For life's little ups and downs.

A rather quirky, funny and sometimes daunting look in to the life of someone who has a lot of health problems but does their best to keep positive. Punctuated by guinea pigs, anime, superheroes, transforming robots and cross stitching.

I started this blog to tell my story, about who I am and what I do. On top of the health problems and raising awareness for those, I also use my blog as a way to help promote other causes, particularly ones which affect the most vulnerable. I live with a number of different and complex health problems but I refuse to let anything get me down. I know how it feels to be discriminated against or thrown aside. This is me. This is my life. I live it and do what I want with it. Nature sets the limitations. We set the boundaries.

About Me:

A blog about life. I live with Bi-Polar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as Type 1 Brittle Asthma, Various Allergies, Neutropenia, Chronic IBS, Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis, PCOS and Osteoporosis and Heredetary Spastic Paraplegia. I live with these conditions, but I refuse to let them keep me down and out. I still try and make the most of my days despite being so poorly and having to rely on my wheelchair, nebulisers, nearly 50 pills a day and 2l/min of oxygen.

I'll flap my broken wings and erase it all someday... You'll see.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Paying it Forward.

Getting over asthma attacks is one of the most exhaustive processes I know. It is hard work and it leaves you feeling like everything is a million times harder than it ought to be. I spent a lot of the first few days at home sleeping because I just felt so tired but finally calm because I was back home, in my own environment where I belong. The one thing I really didn't realise how much I appreciated until I couldn't get that was the quiet. In hospital unfortunately there are a lot of people who are demanding, especially on medical wards where patients are generally dumped while waiting for care home placements (totally wrong, but when the families don't want to take them home, where else can they go?) because they are too demanding for families, it is awful to watch, even more so when you watch a lady on the ward who as soon as she was told she was able to go, started throwing herself on the floor and refusing food or drink.

I felt for her, she just kept saying that she couldn't go home, not while she could get the care she needed there despite the doctors explaining multiple times that actually being in hospital exposes you to bugs and infections and the home is the safest place. A lot of the time, all they want is someone to sit with them or just treat them like a person. I always try to be kind and polite to people, especially when there's 6 of you and you are in a room together for an undetermined amount of time. Even if it is just by sitting with an old lady in a chair while she babbles unable to fall asleep and holding her hand or striking up a conversation with people, which usually means that most times I leave the place with new friends. I believe that being friendly and kind to others is a valuable thing, even if some people take it for granted. I don't do it for any other reason than I feel its the best way to be. Its like my own way of "paying it forward".

I came across the film "Pay it Forward" a few weeks ago and it struck me as a really interesting film with such a great message, even though the story didn't have a happy ending. It follows the story of a kid called Trevor who upon being set a social studies assignment did something incredible after meeting with a new teacher whose own misfortunes in life helped them relate to each other. Trevor lives with his alcoholic mother who works as a stripper and in a Vegas casino, she wants to make things better for the two of them but really struggles due to her own issues. Basically the assignment was to think of an idea of how to make the world a better place and set it in motion. Whilst riding home, he meets a junkie called Jerry and takes him home for a good meal and a safe place to stay, but instead of asking his new friend to pay him back, he comes up with the idea of "Pay it forward." in which after someone has done something selfless to help you, you go forward and help 3 other people in a similar way. They then go and help another 3 people and it grows in size.

Admittedly it does kind of depend on human conscience and whether people can actually do selfless things (sounds silly but there are a LOT of people out there who call themselves "social justice warriors" and just repost memes on Facebook instead of actually getting up and doing something to change the issues they "care" about) but the idea was something that I really liked.

I may not be able to fix a car or give a homeless guy a meal and safe place to sleep, but I try and offer my friends and neighbours anything they need, whether its a cup of sugar or to borrow my strimmer. I do cross stitch pictures for people and make and send cards because I want to. I want to spread beauty and kindness. I show people who ask me how to cross stitch as I feel that as a therapy it has really brought something calming in to my life, which when things were going wrong, I clung to. I don't have a lot of the material stuff but the one thing I have in spades is kindness and patience towards other people (some less than deserving of course, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and all that) . Some people test that more than others but you get that regardless of where you go and there are always people out there who are only in it for their own reasons, that's OK, because when you find out who those people are, you don't owe them anything.

