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 Type 1 Brittle Asthma, Bi-Polar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as well as Various Allergies, Neutropenia, Crohns Disease (my IBS was rediagnosed as Crohns), Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis, PCOS and Osteoporosis and Heredetary Spastic Paraplegia. I have recently also been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea (which makes me stop breathing in my sleep) 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 and CPAP.

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

Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Eve...

2011 is finally coming to a close. And I am frankly glad of that. Although it has been a year of personal growth and rediscovering talents that had long since been forgotten or thrown to the corner by constant belittling or bullying, not to mention the kind of lacking inspiration that only life at the Redditch YMCA can leave you with (seriously that place is such a drain on you physically and emotionally, no wonder the people who live there all seem to have given up, you can't sleep, breathe or do anything comfortably and then there is a TOTAL lack of privacy, never again... seriously) and meeting some incredible new people along the way. But honestly this year hasn't been a good one for anyone has it?

This is meerly a quickie to wish everyone a happy new year for 2012 and the hope that your celebrations are enjoyable and you all stay safe, healthy and happy for the years to come. I leave you now with my latest piece of wall art, a painting of Sai that I did yesterday on my bedroom wall. It took a few hours but it was nice to sit and paint an anime guy on the wall, lazing above the radiator. I am hoping that this is going to be the first of many new things appearing around Casa-de-Wendy over the next few months! Watch this space!

Loves
Wendy xx

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

New Look

My Journey... has had a new banner and a clean up. Worry not though, it will still have the same ramblings about life, the universe and everything that is Wendy. This is my way of casting off the old style and old attitudes and getting ready to re-embrace life as a whole new me.

Loves

Wendy xx

New Year, New Wendy...

After some wonderful Christmas celebrations with some wonderful friends, even if another infection seems intent on making me it's bitch but that's another story, I am now getting ready for New Year. Looking back this last year hasn't been one of the best what with the issues with a certain ex and the worst broken limb I've managed in a long time, but c'est la vie. We all have to experience some unpleasantness in order to appreciate and enjoy the light that shines in.

My light has come in the form of my friends. I really couldn't ask for better friends and I am so grateful to them in every way. Nathaniel and Josh have been brilliant support and they're always around for those moments when I can use a laugh or just some one to play with. Natty and I spent nearly an entire night playing on Naruto Broken Bond or watching anime together. Along with Josh and Penny, my Birthday was one surrounded by light and laughter. I also made a wonderful new friend through the internet.

I only joined Twitter for something to do and some kind of company during a relationship that was seriously bombing. I ended up jumping in to the wonderful world of Role Play. What I love about Role Play is the fact that I can assume a character, mine is my beloved game's character Sephiroth. Sephiroth has a lot of enjoyable adventures with his friends and on those days when I haven't been well, it provides a well needed escape and feel better. It also introducing me to Becky. Becky is like my own younger sister and I look forward to spending the New Year making Sharingan Cupcakes and watching DVDs. Doing generally fun and girly things.

Although it does have to be said that last New Years was fun as well, playing FF13 and talking all night before spending New Years Day helping a friend move house. Little did we know then that so much was going to change. I experienced 4 very personal losses and as a result must have cried enough for several rivers. The saddest losses were those of Alphonse and Hope. Both times I fought to save them. I really did. My only regret with Alphonse was that I wasn't with him at the very end, but I understand that it would have only caused more upset for all involved. I can take comfort that his final moments were comfortable and he passed in to the next world with no pain.

Over the next year, I am aiming to carry on the wonderful work that has got me back to where I was before the disastrous relationship. I am nearly there and have recently discovered that I am now back to the size I was beforehand. I'm finishing getting my finances back in order and by the end of the year, my FF7 half sleeve will finally be completed as well as a fair few other pieces. And after a gap year with Becky where we should be traveling and experience so many new things, taking more photos than ever and enjoying things that I have always wanted to do. Then by the summer Becky will move in here and by the next year both of us are going to college (I'll finally be re-sitting my HND and not having ANYONE or ANYTHING to take it away from me), life is going to be brilliant from now on.

Loves
Wendy xx

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

I won't be on much over the next few days, BUT that doesn't mean to say that you are forgotten. I just wanted to take the chance now and wish EVERYONE a Merry Christmas 2011 and a Happy and Prosperous 2012. This year has been a heck of a Rollercoaster ride for me and I am so thankful to my wonderful friends and family for getting me through it the way they have. Seriously, you guys are awesome.

I wish you all peace, and good will and the hope that you will all have a good time and I will blog more over the next year. I am spending New Years this year with someone who makes me very happy and her gift to me was the reawakening of Hope in my life. Becky really is the little sister I always thought I should have had. She is bright, energetic and she really helps me to remember to live each moment and that is so important.

I also look up to the skies in sadness. Keeping Lynnette and her husband in my thoughts this time of year after having lost their beautiful shining star earlier this year. It was a tragic end to such a brave fight and the spirit of Rachy will always live on in all the hearts of everyone who was lucky enough to have known her. She taught all of us to live our lives and enjoy ourselves even if we have limitations at this is a lesson I really take to heart. She inspired so many people to sign up to donate their organs as well so that others can live on and carry on her amazing legacy. I also think of Victoria Tremlett who recently received her gift of life this year and is doing so well. I hope that this continues, I really do.

So this is my last thought before Christmas Day and I thought that I would share another of my drawings that I did to mark the Occasion.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Good Times...

This last week with my lovely Becky-chan has been absolutely amazing. We've had so much fun and I think it is what I need sometimes is just someone to hang around with, and have a laugh. She really is as mad as I am and I enjoy it when we just sit around talking or drawing together (Becky is a very talented young artist if you would like to see her work then please click HERE) or even playing on games and laughing at each other's progress. She thought it was funny when I got angry with the Pain Vs Tsunade fight on UNS2.

I also have taken to dancing at random, for some odd reason the "Caramelldansen" meme has been rattling around this place as well as me actually dancing along to it. Either the antidepressants are working a little too well and I am loopy or I am just in such a better mood these days. I would like to think its the latter and the removal of complications and people who were draining me in life is finally starting to show and I am just so much happier and I am more available to seize the day and get up and just swing my hips around or make myself every bit the rather happy and content person that I am.

I like to enjoy myself and this includes drawing for hours. I love it. I love to draw and paint or draw something and then scan it in to the computer before using the digital studio to manipulate it and make it almost perfect for what I want. Doing so has allowed me to turn sketch works in to some really fantastic drawings and pictures that are popular and are getting something of an online following. I am proud to be part of an artistic community and when it comes up on my screen that someone has added something I made to their favourites, then that is when I smile and know that something I drew because I liked it has raised a smile or plucked at the heartstrings of another person.

I have been decorating the flat more and adding more personal touches such as posters and other things that make the place my own. My favourite one so far is on  my living room door, saying "Keep Out, Gamer at work. Killing Enemies, Beating Bosses, Stealing Cars, Explicit Language, Blowing Stuff Up... Leave food and drink at door, then go away", I thought this REALLY summed me up to a tee. If the day passes and I haven't played on one of my consoles, usually this means there is something seriously wrong. A favourite right now is of course the Naruto game series and I will review my latest ones soon on my other blog, but right now I am having too much fun to do any serious work. Other than a Christmas piece that I am currently working on, but now that has been sketched and shaded, I can take a break and work on the rest of it later. For now, me and the piggles are having some special time together.

Loves
Wendy xx

Monday, 19 December 2011

Artwork Showcase - Special

Taking a break from the norm, I thought I would showcase some of my better work this year. I have always loved drawing and have always had a specific skill towards it. So I thought it would be nice to show off the things this year has led me to create.

This is a personal favourite of mine actually. Of all my Naruto themed work, I liked this piece called "About a Girl". It is a picture of Itachi Uchiha and his older cousin who he was close to, talking about a girl that Itachi likes but is unsure on how to approach her. His cousin Shisui is laughing as he tells personal accounts of how he seems to remain popular with the girls.

This piece has a lovely, casual feel to it and the expressions of the two figures are almost perfect, the way Itachi looks so unsure of himself as he fidgets. The shading work on this took me a while to get the hang of and get the right feel. Layering textures such as hair and clothing are quite difficult when done with a pencil and paper. This took quite a few attempts to get right and I sat doing it for a good 2 days. I was actually really happy with the outcome.

The next piece is one I actually started last year, around August I think it was, but had to go on hold because I had been made so angry that the infamous hand breaking incident happened. I actually started this piece as two separate drawings of Sephiroth and Kuja. I cheated a bit here because I used my scanner and put both images in to my computer and juxtaposed them together to make the final composition. I did one version but it wasn't until recently that I managed to refine it and get those colours just right so that they lifted off the page.

I added some small textural effects as well to the final image, sadly these didn't show up as well on the scans but things like the piping on Kuja's jacket and his buckles and the beads and belts on Sephiroth were actually finished in metallic ink to give them a more special feel.

I think this picture must have been put through the process about 6 times until I was satisfied, but that is the mark of an artist, one who will strive for perfect work, even if they're at it for days.

My final piece I wanted to showcase here was a drawing of Sai, again from Naruto. Sai is an interesting character who uses a scroll, inks and his chakra to create an army of beasts. Whereas Sai himself is pale and awkward, never quite saying the right thing at the right time. Along with the Uchiha characters, Sai is definitely one who sticks out and makes me smile.

This piece went through the process so many times I actually lost count and ended up with so many proofs littering my bedroom I had to sift through them, realizing that each one was uniquely it's own piece of art in itself.

Sai is also one of my more popular pieces on Deviant Art, a website dedicated to artists and the work they produce. I only share my link with selected people, but you know what, as it's Christmas, I really don't mind sharing. My Deviantart

Hope you have enjoyed this.

Loves
Wendy xx

Shining Bright....

This is a year of personal growth and it has gone so well, I've learned so much about myself and it's allowed me to grow strong and regain my own independence and self worth. I am better than I gave myself credit for. More ambitious, and more full of that spark and energy that endeared me to so many people in the first place. To lose that fire was horrible and its never something I want to lose again. I'm full of life and living up to the max, as best I can in my circumstances.

