On thin ice
I completed an awful photo workshop in March 2018. Firstly, the weather was relentless rain. We worked hard, but the photos just weren’t coming. The guests were getting restless and it was getting harder to justify us being in South East Iceland. But something even worse was coming to a head. My feet had started to cripple giving me intense pains in my toes. I was struggling to walk and the knotted tendons were starting to bruise under the skin. But something even more dark and sinister was starting and it seemed to be similar to a cold. My thoughts were more on saving the workshop and getting my feet back in operation, this cold would have to wait for my attention.
For the workshop, we changed location so we had at least a couple of days without rain and we even got some Northern lights on the final evening. My feet continued to get worse giving me horrendous pain when I should have been instructing photography. I was able to drive, but anything else required tremendous effort and torturous pain. We completed the workshop, but this was far from the end of the story. As soon as I got back to Reykjavik, I slept for almost 2 days solid, not eating, just drinking water. My feet were only getting better slowly so I had to change my flight. There was no way I would make it through the airport with aching feet and super low energy, I had to delay. The delay worked as I managed to get through the airport and down to friends in the UK later in the week.
Over the next few weeks, I wasn’t getting any better. I had no energy. I was struggling to keep warm so I just spent a lot of time in bed. Then I started getting really thirsty. For about a week I found my self hording 2 litre bottles of orange juice. I could drink 1 of these in just a few minutes with a tonne of ice. I found it difficult to eat food. More than a mouthful of anything would make me feel sick. I decided to limit my drinking to water only. This led to intense vomiting. I was growing weaker and could not make it across my bedroom without collapsing, breathless and scared.
Luckily, the friends I was staying with saw something wrong and called an ambulance. I was rushed to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Hampshire. They saved my life, but the damage had already been done.
I suffered vivid hallucinations in Hospital. My vision seemed to be switching between 2 states. These states felt computer generated kraftwork videos (probably because I was surrounded by machines and electronics). There was slight shift in perspective between the 2 states. One was warm and the other cold. I was experiencing dejavu in triplicate. Events were happening three times over – exactly the same. I had to figure out which one was real. I didn’t know which year it was. I also found myself just being plain wrong in conversations. Even saying things that I really didn’t believe. I was very strange to observe myself doing this. As a student of brain science, I was confident that my brain would be able to heal. It requires activating the parts that have been damaged, such as writing, speaking and memory tests to heal damaged language centres. I am seeing very little sign of any brain damage a year later apart from the factual inaccuracies of information that I absorbed during the recovery period, although typing seems to take 30% longer than it used to because I am often missing letters in the middle of wrds. However, there was a flip side to the brain damage. I found myself with more freedom of thought and hence slightly more creative. As if brand new pathways were being forged rather than being stuck in the grooves of the past.
My vision was changing because sometimes I could see close up, but not distance, then distance but not close up, then I was able to see close up and distance. This was due to the pressure of fluids in the eye ball changing as the disease came under control. One of the first distance things I saw from the hospital window was a retired man going out into his garden. The weather was fine and he enjoyed a bit of watering and some wheelbarrow work. I was so far away from this man and I remember thinking how lucky he was to enjoy a garden at this time. Although my vision seemed to be returning, the disease had already damaged parts of my retina.
My only hope to prevent future damage is to control the disease. In simple terms this means regular blood tests, sensible eating and regular exercise. The rest is in the lap of the Gods.
While I was in hospital in intensive care some hacker had managed to inject a robot into my website. This continued to send out thousands of spam email from my server everyday. This broke my website and put icelandaurora.com on a spam register. I lost 75% of my traffic which later translated to 75% loss of earnings. If you are a hacker reading this, I think you are a pathetic example of existence. At the same time, I was engaged in one of these Nigerian scam emails and received nasty threats as I was coming round in hospital.
I was sure that my foot pain was something to do with the diabetes, but actually it turned out to be related to Spina Bifida Occulta. The problem was in my spine and I am incredibly grateful that the horrendous pains have simply faded away after a few spine adjustments. So here I am, back on my feet and walking normally again.