Monday, April 21, 2008


This week I got the closest to a “you’re cured” I’m ever going to get. My specialist – a dermatologist who I’d been seeing since the very beginning, 4 years ago – discharged me. She took a large, chrome stamp, weighing it in her hand, and pressed it in a rectangle of red ink before stamping it down satisfyingly on my thick case notes. DISCHARGED.

While she left the room to get some forms, my hand reached out for the bulky brown ring binder which is, apparently, the second volume of my case notes. My fingers traced the imprint of my name, written out in full, in harsh black capitals, before resting on the severe looking letters that meant so much to me.


Such a small, insignificant word to most but to me it was everything. It was hope, health, happiness. It was life. It was future. It was the end of the battle. This word signified my winning the war against all the odds. It was the difference between wanting to live and wanting to die. That was how much this word, stamped squinty across a ring binder cover, meant to me.

People ask me if I’m angry at the doctors for misdiagnosing the illness. Well, I’m not. I don’t see the point in getting cross. It is a pity that I had to go through what I did; the painful operations, the tests, the shame, the anger, the resentment, the strong treatments for a disease I did not have...but there's one thing I'm sure of and that's the fact that it’s no one’s fault. Anger is not an emotion I want to feel at this point in time, I’m too busy trying to move on with my life, to rediscover what a full, healthy life is all about, I don’t want to waste one moment of that time looking back and asking ‘why’.

But just because I don’t want to look back in anger (cue the Oasis song) doesn’t mean I want to block it out. It may sound strange to some, but I don’t want to blot the past couple of years from my mind; I want to remember every tiny detail. I want to commit every last sentiment, every sensation, every teardrop to memory.

I need to remember what I went through, because it changed my life considerably. It changed me as a person. I am who I am today because of the past four years of suffering. I suppose, if truth be told, I am so scared to lose my new found ability to appreciate everything in life, that I’m clinging onto the painful memories of being sick and disfigured. I don’t want to go back to what life was like before. I don’t want to go back to the unappreciative me; the girl who took everything for granted. Right now, because I am still so appreciative of everything, when something is difficult I am always able to say "ah well, at least I'm not sick!"

When you are told you are sick and there is no cure, a little bit of your soul curls up and dies. You mourn for the person you were before, because, for all intents and purposes, that person has died too. You inevitably find yourself lost in a rough sea of hopelessness, being thrown by the waves, your head barely managing to keep above the surface. You ask why, why me? But the most excruciating of all is the regret. The regret is worse than the why me's because the regret is blaming yourself. Why didn’t you make the most of your life when you had one? Why didn’t you go out more? Why did you spend all those hours working when you had the energy to go out and take a walk? Why, when you had a perfect nose, did you hide away in your room just because you had a measly spot on your chin? If only you had known what you would look like a few years down the line...It's always the 'if only's.

I promised myself that if I ever recovered I would really live my life. Not just exist, but live. I told myself I’d make sure to really appreciate the little things in life, like being with loved ones, relaxing, taking a walk, living. I made that promise to myself and I won’t forget it.

I have to be very careful now. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at a healthy life. I need to make the most of it, because one day, I could lose everything again.

DISCHARGED is a word full of hope and happiness and health for me. It is full of life. But it also holds a warning nestled deep in the blood red lettering. This is my second chance, take it and run.


Heather said...

I'm so happy for you, I really am. *hugs* You are honestly such a delight, PE, and your upbeat nature and positivity are a huge inspiration.

Your post got me thinking a lot about my own current health issues, and how I've been trying to spin them into something positive. In so many ways, as scary as it is to be diagnosed with a chronic illness that will have to be managed for the rest of my life, it's also given me freedom. Because of it, I'm not working right now and that, in turn, means I have all the time in the world to explore the things that are most important to me, and to see where they take me in the future (i.e. my photography). It's like my illness took me off a path that wasn't right for me, anyway, and set me down before a crossroads where I can make all new decisions about the direction in which to take my life. Does that make sense? Triumph out of tragedy, I guess.

