Years ago, many more than I care to mention, I started my first year as a medical student. Naive, young and very optimistic I embraced social life at my chosen medical school. One day, by the pay phone nearest my room in the halls of residence, I was accosted by a fellow student who knew my name, my dads name, my mums name, where my ancestral home is in Kolkata, India and then rather bluntly told me, “your Dad was supposed to marry my Mum.” I won’t pretend that this particular encounter wasn’t the most surreal in my life and a source of great amusement not just to my parents but the rest of my father’s side of the family. I only wish my grandmother had been alive to hear it. Had I had more wits about me at the time or the cynical demeanour I currently have I would have answered more appropriately, in fact I wish I had it in me at the time to say, “actually, MY DAD was supposed to marry MY MUM. They have never done anything without each other and were meant to be together!” As it turned out my dad had no interest in marrying anyone other than my mum.
I have been married for 10 years now and I celebrate my relationship with my husband everyday. I think if I’ve ever done anything right in life then it is to pick this man, the most honest, moral and amusing person I have ever met, to spend the rest of my life with. I think I knew we were going to be together the first time I saw him. I can’t explain it except to say we just fit together. Our idiosyncrasies don’t seem crazy to us, we can tell each other everything and no matter what, we couldn’t imagine life without each other. I have to believe that we are meant to be with certain people in our lives, how can I not? A chance meeting with my other half 11 years ago changed my life forever.
Since we have been together we have faced family issues, deaths in the family, my bad health, work issues, libel and defamation, loss of pets, financial strife, loss of employment and the fact we cannot safely have children. I suffer from severe endometriosis and have had 4 procedures to date to help me cope with the symptoms and am currently on my 4th cycle of Zoladex in 7 years. My husband has been a rock, he has helped me cope physically and emotionally through this very painful and debilitating disease, even when my employers who theoretically should have known more about my condition, were totally apathetic to my health problem and subsequent unemployment.
I was diagnosed with diabetes and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) not long after and acknowledged I had suffered from the condition since my teens. I actually worked at a practice years ago where one of the GPs was a mental health lead and didn’t pick up that I had this issue. it was ironic that i suffered such florid illness in their employ, as they repeatedly congratulated themselves on how fantastic they were, I slowly lost my mind. It was assumed my illness/work avoidance was because I was fraudulently working another job rather than the fact I was severely depressed and anxious. It’s also ironic they came to this conclusion seeing as they were teaching me the basics and the fact common things are common. So much irony in one place is a reflection of something being wrong? i think a total lack of perspective and insight into the prejudices of the doctors and staff at the practice was the issue. Although my employers at that time weren’t as aggressive as a subsequent employer who accused my supportive husband of physically abusing me. Why the simple issue that I suffered from OCD, the fourth commonest anxiety disorder in the UK was not a natural conclusion I don’t know. I suppose I can’t blame them as I didn’t know I had OCD until I consulted with a psychiatric consultant who gave me a diagnosis. It didn’t take him long but I was never a mental health expert until after my diagnosis.
Anyway to emphasise the point I have organic illness I was diagnosed with the rather rare condition of Primary Pulmonary Hypertension (PPAH) in spring 2011. I have faced the reluctance of medical colleagues to accept my illness for years but I was unpleasantly surprised to find after my angiogram, when my left heart was cleared of defect, the cardiology registrar on my team sent a premature discharge summary to my GP clearing me of any cardiopulmonary illness. The same morning he sent this discharge summary an echocardiogram showed I had increased pressure in my pulmonary artery. I had more tests and was transferred to a specialist centre for treatment. I spent a month in hospital. I think this diagnosis brought my husband and I closer together and led to the acceptance that it would be just the two of us relying on each other as facing a pregnancy with diabetes, OCD and PPAH is extremely hazardous.
Despite bringing an extraordinary amount of pathology to my marriage, my husband seems happy and has never wanted anything more than for me to feel well. I often ask him if the fact that we don’t and probably never will have children bothers him and he says it’s just not meant to be but as long as we’re together he doesn’t need anything else. It doesn’t make me feel less guilty for being the “defective” one but with psychological help I am learning to deal with my shortcomings and celebrate my good qualities. Putting self-judgements aside and looking at the world once again with wonder instead of cynicism is the goal. I feel like I’m 90 years old in my fourth month of Zoladex and I feel worn and weathered but I don’t face life alone and there’s no one else I’d rather face these issues or any other with.
I think I can confidently conclude, as thousands of couples out there do, as did my parents, I was supposed to marry my husband and we face whatever life throws at us together.
Hello Ajooba. May I call you Ajooba? Dr Babus is sooo formal.
Yes, I would say it is just cancer, and it is just depression. They are both serious illnesses, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. I applaud your positive attitude and your upbeat enthusiasm. Your husband is a very lucky man to have you. Make sure you keep reminding him of that. There are so many people in this world who are healthy, who have nothing holding them back, except themselves. For all intents and purposes, they might as well be sick, for most of them never accomplish anything, nor are they happy with what they have. For them, cancer or depression would be a death sentence.
For you Ajooba, they are bumps in the road. You’re on four wheel drive so they can only slow you a little, they can’t stop you. I’ve known people who had cancer, I know someone who has it now and I’m very close to a few who’ve gone through depression. Between the two, I would rather face cancer.
But it’s not the end of the world with either, and people like you prove that all the time. It’s what makes you unique, a one of a kind, an Ajooba.
Thank you Omar. I am flattered you think so highly of me. I think I’m the lucky one to find someone who sees me no matter how ill I am. I think when you are down the only way is up. Thank you for reading my blog.