I haven't posted for nearly a year, because in many ways not much has changed - more than 15 months have been eaten up with worrying abut Catherine's stomach disorder. After two gastroscopies, a capsule endoscopy, MRI scan, blood tests, barium test, manometry, a series of diet and drug treatments, she is still having nausea, fullness and acid reflux every day with no clear diagnosis or solution evident. We seem to have tried everything from cider vinegar to acupuncture, antacids and PPIs, exercising and not exercising, chiropractic, cyclizine, motility medicines, going dairy-free... a gluten-free diet helps the coeliac condition but not the stomach. I still think the whole thing was caused and is perpetuated by stress and worry, and she doesn't. Even if I'm right, I don't know how to ease the symptoms; how to break the cycle.
Meanwhile, going to Corrymeela was enlightening in some ways, difficult in others, as she felt so ill and homesick most of the time. Going to Sno-Mo special-needs camp in New Hampshire was "the best thing I've ever done" and as transformative as they say in their promotions. It confirmed her vocation to work with learning-disabled young people; her abilities and confidence blossomed; she finally decided after much agonising to pull out of BA languages altogether, even at Dublin, and reapply for Speech Sciences for 2014. Some of the photos show her unbelievably happy and beautiful, and she made deeper friendships than ever before. But what she called the "cold black lake" of depression was always lapping around her toes ready to pull her under again. When I think of how she almost didn't go - that bleak night at Manchester airport, dead but for a handful of other passengersr and a display board until the first check-in staff appeared at 4am, and how she set off ill and desolate convinced she was going 3000 miles away from her only source of succour totally unfit to look after children when she couldn't look after herself... but she did go, and came back 12 weeks later shining with life. But still with her stomach problems.
Now it's a waiting time again, while she does several part-time jobs; hopes to hear from universities soon; hopes to be kept on at Waitrose; hopes for regular voluntary work at Peak School and New Mills Volunteer Centre; hopes without expectation for a definite diagnosis and treatment plan from her consultant Dr Koss.