Someone once told me that the best place to start a story was at the beginning – so here it goes.
In the beginning God made Heaven and Earth. He started sometime Monday morning worked right through to Saturday Night, then had a few too many drinks to celebrate his newest creation and so had to take Sunday off to “rest”. Now this is a couple of thousand years before the start of the story I was actually talking about, therefore I’ll just miss out the stuff about Adam, Eve, the Romans and how gays are going to hell (their view not mine) and jump straight ahead to Spring 2008.
Now if this was some kind of Hollywood movie, it would start with the camera sweeping across a clear blue sky on a warm summers day, and then it would pan back down and into 2008. I would be driving Marty, my 11 year old Ford Fiesta that would let off a bang that sounded like a gun shot every time we went over bump , while listening to some Bruce Springsteen at top volume and singing along at a pitch only dogs could hear, “’cause baby we were born to run”. Unfortunately, this isn’t some big budget Hollywood production with Natalie Portman being cast in her greatest role to date as the wonderful Samantha McInnes (and yes, I do realise Natty P is slightly big headed of me but, hey it’s my bloody story).
I was 20 years of age. I had just finished my degree in Politics, thee most boring subject known to man and recently returned from inter-railing around Europe with my good friend and colleague Jennifer Garner*. The first signs of the recession where showing, Heath Ledger had been found dead in his New York apartment and Katy Perry was taking over the world and promoting Lesbianism with her hit song “I Kissed a Girl” and apparently she did like it. After travelling around Europe I got a job working in the retail sector. I was working full time, running every other day, partying it up Skins styley (I would like to take the time to point out, without the use of illegal drugs) and generally was a normal active 20 year old. The only health complaint I had was that every now and then I would suffer from migraines and sickness (which at Christmas did lead to me being sick over my friend’s Cooks’ room mate while ice skating. However he wasn’t that pissed off with having to clean puke off his trousers and the sickness and migraines never usually lasted very long or happened frequently enough to cause me any concern. )
One day in May, after working all week I decided to do my usual. I headed out, Cheryl Cole and Aretha Franklin in tow, for a weekend of partying and Tequila. It’s true what the song says; it really does make you happy (I would like to take this time to point out that under no circumstances do I recommend binge drinking, unless it’s a Saturday. Then is practically the law). Now, I do not remember this weekend for the wild parting and the copious amounts of alcohol consumed. What I do remember about this weekend was the morning after the night before. Instead of waking up with the usual dry fuzzy mouth you get after a night of Tequila, I awoke to find my mouth full of blisters (and yes it did look like slightly like I was suffering from leprosy). Needless to say not the kind of look I was going for. My first thought was not “OMG there is clearly something wrong as I have awoke to find that I have leprosy of the mouth”. It was actually “Oh shit I have now drank so much tequila that my brain thinks my mouth is a foreign entity and is trying to reject it”! Much like what sometimes happens to patients who have just undergone a transplant. Over the course of the next week I started feeling really not well. I was suffering from really sore heads, but not the usual spewing whilst ice-skating migraines that I was used to. I had that feeling of malaise you get right before you get a severe case of flu and was just generally exhausted. So I decided it was time to bite the bullet and go and see the doctor.
The doctor said that it was probably nothing, I was just run down from all that hardcore working and partying I was doing, but just to be on the safe side he was going to send me for some blood tests. It was a week before my results were back and over the course of that week my health started to deteriorate. When I returned to the doctors for my test results it turned out that overall my blood was a bit shit. The general “ingredients” that make up your blood such as your Iron, Vitamin B12, feritin etc were all alarmingly low. So to find out why that was I was tested for everything and anything that you can possibly be tested for: coeliac disease, pernicious anaemia, diabetes, crones disease, Aids (Now I don’t know if they actually did check for that last one but with the amount of tests they ran I wouldn’t be surprised). All came back negative. I was also referred to a lovely Gastroenterologist who was ever so kind as to stick a camera up my ass and then down my throat (needless to say, no it was not the same camera). Yet again the same results – nothing wrong.
After a few months I started to feel better and my blood count normalised. So thinking that this was all just some freak abnormality and that everything would be fine, I stopped going to see my doctor and went back to my normal daily routine. What I didn’t know at this point was that this “freak abnormality” was actually one bastard of a virus and this would be the start of my relationship with M.E (I use the word relationship here as to me having M.E is like having a really crappy boyfriend. One of those guys who keep fucking you over time and time again, but for some reason you just can’t seem to dump him.)
From this point on I am going to refer to the pre M.E me as Anakin Skywalker, young and full of potential, and the post M.E me as Darth Vader, basically fucked. Over the course of the next year and a half, things started to change. I would go through phases of feeling just like my old Anakin Skywalker self again, ready to take on the evils the dark side would throw at me. Whilst other times I would feel terrible, I had no energy left at all and would feel as if the dark side had literally consumed me, “Luke I am you father”. During these times I would go and see the doctor again and get my blood checked, thinking that it had to be something to do with that, but each time they always came back fine so I thought nothing of it. After a while I started running again. However after a few months I had to stop as unlike Forrest Gump, I was finding it hard to run to the end of the crescent never mind across several American states.
I stopped going out as much. I was no longer the Tequila loving Ani Skywalker. Instead I was one Tequila, two Tequila, now someone has to pick Sam up off the floor and put her to bed as she has just passed out AGAIN! (I would like to take this time to thank Cook, Sandra Bullock and Jack Branning for doing this on many occasions). As time went on I started to feel increasingly exhausted and unwell. The change was so gradual that it took me a long time to notice the vast change in my energy levels or the fact that I never really felt well. Looking back, I think that maybe I didn’t really want to have to admit to myself that something was wrong. After a while, feeling unwell just felt normal.
Then came 2010…