Finding hobbies and interests in the midst of illness and incapacitation…

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Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon prompts given.

Today’s prompt reads as follows:

Hobbies…We at WEGO Health love hobbies.  Tell us, what are YOUR hobbies?  Are you a rock collector?  Scrapbooking?  Photography?  Dancer?  Share your talents.  (Pictures encouraged!)

Battling fatigue, dizziness, trembling and weakness in the legs can make it extremely difficult to take part in hobbies.  That it not to say I do not have any hobbies.  One of my loves is reading; ever since I was a child I was a bookworm and loved reading fiction books that will transport me to different places and times.  Or books just to escape from the reality of pain, dizziness and depression.  The love of reading, fortunately has not left me and I am a proud owner of a large number of books.  Those who know me, will already know that my favourite author is Jodi Picoult.  I have at least two shelves in my bedroom dedicated just to her books.  I love her writing style; the fact that each chapter is narrated by a different character enabling the reader to consider both sides of an argument and allowing the reader to determine their own opinions on the subject matter at hand.  Each book is thought-provoking, deep and thoroughly researched.  In my opinion, my love of reading, especially my recent devouring of novels are a result of the weakness and trembling in my legs.  Due to the mobility problems that are a result of these particular symptoms mean that walking can be difficult, sometimes even I am unable to leave my bed because of them, and so it is in these moments that my love of books are a real blessing, as it a hobby that I can take part in bed or wherever I am stuck with my uncooperative legs.

Another hobby of mine is collecting butterflies.  As a lot of my followers and readers of the blog will know that I am a big lover of butterflies.  In my opinion, butterflies are beautiful; the bright and colourful colours of their wings, but also they are a sign of hope.  The hope that something beautiful can come from the end of an old life.  For someone with a chronic illness like myself, it really symbolises hope that despite being diagnosed with a long-term health condition it is not the end and something positive can still be found.  This is beautifully summed up by  the proverb “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly”.  I have a piece of artwork which encompasses this very proverb within the piece.  It’s a lovely piece of artwork and I have near it my bed as a positive reminder that good things will still happen despite having a chronic illness.

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In addition to the piece of artwork, butterflies can be found everywhere in my bedroom!  A butterfly clip on my curtains, a photo frame adorned with them and even on my wallpaper!  I have just recently bought some butterfly LED lights to hang around my headboard.  The lights are pretty and colourful and make a bad day a little better.  As a symbol of hope and change, in my opinion butterflies are a perfect addition to be included in my own personal and private sanctuary.  A sanctuary in which I can recuperate on my bad days, and just get away from everything.  It’s a room which I spend a lot of time, so to make it as lovely and positive as possible is in my opinion very important.

Another hobby of mine, which I have been unable to do for a while because of trembling in my hands is card making.  I love making intricate decopauge cards.  It not only is it fun but doing them takes my mind off my pain and the dizziness that greatly affects my daily life. Again it is something that I have found to do despite my condition and one which I am still able to do even when my legs are too weak that I cannot stand or walk.  I am still able to drag to a table and chair and make cards despite the severe weakness and trembling. I like making them for friends and family for special occasions such as birthdays but I have also been asked to make them for others too.  It is a lovely hobby to create something both beautiful and special.  Here are some examples of the cards that I have made:

NHBPM Day Thirteen: Book Report! Tying it to my life!

Welcome to another post for the ‘National Health Blog Post Month’!!  Today’s prompt asks us to write a book report and then how we can tie the book to our health or our life in general.

For anyone, who knows me, know only too well, I am a complete bookworm!!  I could happily spend hours and hours browsing the shelves of the local library or the book stores.   Books have that magical power to take us to different places, or during different times.  They can teach us about a whole range of topics; or get us discussing thought-provoking topical issues.  One of my favourite authors is Jodi Picoult; the author of around 19 books all of which are thought-provoking dramas examining topical issues, especially those with a moral or ethical dilemma attached to them.  What I love about these books is that they really make you think of not only the issue being examined, but also your own views of the subject, questioning even your own views – sometimes you may finish the book with a total different outlook than when you started!