In fact, in life, you don't owe anyone anything. No one truly owes you anything. The world doesn't expect of you and you shouldn't expect too much of yourself. As long as you are doing something you know isn't harming other people or is making your world a neater place to live in then fine. Personally, I like to spread the word with art and crafts. I feel that it gives a lot of positivity and can make you feel better, maybe not in a way you want but it gives you something to work forward on.

I guess the message I want to take away from all of this is to keep yourselves smiling and if you can help someone else. DO.

Loves
Wendy xx

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Admitted

On Admission, A&E
Pre-Admission 
 So, yeah. Last week this kind of happened. Basically you know the story, feel rough for a couple of days barely able to stay awake and wheezing like there's no tomorrow. Hourly nebs and generally spending most of the time either fast asleep or so out of it that you barely know whether left is right or up is down and you become like a zombie. Except you are still trying your best to keep going and ignore that grizzling pain or the fact that it's taken you 10 minutes to get the breath back to get up off the toilet. Maybe it's because I spend generally most of my time feeling like crap and having trouble with breathing that I almost don't notice the slow decline until it hits me with a bump. I was working so hard to breathe that I was exhausting myself quicker than usual and by the time I did finally call for help, it was very VERY clear that I had been struggling on for a few days more than I probably should. My reasoning was that since I had seen the GP the previous week and they hadn't seemed all that worried, then perhaps this was one of those things. Take the antibiotics and rest and hopefully things get better.

I knew when I called and Di helped me get the crew to the bungalow that I had made the right choice. It was clear that this was a bad one and that this would need to be treated in hospital. I had a lot of worries going in but Di managed to sort those for me, to which I am so grateful to her for. She also managed to contact my mum and let her know as once I was at the hospital, my signal was awful. But that is common for all mobile phones in hospitals. I fell asleep after a while I think and when I woke again they were telling me my mum had called the department and asked what I wanted them to tell her. I said to them to just be honest. She knows what's what, she works in a hospital so has seen it (OK so she isn't clinical staff but she has seen and been in the same room as some pretty scary stuff). I think I then went back to sleep for a little while once the IV magnesium, 2nd lot of hydrocortisone and other meds kicked in. I was so tired that once I was on the ward and had had my night medications, I was fast asleep until around about breakfast time when they were poking me to get some obs. After breakfast I did go back to sleep for a bit and probably spent most of Thursday resting.

Asthma attacks are hard work. They are painful. They are generally awful in many ways and you can't always predict when they happen or what severity they will have. Some people can have a little bit of a wheeze, puff on the inhaler and be fine. Some people have to spend hours with a nebuliser and oxygen just to get to a better position. It isn't a "one size fits all" kind of condition and theres so many variations between the types of asthma, causes and what it does to the people with it. My symptoms usually start and then get worse over time. Before we know where we are with it, I am breathless and wheezing and sometimes we just can't fix that at home, no matter how much we tried. 

Maybe I was just wanting to keep myself going for as long as I could without having to rely on admissions and A&E visits in a time where resources are stretched to the limit. I didn't want to worry people close to me as I know that they have enough going on and don't need a medical emergency out of the blue like that. Whatever my reasoning was at the time, it hardly seems that relevant now. What has happened has happened and to be honest it was kind of unavoidable because no matter what I try and tell myself, I have a condition which has not been managed in a stable way (although the home oxygen was proven that it has clinical need which is what they were contesting originally, even the consultant in charge of the home o2 programme even said that it had more than proved it's clinical need) for some years now and it gets to the point where you almost question everything you do and whether or not it was right. The other nurse who came to see me (the one who said that only nurses understand oxygen.. don't ask...) was treading a dangerous line with recommending removal of my nebs at one stage as (again by the head honchos) it was said that removing them from my life now would be like playing a game of Jenga. You can't hack at something randomly and not expect it to be a problem.

