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




Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh so delicious pancakes and a spot of dress shopping.

I had my last appointment for the year just before Christmas. I am really happy about this because I've had a very long year full of frustrating appointments. I am definitely looking forward to having a bit of a break from it all for a little while; and I am so ready to put all the disappointments, crappiness and all the unhappiness of this year behind me.
 
After my appointment I went to a cafe for lunch with my parents and then did a spot of dress shopping afterwards on the way back to the car. I came out feeling quite hopeless so it was good to just eat and shop my emotions away, haha. We lunched at Richmond Hill Cafe, a popular cafe that a lovely receptionist recommended to me.
 
They make the best pancakes. Hands down. Oh my goodness. This was my second time eating here. The first time I had their banana and honeycomb pancakes from their winter menu. They were quite thick, yet impressively fluffy and truly decadent. I was looking forward to enjoying them again this time to be quite disappointed that they changed the pancakes they served on the summer menu. Bummer.
 
Happiness on a plate
On offer were pumpkin and banana pancakes, which of course I got because I knew that they would still be good. And I was right. They were oh so delicious. I've never had pumpkin in pancakes before and thought it an odd combination with banana but it worked quite well. Although they weren't as amazing as the banana and honeycomb combination, they were still pretty great.
 
On the way home I quickly stopped at a gorgeous dress shop that had a sale. There was a really nice dress on display in the front window that I fell in love with. Unfortunately it did not look flattering on and it drew all attention to my problem areas. The make of it was just really weird. I hate it when you really like the look of something and it ends up being terrible on.
 
I tried a few dresses on that I had every intention of buying if they fitted well. I only came out with one. I'm glad the effort wasn't a complete waste of time. It's a pretty little summer lace dress that can also be paired with leggings, boots and a cardigan in winter. I love multi seasonal dresses.
 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Screw you chronic illness, I'm going to California!

California bound

This week I am leaving my homeland (Australia for those who aren't aware) for the first time, with my family, to go on a trip of a lifetime. We're off to check out California for three weeks.

Am I feeling well enough to manage a massive trip like this? Absolutely not. But I'm going anyway, because I want to. I want to soak up new surroundings and enjoy exploring and experiencing a different country. As if I'm going to say no to going to Disneyland, Universal Studios, the Grand Canyon and a sleigh ride at Yosemite. There's no way I am staying home while my family live it up in America. Just not happening. I've missed out on a lot of things thanks to chronic illness and this trip ain't gonna be one of them. We may never get another opportunity to travel overseas as a family again either...so heck, I'm going!

People keep asking me if I'm excited. Well I am, but I'm more overwhelmed by the enormity of it, to be honest. I think others are more excited than I am. It's kind of hard to get excited when all your teeth ache and you have a throbbing head. I've been trying not to think about it too much because then the "oh heck, I feel dreadful, how am I going to do this?" thoughts start stressing me out. 

The fifteen hour plane trip alone is enough to send me into a pain flare and a post exertional malaise meltdown. And then there's the whole jet lag and getting accustomed to a completely new time zone that is a day behind, while getting used to taking meds at different times, thing. This holiday is my Mount Freaking Everest. It's not cruisy. We're not just going to sip cocktails by the pool, sleep in and go out for brunches and casual strolls. It's a full on sightseeing-get-up-and-do-something-everyday kind of holiday. Our itinerary is pretty jammed packed and everyone has something in particular that they want to do or see. (I have requested shopping and a Magnolia Bakery visit.) We're moving from city to city every few days, too.

It is highly exciting though and I am trying not to let stupid chronic illness rob me of too much of this excitement. However, I am really disappointed that my health hasn't improved because I'm going to have to make many sacrifices to try and manage this trip. A trip like this isn't easy for someone dealing with a mixture of pain, side effects and chronic fatigue, so I'm just going to have to suck it up and use a wheelchair for the bulk of it. I'm going to have to pace myself and be selective about what I chose to do. Particularly at theme parks. I wish I could just go crazy and do every single thing like everyone else but I just can't, I'm just not well enough. I have to be very careful about not over doing it which will suck, especially at Disneyland when roller coasters are calling my name. But I have to minimise the impact of post exertional malaise daily in order for me to get through the three weeks and enjoy it more. I'm also going to have to watch what I eat which will be tricky considering we're eating out most of the time - oh the temptations!

