Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Where On EARTH Have I Been???

Now I bet you'll wonder where I've been.....?

Three months before I started to go downhill...
Contrary to most reports, I did not join the jet-setting glitterarti amongst the highest of fashion circles, nor did I become some insanely handsome rock star's groupie....(NOT for want of trying...just kidding...sort of). No such glamorous luck, I'm afraid. In the words of the great and powerful Julie Andrews (have we seen Mary Poppins people? Not that recent tawdry fake I wish I'd been able to review - the REAL one; who would mess with her? Not I Sir, not I); yes in Julie's words - I shall start at the very beginning....

In 2007, I was diagnosed with a long-term, chronic health disorder, by the name of Fibromyalgia. Known as 'The Umbrella Illness', because it incorporates so many things, it is a painful, grossly debilitating nerve and muscle disease that too few Doctors in the UK are familiar with. No two sufferers experience the disease to the same degree, hence after I learned that I developed the illness (I had just undergone double-knee surgery ten months prior, and was still unable to walk without two crutches, even though I was supposed to recover in twelve weeks); with the help of intensive physiotherapy and acupuncture, I was able to return to part-time work for two years, before undertaking ESP Ltd. full-time.

During the September SS14 period of London Fashion Week however, I began to notice an overwhelming weakness that I could not overcome. I naturally put the source down to the Fibromyalgia and thought no more about it. A month later, I experienced my first tremor attack. Having never experienced anything like this before, I assumed that the excruciatingly painful, uncontrollable shaking in my right leg that lasted for 30 minutes, was a new element of the Fibromyalgia that I had not experienced before. I also assumed it was a one-off, until November (a month later), when the same thing happened, this time for 45 minutes. At the time, I had also begun to experience traumatic pains in my left leg at night, but did not know if they were connected. My GP at the time, suggested I take it up with the Fibromyalgia Clinic at Guy's Hospital, whom I was due to see in December anyway.

Put on long-term, controlled medication to try to counteract these new symptoms, I was sent on my way from the Fibromyalgia clinic; on the premise that should I need to see them again, I should be re-referred, and given an immediate appointment. Around the same time, I got a call from my Rheumatologist at St Helier's Hospital, saying that my latest round of blood tests had come back with some abnormalities and thus, I was being referred to Haematology for further investigation. I saw their team in January of 2014, when I was told that I had developed Early Onset Myeloma. Tests later revealed that although I was not suffering from the first stage of the blood cancer (phew...), I had in fact, developed the precursor, which will eventually degenerate into that illness (Oh...); what I had was known as MGUS. All the while, I continued to weaken, to the point where I was finding it hard to work on my virtual business.

By March, that weakness had forced me to stop everything but blogging, and even that was taking its toll. A series of collapses saw me admitted into Croydon University Hospital for the first time that year, where I stayed for 5 weeks, after losing the use of my right leg. Approximately five weeks after my discharge, I lost the use of my left leg, and by mid-May I was admitted into hospital for my second long-term stay. Not one to give up without a fight, I did manage to escape the ward long enough to attend Graduate Fashion Week (in a wheelchair). One day, I hope to be well enough to bring you some of the amazing talent I saw on display at that awesome event. For now, I will just have to make do with showing you one of my highlights of the day - the moment when I was Blessed to meet two of my icons together for the first time, making all the pain I experienced entirely worth it!
Caryn Franklin, a wheelchair-bound Yours Truly and Hilary Alexander
Back to hospital I did go afterwards however, having made it through three quarters of the day (RESULT!!!)...!

Painful testing continued (if you hear the words 'Nerve Conduction Studies' mentioned, RUN...or wheel away, whichever gets you to safety fastest); until it was deemed that there was nothing else the hospital could do for me, without a specialist in the subject to weigh in (they don't always 'resolve the matter' - House lied to all of us). Within three days of freedom, my then GP had me readmitted under what is called a failed discharge, since the problem of my tremor attacks, and the triggers for my pain management still went undetermined. The extra stay proved to make no difference overall (bar extra jelly and ice cream), and once again, I was ousted.

Since that time, I have been managing what has now become a total of 13 chronic illnesses, to the best of my ability. The discovery of autoimmune diseases Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Adrenal Gland Failure last summer continuing to prove that as long as I have a degrading illness, new problems will continue to follow - although I would not be adverse to receiving some kind of trophy on the diagnosis of lucky number 15 - after all, if this were my nation's beloved food joint Nando's, I would've received at least a quarter chicken with 2 sides by now.

And so to business - between the Fibromyalgia, the MGUS, and the Osteoarthritis in my hands and wrists, diagnosed in February of 2015; it means that working is something that I am forced to put aside for the time being, as unfortunately is blogging - however...with the help of my trusted advisers (and typers), I will aim to bring you at least one piece a month (starting with Musiq Soulchild's review for new album, Life on Earth to follow tomorrow). I do hope you accept my apologies for the lack of interaction but do understand the reasoning and hopefully, accept my Silver Linings offer...

Since full blogging is not currently possible for me on a regular basis, I have taken to 'microblogging' Music and Fashion on the ESintheP Instagram page. Because the account is, like this blog, from the perspective of Yours Truly, you will see mentions of health-related posts, mixed in with my two favourite subjects; just so that you get to continue on this journey with me, and have access to a portal by which to interact with me. You can also keep up with my video diary of my health situation so far on my personal YouTube account...

Please forgive and ignore the best of my hideous stop points (Thank You YouTube)

So a massive and humble Thank You for sticking with me, some of you have been absolutely amazing, supporting me personally, and I can never be grateful enough - is all that's left to say; if things improve at any turn, you will be the second to know (after my immediate family, because otherwise, they may consider that rude)! In the meantime, do Stay Tuned, because I AM working on ways to bring this blog back to you all - so don't give up on me!

Welp, here it is....I'm not that comfortable in front of the lens these days for obvious reasons, 12 chronic illnesses and counting are most definitely taking their toll, but I'm doing my best to hang in there, and take things one day at a time. Constant pain, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, makes it hard to find the positives and keep them in sight, but I do try very hard. I could wallow, but if there's one thing that maturity has taught me, it's that even if I can't think about others who are suffering more than me, I can always remember that I, myself have worse days. And if there's something I can do today, that I couldn't do yesterday, that's a win - even if I won't be able to do it tomorrow. I may not look my best, but I certainly am trying - and I can't ask myself for anymore than that. So #BonneAnniversaireMoi -Here's to looking beautiful next year 😉 #InstaBirthday #Birthday #bornday #Fibromyalgia #Osteoarthritis #MGUS #SystolicHeartMurmur #UnderactiveThyroid #HashimotosThyroiditis #PerniciousAnaemia #PCOS #ChronicFatigueSyndrome #CFS #PlantaarFasciitis #AdrenalGlandFailure #FibroFighter #FibroWARRIOR #ESintheP
A photo posted by Erica Sharlette (@esinthep) on
Until the Next...
ES ;)