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.

It only takes a split second.. 

There’s a video on Facebook at the moment. An advert about the safety, or lack of, of mobile phones when driving. A video about a dad, and a young boy. These videos always hit a nerve with me, as a mother of young children. But today more than ever the message hit home. 

Why? Because yesterday that could have been me. Yesterday I was driving down the road when a young girl, maybe two years old, dashed out in front of the car. In front of my car. 

I was turning a bend and about to mount a raised zebra crossing. The kids were chatting merrily in the back and me and Gran were looking forward to an afternoon in Filey. Then my blood ran cold. At the side of the road was a group of children, all varying ages. They were next to the crossing but most had their backs to the road. Still, I’d noted them as I turned the corner. I’d kept them in the corner of my eye as I continued up the road. Thank God I did. Almost at the very second my front bumper reached the edge of the crossing the youngest girl darted out and into the road. I slammed on the brakes, but lost in front of my bonnet I had no clue if I’d hit her. 

Silence. No screams. No tears. The rest of the children just stared white faced at the spot in front of my car. A girl at the back of the group sobbed openly, but no noise came. Had I stopped? Had I made it?! I didn’t know. Gran didn’t know. The little girl was too tiny to see. 

I wound down the window and asked. Did I hit her?! Is she ok?! My voice seemed to startle the group into action. Some yelled at each other about who should have been watching her. Who was meant to hold her hand. The eldest scooped up the shocked little lady and carried her to the pavement, telling me she was ok. Anpther child, the sobbing girl, just kept repeating ‘Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou so so much.’Over and over again. My car must have been millimetres from that little girl. Millimetres from snuffing out her tiny life. Perhaps it even brushed those bouncy golden curls that were now swaying in the wind. I asked if they needed to cross, intending to watch them over the road. No. I’d been right, they had no intention of crossing. But that doesn’t matter with little ones about. A ball, a bird, anything can take their attention and have them darting into harms way. 

There was nothing more that could be done; so I took a deep breath, calmed my heart and set off. My kids reeling at what had almost just been a tragedy. I looked in the rear view mirror and noted the eldest girl still carrying who I could only assume was possibly her little sister. I hoped she carried her a the way to their destination. I hope they all would remember that bear miss and know how important it is to keep hold of her hand and stay vigilant near roads. I hope they’ve told their parents who may decide to supervise them in future. 

But mostly I hope I never forget. I hope I never forget that flash of terror as the girl with golden curls bounded out in front of my car. That fear right down to my very soul as I waited to find out if she was ok. The feeling of my breath caught in my chest as I waited for the world to start turning again. I hope I never forget so that no matter what happens, I’m vigilant and always ready to stop in time. 

Living the POP Life. 

Living the POP Life. 

I have a prolapse. In fact, I have several. I’m what’s known as a POP patient. I’ve been tested and checked and I know the extent. I know that all my insides are basically clamouring against each other to become outsides. I know which bits are ‘winning’ that battle. I know that I cannot pass a motion, or even wind, without some form of manipulation. I know that I have hemorrhoids and I get a full mucosal prolapse when I even attempt a number two. I know that just trying to irinate is like trying to wring out a wet rag whilst wearing boxing gloves. I know that I bulge and balloon and I stretch and strain. I know my episiotomy scar splits and I bleed. I know that I’m sore and I feel smelly. I know that when I menstruate it’s all caught up in a mess of bulges and gross. I know that I don’t feel like a woman anymore, or a person, and most definitely not a sexual being. 

Of all my ailments this has probably knocked me down the most. It’s dragged at my confidence in the same way it constantly drags down on my abdomen. Each appointment has involved examinations and tests in my most intimate of areas. Many of those with a male doctor who made me feel guilty and selfish and like a bad mother because I am desperate for surgery to help me. All because he was afraid to perform it and wanted to put me off. I’ve been poked and prodded and made to spread my legs. I’ve had gel inserted inside me and been made to push it out with a gallery of technicians watching me. I’ve cried and wiped my tears then cried again. 

Sex has become a taboo word in my relationship. How do you have sex when you are constantly uncomfortable? How do you feel remotely sexy when your own body disgusts you? I recoil and tense up if there’s the merest hint of an advance from my husband. To me that area is no longer sexual. It is not pleasure. That area brings pain and misery to my life. It brings degradation and embarrassment. That area is separate from me and all of me at the same time. I can honestly say I hate that part of my body. 

Last month I saw another surgeon. My final hope. A woman. A woman who had kind eyes and an understanding air about her. Again the same questions were asked and the same examinations done. Again the tears flowed. But this appointment had a different outcome. Instead of a hard no, I was given a yes. A promise of surgery. But not just one. No, my life is never that simple. For me it will be several. Probably a lifetime of repeat fixes thanks to my genetic condition. But she understood my pain and could see that I cannot continue this way. Feeling less than nothing. Hating myself because of something I have no control over. Something I know I shouldn’t hate myself for. Walking out I was relieved, I was happy, I was excited. But over and above all that I was terrified. 

