Thursday, 31 January 2019

Winter with chronic pain & fatigue

I've been quiet lately, in my own little bubble I suppose and not feeling able to write down how I'm feeling. It feels like the winter has been here forever already and we are current'y going into a colder spell, which is threatening snow, and likely to chip away more at my already struggling mood levels.

Winter, when you have chronic pain and fatigue, means more pain, more flare ups, less energy, more fatigue, less enthusiasm and motivation. It actually does feel like being inside a cold, grey, bubble.

I CANNOT wait for the spring to come each year.

This winter has been a little different to the several previous in some ways. I have been making myself get up more, go out more and make a huge effort to be more positive. The consequences of this though are that I'm in more pain, sleep patterns are crazy, my mental health is in a constant battle with itself, almost forcing myself to look at the positive things (don't get me wrong, I think it'd important to do this and it does help to an extent) while dealing with the reality. It's exhausting physically and mentally.

Getting through the winter months can be hard going, for the above reasons and so much more but there are ways to make it a bit easier.

My one "couldn't do without" item in winter is my heated throw. I bought it last year when the cold weather was just too much and it has been an absolute blessing all year round (yes even in the height of summer when everyone else complains about the heat, I get cold and need something cosy) the heat helps with not only chilly toes but eases some of the aches and pains. When we go out I really look forward to getting home, pjs on and under the heated throw.

Ah yes, pyjamas! I LOVE pyjamas, I don't think I'll ever tire of buying new cosy pjs. I need comfort so as soon as we get home I change into pjs. Funny enough the whole family are now in the habit of putting pjs or lounge wear on as soon as we get home, regardless of the time of day.

Something new that I've tried this year is filling out a gratitude journal each day. It's quite easy, even for the busiest of people, as each day you just have to write 3 things you are grateful for. Sometimes I feel I could write much more, other days it's a struggle to think of 3 but it does encourage me to take a few minutes to reflect and think about the things that have been positive. and it doesn't matter what I write as it's just for me, there is no shame in writing the smallest thing.

I think it is easy to fall into the trap of feeling like everything sucks, particularly when you are in pain and having to miss out on things you would love to be able to do so taking a little time out to focus on the things that make you blessed is a really good thing (for me anyway).

My gratitude journal
I'm hoping I'll be able to get my thoughts written down a bit more regularly now but we shall see, it seems like the Summer will be a long time coming, again!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Swimming with ME (CFS) & fibromyalgia

I'm not really sure what my aim is in writing this post but I feel the need to offload about it so here we are.

If you have fibro, ME or other chronic illnesses, I suspect it's fairly likely you have been told to exercise? I hadn't been able to exercise at all for 8 years, the distance I can walk is becoming shorter all the time, my legs, knees, ankles, hips, back hurt so much, I become weak very quickly, I tire extremely fast, and that's before we take into account post exertion malaise, so there isn't much I can do in terms of exercise. Honestly it's a struggle to hit 1000 steps a day, let alone the 10k recommended. This worries me a lot.

I've always quite liked swimming, not that I was particularly good or did it very well but the feeling of being in the water is pleasant to me so I thought I'd start swimming regularly and see if there was in fact a positive impact on my health.
We started swimming regularly & initially I thought that maybe I had been wrong to be sceptical, I am able to swim for a reasonable amount of time, at a fairly slow pace. I was getting some exercise and it felt good. My mood improved and having something to focus on was great! There is so little that I can comfortably and reliably do now so I got my hopes up that this would be it, a physical hobby.

2 months on and I am still swimming regularly, I still love being in the water but you know what? It doesn't help my conditions. My pain is horrendous, energy levels are dreadful, sleep is just as disturbed as it always was. Yet another false hope.

There are some positives to it. I am a little more toned, which makes me feel a little better about myself, I lost a whole lot of muscle mass being 95% bed/sofa-bound for 9 months over the long hard winter we had and I've been able to rebuild some muscles, I'm getting a little bit of exercise, it's something we do as a family, or my friend comes with me, so it's another thing I can do now and then and get some socialising in, talking of which I have met a lady at the pool who suffers with chronic pain, we chat and offer emotional support while floating around and taking the pressure off our joints.

