Back from the dead - When life gives you lemons...

12:11 Renée 8 Comments

Oh Hi!

... You make a cannon and shoot them back into Life's ugly face. I am still working on that canon but I'm getting there...

Those of you who have been following me for a while will have undoubtedly realized that I stopped posting around September 2016. This break was never intentional, although after the one year mark I seriously doubted whether I would ever start posting again. Over the past week or two however, I gained quite a few new followers on my blog and it made me feel a little guilty. (I'd love to know how you guys found me because there is no clear source visible in my statistics!) That - combined with a slightly improved health situation - made me decide that it's time to breathe some life back into this sad, neglected little corner of the internet. Coincidentally, my blog also turned 5 years old in May! In this first post I just wanted to share what has happened in the past year and a half.

Between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 my relationship ended. The breakup wasn't my decisions and ended up being very messy and painful. I had never been alone in my adult life and at the first sign of a breakup I was suffering from panic attacks at the thought of losing my best friend and my rock, and being alone in a "strange" country (we moved to the UK for his job). However, I quickly found out that I was stronger than I thought I was. My colleagues at work were incredibly supportive and I made some of the best friends I have had in years and went on trips and holidays I otherwise probably would never have gone.
Fast forward to summer 2017, things were actually going pretty well for me in all fronts; emotionally, socially and at work. Then I woke up one day with a bad pain in my neck and shoulders, and a weird sensation as if my head wanted to move on its own. I didn't pay too much attention to it and just assumed that it would go away on it's own. But it didn't... and after a few weeks I finally decided to go to the doctor. He told me that one of the muscles in my neck was stuck in a spasm and I had to do frequent exercises and stretches and I was put on a muscle relaxant. By the time September rolled around the symptoms were still getting worse until I had to stop working - because of the pain but also because it simply became too impractical. From that point my symptoms started to develop even more rapidly. My head just constantly wanted to jerk to the right and I lost almost all other motion in my neck. Because the muscle spasm was mostly triggered by motion, I became afraid to move at all - even just moving an arm - so I spend all day every day on my sofa or bed with my head propped up against a pillow. Sleeping became incredibly difficult too; whenever I lay on my back my head would often jerk to the right (which was very painful), if I lay on my left side my head would bounce off the pillow, turning up towards my right shoulder. If I lay on my right side my face kept getting pushed into my pillow. Going outside was torture. Whenever I walked, my head got pushed into my right shoulder. Even when I tried to push it back with my hand I couldn't get my head back to the center. This caused pain and discomfort, but worst of all, I felt like a freak and people weren't exactly being subtle when they were staring at me. All of this added up together was giving me severe anxiety.
My doctor told me it looked like I was developing Cervical Dystonia. Reading up on this, it was obvious to me that this was exactly what was going on. But reading things like "chronic", "no cure" and even "generalized dystonia" (full body spasms) didn't exactly help to make me feel better and made my anxiety even worse. After living like this for about two months I finally told myself to snap out of it. I managed to flick a switch in my brain and was somehow able to cast off the anxiety. After trying a few different medications my doctor finally found one that gave me some relief. I saw a few different specialist who all dismissed me because they couldn't help me, until I was finally referred to a neurologists in the hospital. Unfortunately they had a long waiting list so it took 6 months before I finally had my appointment, 2 weeks ago. He Immediately confirmed that it is Cervical Dystonia (also known as Spasmodic Torticollis) and injected botox into the affected muscles. The first botox injections have to be a low dose in case there are any side effects so the effects are very minor at the moment.
Although the official outlook is that I am now most likely disabled for life, I am convinced that I will beat this thing at some point. There are a number of treatments that have benefited other patients so I am determent to try as many of them as I can. There is one main treatment out there that centers around TMJ/TMD being the cause of the dystonia. But I won't go into any further detail about that because I don't want to bore you guys! After all, you're here for the knitting and sewing stuff ;)

Molly Pitcher


Now on to that lemon cannon I am building... 
Pretty much since the day I started knitting, I was thinking of designing knitting patterns myself. But with a full time job I was never quite sure how I would find the time for it. When my symptoms were at their worst I could barely do anything. Even knitting was difficult. But since my situation has improved to a point where I am able to sit somewhat comfortably at a desk again, I realized that I would never get a better opportunity than this to finally start designing! So I am currently working on a jumper out of cotton yarn for summer, then I have one lined up for autumn, and I'm playing around with some ideas for winter (preferably one jumper and one cardigan). Naturally, they will all have that vintage flair that you are used to seeing from me.

It's funny how these horrible things that happen in our lives often have a way of enriching our lives at the same time. I have discovered that my mind is a lot stronger than I ever thought it was and I have done and experienced things I never thought I would. I don't know how often I will be posting at the moment. Knitting is barely an issue for me anymore but some days sitting at the computer still is. However I have started doing a little bit of sewing again too, so hopefully I'll have some knitting as well as sewing to share with you like I used to do. When I am ready to start publishing my knitting patterns I will probably do a bit of re-branding and might change the name of the blog, but nothing is set in stone yet. 

If there are any of you out there who are also suffering from a disability or chronic illness while still staying creative with knitting and/or sewing I would love to hear how you get on!

Stay strong <3
xx

8 comments:

  1. It is so nice to hear you are back. I am sorry about what has happened to you these past two years. I am glad to hear you are slowly improving, and am looking forward to your pattern designs.
    Marie

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    1. Thank you Marie, it's good to be back!

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  2. It is good to hear from you and I must confess to being quite inspired by your resilience and determination to get on with things. In fact, you're not just "getting on" you're taking advantage of the situation. I'm excited to see what you're designing and I hope it all goes well for you.

    You should definitely check out Harriet from Hobbling Handmades - I can't remember the name of her condition, but she has a chronic illness and she is an avid seamstress and knitter. Here's a link to her website: https://hobblinghandmades.com/. She also has a YouTube channel and she occasionally talks about how she manages her illness while still being creative.

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    1. Thank you Katie! Yes I follow Harriet, I'm am absolutely amazed at the fact that she sews so much. It made me feel ashamed at how sorry I was feeling for myself (which I know is silly) and definitely had a part to play in changing my mental attitude.

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  3. Lovely to read you're back and it is amazing how strong �� we are when life throws these curveballs. I know quite a few crafters who say knitting and sewing helps them through all sorts :) excited for your pattern designs!

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    1. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" is kind of a cliché but there's so much truth in it!

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  4. It is so lovely to have you back Renee! And I am so very sorry to hear about your difficulties (I know that is putting it mildly) of late. I so look forward to seeing your knitting patterns that you come up with! You have been such an inspiration to so many in your knitting adventures.

    Blessings,

    Brigid

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    1. Thank you Brigid <3 ! (and I'm so sorry for the late reply, Blogger seems to have stopped sending me e-mail notifications when I get a comment)

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