My carer helps me so much and she understands the level of clean thats needed to keep myself at least healthy. My health is fragile and that is the unfortunate reality. There is a reason why I get DLA and I have a carer helping me, and now I have to take care of myself and my own needs. To keep myself that person that I love. I have discovered a liking to having a nice hot bath, a mug of hot chocolate or tea and powering down with a game on my PSP while lying in bed, before I become so relaxed that my eyes close and I become embroiled in my dreams.

I wake up in my own time and I love it when I go in to my living room and see my 4 guinea pigs all happy and ready for a fuss and some love. Gaara is settling on his own finally and isn't screeching so much whenever I get off the sofa. It's a learning curve for him as well as one for me.

2012 is going to hold travel and Anime Conventions. Getting away for a few days (of course with someone to feed my pets for me) and seeing the country and meeting the friends I have met over the last year and of course making more friends wherever I go. Its a big thing for me to go and have some fun and meet new people. I love that feeling when you meet someone new and they're interesting, and have their own accent. My ultimate dream is to go to Japan and maybe get some work experience in teaching English. So I am hoping to go back to college to learn a new language.

I feel born again. Admittedly I still have that day when I feel so ill and can't do a lot, and the people who help me recover are so incredible. They support me. They make sure that I keep my spirits up and they help me make wise choices with fiances and other things. I really feel like I'm getting back on track, I know I may never be as well as I was back then, but you know what, having the strength to do what I want to do even with a chronic sickness is what makes me special.

Loves
Wendy xx

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Can/Can't...

There is a huge difference between these words, more than merely one letter. One will set you free while the other will keep you trapped forever. People often focus on "Can't" and forget that it is just pessimistic to sit there and fixate ourselves on the negative perceptions. I will freely admit that there have been times where I have been so beaten down that I forgot about things I could do rather than the things that sadly are beyond my ability now. But when did anything ever stop me from getting to where I want and being that person who is happy and in slightly better health.

Yes, I do live with a disability. Yes there are days when I really want to do things but am not well enough and going out and about can drain me and leave me feeling flat and tired. That's OK. It's all a part of what my condition means, but that doesn't mean I don't try. I take the time to do positive things and surround myself with people who, like me, want to just spread some kindness and charity to those less fortunate. I'm the kind of woman who will hand feed a sick guinea pig and work tirelessly so that he recovered.

Poor Patch had been feeling a bit under the weather these last few weeks. He was skinny (despite me giving him more food), withdrawn and just generally sickly looking. The poor little mite though, he still managed to walk up to me, chattering and giving me that grinny pig expression that he has always only reserved for me. Since I spent time feeding him by hand, plenty of love and affection, and 2 new cagemates and now he is 100% better and has managed to put on 300g of what he needed to put on. He doesn't look so ruffled and poorly groomed either. It does fill me with pride and happiness that even when I don't feel very well at all myself, I could still and happily nurse and nurture an animal who has nurtured and cared for me as much as he has over the year with his unconditional love.

I could have written a bitchy, retaliatory blog to a certain person who has started to do just that for no reason at all, but I am so much better than that and I can at least take the moral high ground. Something this particular individual seems to have given up on. But hey-ho that bullshit doesn't matter to me at all and eventually they will realize that NO ONE CARES. And me, well I am going to carry on making the most of my life, the gifts that I have (my art, music and my sewing) and continue to show my friends and family the compassion they so dearly deserve.

Tomorrow, my Becky-chan is coming up to see me (OMG I GOT IT RIGHT!!) for a few days and we can have a couple of days doing girly things, having a giggle with pizza, ice cream and a raid in to my massive DVD collection. I love my DVD collection, its got every film that I love in there, and some anime that really have inspired me artistically. I'm growing as an artist and as a writer. I write a bit for my ADIM project every day as well as my Naruto fictions and my other projects. In the new year I hope to get a place on a piercing course and learn to do something I have always wanted to. Now I can afford it thanks to DLA I decided that the time has come to stop putting my own dreams on hold.

Whenever Becky comes over, my house is filled with laughter, happiness and that feeling of being somebodies big sister and it is fantastic. I belong here.

Loves
Wendy xx

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Only Human...

I know I may never be what one would call Perfect. I know this and you know something I am GLAD of it. Perfect is... Well perfect is frankly what one would call conformity and normality. None of these are things I can well be accused of. I am me. I am strong. But I am compassionate. I can be cold, but at the same time warm and nurturing. I am proud of who I am and indeed the things I have endured. I don't sling mud nor do I stoop to the level of a sympathy seeker nor someone who frankly needs to grow up a bit and stop clinging to the past or indeed their fantasies of what they THINK they are or what they think they have done.

I am better than that.

I am better than people like that.

I have had so much to endure and yet who is the one who came out on top? I have managed to salvage my life and pick myself back up again. I sleep better knowing that everything is great here. I am finally ready for my dreams to come true and I will do whatever it takes to make that a reality. Even if it does mean that I have to sever some ties with people who have hurt me in the past. The ties of hatred and pain only lead to one place and licking your wounds constantly doesn't allow them to heal. I made that mistake and it lead to my near suicide and I had to pick myself up and start again.

I realised a lot of this last night when one of my closest and strictest confidants came round and he sat. We gamed. We talked. We laughed and we chewed over a lot of what happened over the last 2 years or so. He then commented about something that has become a popular subject. My weight. I have resorted to my sparse eating habits again and was nearly again on the tracks to become 7 stone again. For a woman of my height, this is particularly harmful. My lowest acceptable weight is 8 and a half stones. But again that lethargic and apathetic attitude came in and I refused to eat properly again and again. Soup seems to be a staple in my diet at the moment, but that's alright as it is full of healthy stuff really.

Loves
Wendy xx

Friday, 16 December 2011

Independance and Confidence...

Over the last few weeks there has been so much improvement in me, heck I'd say that since May, I have slowly dragged myself (with help from some very special people) up from this miserable, reclusive and lonely person who was living between mental breakdowns and severe asthma attacks to what I am now. I am me. I am beautiful because I am myself and I make my own choices and do my own thing.

My confidence has been soaring lately as I think about what I can do, rather than what I can't. It really is a better way of thinking and as a result you do walk taller and have more of a genuine smile on your face. I have joined an online community to show off my work and skills. I've been uploading many of my fantastic drawings and really began noticing that this is really a skill that I can be proud of. I see my art as a therapy. I draw and paint on my walls as an expression of raw emotion and a display of my humanity. To display my work is to show the world that behind the illness and between the bad days, there is something pure, beautiful and vibrant there. There is hope. Even when it seems empty and like there really isn't much point anymore.

A friend taught me that before she passed away this year. Rachy's legacy will live on and continue to inspire people to sign up to the donor list, but she also inspired us to live our lives and do everything we want to do so as to have no regrets. She did so much despite being gravely ill and she never let anything get to her. She is a real heroine in my eyes and I am proud to have known and talked to her.

This spurt of confidence has come after a rough few years and a few years where I was broken down multiple times and rebuilt in to something I never wanted to be, by someone who was convinced that HE was the victim. I see that things will never change and I refuse to be a part of that anymore. I will never forgive that person, nor will I ever EVER want anything to do with them, as far as I am concerned, they are merely shadows of a past that I am learning from and have moved on. And they should stop picking at the carcass and do the same, lest that person ends up like his father, embittered, fat and lazy, blaming everyone else for their transgressions because it was easier than admitting to the truth.

My confidence has grown and I have as well, I am older and wiser. I am not afraid of leaving my house or constantly asking for anyone else's permission to do whatever I would like. No. I do what I want, WHEN I want and HOW I want. With help from Tom and Penny, I have managed to sort out my personal finances, all bills go out on time now and everything gets paid when it needs to be. I no longer sell things to make ends meet anymore and myself and my pets live comfortably in our home. The peace and harmony means that everything is calmer and arguments are never part of the soundtrack here. Instead that is replaced by laughter and mirth. Joy and a feel of warmth that you only get in good company.

I was saddened in October when my X Box decided to RROD on me. But I did kind of expect it after all it was old and the drawer wouldn't open anymore if there was nothing in there. The good part of that though was it gave me an incentive to upgrade my X Box and my TV to something a bit more modern and a LOT more me. I had wanted a HDTV for a long time but it had been all but a faint dream until my DLA was started and I began making improvements to my home. My new TV is decidedly smaller than the old one, but the picture quality at 1080p is frankly drool worthy! You notice little bits of mise-en-scene in games which you probably wouldn't have seen in Standard Def.

My new X Box is one of the new, slim ones. With a much larger HDD (the old one was a present for a friend) and the coolest gadget I've seen in a while, Kinect, I think I got the best upgrade possible and for the best value, as it was a package especially for Christmas with Kinect Adventures and Kung Fu Panda 2, 3 months free LIVE gold and a few other odds and sods make it all the more enjoyable.

My sofa has also been replaced. Before I had this cream coloured Sofabed thing that I got for free, it was only supposed to be a short term thing and I managed to upgrade to a stylish silver and black futon, perfect for the cold evenings in where theres really nothing more enjoyable than grabbing a plushie or 2, a blanket and snuggling down with some anime or a game!!

My next step is to get a better carpet for the lounge and maybe re-do the bedroom flooring, but that can wait until next spring when its warmer outside, but I will be replacing the living room blind and putting a blind up in the kitchen so that nosey neighbors and other people walking past can't start peering in at me!!

Loves
Wendy xx

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Let It All Out....

We don't have to always act so brave.

I am so guilty of putting on a facade that I am well and not suffering so when I do finally allow myself to be vulnerable, I start to realise a few things. Most important, the wonderful friends who have helped me through so much over the last few years. The friends who are just like real blood relatives, in particular, Becky and Josh. Becky and I have such a special bond and we both totally get where the other is coming from which is refreshing at times, considering she needs someone to listen and understand and me, I sometimes just need to talk.