I wish I didn't have to do (and think about) all these things, but I'm determined to have fun and enjoy myself as much as I possibly can despite my crappy symptoms. Thankfully my doctors have agreed to letting me take some Prednisolone (a steroid), which is by far the best decision they have made this year, haha. So hopefully that will be a great help like it has been on holidays in the past. 

I'm going to damn well climb my Mount Everest. Screw you chronic illness, I'm going to California!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Not so merry.

Thank you Grumpy Cat, that's exactly how I feel.
 
It's not unusual for me to feel blue around Christmas and New Year's Eve. This time of year hasn't always been easy nor enjoyable since becoming ill. Chronic pain and fatigue aside, it's the emotional heartache that gets to me the most as Christmas is my "painaversary" (the anniversary of the onset of symptoms or diagnosis).
 
It was on Christmas day in 2006 that the minor symptoms I had experienced throughout that year turned into severe symptoms that hit me hard. All of a sudden I found myself with indescribable muscle pain and fatigue - the worst pain I had ever experienced in my life. I spent that Christmas day in agony getting around the house on a wheelie chair because walking was absurdly painful.
 
The pain and fatigue had me in bed a lot of the time wondering what was happening to my body. And a simple walk to the letter box became extremely difficult with my rapid decline in strength. All I wanted to do was sleep, and while my friends were out celebrating a new year that seemed full to the brim with excitement; looking forward to starting university and embracing thrilling career prospects - I slept through the live midnight fireworks broadcast that I wanted to watch because of bone deep exhaustion. And when the intense throbbing and aching pain woke me up I just couldn't muster the strength to lift my head off the pillow to turn off my tv.
 
I began what was supposed to be the most exciting year of my life hopping from doctor to doctor; fearing a rare cancer diagnosis while fighting to keep my place at university; only to have the persistent and debilitating pain force me to quit and put my dream career on hold.
 
Still to this day the pain and fatigue forces me to put my dream career on hold and it makes me sad. Especially around this time of year. Suddenly all the emotions and everything I felt on that Christmas day and New Year's comes flooding back.
 
And it hurts. It's still raw; the wounds haven't healed yet.
 
So this time of year brings up a lot off stuff for me and I feel like I've been put through the ringer; which means I'm not always feeling very merry. I'm reminded that despite my best efforts to get better, I'm still very unwell. I'm reminded that I've lost over half a decade to these illnesses and that I'm only a few years off losing a decade of my life - the years that are supposed to be the best years of my life. And I am not at peace with that yet. Before I know it I'll be 26, and my life is still at a standstill. This scares me.
 
I absolutely hate struggling from year to year, and here I am again starring down the barrel of another year with chronic pain which only seems to appear more and more incurable. I fight so hard to stay positive about each new year and I try to speak good things into existence, but despite how hard I work on this each year just gets crappier and crappier. I am not happy about this.
 
While friends and family have study and jobs to return to, I am reminded that I still don't have a degree or a job I can work, and it really gets me down. Because I want to work a crappy retail job, earn my own money and learn how to teach kindergarten kids or have a crack at beauty school. I want to so badly, it hurts.
 
I feel like I've got nothing to look forward to in the coming new year, and people keep asking me what I'm going to do next year and I just want to cry. Because apart from spending three weeks overseas, I don't have anything "fancy" to do, and I feel pathetic.
 
This time of year the things that I can't do are rubbed in my face ten fold, and thinking about my future makes me cranky. Particularly this year, because I still have a headache and facial pain.
 
I'm angry at God, I'm angry at doctors and I'm angry that I've had to spend thousands of dollars this year trying to find answers and good pain relief only to end up feeling worse, not better. I'm struggling to accept that I'll have to learn how to live with this horrible headache. I don't want to live with it, and I don't want to believe that there isn't a doctor out there who can help me.
 
I'm especially ticked off with doctors right now because I am convinced that this headache and facial pain is more than a simple case of Fibromyalgia, and no one is listening to me. I know my body better than anyone and yet I just keep getting palmed off with a handful of pills that come with a crap load of side effects, which eventually stop working. I've spent the entire year being treated like a ping pong ball - batted back and forth between doctors and specialists who tell me that there's nothing "wrong" with my jaw or face because my OPG (jaw and mouth x-ray) and sinus CT were clear.
 
