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Trials, tribulations and wisdom from the dark

Train-ride of doom
Hospital time
Sunrise
The well earned massage
Breakfast in bed
One of many feasts
Smelling the flowers
Moped paradise
Sticky rice & Mango shaved ice
Watermelon poolside
So many beautiful gardens
Boat noodles!
Room service
Bangkok Skyline

Quite the dramatic title, however this is about quite a dramatic subject! It turned out to be be longer than I was anticipating, so brace yourselves. I had an experience last year that I am finally ready to talk about. The writing of it, took some strange turns, it wasn't for some time later that I digested what had happened and felt that some of it is pertinent to be shared here, if for the very least helping you build a better understanding of who I am beyond the superficial. I apologise for how much of a "Text wall" this is on mobiles, and desktop I guess, but it is from the heart, and you don't have to read it if you do not wish to.

It began in late November last year. That's when I first began to feel off, my usual energy waning, fatigue, aches and pains, trouble sleeping. At first, I attributed it to the onset of winter, the shorter days, and the lack of sunlight taking its toll. Perhaps it was simply a case of seasonal lethargy, I reasoned, the byproduct of being more sedentary and not getting enough daylight. Boredom and inactivity were surely to blame, I assured myself, brushing off my symptoms as nothing more than a temporary funk. Little did I know that my unwelcome guest would prove to be as persistent as a stubborn houseguest who had overstayed their welcome, refusing to budge even when presented with a one-way ticket to anywhere but here. Foolishly brushing off the warning signs, I embarked on a journey to Southeast Asia, seeking solace and revival in a vibrant, bustling, but most importantly, different city. However, what started as a quest for rejuvenation soon spiraled into a harrowing ordeal.

Arriving in Bangkok, I continued to feel unwell, attributing it initially to jet lag, then to the oppressive heat and pollution of the city. As the days passed, my condition deteriorated rapidly. I developed an ear, throat and gum infection, severe enough that I couldn't eat solids, a horror to me as Bangkok is an amazing city for food. No Som Tam for me! Here was I, my daily diet consisting of Ensure from 7/11 and copious Milk tea. I started antibiotics that the pharmacist suggested, which did help a bit, and I planned to travel to the coast and get some fresh air.

However, I felt terrible on the train ride, there was no air-con, and although it was hot, my friend was ok, whilst I was sweating and feeling sick and faint. Food vendors got on at each stop, selling hot meals whilst I was desperate for a cold drink, as my water had long gone luke warm in the searing carriage. Eventually someone came appeared like a mirage, selling chilled coconut jelly, and she kindly let me take some of the ice in her bucket too so I could slather it on my burning forehead, as I was obviously struggling. Five hours later we arrived, the taxi ride and check in was a daze, I hardly noticed the beautiful resort we had arrived at. I went straight to the room for a hot bath as I was shivering, even on the beach at 30C. I decided I would go to the hospital the next day, but that night I worsened significantly, I struggled to catch my breath, shivering with fever and weakness, barely able to stand. I phoned reception and they arranged an ambulance to a private hospital, I anticipated a quick diagnosis of heat exhaustion and a prescription for fluids and rest. But the reality was far more dire.

The doctors delivered a devastating blow: pneumonia, a partially collapsed lung, and a dangerously high fever, coupled with neutropenia (very low white blood cells) – a rare combination that suggested something more serious. My high fever posed a grave risk with my compromised immune system, and the blunt assessment from the extremely no nonsense doctor hit me like a ton of bricks: "hidden cancer!", he suspected, one of my worst fears (well who wouldn't!) It was as if my medical chart had a special section designated for unpleasant surprises, nestled snugly between 'ideal cholesterol levels' and 'charming bedside manner.'

I was swiftly transferred back to Bangkok, strapped into a trolley in the back of an ambulance, I felt truly terrible by this time, in a lot of pain. However, I had an amazing paramedic driving, who somehow manoeuvred through the infamous Bangkok traffic with great panache! The Bangkok hospital was better-equipped, selfishly I was relieved the staff spoke better English, so we could discuss my condition with more depth, they suspected Luekemia, and I was told I must stay in hospital for a few of weeks at least, and stay in isolation. My insurance told me it would not be safe for me to fly home and would void my contract if I was to do so, so there I was, stuck for the meantime, and at least a week before family could fly out to me. I had to have a bone marrow biopsy (unpleasant to say the least) and was confined to my (very nice) room, not that I could stand at this point, and not even allowed to eat fresh fruit or vegetables (though nor did I have any appetite.) Alone with my fears and uncertainties, I was told I would get the results in a week. The stark reality of my situation hit me like a sledgehammer – I was possibly facing a battle for my life, the survival rate for Leukemia at my age was bleak, a 20% chance I'd be alive in five years.