Anyway, it's funny how sometimes the moments of despair in our lives can lead us something incredibly special. Our illnesses, whether we've recovered or are still in the middle of them, have really given us a second chance at life. Isn't that odd? said...

Hi, Princesse,

Since I'm a relatively new reader of your delightful blog, I didn't know about your illness and what you've been struggling with over the last few years. I just wanted to say that I'm so happy for you that you've come through it, and with such a lovely positive attitude. Thank you for sharing your struggles, and your successes, and for writing about your life in such an incredibly open and honest way.

I don't know you, but somehow I do know that you are an amazing woman with a wonderful life ahead of you. Good luck in your new job, and your new city, with your love.

Thank God for second chances, eh?

Micah D. Newton said...

aaaahhhhhhh success!
i'm so glad that whatever has been wrong with you in the past is finally this close to "cured"...
i can empathize in some way...i've had chronic back pain and headaches since i was about 17...incredibly painful and there was never a reason for back was aligned and there was no migraine diagnosis or anything of the sort. it just "was" and that sucks rocks.
so i understand to some degree and am VERY happy that you're doing better and can move on and focus entirely on all the other exciting things in your life!

Anonymous said...

Good job! I'm very happy for you... you're young (okay: WE are young! :D ), your life is ahead of you. It's too bad you had to go through that merde, but now... it's gonna be encore plus an awesome princesse life!

Ghosty said...

I wish I could tell you how happy I am for you!!! So far you've come and so much you've come though. ... once again, you're beyond your years in wisdom. *hugs*!!!

And to think, when I saw the title in my RSS reader, I thought you had been fired from your job :P

Daddy Papersurfer said...

Lovely! *hugs*
[although I am still very concerned about the driving]

Lynsey said...

Wow. Beautiful post. I'm so pleased for you. I've never experienced any kind of illness, and my life has never been at risk, but I've had a glimpse into feeling as if my life has changed and I'll never be the same again (through anxiety and terrifying panic attacks).

I came out on the other side with an attitude I didn't expect to have - a positive one. Although I felt as if I went through hell and wished it never happened, now I'm grateful it did happen, otherwise I wouldn't appreciate life the way I do now. And I wouldn't know how strong I really am - that I can get through bad things!!

Loth said...

I'm very happy for you. It does at first seem a little bizarre to be grateful for a negative experience, but it has clearly given you an insight at a pretty young age that some people never get in a lifetime. You are right to want to hold on to that. It allows you to see the world in all its technicolour glory, rather than in black and white. Enjoy it. You have earned it.

Paul OFlaherty said...

So very happy for you right now. Take it and run kiddo. You deserve it :)

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Heather you flatter me! Shucks!

When I wrote this post I thought about you and I wondered how you might feel reading these words. Would it be something that you and others could relate to? Or would it make you angry at the world, would it make you think 'why her, and not me?' I tried to think back to how I might have felt during some of the hardest times of my ill health on reading about someone else's experience and how they came out alright in the end. I couldn't decide whether I would have felt inspired and more positive or whether I would have resented that person. I hoped that it was just me who might have resented someone.

So I was so relieved and very happy to wake up this morning to your comment. I think you're right, it really is triumph out of tragedy. I don't believe people who go through long term ill health come out the other side the same person. It definitely changes us and I can honestly say, hand on my heart, that today I am a much better person for this.

It's so good to see that you, already, are looking for and appreciating the positive rather than dwelling on the negative. That's not something I really did much during the past four years, it's definitely something that's easier said than done!

I too had all that time while trying to recover. Since I left university and decided there was no way I could keep up a job with all the hospital visits etc, I had so much time to myself. It gave me a lot of time to think about who I was and what I really wanted to do with my life. It also gave me the opportunity to work on my writing which really was a blessing for me, it was something that kept me alive and living and lit a fire in my soul, it gave me something to keep me going. So keep doing what you are doing in terms of your photography, it may lead you down a wonderful, unexpected path!

lots and lots and lots of love to you and the kitties! Keep smiling x x x x

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Hey busymom! Yes, I forget that there are new readers coming across this blog every day, I should probably write a little summary of what has happened on this blog so far on the sidebar so that people can catch up quickly!!

