Seeing people get their A-Level results yesterday absolutely broke me. I couldn’t face to watch the news about it or read people’s posts about them. I don’t begrudge anyone for being rewarded for their hard work and taking the next step in life to university, but seeing students three years younger than me, and watching others for the third year in a row be able to go to university when I can’t because of my health absolutely breaks my heart.
Flicking through various social networking sites, my feed has been full of my friends posting about being stressed doing their dissertations, and now it’s mostly full of graduations; every post I see makes me long even more to be in that position and absolutely shatters me. I’d give anything to be having a normal life, just finished my third year at Cambridge, either just graduated or preparing for a fourth year. It seems an odd thing to want, the stress of a degree, but for me that would mean normality. All through my life I have been very academically driven, and I was fortunate enough to achieve my ultimate goal of gaining a place at Cambridge University.
Yet here I am, my body failing me, needing round the clock care, going through gruelling hospital tests, recovering from surgery, waiting for other operations and having my life dictated by illness. This had me thinking; does everyone want something that they don’t or can’t have, regardless of what that might be? There might me people out there wishing for something I have (although at the moment I find that hard to believe).
This has truly made me think about what I do have, and how grateful I should be for it. I have the most supportive family who go through everything with me, always putting me first, dropping everything to help me out when the need arises and caring for me more than I thought possible. I have amazing, supportive friends, particularly in Thea, who are constantly there for me and at the other end of the phone anytime of the day or night, quite often putting up with me crying down the phone, offering their advice and cheering me up. I also have Jeffrey, my Maltipoo, who brightens up even the darkest of moments with his cheekiness and loving nature.
I also need to be grateful that I did get the chance to experience studying at Cambridge. It may have incorporated hospital admissions and deteriorating health, but I was lucky enough to be there for a year, making friends, doing a degree that I loved and participating in various aspects of university life. However, this makes me sorely miss that experience and long more than anything to be back there; it was a period of my life that I thoroughly enjoyed, I had such a strong sense of belonging. I loved what I was learning and the lab work, and the entire experience was one that I wouldn’t change for the world. I so hope I’ll get back in October 2019, although it’s on my mind that I’ll need carers, adaptations to meet my needs and be three years behind all of my friends graduating.
Being ill has also made me appreciate the little things in life. I’ve had periods of being admitted to hospital, being bed bound and being house bound etc, and when I finally manage to get outside there is nothing more amazing than fresh air, something that I would have taken for granted previously. After recently recovering from surgery and being able to do very little, as things have got easier I’m also grateful for things such as being able to play with Jeffrey and do his training again, seeing friends as I was lucky enough to spend time with Deborah and Thea this week and just being able to leave the house which has been amazing.
Everyone has things in life that they long to have, to do or to be, but it’s so important to take a step back and appreciate all you have. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have you’ll never, ever have enough.”