With each passing day in the sterile confines of the hospital room, staring out the window like some kind of consumptive Victorian waif, I eventually got a hold of myself, and ceased the self-pity. I dwelled on the fragility of the human body and the preciousness of health, superficial insecurities feeling ludicrously silly now that I remembered how aging really is a privilege. In my solitude, I began a journey of introspection, I found myself overwhelmed by a profound sense of gratitude for the myriad experiences that had coloured my life. Each adventure, each challenge had shaped me, imbuing my existence with a richness and depth that transcended the superficial trappings of the material world. Filled with kind, inspiring people who cared for me. I was incredibly lucky to have had such a life.

Amidst a varity of thoughts and emotions, I found myself confronting the often problematic reality of the industry in which I had thrived. I enjoy this part of my life, it is something I do wish to continue, yet I must admit it has issues, and I want to undertake it in a healthy way, I do not want it to taint my self development in any way, or it is not worth it. As an escort, it is difficult to resist being ensnared in a web of artifice and illusion, marketing reduces us to mere simulacra of our true selves. The relentless pursuit of perfection can sometimes erode your sense of identity, leaving you adrift in a sea of superficiality and self-doubt. In the face of illness, I re-evaluated my view of myself, and found a new appreciation for the resilience and vitality of the human spirit. As I faced the uncertainty of my prognosis, I remembered that I must always understand that true value lies not in outward appearance, but in the strength and resilience of the human soul.

In this trial of illness, with nothing to do but bloody think. I sought solace in philosophy, the wisdom of the Stoics and existentialists, finding refuge in their insights into the nature of human suffering and resilience. Drawing from the teachings of Stoic philosophers such as Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca, I remembered to cultivate a mindset of resilience and acceptance in the face of adversity. Central to Stoic philosophy is the concept of the dichotomy of control – distinguishing between what is within our power to change and what lies beyond our control. In the midst of uncertainty and fear, this principle offered a sense of clarity and perspective, allowing me to focus my energy on accepting the things I could not change while directing my efforts towards those within my control.

The Stoics also emphasised the importance of cultivating an inner fortress of tranquility and resilience, impervious to the whims of external circumstances. Through practices such as negative visualisation and the contemplation of worst-case scenarios, I began to confront my fears and anxieties head-on, preparing myself mentally and emotionally for whatever challenges lay ahead. This stoic mindset became a beacon of strength and stability in the midst of this shit storm, enabling me to bear the waves of uncertainty with some composure.

In addition to Stoicism, I also found solace reading the existentialists– Keikegaard was the obvious choice, apt, but was too heavy when so fatigued. I enjoyed Albert Camus the most, clear and straight forward. Reading the Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger, but also Nausea by Satre. At the heart of existentialism lies the recognition of the absurdity and inherent meaninglessness of human existence. While this realisation may seem bleak at first glance, they argues that it is precisely in confronting the absurdity of life that we are empowered to create our own meaning and purpose.

In this time of darkness, this existential perspective offered me a sense of liberation and empowerment. Instead of succumbing to despair, I embraced the existential notion of radical freedom; the idea that we are ultimately responsible for our own choices and actions, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. This realisation empowered me to seize control of my situation, refusing (in a manner) to be defined by the constraints of illness or circumstance.

Furthermore, existentialism emphasises the importance of authenticity – living in accordance with our true selves and values, rather than conforming to external expectations or societal norms. I have always tried to present myself authentically to everyone, even in this business, despite the comfort and protection a persona would provide. In the midst of illness, existential commitment to authenticity reminded me it must be a guiding principle, inspiring me to embrace my vulnerabilities and imperfections, and to live each moment with courage and integrity.

