"Where there is creativity, there is hope." ~ Donna Karan




Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Missing the good old days

 
*** Disclaimer: Sorry to kill the creative mood but things aren't going to be all rainbows, sunshine, lollipops and unicorns around here for some time.
 
Right now it feels as though I'll never be happy. There are times when I'm feeling so far down in the dumps that I just can't see a way out. Depression has thrown me a curve ball once again, and the darkness is suffocating.
 
I am sad because my social life is really suffering. I'm upset because I'd like to go to work and be a normal human being right now. I am frustrated because I cannot go for a long run and sweat the stress away. I'm struggling with my sudden weight gain from dreaded drug side effects, and I'm also grappling with grief.
 
To hear that my sweet, sweet Nan may only have a month or so left with us hurts too much. I'm not going to go into too much detail, as it's not my story to tell, except to say that she has cancer, and it has now gone to her brain.
 
Seeing her struggle and feel miserable is just darn horrible, and I am incredibly frustrated by the fact that I am unable to help out and visit as much as I would like to. I am upset that there is nothing I can do to make this any better, and I feel for my family. All that I can do is help out when I can, cook some basic meals when I'm on dinner duties and bake brownies for Nan- marbled choc cheesecake- her favourite. Here, you're dying, have some cake!
 
Sometimes all you can do is cry and eat cake.
 
Apparently I'm grieving already, and everything is ten times harder. I'm trying so hard not to get upset, because getting upset and stressed only makes the fatigue worse, but trying not to get upset is just as exhausting.
 
It's times like these when I miss the good old days. The days when I was happy and healthy. The days when I saw my friends everyday at school. The days when I would go for long runs. The days when stupid cancer didn't ruin our enjoyable family lunch with Nan every Saturday.
 
Oh how I wish I could rewind back to those good old days, because right now everything is just a mess. Life isn't fun anymore, and I want to escape, I just want things to go back to the way that they were.
 
When my Nan was diagnosed earlier this year, and I was told that she probably wouldn't be here next year, I didn't believe it. I didn't want to, I just couldn't. I didn't want to accept it. It didn't seem real- one week I was driving her to church, and the next she was in hospital diagnosed with cancer and starting her first round of chemotherapy.
 
She managed so unexpectedly well with the chemo treatment that I thought, maybe, just maybe, she would be okay. The cancer shrunk and things seemed to be alright. We were warned that her type of cancer commonly grows back in the brain, but we didn't give that thought any attention.
 
It was only a month ago when we sat down for a family dinner, and now I'm told that she only has a month or so left with us.
 
That thought is unbearable.
 
It's horribly amazing how swiftly cancer attacks the brain. It's hard to believe that she won't be with us much longer when she is sitting and smiling at me, completely capable of speaking a coherent sentence. I'm struggling to imagine my life without her.
 
When I was at school I would look forward to seeing her every weekend. Since obtaining my license, I have driven myself to her house for short visits. Most of the things we do as a family include her, so not having her around will be an awful adjustment.
 
I knew it was coming, but it doesn't make it any easier. I've had time to prepare myself, but I'm just not ready yet.
 
I know that she is old and the she has to die eventually, but I just didn't expect it to be right now. I had hoped that she would die of old age. Cancer is so cruel- it makes me angry to think that if it didn't exist, Nan would probably have many years left with us.
 
I don't want her to die. I don't want to miss her. I want to rewind and relive the good old days.
 
But I have to believe that God will bring better days and greater things - beyond what I can imagine. And even though it feels as though there is no way out of this black hole, I am trusting in God's promises, and holding onto Him for dear life. As hard as this is, I know that God has this situation under control, and that I can seek peace and draw upon the strength of God's grace.
 
I had prayed so hard that Nan would be healed, but sometimes, God doesn't heal in the way that we expect. So now, I sit here and pray that she would go home to heaven quickly to be with God - where there will be know more pain and sickness. I know that she is going to an indescribable, incredible place that our earthly minds cannot comprehend, and that's comfort to cling to.
 
Through these dark days, I'll repeat - better days and bigger things are coming, better days and bigger things are coming. I'll say it until I believe it. I'll breathe, cry, and bake cakes. It's all I can do right now. It's all I know how to do.
 
 
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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gone Wishin' diagonal glitter manicure

Happy Thursday, chronic crafties! Today I am sharing a glitter manicure with a twist. I've been experimenting with lots of glitter polishes lately, I just love how versatile they are. I thought I would change things up a bit and try a diagonal glitter manicure. All the cool kids are doing it.
 
