Mediha’s StoryDecember 16, 2021
“Living with an invisible disability like ulcerative colitis means looking in the mirror and seeing a perfectly healthy teenage girl. It means people looking at you, and thinking there could not possibly be anything wrong. But this is far from the truth, I’m just good at faking being well. After having lived with severe ulcerative colitis, being on steroids every couple of months and changing treatments every few months over a 2 year period, I was told having surgery was going to be my only option. Yes, the thought of having a bag scared me, but with the support of my family and friends, I was able to get through it. IBD is a long and hard battle, but it is our struggles that force us to grow and appreciate all the good things in life!” Mediha Azhar.
Mediha has shared a story that she has written. It relates to the difficult period she had when she was in and out of the hospital and describes very well how she felt during this time.
A shiver trailed down my spine as I removed my thin blue hospital gown, slowly replacing it with a comfortable fleece jacket and a pair of patterned sweatpants. Biting my cheek, I began to examine myself in the rusty mirror that hung on the walls of the windowless cramped bathroom. My features seemed to have sunk. My once honey-bright eyes had now become the colour of a dark never-ending tunnel. I looked pinched and dull. Puffy and intense bruise-like bags were spread out unevenly under them, conveying the tiredness I was experiencing. My eyes used to shine, but that twinkle was now lost. My tan skin had become deathly pale, the colour of the moon on a lonely night. The wondrous ebony locks that used to cover my head were now thin and lacklustre. My lips were pale too, a fake smile masking the unhappiness I was feeling at this moment. Very little flesh covered my weak bones; I was gaunt and cadaverous. I looked like a Tim Burton character.
I glared down at my wrinkled hands, once upon a time; my skin used to be the texture of a luxurious silk. Now it was a pincushion. Each puncture reminded me of every failed attempt to try and steal my precious blood. To the doctors, this rich ruby red liquid was an indicator of my poor health. My fingertips were a bluish colour. I placed my hands onto the icy handle of the bathroom door. Specks of dust floated around the childishly colourful hospital room which had now become my second home – because I am legally a minor, I am sent to the children’s ward. Huge big animal decals roam the beige walls, the bright colours contrasting the gloominess that fills the rest of the hospital. The ceiling consists of intricate tiles of every green you could imagine. At night, I would stare up with my tired eyes and imagine that I was in the middle of a forest, the trees crashing against each other, creating the beat of a drum. The leaves would whistle in the wind while the birds would call out to each other, each high-pitched chirp creating a soft melody which would ripple through the crisp air. In reality, those beautiful sounds were just machines whirring around me, their monotonous beeps driving me slowly insane.
A large plastic food tray sat on the cheap, sticky table. Chunks of chewy beef swam in a puddle of red sauce lying over a bed of fine-grained dry rice. Beside it, a harmonious combination of steamed vegetables rested there helplessly, emitting steam and a nameless smell into the otherwise odourless room. My gaze fell to a cup consisting of a royal-red gelatinous substance. I wrapped my shaking hand around it and took a large spoonful of the thick jelly. It was shaking almost as much as me. The artificial cherry taste hit my tongue almost immediately, burning the roof of my mouth. I spat it out.
Today I was temporarily being released from this depressing jail. Most people would have been excited; however, anxiety was taking over my whole body. I began to break into a sweat. My hands were becoming clammy, and my pulse was beating in my ears. I began to pace back and forth while the room around me began to spin uncontrollably, the darkness consuming me completely. I sat down and inhaled through my nose and exhaled through my pursed lips. I was back to something like normal again. As normal as I could get anyway.
I left the children’s ward and began to make my way towards the car park, my mother not leaving my side. The hallway was thick with silence, neither of us saying a word to each other, all you could hear was my heavy breathing. The walls of the narrow corridor were washed in a dull beige colour. The floor tiles were pristine and white, so clean that my pinched face stared back at me from them. The painted ceilings were high and filled with dim yellow light, every one of them flickering like a burnt-out candle. The pin-drop silence was suddenly broken when I heard the words “code blue” come out of the fuzzy speakers. My attention then turned to two doctors dressed in loose navy-blue scrubs pushing a cart overfilled with sanitized medical supplies, hoping they could make it in time to resurrect the dying patient. A cold breeze touched my skin and invaded my heart. It was probably just the over-cranked AC. I felt a tug on my arm, my annoyed mother dragging me through the rest of the maze. I didn’t want to go home. I was leaving only to come back again.