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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Family Times

"Family is not an important thing. It's everything."
Michael J. Fox

Things have been a little crazy lately where my family are concerned. There's been more going on than usual. Again I was supposed to write about it all as it happened, but one thing or another kept me from having the time. So I apologise for fitting this all into one entry.

Can't believe how far back this is now, but on the 5th of July my older sister came home to visit for a week. Jann lives in London with her boyfriend Jay, and therefore we don't get to see her often. She comes home about twice a year. Usually she comes home for the Twelfth (a Protestant celebration held on the 12th of July every year) and around Christmas time. It's kinda weird only seeing her every 6 or so months, but at the same time we're somewhat used to it now. She went off to University in England when I was sixteen and after she went travelling in New Zealand. Still, nothing beats having her home.

On the morning of the 5th Eva and I got up early as we were supposed to go pick her up with our dad at the airport. However his golf game ran over, so she ended up getting the train and we walked up to meet her. There was extra excitement this time as she was meeting our new puppies for the first time. We brought them along to meet her.

About to leave to meet Jann.
Edwin was excited to meet his auntie for the first time! 

Jann absolutely loved Edwin and Berty, and the feeling was mostly mutual. Edwin is grand with people he doesn't know, but Berty doesn't like strangers too much. He did his best though. After we chilled for a while, we headed round to see my granny, granda, auntie Karen and my uncle Brian. Our granny has Alzheimers and so it was a little hard for Jann seeing the change in her. Still, my granny isn't at the stage where she doesn't know us so she was very happy to see Jann. The Alzheimers has mostly affected her memory, but her personality has changed also. She has less inhibitions and she'll basically say or do whatever comes to mind. So she can be quite a hoot and has mostly been in good spirits despite everything. It was a fun visit. 

That night Jann, Eva and I all headed out to our favourite bar The Goats Toe. It's basically the only bar we go to. Though it's a little in the bad books right now as they've done a complete overhaul to their beer garden and got a cool little camper van in it and such, but the beer garden is up a flight of stairs and therefore isn't wheelchair accessible. They've also put a baby changing table in the disabled bathroom, so there's very little room to maneuver my wheelchair. It wouldn't be so bad if it was a fold down from the wall changing table, but it's a freakin' two tier wooden one from IKEA. But I digress, we had an awesome night. Though our sister fun night kind of got high-jacked when Jann met an old friend from school and he basically stuck to us all night. It wouldn't have been a problem, but we kind of wanted to just spend time together. Plus it was awkward because he kept telling us how Jann was the love of his life and the one that got away. Awkward, not only because Jann has a boyfriend but also because he had a girlfriend. He was very drunk and probably only half serious, but either way he text Jann in the morning to apologise. Even so, it was a great night and I was sad when it ended. Oh, a random guy at the start of the night came up to me, told me I was the prettiest girl in the bar, kissed my cheek and then left. Later on I think two other guys also offered to buy me drinks. I could do without the compliments and cheek kisses (unless you're really hot, then by all means) and I mean I try and be nice and remember their hearts are in the right place. But personal space is also a thing. If you wouldn't do that to an able-bodied girl, then don't do it to me because I'm in a wheelchair. It's just patronising. That being said, I should maybe take up some guys on their offers of free drinks. I could save some money! Anyway, this is a pic my sisters and urm... whatever his name was.

On Sunday we went for coffee with our aunt Karen at Starbucks. It was a pretty good day. We had coffee and then we had a look around the shops. Naturally I bought some stuff I didn't need, mostly for the puppies. I've been awful with my money lately. I really need to start saving for our eventual move. When we came home the first bad thing happened. When my aunt was taking the ramp down for me to get out of my van it hadn't been locked in properly and it fell on to her foot. At first we thought it was broken. She could barely walk. I felt so terrible. Everyone hates my van as it is, so I was sure there would be another reason to add to the list. She had to sit and ice it for a while before she was able to walk. It felt like the worst thing in the world at the time, like the whole day had just been ruined right at the end. Luckily it wasn't broken and it was only bruised. The ramp is hella heavy, so it really could have been a lot worse. 

