An Image of a ‘Normal’ Boy

An Image of a ‘Normal’ Boy

When most people look at this image they see a ‘normal’ twenty-two-year-old boy. They do not see his Crohn’s disease and dyspraxia. They do not see his younger-self being told by a doctor that the pain in his small intestine is ‘imaginary’; they do not see his low levels of potassium in hospital; the blood; the pills; the bullying in school; the tears over the exercise books; the anger; the embarrassment of having a dad with multiple sclerosis; the self-hatred. They also do not see him winning ‘The Fletcher Prize’ for outstanding achievement; defying expectations by attaining a First-class honours degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from University of Hertfordshire; the smiles; the laughs; the travels; the courage; the confidence; and his belief to raise awareness for hidden disabilities.

You do though, you see it all. Thank you for supporting the writing blog since it went public three years ago on Friday 28th February 2014. Most of all, thank you for being there when I needed it the most.

You do though, you see it all...Copyright © 2017- Jake Borrett. All rights reserved.    

Jake Borrett and Rufus Lakin’s Canada Adventure (December 2016 - January 2017)

Jake Borrett and Rufus Lakin’s Canada Adventure (December 2016 - January 2017)

I have wanted to go travelling with my cousin, Rufus Lakin, for a long time, so when he decided to have a year studying abroad in Canada it gave us a good opportunity to do so. Our Canadian adventure took place between Wednesday 28th December 2016 and Tuesday 17th January 2017. I have been to Canada once before in 2006 with my immediate family, but this was the first time I travelled on an aeroplane by myself. Whilst it was a scary experience making sure I caught the right ‘Air Canada’ plane, I made sure to have enough time to get through check-in, security and boarding before my nine and a half hour long haul flight to Vancouver.

Vancouver
I arrived at Vancouver International Airport at 4.05pm on Wednesday 28th December 2016 where Rufus was waiting for me. We spent a total of nine nights in Vancouver, including one night at an Airbnb and the rest at Best Western Plus Sands Hotel. Looking back on this adventure I am amazed by and thankful for the amount of memories we created together. Here is a list of the activities we got up to in Vancouver. The list includes:
          Exploring Downtown Vancouver and English Bay
          Bike riding around Stanley Park
          Watching the sun set over Vancouver at Queen Elizabeth Park
          Visiting VanDusen Botanical Garden to see the Festival of Lights
          Ice skating at a local community centre
          Ringing in 2017 by watching the New Year’s Eve firework display by the waterfront
          Briefly watching the Polar Bear Swim, where people can swim for a kilometre in English Bay for New Year’s Day
          Going to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park at night to see the bridge, its canyon lights as well as the tree tops and cliff walk
          Visiting the Steam Clock at Gastown, Vancouver
          Watching an ice hockey game, where the Vancouver Canucks beat the Colorado Avalanche 3 goals to 2
          Exploring Granville Island, including its marketplace
          Having a day-trip to Whistler to snowshoe and to have a go at bobsleigh
          Entering into a poker tournament at Edgewater Casino

We are lucky to have managed to visit many amazing places in ten days. One of my many highlights of Vancouver was completing the nine kilometre route around Stanley Park. One of the last times I was on a bicycle was in 2006 and although I was very rusty at first in the end we managed to complete the full distance and saw many beautiful views along the way.

I often find taking part in different sports more challenging due to the coordination impact my dyspraxia has; but throughout my adventure in Canada I did not let my dyspraxia stop me from attempting and enjoying cycling, ice skating and later snowmobiling and skiing. I am proud to have given each activity a good go.  


One of my many highlights of Vancouver was completing the nine kilometre route around Stanley Park...Copyright © 2016- Jake Borrett and Rufus Lakin. All rights reserved.               


