Forever a small fish in a big pond

Wednesday 16 December 2020


 15.12.18- 1pm- "My headache isn't shifting, I'm going to go lie down."

15.12.18- 10pm- "Did I really sleep that long? I feel awful. Mum, I can't see properly."

16.12.18- 1am- **First round of blood tests at the Emergency department**

It was that fast. And in many ways it feels like a blur- I don't remember what was said. I don't really remember what happened. But I remember exactly how I felt. 


16th December 2018- after a period of pain episodes, headaches, tiredness, nausea, sickness- and generally feeling like my body had been dragged through WW3... at 1am I was admitted to the hospital.

 I kept telling myself it was nothing. I'm being dramatic- my anxiety is making it feel worse than it is. I'm tired. I'm stressed. I stayed up too late- No mum I don't need pjamas- I'll be home by 3am. 

3am- "Danielle- We're taking you down for an emergency brain scan, it's ok you're going to be ok"

Those are about the only words I remember from the whole process. 

--That and screaming at the poor doctor who had the job of trying to take my bloods- and failed 6 times, from veins so small they were near enough invisible- I cried. Big time. Partly due to my fear of needles- but partly down to the fact that despite being told otherwise. I very much didn't feel ok. In fact, at that moment. I didn't think I would feel ok again. 

Now there's not much I'm scared of... I mean I would probably also cry should I be put on the top of a cliff 1000ft up or if you put a spider anywhere in 100km of me... but that aside, I'm pretty thick-skinned- or at least I thought I was. But at 3am- In a CT machine, with the sounds of hospital corridors and sirens surrounding me- I felt anything but tough. 

My body felt so tired. My mind was fogged yet so alert. Everything hurt yet was also so numb. My breathing felt so heavy yet there were moments I couldn't seem to catch a breath. I silently cried as doctors spoke through the microphones trying to make small talk as this machine scanned and searched my body for whatever it was they were looking for. 20 minutes. and each of those minutes could've lasted an hour for what it felt like.

The hospital was busy.... it was loud. Chaotic. Surrounded by people. Yet I remember the whole process as if I was alone- only with the occasional voice popping and offering meaningless words of reassurance, or painkillers which by the 4th round didn't really do much other than leave an after-taste which I do my best to try not to remember!....

They all meant well. But the tired, emotional, 4ft me, wasn't very welcoming of the advice of a 6ft doctor. I didn't want to hear it. I almost hoped they didn't find the answer- I didn't want to know. Because surely what I don't know can't hurt me right? Either way- at least if I didn't know I could at least pretend it was that way. 



I'm sorry Hydo-who the, what now? 

Hydrocephalus. Fluid on the brain. We need to run some tests, you're going to stay here tonight.

No no, you've got it wrong. I have dwarfism. I am small. Achondroplasia. Short limbs. That's it. My condition means I'm small. My legs. Arms. They hurt, they're wrong but nothing else. I don't have anything else. I can't have anything else. 

What did I do wrong? 

Was it my fault? Had I not had been careful- maybe if I had paid more attention in Science class? Eaten healthier.... Went running... all these thoughts... they were just jumbled words strung together. Trying to find some reasonable excuse for all of this. I wanted something to blame. I wanted it to be the fault of someone, or something.... something that could be fixed. Apologised for. Undone. Made up for. Taken away. Give me the problem and tell me how it can be fixed.

I mean it can be fixed right? 

11 hours. 6 medication doses. 5 needles. 4 doctors and an emergency CT scan later.

 I got discharged.

And so began an 10-month journey of referrals, infections, injections, tissue tear, and a fracture to the spine thrown in for good measure...things weren't fixed- but they started to..... in time... It was a push. Like cycling up a mountain sort of push.

But I was still scared. 

My body was moving on, but my mind not so much... What if it happened again? Every headache. Every sick day. Every feeling of pain sparked the thought that what if it was beginning all over again. My journey of recovery didn't end at the physical elements.

