Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Clubbing in a wheelchair


So on Saturday I attended a friends hen party. This was something I thought I would never be able to do. I decided I would try in some way to attend. After a month of planning, my husband and I had sat down and thought of a plan of how I was going to get to her house, then to town, into clubs and then home again, safely, cheaply and without compromising my health or wellbeing. We decided I would go out in my power chair as this would give me the most mobility and independence whilst out and that i would need a wheelchair taxi.

Next came finding a comfortable and wheelchair friendly outfit, so I had mid waisted trousers on as a skirt or a dress in a wheelchair just doesn't work for me, I had a top that consisted of several layers so I could remove layers as needed to control my temperature, it's cold outside in the UK at the minute and I overheat inside. we decided on a cross over jacket type thing as it crossed over at the waist hiding my stomach and was mildly elasticated at the bottom meaning it stayed in place around my waist instead of riding up my back. I struggle with Raynauds in my hands and feet so keeping my feet warm but stylish was a priority. I settled on my glittery black diamante high tops and thick socks. Basically the outfit below (obviously this is not me) Tops from next and jeans were mid waisted supersoft jeans by F&F at Tescos. They were so comfy even after 7 hours in my chair. My hightops (below) were from matalan.
I struggle with keeping my hands above my head or up for any length of time and with manual dexterity in my hands so i used clip in hair extensions and styled them in my lap to make it easier, then all i had to do was clip them in with a bit of help
The end result before i changed into my outfit.

Once i knew i was going out in my chair and what i was wearing it was settling on a plan and a back up plan to get there and to get into various bars and clubs. I did some research, every time I had to go into town i made a note to look at the entrances of bars and clubs to see if i was able to get in. I pre booked a wheelchair taxi to get from my friends house to town and back again. This was handy as the one that arrived fitted the rest of the girls in so I felt included. Once in town I hit a snag straight away, I was so sure one of the bars didn't have a step I didn't bother to look, turns out it had a step just a bit too high for my chair to climb so that one was out of the question. we went onto a pub and the main entrance wasn't accessible, my friend went in to ask if they had a ramp and it turns out they had an accessible side entrance that wasn't signposted.

After this we found a small bar with cheap drinks, good music and level access through the front, the only snag was that the women's toilets were upstairs. The staff at this tiny club were so accommodating they cleared out the men's, cleaned it and stood obstructing the door so I could use the stall. It wasn't ideal but it worked. After this we went to a larger club. This was a chain of restaurant/bars called revolution, they had level access, disabled toilets and a lift up to the disco hall.

All in all I had a great night and found the bar staff and door staff to be really helpful and accommodating. Ill be honest Ipswich is a medium sized town but I don't think they had seen many disabled women wheelchair dancing so that's a first. The point of all this is if there is something you want to do there may be a way of doing it, it might not be straightforward or easy but it may be possible.

The aftermath
So if any other spoonies are reading this you may have noticed i said 7 hours, yes i was out in my chair for 7 hours! The following day i couldn't sit up without everything spinning, low blood pressure, tachycardia and nausea. I tried to move and quickly realised my whole right side from my waist downwards had seized up, i couldn't bend my leg or move it. Sooooo i spent the whole day lying down with a heated blanket over my right side and salty snacks and fluids to calm the POTS down. I'm expecting the fatigue and right sided stiffness to continue all week but it was worth it.

As always thanks for reading, feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

Laura :)







Sunday, 6 November 2016

Bath bombs and taking a break


I didn't post last week as I had a very tough week both physically and mentally so decided to take a step back, utilise self care and do some craft projects that were just for me. If you want to know more about self care i wrote a whole series that starts here. I apologise for the not very photogenic photos but i'm still not 100%.

While i was having a break I made this beautiful dream catcher just for me:


I'm torn between making more and listing them in the sending spoons store or keeping it as a hobby just for me. What do you think?

To keep myself busy I've been making bath bombs to give as small presents for Christmas. I thought I'd share how to make them and what I learnt from my disastrous first attempt.

The recipe:
1 cup bicarb (baking soda)
1/2 cup citric acid
1/2 cup epsom salts (I use Dr salts eucalyptus muscle therapy salts)
1 tsp water
2 tsp essential oil (I used lavender)
3 tsp oil (I used coconut oil. If solid microwave for 20 seconds first)
Extras like food colouring, shimmer, sugar stars etc

1.Add all the dry ingredients together (add petals too if using) and mix well.
2.Add the liquid ingredients together, including the food colouring and shimmer.
3.Carefully add the liquid to the dry a drop at a time whilst stirring. If you accidentally add a bit too much stir quicker until absorbed.