Yellowknife
We spent a total of four nights in Yellowknife, the capital city of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Whilst we were out there it dropped to temperatures of -38 degrees, so we were thankful to have hired very warm ‘Canada Goose’ clothing and ‘Sorel Boots’, and to have booked a room at Yellowknife Polar Suite in the centre of town. As well as dealing with the cold Rufus and I had to cope with the tiredness of early starts and late nights. Nevertheless, between Friday 6th January 2017 and Tuesday 10th January 2017 we completed the following activities:
          Travelling to a cabin in order to witness the beautiful Northern Lights with ‘My Backyard Tours’
          Driving snowmobiles during the day across Great Slave Lake with ‘Aurora Adventure Tour’
          Being treated to the Northern Lights for the second night in the row at another cabin with ‘Aurora Adventure Tour’
          Driving our own dog sled through a winter wonderland with ‘Beck’s Sled Dog Kennels and Tours’
          Snowmobiling at night through the woods and across a frozen lake with ‘North Star Adventures’

I enjoyed pretty much every moment of the hauntingly beautiful Yellowknife. However, one common theme to the tours we went on is the lack of toilet facilities. We were recommended to use the toilet in advance of going on the tours. The problem was that the night time snowmobiling and Northern Lights tours could last up to four hours, so my Crohn’s disease did cause me to sometimes feel uncomfortable. Saying this I always made sure to bring an extra pair of underpants with me and to not allow my Crohn’s disease to spoil my enjoyment as we drove through the snow.

The beautiful Northern Lights...Copyright © 2017- Jake Borrett and Rufus Lakin. All rights reserved.        






Kelowna and a Final Reflection
Rufus and I spent the last part of our Canadian adventure in Kelowna. We stayed on campus at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus where Rufus is completing his year studying Human Kinetics or rather Sports Science. I got a glimpse into what it could have been like if I had studied at a university away from home rather than commuting to University of Hertfordshire. The people I met during my time in Canada were all friendly, with Kelowna being no exception. The activities we completed between Tuesday 10th January 2017 and Tuesday 17th January 2017 were as follows:
          Experiencing student life at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus
          Having a nostalgic meal at Earls Kitchen and Bar Restaurant, where I went to with my immediate family when we travelled to Kelowna in 2006
          In a group of four, we spent the weekend at ‘Big White Ski Resort’ where I learnt to ski all the way to one of the green runs; as well as doing some tubing and ice skating
          On our last day, we climbed Knox Mountain Park to gain a view of Kelowna and Okanagan Lake

The time in Kelowna went by very quickly. While Rufus was in some of his university lessons and on my travels back home to England on Tuesday 17th January 2017 I had a good amount of time to reflect. I believe the travelling we did in Canada has given me more confidence, proving that I am strong and brave and willing to try new activities for the experience. As we took our seats on the bobsleigh in Whistler and went down the slopes at seventy miles per hour I realised that attempting new things is good, and that we should never let our hidden disabilities stop us; I should never think less of myself because of my Crohn’s disease and dyspraxia. Thank you for an incredible adventure Rufus and thank you everyone else for being there for me.

I should never think less of myself because of my Crohn’s disease and dyspraxia...Copyright © 2017- Jake Borrett and Rufus Lakin. All rights reserved.    

The Lesson Learnt From 2016

The Lesson Learnt From 2016

As the end of 2016 is approaching I wanted to reflect upon the year. 2016 has been a rather challenging year for me due to health issues and sadly we lost a few good friends and members of our family.

Although the year has been difficult at times it has also been life affirming too. In September I officially graduated with a first-class honours degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from University of Hertfordshire. The graduation ceremony was brilliant, and although my dad was unfortunately unable to attend it was nevertheless wonderful to see my friends and tutors again. The day served as a reminder of how far I have come, from the young boy who took learning support lessons during secondary school and the teenager who had to defer his second year at university due to a Crohn’s disease flare-up. I want to thank everyone who has supported me during my time at University of Hertfordshire.

I have surprised myself by having the confidence to undergo journalism and publishing work experience in London. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at The Independent and John Murray Press, and I was given the opportunity to write some articles about living with Crohn’s disease and dyspraxia. I will definitely go forward from this with a passion to be able to pursue a career in writing.

