Thursday, 17 October 2013

How Hospital Made Me Weird

Managed to get a few minutes to myself to brush up this post I started writing a few weeks ago. Enjoy and feel free to laugh at my strange ways! 

I'm into a bit of amateur self psychology. Every time I have a weird dream I try to figure out what part of my confused brain put the events together. But I think a lot of the weird things about me stem from things that happened to me in hospital. I'm not talking about mental breakdowns, just little quirks of my nature that will probably be amusing to read about. I thought this would be a good funny post anyway.

Perhaps the most obvious quirk of nature which originates from hospital is my fear of masks. I'm talking about the plastic party masks, ones that pretend to be a face. They just really creep me out. The more cartoony they are the worse they scare me, particularly when they cover the mouth and the mask has a really wide cartoon style smile on. However really realistic ones, like the goblin masks in Harry Potter don't bother me at all because they don't seem like masks so much. Anyway I think this came from the surgeon's masks as they cover the mouth and I think that's the thing about masks that creep me out. You wouldn't think masks come up in your life that much but it's quite surprising how much it does. I think I see a mask on tv or in someone's picture on Facebook on average about once a week. And Halloween is really not fun! I don't know when this fear came because I've not always had it, it seemed to just come out of nowhere at some point in my childhood but I'm sure surgeons are to blame. 

The next one is sort of a good one. I think because of the endless list of doctors and nurses that have seen me naked, I have no insecurities about my body at all. The only thing I don't like is that my leg hair grows insanely fast, but I could easily keep on top of it if I could be bothered. Considering I grew up dancing where everyone is really conscious of their weight, their size, their height and everything because it affects what kind of dancer you can be. To be ballet dancer you have to be around 5'6" in height, have long legs, a flat chest, high arched feet and all sorts of things like that, it's surprising that none of the body obsession rubbed off on me. I don't know if it's the amount of people seeing me naked and not making a big thing about it or just because I have bigger things to worry about. I suppose I can blame heart disease for the things that I could hate about my body, the fact that I'm really skinny, that I'm short (there are cases of identical twins where the child with CHD is about a foot shorter than the child without), that I have scars etc. But none of it bothers me at all. Perhaps it's more comforting to be able to blame it on something rather than just having to accept it. I'd hate to not be comfortable in my body. I'm really glad that I turned out this way. 

After constant consumption of calpol and other strawberry flavoured medicines, I now can't drink or eat anything that's strawberry flavoured. Worst are things that are really sugary like strawberry milkshakes. Tastes and smells have strong connections with memories. The smell of oxygen is another thing that makes me want to gag because of all the times I've felt ill and been given it as a child. They had to resort to tying it to my teddy when I was little in the hope that some of it would waft into my face. I don't mind the fresh oxygen that comes in tanks, that's only got a really subtle smell but the oxygen that comes from oxygen concentrators smells like a mixture of car exhaust fumes and melting plastic. Everyone I know who's used it said it's completely bearable, but I can't stand the smell at all.  Which is pretty annoying because I could do with being on oxygen quite a lot and ordering oxygen tanks is a massive pain because the oxygen company my gp uses is rubbish. But I'm thinking about seeing if my palliative care doctor could arrange a better system because my gp has tried all it can but the oxygen company are having none of it. 

I'm not sure if this is a good one or not. I never feel like I was a proper teenager. I had to grow up really quickly because just as I was turning a teenager was just when I was finding out a lot of things about my illness and my future. I went through a bit of a difficult year when I was about 13 when I found out everything, and I was bullied a bit at around the same time, so I had a bit of a down year but then after that was all sorted and I got my head around everything I felt a lot more grown up. It's like I did the whole teenage thing in one year. I guess it's a good thing because I felt like I was pretty happy as a teenager and I'm sure if you asked any adult what part of their life they'd want to skip it would probably be the teenage years. I think a big part of it is I've always been very aware of my own mortality, and I think the thing about the teenage years and university student age is you just don't really think about how much bad food you're eating, what smoking is doing to your lungs and what drinking is doing to your liver. Although I guess the fact that adults do all of those things means that that theory doesn't just apply to teenagers. I've always thought of myself as mature for my age. Perhaps my brain is trying to fit all my development into my life expectancy. By the time I'm 30 I'll be knitting surrounded by cats. 

