Saturday, 28 February 2015

Dear Tummy

Dear Tummy,

You may have been informed that earlier in the year I wrote a letter to Brain – well, now it’s your turn. It would be far too unfair to direct all my anger and frustration on brain when I know you’re, and I’m sorry to have to say this via letter and please excuse my bluntness, a much greater pain in the arse. In more than one way at that. So let’s start with number one shall we.

When I was a baby, I had no control over the whole hydrocephalus, operations, peritonitis, more operations…thing. I also understand that in many ways that wasn’t your fault either. However, the whole over-exaggerated reaction you started giving to me from about the age of 12 really was a tad over the top. I get it, you’re kind of pissed off: ‘Oh the unfairness to have suffered so much all because of that silly brain…again’ My My, he really does seem to be causing trouble…but is there really so much need to mess up one of the things I love most. I don’t know if you’d been communicating with my brain before this all began but if you had you’d know I think about food almost constantly. 

Yes, I know that that doesn’t seem too unusual but if you knew the number of times that a bowl of well-seasoned spinach or Brussel sprouts passes through my head you would see the uniqueness in my case. I am not someone who hallucinates pizzas or fish fingers or even bread. I want a roast with all the trimmings – as fibrous as those can be. Only last year I had an epiphany and discovered that the one vegetable that I had always rejected, pushed aside with the image of school lunches on my mind, was actually pretty damn delicious if cooked properly. I discovered corn on the cob and my world changed...ok, a bit melodramatic I admit but it was a big excitement for my dad who has always liked sweetcorn. Who has never been able to grow it because of the distrust I, and my brother, had towards these peas disguised in yellow jackets.

So, so far this all sounds fine. Hunky dory. Pat on the back for Ellie – a rare teenage specimen who eats more than just baked beans and has done since she could chew. However, because of you – and yes I know not entirely you – I have had to stop enjoying all of these. A bowl of delicious broccoli is out of my reach. I can see it but I cannot touch it. You and your scar tissue malarkey have led specialists to conclude, after many years of false appendicitis scares and scanning machines, that the way to stop my frequent visits to the see them is to ban me from eating what I enjoy most. They have created a world where I must sit at the dinner table every Sunday watching dish after dish be brought out of the oven filled with delicious steaming vegetables – purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage, even blinkin’ peas. Food that I must watch but should not touch. Unless, that is, I wish to be stuck in A&E for several hours only to be attached to a drip and pumped full of drugs to numb the stabbing pain inside you, my friend. Do you understand my distress? Do you see where this letter of frustration has arisen from? But I’m not done.

As I said before, I am not your average teenager with a healthy appetite for unhealthy things. Chocolate is my main guilty pleasure but beyond that I’m not a junk food type of gal. Yet for once, it would be better if I was. It would be better for me if I loved to gorge on a huge pizza just for me. I don’t want to be in hospital just as much as you seem to want to put me there. However, the only way to fight you and your irritating reactions to what I eat is to do just what I’ve always felt proud of not doing as much as most my age. I have to eat things that are unhealthy just to keep me ‘healthy’. As those I talk to like to point out, and quite rightly at that, I can still eat chocolate. Now that’s great. As I say, I’m a chocolate lover, however I’ve never been a confident girl. I’ve never been proud or particularly happy with the way I look and I DO notice my hips are wider and squidgier than I would like them. I notice the folds in my tummy when I look at a photograph before I even notice what I’m wearing or where the picture was taken. I’m drawn to assessing my body and feeling bad about it. I’ve felt this way ever since I can remember and that’s despite all the vegetable consumption. 

Now imagine how I feel knowing that I can’t eat the healthy things I’ve always felt good about eating. Knowing I am left to eat things that are, at least in some ways, not going to be friends to my hips. Yes, I know it’s not all about that, and if I’m really worried I should just exercise more…or exercise full stop. I will. I know that’s partly the answer. My point is that it frustrates me that you go beyond yourself. You get all infected from no fault of your own or me, then you wait 12 years and suddenly BAM! Morphine is my friend and cabbage is my foe.

Why now? Why this way? You could have responded differently. But you didn’t and you won’t. There’s nothing you can do now you’ve started. You’re like a snowball tumbling down a hill just picking up speed. There’s no stopping you. I’ve been offered surgery but they’ll just cut out the bit of you that’s narrow and then in years to come you’ll just thicken up again. The scar tissue that dresses you will return and once again you’ll be my enemy. I could have some years of peace, a break from this frustration. Or I could just let you do your thing. We’ll see. You’ll see. 

I just wish you’d been different. 

Yours sadly,

P.S. Here's a paper chain I made from all the hospital bands from the past year and a half because of you...

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