4.Once all the liquid is absorbed you should have the consistency of wet sand and it should hold its shape when squeezed together.
5.Fill a circular mold a little bit over, (for a mould i'm using a christmas decoration featuring Olaf from frozen, you can buy proper moulds or even cut a tennis ball in half for a mould.

It's important to fill it quite tightly and make sure it's firmly in place.
6.push the two halves together and leave to dry. 
I put mine in the fridge for 4 hours to dry.





Tips:
  • To make different colours in one bath bomb, separate the dry mix into different bowls then add food colouring and mix before piling into layers in the mould.
  • To put something in the centre of the bath bomb make a small hole in both halves and fill with goodies then press together.
  • For petals on the top add petals to mould first then press mixture in.
  • If you make a batch that reacts too quickly or doesn't work it makes a great toilet cleaner!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Managing pain

 
 
Following my last post on Managing Medications I thought I would write about managing chronic pain. I have fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome amongst other things so I'm no stranger to pain!
I tend to use a pain scale to judge how much pain I'm in and then decide on pain relief accordingly. At this point I'd like to mention I'm no doctor. I'm just sharing my experience of managing pain.
The chronic pain scale. Unsure of source
 
Anything between three to five is a good day and normal for me. To be more comfortable day to day I utilise things like epsom salt baths, cannabis oil (you can read my review here), heat packs and I use orthotics on my most troublesome joints such as my wrists, knees and hands.
 
Between 5-7 I use things like hot/cold therapy topical pain relief like muscle rub or ibuprofen/diclofenac gel. Over the counter Medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen (careful not to use two of the same Medications at the same time. E,G. Ibuprofen/diclofenac gel and ibuprofen tablets.)
 
7-9 I use prescribed Medications such as naproxen and tramadol 10+ I have oramorph 14+ is a hospital trip for me.
 
It's worth knowing that if you have exhausted all your pain relief options to no effect and haven't taken paracetamol, if you can, you should. This is because paracetamol works like a stepladder for other Medications enabling them to work better.

A doctor in A&E told me this when I had gallstones, Because of my chronic pain I'm tolerant to most pain killers and they began to run out of options so started me on an IV of paracetamol alongside the morphine and entenox  (gas and air).
 
Coping emotionally with pain is a different matter. It's important to have a good support network and healthy coping methods. I'm lucky to have a good support network both at home and online. I also use journalling to express the anger, frustration and hopelessness that comes with been in pain everyday. I did a post on emotional self care a while ago, you can read that here.
 
Do you have any questions or tips on coping with chronic pain? Feel free to leave a comment below.
As always thanks for reading.
 
Laura :)
 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Managing Medications

Following on from this week's spoonie speak on twitter, I thought I would write about how i manage my medications.



I tend to have medication stashed in a few places so i don't have to move very far to get the medications i need when i'm not feeling well. This is usually things like inhalers and pain relief (also known as PRN medications) that i may need suddenly without much warning. I have some pain relief in a basket next to the sofa, some in a drawer next to my bed and some in my handbag at all times.

I keep the majority of my medications, splints, inhalers and spare pillboxes in a basket. This is so i can find them easily and the basket is easy to carry. It looks quite nice too.

I also have a weekly pill box set that has a separate box for each day divided into four sections, morn, afternoon, evening and night. This allows me to fill these up on a Sunday and then i have that day's pills ready to take with me wherever i go.  These pill boxes were from lidl in the UK but a quick search on something like amazon shows loads of choices. The Anabox ones look quite good but a bit pricey.













When I go out I carry inhalers, mild pain relief such as deep heat and freeze spray, moderate pain relief such as naproxen and emergency severe pain relief like tramadol and morphine. I also carry a mini first aid kit as i'm clumsy and poor Proprioception means i'm always bashing my fingers, hands, toes and feet on things.

Right, memory.....what memory......

I always forget to take my tablets unless reminded, I lose track of how many pills i've got and forget to put repeats prescriptions in. Finally i forget to refill my pillboxes. Thats where my medisafe app comes in. I spoke briefly about this in my last post about helpful apps. Medisafe reminds me when to take my pills, shows me which pills are due and can also keep track of how many pills I have left. You can also set it to remind you to refill your pill boxes on a set day. Plus its Free! Who doesn't like free and useful!?

Most pharmacys in the UK offer a repeat prescription service. This means that they will put your repeat in to your GP surgery monthly and you can then collect your medications from them. If you're housebound some Pharmacies will also deliver. My pharmacy will put my repeat into the GP and then collect the prescriptions, prepare my medications and give me a date to collect them. This makes it easier for me to make sure I have enough medication and means less anxiety about running out.