Nothing wrong my arse. My jaw feels all wrong. It doesn't feel right and it's incredibly uncomfortable. I can't open my mouth as wide as I used to be able to, it's painful to yawn, sing, and sometimes eat. All my top teeth hurt, and my ears, eyes and nose throb. And I am very frustrated because not everything shows up on an x-ray, yet every single doctor I've seen (I've seen too many) doesn't think that an MRI is necessary because they are happily convinced that it's a Fibromyalgia thing. And this really bugs me because I can't shake this gut feeling that we've missed something, but what's a girl to do when she has so many "experts" who disagree?
 
I'm also upset about my very unsuccessful and ridiculously expensive splint therapy which I started three months ago. All this facial and jaw pain lead me to a specialised dentist who highly recommended wearing a splint at night because they thought all the pain I had was due to me grinding my teeth in my sleep. I struggled to believe that teeth grinding was the only issue causing my pain but went ahead and tried it anyway because, well, I kind of had to in order to get closer to a diagnosis and rule things out. I was told I had to give it a good three months to make a difference before an MRI was to be considered.
 
And here's what I'm really upset about: At my first month review I was told that if the splint was going to work it would have at least started to help a little bit. I saw no change but was told not to give up hope and persist with it for three months. Persist, I did. I had my three month review just a few days before Christmas and surprise, surprise, it has done nothing for my pain and yet I was told I had to continue with it for ANOTHER three months, despite being told that I would definitely see results now.
 
I'm now convinced that this specialised dentist is just in it for the money, and I really believe that they don't give a rat's arse about the pain I'm in. I had to pay them over a hundred dollars just so they could tell me that there is nothing they can do and advise me to just keep going with what I've been doing - popping pills that don't help that much and shoving a piece of plastic in my mouth that's a teeny bit uncomfortable at night. And I got charged for a splint adjustment when they didn't have to do anything because it was all perfectly fine. All they did was play around with my jaw (even though they're already convinced nothing is really wrong); making the pain much worse all just so it looked like they've "done" something so they can ease their conscience about taking my money.
 
And then they told me to have a merry Christmas!
 
I've been so annoyed with doctors telling me to "enjoy" my holiday and have a "Merry Christmas". I know they were just being polite; but I just felt like screaming: "JUST SHUT UP! I have a headache ALL THE TIME - there's nothing merry about it. I'm not enjoying life right now".
 
From my experiences this year I am convinced that the doctors I've seen don't really care and are just in it for the big pay check. This makes my blood boil. And I hate all the doctors I've seen because they don't even want to try to understand how bad this pain is for me. I know hate is a strong word, but this is how I feel. I don't trust doctors anymore, I hate going to appointments and I just feel stuck and so incredibly down about it all.
 
And I'm supposed to be merry, because it's the most wonderful time of the year. To be honest, I hated my Christmas. Not because of the people I spent it with but because I felt so bloomin' fatigued from pain meds.
 
And I hate that I hated Christmas. Because for some people, it was their last, and here I am feeling terribly unhappy. I know that things could be a lot worse, and I know that there is so much to be thankful for, so I beat myself up for feeling down because I should be happy, but I'm just not. And I'm sad that I'm sad because I want to be happy, but right now I just can't be.
 
This time of year my heart just sinks and the Christmas and New Year period becomes something just to survive. I realise just how unhappy I am; how fragile I still am. I realise that I'm still grieving and still healing. I realise that in order to be merry, I have to be sad for awhile.
 
And this gem of a quote that I discovered in my facebook news feed after getting halfway way through this post just affirmed to me that I needed to write this and press publish. Because I'm not the only one who is not feeling so merry.
 
“Stop minimizing and discounting your feelings. You have every right to feel the way you do. Your feelings may not always be logical, but they are always valid. Because if you feel something, then you feel it and it’s real to you. It’s not something you can ignore or wish away. It’s there, gnawing at you, tugging at your core, and in order to find peace, you have to give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel. You have to let go of what you've been told you “should” or “shouldn't” feel. You have to drown out the voices of people who try to shame you into silence. You have to listen to the sound of your own breathing and honor the truth inside you. Because despite what you may believe, you don’t need anyone’s validation or approval to feel what you feel. Your feelings are inherently right and true. They’re important and they matter — you matter — and it is more than okay to feel what you feel. Don’t let anyone, including yourself, convince you otherwise.” - Daniell Koepke
 
Ah, just what I needed to hear.
 