No matter how bleak it can seem, I am always so happy to take my laptop up and see whose emailed me or the shining red box that says that someone has seen my new pictures or read my latest ramblings. My blog has allowed me to open up and thats meant a lot. Yes it is weird that one who cannot admit her innermost feelings can write lengthy and interesting blogs about just that. Innermost feelings and emotions.

Recently I have been drawing and painting to show how I feel. Certain themes seem to come to mind and I sketch seductive male forms and young male ninja. People who know what it's like to have to pretend that everythings fine or that they only have one objective, their mission. I empathise with those characters sometimes and weirdly I understand the burden of pretending not to feel so that people don't see the weaknesses within.

Loves
Wendy xx

Sunday, 11 December 2011

No More Grudges...

A lot has happened lately and its really helped me get some perspective on things. It really is something that I have needed and I turned my attention to my recent behaviors towards people in general. Wallowing in the past has really brought me nowhere and it just drove people away. Right now, I just want peace, quiet and that life away from arguments and distemper. And I miss the cherished pets that died this year, but they would want their mom to be happy and not driven by revenge.

So my next year is going to be spent in improvement and not repeating mistakes of the past.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Back To The Norm...

I know I have been a bit sloppy over the last 6 weeks only posting a few blogs here and there. It has been hard to type with just the one hand and the other encased in a purple cast. I chose purple purely as it is my colour. I wear purple and black a lot and they suit me. I think, haha.

So whats new? Well not much really, pursuing a more solitary life in terms of my relationships. This is suiting me as much as there are days when I feel shitty because there is no one at home, but my gorgeous animals keep me going. And of course my Becky-Chan!! I love that girl so much, shes my adopted little sister and shes absolutely hillarious! We spent about 2 hours the other day playing Kinect Me. A game where you scan yourself in and play with your avatar and they copy your movements, its silly but in a good way.

I've been really taken with my art and computer games. Completing both of my Naruto games over the last few weeks and now striving to complete the massive amount of side missions and silly things like "Lovelorn Villagers" which I found extremely funny. As well as overcharging chakra and making Naruto fart rather loudly which provided me with hours of laughs. I am a bit of a kid at heart and that is OK. I'm embracing that part of me now that does find things funny and does just enjoy being a young person. I guess for now that's best I can make of everything that happened recently. I think if I was to break down and start moping around then that would undo all the positive work I've done over the last few months and would be an insult to myself and everyone who has supported me over the last few weeks.

Its true what they say about friends, they really are worth their weight in gold and more. My friends have been such a pillar of support and I thank each one.

Loves
Wendy xx

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Inactivity...

The last few days for me have been spent in quiet contemplation. In that cathartic process of drawing, bringing characters to life for some odd kind of company. I admit freely the solitude is a bit damning and there are times that not having anything to come home to apart from my drawings and my guinea pigs does affect me in a profound way and I have taken to sitting around in the bedroom with some music, a can of Relentless and a stack of intricate and very well drawn work to shade, colour, scan, print, repeat...

When I do decide enough is enough and its time to sleep, I will admit there are times I become lost in these dreams of going on dates with characters like Sephiroth, Itachi Uchiha, and respectively 23-24 year old versions of Sasuke Uchiha and Shikamaru Nara (I think the Shikamaru one was my favourite one of the adult versions!). But they always end up with me when I get home talking to Sephiroth, one of the few constants in my life really, and discussing my next steps with him. I think he plays the rational part of my mind and will give frank and honest advice. "Don't keep it all in", "TALK TO THE PEOPLE" and "come on, get out of this rut now, it's obvious even YOU are bored with it."

So just lately I've been doing just that. I've been going out. Heck I even ask my carers in the morning to help me with personal grooming, dressing and generally making me look as nice as I know I can. A dab of concealer has really worked wonders for my self confidence!

Loves
Wendy xx

Sunday, 13 November 2011

My Drawing Technique...

Over the years, one thing I have always enjoyed is putting pencil to paper and drawing cartoon characters. More recently it's a love of drawing manga and anime characters. It's been a rewarding way of spending time and relaxing, but it has allowed me the chance to develop and hone my own style and way of doing things. People often ask me how I do my drawings, so I thought it would be interesting to draw and show my techniques and tools of the trade.

OK... What I use:

1. Daler Rowney Layout Paper (In various sizes)
I like this to draw my initial drawings where I draw the outlines and some of the early shading, its smoother than normal paper.

2. Crayola coloured Pencils.
The smoothest colour laydown ever, theres just none better.

3. HP scanner/printer
I've had it for 3 or 4 years and it was the best £30 I ever spent.

4. My laptop and Jasc Paint Shop Pro
Thank you Mike Landreth for showing me that awesome piece of software.

Right so now you know what I use, now I can show you how I use it. With step by step images.

Step 1:

I start off with my original drawing with pencil, then using black crayon, I begin outlining and blocking out early levels of shading, some light details. This helps me to lay down the building blocks of what the drawing will look like when it's done. Sometimes I do this with inks. Occasionally this also shows early details or even some mistakes which you don't want to make it in to the final piece. 

The shading is a little crude and untidy, but the next couple of stages will iron that out, but before I can do much more to the shading and over all look of the piece, I have to move on to the next step.



Step 2:

There are some who would consider this part as a cheaters technique, but I personally like it because you can take what you have already and remove bits that didn't quite work right, smudges, even pencil lines. That's generally what I use digital techniques for, removing messy lines and clean ups.

The end result after being worked with an eraser tool looks a lot sharper, a lot cleaner and the contrast is improved. To me that contrast of dark and light is part of that anime/manga style that I love so much so to be able to achieve that with the simple tools I have is kind of what I go for. This is then printed out on to normal A4 paper, so that my next stage in development can begin.




Step 3:

Taking my print out, I then set back to work with my pencil crayon and redefine the outlines, reshade over the shaded areas and really making the piece pop. after this I am generally happy with my result, but sometimes I will repeat scanning and printing, then recolouring until the result is refined enough so that I am happy with it before the final colour stage.

The final colour takes a while, but it gives definition to the eyes, the soft feathery flow to the hair or the details in the props or costumes. I love drawing the costumes and eyes, they seem to bring the characters to life. The pose in this picture also gives me the feeling that the character (Itachi Uchiha - Naruto)will leap on his target as soon as he approaches.

This is my work and how I make it. My style is very personal and allows me to indulge my fantasy and my love of the Japanese media.

Loves

Wendy xx

Not Much To Say...

This is rare for me. I'm that unsure right now and its left me speechless. My elbow isn't healing as well as it should be and the doctors STILL don't know if it needs an operation to fix or if my body can do it itself. I guess I just want an either way decision now as its starting to bug me.

I think the prospect of a surgical procedure is scary because of how my asthma will behave (or not as the case may be) and with my birthday soon too, its just not ideal is it? I didn't realise till just a few days ago how close it is, and how little I cared at the time. But now I am looking forward to a day with friends and time with Becky soon after.

I just need to best the bad feelings.

Loves
Wendy xx

Friday, 4 November 2011

On My Travels...

Today, I am taking a much needed trip to Reigate to meet up with the lovely Becky. The idea is to meet up and come back here together. A visit with friends will help me right now. But saying that it has been planned again :) xx

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Top 10 hardest jobs to do one handed...

Since breaking my arm at the weekend (and doing it properly as is typical of me) I've had to adapt to yet again, life with the use of one arm. I've now broken my left arm twice and my right hand once. Being right handed meant that having it immobile for 6 weeks was easily the biggest pain in the ass going.

How this came about was quite funny really, a perfect Wendy moment which to those close to me, is really not surprising in the slightest. I was pottering round as always and had settled to play on Twitter for a bit. After saying goodbye I got up to make tea and get ready for what would have been a fun evening. Instead, my foot caved and I went flying, landing by the guinea pigs who wheeked at me.

I had thought it was a muscle injury but no, its broken and badly at that so 6 weeks in a cast from my hand to my armpit. Much like the one when I was 13 and had fallen off my bike.

So the 10 hardest jobs are:

1. Cleaning out guinea pigs, theyre fast and are a 2 handed job.

2. Bathing. Can't get the cast wet, can't bend my arm.

3. Brushing my hair. Hair bands don't work one handed.

4. Cooking anything harder than a can of baked beans.

5. Making the bed and putting on a duvet cover.

6. Dialing the telephone. Awkward.

7. The supermarket shop. Pushing trollies is hard 2 handed. Then theres carrying it in.

8. Dressing. You need 2 hands. You really do.

9. Mail. Again didn't expect that.

10. Washing the dishes. One handed, its a pain, it really is.

Loves
Wendy xx

Friday, 28 October 2011

From the Ashes...

Have you ever had one of those days where everything reminds you of how precious life is. I woke up on Wednesday just itching to just start the day and embrace it. The weather was less wet than it had been in a while, heck even my asthma was behaving a little better than usual. I went out with Tom and had fun walking around, and some things I brought were focused on making me look as good as possible. For so long I hadn't even bothered to brush out my hair or get dressed and it was not a good place to be.

I then heard some tragic news and it shook me. Rachael Wakefield, a 23 year old girl from Manchester lost her fight for her life with a rare and devastating lung disease. Rachael insipired so many people to sign the organ donor register as well as became the voice of many others who struggled to get on the transplant list. Her strength and courage throughout her long illness goes to remind other people with illnesses and disabilities that it doesn't mean the end and that you can still do something positive. Rachael was the person who told me to keep pushing to get a proper diagnosis as well as inviting me in to a group of people who were in a similar situation with lung problems. She is now at peace and even though we are all sad that we had to say goodbye, we know she will always be with us in spirit and in each one of us as we fight to achieve our goals.

Young people with illness should embrace life, we are not just a load of statistics or symptoms, we are strong and inspiring people in ourselves and by not embracing life and taking it by the horns, it is an insult to all those people who lost their lives. I honestly believe that.

Loves
Wendy xx

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Proud To Be...