The impact of swimming is that my pain has bumped up a lot. I'm taking more pain killers than I was before and the relief is so minimal. Although my depression is staying at bay, and I do partially credit the swimming for that, my anxiety is through the roof and my social anxiety is creeping back. You'd think being in the pool you are in your own little zone, when I swim I'm mostly under the water so can't talk anyway so what is there to be anxious about?! Well anyone with anxiety knows the answer to this. I worry that other people are annoyed at me for swimming slow, I fret that they at critiquing my technique, what if they wonder what the heck someone like me is doing there... and so on.

So basically, its a real mash up of consequences and to be perfectly honest I don't think the good outweighs the bad. For the sake of my mental well being I am going to continue swimming when I'm able to because I think having some time outside of the 4 walls is important for me and while I'm in the pool I don't feel negative effects (they just come later), so it's different to if I were to go for a walk, as that would cause me terrible pain while I was walking meaning it's becoming a very bad idea. At present I still spent most of my time at home, in bed or on the sofa, we go to the pool, come back and I get back into bed, I may meet a friend once a week, sometimes we have a visitor but that's pretty much it so that time at the pool does mean a little less time spent on my own in bed or semi isolated.

With anything I try in the hope of improving my health, I like to give it a good chance so that's another reason I want to carry on for now. The tiniest hope of improvement is better than no hope.

I am aware that this is pretty rambley, and I apologise for that, but it's hard to make sense of things myself at times.
Seems like such a simple thing too but it seems that nothing is simple when you have chronic illnesses, everything is a battle, physically, mentally or both and sadly its rare to win those battles. We have to keep trying though right?

Friday, 20 July 2018

Finding happiness in the now

This is a little difficult for me to write, because it requires me to admit that I haven't been being very positive lately, in fact I've been a bit of a diva and my outlook & subsequent attitude has not been at all helpful to anyone, that needs to change. so let me tell you what's been going on and what I need to do to change it.

Since I first became ill, I seem to have fallen into these weird cycles in my outlook and approach to this new way of life, I can be feeling really positive and in the mindset that I will not let my life be overshadowed any more than it has to, I will get better somehow and I'll fight for it as far as I can, or, I feel like it's all to much to comprehend, I surrender, I'll just stay at home and rest and avoid any further stress on my body.

Now, obviously the former is a better state of mind to be in but for me, it seems to come alongside this almost manic state of needing to be "normal", planning for a better future, wanting better than the current state. I want to be able to do more, I want to be in a better living environment, I want to be in a better financial place, have more energy and so on, I want it to be better for my children, my my husband, for myself, but I'm always looking ahead, either wanting things to change for the better, chasing dreams that may not come, or worrying about the future, how much worse will I get? How will we manage financially long term (because sadly this government isn't making it easy for people like me). Always looking in the distance.

My wonderful husband is so positive and supportive, bless him, the other day I was talking about wanting better, wanting more, as I do, and he said to me "I'm sorry you feel like that, we have an awesome little family and I don't want us to be chasing happiness, I want us to be happy now". Wow. Oh my goodness, that is it! That is where I have been going wrong. I'm always focused on a future that none of us can predict. I need to be grateful in the present, thankful for what we have. I need to take things a step at a time and not be putting quite so much pressure on myself.

The truth of it is I really do want more for us all but my children are SO happy. They are healthy, they are smart, they have lots of friends, hobbies, they love their lives. My husband is happy too, he works hard to keep us all happy, makes sure we have the things we need, that we're comfortable and safe.

The issue is me. I believe that I feel guilt about my condition and my restrictions so every time we have to take a rain check on a day out or I have to go back to bed, I revert back to this state of panic and feeling of I need to get better, I need to try harder, my family needs more.

We don't need more. We are blessed, we are happy. Okay so money is tight and if I could make myself well again that would be awesome, but things are good. We have each other, we are a great team, we have fun every day, albeit not always as long or as much as I'd like but the point is we do have fun. That is what I need to be focusing on. Being happy right now, because that will shape our future.