This is probably the weirdest one. I really like order and being in a really controlled environment like a school. I always wanted to go to boarding school when I was little because it seems like a really safe place to be because you don't have to deal with the world much. I'm a bit of a hermit! It must be really unusual for a creative person to like order because creativity is so messy! I guess this is because I have a lot of decisions and problems do to with my health and I like the thought of not having to deal with it and just having someone just say right this is what's happening. Even though that obviously wouldn't work in practise. I'm not a natural leader, lets say. I'd make a good minion. 

The next one is quite annoying. It's that I can't get to sleep unless I'm in a room of perfect silence and darkness. I'm really fussy about the conditions in which I can sleep. I can't have a ticking clock in my room because that annoys me. I can only have the fan on if I wear ear plugs and I have to have it on a low setting because I hate my hair blowing into my face; I hate anything around my neck and face. I reckon this is because of all the nights I've spent in hospital, which is like sleeping outside how noisy it is. Especially when I was in the children's hospital where there are babies crying and toddlers screaming round every corner. Hospitals don't really value a good nights sleep. The nurses talk loudly in the corridors all night, they don't turn the lights out till 11 if you're lucky and then wake you up at six for blood tests and even if you don't need any tests they wake you up for breakfast not long after. I struggle to sleep in the day because obviously darkness is hard to find. I suppose spending a lot of time trying so sleep in a noisy, loud ward should have made it easier for me to sleep in a semi-dark quiet room. But unfortunately that didn't happen. 

I think this one is really understandable. I hate gruesome or violent films. I don't mind the odd thriller, the odd crime drama but those really gruesome films like the Saw franchise or films like that I can't stand at all. I'm sure this is because they're often really clinical, there's usually a surgeon's scalpel at hand and oxygen masks and hospital beds with straps and creepy things like that. Especially if it's a torture scene So obviously I'm not a massive fan of that. I don't really like the feeling of being freaked out by gory stuff. And hate seeing people hurt each other, even on film. It's just not my thing at all. I find it opens up a lot of unpleasant memories for me. Having tests you haven't had done before, doctors with a tray of needles, is pretty frightening and it's the same feeling that I get when I watch some mad guy brandishing needles and scalpels at some helpless 'patient'. So no, I'm not going to watch any gruesome films, thank you. (Saw is on our watch list for my Film Studies module this year! Help me!!!!!)  

Here's a nice one to finish on, it takes an awful lot to get me bored because of the endless hours I've spent in hospital, lying around for days on end and not doing much. I think this is partly my nature also, as my mum is an artist so she is exceptionally patient with her drawings. We always used to sit together and paint or draw, or do puzzles and things when I was recovering from surgery or illness. I always have a head full of things to do and relish the long periods of calm in which I can begin to make a start on everything I want to do. I'm a highly creative person too, which also helps. If I'm bored I'll look through my list of unfinished pieces of writing, my sewing box, my bookshelf, my craft drawer, my library of DVDs and I'll always find something interesting to do. Most creative people have had some kind of trauma in their lives, which kick starts their creativity. Certainly a lot of the successful ones have. Often it's an illness in their childhoods, or bouts of depression. Depression is a very popular one for writers, J. K. Rowling, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tennessee Williams and Emily Dickinson all suffered with depression. While studying dance, I came across a lot of dancers who had had some kind of illness in their childhood, often this was the reason they began dancing in the first place. It's good that some good comes out of a bad thing, and it's obvious to me that having heart disease has made me who I am and I've never wished for a moment that was any different, even though of course I'd love to get rid of this illness, it's still a part of me. 

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