On Monday we had a rest day and just stayed in the house, watching television and such. I can't remember if it was on Monday or Tuesday, but the second bad thing happened one of those days. My granda was taken into hospital. He's had an ongoing chest infection and his hospital stays have been more frequent recently. As terrible as it sounds the biggest worry when my granda goes into hospital is my granny. She can barely walk anymore, and basically relies on my granda for everything. Not to mention the fact she gets very confused with her Alzheimers. If she's on her own she can't remember why and starts to fret. And although she can barely walk, she's able to a little and so there's the danger of her trying to cook or even trying to go find my granda. So whilst we worry for my granda when he's in hospital, most of our focus ends up on what's going to happen to my granny. For a long time now we've been saying she needs carers, but our family are reluctant to force her into anything even though she's not really capable of making decisions anymore. So there was nothing in place. On Tuesday Jann was going to go and sit with her during the day because for some reason 'people' thought she'd be fine by herself for a few hours. I'm not going to get into all that because I could rant about it all day, but there you go. My sisters and I had planned to go to Belfast, but we were prepared to call it off for granny to having someone with her. However my mum said she would go. Jann and my mum had always had a tense relationship, but I think Jann had a new found respect after seeing how good my mum was with our granny (her mother in law). When my mum went round my granny was very upset and confused. I don't know what she'd have done without my mum that day. 

We felt slightly guilty about gallivanting off to Belfast and leaving my mum, but we had to concentrate on the fact we were on borrowed time and that Jann's boyfriend would be arriving on the Thursday and she'd be leaving on the Sunday. In Belfast we spent some time looking around the shops, and we also went to a really nice Chinese restaurant for dim sum. I'd never had it before... it was a new experience. I'm not really great with new foods and I'm quite picky, but it was fun to try. I even used chopsticks! We ordered so much we had to bring half of it home. But yeah, I could tell it was a good Chinese restaurant by how many Chinese people were dining in it. All in all we had a really great day. It was very relaxing and fun.

A wonderful dining experience in Belfast.

Wednesday kind of sucked. Jann agreed to go around to stay with my granny, so we missed out on spending time with her. It was technically our last day as the next day her boyfriend Jay was coming and she wouldn't be staying at our house anymore. Even so, we realised why it was important for her to stay with granny and I think granny really appreciated it. Jann worked as a care assistant in a care home for old people and she now works in a hospital in a ward for people with brain injuries so she's well equipped to know how to handle my granny and her problems. It was probably good to have that time with granny too. 

Eva and I just chilled all day. We took Edwin and Bertie out into the garden for the first time to play. It's been hard getting them out because it's been difficult finding harnesses to feet them, and they could escape our garden. I'm hoping next month to get someone to chicken wire around the garden, but until then they can't go out too much. It was a nice day, so we took them out on their leads. They enjoyed sniffing around and exploring. I also took the opportunity to see what it would be like having Edwin on a lead while I was in my electric wheelchair. I haven't had him around my electric wheelchair too much as I was afraid of running over him, but it wasn't too bad. So yeah, we had a nice time outside. I put this little video together on my phone.

We were only actually outside for an hour, but I ended up getting really badly sunburned. I always do around this time of year. It's almost a tradition. That night we just chilled as far as I can remember. Watched some television. Jann was super tired after spending all day at granny's and I felt like a burnt crisp, so I wasn't up for doing much. 

Thursday was an exciting day. I was meeting Jann's boyfriend for the first time after almost a year of them being together. He was also meeting our parents for the first time, and Eva for the second time as she met him at Halloween. All I can say is I really hope they get married. He's really lovely and very fun. I'm always super nervous when I meet someone for the first time, but he's really easy to be around. He brought us two big bars of chocolate to share and a tin of Oreos... though he informed us it had been three bars of chocolate, but he'd eaten a bar on the plane. He also loved our puppies. It's kinda funny, because he's a big cockney dude. And most big guys don't like little dogs because they have this silly idea that it some how makes them seem less manly, but he loved them. That kind of sealed the deal when it came to being happy for him to join our family. But yeah, Jann had told us he's like a big kid and she wasn't wrong. In a good way though. 

