Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Christmas gift ideas

I thought I'd put together a list of some gift ideas that are low cost; some of which are DIY/handmade gifts and I'll sort them into different categories.


Toiletries

  • Fluffy socks, foot masks and foot cream - this is a DIY gift that I've put together
    myself
  • Face masks and a novelty headband - another DIY gift I've
    done
  • Shower gel and a shower scrunchie
  • DIY nail polish set - base coat, top coat, coloured and effect polishes e.g. glitter
  • Hair scrunchies - you could sew your own if you're able to (by hand or on a machine)

Stationary

  • Writing sets - (I've actually made my own as a gift before)
  • Pens and pencil case - you could block print or sew a pencil case if you are able to
  • Weekly planner pad for the year with pens

Food

  • Hot chocolate stir sticks set - you can even get dairy free ones
  • Make your own selection sets with the person's favourite sweets or treats that are free from if they have allergies

Clothes
Becca's Boutique © 

  • Mitts and a hat/headband - especially if it's hand knitted or crocheted
  • Fun printed socks - Accessorize often do fun socks often with an offer
  • Fluffy socks

Other items

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

My Christmas card fundraiser for Action for M.E.

Instagram post screen shot. Photograph of a caucasian young woman holding handmade Christmas cards. in the bottom corner is the hashtag fundraising Friday.
My Christmas card fundraiser has gone so so well! I'm so proud out myself for what I've achieve through this little project that I set out on not really expecting much. Its been wonderful to receive orders not just from friends but form strangers too!

In total I've raised £76! This will help Action for M.E. with projects like their Christmas Angels project, and their 'Listen to M.E,' support line as well as their other advocacy and campaign work helping to give people with M.E. a voice. It's a really special charity to me.

Last Friday I get featured in the charity's social media Fundraising Friday - see the post here.

I'm now no longer taking orders and I'm just working on this final order that I got asked to make 20 cards for. I've had some big orders - this is my second 20 card order and I've had one or two (brain fog is getting the better of me) orders for 10 cards then smaller orders such as 4 cards.

This is one quote I gave to Action for M.E. to to fundraising team:

“I feel incredibly proud of myself as it has been a challenge. It might not be running a marathon but for me this has been my marathon especially with my M.E. to deal with and it has been tough."

This is so true. With my M.E. this has been a fundraising challenge to get through orders as I'm limited with my energy and the time I can spend crafting. Usually I can only make one card a day, two at a push depending on what I'm making. Sometimes cards take even longer to complete especailly with me being a bit of a perfectionist, but I want people to love the cards that they've bought from me.

I hope this fundraiser shows people with M.E. that they can still fundraise but in smaller ways and I already have palsy to do something similar so watch this space! 

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Imagination

My M.E has been getting worse lately. I'm doing what I can when I'm able to and adjusting my daily plan with extra rest and low-level activity periods to save what little energy I have. 

I wanted this post to be about imagination as I've found that with having severe M.E for me personally I have to use my imagination a lot and I think it helps that I've always been quite an imaginative and creative person. 

I use my imagination when I'm resting and listening to my favourite soundscapes like the one of Central Park and my imagination weaves a narrative as I listen to the soundscape. Then there's the meditations I listen to; I quite like visualisation meditations the first favourite takes me through the colour spectrum my other favourite visualisation is for pain relief. It tells you of a magical cave with a pool of healing water within; I've listened to this meditation so often that in my imagination I've completely visualised and decked out this cave with differently coloured crystals growing in the cave walls, tiny dancing lights, the reflection of the water onto the cave ceiling, a sand floor, the pool outlined with rocks and more. This is where my imagination takes me.

When my body is too exhausted and I cannot do much else I lay and listen to audiobooks and I've been doing this more often recently getting through some rather enjoyable books.

Then when I can't do anything I just lay with my imagination. I didn't know what to term this but I've bravely started listening to Jessica Taylor-Bearman's book 'A Girl Behind Dark Glasses'. I say bravely because I've had the audiobook, the book and the ebook for a long time but I've never felt emotionally ready to listen or read Jess' book as it was too close to home. When I first started to listen I got about 5 minutes in and had to stop as I was crying so much as every word Jess was saying about how she was physically feeling I was agreeing with and I was also not feeling my best self either M.E wise. But in Jess' book she refers to something called 'limbo land' for Jess this is where her M.E is so bad that she has little consciousness but I can relate to 'limbo land' where my mind and body are just overwhelmed with M.E that it can't fully function. Physically everything hurts and moving is too much and cognitively your brain and mind are overwhelmed so all you can really do is just lay with the thoughts in your head and imagine. Often I take Grand Designs or Pinterest into my imagination. I build houses and plan all the rooms and design them. Other times I plan blog posts or ideas for YouTube videos or places I'd like to visit like caf├ęs, shops, museums or art galleries etc.

My imagination is really important to me as it provides me with a welcome distraction from my M.E and my symptoms especially pain. My imagination also takes me to places where my body and mind can't go. 

There is a quote that I really like and it is "Imagination is another name for absolute power." And that is completely true.

