Danielle was an apprentice engineer. She was working towards her qualifications. She rode a motorcycle (still does) and she was going home from work one night when she decided to call and see her boyfriend who worked at a nightclub in the town where they lived.
It was close to midnight but the town’s roads were well lit. Riding along a dual carriageway, a car approached her on the wrong side of the road. As it was a one-way road, he shouldn’t have been going in that direction at all.
He hit her head on because he changed lanes.
She fell off her motorcycle to the side of his car.
He reversed off her motorcycle, taking her head under the car, resulting in injuries that would not be addressed for almost three years after the accident.
The driver then drove off, running over Danielle’s arm, breaking the scaphoid bone – not to mention the rest of the damage caused. A muscle was displaced and wedged between bones. When the muscle was called upon to do any work, the blood swelled the muscle and jammed itself in the space where it had settled after the accident. Doctors at the hospital dismissed her with ‘it’s all in your head’ type comments and that didn’t help her depression and anxiety. Eventually the Motor Insurance Board allowed tests and they found the damage and finally rectified it, but by then it was too late to save her career.
Two taxis had watched and followed the driver and they both believed the man to be drunk. Not only was he allegedly drunk, he had no insurance or licence. He handed himself in the next day at 11 am – presumably after he’d sobered up.
Danielle became ill. Problems with her stomach, anxiety (PTSD diagnosed), breathlessness, costochondritis and everything else.
She went to doctors who dismissed her symptoms – after battling with receptionists who suddenly become experts as soon as they answer a telephone and eventually, after more battles than a civilian should have to go through, she was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis on top of everything else.
She has been in and out of hospital often, being kept in for days at a time because of this illness.
One possible symptom of UC can be gallbladder problems. Danielle spent months with pain from the UC, to discover she had to have her gallbladder removed. Two days after her grandmother’s 90th birthday, Danielle was offered a cancellation for the operation.
She went in the next day, a very scared young woman. We were scared too but tried not to show it.
The ‘in and out’ procedure turned into a nightmare. Danielle’s gallbladder was so infected that it had stuck to her stomach and her liver. The surgeon described the operation as trying to wrestle with a wet, leather balloon.
She woke up to find the anaesthesiologist and the surgeon at her bedside, worried sick but obviously relieved when she came round.
Instead of leaving the hospital the same day, she had to remain in the ward for almost a week, too sick to be moved onto a ward.
Her grandparents in their 90s were so worried they wouldn’t get chance to see her again, went to visit her twice.
She finally came back out and set about healing.
Danielle has been offered Infliximab – a drug used in Chemo. On her first treatment, her heart rate spiked at over 200BPM and she was rushed to resuscitation. She had to be kept in overnight for that.
One of the side effects of the treatment is ‘Death’ – that’s just ONE of the side effects.
Danielle had the infliximab treatment once every eight weeks but pretty soon it became clear that she wasn’t doing so well after six weeks and so the treatment had to be increased.
Her heart is monitored every half-hour while she has the treatment, as is everyone undergoing the same treatment. That in itself gives me cause for concern, the treatment seems to have a lot of things that can go wrong, but it’s worth it for how much relief she gets from it.
Danielle seems pretty settled now, but let me tell you about what I’ve noticed.
Danielle was a skinny girl, very slim and athletic. She made Sergeant at the ATC and did ok at school. She became the first female apprentice engineer at Thorntons (the chocolate maker) and rode her motorcycle everywhere.
Since this disease has taken hold, she’s battled side effects from various drugs prescribed, depression, psoriasis, anxiety, PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – weight gain, unbearable stomach pain, hospitalisation for the stomach pain and she has battled death.
She also battles discrimination, body shaming, hateful comments, stares, sneers, assumptions that she is lazy and greedy, insinuations that she somehow contributes to her own weight issues, and general abuse from strangers who believe they have the right to say anything to her or about her.
Danielle carries on because she’s a brave, beautiful young woman who strives to regain her confidence with a cheerfulness that I know is sometimes a massive effort.
The following Friday, after returning from their ‘mini-moon’, they will have a larger ceremony with friends, loved ones and family surrounding them. We are using a friend’s garden for the ceremony because my garden is not big enough. The same offer of £100 that we made to another friend for the same thing has been brushed off as totally unnecessary: “That’s what friends do, isn’t it?”
The following day is the big party – sorry… The BIG Party – where everyone is invited to come and celebrate with Danielle and Greg and us, Dani’s parents. You see Danielle is sharing our celebration too, 30 years.
So, that’s a small scratch on the surface of what Danielle has gone through and is going through. I’ve neglected the horrible, embarrassing, painful symptoms of this disease because I don’t want to add to her embarrassment or discomfort she feels when she has to ask to use a toilet in a public place but suffice it to say, whatever you can imagine is nothing close to it. Sometimes she is in tears from shame and humiliation, not to mention when she has to explain why she appears ‘normal’ or well to official bodies.
Before you judge someone, before you start typing those highly amusing words on Facebook think on. We never imagined this could happen to our daughter.
Danielle is my daughter and I am so incredibly proud of her.
I don’t think I say it enough, though I say it every day: I love you Danielle and I’m so proud of how you keep going when others wouldn’t be able to. I certainly don’t think I’d be able to carry on fighting like this, every day. Every. Single. Day.
To help Dani's Honeymoon fund (In place of wedding presents) Click HERE