Running for Recognition – why my husband took part in a half marathon in aid of EDS UK.

Running for Recognition – why my husband took part in a half marathon in aid of EDS UK.

Today is Father’s Day here in the UK, the day where most of us choose to celebrate the men in our lives. They could be our Father, our Grandfather or a Father figure; or like me, it could be the Father to our children. My husband is not only Dad, he’s also my carer. He’s ‘chief cook and bottle washer’ in our house (a saying I heard a lot as a child) and he works incredibly hard to do his best by me and our children, all three of them.

Though my husband Karl is biologically Father to my youngest son and my stepson, in reality he is Dad to all of our children. When my daughter talks of her Daddy, she refers to him. When she tells her friends at school about her Dad, it’s him she’s talking about. She is his little girl in every way shape and form; they play fight and play pranks on each other, they watch football together and play team computer games. Soon she will be towering over him, but she will forever be his little girl.

Recently she had her EDS diagnosis reconfirmed just like me (they like to do another check a few years after the original one to see if any thing has changed) . They’ve reclassified it now, called it Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder in order to try and make Doctors less fearful of the diagnosis, but it’s the same condition. As usual Karl was by my side at her appointment, listening in to all the advice we were given so he could help as much as possible. Then, out of the blue a few weeks later he decided to sign up for the Doncaster Half Marathon in aid of EDS UK with only a week or so to prepare! Why? This is what he said when I asked…

Why did you decide to run the half marathon?

Initially I decided to run the half marathon as a challenge for myself. My whole life is devoted to looking after the family and its meant I’ve let my own interests and hobbies fall on the back burner. Recently my wife’s health has deteriorated which has left me under more pressure, this has manifested itself in depression; something very common in people who care for their loved ones. I haven’t been to the gym in years, but I thought if I could complete the run it would be a great way to kick start my journey back to a more active lifestyle. My wife now has a home care package and we should hopefully be moving to a bungalow soon, this gives us both more opportunities for independence. Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife and children; I just don’t think people realise quite how high pressure being a carer and parent is. So, when I saw this opportunity I decided to jump at it.

What made you choose EDS UK as your charity?

As soon as I signed up for the run I knew EDS UK would be the charity for me. Both my wife and daughter are afflicted by Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and its important to me that I show them both that I fully support them as best as I can. I know about the illness due to my family being so heavily affected by it, but most people have never even heard of it. Since joining support groups and learning about the condition myself I’ve realised there are thousands and thousands of people worldwide suffering in countless ways because of it. For such a widespread condition there is so little exposure, I wanted to try and do my part to help spread the word.

How do you feel about the money raised, do you feel lack of knowledge contributed to the amount of donations?

So far we have raised £75; I know it doesn’t seem a huge amount, but I only had a week to fundraise. For the time I had to prepare I’m happy with the amount I raised, after all every little helps towards finding much needed research that will eventually help people like my family and I. Obviously we all want to raise thousands of pounds, I’ve even left my fundraiser open in case anyone still chooses to donate, but with the condition being so unheard of it can be difficult to raise money. Often people assume it’s just a case of having hypermobility (as it’s also known as Hypermobility Syndrome) and don’t realise the many debilitating effects EDS can have on a person. Hopefully the more visible EDS becomes, the more people will learn and be willing to donate.

Did you get chance to raise awareness through fundraising?

I hope so. I chose to run in the EDS charity vest which is bright yellow and very eye catching. From what I could see I was the only person there wearing one, so hopefully seeing me pass by got people thinking about the condition.

In the run up to the half marathon I also shared the fundraiser all over my local Facebook and asked people in the support groups to share too. My wife also shared the link from her Facebook page which she uses to talk about all aspects of living with EDS and her other associated conditions; last week her page got two thousand hits so hopefully some people stayed to read a little of the information on there.

Due to an injury I picked up three miles in, I ran alongside two women from around eight miles; they hadn’t heard of EDS before so I told them all about it and how it affects so many people. It felt good to be able to educate someone on the condition and also kept my mind off the pain I was feeling. Hopefully they will go on to tell other people about the crazy guy who ran the half marathon on no training to raise awareness of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I know that I’ve raised awareness in at least two people, I’m happy with that. If each of us could educate just two people then think of how many would understand the condition better, it could be in the millions.

Do you feel the aches and injury caused by the race gave you a better insight into life with EDS?

Oh yes, most definitely. I hurt so badly for three days solid after the run. Obviously I hurt where I’d injured myself by pulling my groin, but I also hurt everywhere else. Literally everywhere, even my fingers hurt. I do feel it’s helped me relate better to the pain my wife and child feel, particularly my wife as she was diagnosed later in life so has sustained a lot of strain on her joints. Injuries and sprains in EDS are cumulative, once a joint is damaged it never gets back to how it was (or this is how we have had it explained). Because my wife was unaware of her condition she used to push through her pain and fatigue, this has left her in a state of serious chronic pain. So yes, I do feel it’s helped me understand her better when she tells me everything hurts, but I’ll never know what it’s like to be in a degree of pain all day every day. I struggle to even imagine it.

Why didn’t you give up after the injury?

I didn’t give up for several reasons. Firstly, this was a personal goal of mine and it meant a lot to me to complete it; also I wanted to give those who had been kind enough to donate their monies worth. Most of all though, I wanted to make my wife and children proud.

At around eight miles in I collapsed in pain by the road, I thought I was done and rung my wife to tell her I had failed and would be getting collected by the sweeper bus. I really believed I couldn’t go on.

My wife told me how proud her and the kids were of me, that whether I completed it or not I was a winner in their eyes. She also put the phone on speaker so my children could shout words of encouragement down the phone. This was the first time she had been alone with the children for over a year, but she reassured me they were all being great and her carer was due any minute meaning I could walk the rest of the run if needed. She encouraged me but didn’t pressure me.

The two ladies I mentioned earlier offered for me to tag along with them as they weren’t going to be rushing and running in a group is always easier. Much like when battling an illness, support is key. Thanks to the mental boost from my call home I was able to catch up with the ladies I’d met and complete the whole thirteen miles. I’m so glad I did as I wanted so badly to earn the medal and give Ehlers Danlos the exposure it deserves.

What do you think about the way doctors treat EDS? (how much knowledge they have, their willingness to treat patients with the condition?)

