Unless you're someone still to be found in the depths of the world with an extreme medical exception, you only get one body. Sure we can have them nipped, tucked, cut, amputated, stretched, tattooed, embellished, or whatever else our life has laid out for our body's future. But whatever their glory — regardless of their size, ability, shape, colour or other — our bodies deserve the right to be listened to.
I'm a total workaholic, and that's not something that I'm ashamed to say. I work ridiculous hours to try and make The Unedit and Unedited Media's other projects coming along as great as possible, but I don't mind because I'm passionate and I'm not scared of hard work. Even in my previous jobs, the ones with the 18-hour days, the stressful deadlines and the office politics, I worked my little fat butt off. Where the strength to power through hoards of work is championed by the professional world, we tend to forget where to draw the boundaries when it comes to what our body is able to do.
When I left my last job, I was ill. And when I say ill, I mean really ill. Lung failure, the discovery of an ASD (an Atrial Septal Defect) and a long road to recovery. Its cause? A chest infection that I didn't get help for — or even realise I had — because the stress and general busy schedule that came with my job didn't give me the down time to get to a doctor, or even the time to just feel ill. Why had I let myself completely ignore something so important and central to my general health? I vowed and declared that I'd never do it again.
Then four weeks ago, I went to the adorable Devon town of Totnes for Bodykind Festival alongside Instagram star and bestie Megan Crabbe (aka Bodyposipanda). We'd both been crazy busy, and it wasn't long before our immune systems started to try and tell us that it was time to slow down. Poor Megan was almost immediately hit with one hell of a cold and generally feeling poorly, and as we moved onto Paris only a few days later, she really suffered. During this time, I was absolutely exhausted, but saw that I'd got lucky with no more lurgy than a swollen gland in my neck and a slightly sore throat. The feeling came and went throughout the next few weeks, but I was thankful that the health gods had beamed their healthy vibes down on me and had kept me out of trouble.
Last week, I began my week with that slightly raised gland again, and met up with my Dad to try and flush out my sinuses with a super hot curry down Brick Lane, not too far from my house. That was Monday, and I felt a bit better for it. Thursday afternoon came around and I was aching all in the upper arm and leg areas. I put this down to my return to swimming, and how my muscles were reacting to swimming nearly a mile. But then within the space of an hour, it felt like my entire body was just shutting down. My back and shoulders had me frozen, I was slumped on my kitchen floor feeling dizzy and my temperature was through the roof. It was the first time I can safely say I was genuinely thinking about picking up the phone and calling an ambulance. But I'm one of these people that think that whatever happens to me is low key in comparison to others. What if I call an ambulance and there's nothing really wrong with me, but someone down the road has a heart attack and nobody can get to them? Also, I had a filming commitment that I'd made months before the very next day. At 3am I questioned emailing to cancel, but didn't want to let anyone down. I'm that girl. So confined to my bed, feeling the worst I'd felt in a long time, I cried my way through the night surviving on an hour or so's sleep.
The next day, I somehow scraped through the couple of hours of filming in the morning with the loveliest group of girls, but it was only a matter of hours before I found myself being rushed into hospital. The ambulance service had a three-hour wait for them to come and take me away and the operator said I desperately needed to be seen in rapid assessment. With that, I relied on my saint of a mother to get me down there pronto, and that was how I spent my Friday night. Glamorous.
It wasn't until doctors actually saw me, and machines showed my 40+ degrees temperature that I realised it wasn't just my imagination making me feel this poorly. When I mentioned to my doctor of the recurring swollen gland, I was told that I should've gone to my GP for help weeks ago. The ENT specialist that was on call that night then told me that an ambulance should've been called to me the night before, and they ummed and aahed over keeping me in and even considering surgery to remove my tonsils in the near future. It was eventually decided I'd be more likely to pick up further infections in addition to my severe tonsillitis and glandular fever if I was to stay in a ward with other patients, so after some drips, some injections, and a massive dose of steroids, I was allowed to go home.
And so here I am, doing the only piece of work I intend to do whilst I recover from this wonderful failure on my immune system's part. I'm taking it as a sign to slow down for once, listen to my body when the first warning signs appear, rather than waiting for blue lights and emergency rooms to make me realise how bad a situation is. I've certainly learnt my lesson. The moral of the story today, kids: if you feel like shit, don't put up with it. If your body tells you that you need a nap, go take a lie down. If your body tells you that you're getting ill, don't wait until you feel like hell before you decide to see a doctor or take a paracetamol. It's great to be these brave soldiers tolerating illness and prioritising work and other commitments, but when will we realise that it's actually our bodies that should come first?
And on that note, I'm going back to bed for the week.