 
 
This Christmas has taught me that sadness (as much as I hate it) is absolutely necessary, because in writing through the hurt I've realised that I am stronger, more courageous and more independent than I have ever been in my life. And that indeed is something to celebrate and work at being merry about.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Candy Cane Chocolate Truffles



I made these cute candy cane truffles to give to relatives as gifts for Christmas last year. I used both plain and white chocolate for variety.

I love giving handmade gifts and I like putting a bit of thought into my gift giving instead of always grabbing a box of chocolates off the supermarket shelf and saying: that'll do. It just makes it more fun and personal, but that's just my opinion.

Don't take offense though, chocolate box gift givers. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with it, I am simply just stating my personal preference. Besides, I'm actually joining you this year. Yep, it's cream filled chocolates from me all-round. Because I can't be bothered I don't have as much energy to invest in Christmas gift giving with my impending overseas holiday and all.

Sometimes a box-of-chocolates-gift-giving has to do, and that's ok.

I must sound extremely contradictory right now so I'm going to shut up. Silliness is sure to ensue after popping pain pills. Oh boy.

Back to the good stuff.

These truffles make for such a great gift giving treat. They are simple and and relatively quick to make, and they are a creative way to use up left over candy canes. They make for a good dessert snack plate on the Christmas table, too.

If you like peppermint flavoured chocolate then you should love these festive truffles, but I must warn you - they are sickly sweet. I found that I could easily stop at just two (and I have the biggest sweet tooth), so these are perfect if you want a sweet treat fix but don't want to over indulge.

If you are after the recipe click here.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

5 Favourite Christmas Crafts

If you have been wondering why I haven't yet posted any Christmas crafts, you needn't wonder any longer. Hurrah!

Christmas this year at Chronically Creative is very low key because there are more important things that require my limited energy right now...like getting on top of Mount Washmore (the giant pile of clothes on my bedroom floor waiting for me to do laundry), finishing organising my craft studio and getting used to a new medication.

But it's not all boring, because I'm also preparing (and saving spoons) for leaving the country next month. Yep. I'm going on my first holiday overseas. But more on that later.

So it won't be as christmassy on the blog this year and there won't be a giveaway. Yeah, I'm pretty sad about that too, but it's ok, I'll make up for it next year and it will be fun. And I'm sure all the awesome holiday photos to come will compensate.

Seeing as I won't be posting much I thought I would share what's been the most popular Christmas crafts on this blog. They are oldies but goodies, and they just so happen to be my favourites too.




These cupcakes are the most popular post with 3,017 views. Because what's better than a chocolate cupcake?
 
 
 


Oh so pretty. I do love my nifty cuttlebug machine.
 
 
 


Christmas nail art is becoming more and more popular every year, and these decals are just so freaking cute!
 
 
 


This baby is my pride and joy. It took a lot of work but it turned out even better than what I had envisioned.
 
 
 


I am so in love with this adorable stamp and I'm looking forward to making more cards with it.
 
 
 



Monday, December 16, 2013

It didn't seem that long ago

My beautiful Nan in her glory days
 
It's hard to believe a whole year has passed since my beautiful Nana went to party with Jesus.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I was a child and sleepovers at her house were just all too exciting.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I sat and admired her perfect cursive handwriting and begged her to teach me how to write like her.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I sat in her back room next to the heater on a cold Saturday afternoon with a plate piled full of her glorious, lovingly prepared homemade food.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when she was asking me if I wanted to pick an ice cream from her freezer.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I was walking down her long driveway; dodging the uneven slabs of concrete and admiring all the beautiful flowers in her garden.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I tried to learn how to knit and whenever I added a few too many stitches or dropped one, I would hand my imperfect masterpiece over to her and she would always be able to fix the mess I had made.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when she was sitting in her chair eating a banana sandwich with a cup of tea beside her, wearing her apron.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I sat at her kitchen table doing homework and rewarded myself afterwards by stuffing my face with a slice of her chocolate cake.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when she gave me a cupcake apron and recipe cards for christmas.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I got my licence and I drove to her house, full of pride, all by myself for the first time.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when she was complimenting me on my pretty top and asking me if it was new and where I had bought it from.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when we were visiting her in hospital shortly before she received her cancer diagnosis, sharing our excitement of another episode of Revenge being on tv that night.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I had a hard time thinking about life without her in it.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I visited her in hospital at the start of her chemo and she sent me home with a packet of biscuits someone had given her. (Oh, typical Nan.)
 