Recent events and a lot of other things lately (something almost happened to one of my best friends and it shook me) and a few other things has made me think. Life is really fragile and when you live with an illness, it becomes even more so. This scares me in so many ways because it is never easy to face one's mortality, be it our own or another person and we tend to focus only on what may be or what "should" have been in our opinions. But we never really embrace what we have now. No one ever seems to just live in the moment.

Recently, that is kind of what I have been doing. I have been living in the moment and taking life by the scruff of the neck, doing everything I have "meant to" or "wanted to" and it has been a period of time where I haven't met with a HUGE amount of regret and heck, my moods have improved. I have been empowered by those who support me to get out, even if it means carrying enough equipment that I could be a paramedic or being slightly scared of the people around me.

A year ago, I could barely face being at home with 1 or 2 other people. I seldom went out and only did when I absolutely, positively had to. I missed a lot of college because my asthma was so out of control that I was embarrassed by it and terrified that going to college would result in a trip in an ambulance, but I had become this terrified and really nervous individual who was faced with criticisms because of her scars and her unique way of doing things. I was scared of people. I was scared of my then partner (but there were many complex reasons behind that, yet now I wonder what I was afraid of when I see him, but thats another story). And I was scared of myself. By that point, I just couldn't face another day and would scarcely get out of bed. What was the point?

What changed? Well, I grew up and got out of that situation and became so proactive in life and determined to change everything. I have wonderful people around me. I have courage to stand up and say "you know what, I have grown out of being a scared little girl, but it seems that a lot of people will never grow out of being jerks" and celebrate myself and my individuality. I like to wear gothic clothes, and long coats are just awesome. I have 2, a black trench and a black and red Akatsuki cloak. At the moment the cloak seems to be my favourite but thats because it just looks like it's popped out of the anime. As for the person who tried to destroy me, well that person is a petty creature who doesn't deserve my time, and what is the worst they're going to do? Write another blog about me that NO ONE is going to read.

So, what I propose now is for people to stop trying to be just like everyone else. Embrace life, be PROUD of everything YOU are. Stand up and say "Yeah, I am a freak, but I am MY freak" and essentially kick the asses of everyone who tells you you can't.

Loves
Wendy xx

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Making Sense...

Being me has its disadvantages at times. I am a clumsy sod and I trip up on my own feet, all the time. I had a clumsy moment on my way back from Reigate. I know you are probably wondering, "What the hell was she doing in Reigate?". Well, I was there to see a friend, a kind of kindred spirit who I met by chance.

I'd been looking forward to meeting Becky all week. It was a long, but really rewarding trip. I guess, I can talk about that a bit to start. I got up at the insane hour of 6AM. I haven't actually been up at 6 since I was working at Stafford Hospital. That was about 3 or 4 years ago (you know its been a while when you actually have to spend about 2 minutes trying to work it out!!) and I remember when my mum would have to knock on my bedroom door and try and get me up. Oh I was a bugger! She would come in and pester me until I would finally crawl out of bed, ready for a 7AM 2mile bike ride from our home in Highfields to the hospital. We'd get there and be ready for work for an 7:30AM start. But I digress, I actually attempted this whole getting up early thing.

By 7AM I was at the station in Redditch to get on a train at half past. It got me to Birmingham New Street for about quarter past 8 and I was able to get some tea and something to eat. It's a fatal mistake to give yourself a full tummy when you could happily sleep. The hour and a half journey to London Euston was spent with my head on the table, completely ZONKED! I slept so soundly that the woman opposite me couldn't face having to wake me up as I was so peaceful (and probably snoring like a dragon with a cold!!).

Traveling in London is so much fun, the sights, the sounds, the smells. Theres just so many people and they're all so unique, I didn't feel like a freak at all. I asked for some advice on how to get from Euston to London Bridge (for my connection to Reigate) which was a little more tricky as the Northern Line wasn't running on the one side, so I had to get on the other side to Waterloo and on to the Jubilee Line to London Bridge. It was so unusual as I hadn't been on the Underground since I was a child. It was just so weird traveling around a city by train, being so used to small town life. I guess in some ways I am just a small town girl... (I know that was corny but it is true).

Anyway, I got to Reigate for 5 to 12. By then I'd been traveling nonstop for 4 hours. But when I met Becky at the other end and spent such a fun day exploring and enjoying being shown around her unique and wonderful world. Becky is really a treasure, so sweet and kind and I loved being in her town and the shenanigans with a certain security guard in a supermarket with fun-snaps! Oh, it was like being a teenager again!

The trip back was just as bonkers. And this is where I managed to have my clumsy moment, I was getting off the train and did something to my foot, by the time I got home, it was so swollen and painful and I couldn't put weight on it. It still hurts now, but I think the soft-tissue just needs to heal and it will be fine. I was happy on Sunday when Tom came to see me. Tom is like the Cloud to my Tifa, the hero who sweeps in and saves me when I feel alone or when it hurts he makes it easier. He really is the best thing that ever had happen to me. He's just kind and so wonderful.

For once my life just kind of feels like its coming together and its actually starting to make sense.

Loves
Wendy xx

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Life Is...

Life is such a precious thing. However we all spend way too much time brooding about the past, what could have been, what might have been and what was. Its only been recently that I have been looking at what IS. It has helped to get some much needed clarity on things and life as a whole. Realising before it was too late that I push people away because I myself cannot face the uncertain nature of living with Brittle Asthma and what that entails. But the main thing I have to remember, to keep myself grounded is that the minute I give up and stop kicking, thats when I ought to stop taking the meds and lay down and die. And that is just not something I can think about doing, not now. Not anymore.

To hear that someone who I care about is dying and won't recover this time has brought me crashing down to earth and it has put a lot in to perspective. It is tragic that such a beautiful and strong young lady is in that situation and to know what her family knows now, I think its hard for anyone else to comprehend. But it is very sad. Very VERY sad to hear about Rachy and after everything shes been through. I spent some time alone with my thoughts, had a cry, and then thought about it. I then heard that Tor was having her transplant today and it felt bittersweet, almost as though one person was getting their chance while another fades away and that made it all feel even more real than I think I was expecting.

So I sat and I mulled it all over. Well to be honest it only strengthened my resolve further and it reminded me more that what I need to do now, I need to stick with. I need to do this and I need to get to where I need to be because if I didn't then what an insult to those who have lost their lives before the age of 25. There is nothing worse than a person who has so much to offer and so much to give, just giving up and forgetting to live the lives they were blessed with. There is nothing worse than wasted potential and it makes me feel physically sick.

I've been keeping a more personal handwritten diary again and its been as cathartic as usual to just write down whats bothering me or what I am thinking as well as giving me some kind of reference point as to how far I have really come over the last couple of years. I just want so badly to say that all my demons have been beaten, but that would be childish and wrong, but I am getting there, each day. Tom has helped me so much and I am always going to be grateful to have him in my life. There is no other man I would ever want and this is THE one.

I guess right now all we can do is focus on what we can and take even the small victories and smile.

Loves
Wendy xx

Saturday, 8 October 2011

And So It Begins...

Well the winter is well and truly descending upon us, the weather is cooler and my lungs, well they're really not happy about the cool weather and the influx of coughs, colds and flu viruses that have begun to make themselves very much at home. I love snow and I love how pretty it looks. Last years snow was absolutely breath taking (in more ways than one) and I did enjoy the icicles that we had for Christmas.

I guess the only thing that I don't like about winter is the fact that my lungs suffer more as a result. Over the last few years of constant infections, asthma attacks and a general lack of control of my condition (my asthma wasn't T1BA, but T2BA a few years back, but as time went on and I got older, it became more akin to T1BA and that was what it was officially diagnosed as) has left a lot of scar tissue that is very easy to irritate and doesn't seem to like me doing much more. Even getting dressed or having a bath, or even cooking a meal for myself can seem like an Olympic event and I end up too tired to do anything else, and that can even mean that I choose to not eat than go through the hassle of cooking and then eating, both can leave me so tired I just want to sleep.

Its been productive though and I have been slowly getting my confidence back and I am starting to re-evaluate goals in my life and where I want to be, so that is at least something. Instead of leaving myself to wallow in self pity and become more miserable, I have been looking on what some would call the brighter side. I have a wonderful boyfriend who I love so much and when we're together it seems like there is nothing I can't achieve. Silly isn't it? But I have fallen very much in love and I haven't been this happy in so long, so fuck the past, that stays where it belongs, in my memories.

Hold on to the good, positive stuff and let the rest go to become obscure and non-existent. The past is heavy and it doesn't help anyone to carry it around like a treasured doll or other keepsake. If something made you miserable, well, as Edward Elric says "Keep walking, you have a good pair of legs. Get up and use them." and thats the kind of example I have been taking. I get up and try and do at least something every day, even if it is just washing up or eat a sandwich or just something small. Its worth doing because on those bad days, even small victories are victories nonetheless.

I plan now to just keep moving forward. I can't let myself be dragged down by negative perceptions and negative people.

Loves
Wendy xx

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Poof!!

I had been trying to get this sorted for a while, but fate had other ideas, my old TV finally gave up the ghost and was crying to go to the great living room in the sky. It was a shame because I had had it for so long, maybe about 18 months to 2 years or so, I can't remember exactly when we got it, it was one of those things you seem to acquire over time and it did serve me well over the time.

In its place is a nice new TV which I got in a sale, but that isn't the main focus of the story. It is actually what lead me to the story in the first place. When you replace an appliance, it is only then when you actually go behind it and find out exactly whats under or behind it. You can't just plonk the new thing exactly where the old one sat, you have to rearrange EVERYTHING. When we moved here back in April, everything was really arranged haphazardly and things were just shoved in to a place where it would do for now. There was no feel of permanence or settling in. Things were just thrown in to place and we just kind of thought "That'll do" because it was in all honesty a stressful few days. We had to decorate and move in less than a week.