After we met him on Thursday he and Jann headed out and Eva and I went for a walk around the coast. It was such a lovely day. We've had quite a good summer, good relative to living in Northern Ireland. I made a little video for that day too! 

That evening we went to Little Wing with Jann and Jay, and Jay bought us dinner. It was a really fun time, even if I didn't really eat any of my food. I felt guilty about that. On Friday the 11th of July we all went to the farm. The Ark Farm is probably one of my favourite places on earth. I've written a blog entry about it before when I went for my birthday. It was as fun as ever. Jay really enjoyed it. He particularly loved feeding the goats. He said the black and white ones reminded him of his dog and kept calling them Milo goats. We never bought so much feed as we did that day. I ended up giving him my cup a bunch of times. That evening Jay and Jann headed out for dinner and then later on we went to drive around the bonfires. For those of you that don't know, on the 11th of July ever year we kick of the Twelfth celebrations with bonfires. We just drive around them because with all the drunk people and stuff it can be a little scary. I think Jay appreciated staying in the car. He'd never been to the Twelfth before and wasn't used to it all. 

So, by this time my granda was out of hospital and then on the 12th morning I heard my dad on the phone sounding worried. I thought my granda was maybe sick or my granny, but it turned out my uncle had been taken into hospital. He was ranting and acting crazy, like he had taken something. My auntie asked my dad to bring her to the hospital, so he was there for a while. This was around 8:30am. The first parade was in town at 10am and the other was at noon. We weren't sure if we were going to get to go, but luckily we were. It turned out my uncle had an infection. Crazy how infections can make you. The Twelfth was a great day, and I think Jay enjoyed it somewhat. I mean he'd never been to one before, so he didn't really 'get' it. But he enjoyed it as much as any outsider would. Plus he enjoyed the food at the field. We got hotdogs and Dinky Donuts. The Twelfth is one of my favourite times of year. I've just always loved it since I was a kid. It gets bad press because the history of Northern Ireland and the fact tensions can rise more than usual around that time of year, I wish we could all just enjoy our culture and history without fighting. But humans will be humans. 

Saturday night was hard. Originally Jann and Jay were supposed to stay in our town and were planning to pop in to say bye before they left on Sunday. However they ended up staying at a hotel a little further out, so we had to say bye on Saturday instead. As hard and sad as it was for us to say goodbye to Jann, the hear sad part was her goodbye with our 16 year old dog Gracie. Gracie has gone down hill a lot in the last few months and Jann was really taken aback when she seen her when she arrived. So saying goodbye to her felt like she was saying goodbye for the last time. It was just really really sad. It was also hard for Jann that she didn't get to say goodbye to our grand parents. She had hoped to introduce them to Jay, but because my granda hadn't felt well and such he didn't want a stranger in the house. So Jann couldn't go round. 

We had a great week with Jann and it was fun meeting Jay. It wasn't a smooth week considering my granda being taken into hospital and trying to find care for my granny, but between us sisters it's one of the best we had. We managed a whole week without bickering! As close as we are, I think that's a first. 

