We are really lucky to have a guest post from Cheryl this week on living with an invisible illness as a mummy of 5 children.
Hi my name is Cheryl , I am 35 years old and I live in a town called Telford in Shropshire. I live with my fiancé and rock Gareth and my 5 amazing children. Life isn’t perfect but it isn’t terrible either and could be a lot worse. When you look at the picture above you probably think that I am a happy healthy mum however I suffer from an invisible illness and I thought I would share with you some of my life and what it is like bringing up children whilst having an illness that nobody can see.
I am often asked how I manage bringing up so many children whilst I suffer from a medical condition and the true answer is because I have to. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t hard at times, or if there weren’t days where all I want to do is curl up in a ball and rest instead of singing nursery rhymes or helping with homework. However I wouldn’t change a single thing. I am a mummy when I was told I could never have children and for that I will be forever thankful.
What is my invisible illness?
When I was 20 I was diagnosed with a condition called Benign Intracranial Hypertension which basically means that there is too much fluid around my brain. This can lead to many problems including blindness and means that I have had over 7 lumbar punctures . However thankfully for me I appear to be in remission from it for now.
Instead it has replaced itself with daily chronic migraines. If you think about a migraine, suffered from one yourself or have ever witness somebody with a severe migraine then you will be more than aware of how much this can be debilitating. Now imagine having that feeling every single day. Feeling like your head is going to explode, noises seeming 100 times louder than normal, your head feeling like it weighs 20 stone and often feeling like it is being crushed in a vice and that is what I deal with.
Every morning I can’t lift my head straight off the pillow due to the pain and it can take up to 20 minutes before I am able to get up. Thankfully I have my partner around to help with the children in the morning. I currently take an extremely high dose of an epilepsy medication to keep it under control despite not ever having epilepsy and the side effects can be terrible
Has my illness ever prevented me from doing things with my children?
Yes it has, just 2 years ago on my son’s birthday I had gone to the doctors to report yet another severe headache that had lasted a massive 10 weeks non-stop ( my headache is always there but is manageable then I have a big flair up which is usually when I require medical treatment such as a lumbar puncture) The doctor checked my eyes as they normally do and then asked me to wait whilst he ran through to the neurologist, he explained to the neurologist that something behind my eyes didn’t look right and I had to be admitted to hospital. I hadn’t seen my son that day due to staying in bed with a bad head and had planned on spoiling him and doing things with him after school. I begged the doctors not to make me go in hospital until I had seen him, explained it was his birthday but the doctor was adamant I was to get into hospital within a maximum of 3 hours. He wasn’t due to finish school for a couple of hours after that.
I went to the hospital where I suddenly realised how serious it all was, I was seen immediately and taken for scans, had lumbar punctures and blood tests and it wasn’t till a couple of hours of being tested they told me they had thought I had a brain tumour and that is why they had to check me out so quickly. Thankfully I had a lumbar puncture and then all of my saturation levels returned to normal and the following evening I was given the all clear to go home. By this time it was too late I had already missed my son’s birthday and that sucked. I can do is lie down. I have to cancel events, or planned trips, As I have suffered this since before my children were born they all completely understand that some days we have to rearrange things but they also know I will rearrange it as soon as I am able to.
I consider myself extremely lucky, I can still walk, I can still talk, I am able to go on days out and even get away with the girls. I have some days where I feel great and completely normal despite having more days where I feel terrible. I could mope around and let it overtake me but then where would that leave my family? I adore every single one of my children, teaching them new things and watching them grown into the amazing individuals they are.
If there is anything else that you would like to know about my illness and how it affects me as a mother then please don’t feel like you can’t approach me to ask. I am more than happy to ask any questions and would love to hear from other people and parents who suffer with invisible illnesses.
Read more of her blogs on mummyof5miracles.com