Do you have any suggestions to manage medications or questions, drop me a comment below.

As always thanks for reading,

Laura :)

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Apps for managing health and wellbeing

As promised in my last post about fatigue with chronic illness I thought I would write about some of the apps I use to manage my health and wellbeing.

All the apps I have are on Google play, they may also be on the apple app store or similar apps may be available for non android phones.

So these are the apps I'm using at the moment:




 The two apps I use the most are Medisafe and S health:
Medisafe
 

S-Health

MediSafe is a pillbox app that reminds me to take my tablets and allows me to log extra, skipped or missed doses. You can also add a list of all your medications so you can add or remove them from your pillbox as you need them. It also has a measurements function:
But for that I prefer to use S-Health.
 
 

S-health uses my phones sensors and interacts with my sleep app to track my sleep, heart rate, Oxygen Sats, steps, water, exercise and weight. It logs it all and you can then compare trends across days, weeks or months.
 
To track my sleep I use android sleep. It tracks your levels of sleep, time slept and amount of noise during sleep. It also records noise during the night so you can listen back and hear yourself talking about the unicorns or pick up any unusual snoring noises like sleep Apnea. Be aware that if you listen to white noise whilst you sleep it will pick this up instead.
 
To manage my M.E/CFS I use this app:
M.E Diary
You track your energy usage and symptoms for a set period of time and it gives you a functional ability percentage to help manage and prevent over exertion. I talk about this and how to use the percentage for pacing in more detail in my previous post.
 
Finally I find it really hard to rest, especially at night. For this I have various sleep noise, hypnotherapy and white noise apps. My favourite is this one:

Relax melodies

I hope there's something here that can help you manage your health and wellbeing.
 
Feel free to leave me Any question or comments below and as always thank for reading, if you like this post or any of my others you can follow me on Bloglovin or social media using the buttons on the right.
 
Thanks,
 
Laura :)
 
 
 
 
 
 


Sunday, 2 October 2016

Fatigue with chronic illness and wristies

 
 
So since joining Conscious Crafties I've met some amazing talented people. I've also started to sell a lot of my Wristies so I thought I'd show you them. These are heat-able wrist warmers with optional scents made with real petals and flowers. I make them out of polar fleece so they are lovely and soft and hold their heat really well. They're great for arthritis, RSI, carpal tunnel, Raynaud's, EDS and fibromyalgia plus the occasional ache and pain. Now I've shown you these i'll tell you what they have to do with fatigue:
 
I'm making some today but fatigue is getting the best of me so all I've managed to do is pin them and make final cuts. Because fatigue will mean this post will take me all day to write I thought id write about fatigue.
 
Someone without chronic illness might think, or say: "what's the big deal? your just tired!" or "get some rest and you'll be fine!" That's the issue. no matter how long we sleep for we never feel refreshed, no matter how hard we rest fatigue will still hit us. After all we still have to eat, breathe, go to the loo, talk and try to have a life. All these things take precious energy when we have none.
 Our bodies are fighting our illness' so we start the day with less energy than a normal person and use more doing everyday tasks.
 
So what does fatigue actually feel like?
It isn't just been tired, it feels like having the flu or the fatigue you might feel after running a marathon. It is a bone aching, hard to move, hard to think, fighting the urge to fall asleep, nauseating battle. Sometimes this battle starts because we've done something like gone to the supermarket or had a day out, sometimes it starts because yesterday you did the laundry. It doesn't always make sense.
 
Todays battle is because I put the clean clothes away in the wardrobe and cooked a meal. That simple. I didn't run a marathon, I haven't got the flu, I didn't do an aerobics class. I put clothes on hangers and made a risotto from frozen ready prepared veg. You see the problem?!
 
How do we cope with Fatigue?
Luckily I can still function with the fatigue I'm experiencing today (otherwise I wouldn't be writing this), but it means that all other plans are off the table. Everything I can do from bed will be done from bed. If I have to move I will be using my chair, you see the side effect of battling fatigue is if you fight too hard you still lose.
 
If I don't take the time to rest today and use as little energy as possible tomorrow will be worse. At my worst with Chronic fatigue / ME I was working and I pushed through the fatigue to turn up at work and try to keep my job. After a while things got so bad I collapsed after trying to get dressed. Just pulling some clothes on was too much. After that point it took me 6 months of careful pacing and sick leave to get to the point where I could do one thing that took a large amount of energy a day, for me that was driving a short distance or going to the local store for some food.
 
I had to learn what used up the most of my energy and limit that. I had to learn to take rest breaks without feeling guilty and lazy. Most of all I had to learn to listen to my body.
 