Fast forward a week, our bad family luck struck again. We got a phone call on Saturday from our dad to say by granny had been taken into hospital. He'd fallen off the edge of the bed and eventually we found out she'd broken her hip. That is the last thing you want to hear has happened to your 85 year old granny. Her Alzheimers made it all even worse because she was very confused and upset. She didn't want my granda to leave her in the hospital and couldn't remember why she was there. Luckily since first being admitted she has calmed down some, but she does need an operation and that is the scary part. She still can't remember why she's there most of the time, so that says a lot of how well pain medication works. She can't even tell she's got a broken hip! Though she does complain that her sciatica is sore., still she wants to sign herself out of the hospital and go home. She's not fit for her operation yet because her blood is too thin, so they're just doing what they can to get her ready. We have no idea how long that will take or how long she'll be in the hospital after. There's kind of two sides to this though. On one hand we've been saying for a long time my granny needs professional care, and while she's in hospital she's getting that care and they will also be able to decide whether home is the best place or if she needs to be put into care. On one had that is a good thing, but on the other it's horrible she's going to be forced into it this way. It's also hard on my granda as he just wants her home, I think it's only sinking in now how serious everything is. 

So yeah, that's where we are now. We don't know when her operation will be or what will come after. After the super emotional goodbye we had with Jann, she's decided to come home and visit granny since she didn't get to say goodbye. She's coming home for a couple of days this weekend. I'll be glad to see her again, even if it's only a week later. What a week it has been. You can see why I haven't had time to write the last little while. I have a couple of other things I wanted to include, but I think this is long enough. I'll include them in the next entry. 

Until next time!

Friday, 4 July 2014

Pets 'n' Stuff | The Fine Line Between Grief & Fear

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
C. S. Lewis

I wanted to write about this as soon as it happened, but since I already had an entry under way and it was long enough I didn't want to add this on like an afterthought. I probably had one of my worst, if not my worst experience ever on Tuesday (01/07/14). 

In my slumber I could hear a commotion, but I wasn't sure if it was real or somewhere in my dream. Suddenly I was being woken up and my mum was there and she said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll never forget how I felt when she blurted out through tears,

"Effy's been killed on the road."

For those of you that don't know, Effy is my cat. Now to those of you who aren't particularly animal lovers this all might seem a little dramatic. However I am sure some of you, if not most of you will understand to some degree. And if you don't, let me put it this way. I can't have children and I accepted that quite a while ago. People often tell me 'sure you can use a surrogate' but I know deep down even if that was something I wanted, I don't want to be responsible for a child when I can't even physically look after myself. Even when it comes to my pets I find it hard relying on other people when I want to be looking after them myself. Anyway, my point is since I can't have children my pets are like my furry kids. There is no way I could accept not being a mother if I didn't have them and I wouldn't be the happy and positive person I am without them either. I need them.

I've never felt anything close to how I felt when mum told me Effy was dead. I've had my fair share of relatives pass in my life time and yet I'd never felt this. It was panic, fear, pain and disbelief. I have never cried like I did then. My pain just flooded out in sobs and wails. Yes wails. I didn't even know I had it in me to cry like that. It was like something from a movie, a movie where I might accuse an actor of over acting. I've never felt so little control over how my emotions made me act physically. 

My mum explained that our neighbour had come to the door and said that a cat had been knocked down a few doors down from us and she thought it was Effy. Before waking my sister or I she went to check if it was Effy and because there was some similar distinguishing features she agreed it was Effy and came back to wake Eva and I while our neighbour picked the cat up in a box to bring to our house. 

I had so many thoughts racing through my mind. Firstly I needed to know where she was, I needed her brought home. I didn't want her staying one more minute on the curb. Secondly I felt guilty. I felt like since I'd got Edwin I'd barely seen Effy and as silly as it sounds I felt like maybe Effy had died feeling neglected or like I didn't care. Also I'd felt a little stressed lately by the fact I have so many pets and I'm afraid I won't be able to afford to look after them when I move out. I'm also afraid that when I try and move Findlay and Effy one or both might run away like my cat Muffin did. Although I wouldn't change having Findlay and Effy for the world, I kinda felt how much easier it would be if I didn't have cats. All those thoughts came flooding back to me and I felt like I was being punished for them. I kept saying 'why Effy, why Effy?' because it just didn't make any sense. We live beside a main road and my male cat Findlay is known for going back and forth, but I've never seen Effy out by the road. She doesn't tend to go far. If this day was ever going to come I had always imagined it would be Findlay. I also felt anger that someone would just hit her and leave her on the side of the road. I didn't want to think of her being all by herself there, especially for any length of time. 

