I don’t remember that much when I first became unwell, but I do remember feeling tired, all of the time and often couldn’t play with my friends for as long as I wanted to. I will never forget my 7th birthday which was at a swimming pool. My friends went swimming and I just lay on a towel on the side of the pool as I felt so unwell. I also vividly remember every single blood test that I had. There were so many. Eventually, I wore them as a badge of honour and ensured that I got every “well done” sticker they had, which included the one for girls!
At the time I had it in infants’ school, I remember my mum and dad coming to school to give me medicine. I will be forever indebted to them for their support and kindness. Back then I had no idea how it impacted my parents but I know now just how unbelievably hard it was for them.
The most pivotal point in my childhood was when I was 11 and I got the all clear. I remember receiving the letter from my consultant discharging me and being so overwhelmed. After I recovered from it, I almost repressed it from my memory and focused on my life moving forward.
I am exceptionally fortunate to be recovered from Kawasaki Disease and it does not affect my day to day life now. However, four years ago I was training for the London Marathon and had a slight chest pain. I went to the doctors just to check and they did not want to take any risks. As such, I went through a series of checks including an MRI scan and a coronary angiogram. My heart was in a fine condition and I am privileged to say that there were no irregular scars or marks on my arteries.
I believe my experience of Kawasaki Disease genuinely makes me a better person. I am grateful for everything I have. My health and most importantly, my family. I do not know what it is like to look after a child of my own (yet) but if I can be even half as kind and caring as my parents, I will have done alright. I am in fact qualifying as a Mental Health First Aider over the next week through MHFA England. I am fortunate to have very strong mental health and want to put it to good use by helping others.
I didn’t find it difficult to go from paediatric care to being looked after by adult doctors. Although, I will never, ever forget Dr Calra (or Kalra?!) at Newcross Hospital. He had a picture I drew of him aged 7 on the wall and kept it there until he retired. He was so kind, and I see him as the pinnacle of what a supportive medical professional acts like.
I feel that it is my duty to raise awareness and offer support to a charity that is trying to do so much for people with this condition. My parents did so much for me, during and after having Kawasaki Disease. I feel I owe it to them to ensure other parents do not have to go through what they did.
In a strange way, I feel grateful for having it. The fact that I have since played professional sport, run a marathon (and multiple half’s) and am now well into a successful career in the City is totally down to the support I had from all the medical staff at Newcross Hospital, my local GP, my two beautiful sisters, and of course, my parents. I got through it and I must make sure that others have a better chance of doing that too.