It didn't seem that long ago when she was at home in between chemo treatments and didn't hang the phone up properly. A little worried, I drove to her house to make sure that she was ok and I walked through her back door, relieved to find her sitting happily with worship music blaring.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when she sat next to me at a family dinner and had two helpings of apricot pudding, and I knew I inherited my love of dessert from her.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I sat in her lounge room on a big gorgeous green rug and showed her my new bargain winter clothes, and in amongst the idle chit chat she told me that her hair was starting to fall out.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I took her to an appointment and I was sharing my excitement about the amazing crafts I saw at the Craft & Quilt Fair.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I would call her and say "It's just me, would you like me to come and visit today?"
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I picked her up to take her to a church prayer meeting after she lost her hair from the chemo, and she walked out the door with her fancy wig on, beautiful makeup done, wearing that gorgeous pink cardigan of hers. As I helped her get into my car I thought: Oh how I'm going to miss her cuteness.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I would drive to the cafe just a few blocks up the road from her house and get a lemon slice with a coffee to enjoy while we sat and watched the afternoon cooking shows together.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when I made a batch of marbled chocolate cheesecake brownies and carted them into the oncology ward and we sat in silence and ate them.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when it was awful to watch her struggle to remember how to walk.
 
It didn't seem that long ago when we had our very last conversation about cake.
 
Now I sit here thinking about how blessed I was to have such a fun, sweet, caring, trendy, in tune with the times Nan who made my childhood and high school years so special. I remember the awesome lunches she made us every weekend and how loved she made me feel. And I'm so thankful for what she has given me - a love of baking, a love of cursive handwriting, a love of blessing others, and so much joy.
 
Love and miss you Nan.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Holidaying in The Sunshine State - Day 5



Sitting with Mr Walrus.
We went to Sea World on day 5 of our holiday and I got my obligatory photo with Mr Walrus because it's just the done thing at Sea World. We did the rides in the morning and the animal attractions in the afternoon.

I was pretty buggered by this day so I hired a wheel chair to cruise around in. I look at some of these photos and cringe because I look like I was struggling. I opted not to go on many rides this time to give my aching body a break. I just went on the Jet Rescue once - a speedy little roller coaster that has you boarding your own Jetski and zipping around past rock pools on your mission to save a trapped sea lion in a blowhole cave. Risky business.

Unfortunately I do not have any photos of this ride as I had to leave my camera in a locker all the way back at the front of the park's entrance. You can watch the ride in action though, compliments of Theme Park Review. Even better.
 


I was pretty disappointed that the old Corkscrew roller coaster wasn't operating this time around due to maintenance. Those loops were rad! It has now been revamped and renamed Sea Viper which is way more appropriate I think. You can't have a theme park dedicated to all things sea creatures without a roller coaster called Sea Viper. Glad they changed it. Phew.

Hanging out in the shade waiting for the Jet Stunt Show.
 
At lunch time I sat and watched the Jet Stunt Extreme Show; enjoying the jetski stunt performer's awe-inspiring aerial flips while eating fish and chips. Again, I have no photos of the actual show as I was trying to eat lunch and there was too much fast movement for my camera to capture a decent shot.
 
 
Next we headed to the gorgeous penguin exhibit and the polar bear enclosure while stopping along the way to do some dolphin watching.
 
Dolphin sighting!
Chillin with the penguins (pun intended).

I love the colours of King penguins. They were such fascinating creatures to watch, and they were such show-offs! I could have sat and watched them all day.

This King penguin definitely lives up to its name.
 
And I finally got to see some polar bear feeding action!
 
nom nom nom
Saying hello to all the stare bears down below (pun also intended - I am so awkwardly lame, haha).
 
In between visiting animal attractions I spotted these beautiful sunflowers and thought it a perfect background for a photo. Love!
 
My favourite photo of the day.

And what's a Sea World trip without having a photo taken with glistening lake water in the background?!


Our last main stop for the day was at the Imagine dolphin show. I got front row privileges because I had a wheelchair. I've never gotten to sit front row for this show so I was very excited. That was until all the seagulls started flying around the front for fish. A person sitting near me got pooped on so I spent most of the show trying to shield myself with my hat and bag.

Oh the cuteness!

My mumma and I then spent the little time left before closing waiting for other family members to get their last thrill ride fix. And that was day five.


Catch up:


 

 

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