There's a great app called MECFS diary.
 
I used that to log how much energy I was using. After a week it gives you a functional ability percentage. That percentage shows you what your limits are. I also used this app to see when I should rest. For every 1 hour of high (red) energy activity I scheduled 30 Mins rest.
 
I used AYME's functional ability scale available here (PDF) to work out my limits. I now flit between 60 - 70% instead of stuck at 20%.
 
How can you help someone with chronic fatigue/ME?
 
1. Don't get mad at them if their not able to do something
2. Don't blame them for their fatigue
3. Don't make them do things/ push themselves it wont help
4. Do Give them space to rest and pace themselves
5. Do try to help them by splitting activities into small chunks with time for rest in-between
6. Do support them when their overwhelmed, support is so important
7. Don't assume that if they did something yesterday they can do it again today ( we wish)
8. Do stay friends with them, they don't like having to cancel on you and they need your support
9. Make sure they have food and water within easy reach (we tend to neglect ourselves when fatigue sets in)
10. You've already done it by reading this post. Understanding how we feel helps you to empathise with us.
 
As always thanks for reading, I hope this can help in some way whether you experience chronic fatigue/ME or know someone who does. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.
 
Next weeks post is going to cover the Apps I use to manage my chronic illness' and symptoms, until then have a great week.
 
Laura:)

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Conscious Crafties and the Spoon Theory Lady

So this week I was fortunate enough to be accepted into Conscious Crafties.
 
The Sending spoons store has been set up, there's not much listed at the moment but its growing day by day. You can have a look here:
https://www.consciouscrafties.com/Crafties/sending-spoons/
 
Conscious Crafties Is a lovely, friendly community of spoonies or people who care for a spoonie to sell their crafts. It goes further than an online store. There's a supportive community where crafties can find support, advice and creative genius. It's all the brainchild of karen thomas a lovely lady and a spoonie  herself, here's what she has to say about why she founded Conscious Crafties:
 

How was the idea born?

Karen Thomas, Conscious Crafties Founder
Karen Thomas
Conscious Crafties Founder
Hi there, I'm Karen and after becoming sick in 2011 almost overnight, I found my way to various support networks. I noticed we all shared the same sense of loss, we'd lost friends (because not many stick around when you have to let people down at the last minute), some of us had lost jobs (due to being unreliable) and the biggest thing that hurt deep into my soul was the overwhelming loss of purpose, we all felt useless. I desperately wanted to make that better. So in 2011 the idea was born to create a community for everyone to showcase their talents in one place and give people a way of creating their own businesses. It was also a way for me to feel useful again, by using my skills to help others. Conscious Crafties is about empowering us all to be successful, tell our stories and meet new like minded friends who understand our struggles. I'm also hoping it plays a key part in changing the way Disabled and Sick people are viewed by the world. We can still contribute and are incredibly talented!!

 

Sam De La Querra, Gastroparesis and POTS warrior
My Beautiful Friend Sam
Conscious Crafties has been built in honour of Sam, my beautiful friend I met through sickness and our love of crafts. Her strong fight with Gastroparesis and POTS sadly ended in Oct 14. Heartbroken, I knew then, after years of thinking about it, the idea for us all to sell our crafts and skills within a supportive community needed to be launched, so it could help people NOW and give them hope for the future.
 
 
Karen has been so patient with me and has supported me to open my Conscious Crafties shop. The whole site has tidbits of advice at every stage and well thought out timesaving features all designed to save you some energy. Ive only been set up 3 days and im already making friends.
 
Once you list a product the "techy magic" on the site posts it on social media to get your products seen by a wider audience.
 
I've been amazed at the wide range of skills and talents there are, from artists to wood burners every kind of art and craft is welcomed. You can apply to become a Conscious Craftie here
 
Or buy something from a talented spoonie here.
 
Now the next thing I want to talk about is another important member of the spoonie community, Christine Miserandino. Christine is The lady behind the spoon theory that started the whole spoonie movement, she needs our help.
 
If you haven't heard of the spoon theory or Christine you can read the story here
http://www.butyoudontlooksick.com/articles/written-by-christine/the-spoon-theory/
 
This is why she needs our help
https://www.gofundme.com/TheSpoonLady
 
Wihout her the term spoonie wouldn't exist and we wouldn't have a way to unite our community. She started butyoudontlooksick.com to help others with chronic illness' and has been supporting others with chronic illness' since.
 
If you can't donate pls share her gofundme page so we can spread the word!
 
As usual any questions or comments just let me know below....
 
As always thanks for reading,
 
Laura :)

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