Monday, 1 June 2015

Life Begins to End at 20

School prepares you for adulthood in the same way driving lessons prepare you for being hit by a bus. I say this because I'm turning 20 next week and that means that I've been adulting on a semi-professional level for two years, and I can honestly say that only about 10% of the things I learnt at school have had any practical use in the real world.

I can't remember how to do Pythagoras's theorem, I've never used long multiplication, I've never had to divide or multiply a fraction by another fraction because why would anyone ever need to do that, and George shoots Lennie. I still don't know anything about tax, I have no idea how to go about buying a car or renting a flat, and I still can't fucking speak French.

It's been four years since I left school and in that time I still don't know what all the fuss was about. Five years of glorifying people who got 10 GCSEs at no less than A* making younger kids aspire to reach this unrealistic frankly ludicrous goal, and two years of pressuring kids into getting the required grades to get into college. This was usually 3 Cs including English and maths, and 2 Bs in whatever, and it turns out you only need two; English and maths at a C or above. In order to get a real life job which pays real life money with plenty of opportunities to climb the real life career ladder, you only need two GCSEs. That's it. Two. And nobody at any point tells you that experience is the most valuable thing to have when looking for work which you will definitely have to do, so in the end, all that stress and all the revision and all the cramming was for nothing.

But it doesn't end there, oh no. If you do end up at sixth form college, you'll subject to two more years of "you must get into uni or will actually die for real."
College was better than school, but only in the sense that it wasn't school. It was just like school, though, only sometimes you had to stay until 4pm and you could call your teachers (now ostensibly called "tutors") by their first names, and you didn't have to wear a uniform. But you still had homework, bullies, senior members of staff who hadn't got a clue, and you quite often still had to ask to go to the toilet only to be denied because you were expected to be able to schedule your bowel movements. As for the whole grades thing, you're told for two years that you must get at least 120 UCAS points to get a place onto most bachelor's degree courses. Turns out that's bollocks as well, because I got A levels so poor they're barely worth mentioning on my CV, and I was told "Well at least you've got A levels." which is like telling someone with paraplegia "Well at least you've got legs." But even with my what are technically passing grades, I still managed to technically get into university. It wasn't quite what I wanted at the time, but I was at uni.

But of course I dropped out of uni and life subsequently shat in my soup and chucked me in at the deep end and now I'm 20 and I have no idea what I'm doing send help.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Being Terminally Ill Has An Upside.

My favourite thing about having cystic fibrosis is the fact that my digestive system is faulty in just such a way that I could, if I wanted/could afford to, eat KFC five times a day for a year and maintain a healthy weight. I mean, I'd have terrible teeth and skin, but I'd only be about 70 kilos which, I have to say, is a marked improvement on my current weight.

The reason I can do this is because the cells in my pancreas that produce the enzymes essential to digesting my food are permanently on strike, I am therefore prescribed pancreatin capsules which contain a mixture of said enzymes. However, solely relying on pancreatin to digest everything I eat means my digestion of essential nutrients is less effective than it would otherwise be were I not terminally ill. When my chemical structure was being made my genes decided to not do the thing that would allow my body to effectively absorb salt and fats, which sounds brilliant and yes, I am very thin as a result, but salt and fats are things that your body needs in order to be not dead, so without pancreatin I do run a risk of being malnourished while still stuffing my face because it'll come out at more or less the same rate it goes in.

If I become malnourished (and that is not a big 'if'), my lung function collapses, which takes my already shite immune system with it, opening me right up to all kinds of delightful infections which make me actually properly ill, cause me to lose my appetite (which is serious), and then I quite literally start wasting away. Because that's called 'decomposition' and it's what happens after you die, which is what would happen to me in this, the very worst case scenario. It's worth mentioning at this point that it would take time for that scenario to progress, although I don't actually know how much time so it may well be less time than I think. Thankfully, neither I, my mother, nor any of the medical professionals closely associated with my well-being have never, and hopefully will never, let it get quite that bad. Although I have been in hospital several times over the last fifteen years as a result of my own negligence, but I'll gloss over that.