After seeing how my wife is treat due to her condition I know for sure that more research needs doing into the condition and the problems it causes. When my wife is taken into Hospital and has to spend her time educating almost every doctor she sees about her condition you know something isn’t right. We have travelled to London more times than I can count because there are so few specialists North of the capital. What’s even more disheartening is even when you do see a specialist in Ehlers Danlos they will more often than not refuse to treat any of the issues it causes! Often we are left feeling disappointed and hopeless. I can’t talk for other countries, but in the UK something needs to change. Even issues not linked to the EDS don’t get treatment, my wife has an aneurysm and she’s literally been told that she’s lucky it’s not in a spot that will kill her if /when it busts as due to her EDS they won’t consider surgery on it! Things need to change.

As a parent and partner how does EDS affect you?

Ehlers Danlos has completely changed my life despite me not being a sufferer. I had to give up a well paid job around four years ago in order to become my wife’s full time carer, my friendships have all but fizzled away and I’ve had to put up with a lot of negativity about not working.

Since leaving work my partners health has deteriorated. She has developed Cranio Cervical instability as well as other issues with her spine, this means she relies on me to get around and has to be laid in bed a lot. The stairs are dangerous for her as her legs go from under her without warning, so on the rare occasion she makes it downstairs I have to bare her weight over my shoulders. This is not only dangerous it’s also caused me to injure my back. Hopefully we will soon get a bungalow that will suit our needs better and my wife will get a PA, but even then I’ll be her carer. It’s unlikely I’ll get back to work and if I do it won’t be in a job with long demanding hours like before.

With my daughter I do find it tricky. She’s at an age where hormones are beginning to fly around her body and it’s hard to tell what is a hormonal meltdown and what is her body telling her she is in pain or needs to rest. Even she doesn’t recognise the signs that her body has had enough for one day yet, so it’s very hard for me to. Sometimes I don’t pick up on when she’s actually in pain, I’m trying to improve on that.

As much as I know about EDS I’ll never actually know how either of them feel as it’s not my body it’s hurting.

Will you be doing more events?

I do plan on doing more events throughout the year and will be proudly sporting my EDS vest at each one of them, though I won’t be doing another thirteen mile run on no training any time soon! Some people think I’m stupid for taking on the Half Marathon at such short notice, but I’m glad I did it as its proved to me that I can still achieve my goals. Currently I’m considering another local run through Yorkshire Wildlife Park, its a 5k run with a fun run that your children can join if they like. The entry fee goes towards the conservation of the animals at the park, including Zebras (which anyone with EDS will know are our mascot). I’ll also be raising sponsorship for EDS UK. Plus I’m on the lookout for other local events, eventually working up to doing Tough Mudder and such. I hope to get plenty of use out of my EDS vest!

Any further comments?

The only thing I want to say to anyone out there who is battling this illness is never give up. I know it’s hard; there are days my wife can barely move for pain, days where the lack of medical help gets us all down to rock bottom, but don’t give up. As long as people keep up the fight to raise both awareness and funding there’s hope that things will improve; never give up that hope.

If you would like to donate to Karl’s latest fundraiser please click HERE. I’ll update the link each time he starts a new one, so feel free to check back if the current one has finished. There’s still time to sponsor his half marathon!

All professional photographs accredited to Nullstack Ltd.

I need this. 

I need this. 

I want to work. I NEED to work. Here I am, writing blog posts, working on Facebook pages. All of it, it all boils down to the fact that inside me I have a need to work. 

Financially, we are ok. Things aren’t super amazing; but we’re ok. That’s not why I need to work. I need to do it because there’s something inside me, pulling at me, clawing at me. Begging me to do something, anything! I spend so much of my days in bed. Blood pressure too low, or pain too high, to get up and function. My husband looks after the kids. I’m here feeling like nothing. Less than nothing. I’m here feeling like a burden. 

My disability is what tethers us. What captures us in this financial bind. Mountains of paperwork arrive through the letter box. Questionnaires, forms, payment plans and deductions. A few weeks ago a woman came to our house. She sat in our living room and fired question after question at me and my husband. Prying, peering, into every nook and cranny of our lives. After all, our money comes from benefits, who are we to think we have a right to privacy?! It was agonising. It was degrading. Bad for me, who’s become numb to it over the years. Worse for my husband, who left a high paying job to look after decrepit old me. I don’t want that for him. 

Of course, I can’t work a normal job. Just getting ready for work would be me done for the day. But surely there must be something  I could do?!

Once upon a time I worked in travel. My earnings rocketed as my commission far outweighed that of my colleagues. Customers would queue out of the door just to be seated with the girl who went the extra mile. The girl who cared about their holiday. The girl who believed booking is where the holiday magic starts. I was that girl. There was barely a week went by when I wasn’t in the top ten for sales in the region, or even the country. But none of that mattered. 

I had a boss who belevied seventeen shifts in a row was no problem, especially if you had plenty of days off in the weeks that followed. My body disagreed. My body gave up on me. My body caused time off, sick pay. Disciplinaries. My body caused me to leave that job. Another in a long list of broken dreams. 

But surely if I could do that then, I can do something now?! But why this sudden need? Why now? What’s changed? 

Honestly? Nothing has changed. Nothing, and everything. I’ve always had this need inside me. When I first became ill I tried time after time to find something that would work. Time after time I failed, so I buried this feeling deeper and deeper inside. But it was still there. Still tugging at me. Now though, now it seems almost possible. That’s the change. Through my blog and the relative success it’s brought, I’ve realised that I still have plenty to give. I still have my voice. I still have my passion. 

It all boils down to one thing.During the hours my body won’t move; as my husband is bringing up our children and shaping their little lives, I lie in bed. He is doing something amazing and worthwhile. I’m laid in bed. I know there’s only so much I can push my body to do. Only so much energy I have. But I feel as though I’m wasting my life away. Here in my king size bed with the sounds of family downstairs, I almost feel as though I’m watching the clock tick by on my life. Doing nothing more than filling time until it stops. That’s so depressing. 

So there it is.. I need to work. To feel like somewhat of a provider. To fill those drawn out hours with something tangible. Maybe even stumble upon an old talent, or a new one? 

The only thing left to decide now is if it’s possible? 
Image provided by Lila Yocum

Remembering New Year.  

