I remember feeling numb after being shown the scans and hearing the confirmation of my diagnosis, “Miss Vargas, what you can see in these scans are ulcers in your colon which is causing the inflammation. We can confirm you have Ulcerative Colitis. It is not curable but you will be given medication to manage the symptoms”. Calm and collected, seemingly grateful if anything, is how I presented whilst listening to the Dr tell me how my life would change forever.
Ulcerative Colitis, much like any other long term and incurable condition comes with its challenges – some days seeming unbearable. The teeth-gritting abdominal pains, the constant diarrhoea, the rectal bleeding, the occasional vomiting, the weakness and frailness – a bit overwhelming if you ask me. Living with a long-term condition that is as unpredictable and potentially debilitating as ulcerative colitis can have a huge emotional impact, it leaves me feeling extremely flat and beaten when it flares. Struggling to understand simply, why? Most days my aim is to forget and live life as though I haven’t been diagnosed with such condition.
But some-days, allowing my condition and other personal dealings to consume me can be far too easy – subconsciously generating anger with the world and everyone in it. On a day like this I’ll most likely snap at my daughter for making a mess and lack patience when she cries trying to express. On a day like this I’ll have poor communication skills causing arguments over trivial things. On a day like this someone who doesn’t know me will probably experience the unpleasant and ill-mannered side of me, leaving them resentful for the rest of their day. Strangely enough, it’s also on a day like this that the littlest things make such a difference to my day. Such as a smile as we cross each-other’s paths, a soft please and thank you as I make way for you to pass or even when someone surprises me with a little compassion to my portrayal of frustration. It’s beyond shocking how a small act of kindness by a complete stranger can completely change the direction of my day.
An endless list of life challenges co-exist in everyone’s world, no matter who you are or where your from – it’s a given. What lies behind the eyes of the people you meet in your every day life is simply unknown. Their pain, struggle or trauma goes unseen. Whether it be the person you got talking to during your commute to work, the shop owner who served you this morning, the rough looking mama with a screaming baby, the young ‘thug’ you’ll dare not make eye contact with, the man or woman who just oozes money and power and makes you think “what do they do, cos’ whatever it is, I need to be doing it too”. We can’t see beyond the physical so our story making minds create perceptions in an attempt to make sense of what we can see but can’t explain, yet even then, we’ll never truly know what they are battling against.
A little warmth to those you encounter can go a long way for someone who’s struggling to see the light. And that’s exactly why giving my hair to The Little Princess Trust was almost obligatory – wanting to make someone’s day in the hope that they’ll hold it together and smile a little longer, realising that it’s the small things in life that really matter and go a long way.