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Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category

I’m going to do one of those annoying looking back at the year posts, so you have been warned.

The year started with nagging. A lot of nagging. I had yet to book my yearly colonoscopy and I also hadn’t organised or sent out any invitation cards for the  civil partnership.

Calling in some favours from friends got the latter sorted and a call to the docs sorted the former. Soon enough people had been invited and I had a camera shoved up my bum – Note: The people were invited to the civil partnership, not the colonoscopy. There are already too many people involved with that if you ask me.

Everything got sorted for the civil partnership and it all went well. We both had a great day and words can’t describe how happy I was with the whole thing. I know that the phrase ‘happiest day of my life’ is cliched, but it is true. I was with the person I love more than anything (even pizza) in front of family and friends. Couldn’t ask for more.

But health issues were starting to crop up. In the couple of weeks running up to the big day I had started getting really tired. Also, when I breathed deep I was getting this shooting pain across my stomach. This, coupled with some yellow tingeing in my eyes was slightly worrying. I popped along to my GPs and had they took some blood to be tested.

They warned me that I could need to go into hospital but there was no chance I was missing our big day. On the Monday after the main event I got a call from the doctors saying that my bloods were much higher than expected and that I needed another blood test to see if that was just an error or random peek.

In the following week I had the new test – it was even higher – got more tired and left work early for the first time in my life. I was also starting to feel very sick all the time. I passed the blood results on to my specilists at the JR in Oxford. That night they phoned me and ordered me into the hospital straight away. They wanted me in that night.

I went, reluctantly, the following lunchtime as I had some work that I needed to do.

Form this point, things went down hill. I started to get yellow, got more ill and started losing weight rapidly. I also started itching, although this wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

In the first 6 weeks of my married life I spent half of the time in hospital.

I had many, many, many tests in the following months, eventually being told that I needed a transplant and the process for assessment was started. Unfortunatly, by the time I got to the assessment my health had improved and I have not been placed on the list.

But, and this is a big but, that paragraph above really doesn’t describe what it was like. I went from feeling fine at the beginning of May through five months of feeling very, very, very ill. Looking back, it feels like half of this year has been stolen from me.

But, since then, my health has improved. I am not perfect, I still get very tired and have pain, but I am heading back to work.

I have carried on with my ‘fun’ work. I am working on a second series of Supermarket Matters and we even managed to write and record two holiday specials Grab’n’Go-Ho-Ho and Ayld Lang Syne. Check them out on:

I also managed to get a chance to get on stage and do some stand up. It was an awesome experience and I have another gig coming up to try and take what I have and actually make it funny.

Now, you may be thinking that I have had rather a crap year. But no. Honestly. That one day – the day where I got civilised (it’s not ‘marriage’ as, y’know, the Government don’t like gays that much) – makes up for and far surpasses all the bad. I can honestly say, that even though a fair amount of bad stuff has happened this year, this is still the best year of my life because of that one day.

It may sound soppy. But it’s true.

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This blog has been fairly self-involved. I am quite happy to admit that. It has been a way for me to organise my thoughts and get them out of my head.

But one thing that i have been learning recently is that my PSC, and in fact my IBD as well, effect other people too.

Family

It used to be that every couple of months my brother, my father, me, my partner and some selected friends would go on a lads’ weekend to Cardiff. On these weekends we would eat curry, drink and have a laugh.

We were never violent, we are all happy drunks, so we would just wander around laughing and having a good time. We have not been for a while now. And it is unlikely to happen again.

Every time my dad and I am together we talk about it and suggest organising another trip but my reduction in drinking, to the point of not really having anything ever, has meant that this event will never be the same. And, to be honest, I do not think it is something that I’d like to do anymore.

Being the non-drinker really isn’t fun and I am sure having me around while they are all getting merry wouldn’t be their first choice either.

My partner

My partner worries. He is a worrier. In fact, I believe more of his brain has been set aside to worrying than mine has been to all of the work and studying that I’ve ever done in my life.

It is because of this that I try to keep him shielded from a lot of what i am going through. If I show that I am worrying then he’ll worry even more.

I make a point of going to the hospital on my own. I make sure I have all the facts before I let him know anything. I have adopted the phrase ‘nothing to worry about’ as a personal mantra.

As you may know from my last post, my blood has been a bit stoopid recently. This has, to be quite honest, scared the crap of me. Talking to our doctor friend, who is usually the voice if reason when it comes to things to worry about, didn’t really help when he went a bit quiet and sounded very concerned.

I made the mistake of letting my partner know this.

This other morning while I was enjoying having the whole bed to myself while drifting in and out of dreams, Joe was up and getting ready for work. I remember him coming in, placing his hand in my head and walking away.

In my semi-conscious state I just presumed he was checking to see if I was awake. Not so.

He has been so concerned that I may get an infection and become really ill that throughout the night, whenever he woke up, he had been checking my temperature to make sure that I didn’t have a fever.

I just… Don’t know what to say or write about that…

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Photo by essygie / Creative Commons

Mum, Dad, I have something to tell you: I’ve got PSC.