I'm really happy with how it turned out. I especially love the colour combination, from the minute I placed the two bottles of polish next to each other, I knew that they were a perfect match.
 
I like how the strip of glitter still allows for the base colour to have an impact. It's such a unique way to wear glitter. It was great that the glitter had blue flecks as well, it really does help balance out the purple.
 
The colours that I used for this manicure are OPI 'Do You Lilac it?' (I used four coats of this), and Nicole by OPI 'Gone Wishin' (I used six coats of this). To get my diagonal lines I used masking tape.
 
It's a simple, yet classy manicure. It's my favourite glitter one so far.
I hope you are inspired to experiment with different colour combinations - the possibilities are endless!
 
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Friday, October 19, 2012

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Happy Friday, chronic crafties! I know that there hasn't been many crafty posts lately, I really must try to get my blogging and crafting mojo back, but in the meantime I'll share something that I whipped up a little while ago.
 
Earlier this year we had a huge family get together dinner, so I took the opportunity to try out a recipe I hadn't tried before from an old cookbook - chocolate fudge cake.


This cake looked pretty darn delicious in the book, and the dollops of whipped cream made it look extra decadent. Of course I just had to make it.
 
I was a little worried that it wouldn't taste anywhere near amazing as it looked, and that my attempt wouldn't resemble the picture perfect cake.

But decadent it was. It was moist, fudgy and everything else a cake should be. No one said much, but I think that was because they were too busy enjoying it - there was no left over cake at the end of the night. My crappy photos don't do it justice, it really did look like it does in the book!
For the icing I used a piping gun to create the dollops of whipped cream and then covered the cream with flake chocolate.
This cake was so simple and satisfying to make. It's from The Australian Women's Weekly Cakes & Slices cookbook. Give it a go, you'll love it!
 
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Holidaying in The Sunshine State - Day 2

For the second day of our holiday in Queensland back in March this year (clearly I'm behind in blogging), we spent the majority of the day sightseeing in the car as it rained for most of the day. It was the only day during the week when the sun was not out. I was extremely excited about the rain that day, because I fell down a step I didn't know existed in the morning at the house we were staying in and sprained my ankle. I did a pretty good job of it, and had to hobble around with a swollen foot, so I was more than happy to just enjoy the sights from the car window and give my foot time a bit of time to recover before hitting the theme parks.
 
So we drove out of Queensland to explore Byron Bay, a beachside town located in the far-northeastern corner of the state of New South Wales, which was about an hour away from where we were staying. We decided to go check out the active lighthouse at Cape Byron. We spent a good hour or so admiring the views and taking lots of photos. I did get out of the car for a short time so I could get some decent photos and see the sights properly, but I had to hop everywhere - a girl in a maxi skirt hopping to the nearest railing must have looked hilarious!
I really wanted to have a photo taken closer to the lighthouse, but I wasn't prepared to hop that far! Taking photos proved quite challenging as it was pretty windy and it was raining on and off, but I did manage to capture some of the stunning surrounding views. When looking back on these photos, I am reminded how amazing, incredible and creative God is. I am in awe.
This photo is by far my favourite of the day. Breathtaking, no? It was well worth all the hopping it took.
Mama and me checking out the observation deck.
What grabbed my attention the most were the people hang gliding. It was fascinating to watch them take off, soar like an eagle and then land. I took some photos as they flew over where I stood. I was interested in experiencing the thrill almost immediately. I turned to Papa Bear a few times too many to let him know I was keen and that he must take me there.
Next holiday I am definitely going to go hang gliding. I've looked into it and decided that it is a scenic tour must. I think the price is pretty reasonable too, and I love that they have a secure spot for your camera in the hang glider so you can take photos.
So I pretty much spent the rest of the day dreaming of hang gliding while the rest of the family strolled through the shops in town before the drive back.
And that was day two.
 
 
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Friday, October 12, 2012

The things you should avoid saying to young people living with Arthritis

Despite the fact that arthritis is an extremely common condition, there still remains many misconceptions and myths about the painful condition - such as the belief that only old people get arthritis.
 
The majority of people mean well, and often have good intentions, it's just that they are a little misinformed. But then there are those who come across as downright insensitive and just plain stupid. Their comments are far from helpful and leave those living with the condition feeling rather frustrated.
 
As a young adult living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I have heard some pretty silly statements and have answered several stupid questions regarding the disease, and because of this, I sometimes feel as though I am the only young person on the planet who has arthritis. Most people just don't expect young people to have arthritis.
 
As today is World Arthritis Day, I thought I'd take the opportunity to write about some of these statements that often leave me, and so many other young people living with arthritis, feeling discouraged, unsupported and isolated.
 