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Tips for making activities easier

Doing any sort of activity can be difficult when you have M.E and everyone's M.E is different but here is some of my advice on how to make activities a little easier so hopefully they become more enjoyable.


Firstly listen to your body

What is your body telling you? Are you having a good or bad day, are your physically tired, cognitively tired, emotionally tired etc? All these things are important to listen to as if your physically tired and then go and do a physical activity you're just going to make yourself feel even worse.


Switch tasks

One of the things I find helpful is to switch tasks so if my last activity was more physically demanding (like getting washed and dressed) I'd switch my next task for something that is say more cognitive (like listening to an audiobook).

This just gives different aspects of my body times to be active and times to slow down.


Take rests

The amount of rest you need totally depends on you. I'd say generally rest before you flop. For some you may need just the one rest period a day but for others you may need a few rest periods to help you keep going. See my blog post of rest.


Low-level activities

Low-level activities are great for when you still want to do something but you mind and/or body aren't quite feeling up to doing something 'big'.

Low-level activities may differ from me to you but some suggestions include listening to the radio, a podcast or an audiobook, reading (a book, magazine or newspaper - I'd highly recommend The Happy Newspaper as a personal suggestion), colouring, journalling/bullet journalling, watching short YouTube videos, painting nails and doing nail art, mobile phone games or small handheld gaming devices (not ones that connect to the television) - that's as many as I can think of and I hope I've listed enough variety for everyone.

Obviously all these activities are at differ levels but most can be done laid down or if not sat up with you legs raised which is a nice restful posture which can help alleviate some M.E symptoms that you may experience like orthostatic intolerance. As a result low-level activities give you mind and body an all round break and I strongly suggest putting if possible into your day one hour or two 30 minute slots of low level activity.


The traffic light system
Post-it not with heading plan for the day. Below it is split into three colour coded sections green, orange and red

This is a system that I find really helpful when I'm writing out my activities and to-do list for the day. I'm quite a visual person so seeing the traffic light colours helps me to plan my day and to-do list in a balanced way for my body.


The traffic light system goes like this: Green = easy, Orange = okay, Red = challenging

Using this traffic light system it can help you plan out your day and can help you more with spreading your activities out. You can read more about pacing and activity management in this blog post which goes into more detail about the traffic light system and how to best use it.

These handy post-it notes are available from the Stickman Communications ® store.


Time yourself

It is incredibly easy to get lost in an activity and then find that you've overdone it and you're paying for it afterwards. One thing I learnt with my OT is how long I can spend on an activity before I reach my limit. This activity time limit will be different for everyone and may also differ depending on the activity. Working out your time limit is trial-an-error. The best way I worked out my activity limit was to start small and build myself up. (This was a little different for me as this time as then I was in a specialist unit for people with severe M.E). 

Generally how you work out your activity time limit is start small 5 or 10 minutes or around there (wherever your M.E is at) and what I found helpful was setting a timer (which I still do) so initially do your activity for that shorter period of time and then after a few days or when you feel comfortable and can manage that time limit. Then you increase it a little e.g. from 10 to 15 minutes and continue to do so until you find a time limit that is manageable for you and you feel comfortable with and what feels comfortable and doable. So a time limit that doesn't exhaust you, or flare up any of your symptoms etc. 

Sometimes on your bad days your activity time limit may be less and on you good days it may be a little more but try to stick within your limit so as to avoid that 'I've overdone it' feeling and exacerbating your M.E.


Break tasks up

Breaking tasking up can make them easier and less tiring. As an example when I'm blogging I don't just write a post all in one go (that would be way too much for me!) so I just write a paragraph at a time. - Behind the scenes of my blog is organised chaos of draft blogs as I get ideas and start a draft blog to complete at a later date as well as to balance my blog out so I'm not just always blogging about health related content.

Obviously not all tasks can be broken up, like cooking a meal, but where possible try to break tasks down into more manageable bits. This fits in with your activity time limit (see above).


Braces and splints

If you have hypermobility it may help to wear braces of splints. For example when I crochet I wear my hand brace as well as some splints on my fingers to give my wrist and fingers some support and stability. This means that my joints don't tire so easily so I can crochet for longer and it also reduces injury and pain.


Adapting your work space

Changing your work space can make both activities easier as well as aiding you. For example if your doing an activity in bed using extra pillows or support pillow like a V or body pillow to support you so you are more comfortable as well as supported. It may also be beneficial to invest in a fold-up bed table (link as an example) or a table that goes over your bed (you may be able to get one of these from your Occupational Therapist) so that when you are doing activities in bed you have a better set up for doing activities.

If you are working at a table adaptations that may make things easier for you include a tilt stand for your laptop, a wrist rest either for typing and/or for your mouse mat, adapted mice (such as an ergonomic mouse), adaptive software such as voice recognition software, back supports and foot rests. (Links all for examples.)

Adapting your work space makes tasks easier for lots of reasons; it may help to reduce pain, improve and support your posture and position as well as supporting your muscles and joints. This is all really important as some of these things are preventative so they help reduce and may prevent problems from happening such as muscle and joint pain.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

6 recent books I'd recommend

'Men Who Hate Women' by Laura Bates

Laura Bates has to be one of my favourite writers. I love how she writes on women issues yet still includes men in a positive way into the conversation.