This time three years ago was my last New Years out on the town. A teeny size eight I slipped on my favourite dress and sky scraper heels. My eyes were smoky and my hair was done with a swoosh of product through the funky style I was rocking at the time. Looking at photos I can honestly say I don’t recognise myself. I looked a million dollars, and a million miles from the way I look today. 


I remember that night so clearly. I remember people complimenting me. Women liked my dress, my hair, my heels. Men buoyed with drink liked the way my dress sat just below the crease of my ass, showing off the only pair of tights I had on hand at short notice of a night out. You know the type? They look like stockings… I remember the smiles, the selfies and the shots. Kissing a stranger at midnight. Singing along to the music. 


Fast forward to tonight and my New Year was spent very differently. Tonight I had a take out for my tea. I showered and then I watched a film in bed. Sounds boring right?? Wrong. For me, it was absolutely perfect. 

To understand why, you might need to look a little deeper into my New Year three years ago. My night out was last minute because a friend convinced me to leave my doldrums and head to town. She was worried about me being alone. When I say alone, I don’t just mean for New Year. I mean totally and utterly. I was estranged from my entire biological family. The person who had been stringing me along for the entire year had also chosen this time to cut me loose. My daughter was staying at her dads and I had little in the way of close friendships. Well, except for one. One who convinced me to get out and feel better. My body was a size eight because the intense stress I was under had caused a flare up of a condition which makes my body completely unable to process food. Weight was dropping off me at an alarming rate. My funky hair? I had that done after a close family member passed away. I don’t know why. I just needed to do something, and chopping all my hair off was it. 

So I went. I slapped on the makeup, painted on my smile and toddled off up to town. 

I remember that night so clearly because I was in a place I’d been frequenting for over ten years. Surrounded by faces I recognised and many I knew well. I was smiling and singing and playing along. But I had never ever felt more alone and miserable in my life. Never.

Just after midnight I had a lift pick me up and fetch me home. I took one last ‘happy’ picture before bed, then I cried myself to sleep. My makeup staining the pillow with a blurry reminder of my pathetic (to me) existence. 


The next day, as I languished in bed watching the hours tick by, I decided I had to make some changes. 2013, and the years leading up to it, had seriously brought me to my knees. Now was time to get back up. 

I decided to start putting myself first, and saying no to people. If they only wanted me around because of what I could do for them then why did I want them in my life? The same went for men. No more men who thought they were doing me a favour by spending time with me. No more men who treat me badly. No more being used. I would rather be single and happy than in love with the wrong person. 

For the first time ever, I stuck to my New Years resolutions. I fought hard for myself. I put myself first. I ‘found’ myself, and my smile, again. Not long after I found my husband. The man who had been right under my nose all along. I always knew he’d treat me well, and that we had a connection; but I pushed him away. I see now that it was because I was afraid. Afraid of falling too hard and getting hurt. Afraid that he’d realise he deserved better. Afraid of losing him before we even tried. 

But try we did, in late February of 2014 we started dating. At Easter we were engaged. Our wedding was September first. Some thought it was too fast, but we knew it was right. I knew it was right. Why wait? 

So here I am. In my bed. Writing this blog. On one of the biggest party nights of the year. Gone is the size eight body and funky hairdo. Gone are the sky high heels and skimpy dresses. The makeup very rarely adorns my face. But what I have instead is so much better. 

I have peace, in my life and in myself. I have a daughter with a step daddy who adores her. A step son whom I feel lucky to have in my life every single day.  My sweet baby boy, who lights up the room with his smile. I have my husband, my partner, my best friend and my soulmate all rolled into one. We get on each other’s nerves, we argue and we grump. But we tell each other we love each other more times than I can count in a day. We are there for each other through thick and thin. We love each other. I have a love in my life. The love of my life. I have made and kept a select few real friends who treat me well and I endeavour to do the same for them. Finally, possibly most surprising of all to the me of 2013, I have worked hard on rebuilding a relationship with someone very important to me. They have worked hard too and we seem to be doing great. That too makes me happy. 

So you can keep your parties, your nights out, your drink and dance. That’s not what matters. It might entertain a person, but ultimately happiness isn’t what you find in a bar. Happiness is being content in your own skin. Happiness is love. Be it for yourself, or for others. Happiness always starts with love. 

So, if you have one New Years resolution that you plan on keeping, let it be to love yourself. Because if you love yourself, others really will follow. The right ones will remain even during the times that love for yourself is a little bit lost, and they’ll love you that little bit extra. 
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! 

Sonia’s Story….

Sonia’s Story….

Our story begins on September 1st 2012. The day started much like any other, with Sonia heading off to work at a well known frozen food store. Sonia was a busy lady, holding down a hectic job and being mum to her beautiful children. Days whizzed by in a blur of work, cooking, cleaning, love and laughter. But on that day, as Sonia took off her shoes after work, something halted her in her tracks. 

Sonia enjoying her birthday with her workmates.

On the side of her foot was a lump. Something she hadn’t noticed before, and was concerned enough to visit her doctor about. An ultrasound scan revealed the lump to be some form of tumour, that originated at Sonia’s ankle. When within a week the tumour more than tripled in size the doctor decided it best to have it removed. Surgery was scheduled. It was to be a simple routine procedure. The tumour was a none cancerous ganglion and there was nothing to worry about. 

Little did Sonia know that this procedure would change her life so completely. 

September 17th, surgery day. As soon as the anaesthetic wore off Sonia knew something was amiss. 

My foot was on fire, and yet it was as cold as ice! – Sonia

She needed to get the bandages off, she couldn’t stand the pain a second longer! Almost immediately her foot swelled to such and extent that the brand new stitches burst, leaving her with a gruesome open wound! Of course she headed back to the doctors for the first of many visits. The wound was washed and cared for, helped to heal. But still the pain persisted. Nobody knew what was wrong. Doctors were left scratching their heads. Within a month Sonia was unable to move her toes at all from the unexplained pain. 

Two weeks and three days after surgery Sonia’s still swollen foot and open wound was still nowhere near healed.

Fast forward eight months and Sonia was finally given some answers after seeking help from a specialist. It was CRPS – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Not only that, but she had CRPS Type 2. The type that, unlike type 1, does not go into remission. 