I've been home for a few days now and am gradually readjusting to stuff. OK so I have been asleep a lot over the last few days but again, its my body trying so hard to heal and recover from the worst of it. They say it can take a week to recover from asthma, that's all well and good when you can get rid of the symptoms for more than a little while!

Loves
Wendy xx

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

ARGGGHH!!!!!!!

I've been having a few rough days recently. I won't go in to too much detail as it wouldn't be appropriate and I have always tried to keep my private life as what it ought to be. Private. On another 2 week slog of antibiotics again, well halfway through but not really feeling much better. It's OK these things take a while and it was left for a month to get ingrained and deep set (because getting an appointment for the same month is like getting hen's teeth) and my bloods had indicated that there was active infection but no one took action on it, probably because like all surgeries, my doctors are overworked and under more and more pressure. The result is that sometimes, no matter how hard you try, someone will always slip through the net and unfortunately that has been me. Again. I'm annoyed but to be honest, I expected no less.

It is rather frustrating that this infection has come and gone at a constant for over 2 years and it just seems to get just under the borderlines so that treatment stops but give me a week and its like it all starts again like a vicious circle which adds more and more to the thickening and stiffening of my airways. To be honest, it makes me angry because I really just want to be better. I want to be able to breathe easy or not have to worry about the pain of my back and legs anymore. Unfortunately my health issues are mainly hereditary and that is something I really have to get to grips with as they are a part of my genes. They are a permanent thing now.

I guess it's important to keep on top of them and manage as best we can even in circumstances where it is difficult. I'm not going to lie. I do feel restricted and I do hate that I struggle with things day to day but I try as much as I can. I do try and be independent. I do try and make sure I am looking after myself and the animals as best to my ability, they are the world to me. They are like my family and they make me feel so much better about everything, even on days when I feel like I am on a low ebb. They remind me daily that I am the most important human in the world to them. During one of my more dark moods recently (I won't go in to it fully but I was feeling so down I couldn't even see straight, it happens), it was them squeaking and cuddling up to me that reminded me that I wasn't going to go anywhere. Maybe its because they know when I feel stressed or upset they know that then is the time to make me feel loved and it helps me take a huge step back from the edge, which is something you never realise just how close you are until someone or something pulls you back.

I live with bi-polar disorder, OCD, slight Aspergers as well as borderline personality (schizophrenia) and I don't see those as reasons to be ashamed of myself. Actually, having issues myself has allowed me massive amounts of empathy and I have learned to look at things from as many points of view as possible. Sometimes things can seem better if you take the time to look around. I have had to understand a lot of my thought processes and reassess myself as a person. Things have changed from where they were 6 years ago and while so much has gotten better there is the undeniable fact that there are things that aren't so good. Its not something that is anyone's fault or anything like that, its just as it is.

For now though I am going to continue to keep up the good fight against this infection, do I think I will get very far? Maybe not but at least I am still trying to make the best of it.

Loves
Wendy xx

Monday, 13 June 2016

Why?

Maybe it's because I was brought up around animals and taught to respect every creature from a young age but something recently has really stirred me up. Its made me angry and sad at the same time because I know what a pet should be to a family. Animal cruelty is on the rise in the UK and it makes me question my faith in humanity. From when I found out about Baby the bulldog, I knew I wanted to help spread the word as much as I could, and even if it was only 1 or 2 signatures I managed to inspire, then it was successful. I also openly support Operation Frankish in their endevour to make sure that these people are taken to task about what they did.

Today, I found out about another dog who died due to the cruelty of their owners and the complacent nature of the RSPCA who aren't doing anything to make sure that this person doesn't harm an animal again. Hamish spent his 14 months of life being tortured and abused before succumbing to his his injuries and sadly passing away. I just can't understand it. I really can't. How can people think it right to beat, abuse or torture their pets? When my ex-neighbour poisoned my guinea pig Bumble, we did what we could to make sure that he didn't get away with it (nor the 12 months of hell he put me through as well). The problem is, animal abuse doesn't carry any serious consequences.