I hang around on a PSC forum which is hosted by the PSC Support UK group (my username is ‘nufkin’ if anyone is interested). Recently they have been having a discussion about What to tell work

When I read threads like this I can’t help but feel a huge sense of déjà vu. To me, this is just the same as the types of conversations I’ve had about coming out as gay.

Both being gay and having PSC are elements that I cannot control. Both have a fairly major impact on my life. And both have the possibility of changing the way in which people think about me.

There are basically two sides to the argument:

  1. Tell people as this is just a part of who you are.
  2. Keep it a secret as you never know how people will react.

With being gay this leads to children keeping it to themselves and lying to those they love. I cannot begin to describe how this feels. To have to keep track on what you have said, to whom and when, just to make sure that you don’t let something slip.

A box is created between your head and your mouth. It’s sole job is to scan everything you want to say and then filter out anything that may lead to people realising you are gay.

This all eventually comes to a head at some point where you ‘come out’. << That sentence really makes it sound like a easy thing. It isn’t. It was and I think will always remain the most difficult and terrifying thing I have ever done. And remember, this isn’t something that just happens once. Coming out is a multiple event. Once to one friend to test the water. Then to a group of friends to test the wider impact. Then to someone in the family. Then to your parents. Then at work. Part of the horror of this is that you are basically admitting to these people that the person they have known for 5, 10, 15 years is a lie.

However, once you have told everyone you ever lied to, you never have to do this again. A lot of gay people get accused of introducing themselves as gay.

Hi, nice to meet you. My name is Mark and I am gay.

Let’s just get this straight now (ha): This is not ‘rubbing it in your face’. This is not ‘defining the most important part of me as gay’. This is to ensure that we never have to come out again. If new people know from the start then there is no need to go through coming out.

Of course there are more elegant ways to do this than the above, which is what – I hope – people eventually realise. When you ask about my girlfriend I will correct you. I may, shock horror, even talk about him without prompting when he has done something I am proud of. Just like you would when your other half does something good. This is my way of not lying to you and avoiding the dreaded coming out.

So why should it be any different with my illness?

As you can see, from the whole of this blog, I am not ashamed to admit that I have PSC. My name is in the header and the URL. My picture is at the top of the page.

But. And this is a big but. I am currently applying for jobs. I work as a webby person so I would expect any potential employer to google my name to see what comes up. They have full access to this blog and I would hope that they see this and think, ‘Oh cool. He has a blog. He knows about this web 2.0 stuff. He is the man we need.’

Rather than: ‘Oh cool. He has a blog. What is it about? Oh, he’s ill. What is PSC? Oh. Crap. Well, let’s not employ him.’

But I guess I will just wait and see what happens.

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The Downs

I have regular blood tests due to having IBD. And when I say regular, I mean at least once a quarter; though it has been a lot more frequent than this. At one point, it was one a week. I was forced to alternate arms as one would have only just healed when it came to have another.

For the past couple of years, my ALTs have been raised. This is a pretty standard liver marker. The doctors have always put the elevation down to a ‘fatty liver’ and chastised me for being overweight.

However, before I went on holiday this year – end of August time – my blood tests came back crazy. My white cell count was too low and most of my liver markers were all over the place. My ALT was up as usual, but this time it was joined by its friends Mr ALP, Mrs GGT and Master Billy Reubin bilirubin.

I went away on holiday a bit scared.

When I came back, it was straight to the doctors for more blood tests. The results of which show my white cell count as being normal for me but it seems that my liver has been partying hard. Some more tests are ordered and it seems like my liver is an animal.

So off I trek to the Churchill hospital, Oxford for an MRI. My liver was about to have its first photo shoot.

About 3 days later I get a call from my IBD nurse who says that I need to come in and see a liver specialist as my MRI showed ‘a few abnormalities’.

So, Friday morning I traipsed into Oxford to the John Radcliffe hospital to see what they had to say. I met my specialist, a lovely man called Dr Chapman – the UK leading expert in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis – which, he informed me, I have.

To save you following the link, I’ll sum it up:

  • Quite rare
  • Incurable
  • No diagnostic pattern, so in some it progresses fast, in others slow
  • My liver will eventually destroy itself and I will need a transplant.

So, that kind of bummed me out.

The Ups

I have a great partner. He is wonderful, caring and mine. We have been together for nearly six years and about two months ago we decided we should make it formal and have a civilisation. This is planned for May 2011. Known to us as ‘2011’.

‘We should invite this person to 2011.’

‘Do we want champagne in 2011?’

‘Be nice to me or we won’t do 2011.’

Without him knowing, I decided that it would be good to order some engagement rings; or should that be enGAYgement rings?

I ordered two rings of the same type from Justin Duance, a small independent jewellery maker in the south of England. What is wonderful about them is he works with both metal and wood. So even though I ordered the same ring, I changed the wood in one of them so they were unique to each of us.

A silver and wooden ring bought for my gay engagement

They generally take about two weeks to be made and turn up. I placed my order on Tuesday last week and when I got into the office on Friday – bummed as you can imagine I would be – I had received an email from the person who looks after our mail saying that I had a package that had set off the scanner.

To my amazement, it was the rings. More than a week before I expected them.

All in all, I think the ups that day, outweighed the downs.

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