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 2 (CRPS Type 2) is a severely painful response to a peripheral nerve injury. CRPS Type 2 is characterized by severe, burning pain affecting a specific area as a result of the nerve injury. RSDguide.com

Not one to take things lying down Sonia immediately hit the Internet. Desperately trying to find information about this new hurdle that had blocked her path in life. Surely there was something she could do?  But everything she could find described Type 1. What little there was about the type she was suffering was sparse and often ill informed. So, as the doctors prescribed her with drug after drug to try and help her symptoms, Sonia began to write. She wrote page after page of diaries. Her symptoms, her moods, her feelings. Anything and everything in the hope it could one day help someone. 

The CRPS caused Sonia to feel she had completely lost who she once was. Known as the ‘Suicide disease’; the pain often left her wishing she hadn’t woken up that morning. Life just became too much and it wasn’t long before Sonia was unable to work. Socialising also went out the window, as did just about every aspect of the life she once new. The only constant now being the love of her beautiful children and never ending crippling pain. 

Over seven months after surgery and the swelling is glaringly apparent. This photo was taken after four hours of having her foot raised.

Sonia’s foot swelled to almost unbelievable sizes on a daily, if not hourly basis. Taking an age to reduce back in size, never really resembling normal. It burns constantly whilst at the same time feeling freezing cold. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? Imagine putting your foot inside that bucket of ice until it was so cold you had freezer burn. Imagine never being able to take it out again. You might just be getting close to the horror Sonia goes through on a daily basis with CRPS. 

It’s been four years since she has been able to bathe or maintain her foot herself. Even bedclothes touching it is excruciating. A simple toenail trim involves a trip to hospital and anaesthetic, otherwise it’s just too painful. Information online indicates that CRPS type 2 doesn’t spread, but that’s not the case. Sonia now has pain in her left foot, knee and hip. It’s also spread to her threat, right ear and right eye. She has been bedbound for over three years due to the severity of her symptoms. 

Many doctors say that scripture tells them it doesn’t spread. Sorry, but myself and hundreds of other CRPS Survivors can prove different. Yes we call ourselves survivors because CRPS is also known as “The Suicide Disease”. And I can understand why! – Sonia 

By July 2013 the constant battle with her body had become too much for Sonia. Though she loved her children desperately she felt she wasn’t strong enough to go on any longer. Hiding away her Morphine and CoCodamol tablets, she planned to take her life on July 13th. 

But once again, life has other plans for Sonia. 

On July 11th she received a call from her eldest daughter. She was at an antenatal class that day, pregnant with her first child. Sonia thought she was calling to talk about the morning sickness that had dogged her throughout the pregnancy, but today’s call was about something altogether more urgent. Her daughter was about to be rushed in for an emergency C section. The pregnancy had taken a dramatic turn and it was operate now or risk life of both mum and baby! 

Luckily, everything went well and nine weeks early Sonia’s beautiful granddaughter entered into the world. Named Scarlett, she was absolutely perfect! Not only that, but she was a wonderful reason to keep fighting, a reason to live! Sonia believes that Scarlett arrived early to save her; and seeing their close bond, it’s not hard to believe that’s the case. 

Baby Scarlett looking beautiful.

Sonia threw herself into making clothes for her tiny premature granddaughter, soon realising she had a clear talent. Soon Scarlett had plenty to kit her out, so Sonia went on to make things for other tiny babies. Always thinking of others, she had noted a clear lack of clothes for premature babies on the market, and what there was was very expensive. Not ideal for families who are likely already spending a lot of money to be able to spend time with a baby in hospital. 

She set up a Facebook page, and things just grew from there! Eventually Sonia branched out, learning to make jewellery when she came into some jewellery making kit unexpectedly. She loved it, and better still so did her youngest daughter! For a mum who had lost so much time with her children, it was great to find a passion they could enjoy together. Another page was born S & J Crafting Creations, where Sonia and her daughter could sell their wares. 

Whilst their page was relatively new Sonia saw an advert for Conscious Crafties a sales platform for disabled people and their carers. Immediately she got in touch and just like that she became the first EVER crafty! Within a week of joining she became friends with the Founder, Karen Thomas, and has been of invaluable help to her ever since. 

A selection of products in Sonia’s shop.

That was a year ago, and Sonia cannot believe how far she has come. Not only does she have her own business, but she has another purpose! One more reason to live! Sonia’s business is flourishing. Her motto is ‘Giving the gift of a smile!’ That’s exactly what she aims to do. 

Right now only Sonia’s arms and hands that work. So she crafts all day every day whilst she still can, she will not be beaten nor will she give up! Sonia is a fighter in the truest sense of the word, and if I could have one wish this Christmas it would be to allow her to continue with her passion for as long as she could wish for. She deserves it!

To visit Sonia’s shop please CLICK HERE.

Medipen, The Big Decision. 

Medipen, The Big Decision. 

Many months ago I wrote a blog about my decision to use a cannabinol vape pen to help with my pain. Cannabinol is an extract of cannabis, which doesn’t get you high. It does however claim to have many health benefits and I was interested to see if these were true, or just yet another money spinning hoax aimed at taking advantage of desperate people. 

Initially I intended to write up my findings within a month or two of trialling the product. But life had other ideas. So here I am, several months and a major surgery later, ready to share my findings…

First off about the pen itself. I found the product very easy to use and nice and light to hold. The width is similar to that of a good ballpoint pen, as is the length, so a great size to carry around. I bought a second USB charger to have in my handbag, this allowed me to have one at home and one for if I ran low when out and about. The second charger was pretty redundant though, these little gadgets hold their charge surprisingly well! Usually I would just pop it on charge in my laptop as I did a little ‘work’ (writing, checking Facebook, photo editing, checking Facebook, networking, checking Facebook) and it filled up in no time. Overall for simplicity and style I was very impressed. 

Contents of the Medipen starter kit.

As a none smoker I was incredibly nervous about using something which reminded me so heavily of a cigarette. Particularly in the way I had to inhale it. I wondered if I would get used to it, or even be able to tolerate it at all? 

Medipen contains no nicotine at all and is in no way addictive. 

