World Health Day

Ceri-Ann Brown's avatar

by Ceri-Ann Brown

I am advised that April the 7th is "World Health Day".

This makes me think of when people say "at least I have my health" or "as long as baby is healthy".  

My view on health is somewhat different to how it was a few years ago.

The latter comment I hate hearing as my baby was not born "healthy", she was born not breathing and fighting desperately for her life but the fact she is here today and overcome so much is testament to our fantastic medical services.

There are a lot of things you hear when you have little life experience that you just ignore as a cliché or boring things to say.

But actually as you get older you start to realise that yes, we are not all immortal, health issues do happen, we do all get older.

It is sad but true to think that one thing we ALL have in common is that we are all only one unfortunate event away from becoming disabled or injured, or that if we continue to neglect our self-care needs our health will deteriorate and a minor complaint could escalate into a chronic condition.

This time a couple of years ago my self-care regime was appalling.

I was so deeply immersed in the traumatic way Amy entered the world, and we were getting so little sleep that actually all I wanted was either to not move, or to eat very unhealthy food - constantly.

Since Amy's birth I have gained about 4 stone. I went from gym 3 times a week to doing as little possible around Amy's extensive care needs.

I suffered two miscarriages and had to have an operation on my womb and the grief I still feel over this is still one of great intensity.

This is part of the problem though. Things like trauma aren't talked about enough.

We are so quick to upload a picture of what we had for lunch, or to tell everyone what TV show we are watching, but we don't stop to reflect on what we have been through.

People look on miscarriage as a bit of a secret thing that we don't talk about. But I refuse to be quiet about it.

Miscarriage is loss of a life and much more common than I realised (1 in 4). Miscarriage is trying not to collapse to the ground crying when you see a new-born baby or someone pregnant.

It is about all of your high expectations crumbling down beneath you, no longer visible.

I guess what I am trying to say, if we can look after our mental health - our mental health will look after us. I have seen some fascinating articles lately about stress and how it can make your brain crave carbs and sugar to help release happy chemicals. This of course is not a long term fix as there are now studies too linking depression to our gut therefore saying that if we eat healthily this should have an impact on our brains.

I am gearing myself up for a health kick. I am starting to get scared of not being able to carry Amy.

Transfers between equipment is getting harder and therefore more dangerous, I need to get stronger. I have bought some weights.

I am now drinking water. This sounds really daft - but recently I have gone from no water (just coffee really. Oops) to at least a litre and a half of water a day and you know what? I feel so much better! 

I force myself to bath or shower every day and wash my hair a few times a week. I am monitoring my step count and trying to walk the dog as far as I can every day.

Little tweaks here and there will hopefully become habits and eventually I should hopefully start to see results.

I recently became very inspired by my dad. He too has struggled with weight but has recently committed to his health and even ran a half marathon recently.

He looks so much healthier and he seems much happier. I can see that he is making better choices and actually WANTING to rather than forcing himself to be good.

I was like that before Amy... you couldn't pay me to eat a biscuit and now I'd probably consume a whole packet without a second thought. 

Health really is important and has now become a daily part of my thought process when caring for Amy.

I constantly worry about her hydration, her meds (if they work/if they're the right doses), I worry about her physiotherapy and muscle tone, I worry about muscle spasms, hip dislocation, stoma infection and so much, probably to the point of appearing wildly neurotic and thus affecting my own health.

My mum too suffers many chronic conditions, all of which are hard to manage.

I find that some medications have bad side effects... so you must counteract that side effect with yet another medicine and before you know it your medicine cupboard looks like a pharmacy.

My mum has always quietly plodded on with her ailments, rarely (if at all) complaining. I recently attended one of her hospital appointments with her.

I don't get to attend them as often as I would like but wanted to be there. I was astonished at what she goes through every day. I won't go in to detail.

She recently was diagnosed with macular degeneration - something you would expect in a much older person.

She now contends with this in conjunction with diabetes, colitis, arthritis, polymyalgia and so much more.

I am amazed at what people can endure and continue to get up every day and keep active and find myself so inspired by everyone around me.

I would love to hear stories from other SN families about their battles with health.

Health for me now isn't just if you are fat or thin, or young or old.

It is autoimmune diseases, disability both visible and invisible, it is mental health issues such as PTSD and GAD, it is chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema, it is every single thing that affects your ability to get out of bed each day and make that day count.

It is smiling through the pain, but also the bravery of going to the GP when needed.

We are all fighting a battle and I hope that yours is as pleasant and comfortable as possible.

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