Today i feature someone who has been with me since the start of my blogging journey. Jenny was my first insta mummy friend she has been with me through all my trials and troubles this year and always there for me when I’m having my crying breakdowns or sharing my crazy cleaning stories with her and never judging me. When i asked Jenny to join my childhood series she was very nervous and took some persuading but when she told me what she was going to write about i was so honoured and pleases to share such an important story. Please share some love for Jenny and her brave journey.
I had a funny feeling that Ally was going to approach me and ask me to write about my childhood when she first launched her “Childhood Series”. When I said yes, I became really excited. I’m certainly not a confident writer but thought it would be the perfect start. I mean, after all, doesn’t our childhood experience help mould us into the people we are today.
So, what can I tell you about my childhood? I was fortunate. My parents always strove to give me the best that they could. They worked hard to ensure that we were looked after, educated, had extracurricular activities and went on family trips. We went to good schools and our weekends were filled with swimming, seeing family and attending Sunday school.
I loved school and reading books. I was always told I was a pretty smart kid. I had many friends, was fearless, full of life and spoke my mind. I knew I wanted to do something to help people in the future. I always loved writing. Writing poems, writing in a diary, and remembering my experiences until one day, it just stopped. I got writers block. And have found it exceptionally difficult to write since. In fact, Ally asking me to write has been really tough.
Between the ages of 7-9, I’m still trying to piece things together so I’ll call this the paragraph of unknown. (I’m working on it with a dear friend). But I’ll tell you what I do know. Something happened when I was at school, I don’t know if it was a suicide or an accident – I really don’t know the details but it happened in a building nearby. I don’t know what I saw but I was in an art lesson by the window. I don’t know if this started after the event but I got a lot of nose bleeds at that age, really heavy ones that lasted for hours. My poor mum would always have to come and collect me and eventually the veins in my nose were cauterised after a few years under general anaesthetic.
It was when I was around 9/10 years old, I developed excruciating headaches (I’m not sure if they’re linked to the paragraph of unknown). Clutching my head in my arms and squeezing hard was the only thing I could do to try and relieve the pain. Sometimes, I’d just see black, other times I’d get dizzy and occasionally I felt like I was being punched repeatedly in the head. These feelings would last anything from 2 minutes up to 2 hours – but they’d make an appearance every day. My mum, always tirelessly searching for answers took me to and from the local GP begging her to come up with a solution, but we were always told the same things, “I’m sorry, but I’m sure it’s just growing pains.” “She could be attention seeking.” “Maybe she’ll get her period soon.” “The headaches will fade.”
To cut a long story short, it took more than a year to get a proper diagnosis. A private GP took pity on us and requested blood tests and an MRI scan. I’ll never forget the first time I went to an MRI machine, strapped in, listening to Robbie Williams “Angel” being told to keep still for nearly 2 hours. My eyes welling up with such fear. Fear of the unknown.
I’ll also never forget the day the results came out. My parents were sitting on either side of me with worried looks on their faces whilst I was swinging my legs and staring aimlessly. It was at that moment the specialist announced I had a benign tumour on the prolactin gland which was located on the base of the brain. There were only two words that I caught onto and understood. The first was tumour and the second was brain. Those words constantly reverberated around my head and haunted me. Everything else became a blur.
When we got home, mum and dad sat me down and told me that benign meant non-cancerous and that the condition I had needed constant treatment. I was also told that I may not be able to have a child when I was older. I listened but didn’t say too much because at the back of my mind I still was hearing those two words over and over again. I didn’t know who to believe or how to cope. From that moment, I knew that things would be different.
Having constant blood tests, check-ups, MRI scans and trying different medication/pain killers made me feel like a guinea pig. I felt alone and isolated. Yes, I had family around me who were there but didn’t want to talk. The whole thing became a bit of a taboo. My friends didn’t know and I lost my way. I lost my trust in those around me and I shut myself out. As a result, I felt like part of my childhood was robbed.
As a teenager, I rebelled. Majorly. I had a string of shitty boyfriends, put my parents through hell and avoided taking my medication. I hated school and chose not to go to Uni, which to this day is one of my biggest regrets. It was only when I started my first job, I started to learn more about me. I worked hard. Really hard. After a few years of work, I moved into Private Banking and was given a chance to prove myself. I was so proud of what I achieved.
In 2009, after months of my headaches hitting an all-time low and the worst they’d ever been I was put on a very high dose of Tramadol, I needed to have surgery to cut part of the tumor out.
I always carried on as child and knew how to put on a face and hide myself behind it – not letting anyone know what I was going through. But before my surgery I made it a mission to make everyone who knew me, know about Pituitary problems. I wanted to spread the word and share and set myself free. I ran a 10k and raised £6,000.
I won’t forget seeing my family and boyfriend (now husband) after surgery and before being wheeled into ICU. My family looked at me with such worry and love and my husband, he found it in himself to tell me that I looked beautiful.
ICU was horrible. Constant noise, bells ringing and people rushing around. Doctors flashing torches into my eyes, heart monitors, bleeding, crying, trying to talk I don’t know how the staff cope. They were incredible, although I had no appreciation for them at the time.
It took 8 weeks before I could return to work but I knew I’d get there and I had nearly a year of being headache free.
Let’s fast forward to today, 7 years on and a half marathon later.
My headaches, they’re still there. Constantly. Some days are worse than others, and my prolactin levels they fluctuate. Since surgery, I vowed never to take pain killers again. And I don’t. I just carry on. I lead a normal life; I have an amazing daughter (even though I was told it would be exceptionally difficult to get pregnant) – I like to prove people wrong. And I know I’ll have another, sometime, somehow.
Whilst I have majorly condensed my story, I guess I’m just trying to show you that regardless of our journeys, we all go through shit. Yes, some people have it much worse than others. But we all have painful times in our lives. If we don’t feel sadness, then we can’t appreciate happiness. If we don’t have bad times, we can’t appreciate the good times. This wasn’t written for sympathy. It wasn’t written as a sob story. And it wasn’t written for attention. Writing this has helped me piece part of my journey together. It has helped me understand who I am.
Having my tumor has always been my driving factor, it has helped me move forward, given me the strength and more recently the self-belief to start making my dreams a reality. If I can inspire people along the way, then that’s even better! You really can do anything you want to if you put your mind to it.
Jenny has set up her own online Parenting Community Mamazou, where she has helped many mums like myself find great friends and shared great stories from all aspects of parenting. So please click here and join myself and all the other parents and share your journey.