Monday, 9 July 2018


There is something about vintage style and particularly genuine vintage clothing that makes me feel fabulous. If you already follow my blog you'll know that I don't always feel fabulous. My chronic illnesses often make me feel like I'm not even noticed anymore. I spend a whole lot of time at home, in my PJ's or lounge wear, feeling pretty yuck about myself. So when I am able, I get up, dress up and get out with my head high and feeling fabulous! I love vintage, particularly 20s-60s. Clothes, hairstyles, bags & accessories, films, cars, music - I love it all!

A few months ago a noticed a tweet from Soph at BambleVintage which lead me to take a peek at her Etsy shop. BambleVintage is a cute little store with pretty vintage treasures, the regularly updated stock includes clothing, bags & jewellery, at really fair prices.
I bagged a cute floral skirt that has been perfect in this crazy heatwave, and have had my eye on some of the other beauties available. I want to share this little vintage pearl of a store with you all so please keep reading, trust me you want to read to the end.

This gorgeous vintage summer dress is beautifully unique and eye catching, I absolutely love it and can't believe it's not been snapped up already. You can buy it here (if you're quick!) for just £40, and add some vintage gorgeousness into your wardrobe.

This beautiful aztec, hippy dress is a fabulous folky vintage dress, with which these cute bangles would look really lovely.

Another beautiful summer dress is this fabulous 80s polka-dot dress - who doesn't love a polka-dot?! If this was my size it would be in my wardrobe right now, I keep coming back to see if it's found a new home yet.

This absolutely stunning BIBA dress is the perfect example of the fabulous finds that BambleVintage pick up. Highly collectible and classically beautiful in design, print and shape, pieces like this are a thing of dreams for us vintage loving gals

BambleVintage picks up some absolute gems that would will not want to miss so pop the Etsy store in your favourites & be sure to connect with Soph on twitter  so you can keep up to date with the latest treasures.

BambleVintage are based in London and occasionally have a stall at markets and events so keep an eye out for those, the next place you can find BambleVintage is at Swing East, on 15th July in Poplar, London.

Now, I promised it'd be worth your while reading to the end. The lovely Soph has offered a special discount to my reader for this month only!
You can get 10% off of a minimum order £10 GBP STORE WIDE until 31st July 2018 Simply enter the code BAMBLELOVESNATASHA at checkout to receive your discount. Enjoy!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Body vs mind

Lately, I'm finding myself in an ongoing battle with myself, body vs mind. My body can't do the things that my brain wants to be doing but my brain isn't up for accepting that, and I can tell you that is an exhausting battle to fight.

I'm 35 years old. My mind feels 10 years younger but my body feels 30 years older, with its aches and pains and fatigue that even makes my92-year-old grandfather feel sorry for me.

My mind wants to get up in the morning and make breakfast for my husband and my children, do a few chores then whisk them all out for a day of fun. I want to cook their meals, send them out to have fun while I do some batch cooking or baking. I want to have a lovely tidy house and run around the park with them, spend a day at the beach or take them to theme parks.

My body needs to stay in bed late while my darling husband gets up every morning with the children, gets them washed and dressed, gives them breakfast, plays with them, gets some of their educational projects on the go, makes their lunch, all before I'm able to get up and join them, on a good day.
My body needs to preserve every ounce of energy to do fun things with my family. I'm really, really blessed here because this is what my husband wants and ensures happens. He takes on ALL the heavy lifting, he cooks, cleans, tidies, does the washing, the driving, he brings me drinks, helps me dress, reminds me when to take my medication, comforts me at night when pain or nightmares keep me from rest. He does all this so that when my body is able to do things, I can use the energy to make memories with my children, have fun, experience new things.

My mind is that of a fairly old-fashioned housewife and fun mum, one who spends all her hours doing things for her family, having fun with her children, spending evenings with her husband, helping others and visiting family and friends, being part of the community...

My body is selfish. I just do the fun stuff, go swimming, sit on a bench at the park, watching the children, I get waited on day after day with my husband at my beck and call, treating me like his princess.

To people looking in it must seem like I'm lazy and selfish and that hurts me to my core. I want so much to be the person in my mind.

I know that I'm a very long way off of this battle ending if it ever will. How do you accept a life that isn't what it should be?  It feels like I'm in prison in my own body.

