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21 going on 80


I used to be the life and soul of the party. Used to. It's not that I'm depressed, I'm the best I've been in a long time, it's just that I physically can't. And it's not about drinking, I can not drink and still have that same energy. It's just for the past however many weeks now I've been physically weak.

I used to get palpitations and feel weak sometimes. So I would see a cardiologist, have week long ECGs which would catch that I have tachycardia but it wouldn't be a worrying kind. Lots of young women have this sort of problem and it often passes. I wasn't worried and I could still get on with my life.

I'm now on my third week of being signed off work. At the beginning of October I collapsed at home. An ambulance was called and my heart was going at 197bpm and my ECG showed delta waves - indicative of Wolff Parkinson White, a heart disorder which can be easily treated, though can be very serious if not.

After that I was fine for a few weeks, then fainted twice in two days. At first it was like this, every couple of weeks. Then every few days. Then almost daily and sometimes more.

When you collapse like this it drains the body. At first I would feel awful for a few days and then I would get back to normal. The more it happened the more this feeling of being washed out and slow became a constant rather than a temporary thing. Each collapse was followed by another, and my energy became depleted.

Despite an urgent a'n'e referral back to my cardiologist, it took two months to get to see someone. Something went wrong somewhere along the line. I'm now in the process of having tests to get this thing diagnosed, whether it be WPW or something else altogether. I'll then be on my way to treatment and getting my life back on track.

I'm such a sucker for self help books and the main thing I've got from them, or from Susan Jeffers at least, is that while you can't control your situation - you can control your reaction to it. I will have my moments when I will break down and I will sob. Yesterday being one of them. But I only let it be minutes, because the last thing I need is for this to drag me into another episode of depression.

I will have my time to cry and to scream and to get everything off my chest, and then I will take a breath and try to move on and remember the good things - why I love life and why I am lucky. That this too will pass. That I have the most wonderful friends and family. That what's happening is only one area of my life.

Except that it's not. That's what caused my emotional outburst yesterday. It's not the fainting or palpitations that get me down. Their persistence, though worrying, is bearable. What really gets me is being a 21 year old trapped in an 80 year old's body.

Having to count to ten when I sit up and then when I stand up. Not being able to do a big shop, go to the library, or pretty much anything outside the confines of my house - on my own. Having to have friends watch me when I go down stairs. Not being able to get dressed up and go out to a club. Not being able to go to Christmas parties with work or university. Knowing that if I did I wouldn't enjoy it anyway because I would be the girl sitting in the corner rather than being on the dancefloor. And then having to see photos of the event I missed all over facebook, to be reminded that I couldn't go and to see everyone else so full of life and having so much fun. To always be in the same house, or in a hospital.

But positivity is in the name of this blog and that is what I am about. Yes those things get me down, but the positives outweigh that. I get sick of things, of course, but overall I know how lucky I am. Talking about what you've learned from things makes me cringe no end and the idea of being profound is laughable. However, it has made me appreciate my lovely parents & friends. It's frustrating having to need and thus accept help, but the fact that it is always there is incredible.

It makes me appreciate my health. Today and yesterday have been good days because I have not lost consciousness over the past 48 hours, and this makes me very happy. Something which seems bizarre to even state. It makes me excited to be better, and to get back on with my life. To have my energy back and use it, and not just in terms of going out, but being able to do normal things like go shopping or for a walk through town. To be able to do my work and do it well. To be able to perform. You miss things when you lose being able to do them.

I may not have religion but I do have positivity. Mock self help books all you want but they give me hope and help me cope. The book I got out yesterday when I got into bed after my emotional outpouring was The Alphabet of the Human Heart by Matthew Johnstone & James Kerr. An A-Z of the positives and negatives in life, this is a book which you can read in the space of 5 minutes. It's reduced to £4.99 on Amazon and would make a lovely Christmas present. It's so uplifting, and instantly reminds me why I like life and how to get the best out of it.

If you are a regular patient or are waiting for treatment and are experiencing problems with the service, whether it be how long you are having to wait or the way you are being treated - you should get in touch with your local PALS service. Unfortunately my Mum was spoken to very rudely by a consultant's secretary, and then there was the problem of my lost referral, and the PALS service have been so helpful and supportive.

Equally, if you are treated at hospital and receive excellent treatment you can say thank you via an online form. Being at the hospital so much has really made me realise just how hard everyone there works and for such long hours. There have been times when health care staff have not been so caring, but when I am treated by someone who reassures me, makes me smile and creates good morale on the ward - it's important to show appreciation as well as frustration, something we often forget to do.

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