And one of my favourite books of hers is the one that actually started my love of her writing; which is ‘The Pact’.

‘The Pact’ is a story of love and friendship; and examines whether parents can ever really know their children.  The book centres around the Hartes and Golds; neighbours for over eighteen years; in that time they have shared everything from a weekly get together over a Chinese to practically raising their children together.

After all the years of being the best of friends, then it comes to no surprise that two of their children; Chris and Emily also become great friends; that friendship eventually developing into love.  One night however, both families receive the same terrifying phone call – that both Chris and Emily have been involved in a shooting.  A shooting that claims the life of Emily due to a gunshot wound to the head, and Chris is also rushed to the hospital after a fall off a carousel.  The police find an unspent bullet in the gun that  belonged to Chris’s father – a bullet which Chris claims was intended for himself.  A suicide pact.

However, the police detective that is in charge of the investigation has doubts over the supposed suicide pact – instead believing that Chris murdered Emily after certain secrets cones to light…

And so Chris finds himself charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Emily and a courtroom drama ensues…

At the time I started reading this book, I was going through depression – I had no friends, no real life – if I wasn’t in school then I was stuck in the house with my parents; isolated and lonely, even when surrounded by other people.  Then there was the dizziness; at the time the dizziness began becoming worse; so bad in fact, that I was unable to go out without someone else with me; scared that I will fall. Endless trips to the doctors, and hospital appointments could not determine the cause, and so was again, told that the dizziness was essentially “all in my head.”

As you can imagine, this was not a happy time for me at all, and there were many times that I thought about ending my own life – I felt that everyone hated me, saw me a freak and felt that I was a burden on my parents and family.  This book changed all that however, like Emily Gold, I was an only child, and the reading the effects of her suicide on her parents in the book, made me think about my own parents and the effects that it would have on them if I did take my own life.  Reading about the devastating impact suicide can have on a family; the grief of losing an only child was heart-breaking to read, and made me think twice about doing so, as even if I died, there would be many people left who would have to deal with the consequences.

So, this boom, not only being a truly fantastic read, but it also kind of saved my life….

NHBPM Day Five: Giving Thanks!

Today’s prompt is all about giving thanks for what we are grateful for; or what we are excited about or inspired by.  Thought I would cover all three!!

I am grateful for…

  • Firstly, I would say that I am grateful for the good days that I do have.  The good days seem to be rare these days, but I am grateful for when they do come around.  Having some many bad days, and feeling unwell, fatigued and weak; as if though if everything is an effort; so when good days present themselves, boy are you grateful!!  Having a little more energy to do chores, legs being stronger, and not as dizzy is a real blessing; and means that I can accomplish more and manage to have a little bit of fun!!
  • My new wheelchair: I am giving thanks to this new mobility aid, as it will enable me to be able to get out of the house a lot more, and more importantly it will enable me to stay out for longer.  Before I acquired the wheelchair, I was only able to go out for short periods of time due to the severe weakness in my legs, and especially as they give way if I am on my feet for very long.  Therefore, much of my time was spent in the house, much of the time alone.  Now I have the wheelchair however, I can go out for full day trips taking in shopping, or local tourist attractions.  Looking forward to it!
  • My family and my dog!: They have to be the biggest thing that I am grateful for – whenever I am unwell or feeling down, they are always there to pick me up and comfort me.  If I need something or need to go somewhere then they my parents will pick what I need up when they are out, or take me to appointments or wherever I need or want to go. They are all simply the best!