If you were to do some of the things that I have heard of and seen done to animals to a child you would have the book thrown at you. Why should that be any different to a dog or a cat, or any animal for that matter. It seems to have gotten worse recently and theres been many stories around about animals that have been brutalised, tortured and even mutilated by sick individuals who only get a slap on the wrist, told they can't have a pet (although 9 times out of 10 they do anyway) and then let on their merry way to go and find another helpless victim. Suspended sentences are a joke.

The Frankish brothers got paltry suspended sentences and when the public spoke up about it THEY were the ones that were given protection! Who protected Baby? Who stood up and said "That's not right." and helped that poor dog? At the time, no one. We seriously need to rethink how we deal with this issue and make sure that there are proper deterrents out there and proper consequences. These people need to be punished and know that what they did was wrong and (if its even possible) rehabilitated in to decent people who won't attack an animal because they saw it as beneath them.

Loves
Wendy xx

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Wheelchair

I read an article recently about how to behave around a wheelchair user and it did get me thinking about what the outdoors experience is like for someone in a wheelchair. Someone like me. I haven't always been in a wheelchair and I get a lot of people saying things like "since when did you need a wheelchair?" or "I didn't know you were that bad..." and sometimes I just feel so angry because it wasn't my choice to end up this way.  I don't feel sorry for myself by any means, but sometimes people can say things that are actually really offensive without realising.

I didn't wake up one morning and think to myself "You know what, I feel like being confined to a wheelchair most of the day and stuck on oxygen."

I didn't want this.

I don't actually enjoy it.

It is just as it is. My wheelchair is my independence. Without it, I am not able to do things and yes that does kind of annoy me because I never used to need one, but it turns out, it was probably already pre-determined somewhere along the lines. I have always had trouble walking and can't run at all, never have been able to due to a mild case of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (or HPS) which I inherited from my father's side of the family (along with my "Squint" (that weird eye thing), stomach problems and a few other things). Basically this means my legs don't work as they should and as a result, my back (not helped by a curve or a serious injury during childhood, the joys of being the younger sister of 2 older brothers who loved wrestling, well we all watched it but they loved to do the moves on me as I was a lot smaller than them and easier to chuck about) I have problems walking, standing or even sitting unsupported. When I have bad days, my legs shake so much that I have to use a grab rail to transfer to the shower. Its not fun and there were frustrating times too. The problem with school is that unless you're sporty, you aren't really respected, so get someone like me in to the mix, it wasn't a whole barrel of laughs.

I remember the teachers telling my mum that I was just trying to get out of PE and running and my mum turning around and saying "No, its not that she doesn't want to. She can't. She never could." My mum stuck up for me a lot because she knew what I was dealing with and she did do her best to make sure that I at least stayed out of a chair in my childhood, even when after my back injury (which happened when I was 10) she was told that we would only know the true after effect of it as I got older and whether my dad's decision to withhold medical help at the time (not to mention moving me, which you NEVER do with someone who has hurt their back, EVER.) would have drastic consequences for me. When my mum told me about how for 6 months she effectively had to watch me learn to "walk" again and how I always limped afterwards, I felt for her because that must have really been hard for her to see and how powerless she was against my dad.

I just accept it because that's what I have to do. If it means that I am able to keep on living for as long as I can then I will carry on doing what I have to. It's not been easy and in some ways it felt like another blow and loss to my independence to have to use a scooter, then a wheelchair but at the same time it reminded me that going out and living and enjoying life didn't need to be painful or exhausting. In some ways its like I have been allowed to live my own life once again and for that I am thankful. Its hard to be stuck indoors with an illness and not be able to get anywhere or do anything. It made me miserable because I felt trapped in a kind of prison, I wanted to do things. But I couldn't. I wanted to be free but I was in a body that was slowly unable to keep up and I think it took me a long time to adapt to things. There are days when I do struggle with the implications of being in a chair, but I have people on my side to offer help, support and love. I think that is how I managed to get through the adjustment of moving from my flat to a bungalow (which turns out was the best thing ever for me).

