When I was younger, I prided myself on the fact I never got ill. I would usually have one cold a year that would make me feel grim for about a week and a half, and that was it.
But since Mum passing away, I have been really ill.
First of all, I had ear infections. From October – December I had three ear infections.
Next, from January – February, I suffered from migraines. These would be stress induced, and sometimes after counselling I would suddenly get hit with crippling fatigue, nausea, and naturally, the headache where you feel like someone is testing out an axe on your skull. At around this time, I began to understand that I had health anxiety. So, when I began to get ill, my anxiety would go through the roof, and I would assume worst case scenario; ie. assuming I’m going to go deaf just because my hearing goes due to an ear infection. It was exhausting to think like this 24/7, and I’m sure exhausting for Katie to listen to 24/7.
In the beginning of March, I had laryngitis, which delayed my trip to Spain. I was throwing up, couldn’t talk, and had a temperature of 40*.
In Granada I was generally okay, apart from having a cold that I got from my friend and couldn’t really shake.
When I came home, the cold got worse, and it developed into tonsillitis. Amoxicillin didn’t help it. I had a fever so high (the worst being 43*) that at times I was completely and utterly delirious.
I was also told at this time that I had two ear infections. I got prescribed new antibiotics for the tonsilitis, but again, I was progressively getting worse.
Nothing helped until I went to hospital for intravenous antibiotics, steroids and fluids (see Hospital Bed) . This was the turning point; the new antibiotics began to work, and over the next week I improved a lot.
At the hospital, I had a blood test which showed I had glandular fever, and my liver and spleen was a little inflamed. Great.
Glandular fever was pretty much kicking my butt with the tonsillitis and the lethargy. I spent so many days laying either in bed or on the sofa because I literally had no energy. I remember messaging my friend and saying “Hey! I made it downstairs today!”
After I got over the tonsillitis, I got my energy back. But, whilst I was ill, my sister came over to look after me, but she had a cough, and my immune system being so crap… I got it too.
The doctor at the hospital told me I didn’t have ear infections, but, I now have a perforated eardrum in my left ear, a new infection in my right, and a gross cough.
Honestly, it’s all laughable, and I’m chuckling as I write it. I haven’t been able to hear properly in about a month, my family are constantly having to repeat what they want to say to me, louder and louder. The TV was on a volume of 60 at one point. I’m pretty sure that our whole street knows when we’re watching Love Island now.
It makes me feel bad that my family have had to look after me so much. I hate being a burden, boring and a frustration. I hate that they had to wake up in the night to help me with medicines or when I was throwing up.
My doctor has explained to me that sometimes, your body goes under so much stress that your immune system can crash for a long time.
I am lucky because I’m on my gap year, and I can afford to be ill during this time. I sympathise for the people who are not in a position like mine, and I’m sorry that they have to go through periods like these.
I used to be afraid of getting ill. Now I seem to get over something and get into something else. I look forward to the first month I have where I am not ill, but I’m aware it might take some time yet.
The important thing to note, is that grief affects you in so many ways other than the stereotypical crying you see on the TV. Your stress levels are higher than average, which lowers your immune system, allowing more things to jump aboard. It is exhausting, but at least when we experience periods of health or energy or being able to hear, we appreciate it so much more.
Self-care has been vital for me at the moment. Being ill can be a trigger for depression for me, so I have tried to exercise lightly, follow my hobbies, write a lot, and above all else, rest.
Other things you can do to boost your immune system is:
- Try supplements (seek advice from your doctor first).
- Drink teas (my favourite tea whilst I’ve been ill recently, is turmeric and green tea).
- Take baths to relax.
- Eat healthily. This year I have been learning to cook, and an easy healthy meal (if you’re young too and perhaps don’t know how to cook) is a sweet jacket potato with tuna and sweetcorn. Healthy eating doesn’t just mean salads (Ew). I also eat a lot of fruit, and another favourite of mine is honey Greek yoghurt with fruit; Greek yoghurt has loads of health benefits too!
- Work on your sleep hygiene. Sleep is key for repairing cells and for immune system recovery. I personally sleep for as long as I need to at the minute, but I still try to maintain a routine.
Ultimately, I have been doing these things, and I am slowly getting out of this sickness, but part of me is just wondering what is around the corner next.
Being ill after you have lost a parent or loved one can be really difficult. My Mum was always so loving when we got ill, and she was always the voice of reason. She always had an answer as to why you were feeling so bad, and nothing was ever a big deal. When Katie and I would see I had a temperature of 40* or above, we would feel panicked. We are so young. Yet, every time, we got through it. I will keep on looking after myself, and I just keep reminding myself that this period will end. Eventually.
(Whilst it is frustrating being ill, I recognise that these illnesses are only small and not life threatening.)