(image from here)
 
You're too young/ You're not old enough to have arthritis. This is the biggest misunderstanding about arthritis. I wish that people understood that arthritis isn't just an old person's disease. I am tired of seeing disbelief wash over faces and I hate having to explain the how and the why. It would seem many people haven't heard the term 'hereditary'. Arthritis comes in many different forms and attacks people of all ages - it affects kids, too. Nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65 (1).
 
My grandma has arthritis. This is not a statement that cheers me up, and it doesn't bring me much comfort. It just confirms that people automatically think of their grandparents when they think about the condition, its effects, and consequences. Chances are, the arthritis that your grandma has is different from mine. There are over 100 types of arthritis, and the typical arthritis that presents in old age is osteoarthritis. The arthritis which I live with is an autoimmune condition, and being in my mid 20s, it's obviously not a sign that I'm just getting older. I don't like being compared to your grandmother. Our challenges vary, and the pain affects us differently. I don't suffer from wear and tear, and Rheumatoid Arthritis isn't just plain 'ole arthritis, it's a disease.
 
Don't you take fish oil? This question frustrates me. Fish oil is not a cure for arthritis, neither is it extremely effective at relieving and treating arthritis symptoms. People just see those fish oil commercials and start making assumptions. It's important to understand the fish oil doesn't help everyone's pain, and in saying that, however, I do take fish oil, and I find that it does help a little- but I need a lot more than just a few fish oils capsules to be able to function normally. To manage the pain of arthritis, control inflammation and improve joint stiffness, I have to take a cocktail of drugs daily and I still have painful days. If only it were as simple as taking fish oil.
 
You don't look like you have arthritis. Say this and you can guarantee that I'll want to smack you in the face. With a shovel. Asking someone if they are hurting is like asking if it's cold in Antarctica (I can take no credit for that funny, it was on one of those ecards that has been doing the rounds on Facebook). It's evident that there is still a stigma attached to the disease. Often the first thing people do when they hear that I have arthritis is look at my hands. It makes me feel uncomfortable to know that they may be thinking of their grandmother’s twisted-up hands. Just because I don't walk with a limp, or a walking aid, doesn't mean that I don't have arthritis. Just because I don't have deformed and swollen joints doesn't mean that I'm not hurting. Just because my hands appear to be healthy doesn't mean they don't hurt like heck some days, and just because they are not all twisted up doesn't mean that sometimes things can be hard to open or hold. Just because I'm not all hunched over doesn't mean that the pain of arthritis doesn't affect my spine and ribs, making driving and typing a painful task some days. While it's true that there are many people who do have swollen joints, there are also many people like me who don't. Fortunately for me, the disease was caught early and treated properly. I have found a combination of prescription medicines that help manage the pain and control disease progression.
 
At least you don't have cancer. Says the person who is a picture of perfect health with a degree, working to establish a career. This has got to be one the most insensitive things that you can say. It's a comment that lacks compassion and concern - it denies sympathy for people living with a painful condition. Yes, I am very thankful that I do not have cancer, and I know that my situation could be much, much worse, but that doesn't mean that I'm not really struggling too and need a bit of support. There are many people, including myself, who take strong drugs to treat their autoimmune disease which are similar to those that cancer patients have to take - the only difference is the dosage. These drugs are serious, and although rare, the side effects can be life threatening.These drugs have made me feel even more fatigued, and have exacerbated my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome symptoms.
 
This shouldn't be happening to you/ You don't deserve this. Well, state the bloomin' obvious, why don't you! No one deserves to have arthritis, except for maybe pedophiles and murderers in prison. These kinds of statements though just aren't helpful, and they don't cheer me up. They denote pity, and I hate having people feel sorry for me. Yes, I need some sympathy, understanding and a shoulder to cry on every now and then, but I can do without the pity. I need positive people in my life who are going to support me and encourage me to focus on the good things in life- not drag me down by dwelling on the unfairness of it all.
 
(image from here)
 
 
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Rockin' a bun

 
 
I'm the girl with the matching handbag and colour coordinated accessories. I like to fool people into thinking that I'm highly organised, fit, and fabulous.
 
I enjoy buying new clothes and I'll use any excuse to dress up and don lace, frills, and floral prints. I'm practically obsessed when it comes to planning outfits. I like to put a bit of thought into them - where is the joy in just whacking on a pair of worn out jeans, and a that'll do jumper?
 