I had to learn that people are always going to have negative comments towards you. I will never forget the time I got on a bus on my old scooter and this woman shoved past me saying "I'm 84 and I don't need one of those." Or when Becky took on a kid who was gawping at me (much to the support of everyone else in the shop at the time, including said kid's own mother). Or even the hassle it takes for me to even get on a bus if the driver is too lazy to put the ramp down, this happens pretty much every time I try and go out which is partly why I don't go out much. I do try and have a sense of humour about things, even if they bother me. For instance, when I was at an appointment, a small child blurted out "Mummy, whats that on that lady's face?" and I smiled and joked that it stopped my bogeys from falling out. Children aren't intentionally malicious, they just don't always understand.

I always say to people, look at me. Don't judge me for what I can't do but for the person I am.

Loves
Wendy xx

Monday, 30 May 2016

Animals and Love.

Sometimes, no matter how much you want something, if it's just not meant to be, its not meant to be. I'm not talking of a break up or anything like that, more of a pet experiment that didn't go too well. It did however open a floodgate that even now feels as raw as it did 12 years ago. I never realised until recently how much my animals really meant to me, especially when the story of Baby the bulldog broke and I cried tears for such a sad story of a dog who just wanted to be loved and was treated like that and how much that really hit me. I know now how some parents may feel when they see things about children being hurt and how it makes them love and appreciate their own more. OK so its not in as big a way and people will probably deny it, but to me, my guinea pigs and rabbit are my children. They are the world to me and they love me, even when I couldn't love myself.

I have always liked dogs and its always been a bit of a thing for me to own one, particularly a Staffie cross type, like her. No matter how many years pass, I still miss my childhood dog, Judy. Judy was like a permanent constant in my life, a friend and, towards the end, a cuddle companion. My childhood ended the day she was put to sleep and I moved out the day afterwards. I still remember the exact date (July 27, 2004. I moved out on the 28th to live in Redditch). I know its been 12 years, but I still think of her. Heck whenever I do think about her sometimes I either laugh because she was so funny or cry because I miss her. She was there for me though a lot of the bad times and some of the biggest hurts ever. She always encouraged me and let me know that although other kids were a total mystery to me, she loved me anyway.

People say to me that a pet is "only a pet" but I really don't agree. To me, a pet is as much a member of the family as anyone else. I don't see my pets as anything else and I really wouldn't be anywhere without the love of those little animals who live in my bungalow.  Call me a sentimental moron if you want. But I have never ever lived in a home without a pet and I never intend to because to me, home is where the pet is, no matter what the pet is. So call me crazy when I jumped at the chance to take on a lovely 12 year old Staffie cross called Sandy. She is such a lovely dog, and until the asthma attack hit (turns out I have had an allergy to dogs for a good long time, who knew?) I was happy in thinking that I had found myself someone else to love and needed someone who was home 24/7. I think the one thing I can take from this and smile is that for a night, I spent time with a dog again. Its silly really and impractical to give your emotions out to someone you only got one night with but I will always have that at least. That moment where she lay on my lap while watching stuff on the laptop and we fell asleep cuddled up to each other. The moral here though is health first, you can't look after a pet when you can't look after yourself. I guess for me, its a definite answer that I won't be getting a puppy any time soon, but I will stick with what I know I can keep, guinea pigs. I just hope that Sandy gets a good forever home soon and is able to live happily ever after.

