Friday, September 17, 2010

My Hair, and Prizes!

Well, today was a pretty good (although very tiring) day =D. I relaxed for most of the morning, because I knew that I had a hair appointment in the afternoon (yes! I got my hair done for the first time in years!!!) I took some before and after shots of what my hair looks like. Please excuse my very very tired face! lol
After 1
After 2
After 3
I got three different colours of foils in my hair (purple, red and gold), and I had it cut a bit shorter than it was, and more layered. I was really impressed with the price, and how nice the girls who did my hair were! They even understood ME/CFS, and were sympathetic! =D It was really hard for me to sit up for all that time though - it took a couple of hours by the time they cut, straightened, dyed, dried, etc. But I loved it! I came home and slept afterwards.

My New Mouse Pad!
Anyways, tomorrow we are having visitors come to stay with us. I hope I have some energy to enjoy their visit. I get embarrassed when I'm too tired to chat or act social. In other news, my real-life prizes from Puzzle Pirates (for the portrait background contest that I won) came in the mail today! I was so excited! I love the way their envelopes have a little piratey OOO sticker on them! My prize was a mouse pad (pictured to the left) and a packet of Puzzle Pirates playing cards! Since I already have a packet of playing cards, I gave them to my sister, Ellenya. They are really cute, with little familiars in the aces, and Ocean Masters as the kings and queens!

~Adrielle =)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know =)

So, I decided to do the Invisible Illness Awareness Week blog!

1. The illnesses I live with are: ME/CFS, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, depression, and a suspected unknown rheumatoid condition. (The main/most debilitating one is ME/CFS).

2. I was diagnosed with ME/CFS in the year: 2004, when I was 18 years old and in my last year of high school. A few months later in that same year, I was also diagnosed with depression - this pretty much came about due to of all the changes that I had been forced to make to my life, because I now had ME/CFS (as well as the depressing symptoms and nature of the illness itself!)

I have also recently been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (only in the last month), and I am waiting for a diagnosis to explain why my joints have decided to swell as well as hurt all over, and affect the inflammation markers in my blood (my doctor suspects a rheumatological condition of some sort). I am seeing a specialist in November.

3. But I had symptoms since: I first got sick with the symptoms that would eventually be diagnosed as ME/CFS in early 2004. The symptoms came on suddenly, and I thought I was getting a flu or an infection of some sort. I was lucky in that my doctor had been seeing me for years, and knew that something was wrong. It took many months, and many second and third opinions before I ended up with a conclusive diagnosis. However, I know how lucky I am to have been diagnosed so quickly - I've heard that in many cases, it can take years to get answers.

As for the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I have always been super flexible, and prone to injury. I first started spontaneously dislocating joints when I was 11 years old, when I dislocated and broke my kneecap (by just sitting down on a trampoline :S). Since then, my dislocations have become more and more frequent, and now occur in most of the joints of my body. I even dislocate bones in my sleep, which is scary! I was diagnosed with "flat feet" and scoliosis of the spine in high school, and had a collapsed lung in 2001 (I have read that these can be more common in people with EDS, but I am new to this diagnosis - I could be jumping to conclusions!)

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Changing my entire lifestyle! I used to be a very active person. I trained in acrobatics and circus skills every day after school, kept up with my studies, did singing, palates, yoga, dancing, drama, talent quests, shopping, and made art and craft in my spare time. After getting sick, I was finding it almost impossible to do any training at all. I was missing so much, and no one seemed to understand (it was hard for me to understand what was happening to me, as well). I felt lazy, because I was used to doing so much, and suddenly all I could do was sleep and zombie around the place. I have to say, though, that it has become a lot easier to deal with the limitations of ME/CFS with time. I have found new (sitting-in-a-chair-type) hobbies to replace my old active ones! I still very much miss my old life, but I have adjusted to my new life, and it has a lot of awesomeness too.

5. Most people assume: I don't know - never really thought about that! I guess I sort of feel like most people whom I talk to in real-life think that I am a bit slow; most of the time I am too exhausted to participate in conversation much, and then afterwards I get embarrassed and hope that people haven't thought that I am rude or something! Literally thinking of, and forming words can be difficult for me many days, especially if I have used energy to get showered, dressed, sit through a car trip, and go out into the world (even if I am being pushed in my wheelchair!) Chatting online has the advantage of me being able to take my time and re-read what I write before posting it =D.