In integrating the insights of Stoicism and Existentialism into my own journey of and self-discovery during challenging times, I found a profound sense of resilience and purpose amidst the turmoil. Through the timeless wisdom of these philosophical traditions, I learned to navigate the complexities of human suffering with some grace and a feeling of peace, hoping to endure adversity with a renewed sense of strength, purpose, and authenticity.

Also during this process, I unearthed a well of wisdom that transcended the confines of youth's superficial allure. Rediscovering truths I had forgotten amidst the noise of a superficial industry, I realised the importance of continuing building a life outside of escorting, both my career, and socially. While it still held a place in my heart and provided fun experiences and improved financial security. I understood the necessity of balance to optimise healthy self-development in accordance with my core values.

Luckily, if you haven't already gathered, I had my kindle and read many books. I also read "Your Silence Will Not Protect You" , a collection of Audre Lorde's essays. I found one in particular, truly groundbreaking, and wowed I hadn't come across it before, "The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power," it profoundly influenced my understanding of selfhood, femininity, and agency. Lorde challenges conventional notions of the erotic, reframing it not merely as a source of sexual pleasure, but as a potent force of empowerment and liberation.

For Lorde, the erotic transcends the confines of the bedroom, permeating every aspect of our lives with its vitality and authenticity. It is a force that defies categorisation, embracing the full spectrum of human experience with unbridled passion and intensity. In the context of the escorting industry, where women's bodies are often objectified and sexualised, Lorde's concept of the erotic took on added significance for me.

By reclaiming the erotic as a source of power and agency, escorts can resist the pervasive objectification that often pervade the industry. Instead of passively conforming to external expectations, they can assert their autonomy and assert their right to pleasure and fulfilment on their own terms (I am aware that privilege plays a huge part in me being able to do this). The erotic becomes a tool of self-empowerment, enabling escorts to reclaim control over their bodies and desires, and to navigate the complications of the industry with consideration and dignity.

In integrating Lorde's insights into my professional and personal life, I can transcend the limitations imposed by societal norms and expectations, embracing my inherent worth and dignity as a multifaceted individual. I can cultivate a deeper sense of selfhood and femininity, rooted in authenticity and agency.

Through the experience, I gained not only knowledge of the world but also a deeper understanding of myself, enabling me to navigate the complexities of human relationships increased skill and deeper compassion. My resolve was renewed to stay unbound by the shackles of societal expectations, I embraced my sexuality as a vital aspect of my being, reclaiming agency over my desires and pleasures.

The day I received the news that I was in the clear was unexpected yet I was also prepared for any outcome. I did not have cancer, nor Aplastic Anaemia. They were sort of stumped why it happened but suspected I had a reaction due to a viral illness, they could not detect Guillain-Barré (but I did have the flu in November,) However I did feel overwhelming relief and gratitude. I had to stay a few more days until my WBC was an acceptable level, which bounced back up as the antibiotics cleared the pneumonia, so there was no need for white blood cell boosters (which made me happy as it is apparently quite uncomfortable!) As I left the hospital, I felt as though a heavy weight had been lifted from my shoulders, replaced by an exhilarating sense of freedom and possibility. Walking out into the warm sunshine (no longer suffocating), I felt as though I had been given a second chance at life, a chance to embrace each moment with renewed vigour and appreciation. In the face of adversity, I had discovered a reservoir of strength and resilience within myself, a strength that I hope will carry me forward into the next chapter of my life with courage and conviction.

I am a private person, speaking with such vulnerable unabashed honesty would not have been something I would have shared like this before, however, as I stepped out into the world once more, I did so not as someone who had merely survived, but as someone who had confronted the depths of adversity and emerged stronger, and frankly has no more fucks to give! I carry with me hard won lessons of resilience and the unyielding spirit that resides within each of us. After hugging my dad who had flown out to meet me, the first thing I did was check into a suite in a beautiful hotel (The Rosewood, with the kindest staff, that really took care of me), and treated myself to a long massage. Then we went out to a simple (well recommended) restaurant for an incredible Thai meal (Green curry- Thai spicy, sticky rice, Som Tam, Omelette and Mango Sticky Rice and a beer), and it was the best meal I have ever eaten.

 

Initially, I began with the intention to write this, really just to recount and process it through journaling, it was just to be for me. However, I decided to share it as a blog, as it has changed me somewhat, and I think for the better, and my hope is that you will understand me better if we meet, and I hope you feel you may share authentically in return.

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