Hello world, my name is Lindsey (Lindsey Shorter, hence the blog name!) I'm a 19 year old student from Oxford, and I'd like to share my story with you.
From this, I hope to spread awareness of things that can happen, even though you'd never imagine it. Also, to inspire. Even if I get through to one person on this earth, to make somebody realise that life really is what you make of it, then i'll have succeeded. And, even though it sounds clichéd, to live life to it's fullest, as you never know what lies in your future. Take advantage of what you have and use it to make the world a little easier, a little better, for someone else.
Step One - My Story
Up until the age of 14, I was living a relatively normal life. Doing well at school, hanging out with friends and most of all, discovering my passion - athletics. However, little did I know that my world was about to be completely turned upside down. It started as you'd expect. Feeling run down, lacking energy, losing motivation and interest in all of the things that I loved. I was starting to feel like I was losing myself. I heard whispers of people saying I was lying, that I was making it up for attention and worst of all - that I was lazy. But, I knew something was wrong. Luckily, I have the most wonderful family who listened and supported me the whole way. In the April of that year (2006) the long process of endless doctors appointments, blood tests and hospital visits began. I cannot even begin to describe how frightening it is as a 14 year old to be told you're being tested for every illness imaginable. Then, at the end of that summer, the doctors had some news. Life shattering, terrifying news, That I have been suffering with an illness called Myalgic Encephalomilites (M.E.).
On one hand, it felt so good to know that what had been happening wasn't all in my head, that what I was feeling was real. However, I was completely unaware of how complicated and controversial the illness is. I suffered with awful headaches, very painful joints and muscles, nausea, loss of concentration, depression and constant fatigue (to name a few!), yet even after an official diagnosis and everything I was experiencing, I still had to fight to be taken seriously.
For the next few years I managed to stay in school part time, get my GCSE'S and A Levels, and make it to University. It was tough, as my whole life all I ever wanted to do was sport. But I did what I had to do, ignoring the huge ache in my heart and decided to change the focus of my life completely, to English Literature.
Now, we're in the summer of 2012. By this time, I had mentally and emotionally dealt with everything and all the changes I'd had to make. That is when I felt it, same as before, my instinct screaming at me that something wasn't right. In the July I was admitted to hospital, the first time. After being treated for a suspected blood clot, I was sent home... Even though my resting heart rate was 142bpm (normal being around 70-80bpm). I felt as though I was going mad, and once again I had to fight to be heard. In the days that followed I couldn't keep any food or fluid down, I was constantly breathless and in pain with my heart visibly leaping out of my chest. One afternoon, things took a turn for the worse. I couldn't feel my arms or legs, I could barely move. So, an ambulance was called. From then on it was all such a blur - bright lights, worried voices, the icy touch of a stethoscope. But, mostly, the same thought going round and round in my head: Am I going to die? At the age of 19, before I've truly had the chance to make my mark on the world, am I about to be torn away from it?
Luckily for me the doctors knew exactly what was wrong. Unluckily for me, my latest diagnosis was Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy and stage 3 Heart Failure. Since that moment, all I've been told is what I can't do. Can't drink more than 1.5 litres of fluid a day (Including gravy, how is that fair?!) can't go on roller coasters, can't stop taking my meds (over 20 a day), can't drink alcohol... The list is endless.
Then I got tired. So sick and tired of being told all my life what I can and can't do. Sick of being told to be careful and sick of hearing the doctors talk over and over about heart transplants and internal cardiac defibrillators, of wheelchairs and crutches. Mostly, of having to change my life, to change me, again. Then I realised, instead of sitting here and feeling sorry for myself, I needed to do something. To show my nurses, doctors, family and friends how ultimately grateful I am for their help, for saving my life.
At the present day, 12th of January 2013, I am happy to say I'm doing well. Studying at Uni, learning to drive. I am no longer completely confined to a wheelchair. Even though everyday feels like a struggle, I am happy again.
I figure the best way to give thanks to those who got me through the worst time of my life is to live, as well as do everything in my power to raise awareness of these very real and debilitating conditions. These illnesses not only affect adults, but children too. M.E. currently affects over 250,000 people in the UK alone, Dilated Cardiomyopathy affects around 125,000.
This is why I've told you my story. I know I wont be able to change the world, but I hope to make the world a little easier for someone heading down a similar path to me. You never know who might be next.
Step Two - Fundraising.
As well as spreading awareness, I wish to raise money for the organisations that saved my life, in more ways than you can imagine. In particular, The Association of Young People with M.E. (link below) and The Oxford Heart Centre in the John Radcliffe Hospital. I want to do the best I can to show people I am worthy of being here, there is a reason why I still walk this earth. Doctors and Nurses need to know what a wonderful thing it is that they devote their lives to, as there really is no greater gift than life. So, please help. In any way you can. To start, it would be incredible if you could share this blog!
Over the next few months I shall be organising fundraising events. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know! If you wish to be involved in what I'm doing here, I would be so grateful. Just let me know via email or on here.
If you wish to find out more about my conditions, there are some links below that should help to explain!
Most of all, thanks for taking the time out of your lives to read this. It honestly does mean the world to me.
Association of Young People With M.E. - www.ayme.org.uk
M.E. Association - www.measscoiation.org.uk
The Cardiomyopathy Association - www.cardiomyopathy.org
My Email - firstname.lastname@example.org