I finally plucked up to get behind the old TV stand and see what horrors (and I say this as honestly as possible) lurked in those corners. A tangle of cables which looked insane, I managed to sort and bind the cables and tie them down so that and have them out of the way. It was amazing really to see just how many wires and cables are actually there. I mean there were cables for everything from my Lifeline to my cable and internet, and the other screen I use for my PS2. I sometimes have both screens running, one to watch TV or DVDs or whatever I want on there, and the smaller one used for the Playstation where I can veg out and escape to a fantasy land. It also helps when Tom wants to play on his games on the X-box and I want a game on the PS2. It is quite companionable, even more so when we both play together on one game.

I actually felt as though I'd achieved something moving all that stuff out and wiping away the dust and cobwebs. Its great now because its fresher and the air of the room and how it feels is so much different in here. The TV that I actually vomited over on Boxing Day (THAT was horrible) and it made all the difference to change how the room felt. All the tension and frustration that had been centred around that TV and other furnishings from the YMCA just added to this feel of despair and depression that had been sweeping over me over the last few weeks.

I'm making seemingly small changes that make everything else feel different and better.

Loves
Wendy xx

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

It's Been A While...

Its been a good few weeks since my last blog. I guess I was just embarrassed about a few things that have been making me feel really bad about myself and I just didn't feel much like talking about any of it. Its been hard to get to grips with a lot of things, but I really didn't want to post for fear of being either judged or yelled at by various people. People are often quick to make judgements and criticize others for their less than perfect bodies and minds.

I am not perfect. I am flawed and I do have a LOT of unresolved issues in both my past and present, but I do work on them. I do get up every morning and try and keep a positive outlook, but there are days that this just doesn't happen and I feel my world coming down with a bang. I have often said this and I still believe that I am not the worst out there, nor am I the only disabled person now or ever. I do get up every morning feeling thankful for the fact that although things aren't easy,

I am STILL ALIVE.

I am STILL HERE.

I nearly gave up at the weekend. It has to be said. I was just so fed up with everything and wanted oblivion. I had began to write a text for my friends and family, telling them how I was feeling and in some ways saying goodbye and I'm sorry. I was saying that I was sorry for being so weak and just not able to carry on anymore. Then I stopped. I put the pills back and realised that this was a selfish act. Suicide is selfish and it never solves anything. Yes it meant that I wouldn't be suffering, but the price would be causing my friends and family, the people I love, to suffer and that would have been a lot worse. It's toying with not only my own, but other people's lives and its not fair. On anyone.

A lot of my problems began when I tried to stop taking the Seroquel (an atypical antipsychotic medication) after leaving Steve because I didn't want to think I'd need it anymore. Yes without him it is honest to say that I am not only happier, but finally able to get back on track. Maybe I thought that getting rid of a destructive force in my life would allow me to conquer my mental health once and for all. I didn't take in to account the scars which run both inside and out.

Inside my lungs is a LOT of scarring and some of the smaller airways have shut off completely. This means my lung function is only about 34%. I upset the scarring last weekend and had myself spitting blood for a few days as a result. All I had been doing is singing on Rockband and having some fun where suddenly, out of nowhere this black stuff started coming out when I was coughing. Black tarry clots of blood, and a visit to the doctor later and I found I'd made the scaring bleed slightly, which would settle down by itself. It was painful but it did settle down eventually.

So I guess thats all I've been doing just lately.

Loves
Wendy xx

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Retrospective Look...

This year has really been a year of change and a year where I have grown up so much. I think at this point last year, I had all but given up on everything and everyone. I didn't care what happened to me and I didn't care whether the next day would be my last. I would cry so much because at 22 years old, I didn't want to think my life was over. At 21 I tried to take my own life.

I never really said much about what really happened there, but I kept a diary where I would write down everything I thought and felt. In the diary, I saw cycles of depression, dysfunctional relationships and a lack of just wanting to get through this. I had given up completely after my 1st year back on my HND, where I had been absent for 6-8 weeks, I can never remember how many exactly, but I always remembered the reason. This had all started and I had been so sick. All I can remember about the worst of it was trying to sleep at my then boyfriend's flat, then I remember waking up in Resus. I had never been in there before. It was so frightening. No one knew whether I was going to make it through that night. I was so unwell and I slept the next day just so that I could recover.

Instead of embracing the fact I had survived, I sank lower than ever and due to some really unpleasant and dysfunctional problems. I don't want to chew over the past and what exactly happened there because there is really no point now and it won't actually change or fix anything. I do remember that one day. It haunts me even now and I remember all the details, the words said and then an action that would change my life forever. It had been an argument about the housework. That was always an issue and I came to a devastating conclusion about life which made me feel so hopeless. I remember saying the words "People don't change."

How wrong I was.

I remember putting all my drawings away, back in the portfolio and sliding that back under the chair where I kept it at the time. I remember the numb feeling of calm that had come over me. It was like nothing else mattered now and I didn't want to find out what would happen next. I was so calm and collected as I walked in to the kitchen and looked at it. In the freezer board, there it sat, this enormous knife. It was massive and it had sharp, jagged teeth and I ran it over my arm. Blood went everywhere and I automatically snapped out of my trance. I got myself to hospital where my wound was cleaned and stitched. This is where it all began.

Since getting out of that flat, my life has improved and my confidence has returned. I don't look back on the past and lament it. Why should I lament something that really doesn't matter now. The past is the past. We can't buy back yesterday nor can we change what we've done/said or anything else. All we can do is learn and grow. That is what life is. We learn, we grow and we mature. I know now that the tests I went through have built me a strong character and a LOT of resolve. I've seen some of the worst of human nature and I did even worse things to myself. I hurt myself because I was convinced that I was the one who was bad. It was all my fault and that I couldn't ever work out how I felt.

I looked in to who I was as a person. I realised that I have so much more strength than I ever thought one person could have. I had to accept myself for WHO I was and WHAT I am. I had to learn to like myself and appreciate everything thats precious to me and keep that brave little smile and a song in my heart to keep my own moral up and my hope alive. My hopes for the next year are to finally free myself from everything that has been problematic and finally cast aside that old life. Never to return to it again. I hope to get back in to education and continue to go from strength to strength with my relationship with Tom.

Tom saved me. In every way that one person can save another. He helped me realise a lot about myself and even learn to love that person and enjoy being her.

Loves
Wendy xx

Review With The Doctor...

I had been avoiding this for a while. Partially because I just didn't want to talk to anyone about whats been going on. Partially because I was embarrassed. And Partially because I was trying my hardest to just get back to normality (or what normality would be for a 23 year old). Today I finally managed to get to see Dr Pike. We have maintained a very good relationship over the last 3 years and I mean between us we managed to talk about everything. I even confronted the issue of how I'd honestly been feeling about all of this.

I explained about those days where I get sick and I really feel redundant and upset, like "what did I do this time?" or "for F*** sake!!" and how I am always wondering what I did wrong this time. He explained to me that people with asthma fall in to two families. Those who only get the occasional attacks, they just need an inhaler and they don't have to think about it later. Then theres people like me. As Dr Pike calls it "The scary asthmatics". My asthma can go off over anything and everything, even without any provocation. That has happened a few times where my asthma just decided to go SNAP and I didn't even get a warning at times.

I had no real warning on Monday when it happened. It just kind of went off and I couldn't even get back in control. It was really scary and nasty. How I'd been pretty OK during the day. Maybe I was a bit off and I couldn't concentrate, Sunday was awful because I couldn't keep focused on anything from my beloved Guitar Hero or Rockband to a Final Fantasy game which would normally have kept me entertained for hours and hours on end. I have managed to play Final Fantasy 7 for 12 hours straight before now which was so much fun, and I got so far in to it, I think I did all of Disc 2 that day!!

I then walked up to the bus stop with Tom. I was a bit out of breath, but I was OK. I was coping until I got on the 55 and nearer to my appointment. Things just refused to improve, and it didn't matter how much I tried to throw at it. It didn't matter how often I took my inhaler or my nebuliser. And I just couldn't do it anymore. That was so freaky and I couldn't even entertain the idea of talking about my mental state, although we did decide that I needed to be back on my antipsychotic and up my antidepressant to 200mg. Its a crushing blow for me at times it has to be said, but I think if its for the best then its for the best and I need to just take it in it's stride.

To be told that even though I am only young and I go through such a life limiting problem from day to day, the fact I can stay strong and take it all as it comes, its truly magnificent to see me out and about and trying my best to enjoy my life even on the bad days. And we all have those bad days. Yesterday I was so exhausted that I fell asleep at 10PM! Thats the earliest I've been in bed in a long time. But I slept straight through to my alarm at 8AM and it really improved my mood.

Loves
Wendy xx

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Invisible Condition...

Its been something that has been mentioned a lot lately, on Twitter, on Facebook, heck even in some blogs. There are so many people out there who live with these invisible conditions. These include things like Asthma, Fibromyalgia, ME, Arthritis and other conditions that I know various sufferers of and even invisible conditions that I have been forced to live with myself. Invisible illnesses are by definition illnesses that people who don't know could never tell you were sick. It kind of has no telltale signs and the sufferers are constantly struggling against people who don't have any illnesses and who make assumptions that just because you can't see what is wracking our bodies with pain that it probably isn't there.

IT ISN'T TRUE. AT ALL.

To most people out and about, I probably look like any other 23 year old woman who walks around getting her day to day life sorted. I do this because I have to. I don't rely on other people unless I need to and it means that it is easy to make the assumption. Then people see me at my worst and they can't believe what they're seeing. During an asthma attack, I make some noises that are so unusual or scary that people don't quite expect it. I become weak, I become disinterested. I don't seem like normal at all.

Not many people have been able to see it as I don't like letting my guard down at all around people. Too many people have made hurtful and cruel assumptions about my health without finding out the reality and when I see people doing it to others, it makes me feel sick to my stomach. Yes there have been people who have faked illness in the past, but what about people who genuinely have a condition, is it right that not only do they have to live with this, but they have to prove it to others. It just strikes me as wrong.

