There's nothing like a good dose of fear to really shake you up. In the week or so in the lead up to my colonoscopy two weeks ago, I utterly convinced myself that there were all sorts of nasties in there, lurking and waiting to be found.
The day of the appointment came and went in a quite unremarkable fashion. I watched the insides of my colon pass by on the screen in a pethidine-soaked blur as I rambled on to the nice doctors and laughed as I felt the pincers inside me take biopsies. I was told that there was nothing to report, that I am fine. The relief was a joy, a joy nearly matched by the joy of inhaling a KFC Zinger Tower Meal after two days of nil-by-mouth.
So I'm OK! My tests are OK. I can live again without the fear of impending colostomy ball-ache and I know the steroids have done their thing and healed me and it feels good.
I am now off most of the drugs that I have been knocking back since the beginning of February. My feet will not be swelling any more. Every day I will wake up and know that I can fit in my shoes. I won't be getting any mood swings that make me throw cake at my boyfriend. I have my life back. A life that I'm going to SMASH THE SHIT OUT OF.
I am 26. In those 26 years, I feel like I've achieved an all right amount. Not loads, I mean, I'm not some massive high achiever or a child star and I don't have a pharmaceutical patent in my name. But if I were being particularly maudlin, like I was in those last couple of weeks, I could probably say that if I were to drop dead tomorrow I'd be pretty happy with my lot.
I've seen a few countries, I've loved people deeply, I've had all my hair cut off and regretted it. I like my job, I like my house, I feel like I strike a good balance between sitting watching telly and going out and socializing. I have enough money that I can buy a scented candle on a whim. I have a few packets of jelly beans dotted around my house for emergencies.
Everyone's favorite hate-read, the Mail Online, reported a couple of days ago about a list that researchers have put together that is apparently the definitive list of 50 things you should do in order to live life to the fullest. I clicked on the link, pretty convinced I would have done most of the things. BUT NO.
Here's the list in full. What have you crossed off?
1. Stop worrying about money. Is this even possible? Unless you're Kimye or something?
2. Stop worrying about what other people think.
3. Take two holidays a year. I am lucky to have a boyfriend who works in travel, so I can cross this one off at least.
4. Enjoy little comforts in life. I enjoy painting my nails so I think this counts.
5. Experience different cultures. I've been to Morocco. That was pretty different.
6. Work to live rather than live to work. YEAH ALL RIGHT THEN.
7. Pay off all debts. PFFFFTTTTTT. See above.
8. Be true to yourself. Ok.
9. Concentrate on what you have instead of what you don't have. This is nice, and in principle I do, but I'll always want something I don't have. I can't help it. I want a Kitchen Aid.
10. Use money on experiences rather than saving for a rainy day. Now here's one I can really get behind.
11. Make time for family and friends. Yup. Always. Except from when I want to watch "Eastenders," then literally everyone can go suck a dick and call back in half an hour, regardless of emergency.
12. Try all types of food. Nobody is ever going to get me to eat Shepherd's Pie ever again.
13. Find true love. I've done this. PUKE. Sorry.
14. Travel to at least 25 different foreign countries. YEAH ALL RIGHT, MONEYBAGS!
15. Go outside more. Easy enough. Unless it's raining, then nobody is dragging me outside for anything.
16. Learn a new language. I can say croissant and merci, so I reckon that counts.
17. Be well thought of by family and friends. I sure hope so.
18. Help a member of your family out when they really need it. See above.
19. Lose a stone in weight. This one is a bit ridiculous. How does losing a stone help you live life to the fullest? What if you're already teeny tiny? Stupid.
20. Treat each day like it's your last. Nice, if you can remember to do it.
21. Visit all of Britain's historical landmarks. Who has the time? I don't.
22. Book an impulsive last minute holiday. I agree on this one. Go now! Book! Treat yo'self!
23. Volunteer for a good cause. I've never volunteered! I feel like a horrible person. OH GOD, I'M GOING TO HELL!
24. Take up a challenge. OK then. I will!
25. Go on safari. Fine if you've got a spare grand or two.
26. Blow a load of money in one shopping trip, just because you can. See above.
27. Learn a new instrument. Never. I am totally shite at any kind of musical activity. I can sort of sing if I'm really pissed, although this is probably debatable.
28. Be married for longer than 20 years. That would be nice.
29. Have enough money left for the grandchildren to enjoy. No chance! Soz.
30. Start a family. I would really like to do this. Soon. Ish.
31. Earn more than your age. Pffffttttt.
32. Have a pet. I WANT A PET SO BAD! Can I have a cat? Even though it will definitely get squashed by a car on the main road outside? Has anyone got any experiences with housecats?
33. Drive a really fast car. Can't drive. Ultimate failure.
34. Travel alone. I'd definitely get lost/mugged/die.
35. Be able to keep the kids on the straight and narrow. We'll see.
36. Meet strangers. Everyday occurrence, non?
37. Move away from home to an unfamiliar place. I moved to Brighton which is 11 miles away from where I grew up, if that counts? OH! And I "moved to Ibiza" once, which entailed quitting my job, buying a one way ticket to San Antonio, spending all my money in three and a half weeks and then having to beg for a flight home. Cool!
38. Have a one-night stand. See above.
39. Pass your driving test. STOP REMINDING ME I'M A FAILURE!
40. Get a degree. Never went to university. Judge me!
41. Rescue someone so that you're a hero for a little while. I was never a lifeguard, but Chris was, so I can be a hero by-proxy.
42. Date someone exciting but completely wrong for you. Yep.
43. Get a promotion. Yep.
44. Reach the desired career peak by age 40. Who knows?
45. Have an all-night drinking session. I can definitely cross this one off.
46. Perform something on stage in front of others. I was in the play Bugsy Malone once, and I had the lead when I was 11 in Alice Through the Looking Glass, which may still be my proudest moment.
47. Snog a stranger. Obvs.
48. Plan a surprise party. No. I'm a terrible friend! Do people do this in real life?
49. Embark on adrenaline packed activities such as sky diving or bungee jumping. Christ, no.
50. Spend time with children even if they aren't yours. I like children, but I couldn't eat a whole one! Etc, etc.
Despite this shitty list telling me that you basically need loads of money to go on safaris and shopping trips and you should start chucking yourself out of planes/driving at speed in order to live life to the full, I like to think I do.
I may not have a driving license, I rely on public transport, I haven't travelled extensively, I've not rescued anyone or volunteered, I can't play an instrument or speak many languages but I am happy and content and glad to be alive, every single day. And I'm sure that counts for something.
Snogging strangers whilst talking French (badly) on Twitter: @Natalie_KateM.