I need not have worried. Medipen cartridges are available in many different flavours, more than I would have imagined! I tried the mint, cherry cola, coconut and white grape. They were all pretty good, though the coconut tasted a bit too much like a Piña Colada for me! I was surprised at how much flavour you could pick up just from inhaling vapour, the taste was really enjoyable! My favourite was by far Cherry Cola with White Grape coming a close second. What was also nice was that inhaling the sweet vapour helped me eat less actual sweeties, something I do far too much of when I’m in pain. Plus, the vapour has some of the scent in it from the flavour. I became my own air freshener whilst vaping! 

Not that there is much vapour cloud. Another thing I was worried about was filling my home up with a damp cloud of acrid smelling fog. I’ve been in ecigarette shops before where you can barely see your hand in front of your face. I didn’t want that for my home, and I’m glad to say I didn’t get it. The Medipen uses a wick to draw the vapour up to your mouth, meaning you get a steady amount. You really have to draw hard on the device to form a large cloud, and honestly there’s no need. A gentle inhale for a few seconds gets you plenty of vapour, flavour and cannabinol; without billowing out smokey mist clouds for all to see. The Medipen is discreet. Refined. Classy. 

What I expected vaping to be like on the left, versus what it was actually like on the right.

As far as usage goes it’s really up to you. I found that a few minutes of use on a morning, at lunchtime and before bed suited me. Though occasionally I would use it in between if I was having a bad day. I liked to keep my pen with me as knowing I had the extra help was a comfort in itself. My level of usage meant each cartridge lasted around three weeks, even with my husband stealing some for the occasional headache or general ache or pain. By the end of the experiment he was using the Medipen each evening with me as he found it also benefitted him in some unexpected ways… 

So that’s the basics covered. Now down to the important part. DID IT HELP??

Honestly, I have to say that yes it did. I was completely ready to be disappointed and instead was very pleasantly surprised. Do not get me wrong, the Medipen is not a miracle cure, but it did help me with my multisystemic problems. My pain was decreased to the point that I could function better. I could move without wincing and walk without feeling as stiff. On some days I even managed to reduce my pain relief, something I have not been able to do since I went back on my medication after giving birth to my son. 

The evening ‘dose’ relaxed me and calmed the random cocophany of pains and sensations I usually have cascading through me. I have Dysautonomia which causes my body to always be on high alert. Settling down for rest when your body is tick tick ticking away is never easy. In fact it’s nigh on impossible. But with my Medipen I could feel my body calming and the tension easing from my muscles. Though it could often still take me a while to drop off, the chances I would sleep were higher. Plus, the sleep I did get was much more restorative than usual. A benefit I’d read about, but been highly sceptical of. 

It was due to the help I had with sleeping that my husband decided to try the Medipen one evening. He himself is a restless sleeper and spends many nights tossing and turning. I gladly offered to share, why should I be the only one reaping the benefits of our new little doohickey? Surprisingly he dropped off within minutes. Much faster than I do. I guess that’s the benefit of a properly functioning body, things work better on you! But what was even more surprising was what else happened that night…

If my husband used the Medipen before sleep not only would he rest better, he slept silently!! NO SNORING!!!

Usually my husband not only snores; but talks, moves and sometimes even gets out of bed! To be calm and quiet was not only got for him, it was GREAT for me! My often tired and grumpy husband woke with a spring in his step, and I didn’t consider committing murder each night. Definitely a win win! 

As always I woke on a morning feeling like a dogs dinner. But, I did find that whilst using Medipen that feeling subsided faster. Usually I don’t see mornings at all. During this trial I woke around 9/10 am each day. After an hour or so to come around and allow my heart medication to work I could actually get up and dressed. I had the energy to go out and do things, or cook, play with my children. I could be a ‘real’ mum! 

My main worry was having even less energy whilst using this product, I couldn’t believe I had more! 

Yes I still had to be careful and pace; I couldn’t do as much as ‘normal’ mums could. But I could do enough to give me my smile back. Enough to make my children feel they had more of me. I could be present in my own life. We went on holiday towards the end of my trial, a break at a holiday park in Yorkshire. On every other holiday we’ve been on my husband has taken charge, but not this time. I not only participated, I had fun. I was out doing things with the kids every day. Ok, by ‘doing things with’ I mean I watched them doing activities; but that’s 1000 times better than being stuck in the van whilst they go have adventures without me! 

Having fun with my kids on holiday.

I found that even during the day the Medipen calmed me. Not so as the make me sleepy, just to make things easier to handle. When your body is constantly in pain, and teetering on the edge of ‘fight or flight’ mode, it’s easy to have a meltdown. Me seeming moody or snappy is commonplace in my household. Crying feats and explosions of anger are also not unheard of. During the trial these episodes happened much less often. In fact, when things happened that would usually have my heart racing (more than usual) and adrenaline cursing through my veins, I actually managed to remain calm and carry on. My driving improved, how I coped with others driving improved. I had more patience and could shrug things off better. 

Of course nothing is perfect. At times my pain would still sneak through and bite me on the bum. Also, I did find it hard not to forget that though I was feeling better I wasn’t ACTUALLY better. The Medipen is not medicinal. Whilst it can take away feelings of pain etc, it does not cure the underlying cause. I did end up crashing a couple of times during this trial and ending up back in my bed. It’s easy to do too much when you start to feel human again. But it’s a learning curve. One that I was happy to be on! I’d rather crash from doing too much than not be able to do anything at all! 

But; I hear you asking yourself, why is this blog in past tense if the product is so good? Why is she not using it anymore? Well my friends, that’s where the surgery comes in. As cannabinol is still so new to the medical community, and not yet sanctioned by the NHS, I was advise to stop usage before my operation and for a time after. It’s now a month since my surgery and I realise that now I have to make a decision. 

I thought my big decision was whether to try the Medipen, in fact it’s whether to continue to use it long term. 

The Medipen is by no means a ‘cheap option’. Living on disability benefits the cost per cartridge is arguably quite high. (Though I must point out it’s much cheaper than smoking!) I have to ask myself, are the benefits of the Medipen worth the financial implications? Would I be better spending that money on other things? Am I being selfish? Would my family be better off if I used the money elsewhere? These are all questions I’ve been wrestling with for the last month. As I’ve been pretty much bed bound, struggling to sleep and barely coping with my pain. Can I take money from our family pot and spend it on me?? 

The answer is yes. 