Looking at the way the DLA system works. That in itself is a minefield to work out. You have a form and it takes so many draining hours to fill in every single intricate detail of your illness and how it affects you from day to day. When I filled my form out, I spent a good hour on my own crying because it just make me feel so bad having to look at my life that way and how it has been. I had never really stopped and thought about how unwell I felt at times or about those days where I struggle to get out of bed, walk the 10 feet to the toilet and then back to bed. At times the reality of that is all too real and it was never something I ever thought I would have to comprehend. But life has that habit doesn't it.

Loves
Wendy xx

How Annoying...

Its been a few days since I last felt up to blogging, but I thought now would be a good time to update on my progress and my floating around through time, space and all the rest of it. I guess just lately when the old pattern restarted itself, it took my by surprise and I wasn't expecting to be thrown back in the maelstrom of T1BA but I guess that's how life goes sometimes. I have started to accept that any time away from hospital is time away and I should be thankful and try and enjoy myself, but there are days when I just feel so depressed or miserable that I just hide and bury my head in the sand and cry it out.

Sometimes a good cry is cathartic and it helps to clear ones head a little before succumbing to fear and paranoia which can hold you back and completely control your life. I have been all about making positive changes in my life and making things that before were frankly a bit shitty less so and making the most of what time I get between illness and recovery times. It takes me anywhere between a week and a month to recover from my asthma when its bad so thats a long time to be sitting around and you wind up thinking over every little detail. Everything that you could have, or could not have done to make things better and then getting angry with oneself because you start playing that annoying blame game.

Yesterday wasn't easy. But I know now that it had to happen and there was a pretty good reason for it. I had been off colour all day really, and the day before if we really wanted to look at things. I had been coughing. A lot and I was exhausted by it. When you cough like that its like running a race because you work so hard to just get whatever it is that is in your airway out and gone. Having bilateral wheezing yesterday and only managing to get it down a bit with a whopping 5 salbutamol nebs, o2 and some atrovent, I think the steroid I had injected really was needed to bolster my lungs up a bit and help them get back their strength.

Over the next week or so, I really want to concentrate on recovery and getting back on some kind of stable level and stay there for a while. Thats my dream and this is my reality as unpleasant as it may seem. This is my life and this is how I have to live it. I am happy with who I am and I am proud of what I have managed to accomplish over the last year. I mean now I don't live in the YMCA anymore, which was frankly a dive. I don't feel so drained or controlled and I am happy.

Loves
Wendy xx

Sunday, 11 September 2011

In a Reverie...

Today is just one of those days I think. My chest is really sore and feels all raw and painful. Breathing is still hard and I just feel frustrated and fed up in myself. I am happy with life right now and I have pretty much everything I could ever want, except a stable state of health which seems to be like an impossible dream sometimes. I mean I did feel like I had made some headway but as the cooler weather is coming in, I am starting to feel it again. I wonder sometimes whether this feeling of insecurity and constant feeling of chest tightness is just one of those things. I really can't go back to the life I had.

Mayve I feel so down at the minute because its coming to the end of what has been a good weekend with Tom and I always hate it when he has to go home. I understand why he needs to and I understand that its good for both of us to spend some time apart, lest I make the same mistake I always make and try and move too fast, telling myself that it's probably the best thing right now. Where in reality, the best thing for me is to live alone and work ME out and figure out what makes me that person. It has its moments I will admit where I lie in bed looking for someone or something to cuddle up to, but it is important right now, especially that I become more independent, lest I fall in to the usual traps, which would subsequently then be my own fault because I knew what they were and I knew I needed to avoid them.

What I am faced with seems to be an unending tirade of infection, and asthma wreaking havoc with my body, and not a lot of choice but to just accept it. I guess there are times it seems a little bit unfair, but then I remember that I am not alone in all of this, even if some days I feel it. Some days I do want to kick and scream and get mad, but there are more days when I just decide that getting upset and playing the blame game never got me anywhere. I have had to look so objectively past whats happened recently and look at just the objective facts and remind myself of them so that I can't pretend anymore that this didn't happen.

Since having my diagnosis completely cleared up and knowing exactly what causes my asthma, I have been a bit easier on myself and I have stopped making myself feel bad about it and letting other foolish people who HONESTLY have NO idea what they are talking about get to me. A senior clinical lecturer and other specialists aren't going to diagnose something unless its there and you know what else, I only strive for decent diagnosis so that I can make sure I am managing the condition more effectively. No other reason. I do find it all the more galling to have to deal with people like that particularly after a night in resus.

Now, for those of you who are lucky enough to have not experienced this (and I apologise now if this comes out patronising, but right now I am in such a ranty mood and I need to just burn this off before I go and kick the shit out of everyone who made me doubt myself), resus is the short version of Resuscitation. Generally when someone goes in Resus, they are in a very VERY bad way and they need to be seen, treated and helped pretty much right away. I was in a bad state that night and I was very ill, so having to deal with idiots after that made me so angry and stressed that I nearly went back in to hospital.

I wonder sometimes why I listen to some people. I wonder why I haven't told others where they can shove it and why I still give a toss about them. It's not that simple though is it? I won't be too forgiving in the future. Its my weakness and its the reason that people have been allowed to hurt and upset me again and again and I think it needs addressing now. I feel better for a rant, I will admit.

Loves
Wendy xx

Friday, 9 September 2011

A Big Thank You!!

I wanted to take a chance to thank everyone who has helped me since splitting with my ex and the true friends who stood by me and helped when I needed it. Nat, JP, Bean and Penny, you guys have been amazing, keeping my spirits high and making me smile when I have been stressed. You make me so happy to have you all in my life and are real blessings. Penny has helped me a lot since leaving the YMCA, from going out for a toddle together or just having a chat. It helps to get it off my chest and to have a maternal figure around to make sure I'm alright.

I wanted to thank Nat and Bean for a few nights ago. Since leaving hospital I had been feeling horrible and not really up for much. Those two came around to me one evening and we spent some time playing EDF and just laughing. It was wonderful and the fact that they prepared a care package for me, that was just so sweet and thoughtful. It meant a lot to know I had good friends I can count on and knowing that should that happen again, I can rely on someone to feed my piggies for me. Josh is another one I am thankful for. Whenever he comes around, he always makes me smile and its nice to have such a kind person as my adoptive brother.

I also want to thank Tom. Tom has been absolutely incredible about everything. From my break up and how messy that became, to sorting out my money, my home and just about everything in between. He has coped with my moods and nurtured me when I have felt depressed. He has cared for me when I have been so unwell with compassion and the kind of loving care that I needed. We were always there for each other anyway, but you know, now its so amazing and we're closer than I have ever been with anyone. He makes me feel complete and whole. There is nothing missing and I am happier than I have been for years.

Last of all, I am thanking you. The readers. It is you guys who helped me realise that even though there were days I felt it, I am not really alone . Not anymore. When you read my blog and accept me in to your world, its like I am finally able to break out of one of the loneliest places ever. Being ill can leave you feeling alone and isolated, wondering what you did to make this happen, even if it was just a genetic thing, passed down through your mother's side of the family. So thank you. For reading this and I hope we can continue this journey for even longer, and by the time I'm 30, I can look back and laugh over the last few years.

Loves
Wendy xx

Pain...

Today I am just racked with pain all over. It hurts to breathe, and I am finding it harder to think while sitting here in bed and trying to just make some kind of sense of why its hurting so much. My back is sore and I can feel the pressure in that dodgy disc really building. I guess I didn't really sleep so well and that never helps anyone does it? I guess waking up in a cold sweat and shivering so hard that I was rattling the bed isn't anyone's idea of fun by a long shot so I guess that how I feel now is just part of whats going on in my body.

What is bothering me the most is if this is EXACTLY the same pneumonia that I had a month ago and was given a course of antibiotics, why has it not even attempted to go away? Or did it start going away but because the course was only a week, did it just come back because the bugs weren't completely gone? Either way, today I have just not been my usual self. I have been subdued and barely able to concentrate on anything for more than 10 minutes at a time, unless it was Bejeweled which had bright flashy colours so I actually ended up watching it rather than concentrating on it.

This isn't really the best of days as of late and I hope upon waking tomorrow I may have managed to shake this lack of focus and concentrate on me for a bit.

I tried to eat today. I did try and I managed to at least eat some baked beans and veggie sausages. But I was slightly upset that when I reached up to get the can out of the cupboard, I was unable to lift it. I then had an even more amusing moment where I tried to do something involving the can opener and a saucepan. Don't ask me, I'm still freaking about the dead spider by the bed.

Loves
Wendy xx

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

I Need To Take Things Seriously...

That seems to be the biggest lesson life has been teaching me. Even though just lately things had slowed down and my asthma was being a bit more well behaved like it used to be. I think I started getting cocky and thinking that now I had got to the end of a bad place and I started being irresponsible. I know I should have gone in on Saturday when I was really not quite right, but I had kind of convinced myself that it was just a phase. It would be OK soon. And that was bad.

By yesterday morning, I knew something wasn't right. I couldn't feel my right lung doing anything, and it felt like there was something really wrong. I was in more pain than I had been for a long time and I couldn't walk further than the bedroom and back without feeling short of breath and wheezing. I was trying every measure I had available to me, from nebbing regularly (I was on hourly nebs in the end) to just trying relaxation techniques that doctors had suggested years ago (forgetting that the particular doctor hadn't got a clue and even admitted he was wrong) and eventually I had to give in.

Tom was fantastic, he came to me, called an ambulance and he helped where he could. The first paramedic couldn't decide what was going on, first my chest was clear, then she decided I was a tiny bit wheezy, then she decided as my SATs dropped to 92% that maybe I was having an asthma attack. By this point the other crew were there. And they knew right away. Time wasn't wasted and by the time I arrived at hospital, I remember speaking to the sister and she decided within a minute of me being there that I needed to be taken straight through to Resus.

This is only the 2nd time that that has ever happened and I have been taken in to there. This time, although I didn't nearly arrest, I was definitely in a bad way and I needed to be seen right away. While the doctor was looking after me, I remember a nurse coming in and asking how long he would be as another of his patients was wondering how long she would wait for her stitches. I nearly laughed when he turned around to the nurse and said "Tell her she has to wait, I am dealing with a patient who is short of breath and is fighting for her life!"