6. The hardest part about mornings are: Getting out of bed and walking down the hallway! My legs (and the rest of my body) seize up and hurt like crazy, and I wake up just as tired as I was when I went to bed. I also get dizzy when I first wake up, so I have to take it slow.

7. My favorite medical TV show is: Scrubs!

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:
Only one?! Well, I like being long and drawn out, so I'm gonna list a few. I couldn't live without:
* My iPad, because it lets me chat and tweet and Facebook to my friends from bed when I am too sick to get up or to type. It has a pink cover and lots of game apps on it too!
* My laptop, because I can sit in my comfy and supportive armchair and chat, draw, play and connect with people.
* My battery operated toothbrush, my wheelchair, my massive queen-size bed with all its extra pillows to support my joints, and my shower chair.

9. The hardest part about nights are: Getting comfortable enough to get to sleep, and not being able to sleep, even though I am SO INCREDIBLY EXHAUSTED!

10. Each day I take around 12 pills & vitamins. (No comments, please)

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: Have tried so many! They have mostly been terribly expensive, and none have actually worked (in some cases, they significantly worsened my quality of life).

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: That is a hard one. Can I choose no illness at all? lol! I would like to increase awareness of invisible illness to make it easier for myself and other sufferers, either way.

13. Regarding working and career: I have never been able to work since high school (other than as a volunteer for short stints). I have a Bachelor of Behavioural Science degree from university, but unfortunately I am too ill to actually use the qualification! At the moment, I am a volunteer online for various websites, and I also make art and craft. I am studying 3D art and animation for film, games and television via e-learn (online), but I am working through the coursework verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry slowly! I find it incredibly hard to concentrate most of the time. I would love to be able to work, but at the moment, I am unable to.

14. People would be surprised to know: Hmm... I don't know! I think I talk too much, and have run out of surprises... Ok, I fantasise about having a mobility scooter - you know, the ride on and drive around anywhere kind? I would LOVE one of those so that I could go around my street on good days, or go to the park, or go buy lunch on my own. That would be awesome =D. And I would so decorate it with glitteriness!

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: The unpredictable nature of this illness from day to day/month to month/year to year. It is SO difficult to make plans. Also, it is really hard to pace myself and to try to remain as well as I can without overdoing it (or underdoing it) - it is hard to strike a balance of doing as much as I can/should do, and much as I want to do. Overdoing it, even by a small amount, means a lengthy and nasty recovery period, which is frustrating! Coming to terms with the total change of lifestyle that ME/CFS caused was also obviously incredibly difficult.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: End up being so open about it (and about other things). I was a very quiet person before I got sick, but now I find I can just talk to people. I also am really proud of getting my high school certificate and my university degree while ill, because I know how hard it was for me with my illness =). 

17. The commercials about my illness: Don't seem to exist in my country. They so should, though. Wonder who I could talk to about that...

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Acrobatics, walking around shops browsing, having the focus to write poetry and essays, being able to paint and draw in real-life (I mainly draw with a computer mouse now because my hands don't like co-operating!) and having the energy to look and feel alive!

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Acrobatics. I tried so hard to keep going! I would do like an hour of training instead of two and a half, but then I would go home and vomit all night because I had overdone it. I would take the next day or two to recover, but then I would try again. I must have been crazy!

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Online gaming, social networking, photography, digital art design, and beading.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: go to a special place in the bush I used to be able to walk to, and sit there and listen to all the sounds that I used to love. I'd also take photos of it all so I couldn't forget. (Gosh! That question got me emotional!) O - and I would so go to the snow with Ellenya! And the beach, and the aquarium!

22. My illness has taught me: to be more understanding of other people, to count how many steps there are to get into places, to pace my activity (even tiny tasks), and to plan my days out based on energy.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: Have you tried drinking coffee? Homeopathy/naturopathy? Why don't you just have a sleep, then go out? You can't just sit there in real life; you're lazy. You should help your mother more. When I was your age... Argh! Do you think I haven't tried? Or I want to be like this?!

24. But I love it when people: Understand, or make an effort to understand. I love it when people show that they care, try to cheer me up, and make me feel worthwhile =). 

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: GLUG! - Because it reminds me of my awesome friends and merry gluggers!