Its funny when I was feeling upset earlier, I had both guinea pigs come out and sit on my lap to remind me that although I am not perfect, I am the world to them. It makes me feel more love towards the pets I have and reminds me that although they're only with us for a while, they stay with us in our hearts, or something like that anyway. I still remember everything about every piggie I have had, from Patch and Alphonse to Tiggy, Bumbles and Scruff. I remember the good times. The funny moments and the moments where they reminded me  that it was OK to be a little bit "broken" and they didn't mind that at all. Heck, Patch used to be a comfort to me when I was bad because of how he used to lie with me and nuzzle. Yugi and Kaiba are funny little ones and they definitely reminded me today that I am a piggy-mum and I always will be. OK so it was funny that while cleaning the hutch, Yugi kept running up, nibbling my knuckles and running away cheekily!

I guess that for now, I am just going to be thankful for the wonderful things I do have in my life. I have people who I love and who love me. I have my fur-babies. I have a wonderful new home which I love the chance to take care of it. All around, I think I am blessed with what I have and I think I have enough to be happy.

Loves
Wendy xx

Monday, 23 May 2016

2016 - So far

I love it when good news hits my inbox. It is always a great honour to be named by Healthline as one of their 12 best asthma blogs. This is something I have been honoured with for 4 years running. I am glad that my blog reaches so many people and provides inspiration and empowerment. That is after all the reason I started this blog 6 years ago. I can't believe how much has changed from those humble beginnings back in the YMCA to where I am now. Maybe it is in the growth and change that I have managed to gain a better understanding of life and where we all fit in. Yes there have been a few negative comments but hey, there are always going to be people out there who want to knock you down, but that is their problem. Not mine. Haters are going to hate, so they say. Instead, I am focusing myself with keeping up with my message of positive thinking and trying to keep the glass half full. That is how life should be.

I have had a lot of things to adapt to over the last few years, from being on home oxygen to getting help with carers coming in every day. Getting used to being in a wheelchair has been particularly frustrating because its like you have to learn how to live all over again. Sounds dramatic but I would happily challenge a non-chair user to spend a couple of days in my shoes. I didn't even realise the challenge we have to face with simple things like getting on/off buses, going around the streets (and looking everywhere for the fabled "dropped curbs" or accessible shops) and the general scorn you get from some people. I think the biggest thing is that its human nature to shun what we don't really understand. Not everyone has had to learn about being in a wheelchair or live on what is basically a cocktail of medications. And I know even more who would rather die than be that way. I think in some ways, its a reminder to me that I have been through the rough stuff and I came out the other end a decent human being.

Admittedly I hadn't been as well as I could be over the last week or so. Actually, I have been feeling off since everyone came down with this weird flu bug. Unfortunately flu and asthma are never a good mix and as a result I developed bacterial bronchitis which has been making me feel drained. I have been keeping myself occupied with old cartoons (curled up in bed with Sephy, my favourite plush doll), games and of course my craft work. I think that by keeping myself occupied, it helps me keep my mind off everything. OK so I got a bit addicted to Tropico 5 (building myself a couple of idyllic tropical islands and running them in different ways, actually a really relaxing game, the music just gets me as well and before I know where I am, 2 hours are gone!) and other games. After all, a depressed mind is often bolstered by boredom. This is why keeping up on my blogging, writing, gaming and general arts and crafts has been something of a lifesaver for me. With plenty to keep my mind busy, I have less time to spend thinking about the whole "woe is me...my life is -sooooooo- hard" crap. Because lets face it, people who compete to have the crappiest hand in life are just pathetic and not worth thinking about. Some people who have real problems are actually going to get things changed because you can't stay miserable forever.

I still believe that moving on from my old place was the right thing for me to do. OK so it wasn't exactly easy and there were times when it wasn't fun to organise (particularly when it was a week before Christmas) but it was something that has worked out for the better for me. The bungalow is a lot bigger than the flat and has more open space. There aren't problems with damp or mould nor are there issues with antisocial behaviour, including foul mouthed kids and even more foul "parents". My animals are safer here too as theres no access or way for kids to come in and open cages. Overall, its been such a good thing and I know I keep harping on about it. But I really do feel so much brighter and more positive here. I don't know what the next years are going to hold, but I think we can safely say that we will all find out together!

Loves
Wendy xx

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