This last month has been pretty hectic with end of exams, a holiday, a festival, degree result sea starting my new job. It has been lovely to have a busy break away for normality but part of me is now looking forward to a bit more routine and in particular, having the time and space to cook up some culinary delights after weeks of barely entering a kitchen! For this post though I want to talk about something that happened exactly a month ago when I went to Glastonbury.
For years I have wanted tickets to Glastonbury and have not succeeded before this year - needless to say I was unbelievably excited but I was also nervous. Previous camping trips and festivals have always ended in me being very unwell. Between interrupted sleep, loud music, flashing lights and eating strange food at a variety of times, I have always come home needing some recovery time, and not having enjoyed myself as much as I could have, and certainly not as much as I have pretended.
A few years ago a group of us went to Cornwall for a week-long beach break. Soon into our stay I was in agony with stomach pains, my face, hands, feet and abdomen were swollen and I was fatigued and tearful. After passing out in the shower on the third morning, I had to leave my friends and catch the long train back home feeling frustrated, upset and like a complete failure. When I got to my stop a man helped me with my bag and asked me "how far along I was", I wasn't offended because I was aware of how I looked so I just told him "about 7 months" and made my way outside. When I arrived in the car park my mum didn't even recognise me until I was standing right in front of her. It took me over a week to recover.
For this reason, I approached Glastonbury with caution. I bought a new tent which was standing height so I could stretch out - sitting for long periods really exacerbates my abdominal symptoms. I also made sure that the tent was warm and waterproof and got myself an arctic-grade sleeping bag to help me if I had an attack, as they leave me feeling frozen and unable to get warm. I also had a camping bed to raise me off the ground and a decent pillow, both of which I wanted to avoid any extra neck pain or stiffness that can occur with an attack. Needless to say, I was prepared.
I was unbelievably happy to get to day 5 and still feel well. I had a slightly swollen tummy and I did pass out breifly once, but this was a short lived episode and other than that I was fine. I phoned home a few days in and nobody could believe how well I was feeling. There were tears. The whole experience was such a breakthrough for me that I felt absolutely ecstatic to make it through, and not just survive but have an amazing time.
The experience has undoubtedly changed my outlook. So often I make plans and I have to cancel, and if I don't cancel then I leave early, and if I don't leave early I regret it when the symptoms of migraine creep in during the following days. This was honestly the first time that I have made a plan (a risky plan that was 5 days long and certainly not migraine-friendly) and been able to see it through to the end, feeling so well that I didn't have to worry about the 'hangover' to follow.
On the Saturday night, having not had any dinner, lights flashing, music blaring, I looked around me and realised how far I had come. Finally I wasn't just amongst people enjoying themselves, I was enjoying myself. The emotion caught in the back of my throat. There was a sudden flood of memories of all the nights out, the holidays, the festivals and the realisation I had never been able to surrender myself completely to simply having a good time. And now the nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me that I would pay for this later was silent.
All at once I realised that this is how everybody else feels and how I had never felt, until now.