When Ruth our neighbour finally brought her round into our back garden in a cardboard box, my mum went to check again and came back into the house and gave us our first bit of hope. She said, "I'm not sure it's her..." My first reaction was to tell her not to say it, because I didn't want any false hope. I said if she thought it was her at first then it probably was. We were all in such a state. My mum, my sister and I were in floods of tears. Eva then went out to check and she said the same thing, she wasn't sure. Now this probably seems a bit ridiculous. You would think you would know right away if it was your cat, but even I couldn't say for sure. It's not that she was particularly damaged or anything. It seemed her face took the brunt of the accident. Her eye was hanging out of it's socket, but her body was intact. We were just so caught up in grief none of us wanted to say it wasn't her in case we were just in denial. I noted a lot of her distinguishing features were the same. She had the same pink on her nose, white whisker and sandy paw, but they were all slightly different too. And her overall coat was lighter, but in that moment I just couldn't believe that it wasn't her. By this time my dad arrived home from work as my mum had called him. It was only about 9am. I sat and watched as he lifted the limp body from the box to check. Blood spilled from her eye, I never seen blood spill like that or that much. It was weird seeing how soft and limp she was. It really had just happened and I thanked goodness she hadn't been left on the curb long, no matter who it was. Then my dad said it "that's not Effy" with complete certainty in his tone. Admittedly I still couldn't believe it 100%, I wouldn't believe it until I seen Effy alive and well with my own eyes. 

Once we knew it wasn't Effy, we knew who she was and my dad went to notify the owner. It made more sense now as she was actually found just outside their house. While he was gone we started calling Effy and sure enough five minutes later she wandered up the garden, completely oblivious we'd been mourning the loss of her not 15 minutes before. I felt a complete weight lifted off my heart and it felt like a surreal blessing that she was there standing in front of me. It was like being woken up from a vivid nightmare. Seeing Effy now and thinking back to the cat my dad had lifted out of the box it seemed so obvious it wasn't her, but in that state of distress I could barely remember what Effy looked like. It was like my mind wouldn't let me because I needed to believe it was her or else I wouldn't be able to handle it if I thought there was any slight chance it wasn't and it turned out it was. 

We were right and the cat had belonged to someone who lived across the road. The same woman who had owned a Jack Russell my sister witness be knocked down a couple of years ago. The driver had hit the dog and kept driving. Sadly the Jack Russell later had to be put to sleep. She came over and identified the cat right away. Her name was Tria and she was only a year old. To make things worse the woman didn't seem all that upset. She said, "It wouldn't be so bad only she belongs to my granddaughter. We've only had her a year, so it's not like we've had her a long time. We only got her to catch the mice out the back." She seemed like a lovely woman and all and after she took Tria home she came back to see our puppies, but it was hard having a light hearted conversation with her after what had happened. Especially with the contrast between how she reacted and how we had when we thought it was Effy. In a weird way I was glad I had thought it was Effy for that small while, because even though I thought she was Effy I was still glad someone had grieved for poor Tria. It also helped remind me how lucky I am to have Effy and the rest of my pets and how much I need and love them. 

After the woman left it all felt so surreal. The whole day we couldn't believe what had happened. I kept reliving it over and over. I couldn't get out of my head how it had felt thinking she was gone and how blessed I felt that she was still with us. Every time I saw her, and even now I get this swelling in my chest. Still, there's also the fear of how I felt and I never want to feel that again for a long time. 

My beautiful Ethel

After that traumatic start to the day, the day got a lot better. It was the day Edwin was officially allowed to go outside, so we got him all suited up in his harness. He had a small taste of outside the back door before he almost wriggled out of his harness, even though I had modified it with my sewing skills to make it smaller. I guess one of the joys of owning a Chihuahua is that nothing fits them as a puppy. At least nothing made for puppies. 