These days though, I'm usually moping pottering around home looking as publicly unacceptable as possible. Some days my hair is so oily, you could fry food on it (ew, disturbing visual that was). So when I do feel up to going (or when I force myself to go, which is usually the case) somewhere important or special, I like getting all dolled up. Whipping on a bit of lippy and styling my hair differently brings me happiness. It's a chance for me to appear healthy and normal.
 
That's what I enjoyed most about working once a week (I use past tense, as I'm taking a break from work for a bit to try and tame this fatigue beast) - it was an opportunity for me wear pretty dresses, look professional, and fake healthiness. Every week I gave the illusion that I had it all together, when I was really just falling apart - I would come home from work and cry, and spend my days between shifts struggling. This hairdo would say otherwise, don't you think?
For the first time in... well, I can't remember, I managed to get my hair into a kind of professional looking bun! An awful lot of hairspray and bobby pins allowed me to rock this huge stylish bun my whole shift. Okay, so it's not a sock bun like I wanted, but it's a bun, and it's much better than my miserable sock bun attempt.
 
I styled my hair AND survived another shift. Take that CFS, take that!
 
I'll bounce back from this fatigue flare and enjoy many more bun rockin' days at work again soon, I'm sure.
 
 
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Lynx Anarchy For Her Deodorant Bodyspray Review


 

I recently bought this new limited edition deodorant to try - Lynx Anarchy For Her, which doubles as a deodorant and bodyspray.

Now, normally I wouldn't write a review for a limited edition product as it's pointless, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that this product is quite similar to others in the Lynx range.

I like to try different products and change things up every now and then, and seeing as this was the cheapest option in the supermarket that day, I took the opportunity to try it out. But it was its name and presentation that really lured me in, convincing me to buy it. Damn you persuasive advertising powers, damn you.

So this product gets scores high points for packaging. It has a cool twist down cap which makes for an interesting change, compared to your standard pull off cap. The only bad thing about its packaging would be its bulkiness, it's not the ideal spray to be carrying in a small handbag when you need to freshen up.

After using this product for a few days, I thought it was fantastic - I enjoyed the smell which to me smelled as amazing as freshly washed hair (it smelt very similar to a nice shampoo) - and then I shaved.

Yeah, the smelling sweetness quickly diminishes when you have burning underarms. So, the rule is, if you use this product, you have to go all naturale. Not a good look for summer, folks!

If you have super sensitive skin I would just steer clear of this product (and maybe even brand). It would probably make your skin sting like crazy even if you didn't shave.

I used it inbetween shaves and avoided use entirely for the first two days after shaving. It would be a wonderful product if it weren't for the burning. I am disappointed and definitely won't be trying any other deodorants from the Lynx range.
 
My rating: 2/5


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tempted to throw in the towel

 
 
This last week I thought I was coping okay. I felt like I was making progress. I managed a short trip to the shops, I went to work, and I even increased my exercise by two minutes, too. I did all that without feeling as ill as what I normally would, so I thought that I would escape the wrath of post exertional malaise this week around. For the first time in ages, I felt things were looking up. Finally this whole graded exercise and pacing program seemed to be delivering signs of slight improvement.
 
Although I had to leave work early last Wednesday because I suddenly became extremely dizzy and nauseous due to medication side effects, fatigue wise, I felt fine, which was a first. The day after work, instead of feeling miserable, I actually enjoyed the day resting, and felt up to pampering myself with a pomegranate and manuka honey facial.
 
By Friday morning fatigue had turned it up a notch, but I felt like I was still doing fine. I had a skype session with my exercise physiologist and reported my progress. Things seemed to be going well.
 
And then all hell broke loose.
 
Following my skype session, post exertional malaise took me by surprise and knocked me for six. And over the weekend it became dreadfully unbearable. It hit me harder than it ever has before. CFS is a deceiving, sneaky bastard.
 
Since starting back at work, weekends have always been hard for me, as that's when the indescribable exhaustion peaks. I do feel dreadful after my shift, but it's the weekends that are the worst. I hate them, and I dread them. If I'm lucky, I'll feel like death one day, but lately it has been both, and the recovery extends into Monday, and sometimes Tuesday. And then I drag myself into work on Wednesday to do it all again. It's beyond ridiculous.
 
This weekend I have really struggled. I think I'm just at the end of the rope, and I can't hold on any more. Working all these shifts for months, not recovering properly, barely able to function, and unable to do much else is taking its toll, physically and emotionally. Enduring an hour long skype session with a psychologist on Saturday, which was by far my worst day, definitely didn't help matters either.
 
I could hardly do a thing. All I could do was eat, breathe, sleep, and pin things on Pinterest.
 