I am inspired by:

  • Other bloggers: I love to read other bloggers and health activists blogs.  Every one that I read are truly inspiring and shows a lot of strength and courage to spread awareness of their particular condition, as well as talking and discussing the painful or unpleasant symptoms that each of us face.  It would be so easy to just simply hide away and curl up in the duvet when chronically sick, but all health bloggers and health activists want to make people more aware and to understand their particular health condition (or the condition their loved one is faced with) and to provide support to those who are also living with the same condition – truly an altruistic act!
  • Reading – I absolutely adore reading – especially as my mobility problems have become worse and cannot move around as easily, so is truly blissful to be able to snuggle up with a great book.  Love those books that are able to transform you to different worlds, or experience other cultures – sometimes it’s as if you are taking a holiday without leaving your home!
  • Nature: I love how beautiful nature can be – the bright bold colours of flowers such as sunflowers or peony daisies, the different patterns and colours on butterflies.  Research has also found that flowers can actually reduce depression! Now if that isn’t a great reason to buy some flowers for a sick friend, I don’t know what is!

I am excited by:

  • I absolutely adore the writer Jodi Picoult and actually own every one of her 19 books, so one thing that I am definitely excited about is the release of her latest novel, usually released in March or April every year.  I always pre-order the latest release, and look forward for when the book gets delivered to me so I can start to devour it!
  • I get excited sitting down and relaxing in front of my favourite television programmes – it feels like an event, and particularly love the American TV dramas such as CSI, Grey’s Anatomy and Bones.
  • Volunteering – I enjoy and get excited by going down to volunteer at a local mental health resource centre every week, and feels really worthwhile giving a few hours of my time to help others

A few of my favourite things!…

What are the 3 things that you are thankful for, or inspired by or those things that get you excited?

HAWMC Day 19: 5 Dinner Guests

Hello Everyone, a brand new day has arrived and is now time for the next post in the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge.  And the prompt given for today is as follows:

5 Dinner Guests…Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?

So, this challenge is quite tough, as there are many people, living and deceased, who would be fascinating people to invite for a dinner part.  After some thought, I have  decided that I would invite the following people for my ultimate fantasy dinner party:

Image: http://llmcalling.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/dinner-party-for-peace.html

1 and 2. Marissa and Theresa: whom I have met through a support group for people living with dizziness.  I would love to invite all my friends who I have made from various groups and communities I have met during my journey of living with chronic illness.  However, as I only have 5 places I have chosen Theresa and Marissa as I feel these two amazing women have my biggest supporters, picking me up during the bad times, even contacting me via Skype when I have been feeling very down…

3. Jodi Picoult: I have chosen Jodi Picoult as I am a massive fan of her works, and believe she is a fantastic author, owning all of her 19 published books.  As a writer myself, I truly admire her writing style and the extensive research she undertakes for the subject matter which she is writing about.  Not only are her books absorbing, but also raises questions various ethical and moral dilemmas, making you ask question your own beliefs.  If you have not read any of her books, I would highly recommend reading them…

4. Adele: I have chosen Adele, as I believe she has an amazing talent, and often find myself listening to the lyrics of her songs, finding words and phrases that I can relate to.  Recently, watched a concert that was recorded when she performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London.  Not only did she sound amazing, but was also incredibly funny and down-to-earth.  I am sure she would have many interesting anecdotes to share, as well as the opportunity for high-quality entertainment during the evening….

5. Michael J. Fox: I am not a huge fan of Michael J. Fox but truly believe he is an inspiration to many, especially those suffering from chronic and life-long conditions.  It is inspiring the way he battles Parkinson Disease with grace and dignity, raising the profile and awareness of the condition and help a great many people also battling the degenerative neurological disorder. I recently discovered a quote that he wrote, which said “I can get scared, get frustrated, but I never get depressed…because there’s joy in my life”.  I believe there are a great many lessons that could be learnt from a man like him, as well as being able to gain insights on how to cope when facing a life-long neurological condition…

So, there are my 5 dinner guests.  Who would be your top 5 dinner guests?  Share yours below, or post the link to your blog so I can read them.