Eva and I then decided to walk to a local pet store and see if we could get him a smaller harness. I had read people had found ferret or kitten harnesses pretty good. It was such a warm day. Eva thought it was the hottest this year so far. We found some rabbit harnesses that we thought would do the trick and bought a couple of other things too, including a new collar for Edwin since his puppy collar was also too big. I found him a cute little kitten collar. Earlier in the day I had texted my aunt Karen to see if she wanted to visit since she's not seen Eva much since she started her job. While we were at Jollyes she replied and invited us to a BBQ at my granny's house. We gladly accepted and we weren't long home before she came to pick us up. We had fitted Edwin and Berty with their new spiffy harnesses and she let us bring them to the BBQ. It was fun having Edwin out properly for the first time and seeing him play in he grass with his cousin's Berty, Lily and Maisy. It was a nice family evening. 

Photos of Edwin on his first day allowed out!
They grow up so fast. :'(

On Wednesday Edwin and I attended a Puppy Party at the vet practice that Edwin is registered with. I wasn't sure what to expect and my mum took me along. Eva was supposed to come along with Berty, but she had to work. It was different than I expected, but it was a good night. It was very informative and the vet nurses took all the puppies in to a little area to play while they gave us a talk. There was only three other puppies, a Labrador, a Maltese and little Jack Russell cross. There was a funny story behind the Jack Russell cross. Her name was Minnie and her owners husband had bought her as a surprise and he had thought he was buying a Chihuahua. It was only when he got her home and gave his wife her present and she said 'Oh you got me a Jack Russell!' he realised. He replied to her, 'no it's a Chihuahua' and said was like, '...No, that's a Jack Russell.' Basically they'd been conned by one of the many back yard breeders on Gumtree. The puppy they'd got wasn't even the one pictured in the add. Still, Minnie was beautiful. They kept saying to her in reference to Edwin 'this is what you're supposed to look like'. Apparently in the play area Edwin had taken quite a shine to her and they stuck together. I can't wait to see the photos! They post them up on the vet practice's Facebook page. 

So yeah, it was quite an eventful week. You can see why I haven't had much time to write. I also had another vet appointment with my Labrador, Baby. She got her vaccinations and finally at the old age of 7 she finally got microchipped! I know, bad owner that we left it so long. She was so brave. The vet said she's overall in good health, but she needs to get some of her weight off. I already knew that and we've been trying, but I'm switching her over to healthier food so hopefully that will help. Gosh, it's tough work being a mummy to fuzz balls! 

My sister is coming home from London tomorrow, so I'm going to be busy for the next week. Her boyfriend is arriving on the 10th and it will our first time meeting him. Exciting, huh? Also next week is the Twelfth here in Northern Ireland so that's exciting also. Even though I'm not religious, it's still one of my favourite times of year. I guess I just love tradition. Hopefully I'll have plenty to write about. 

Anyway, until next time. 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Life Is A Mixed Bag

“The universe isn't against anybody. I know it feels that way right now, but I'm telling you it's not how it works. Life is a mixed bag. We all get some good, and we all get some bad. The more time that you spend figuring out all the ways the world is trying to screw with you.. well, the more you're gonna find.”
The Fosters

Gosh me, time spent looking after a small puppy really flies by. I mean, I've had a puppy before and kittens before, but for some reason with Edwin and Berty time just disappears. It seems like just yesterday I was finishing up my last blog entry and heading off to the vet with Edwin for his second round of vaccines. It was the first time I'd had him at the vet as the breeder had had him vet checked and his first vaccinations. Still, our trip went well. More has happened with him since then, but I'll cover that in my next blog. I had planned to have this entry up quite a while ago, things are happening faster than I can write about them!

Edwin and I yesterday.