Right now I feel strong like I'm ready to kick the ass of my body, the traitor. Tonight I'll feel different. The battle is constant and I'm on both sides, screaming silently for my body to cooperate and let me live! At other times it's my body screaming for my mind to surrender.
But I'm not ready to quit. The battle is on.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Book review: Max and Menna - Shauna Kelley

Max and Menna is a heartbreaking, bittersweet, coming of age tale about fraternal twins, Max & Menna, who live an unstable life, with their older sister and their single, alcoholic mother, in Southern America. They live a difficult life which exposes them to situations & experiences way beyond their young years, making this a painful but beautifully written tale.
Max and Menna are largely left to fend for themselves, having to rely on each other to get through life, making decisions and choosing pathways to their own futures, with very little, if any, parental guidance. They are very much alone in their dark world until they meet and befriend Nick, with whom a wonderful bond is quickly formed.

The story is written from Max and Menna's points of view, and switches between present time and their childhood, set in the 1980's, but it is not difficult to keep up with and all comes together towards the end of the book, providing answers to questions raised along the way.

The characters are written very well, giving the reader a good insight into their personalities and how their experiences impact and shape them.

Be prepared for some difficult topics when you read Max & Menna, some of the painful things experienced and witnessed by the twins, will be all too real for some readers but are important subjects to raise, including poverty, racism, discrimination, child neglect, abuse, alcoholism, social isolation, and bullying. Sadly this is real life for too many children and Max and Menna reveals this to us in a painful but eye-opening way.

Max and Menna feels very real, due to the detailed writing style of Shauna Kelley, it's certainly not a hearts, flowers happy ending type of book but it is gripping, heart wrenching and tear-jerking.

Available on Amazon
Thank you to Shauna Kelley & BookTasters for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Fighting the battles

A few weeks ago we had a family holiday to Cornwall, I'm not sure exactly why but I felt so much better while we were there, but there were some obvious factors(for me).  We had a cottage with a lot of natural light, there were plenty of places inside & out where I could sit and get sun on my body, the whole place was light and airy, and the air felt so clean and light, which was another good thing. Also, there was a pool on site that we were able to use daily, which helps with my mobility, building up my very weak muscles (from 9 months of being bedbound). Those things and probably others meant that my quality of life was improved significantly for a couple of weeks.

Now, don't get me wrong, "better" still meant being in pain for most, if not all of the day, fatigue and other symptoms, BUT, it was better, from my usual "normal". My glands weren't so swollen, nausea almost went entirely and I was able to spend more hours each day out of bed.

Sounds great right? It was!

But... the flip side of that is coming back. Coming back home. Back to my normal. My usual level of pain, fatigue, nausea and all the rest.

Having a slight break from the living hell that I'm in gave me a glimpse of the life that I could have, that I should have had, that I want.

So in the 2 weeks since we have been home I have found myself in some kind of crazy battle within me.

I am panicked at facing a future which is essentially me in my bedroom for 22hrs a day, on a good day, my family living their lives with me absent from most of it. Not being the wife and mother that I so long to be, no ambition because what can I do from my bed? No chance to earn money, build savings, be spontaneous, have real-life friendships, date my husband...

I find myself waking up and instantly I feel fear wash over me, I can't give in, I must push myself, I must fight these illnesses and not let them completely drown me. I need to shower, get dressed, do housework, leave the house. I NEED to smile and be positive. I've got this!

I haven't got this....

My brain is on a different level to my body. My body can't function like able-bodied people's bodies can, it doesn't function how I want it to.

Yes sometimes I can do far more than I expect, people who see me out and about probably question if I am really suffering at times, but you know what? I can promise you I am suffering for those actions, whatever they may be.

I fight it. I try to convince myself it doesn't hurt that much, I can stay a little longer, walk a little further. I can paint on a smile and do it for my children. But my body will be screaming at me. My muscles burning, my bones aching, my stomach queasy, my heart palpating. When I get home I will need to go to bed immeditely but my suffering won't end there.

People with chronic pain are constantly in battles that can't always be seen by others. Our pain and torment goes far deeper than many people will ever know, we fight to be "normal", to get our lives back, to have the future we deserve and so long for.