow…’ and then I thought I better check my tonsils in the mirror…. and as expected there was the right tonsil looking horrid. My lovely GP couldn’t fit me in for an appointment but spoke to me on the phone and sent a prescription to the pharmacy for me to collect. It is nice that they have also learned that I need to have a 10 day supply rather than a 7 day supply as it often comes back out of hiding.
What is the point in me telling you all this? Well some months ago I noticed that my sister in law had defriended me on Facebook. I was a bit miffed, it’s one thing for someone you knew years ago from school to cut you off, whatever, but a family member? My brother used to use her to spy on me, every so often I might get a text or email from him in relation to something I had put on there. Whatever – if I don’t want people to see stuff I put on there then I restrict them from my posts, which I don’t do very often. My posts are usually pretty banal. Last year I had a rough time in terms of my health – towards the end of 2012 I had a run of the flu and viral tonsillitis – then more tonsillitis over Christmas. In the New Year my doctor decided to do some tests and turned out I had some strange type of glandular fever – strange because they knew I had it, but the results were weird – so weird in fact that I had to have about 4 blood tests. I felt ill for the first four months of 2013, exhausted. Then I got tonsillitis again and finally in the May I was starting to feel a bit more normal. In July I had a bad fall and tore some ligaments in my ankle. I finished my contract at work and decided to take some time out from working to make sure my foot could heal properly and had to have physio.
So what does this have to do with Facebook? Well yeah, sometimes I might post something like ‘Curses – tonsillitis again.’ or post a photo of my massively bruised and swollen ankle. Yeah I could not bother, but I do. I don’t do it to be all ‘woe is me’. I don’t really know why, but I guess that is what social media has done to us!
So when my brother had noticed that I had stopped working where I was working (oh the joys of LinkedIn) I got an email from him asking me what had I done? Had I lost my job? Did I do something wrong? Thanks Bro. I politely replied and then asked if he knew why his wife had defriended me. I wasn’t really expecting what came next. Apparently I am always so negative, that I swear too much, always talking about being ill and that it upset her because her mother had died of cancer ten years ago. I was a bit agog and quite upset. My husband’s Mum died of cancer four years ago this August – the day after his birthday. We’ve been through the mill with that, his Dad having had Prostate Cancer and thankfully getting the all clear. Never once have I ever compared my IBS or tonsillitis as being as bad as or worse than cancer. Of course it’s not. And yes, when I am feeling ill I am glad that it isn’t something as bad as cancer, or something that could kill me, but it doesn’t mean that I force myself out of bed with a fever and make myself go to work because it’s not something life threatening.
I sat looking through my Facebook posts for that year, wondering if they were right. Was I too negative? How much did I yabber on about being ill? Turns out not so much. I actually hardly said anything about having glandular fever, bar a photo of my ankle and a comment about walking into town for the first time since the injury and it being pretty painful – not so much about that either. Nothing about my IBS that year. And actually not much at all that I would class as being negative about stuff. I polled a couple of friends about it – asked their honest opinion – they were shocked and wondered what planet she was on if she thought those things about me.
When my brother and his wife got together I was pleased. They seemed well suited and I hoped it might bring him back to his old self – the one I grew up with and had a laugh with. Over the years he’d turned into this stranger who I barely saw and seemed to relish in telling me how to live my life (and not just me – my Dad too) – often sending me long lecturing emails about how selfish I am for various reasons (i.e. as a child I would make everyone wait for me at parties at our house by coming down late – what? 1. Girls take longer to get ready for parties and 2. I was a very shy kid and most of the time just wanted not to be involved.) For a short time it seemed like this was happening, but it soon went back into the realms of the emails of doom. It’s not good to feel a sense of dread when you get an email from your own brother, wondering what I was going to be accused of this time. After this revelation I was pretty upset. Him telling me she was in tears defriending me but that she just couldn’t bear to see what I was posting anymore. I politely replied to him apologising for any offence caused, that nothing I had ever posted was meant to cause upset to anyone. My friends were amazed and couldn’t fathom how or why she should feel that way.
So I took the decision to block her, in case she ever decided to re-friend me. And she did the same to me too. I was also surprised she would feel that way seeing as pretty much any time I hear from my brother he has something wrong with him, he also swears a lot – so if she doesn’t like that sort of thing – maybe she should get a divorce? And did she defriend any other friends who ever posted about having the flu? I doubt it.
We went to see my brother for a milestone birthday towards the end of last year. May as well not have bothered. My husband and I were barely spoken to. Half the time I couldn’t look my sister in law in the eye because I was afraid that if I did I might actually lose my temper.
Christmas came and went – and as usual they did nothing for my stepson. They never send him a birthday card, rarely include his name on any Christmas cards to us and don’t give him any presents at Christmas. My brother had a quick visit to my sister after Christmas to exchange gifts for the kids – but didn’t ask me to come – nothing to exchange. Yes he isn’t my son – but he is my family. In years to come I don’t want him to feel like he is treated differently. The rest of my family love him to bits so it just makes me sad.
This has been the straw that broke this camel’s back. Not just Facebook but everything. I am done with them. I will do things for their kids, but I just can’t deal with him and his wife anymore. They are rude to my Dad – never ask how anyone else is, and the only time I hear from them is to have a go at me. They don’t even know me. My best friend asked me if I would be friends with them if I wasn’t related – and I said no. Certainly not anymore.
Maybe one day he’ll have an epiphany and realise he’s been a dick. And maybe she will too. But I’m not holding my breath.
So yes, I am feeling ill today. There – I said it.
Rather apt – from shutthefuckup-sitthefuckdown.tumblr.com