Often we expect ourselves to bounce back, assume that we should get over something quicker than the universe has in mind. But a journey of this sort, is a marathon, not a sprint;... it requires training, commitment, and a few set backs to know where you're at. I see now how guilty I was for exactly that. I expected too much. Too much of my body.... as if the word discharge has caused remaculous healing. 

That because, I didn't have medical terms or labels hanging over my every move that suddenly I would slip back into normality- getting by every day as everyone else did. I had no reason to find it hard anymore. There was nothing wrong. 

Which was true. There wasn't anything WRONG. 

I hadn't done anything wrong. and no part of my life or my body was WRONG. 

But it was different to some. 

Different that's all. 

And as a result of this difference... there were things that brought hurdles. There were things that caused struggles. There were things that gave me every reason to not always be 100% all of the time. 1 of these things was the concept that in a short time, my body had been expected to react and respond to numerous events, that even medical professionals didn't have all the answers for- and when I think of it like that, surely I have to cut myself some slack for sometimes feeling c***?

But The other thing..... 

Was that I'm human. And as much as I may want to convince myself that I'm unstoppable, unbeatable.... ultra- resilient... I bleed. I cry. I hurt. The same as even those who were treating and caring for me. 

We're all human. And we don't have all the answers... not me... not you.... not the medical professionals who stayed with me that night- and I mean.... they're smart!... but not even they had it all.

So if they don't. Surely we can allow ourselves not to either?

Allows ourselves to be Scared. Helpless. Anxious. Fed up. Angry. I mean if there's anything that the endless amounts of social development theory books I've read during 4 years of University is that, if those feelings weren't meant to be felt. They wouldn't exist. 

If support wasn't needed. Many jobs wouldn't exist either- including mine. 

If everyone knew everything at once...In fact, many aspects of this world wouldn't be needed.

Someone told me not so long ago... that one of the biggest mistakes we make is expecting ourselves to have it all at once. 

Whether it's when learning something new or building a new career.... we want to be good straight away. We want all of the glory now. We want to be better. 

I wanted to be better. 

Right there. 

I see now the expectation I held on myself, the unrealistic expectation at that. Because how could I know it all, when I was still discovering everyday things I needed to know. I was still learning how my body reacted. How my body required me to function. The strength that was required to do all that I wanted to do.... just in a body that sometimes refused... 

I'm still learning now. Two years on. 

I don't have the answers, and more often than not.... just when I think I do, something else comes along to prove me otherwise. 

So the truth is... yes... 

It's still pretty scary. The thought- that my body will go down that path again as quickly as it did before. The thought that if I let my guard down, acknowledge the good.... that someone is going to take it away.

The fact that... I have a body built for a 6-year-old, trying to keep up with the demands of being 22. 

But do you want to know the other truth that I've learned? 

Is that it's ok. 

Those fears aren't a sign of weakness, more so of knowledge. Experience. Reality. My mind has acknowledged what's happened and has created its own guard- it's way or preparation almost... SHOULD it ever be in a position again. 

But that's ok.

And only when I acknowledged that- did recovery begin.

It's now 16/12/2020. 

And I haven't stepped foot into even a waiting room of a hospital for 11 whole months- the longest duration in my life.

Graduate. Comms Officer. Dancer. MA student... it's these terms that are starting to define me more now- than any terminology once did. 

It didn't happen overnight. Bouncing back didn't happen as fast as the process itself- whilst I wish it did.

And some days, there was no bounce at all. But that's ok.

Because what I've learned through all of this is that;

Things don't need to be sunshine and rainbows for things to be ok. 

You don't need to have it all together all of the time for thing to be ok.

You don't have to have all the answers to be ok either. 

All we need to be is exactly where we are now...... wherever that may be.


1 comment

  1. Beauutifull selfreflection! thank you for sharing as you unpick some fantastic points (the importance of self love, appreication & more....)


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