It’s 27/10/2019 and I’m currently lying outside on the outdoor sofa at my parents in two hoodies and a blanket, there is/was sunshine but it’s fading now and the wind is picking up but I don’t want to go indoors yet as feeling the fresh air on my face and being outside is so beautiful especially when you’ve spent the majority of the spring/summer in one room of isolation in hospital, being outside is a very precious thing.
But for this blog I want to go back to the summer, 12/08/1994 to be specific and that date also being my birthday, my 25th to be exact. Anyone who knows me well will know I find birthdays in general difficult but this one was especially hard as 25 is a “big one” you know? Half a century, mid twenties, the big 25, is your life sorted by this age/should it be/what if it isn’t? I mean in reality who really says all that? Society and social media right? But whoever does it becomes ingrained in our brains and when you don’t fit and complete the box you feel you should it can really get to you, well least me, it gets to me. Yes I know I shouldn’t let it and I am all about positive, embracing life and not worrying what others think and that is all true, 100% but as I also say everything is a working progress, I am far from perfect and like all of us I have good days and bad but it’s how you deal with it all that matters the most!
So, yep.. turning 25. Hmm. How was I feeling about it back then? Terrified to be honest as yes I had got sucked in by social media and society’s pressure of what you should be by this age and I was far, far from it.
Since my 24th birthday (which I actually spent in hospital, in the wonderful ward 5, who made it very special and all my family and friends of course too). But since then I have spent the majority of the 12 months in hospital (I mean inpatient stays not including all the apps, day surgeries, overnights, A&E trips). From that birthday I carried on in hospital until 10th September. I then got admitted again for the whole month of October so another four weeks. Then a week in December. Thankfully I had Christmas and New Year at home which was lovely. I then got admitted just after New Year for a week/10 days in January, then again for a few days in February/March and then March 26th I went in (excluding the one week holiday to Cornwall in June) and didn’t get discharged till two days before my birthday, the 8th September. Yep, five months. So in total between turning 24 and 25 I’ve spent seven of those twelve months in hospital. The other remaining five months that I had at home in between I made the most of it, as I do always.
But here’s a little reminder to myself:
September 10th 2018 Willow passed her Level 3 with Dog A.I.D. and from that day forward became my official assistance dog.
When I’ve been able I’ve enjoyed basketball training, a few games, going out for meals, socials, meet ups and just generally having fun with my teammates which is what it’s all about #sportsable #oncearocketalwaysarocket
In November I saw Fireworks night in with Lou, Keith, Craig, Drew and Zoe, the fireworks themselves were amazing but the company made it even better and I was only a week out of hospital I think that time? But that’s what it’s all about, friendship, laughter and making memories.
I met Henry, one of my very special and closet friends Em’s son and saw Rosey at the same time too, these friends I don’t see often but when we’re together it’s like we’ve never been apart and I love them all so much.
I went to the Zebedee Christmas Show for the first time in December, I wheeled the catwalk proudly both in my “inspire Zedeee” t-shirt but also our “gold bikini outfits” too. I was and am so proud of every woman who walked/wheeled/frame/sticks/legs/no legs or arms/speaking or non verbal together we held our heads up high showing the world #weareallbeautiful #seetheabilitynotdisability
Had a wonderful family Christmas with everyone, the simple things, the little things.
Got myself back in the dating world (even though inside I was terrified!) and yes it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to but I also learnt lots, held my head up high, stood my ground and showed that I deserve the same amount of love, understanding and respect as anyone, able bodied or not and I’m really proud I did it as if you don’t try you’ll never know right?
Started filming for a big film through December, Jan and Feb, as a supporting artist but with a specific character, name and purpose – which comes out this Jan 2020! One of the best experiences I’ve ever had though, the cast, crew and especially Philippa the director were just incredible and so kind and helpful to me both on and off the set. It’s one I’ll write a full blog on, once allowed!
Became an official member of an extras/supporting artist agency (as well as Zebedee) after they recruited me after doing the film above.
Willow and I featured in the local newspaper, inews and online papers about Willow saving my life last summer and passing her final level to become my fully qualified assistance dog. In January we also got interviewed/photos taken which was lots of fun and a little video online showing some of her tasks with me speaking about how she’s changed my life too (I’ll try include the link below!)
I did my first official talk raising awareness and money for Dog A.I.D. and in the first talk alone we raised over £100 and now since then we’ve raised over a good few hundreds pounds to Dog A.I.D. and my dad’s 100km walk he did (which was this September just gone) raised over £5,000! The difference it’s going to make to so many people’s lives will be amazing, just like they helped change mine.
