Saturday night, three weeks ago. I went out at about nine o clock, meeting some friends. At eleven o clock I felt I could be getting a cold. At two at clock at night my voice had become raucous. At about four o clock I went to bed. When I woke up, I was hardly able to get up anymore. Three weeks later, I am still sick. I have been through tonsilitis and bronchitis. The cold season for me doesn’t mean that the weather is getting colder. It means that I am constantly cold – and sick.
A few years ago, my approach towards medicine and healing was straightforward and rather simple. I took paracetamol when I felt bad and I took antibiotics when I felt really bad. I did not scrutinize, nor did I bother to read about alternative therapies. My lifestyle was not as healthy as it could have been. Although my immune system was rather weak already, I did not care enough to make any radical changes or get to the bottom of my health issues. All this changed, when I was diagnosed.
When I became a chronic illness patient after my diagnosis, it took me a while to realize I was part of the „spoonie community“. I found out that such diseases rarely come alone. Most of the patients seem to have a whole catalogue of afflictions. I don’t. I have CLL and my immune system does not really deserve its name, but that’s it. However, once you are a spoonie, chronic health issues seem to pop up everywhere.
I have always had a weak immune system. Antibiotics have often saved me. I never questioned those physicians who prescribed them generously to me over the course of the years. No wonder. Antibiotics have always worked for me – so far. But what if they don’t anymore? What if a patient develops resistance?
My chronic disease is an invisible one, which means that there will always be quite a lot of things you don’t see by just looking at me. In summer, I went to my home country where I wanted to meet up with each and everybody. I had a booming social life and was surprised by my own activity level. People who know about my CLL are usually disappointed when we meet, because there is not much to see. I will tell you about the things none of them could see while I was partying.
Today, on my 43rd birthday, I would like to tell you about two amazing experiences I had when I recently traveled through India. Both of them were extremely physical. One of them made me aware of cultural differences in our attitude towards death. The other one gave me insights about the poorest of the poor – and how the other half dies.