Because when I do better, my family does better. My relationship with my husband improves. My children are happier. Life in general is just easier. Sure, I could use that money on toys, trips out or takeaways. But they hold no real value to my family. What we need is to make memories together. I want to be at the park, feeding the ducks with my husband and baby. Not home watching videos of it on my phone. They want me there too. I’m sick of being backstage in the show that is my family’s life. It’s about time I was up front and centre! I owe it to them, I owe it to myself! 

So tomorrow I order my new cartridges. I restart my Medipen journey; and I hope I see the same results. Then, in the spring, I hope to be writing an article outlining how I’ve found long term use of Medipen. I really hope that, unlike with medications, the benefits do not ware off with time. I’ve got a good feeling that they won’t… 
*Please note that I received my Medipen and cartridges free as a Thankyou for writing about my experiences. All opinions in this blog are honest and my own. 

There is another way…

There is another way…

In the last few months my levels of pain and exhaustion have hit a whole new high. This has left me pretty much bedbound most days. Then awake and restless at night. Alongside all that, my Gastroparesis has flared, meaning I’m nauseous almost all the time. My stomach feels full and bloated and eating, or even drinking, causes severe pain. When everything piles up like this it’s hard to cope. I found myself breaking down and sobbing on an all too regular basis. 

I’m already taking slow release Tramadol, Paracetamol and Codeine for my pain. I also have Gabapentin for nerve pain and other issues. 

Please note, it is not generally advisable to take Tramadol and Codeine together. I have special permission from the pain clinic and have been given clear instructions on safe dosage. Please don’t ever take medication that is not prescribed to you, or at a higher dose than prescribed by your GP. 

I cannot take anything Ibuprofen based due to my IBD, nor can I take many of the anti nausea medications that are on the market. During my last Gastroparesis flare my GP tried me on many of these medications, they either didn’t work, upset my bowel, or worse. What could be worse? Giving me the symptoms of a brain tumour, that’s what. My body reacts to things in very weird and wonderful ways. Waiting for my test results to come back after I’d been told I was displaying all the signs of a prolactinoma was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, one which I do not intend to repeat. 

So, as you can imagine, my options are now pretty limited. Basically there’s only one thing to move up to. Morphine. Be it tablet or patch form, it doesn’t matter. That’s the only thing left. I discussed this with my husband. Yes, I want to feel better. Yes, I want to be up and about more. But Morphine? I’m thirty years old.  Do I really want to put my, already dysfunctional body, through that? I know that Morphine is a strong pain relieving option. But I also know that any pain relief doesn’t seem as effective on me as it is on others, this could be down to my dodgy collagen. Even in hospital when I’ve been given Morphine intravenously, it’s not had a major effect. I never ever get spaced out or super relaxed. It just doesn’t affect me that strongly. So I’d be putting my body through all that stress, for a minimal effect. I don’t think it’s worth it. 

But what other choice did I have? None. Or so I thought. Soon after our conversation my husband saw an article about the Medipen which he sent over to me. Basically the Medipen is a vape machine which uses extracts from the Cannabis plant, combined with coconut oil. The extracts are completely devoid of any of the chemicals which cause the feeling of being ‘high’. They purely contain the chemical which has the most benefits, CBD. I’m not going to lie, I was wary. Very wary. Cannabis has a lot of stigma around it. Then add to this the fact that you inhale it in a vape machine, meaning you look like you’re smoking. That was too much. 

I’m not anti Cannabis. I don’t believe it’s a big evil drug that is bringing it to its knees. Honestly I don’t. Used in the correct way, I can see why it could be popular. However I am anti smoking. I do not smoke, have never smoked, and have no desire to. I’m not going to lecture people about their life choices, but in my opinion my body has enough wrong with it without me adding to the list. When you think of Cannabis that’s what comes to mind. Smoke. Lots and lots of smoke. Spliffs, bongs, hash briwnies. But mostly dingy rooms full of pungent acrid smoke. That’s the stereotype. The stereotype that is widely spread and etched into people’s minds. But that’s not me. I’m a mother. A none smoker. A disabled member of the community just trying to make the best of my life. 

My initial reaction to the Medipen wasn’t great. But I read the article. I researched. I looked on their website. Mostly I checked out the reviews. Page after page after page of people thanking the company. People with Cancer, MS, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Insomnia and bowel complaints, all were seeing results! They were gushing about their great experiences. Better sleep, less pain, more energy. The reviews were astounding. Many even called it life changing. My viewpoint started to shift. Reluctantly I discussed it with my doctor. Terrified by his reaction. What if he thought I was a pot head? I couldn’t believe my ears when he told me to go for it! Recently another patient of his had tried a similar product and had excellent results. He agreed it was time I started thinking outside the box in order to improve my day to day life. Wow! The (unofficial) go ahead from my doctor! 

That night I contacted the company and arranged for my sample. I’ve been anxiously waiting for it ever since. Desperate to try it, but afraid the hype was too much to be true. Honestly, I was afraid to even hope. As for the stigma? I put it out of my mind. I told myself, who cares what other people think?! I need an improvement in my life. I cannot keep going like this, and I don’t want to take opiates. Besides, as with stigma about anything, we just need to raise our voices and educate. Show people they’re wrong. Highlight the true facts of the matter. 

My Medipen arrived this morning. I’m looking forward to seeing how I go with it, and updating you all on my experiences; from my initial reactions (including reactions to it from those around me) to the results of longer term use. Here’s hoping it’s all positive!! I’m just happy I actually have something to place my hope in for once. 

Its arrived!!

My Gift. 

My Gift. 

Recently I’ve been going through a really difficult time. A change in my medications has gone incredibly wrong, meaning I’ve been flaring in every sense of the word. My pain levels have skyrocketed, leaving my meds completely unable to make any dent in them. I’m having hot and cold sweats, shakes, breathlessness and tremors. My racing heart is causing me to be dizzy and trip over my words, and my feet! On top of all that I can’t sleep at night, even though a constant exhaustion sits over me like a suffocating toxic fog. In short it’s been hell. Complete hell. 

My usual look at the moment.
This morning I woke up feeling much the same as I have every other day. I’d only had five hours of interrupted, restless sleep. I was exhausted and in pain. But, I was determined to get out of the house. As I laid in bed and waited for my meds to kick in, something amazing happened. They actually kicked in! For the first time in a long time the haze of exhaustion began to lift and my pain eased just enough to move around without visibly wincing! I couldn’t believe it! 

