I flew home from Turkey on the 3rd of October and it was from there that my health started to get worse. I was already conscious about what I was eating so when I was offered roast beef or chicken tikka masala on the plane I chose chicken tikka masala and just ate the rice, bread roll and cheese that came with it. Even that was a risk though because I’d worked out by then it was roughly 90 minutes after whatever I’d eaten that I’d start to get symptoms and need to dash to the loo and when they served food I still had two and a half hours left of my flight. Thankfully I was okay though and made it to baggage reclaim back at STN, no thanks to the 40 minute queue at passport control. The whole time I was queuing up I was trying to distract myself and convince myself I didn’t need to go to the toilet, every step forwards all I could think was I was another step closer to the toilet. That’s not normal for a 22 year old to have that trail of thought.
I knew I needed to go to the doctors as soon as possible really but I think part of me put it off because I was scared of what they’d say. I knew that blood from the back passage was a sign of bowel cancer, and that scared me. I should have gone to the doctors the following day, but I didn’t. Looking back at 2016 there are several things I would do different but you can’t change the past, just got to focus on the future.
Mid October came about and I got my job back working at Costa, I wasn’t sure whether they’d hire me as I’d left the company specifically to move abroad but I started back there on the 14th and it was so good to be back. Some people have always looked down at me for being a Barista but it’s a job I enjoy, I enjoy making coffee and I enjoy working in customer service. Admittedly yes, you get your horrible days where the coffee machine will explode on you, you’ve got a queue out the door, the grills are constantly beeping, customers are rude to you and you’re short staffed – but you get through it as a team.
End of October and my stomach was getting really bad again, and it wasn’t settling down. By now I’d worked out that I couldn’t have caffeine, I also couldn’t drink dairy (milk or hot chocolate) and there was certain foods that would be sure to leave me dashing to the loo within the hour. I started to have cous cous every day for lunch, telling everyone it was being I was trying to be healthy when really it was because it was the only thing I knew I could eat and then be able to continue working afterwards without the crippling pains and blood filled diarrhoea. But even then I couldn’t have certain brands of cous cous, I found I could only have the Ainsley Harriot Spice Sensation, but even that after a while made my stomach flare up and gave me the same symptoms as everything else I was putting in my body.
One thing I couldn’t work out was dairy though. I could drink a glass of milk, but not have a hot chocolate and I could eat a block of cheese. I could eat a chicken, bacon and cheese toastie; but not a cheese and tomato one. It was really puzzling what I could and couldn’t eat. So again, I kept a food diary, but again it got to the point where everything I was putting into my body made me feel ill. So I sent off for an allergy test because I thought maybe I had an intolerance to something, but the results hadn’t come back by the time I was admitted.
There was one day at work when I was on the coffee machine round the front (my store is a drive thru so has two tills, and two coffee machines) and I was having a bad day, stomach wise. Every time I bent down to get a cup or some more milk from the fridge I had the worst pains and then standing up afterwards made me really light headed. I was forgetting everything that I was meant to be doing and it’s like my brain was working on 10% but I kept going somehow – until someone asked me when my baby was due. I pretended I didn’t hear this comment as I was away from the counter at the time and just carried on, but after I went to the toilet and just cried. I knew I needed to go to the doctors but I was scared, from then I did try and get an appointment, but with no luck. I spent my lunch times on the phone hoping I’d be able to get an appointment for after my shift.
Each day I could feel myself getting weaker and weaker. My tummy became so swollen and it was sore, and I couldn’t see my toes if I looked down. At first I thought I was just coming down with a cold, and then I thought maybe it was a tummy bug as I was struggling to keep things down. Just the smell of certain foods made me want to be sick. I soon began to dread meal times because I knew how much discomfort I’d soon be in. I was eating because I had to, not because I wanted to and I started to lose more weight. Again, at first I put it down to trying to be “healthy” as I was eating more salads, fruit and veg trying to get as many nutrients into my body as possible – turns out this “healthy” lifestyle I was trying to adopt was one of the worst things I could have done and it was unknowingly making my health worse each day.