I must have been falling asleep because the next thing I remember it was nearly an hour later and I was still in Resus, but my mask was changed from a nebuliser to a Non-Rebreathe mask. I just remember being so comfortable and wanting to nap. I was exhausted. The culprit? A pneumonia that I had a few weeks back had not cleared completely and had come back with vengeance. So now I am home, with 7 days of 40mg pred, 500mg Clarithromycin and 500/125mg Co-Amoxiclav and strict orders to get some rest and recover.

Loves
Wendy xx

Monday, 5 September 2011

One Year Later...

Its been nearly a year since I started my blog and I started sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings. I have found it cathartic and its been a good way of not allowing all the bullshit and immaturity get to me. There are a lot of immature and pointless individuals in this world and they really have nothing to do other than bring other people down. I don't even pity these individuals. They are really not worth a second of my time, nor do they deserve even the tiniest mention of their names in a blog about how I have been.

It makes me angry when I have to sit and read or hear about people who fake being ill and sit there and have no evidence to support them. It makes me glad that they never get the benefits that they don't need or the support of excellent medical teams behind them. I have spent the last year or so building my relationships with my doctors and they have backed me all the way with my claims for ESA, DLA and my registration with the local council. Even when I had doubted myself or refused to accept that I have health problems, they have been the first to show me test results or other things that have really proven otherwise (my asthma consultant wants to give me a photo album with my CT results so that I can look at them whenever I doubt myself) and my GP has often comforted me when I have cried my eyes out because there are days when it all feels too much.

Right now the focus has been on getting my asthma in to some kind of control (which has been getting there) and making sure that pain levels for both my asthma and my back problems (which the idea of an operation on it just isn't possible at the moment, nor is it what I really want because of my asthma) are under some kind of control. The medication I take for my pain and my back are working well and the nerve pain seems to be subsiding a great deal. For one, I can walk a hell of a lot better and don't need my crutch as often as I had needed it before. I still have my bad days, but that is to be expected.

As far as my asthma goes, its been a close weekend and I know that. I just don't like admitting to myself when things are bad, partially its because of fear, not of the hospital, but of the people around me. Tom has been wonderful in reassuring me that it is not the case. A trip to hospital isn't going to result in a temper tantrum worthy of a 3 year old. And this has helped me make better choices when it comes to my asthma. Yes, I do end up feeling exhausted some days, but that's the result of working so hard. My lung function was down in June, from 67% to 55%. The capacity is there, but there is just no accessing it at times, because my airways close that much.

Knowing what I know now, its easier to accept things and I understand now that test results don't lie. Especially when they are consistent and the tests have been as through and exhaustive as ones I have had. The constant testing and trying of different medications had taken its toll on my body, physically, emotionally and mentally. Its been a year of change and things have been improving, I can't deny that at all. I have some quality of life back, and I have a clearer idea of what I am up against. As much as a pain in the ass all this has been, its helped.

Problems that caused me trouble years ago have been properly and more accurately diagnosed and things that we didn't even know about have been found and the reasoning behind them identified. The result of this is of course that instead of putting a sticky-plaster over it, we can actually go further and correct what we can, control what needs to be controlled and I can go on living. I said that this year was going to be one of testing, but I never comprehended just how far that would go. I am glad in some ways because had I known what I was going to be put through, I probably would have run away because I had been frightened and I would never have experienced what has been one of my better summers in nearly 5 years.

Thats scary. My asthma has been problematic since I was 18. 5 years of having to put up with having to deal with symptoms and 3 years of being in and out of hospital, no wonder I was close to breaking point.

Loves
Wendy xx

Friday, 2 September 2011

A Farewell Drink...

In 3 weeks time, a close friend who I knew from school is leaving to go and live in Uganda. She is such a lovely girl, is our George and her going away is the result of her own hard work and the dedication she has shown over her years of training to become an OT. I am proud of her and I am proud to call her my friend. Today, she came to Redditch to see Ant and myself as a way of having a day to just hang out. I enjoyed this so much and after the chaotic few weeks I have had, its nice to be able to kick back and enjoy myself. I felt like a 23 year old, instead of a 73 year old.

We went to a pub in a village just outside of Redditch. The Jubilee in Studley, was a pleasant and rather lovely place to have lunch and we sat in the beer garden, a large field in the sunshine, with some animal enclosures at the end of the garden. These were particularly interesting to me and I went to have a look at the animals. The sight that met my eyes was met with my heart melting! There were many rabbits and, a personal favorite, GUINEA PIGS!! I love guinea pigs, with their lovely little noises, sweet temperaments and the cheeky way that they look at you. Adorable creatures. I have 4 of them at home and they're just wonderful pets, but to see an enclosure of them running around really melted my heart.

My heart was further melted when we went to get some pet food for my lovely little lot and I looked in the enclosure of guinea pigs, and what I saw, my friends had to remind me there just wasn't anymore room for anymore animals at my home right now. A black eyed piggy who was pure white! His big eyes and floppy pink ears and then the wheeking... he sounded just so much like my Hope. I miss Hope terribly, I think it was because he was always a bit sickly and we always knew he was going to become very ill. I just wanted to save him. Like Alphonse, I had Hope when he was very young and very small and had become very attached very quickly. I miss them both and do shed a tear sometimes when I remember them.

It was the way this little baby came right up to me, wheeking and looking extremely cute. He was sad when I had to say goodbye, but I know I did the right thing in resisting as I just don't have the space right now. I already have 4 guinea pigs and they can all be a handful sometimes. But I do love them. All 4 of them are special and sweet, little characters and playing with them gives me nothing but pleasure. I've kept a number of different animals and I have never once regretted it.

George has gone, I will miss her, but will be keeping very much in touch with her. I hope it goes well for her and her time in Uganda is rewarding and she enjoys it, but as for Ant, well I intend to spend more time with him, as well as my other friends. My friends are so important to me, as well as Tom and our little (unconventional) family.

Over this last year I have really come to appreciate more the people around me and the relationships with people. I'm not as alone as I thought this time last year and even though it felt bad back then, I wish I could go back and tell myself that what I was feeling would pass and there was a way out. I would tell myself that I needed to get out of that relationship and I needed to get myself somewhere I could be safe, happy and feel at ease in my home.

Loves
Wendy xx

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Drained, But Happy...

It has been a rather fun weekend, but I will admit it has been physically exhausting and somewhat emotionally demanding. At the age of 23, I have never had a child, nor have I had to deal with the confines of physical illness in a way that I had never even thought of. On top of that, having to deal with 2 of my older, lesser really known problems rearing their heads recently hadn't helped me, but I managed, as I always do, to use this to my advantage, growing, adapting and continuing to move forward and not let anything get to me.

The worst of this has been something I have had since I was 16 or 17. I had been really ill for a few weeks and we didn't know what it was. I wasn't keeping food down and I was in constant pain. I was fevered and shivering, even in the middle of that summer. I had just moved out of my mothers home and in to that of my first boyfriend. I remember one morning, I was asleep and suddenly I had felt this sharp, ripping pain in the left side of my hip. I had whimpered and grabbed hold of the poor lad and the next day was taken to hospital. 3 days later and a continuous saline drip and it was found that the cause of my problems had been a ruptured ovarian cyst, but there had been some smaller and less twitchy ones left. I was told by the gynecologist that I had PCOS. To the layman, this means that I have benign cysts that grow quite randomly on my ovaries.

Recently my hormones went again haywire and I was going loopy. I had more pain again, this time in the right hand side of my pelvis (Appendicitis can officially be ruled out as the second "Cyst" that I had wasn't found to be the complete cause of my problems that winter, but my appendix had been the main culprit) and again I feel full after barely touching a meal. This will probably resolve itself, but as soon as I see a gynecologist the better I think, although we have been down this route a few times and we always decided to watch and wait, but this would be the 3rd one in a year now so maybe its time that I said goodbye to that ovary. But I really don't know if I am ready for that kind of thing yet.

Another of my problems that has started to rear its head is the OCD. I hate my OCD at the best of times, but I rarely ever talk about how it has affected me over the last year or so. I think its because of everything else pushing it back, such as the numbness of my legs from my damaged spine, the problems with breathing and the fact that anything with lactose in there is a sure fire way of making me go to the loo so often that I feel drained and exhausted and falling off a toilet in town is really not an avenue I wish to go down again.

I think theres definitely something bothering my body at the moment. I seem to cough for hours and bring up a pea sized amount of junk. Nebs help, but not for long at times so I have a really sneaking suspicion that soon a kidnapping may end up in the offing, although I am hoping beyond hope it never happens. Besides I have a keychain I want to make!!

Loves
Wendy xx

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Some Thoughts...

After everything that has gone on recently and by watching a lot of people today I have really noticed that there has been a decline in social etiquette, particularly with a lot of people my age and younger. I was watching a programme with Tom a few days ago called "Young, Dumb and Living Off Mum" where they send a group of spoiled teenagers and young people to a house where they have to fend for themselves, keep their own home and make sure that they can live properly.

It was surreal to watch these young people who are only a bit younger than myself and Tom, but they were acting like overgrown toddlers. These were people who had barely learned how to cook a nutritious meal for themselves and probably intended to join the vast number of people living on Job Seekers Allowance, not because they need to, but because they WANT to and they think that "I don't want to" means "I don't have to". I actually looked in to how much you get on Job Seekers (I myself have lived on it before and am not ashamed to admit it) and why it is so little.

For a single person between 18-24 years of age are (according to Directgov) a measly £53.45 per week, whereas my partner Tom who claims Carers Allowance, because he spends 37 hours a week caring for me, recieves £53.90 a week and was told that he would not have enough money to live on so was told to claim income support which leaves him with what he would have usually got in his Job Seekers.