Of course I did what anyone would do. I made the most of it! In the car we hopped, and down to the park we went. This time, I didn’t sit on a bench and watch as my husband played with the kids. I got up, and I joined in! Today it was me taking our baby on the rides. It was me playing along. It was me being ‘fun mum’. Yes it hurt. Yes it took my breath away. Yes I’m now in bed feeling like I’ve been run over by an articulated lorry. But it was so so worth it!! It’s amazing the difference a few hours out (if that) can make to your mental state. 

Soaking up the sun and charging my batteries for fun!
Ziplining , slow and low! (I may have kinda fallen off.. but I was scraping along the floor anyway so it was fine!)
Little man loved the swings!
Me and both my boys on the slide.

Technically today I did the wrong thing. Technically I should have paced myself. Taken it steady. Reserved some energy for tomorrow. But what’s the point? What’s the point in saving myself, when I have so many overlapping conditions that tomorrow I can still wake up unable to function? I cannot live like that. I cannot and I will not. These last few months have been an exhausting whirlwind of pain and symptoms that’s left me feeling a shadow of myself. Yesterday I was low. I was the lowest I’ve been in a while, crying hysterically at the doctors receptionist when they couldn’t get me an appointment. Sobbing in the bathroom at 2am as I tried to shower away my searing pain. I needed a day like today. Today was my body’s gift to me, I’d be damned if I was going to waste it! 

As for tomorrow? Well, if I’m out for the count (which I likely would have been anyway) then at least I have my wonderful few hours at the park today to look back on. To me, that’s worth it. 

Jennifer, Monty and their story. 

Jennifer, Monty and their story. 

Throughout the world there are thousands upon thousands of people living below the radar. Struggling just to exhist, let alone be ‘functioning’ members of the community. These people, people like me, live with disability. Together we form a huge portion of the global community, but with so few of us in the public eye it’s hard to get our stories out there. So that’s what I’m hoping to do. I’d love to give you a window into our lives, a hearty welcome and a good look around! 

Jennifer looking snazzy in her sunnies.

Jennifer is a forty two year old lady who has suffered with Spina Bifida since birth. Basically her spine did not form properly, causing her to live with a host of health problems throughout her life. These include not only crippling pain and loss of sensation, but also mobility issues. For along time Jennifer fought hard to get around on crutches, until eventually her body could not manage anymore. She is now permanently wheelchair bound. 

As Jennifer doesn’t have the upper body strength to propel herself, she relies on others to get her about. Luckily she has a wonderful husband who lives her dearly. He happily devotes himself to caring for her, cooking her meals and taking her anywhere she needs. It takes a special bond to love through severe disability, and they have it. As I’m sure you can imagine, living in constant pain and exhaustion is not easy. For Jennifer, as with many of us struggling with disabilities, depression has dogged her life. Trying its best to creep it’s way into her psyche on even the brightest of days. But she does not let it win! 

You dont need a cape to be a super hero.

Jennifer has filled her life with so much love its overflowing. How? With her beautiful pooches and pussy cats, who brighten her days with their bouncy personalities and unwavering adoration. One such companion was Monty. A cheerful West Highland Terrier, he was Jennifer’s constant companion of seventeen years. After seeing her through both good times and bad, he said his goodbyes and grew his Angel wings in August of 2015. That loss was one of the toughest to go through, and coming to terms with it has been hard. 

The lovely Monty, smiling with mum.

You’d think that with so much difficulty in her life Jennifer would be bitter? But you couldn’t be further from the truth. As soon as you speak to her you feel an eternal optimism exuding from her. This strong woman will not let anything bring her down for long. So much so, that rather than wallow in grief, she has turned the harrowing loss of her beloved pet into something positive. Jennifer has chosen to craft. She crafts through pain. She crafts through depression. She crafts through the melancholy of day after day of living with disability. In fact, she’s made so much that she’s even opened her own shop, Monty’s Makes

A handful of items to be found in Jennifers shop.

Jennifer sells a whole range of beautiful bespoke crafts. Each item can take her days, if not weeks to complete. She does all her crafts sitting down, but due to pain in her back she has to do several short sessions on and one piece. To keep things interesting Jennifer likes to hop from piece to piece. When asked about her crafting she says:

It might take a while to get things done, but I never give up. I enjoy it as it helps me to take things not so seriously. 

When visiting Jennifer’s shop you are immediately hit by the sheer volume of beautiful work she has created. From the kitch hand sewn items, to the funky jewellery. There’s something for everyone, not forgetting of course a good dose of doggy themed makes. How could she not. Here’s a few of my favourite pieces: 


I love the jade green and aquamarine hues of this beautiful bracelet. Being a bangle its so easy to pop on, perfect for someone who struggles with fine motor skills like me! Each loop of the bangle has had two of the shimmering beads attached by hand, creating a truly decadent and stunning piece of jewellery. My jaw literally hit the floor when I saw the minuscule price tag. It’s definitely one for my Christmas list! 


A sucker for anything kitch I adore these little birds. I can imagine them adorning the nursery of a well loved newborn. Or dancing merrily on a cot mobile to help soothe baby to sleep. Alternatively they’d be great looped through the Zips on handbags as a quirky adornment, looking cool and making the zip easier to grab at the same time. Another feature I love is that Jennifer allows her customers to customise these and many other items, offering a variety of colour choices. 


Finally I have to say that I ADORE this iPad holder. With the issues I have in my wrists I really struggle to hold my iPad. This is not great as I spend the majority of many days in bed, with only my iPad for company. Sometimes the pain is too bad to even hold it. My husband did buy me a small plastic stand, but due to resting it on myself, I often end up with my iPad smacking me in the face. No fun. This is absolutely perfect!! It’s sturdy and pretty and everything I could want in an iPad stand! Even better I have no doubt it could be used for mirrors and even books. I’m really feeling all the love for this item!! 

Just when I really thought my admiration for the drive and determination shown by Jennifer could go no further, she surprises me once more. Because Jennifer takes no profit whatsoever from Monty’s Makes. You see in 2002, after a harrowing four year battle with lung cancer Jennifer lost her Father. Then last New Years Eve more sorrow befell her family when her sister in law sadly passed from Breast Cancer. Even with all her own hurdles Jennifer couldn’t sit back and do nothing. So that was why she decided to create her shop and donate all profits to Cancer research. And what does Jennifer have to say about her wonderful gesture? 