This book really opened my eyes up to the vast community of men out there who take hating women to the next level. I learnt more about men who troll women online, 'incels' - communities of men who meet in online forums, the pick-up artist community, the 'manospere', extremism and terrorism and more.

It's another great book by Laura and I would highly recommend it if you want something different to the usual feminism books.


Holiday SOS by Ben Macfarlane

This was a really good book with moments where you had to double take remembering that what you're listening/reading actually did happen.

I'd never given much thought to the medical career field of repatriating unwell Brits to the UK. I quite like my medical doctor's stories books and I'd happy re-listen to this book. It was full of really interesting medical cases with the twist of getting the unwell and/or injured person on a flight back to the UK and it wouldn't be a good book if there no hiccups along the way.

This book really made me think of what a fab side of medicine career wise this job would be.


'Weird things people say in bookstores' by Jen Campbell

This was a book I actually read, I actually found out about this book from a review from Hannah below. 

It was a good easy to read book with some great illustrations to support the hilarity of what I was reading at times wondering how a person can actually ask such a thing in a bookstore or indeed anywhere. 

It was sectioned into a few different UK bookstores and then the last section opened out to things said in various bookstores worldwide.

If you want something easy, different and extremely funny to read this is your book!


'163 Days' by Hannah Hodgson 

Hannah is one of my favourite writers and YouTubers. I love her channel and have found many good books from her book reviews as well as her openness and honesty about living with life limiting illnesses.

I've read a few of Hannah's poetry pamphlets (Hannah introduced me to poetry) but this is her first book.

In 163 Days it's spilt into three sections.

The first section is the main book itself and I love the really different format in which Hannah wrote. 163 days is centred around Hannah's longest hospital stay which lasted 163 days and there is an entry for each day. The format for each day's entry took a medical entry for that day and Hannah's entry for the day. This made reading the book quite nice and easy.

Hannah also included a collection of poems which I want to return to an re-read to better grasp what she is writing and communicating as I've enjoyed much of Hannah's other poems and it was Hannah that got me back into poetry.


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi *

*Spoiler alert

I really enjoyed this book. It's about a neurosurgeon who's at the top of his game who he's diagnosed with lung cancer. He writes about his career, his treatment and family life.

It's beautifully written and it would have been nice for there to have been an equally beautiful written ending to his book. Instead it just stops but then that's the nature of terminal illness, you never know when the full stop will come. However his wife did write a beautiful ending to the book for him.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This was quite a different book for me as I don't usually listen/read novels.

The storyline wasn't what I fully expected from the book description despite this however I still got into the story and I really enjoyed the book.

The book follow two twins who are both into fan-fiction of a particular fiction book series. When they start at college they drift apart and the book particularly follows the life of Cath and her first year of college with the typical family and friend dramas as well as her classmates and classes and of course her fanfic.


Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Rest

So to start off with rest is a major component of my day. Within my daily plan I alternate between rest and some sort of activity period or the odd time for a meal/snack, or 5 minutes of physio or my AM routine etc.

I was prompted to write this post because today I didn't rest enough and that has Big consequences. Not getting enough rest means that my symptoms get markedly worse. Also on the M.E side of things you needs energy to sleep and though a huge part of having M.E involves chronic fatigue you might be surprised to know that another aspect of the condition is sleep difficulties. This is because your body needs energy to sleep and when you don't have enough energy your body can struggle to sleep. Normally I settle down to bed at 9pm but it's now 11.56pm and today I don't rest enough so I can't sleep which will mean that I'll struggle tomorrow so all can try and do tomorrow is take it easy, do more low-level activities and of course get plenty of rest.

Rest is different for different people. For me it's structural. How we rest is is also different which is something that I came across when I did my day in my life Instagram story. When I first started to have rest periods I'd say listen to a podcast but I soon realised that for me that was still too stimulating for me. Equally I can't engage in pure neurological rest and just lay there for 30 minutes or an hour. For me what I find works for me is listening to meditations especially visualisation, breathing exercises or mindfulness. Sometimes I can do body scanning meditations but it depends as some when I'm doing them magnify my pain and other physical symptoms and I find them too uncomfortable. As well as meditations I also enjoy listening to soundscapes but not the repetitive kind - I like ones in which I can tell myself a narrative.

From when I did my Instagram story I know some people commented that resting in this way would make them nod off (there's a difference between napping and resting) and they preferred what I would class as more active rest or low-level activity. Activities such as colouring, reading, listening to a podcast the radio or an audiobook, flicking through a magazine, completing puzzles in a puzzle book, diamond painting, doing a jigsaw puzzle as a few examples.

However you rest if you're unwell wether it be temporarily or more chronic I suggest building time into your day to rest, preferably a time when you start to tire and your body is saying to you 'STOP I need time out!' - this may be before the time your body is screaming for a nap because it's so overtired. For some people this may just be once a day and for others having a rest may be several times a day, there's no such thing as too much rest.