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: You're not alone! Come and hang out on Twitter if you have the energy to Tweet - there are so many awesome guys and gals on there who truly understand, and who are so amazingly supportive. Also, don't pause your life while you hope to get better - make the most of what you have while you are ill, because there is always something you can do (even if it is something very small).

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: The inner strength that I have, and the resilience. I always thought I wouldn't cope with something like this, but when actually faced with it, you can't turn away.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: There have been so many nice things! From making me cups of tea, talking to me and just being there, sending me internet and real-life hugs, sending me cat-llamas, and making me smile and feel less alone =).

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: I know it is really important to spread the word about these hidden illnesses; to increase understanding and acceptance in the world!

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:
Awesome! Because I feel like I have done my part to spread the word about my invisible illnesses, and I feel like people care =D

~Adrielle =)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

War Wounds from Iron Needles & More!

Well, for the last six weeks, I have been having iron injections - one every Tuesday. My iron was very low, and iron in tablet form makes me really sick, so I can't take them. Yesterdays iron needle didn't hurt too much, but every week my bruise gets bigger, more spread out, and more multi-coloured... lol! It is about the size of my hand at the moment, which is kinda nasty. It seems to be taking forever to fade as well.

Anyway, the needles are making me feel a little better in myself - concentration and energy-wise (although I still don't have the energy to do very much at all). Couple that with the effects of the prednisone on reducing my pain and swelling, and the last two weeks I have become a new woman! I am dreading the gradual reduction in dosage from this week on. I don't want to end up back the way I was where I couldn't type, couldn't walk even around the house, couldn't raise my arms above my head, etc. Hopefully the two weeks at this dose will have knocked the swelling on the head enough that it won't return too quickly.

As to the cause of my swelling and pain, it is still sort of unknown. Although I have Ehlers-Danlos SyndromeME/CFS (which cause seriously nasty joint, muscle and nerve pain in themselves!), my doctor suspects that this new type of pain I am feeling (for about a year now, gradually worsening) is caused by a separate an unknown rheumatological condition (she even mentioned some kind of widespread viral arthritis at one stage). It affects pretty much every joint in my entire body, and my blood test markers have been showing a marked gradual increase in inflammation (and necrosis?!) over a period of months. All I know is - I am REALLY glad I tried the prednisone tablets, because the amount of relief they have given me has given me hope that I won't be so decrepit forever! lol 

~Adrielle =)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Busiest Day I've Had In Ages!

Well, today was the most full on day that I have had in ages. I got up, got dressed and painted my nails, and then went on a 45 minute car trip to an orchid show. I went to take some photos to hopefully enter into an upcoming orchid photography competition. When I planned to go to the show, I thought that it would be a morning out; difficult, but doable in my current state of health. Unfortunately, by the time we looked at the show, had lunch, then went to visit relatives, it turned out that we didn't get home until after 5pm.

It was very hard. I needed help to walk up the five steps at my house because I couldn't do it alone. My muscles were refusing to hold me up, I had horrible nausea and a headache, my mind wouldn't think and I was in so much pain I didn't know how I was going to get inside! After a few hours of sleep, I did feel slightly better (although I kept waking up with a start because all my joints were so unstable and kept trying to dislocate on me!)

I eventually got up and logged on to my laptop to try to look at the photos I had taken, but I couldn't really focus enough to check whether they are actually in focus! I will have to look again tomorrow. Hopefully I got at least a few nice ones! I was leaning the camera on the arm of my wheelchair to try to combat my shaky handedness, so fingers crossed they won't be too blurry.

Anyways, I made the mistake of reading my emails. There was one from someone on a forum that I mentioned my magazine idea on, saying that I shouldn't have done so without permission from the site owner (the rules of the site say that you need permission for commercial advertisements - but the magazine idea is not a commercial advertisement, its a not-for-profit project between anyone who wants to get involved, so I didn't know it wasn't allowed). In my sick and depressed state, it was a real kick in the guts. I guess it feels like those who try to do positive stuff and get some community involvement going are not allowed to.

I know I am taking a big risk trying to get this project up and running, and most of the feedback I have been getting has been really positive and encouraging. I'm just not brilliant at coping with criticism in my current mood, especially when I don't really understand why I am in trouble. I guess it will make sense in the morning when I'm not quite as tired! lol

Hopefully, things will be clearer in the morning!

~Adrielle =)