I also managed to complete lots of the goals I set at the start of 2016. I managed to:
          Get further involved with Radio Verulam, my community radio station
          Develop my own projects by working on a novel and a poetry portfolio
          Watch the films ‘Frozen’, ‘The Lion King’ and the first series of ‘Games of Thrones’ after promising to for so long
          Raise even more awareness for Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and dyspraxia through YouTube videos, charity campaigns, newspaper articles, radio features and other blogging websites

2016 has taught me that I should always believe in myself. I will take this lesson forward into 2017, where in the upcoming weeks I will be travelling around Canada with my cousin; hope to continue raising awareness for hidden disabilities; and finally complete the tandem skydive in aid of ‘Crohn’s and Colitis UK’ and ‘Dyspraxia Foundation’.

I would like to thank you all for your continued support. You are the reason I continue to write. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2017.

2016 has taught me that I should always believe in myself...Copyright © 2016- Jake Borrett. All rights reserved.               

Would I go back to when I was thirteen years old?

Would I go back to when I was thirteen years old?

There are a lot of photographs taken of me before I was thirteen years old and diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and subsequently dyspraxia. In the darkest of times I often imagine a scenario being played out where I am given the opportunity to go back to 2007 when I was thirteen and continue living without my two hidden disabilities. If I choose to accept this proposition the consequence would mean I would have new memories, new experiences and therefore new thoughts about who I am as a person.

In the darkest of times the simple answer would be yes, I would go back to when I was thirteen and be the ‘healthy’ individual we all deserve to be. In this moment I would believe I would not have been bullied for being ‘different’, for the way I vomited after playing sports and for not being able to form a sentence together. I would believe I would not have had to take learning support lessons in order to dramatically improve my progress in English as a subject. I would believe I would not have to frequently visit the doctors and stay in hospital in order to control a small intestine that wants to do nothing but hurt me. I would believe I would not feel isolated, depressed, petrified and ashamed.

However, once those dark clouds have drifted away I would recognise that my complex answer to this scenario would be no, I would not go back to the year 2007 when I was thirteen and change the person who I am. I would be influenced in my decision by how I am far greater than my two disabilities, that they do not, cannot define me. I would be influenced by my achievements such as gaining my First-class honours in English Literature and Creative Writing from University of Hertfordshire, and how I have published stories, articles and productions celebrating diversity. I would be influenced by my qualities of having an inner determination of not giving in to a small intestine that wants to hurt me, but instead to work with every time it drains me. I would be influenced by the amazing individuals I have met since I was thirteen who have listened to my fears and dreams, not with the intention to judge but with the intention to understand and to accept who I am as a person.

So if tonight I am asked, ‘Would you go back to when you were thirteen years old?’ I would like to think I would say no.

I know that I am greater than my Crohn’s disease and dyspraxia; but I also realise that the two hidden disabilities have influenced me, at least in part, to become a determined, creative, empathetic and courageous individual who has met some incredibly decent people. I would not want to change this. After all, only in total darkness can you see the stars at their brightest; only when rain dashes the sun will a beautiful rainbow appear.

I know that I am greater than my Crohn’s disease and dyspraxia...Copyright © 2016- Jake Borrett. All rights reserved.               

The Hallowed Wish

The Hallowed Wish
On the morning of each Halloween a girl or boy finds a green ring underneath their bedroom pillow with an attached note. The note reads, ‘At 10.00pm tonight make a wish of your own desire.’
There was once a girl called ‘Sarah’ who wished to have no more school homework; and a boy called ‘Brian’ who wanted a plate of chocolate biscuits.
There was also once an unknown boy or girl only referred to as ‘They’. They wished for their daddy to be ‘well’, free from sickness. The next morning They found their daddy had not be ‘cured’ and They cried; but thereafter They spent each day making their daddy smile.  
It is unknown whether these stories are real, but even so their wishes reveal all.
This Halloween a girl or boy will find a green ring underneath their bedroom pillow, but what will they wish for?

What will they wish for? Copyright © 2016- ottlukas. All rights reserved.