I’ve never had major surgery before, I never really imagined I would have. Especially with the health issues I have. The words of the previous doctor rang in my ears. How recovery would be long and gruelling and I’m taking myself away from my kids. The surgery is looming closer and if I’m honest I’ve almost been talking myself out of it these last few weeks. Fear of going under the knife is almost stronger than the horror of living as this leaky, painful mess. 

Almost. 

But not quite. Because every time I sit down and wince, I look to the surgery. Every time I feel the aching pull in my abdomen, I look to the surgery. Every time I can’t go to the toilet or pass wind, I look to the surgery. Every time I leak, I look to the surgery. And tonight, when I sat on the loo and somehow managed to urinate down the back of my ankle;  instead of falling apart, I looked to the surgery. 

Because I will have it. I will get through it and I will feel like me again. No matter how difficult the recovery. Because I’m a fighter and I can do this. 
Talking about my prolapse can be both difficult and embarrassing. But from what I’ve learned there are many women out there living a life similar to mine. Though I cannot say I’m proud of  having Pelvic Organ Prolapse, I’m determined not to be embarrassed or ashamed. This post was a hard one to write and share, but worth it. I hope to show women they are not alone and to help #breakthetaboo surrounding gynaecological issues. 

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!!

Today is a write off… 

Today was very much ‘one of those days’. Last week was a busy week, and it’s most definitely caught up with me. I had no choice but to push on and butt heads with my conditions, and now I’m paying the price. Notice how I said push on, not push through? That’s because to me, pushing through is impossible. I can never push through. I have several conditions, and they will never ever be through with me. One of my pet hates is when people post in support groups about how they’re terribly ill, but they push through and so should we! Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that they can. But they don’t seem to realise that there can come a stage when pushing through is just not possible. Pushing through morphs into something new, something harder. It becomes pushing against ever encroaching walls that are ready to push the life right out of you. Like a super hero in a cheesy eighties film, where the walls are closing in. Only much less glamorous. Last week I was lucky. I managed to get done what I needed to. But there’s many times when that’s just not possible. 

This being one of the days I was beaten, ironically whilst wearing my Wonder Woman nightie

But I digress. Back to today. Today was one of those days. The days where my health not only beats me physically, but mentally and emotionally too. I was stuck at the bottom of a pit of exhaustion and there was no way I could escape. The energy had sapped out of each and every part of my body, leaving me struggling to function. Worse than that though, I was drained of any emotional stamina I may possess. 

Usually on a bad day I try to fill my time blogging, or chatting with friends online. Today I did neither. I sunk within myself and wallowed in my hole. Instead of having a little cry and feeling better, I sunk into a maudlin limbo. Yet I had no reason to feel sad. This isn’t the first bad day I have had. They don’t normally leave me a weeping mess. Today however. Today did. Randomly and without notice I would find myself overwhelmed by sadness, tears streaming down my face. To the point I waited hours to write this blog as I couldn’t face the idea of crying yet again. The tears though, had no substance. For I had no reason to be sad. Or so I told myself. 

I had had a good week. I’d managed to get done what I needed to. I survived. On top of which, I’ve been given the go ahead for my surgery and some writing opportunities have come my way. This is all positive stuff!! But that’s the catch twenty two. I’ve found that when the good things start to happen is when we can feel the lowest. It sounds crazy, but it’s true. 

Let’s look at my list. I managed to get the things I needed done. For me that’s a huge achievement. However, I cannot help but see all the things everyone else manages to get done and feel belittled at my meager accomplishments. I cannot help but focus on the vice like grip my health problems had upon me, even whilst I was trying to do the things I needed. To reflect on the sinewy tendrils of pain that weave throughout my body, forever encasing me in a prison of pain. My operation was ok’d. While this is a great step forward in my treatment, it’s also terrifying. The thoughts of being put to sleep, or worse kept awake, and having my insides fundamentally changed fills me with dread. I struggle enough on a daily basis, how will I cope with recovering from an operation?! Some writing opportunities have come my way. Another exciting and wonderful development. More fear and self deprication. What if my writing isn’t good enough? What if I cannot cope with the work load? What if they change their mind and see me for what I really am, a bored cripple (I’m allowed to say it, I am one) scribbling an Internet diary? 

Absolutely everything has a sting in the tail when it’s processed by my head and heart these days. You see that’s what disability has done to me. It’s stripped me of my self confidence and filled the void with doubt and anxiety. Most days I can ignore the niggling thoughts in my head. I can dispel the creeping darkness inside me with the love and light provided by my family. But not today. Because today I just didn’t have the energy. So today I cried. I was sad. Then I cried some more. Because sometimes I just need to let it out. 

I would love to tell you that tomorrow I’ll feel better and be back to my sarcastic self. But honestly, I don’t know if I will. My health is flaring and exhaustion is gripping me like a vice. But I can tell you this. It’s ok to have days like today. It’s ok to feel exhausted and sad, and as though you’ve just had enough. Feel those emotions, hell wallow in them for a while if you need to. But remember that tomorrow is a new day, and while we can’t guarantee it’ll be better, we know it’s not today. Today will be over soon, so just get through it however you need to and know you’re not alone. 

Remember, it’s just one of those days. 

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.**