This lead me to ask why the rates for Disabled People and their carers are so much higher than those who are looking for a job. I will admit it didn't seem all that fair to me. The idea behind this is that those who are only unemployed because they don't have a job (or in some cases the drive to look for work) are given just the basic of basic living costs and as few luxuries as possible so that they are given an incentive to look for and maintain employment. I know in the recession this has been easier said than done, this is why I struggled to find work when I was fit to work. I never wanted to be unemployed by choice, OK now it is a very different ballgame and right now it just isn't possible for me to find and keep a job due to my severe health problems. It is hard to admit this for a 23 year old, but I know I am by no means the worst off nor am I the first or only person to have a health condition.

As the Summer dies down, and the Autumn is starting to come in (it is dark out now and it is only 20:49) I am reminded that soon my hardest seasons is about to dawn upon me. Over the Winter, I am probably likely to have more problems with my chest, coughs, colds, flu and of course my oldest "friends" pneumonia and bronchitis. Winter is always of particular risk to me and I have spent my last 2 birthdays being so unwell I was unable to enjoy myself in a way that a 22 and 23 year old lady should on her birthday. I am hoping this year will be better and I will enjoy my birthday this year, this time without having the sadness of wondering if this was my last time, or would my last attack be the one that took me. It wasn't a happy thought and I often would get upset as I was becoming very weak and I would cry all day about the fact that I was getting to levels of weakness that I had never encountered before.

I wasn't even allowed to recover because of personal and accommodation problems so I was feeling even worse and my depression deepened and now looking back, I realise that I just needed to get to a place where a good night sleep was a given and not a luxury given at the mercy of the person who lived next door. I am happy that I now have a partner who does care for me, with no strings attached and I am happy that Tom gets Carers Allowance for me, as he really deserves it. This is a guy who comes to me, no matter what and makes sure that I am safe, comfortable and very much loved. I can go in to hospital now without being shouted at (the hospital is no where near as scary now, even the nurses have noticed that I am a hell of a lot calmer) when I come home.

I am not afraid of my illness and the things that that had meant to me. I can now go on and learn to find my own destiny and I really do intend on getting there.

Loves
Wendy xx

My Collection... In it's full glory... (gulp)

I have been meaning to do this now for god knows how many months, but its getting my head around the sheer vastness of my Final Fantasy collection. Visitors to my home can attest to the size of my collection and how it seems to have taken over my entire home (not that I am complaining of course, in fact I love that it the toys and games that have captivated me for so many years have become such a huge part of my life and home).
I guess I think the best way to start this is to talk about where my Final Fantasy obsession began. Like many other fans, I was first introduced to the Final Fantasy franchise in 1997 when Final Fantasy 7 hit audiences and gamers. It was very well received by fans and critics alike and has been named by many as the Masterpiece of Square Enix (then known by Square Soft, a Japanese computer games development company). It is also one of the most requested games to be remade for the Playstation 3, and if that happened then I would have to be one of the first in line!! More about FF 7

I remember when I used to watch my older brother playing an import copy of FF7 on our old original Playstation. This was back when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I remember being fascinated with what I was watching so when I finally got the chance to play, it goes without saying that I was chomping at the bit. Especially when my mother brought the family a copy of the game, which went missing shortly after my brother left home (we all know what happened there don't we) but it was brought for me later on. I still have my original "Platinum" copy and it has traveled all over the place with me.

My toy collection began back before my 20th birthday when my then boyfriend brought me my first ever figurine. A Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children Sephiroth. Its probably safe to say that it is my favourite, the particular reason for that being that is that this particular figure was my first ever, little did I know that after a while it would be joined by the rest of the Advent Children range, plus DVDs, books, posters and many other curious objects that have become part of my home and every day life. I curate this collection with a lot of care and attention to detail and pieces such as the Bahamut Sin and Shera Airship (along with a shadow creeper) that were donated by a friend are particularly popular with visitors along with the model of Cloud on top of his trademark Fenrir Motorbike. A more recent purchase, but one that I am particularly impressed with. It takes pride of place upon my shelf above the rest of the collection.

Of course, I never got in to my collecting until I moved to Ivor Road, where for the short time I was there, I was forever ordering models off the internet or visiting Forbidden Planet with Cat. My collection continued to grow for some time, but when I became very sick I was sidelined a bit. But when I had passed my 1st year of my HND, I rewarded myself with a few new pieces. Including my Kingdom Hearts Sephiroth with articulated wing and the cold cast resin Sephiroth which was a bit of a steal really. I remember when it came in the post and I was watching out the window! I was pleased as punch when the doorbell rang and this delicate model was delivered.

The Static Arts Sephiroth was a different story all together, but either way, I walked out of it with a bargain, a fabulous model and an anecdote to go with. I had ordered it off Ebay on the day the model was released by Square Enix. The going rate for it in the UK, even if ordered direct was going to be something mad like £250, well I am not sure if that is still the case, but back then it was certainly the going rate. Either way I wasn't going to pay that much for it so decided to have a look on Ebay where a seller in the States was selling one for £89.99 + £30 shipping. I checked the authenticity and as soon as I was happy, I hit "Buy It Now!" and 6 weeks later, I received a letter from Parcel Force saying that I needed to pay £20 for the model to be allowed to pass through customs. After the hassle and many phonecalls to the depot, we managed to arrange the payment and the next day, I was delighted to finally receive the model that I had been waiting for, and drooling over the photos of the prototype on the Square Enix Website. In total, I think I payed just under £150 for something that was originally going to cost a hundred pounds more than that, so I was thrilled to bits with my purchase, and my bargain. My keen eye for a bargain didn't stop there either.

Not long after that purchase, I was browsing Ebay, as I do and I happened to spot an Advent Children Sculpture Arts Sephiroth figurine with a bid price of £30 with I think it was something like 30 mins left on the clock. I had a look at the auction and read as to why it had been so cheap. There had been some slight damage to the mounting pieces, which to me was a simple fix with a dab of superglue, and the patience to sit and hold it in place while the glue set. I was bowled over by the piece and was happy to accept that a repair would be needed. So I snapped it up and waited for 30 minutes to see if I had won. I was delighted when I got that email saying that it was now mine and I had to pay. Which I did without delay.

A couple of days later, a Royal Mail van was outside the building and I remember saying to my ex that it was too big to be for us, so nearly jumped a foot in the air when the doorbell rang and I received the large box. Upon opening it and tracking down the superglue, I repaired the model promptly and checked the resale of it. I was astounded that now it had been repaired and restored to its former glory, I had paid £30 for something that should have been £200- £250. Although I vow that I would never let any of my collection go, for any thing. They just mean so much to me.

It was also at this time that I decided to complete my collection of the original Final Fantasy VII Play Arts figures. Back at Ivor Road, I had managed to collect most of them, but was missing Cloud and Yuffie. When I went back to college, I rectified this and managed to get hold of both figurines as well as the CD soundtracks to Before Crisis/Last Order and the Reunion Tracks. All can be seen proudly displayed upon their shelf. It has to be mentioned that you may notice a small assortment of miniature figures dotted around the place. These have come from here there and everywhere and I thought they were a fun addition to my collection!

I also started work on my Dirge of Cerberus Final Fantasy VII collection too which has to be one of my smaller collections, consisting only of a book, a CD/DVD set and a DVD, as well as a pendant of the Cerberus charm that is found on the back of Vincent's weapon.

After that, I didn't get any more collectables for a good 18 months. I didn't mind of course and understood that bills and other things were more important than splashing the cash on things we could scarcely afford. But as soon as I moved to Stanley Close, my collectors instinct (and my DLA) became instrumental to completing my collection and even getting the Dissidia models. Dissidia was a more recent venture to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Final Fantasy franchise, and I think it was well thought out and well planned. I remember when I got my first Dissidia game, I was bouncing around shrieking "DISSI, DISSI, DISSI!!" for about a week afterwards and really enjoyed the gameplay. But it peaked my curious nature and I started to wonder about the other heroes and villains in the games. This is where I began my curiosity in to other Final Fantasy titles.

The first one I really became interested in was the most recent, Final Fantasy XIII, which tells the story of heroic ex-solider, Lightning and how she wants to save her sister, as well as her sister's boyfriend Snow and new friends Fang, Vanille and Hope. To find these charming figures was thrilling and it kick-started the collector in me to look for the rest of the Final Fantasy VII range, including the toys for Crisis Core, and the sought after Hardy Daytona Bike. Once I had set up my display here, I began my search as a lot of these things are either hard to find or very pricey when you do find them, but I think that is all part of the thrill of collecting and one of the reasons I really enjoy doing it.

I did find my Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core figures however and managed to collect the current set of 3 very quickly. The hardest to find was Zack Fair as he was only available for a limited time, so I was pleased with myself for managing to get hold of all 3 figures as well as the game and the 2 guide books (one is the Japanese Ultimania book where as the other is the UK Crisis Core guide book) and the CD soundtrack to that as well. I had loved the game when I played through it on release, but had felt very sad when the main character, Zack died at the end, even though I knew how it ended having played the games and watched the Last Order OVA enough times that I have considered doing a fandub of it so that people who haven't the patience for subbed media can enjoy it too.

The last Final Fantasy VII thing I have to show you is my model of Cloud on his Hardy Daytona Motorcycle. This was an awkward one to find and when it came it was even harder to get it so that Cloud sat on the bike just right for maximum effect. It is displayed with my Final Fantasy VII Strategy Guide, a well read and well loved book, I assure you. I only got this model recently when my DLA had finally been backdated and I decided that I needed a treat after everything this past year has thrown at me.

Again displayed with a smattering of miniature figures and the Kingdom Hearts Sephiroth. Another popular one for visitors to my home.

This is my collection. I have lovingly collected these things for a long time. I know that there are a small number of collectors who are spitting furiously because none of them are in their original packaging, but my personal view there is that these things are made to be enjoyed, not kept in dusty old boxes in an attic somewhere or in a disused bedroom waiting to be sold after my death or in a divorce settlement. I never want to part with any of these things and no one could persuade me otherwise. I enjoy keeping them looking bright and admirable for many years to come and I really hope you enjoyed the opportunity to have a look at and hear the stories behind so many of the things that mean a lot to me. And I hope that one day I can do all this again and there will be even more models with even more stories.

Loves
Wendy xx

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