You know you're struggling when from the moment you get up in the morning, you start counting down the hours left to survive in the day.
 
It's days like these when I'm tempted to throw in the towel. And by that, I mean - quit everything - appointments, work, exercise. You know, curl up in a ball in bed and hide from the world. It's days like these that make me lose my motivation and my determination to try and get better, because that's just it, I'm not getting better. I'm running myself ragged trying to get better. I've done everything medical professionals have told me to do- I'm exercising, I'm back at work, and I've even agreed to see a psychologist. But it's just all too much, it's just too freaking much.
 
I am overwhelmed. I cannot cope with all of this for much longer. No matter how positive I try to be about it, and no matter how many times I tell myself that I can do this, I just can't. It's time to face reality. As much as I want to do all these things, I can't. I am suffering too much because of them. It's time to stop listening to doctors and start listening to my body - it's so easy for them to tell me to go back to work, and try to pursue some sort of study, when they aren't the ones living this hell everyday. They don't have to feel how I feel.
 
My life has become all about surviving work, and counting down the hours that are left in the day. No hanging out with friends. No going out at night time. No enjoying life. This isn't healthy. I'm struggling, and it's time I accepted that fact. It's starring me in the face everyday. It's evident in my bursting washing basket. It's evident in the clothes that are still lying on my floor from three weeks ago. It's evident in my craft room, which looks more like the inside of a tip truck.
 
I hardly enjoy my hobbies any more, as I'm just too unwell. I've hardly left the house since I started back at work, and simple tasks that need to get done, just aren't getting done. Clearly, work is causing too much of a setback every week that it's hindering my recovery from CFS.
 
Something has to change. Something has gotta give. This has to stop. Enough is enough. I am better than this. I deserve better than this.
 
The thought of another skype appointment and working another shift stresses me out, because I don't want to feel the way that I've been feeling another week. I can't do it any more. I've tried, and I just can't.
 
So I've found myself stuck between a rock and a hard place - I don't want to quit work, but I also don't want to keep feeling like this. It's all too hard for me to deal with right now. The thought of having to give up work has been running through my mind for over a month now, and I just keep ignoring and fighting it, because I enjoy working (aside from the pain, fatigue and brain fog, of course). I like getting dressed up and putting on a bit more makeup than I normally would. I like earning my own money. I like feeling useful again, and I like that my week does have a focus. The problem is, is that this focus is out of balance - every week is focused on recovering from my last shift and resting for my next one. This isn't the life a girl in her mid twenties should be living.
 
Work is the only thing I have left, and I don't want to give it up, but I feel I have no choice. I fear the way I'm going, I'll just be stuck like this forever. This isn't getting me better, this isn't going to give me a social life. Staying single and housebound is not what I want for my life. If I quit, I could invest my energy into going out at night every now and then. If I quit, I give myself the best chance at recovery, and study could be a possibility in the future.
 
With spring racing and Christmas coming up, work isn't going to get easier, it's going to get harder. And as much as it's tearing me apart, I think I'm going to have to let it go for awhile. I know that quitting isn't the answer, and that I'll still struggle if I don't work, but work is taking all of my good days away from me, and I can do something about that.
 
I've been asking myself is this really worth it? The answer is, no it's not. So it's time to do something about it. As much as I like having the extra money, it's not worth it. And I'm blessed to have my disability pay to fall back on.
 
I'm not going to give up and chuck everything in, as much as I am tempted to right now, it will only create more problems in the long run. So I've decided to focus on one thing at a time. I think that should be the graded exercise therapy, so I'm going to cancel my sessions with the psychologist for now. Regarding work, I'll have to ask if I can take a short break, and see how things go. I don't want to completely quit my job if it can be helped, because I'm just too uncertain about things right now, and scared.
 
Knowing that I have a job I can go back to makes dealing with this crap much easier and less stressful. My managers are quite understanding, so hopefully things will all work out. I've had many breaks over the years when the fatigue has become too debilitating. Ideally, I shouldn't work for the rest of this year, and just focus on my graded exercise therapy program, craft and socialising occasionally. If my health has improved by early next year, then I'll look at adding a short shift at work back in the mix.
 
I have high hopes that if I give work up for now, I'll reap the benifits of graded exercise. Right now I can't exercise and work, it's just too much for my body. And that's okay. As far as I'm concerned, any doctors who think otherwise can go jump off a cliff.
 
So that's the plan. As hard as it is, I'm sticking to it.


***Post edit: Work is letting me take another break until I'm feeling well enough to return and try again. How blessed am I! Such a relief.
 
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