I also continued to do my Brownie and Guide talks locally, raising awareness of my story, overcoming adversity and being different but inclusive. I also did my first Scouts talk, talking to a big group of 15-18 year old boys is defiantly different and keeping them all engaged for over an hour and a half wasn’t easy! But I’m really proud I did it (as I was very apprehensive) and it went down really well in the end! Impacting the next generation, one person at a time!
In February mum, dad and I went to see the wonderful Jamie in London’s West End! I was super excited about this as it was my Christmas Present and something I had been looking forward to for a long time! I also got to meet the incredible Layton Williams at the end who is just fabulous and someone I really look up to #andyoudontevenknowit
Done a number of castings and self tapes for Zebedee both in person and online. Proud how I’m gaining confidence each and every time, whether you get the job or not.
Had some wonderful walks with Willow in the snow, sun, warm and cold. She’s also continued to do all the tasks needed to help me with daily life as she does and if that wasn’t amazing enough she has also started alerting me to when I’ve been getting unwell, (in relation to my POTs, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing) which is something we never taught her but she picked up on all by herself and then we worked on her indication. She’s saved me from injury both indoors and out to lying down in shop corridors, cafes and at the park giving me time to lie down and get somewhere safe and with her by my side I know it’ll be okay.
In March I went to Crufts 2018 for the first time and it was brilliant especially having Willow by my side too! I was with my gorgeous girl Tonia and Victoria as well as meeting Tasha, Adel, Chloe and Ted and all of the volunteers on the Dog A.I.D. stand. Wonderful meeting such like minded people as you, with a massive love of dogs of course too!
Cheryl and Rob came down for a weekend (Dad’s brother my auntie and uncle) in early March and we had a lovely time catching up, going on dog walks and getting cosy in front of the fire.
I fought and overcame septicaemia and sepsis four times in this 12 months, very scary indeed, every single time but so thankful to the hospital, teams and ICU for pulling me through.
I could write all day about the long five month admission and if you want to understand in more detail what happened during that time then read my medical update blog here: http://ruthsbucketlist.co.uk/2019/07/23/medical-update-july-2019-a-lot-of-deterioration-but-a-lot-of-determination-alongside/
But I got through those long five months and I’m really proud of myself for that because it was really, really tough and there was times I could hardly see the next minute let alone the next day. But I held on and I’m proud I did. Within those months I also kept a mini photo diary and carried on with my hospital scrapbook when I could, filling up a whole book by the end and to look back, read and see everything I went through but have come out the other side still fighting reminds me I can do this, especially on days I feel I can’t.
I also mustn’t forget in between those long five months I had a very special one week break to Cornwall, read and see the video here: http://ruthsbucketlist.co.uk/2019/10/26/cornwall-june-2019-family-holiday-and-ruths-escape-from-hospital/
Then on my actual birthday after getting discharged just two days before I had a quiet but lovely day at home, in the garden and sunshine with my family and Willow and I was very lucky and grateful to get a lot of love and post from all of my incredible friends online, some whom I’ve known for years, some months and some I’ve never met but the kindness and love was overwhelming and appreciated so, so much! I then had a very special evening and sleepover with my beautiful girl Rach. It really is doing the little things with those you love that make you the happiest in the end.
So.. Yep! I’ve defiantly done some things in the 365 days between my 24th and 25th birthday, look it all! Not forgetting seven of those months were stuck in one room, one bed, one ward. As I always say I try my absolute best to live life to the full but it can become so easy to compare ourselves to others and social media can be on one side a joy but on the other a curse. But just remember it is about YOU, your achievements, your battles, what YOU’VE overcome and what YOU should be proud of.
Seeing it in front of me and reading it through is so important for me and my mental health. It is a big reminder of everything I’ve done and to give myself a break when I’m being extra hard on myself. All the challenges I’ve faced and continue to face and I’ve still managed to do all that? I should be proud and you know what I am. Yes I may not be where I thought I would be at 25, I’ve not got a glittering career, a perfect partner, a house or a child. But I’m alive, I’m breathing and I’m fighting (and with what I battle daily that in itself is enough most days). But I’m also trying to make a little difference in the world where I can through my talks, public speaking, blogging, online and social media videos, Willow and I raising awareness of assistance dogs and Dog A.I.D. where we can, as well as my modelling and acting which I love doing more and more of and just generally grabbing any opportunity I can to embrace life. As I always say again we only have one, so don’t compare, don’t waste it, don’t regret, just live, live for right here and right now.