Thank you so much for your compliments (Arrrgh I'm blushing!) and thanks for reading this post. It's one of those messages I'd like people to really take note of, because what happened to me could happen to anyone, and if I can show one person to slow down and enjoy their life a little more then I will be a happy bunny!

Definitely thanking God for second chances!!!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Micah Awww man I'm so sorry to hear that you've had chronic back pain and headaches for all those years, that is really sucky. I can't do anything when I have a headache without popping some pills and I've never even had a migraine so I suppose I'm a bit of a wuss next to you! But gosh, I wonder if the two pains are connected? It's really crappy when doctors can't find a reason, at least if there were a reason you might know how to ease the pain a bit or something but pffft what a wee shame, sorry petal! Hey maybe it's one of those you 'grow out of'...fingers crossed.

Hmmm perhaps it will get you massages from Todd more often? ;-) teehee!

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Ok I need to stop typing individual comments, this is taking ages!

Zhu we ARE young, it's great, innit! And yes yes yes ma vie seras meme encore plus genial maintenant! Carrement!

Ghosty Awww thaaaaanks monsieur twofish, I love the fact that there are quite a few readers including yourself who were there to follow the journey through this blog.

And LOL. That's very LOLable; you thought I had been sacked?! I haven't even started yet! That would be a record, even for me haha :-p

Daddy Papersurfer Thaaaanks! [would you like me to drive by your place and take you out for a drive? Just for the laugh!]

Oh Lynsey I'm sorry to hear you've suffered from anxiety and panic attacks. That is yet another thing I can relate to! I can completely understand how that can change your life, it's a hideous, hideous thing to have to live through but once you have developed that strength to get yourself through the tough times you never look back. Aw I'm happy to read this from you! That's very positive!

Loth bizarre is my middle name! :-D

"It allows you to see the world in all its technicolour glory, rather than in black and white"

Exactly! I couldn't have put it better myself. I'm committing this phrase to memory, it's beautiful.

Paul I'm running, I'm running! ;-)

T.D. Newton said...

Hey, she gets massages often enough. I'm pretty good for an amateur!

Anyway, I'm glad to see the "discharged" word and I once again endorse that you should be proud of yourself. A big double-thumbs-up from me is about the best I can do because everything else has been said already. Now that it's all behind you, have fun with your life and enjoy your freedom.

Zannie said...

I <3 you. Simple as that.x

Teuchter said...

Wonderful news, cherie.

I've long had a theory that everyone goes through a really crap stage at some point in life. You've had yours - and seem to have taken a lot of positive stuff from the experience.
One of the things you've learned is that you can reach the depths - and survive. Even in your darkest moments you usually found something to make the rest of us smile.
We were privileged to go part of the way on your journey with you.

Now - get out there and grab life by the balls, metaphorically speaking.


doow said...

Discharged is a wonderful word and I'm so happy it's yours to keep! :-)

Princesse Ecossaise said...

Thanks TD, I'm ready to have fun, despite all the stress and complications and sadness of leaving Scotland for France, I'm ready to soak up every last bit of fun! Yayyyy!

Zannie I <3 you toooo, and I miss you already :-( xxxxxxxxx

Teuchter What a lovely comment! Thanks Teuchter, I know that things haven't been easy for you, health-wise, either, and I so hope that things are going ok for you now. You are right; I agree that each of us has to go through a really shitty time in our lives. I hope this will be the worst time I will ever have to go through, but if not, at least I have right NOW to profit. No regrets, I don't want to regret anything.


Princesse Ecossaise said...

Doow yes, yes, yes! Discharged is a fantastic word, even though every time I read it I tend to leave the 'd' off and it reminds me of something unsanitary, but despite that, it's been my favourite word for the past week and will forever be etched on my brain as something beautiful.

Bonnie said...

Thats fantastic. So happy for you. Bet is feels like a massive weight off your shoulders.
I agree with the whole no anger thing. Kind of pointless really, whats done is done and you have now come out the situation 'dishcharged'! Lucky you!