I just wanted to help others, like I’ve been helped all my life. 

If you too want to help others please take a look through Monty’s Makes and see if anything catches your eye. Otherwise feel free to make a donation at Cancer Research UK. Jennifer would really appreciate it. 

**Please note this is NOT a sponsored post. No money or goods were exchanged for the writing of this post.**

My Time. 

My Time. 

There is a time on waking, a special time. A time that holds hope and wonder. A time when magic is still real and fairies flit between dust bunnies floating in the air. A time when dreams are fading out of focus, but still close enough to grasp and hold onto if only for a fleeting moment. 

Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I can hold onto this fleeting reality for what seems like an eternity. Most often it passes in a heartbeat, gone and almost forgotten all too soon. 

Do you know this time? The time between  sleep and awake, when you can hear the world around you while your body still sleeps. Even if you wanted to you couldn’t get up, a glorious weight pins you in place. You are limp, at rest, snuggled in that perfect position only a sleeping soul can find. Dreams are still dancing behind your eyelids, though they appear softer now, and peace is etched upon your face. 

Do you know it? Is it as previous to you as it is to me? Because, you see, in that time I am me. I am not sick. I am not in pain. My joints do not creak and click. I am not exhausted to the point where breathing is a physical effort. My skin and eyes and throat aren’t dry, or if they are I cannot tell. I’m neither too hot not too cold. But mostly, I am me and I am not sick. I am free to ponder hopes and aspirations that are forever out of my reach. To daydream in a state of just enough consciousness that it’s believable. I can be myself. No limitations other than time. 

Then whoosh! It’s gone. The blink of an eye, a deeper breath, the slight snuffle of my son in his cot. The tiniest thing can click my conciousness up a notch and reality comes crashing down upon me like a tonne of bricks and sand. Glass, ice and molten lava. All at once my body is awake, and though not yet able to function it can feel. I can feel the tension in my muscles, a tension that never eases but is thankfully less noticeable in slumber. I can feel the itches an prickles running riot over my skin. I can feel the pain pulsing through every fibre of my being. I can practically hear my nerve endings screaming at me as my joints behave like unruly tea avers, unwilling to stay inline. 

Inevitably I lay there. Trying in vain to drift back to that sweet place, just for a few seconds more. But I am never that lucky. Sleep doesn’t come easy to me. So instead I try to pull myself together. I paste on a smile and face the day, be that functioning or recovering in bed, I face it. But behind my smile, in a tiny part of my brain, I keep that special time. That time where I can be me. And when I can’t quite cope, I look upon it and smile. Because tomorrow, I will have that glamour of peace once more. 

Time to heal. 

A lifetime ago I was a young and energetic (ish) uni student. I studied Surface Pattern Design and had a summer internship set up with Emma Bridgewater. I was going places. I knew my path. It involved graduating from my course and speeding off on my exciting roller coaster of a career. I’d continue to study. I’d travel. I’d make good money and fulfil my dreams. 

But life had other plans. My health problems were already there. Though undiagnosed and less severe than today they were already dragging me down. Like lead weights tied to my heels they slowed my progress. Put me forever behind the pack in the race to qualify. But I was determined. I could do this! I would work extra through the summer and take my third year part time. Unfortunately my tutor did not agree. My tutor who also happened to be head of the faculty. 

Because I only had a crohns diagnosis she didn’t see how all my other complaints fitted with that. Though I had mountains of doctors notes she felt I had just fobbed off uni. Though, with my allowed extra time, I was on track to pass the year she felt I hadn’t had enough taught time. Her recommendation was repeating the second year and doing the third year part time. I didn’t have enough funding for that. I told her so. I told her I’d have to leave. She stood by her recommendation. 

It was then that my life altered. It was the that everything I’d hoped and dreamed of since being tiny crumbled to dust. This was the first major blow dealt to me by my health. The first of many. But this was possibly the one that broke me the most. Not only because it crushed my dreams. Also because my self esteem was shattered. Surely if I had any talent at all my tutor would have fought to keep me on the course? Supported me, as I’d seen her do other students. Not cast me out like last weeks rubbish. 

That was almost ten years ago. At the time I believed I picked myself up and carried on, unfazed. But that’s not true. My self belief had taken a huge knock. From that day forward I stopped drawing. I didn’t paint. My sewing machine lay idle and was eventually gotten rid of. Looking back through my social media accounts there’s been many times I’ve sworn I’ll get back into my drawing. My art. But I never did. I remained broken. 

Then I started this blog. The first creative thing I’d done in such a long time. Even though I wasn’t writing for anyone in particular it still terrified me. But I ploughed on. A few people seemed to enjoy it, and a friend asked me to share it on her site. (https://www.consciouscrafties.com/) Conscious Crafties is a selling platform for disabled people and their carers. It gives them an outlet for their creativity and helps them to build up their confidence and self worth. Not only did I join the site. I also joined the private group for the Crafties. Being a blogger for the site meant they kindly let me in. 

I have to say that being around such a creative group of people has been incredibly therapeutic for me. Their makes are beautiful and inspiring. So inspiring that a few weeks ago I picked up a sketchbook that I’d been given two years before. For the first time in such a long time I sat and I drew. And I enjoyed it! I felt relaxed and at peace. Since then I’ve been to an art master class and enrolled in a life drawing class. Only once a month. But it’s something to look forward to. I’ve drawn more and more and even took some tentative steps into crafting. 

I will never be the high flying designer is hoped to be. But thanks to the creative environment I happened upon in Conscious Crafties I’m now starting to enjoy art again. I’m starting to heal. 

Here’s a few of my pieces I’ve done and a beautiful key ring which is one of the many items which can be found on Conscious Crafties. 
 

Squid drawn from my daughters animal book.
  
 
My first craft.
  
Pencil seal drawn from google image on my phone.
  
Matisse sketch in oil pastel.
  
Keyring can be purchased at http://www.consciouscrafties.com

NB Please note I have received no financial incentives or goods for this blog post. I just wanted to share such a positive influence on my life. Thank you.