Saturday 10 November 2012

Taking a little time: Day 10 #NHBPM

Well despite my best efforts I took one of my two blog free days yesterday. It's a fine line between pushing through and coming a cropper. Yesterday I was well on my way to face planting or at the very least sobbing in a mental corner somewhere, so I decided it was time to take a little time, and simply be kind to myself.

For Day 10 I've taken one of the alternate topics.

How you take time for yourself

You often here the term pacing in the world of chronic illness. I used it often back when I was on the opposite side of the desk. Working in rehab it's a central tenet of practice. Mostly it's in relation to physical burnout. Walking the fine line between pushing a patient to exercise just that little bit more to ensure progress whilst also being aware that if you push that little bit too far the post-exertional malaise will mean they go backwards. But pacing isn't just physical it's mental and emotional too. And some days you just need to sit back and breathe for a while. I say this in full knowledge that my stubbornness means the whole theory of pacing goes out the window on a regular basis. If I have a good day I always try and pack in a weeks worth of activity into those 24hrs. It's so rare I want to make the most of it. Which of course leads to a huge body backlash and long recovery phase. Between the professional theory and my own history of the do to much/crash you'd think I know better. But no. Stubbornness is the winner in that game.

But yesterday I decided to grasp that fleeting moment of sanity and cry uncle. Time to take time. Thanks to my current back issues yesterday's breather was filled with mindless TV watching. Sometimes there is nothing better than sitting back and losing yourself in some trash TV or getting your geek on watching yet another scifi/fantasy program. But normally if I want some me time I get crafty or I garden.

There is nothing better than creating. From the idea stage, to the actual crafting itself, I love it. But when you finally finish a project that feeling is really special. My body is not compliant with much these days. Many of the things I would love to do are out of my reach and it's easy to get caught up in the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. But whether it's painting, potting up plants, making soft toys for my nieces or repurposing a piece of furniture. Every time I complete a project, no matter how small, there is a real sense of achievement. And in many ways it's a case of giving my body and my health a big middle finger.

Small and therefore achievable projects are what I do for the most part. But occasionally I pick a larger project and do a little bit at a time, for a long time.

I found this old wardrobe on the side of the road during one of our twice a year Hard Waste days. This is when our council allows us to put out larger items for disposal alongside our regular garbage. I like to think of it as better than Christmas. I used to love nothing more than driving around picking up various bits and pieces (I was too unwell this year so my best friend went around for me, texting me pictures of her finds, now that's a true friend!). So much that others think of as junk, I see as potential. I see a piece and instantly know what I'll do with it.

My eldest son and his mate carried it home for me as it was too big for the car. It even had the original keys.  From the first moment I saw it I knew it was my new kitchen cabinet. Don't ask me why but I did.

I sanded my heart out. Mind you that sanding took months. I have Muppet arms with no strength. Not too mention that pesky standing and putting my arms up above my heart. Never good when you have Dysautonomia. But after months of stopping and starting and much in between resting, I managed to get off the majority of that old shellac.

Mr Grumpy, his Dad and brother reused old doors and other bits and pieces to put in some shelves for me.

 Then I ordered some paper online.

And painted. And painted. And painted.

And papered the door panels. (This involved much in the way of swearing as the highly fibrous paper shrank and bubbled when it hit the glue). Plus a coat or three of varnish to protect the paper.

Voila! My new kitchen cabinet.

In this case it took me months and months to finish. But it felt so good when I attached the final door. We use it everyday and everyday it makes me smile. Because for once I finished something, despite all the obstacles my body put in the way. It took me forever and a day but it was and is so rewarding. Every time I finish a project. Whether it is simply managing to pot up some plants, paint a pot, decorate a chair (one of my favourite things to collect from Hard Waste) or even make Christmas decorations from bits in my yard and what I had in the house, it revives me in a way I can't really explain.

Topped with my green flour tins that I found on ebay and love.

I know other chronic crafters who knit or crochet, do origami or draw. A whole range of different hobbies and talents. For each of us it is the same thing. The joy of creation. The joy of holding the finished product and saying "I did that", despite all the difficulties we face, all the obstacles our bodies throw at us. That sense of satisfaction and pride. And I much prefer putting what little energy I have into crafting and creating than vacuuming or stressing about my health. I am happy when the exhaustion or symptom increase is due to craft and not because I went grocery shopping or am pushing myself to keep my house clean. It all helps to heal your spirit one little project at a time.

Michelle :)

Day I: Why do I write about my health.
Day 2: Find a quote and use it as inspiration.
Day 3: I don't know about this, but I'd like to.
Day 4: A chronic handbag
Day 5: Health Activist Soapbox 
Day 6: And I've done my back, because it's not like I had anything else going on.
Day 7: Setbacks. Vlog time.
Day 8: A letter to my health.

Today's musical interlude comes from Crafting Playlist of which No 10 just happens to be Kate Bush's fabulous classic Babooshka.


  1. I absolutely love love love it. It may have taken time but that time was well spent. It is just amazing in every way.

  2. Love that - it's beautiful!


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