So something I didn't cover in my last blog post as it was already super long was the fact I had my annual muscle clinic check up on the 12th of June. It was pretty routine and uneventful, but I felt like I needed it. I needed to be told everything was fine, even though I'd already been told that by the Speech and Language therapist and the Respiratory people. As much as I'm feeling a lot better since my anxiety and panic attacks where at their peak, I'm still not 100%. I'm still having to actively keep the panic attacks at bay.

Dr McConville seen me as usual, and he had a student (at least I think he was a student, he was kinda old) in with him. I always find Dr McConville a little weird. I guess with my disability a lot of it is still guess work, and he likes to be careful about everything... even though he kind of acts like he doesn't know much, so doesn't really give you much confidence that he knows what he should be being careful about. I told him I had seen a Speech and Language therapist about my choking, and how she had concluded that although I had a delayed swallow that it was a good one and that she believed my choking was due to anxiety. In this instance he made me feel a little better again. He said he wouldn't expect to see problems with my swallow and that it was most likely because of the anxiety. He did my usual strength tests while explaining to the student what he was doing. He said although I'm weaker than an average person and my muscles are tight and contracted, that I'm still pretty strong. He said over all they're not concerned about me and that I'm doing well, but that the main concern is my lungs. Not that they've got any worse or anything, but basically that I need to take good care of them. He really couldn't stress that enough. He told me that I should have a very low threshold for getting an antibiotic if I get anything resembling a chest infection and what's more (and something I had never even thought of) I should have a very low threshold for going to hospital if I have a chest infection so they can monitor and assist my breathing.

Waiting for my muscle clinic check up!


I've really taken it on board and in the future I'm definitely going to take better care of myself. I'm not going to put off getting antibiotics and I'm going to start getting the flu vaccination. I get a letter every year about it, but I never bother. I'm afraid of needles and particularly having things injected into me, but I think I'm a lot more afraid now of tempting fate. I mean this disease is progressive and a lot of stuff is out of my control, but if I can help prevent anything for at least a while I should take every measure.

Something happened a few weeks or so ago now that really brought home once again that we really are living day to day and we have no idea what the future has in store for us. A friend I met through Instagram who also has a form of Congenital Muscular Dystrophy was taken into hospital when she suddenly had trouble breathing. How we actually got to know each other was she commented on a photo of mine in relation to my ventilator. Like me, she used one at night too. We bonded over comparing the similarities and differences in our disabilities. Like me she retained carbon dioxide and quite suddenly couldn't do without her mask at all. She was taken into hospital and they stabilised her and were happy for her to go home. They had no idea what had caused it, at least so suddenly. She messaged me to talk about it, and as much as I wanted to be encouraging and be there for her it was tough because as I said to her, she was going through what most of us fear most. She didn't feel ready to leave the hospital even though the doctors were happy for her to and I'd talked to her one night about it before bed and in the morning I had a message from her grandmother saying she'd taken a bad turn in the night. Basically the worst had almost happened. I wasn't sure if I was ever going to hear from her again, but luckily they were able to bring her round. However the doctors decided she needed a tracheotomy. Now, this is literally one thing I fear most for many reasons. When I started having my panic attacks it was on my mind a lot, and it was even scarier to know one of my friends was going through it. Not to mention it happening so suddenly. I just couldn't imagine being in her shoes.

I've told her before that she's an inspiration to me. She's actually the person that inspired me to look into moving out of my parent's house and living independently. Again she found a way to inspire me, and I don't say that lightly. She's so bright, kind, outgoing and independent. She had so many plans for the summer and the future, and suddenly her life was just changed dramatically. And although she's had down times and she's struggled, ultimately she's come through it so positively and with so much strength. Seeing her take it all in her stride gives me courage for the future. Maybe I don't need to be so afraid.

I hope if it ever did happen to me or anything else for that matter, I'll have her strength and I hope I'm as raring to go so soon after. Right now she just wants to get out of the hospital and get back to her life. I can't wait to see what she does next. I'm pretty sure none of this will hold her back.

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