Thursday, October 29, 2015

How to encourage and support those with silent chronic conditions. Show the Love!

So there I am, lying on the floor of the workroom, pins sticking into my arms and legs, covered with thread and the piecing I am  hanging on my design wall, the bruising ladder across my body. A yardsale scrabble of everything from the sewing table is scattered across the room. The iron scorches its way through my cutting mat.

"What the hell", I think?? And then, 'Ow", but, "What the Hell??!"

How did I get here? Why am I on the ground? Did we have an earthquake? Where are the cats??? Did I break anything? 
I pick up the iron, remove all of the pins from my arms, and thighs, and apply liberal amounts of neosporin. I am glad not to have landed on any with my face. My pins have been everywhere. Everywhere. On that romantic trip to Maui, to the Galapagos, to visit my Sis in Yuma... on jaunts during a life being lived.
Strange, I think. I must be dehydrated. 

And then it happens Again. Cross country skiing on a sunny blue bird day with the Dawg and the Hubster. And then Again that same day, on that same family outing. My husband can't understand why I am so stiff. Neither can I. The Dawg keeps refusing to leave my side. The cats have become barnacles, fastening onto me the moment I am still. 
I am so stiff, I can barely move. Exhaustion overwhelms me, permeates my soul. I need help getting up from any sitting position, am too tired to stand to iron. Can't get out of the tub by myself. "Dammit!" I think, "I've got work to do!!"

And then Again, in the snow on a hike, out in the glorious backcountry. 
Seven miles from home. 
Just me and the Dawg.
It takes me four hours to stumble and stagger my way back through the foot deep snow. A twenty something laughs at me as I near the trailhead, and home. Thinking I am drunk. Or something else, more shameful. The Dawg patiently props me at her side as I try to lift a leg out of the snow to take a step. Then, exhausted, subside into the cold wetness to rest. Then struggle up to take another excruciatingly slow step. And then another. And finally up the hill, 150 feet and 30 minutes, to home. 
No one offers a hand or expresses concern to see someone's Mom struggling to return to home and safety. Bizarre, I think.
I am embarrassed. Deeply, Deeply Embarrassed. 

Then, out of the blue Again, two solid months spent laying on the floor, Vertigo spinning and rolling like a runaway carnival ride from one of those awful '70's monster movies. Lights flashing and sounds warping. Barfing like no tomorrow. Every day, all day. Unending. Nights spent on my side, at the edge of the bed, so that I could roll slightly to throw up in the garbage can placed on the floor, at my side.  My friend Loretta comes to hold my hand and empty the clear fluid from the trash can, for me. I get vertigo, too, she says. Does it last this long, I ask? Concerned, she shakes her head. I make an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat doctor (ENT). My own doctor says it's just menopause. "What, do you think? You're special?", she says, "Do you think you don't have to go through this like everyone else does?" She's been telling me this for Four Years.  She tells me I am a hypochondriac for wanting to see another doctor. I go anyway. I am not a Freak. Begging for attention. At least, I don't think so...

I cancel my first appointment, because I am too dizzy to drive. My husband travels for work. My son lives thousands of miles away. I make another appointment and wait 2 months for it to arrive. There are no doctors who specialize in Vertigo, in the entire state of Alaska. The one who did, has just retired at the age of 78.

As I wait for my appointment, half thinking I am a lunatic, and half angry for believing that, I have increasingly frequent vertigo and lose the hearing in my left ear. I cannot walk upright. I cannot read. I cannot use a computer. I cannot hear on the phone. I cannot meet my obligations. I break a finger when I accidentally close it in a drawer when I have a sudden attack. I spill a pot of boiling soup over my hand and get third degree burns. I begin to go out less and less. I spend the two months home-bound, not able to drive, too embarrassed about staggering and stumbling everywhere, to go out without my husband, and his arm to lean on. Using the computer becomes an impossibility as the light and typing make the vertigo much worse. I begin to drop things more frequently. I stumble to the end of my road and back, 3/4 of a mile, several times a day, in order to get outside, where the vertigo is less. One of my neighbors begins to come out as I go by, and leer at me. I ignore him and continue on with the Dawg at my side. It is my fervent wish that she will bite him. If she doesn't, I think, I just might. His ankles anyway, since I'll be laying on the ground. 

Having unexplained and unexpected vertigo is like being mugged. Something comes out of nowhere and takes everything you have worked so hard your entire life, for, for no reason, and leaves you shaken and mauled, on the ground. Then you get up and tell yourself that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. That you shouldn't eat this, shouldn't do that. Slowly, your life returns to normal, and you can work again, albeit less. Slowly, you forget what being mugged was like. The terror. The Fear just after, everywhere you go, everything you do. Slowly, you get most of your life back, although it will never be the same. A different life now, but maybe one almost as good. 
Then it happens again. Out of the blue. Everything gone. Everything taken away. And you struggle to your feet again, bruised and bleeding, and with less faith. You pare your life back so that what you think you did wrong, won't cause this to happen again. You go out less. You worry that it will happen again, and that it's your fault. You wonder what of a million possible factors that may or may not be under your control, contributed to this awful event happening again. Then it happens again. And Again. AND AGAIN. Many people with silent illnesses never venture out. Many, many, take their own lives. 

My appointment arrives. I park in the parking garage, the sequence of poles making my head spin. I stagger up to the front entrance, where the attendants smile kindly, and open the door for me, telling me how to get to the elevators. There are three floors of glass enclosed stairs in front of me. A vertiginous nightmare. I am overwhelmingly thankful for their kindness, and for the fact that they haven't laughed at me, or treated me as if I am a freak. It's just an ear infection, I think, perpetuated by the broken nose from the car accident. I'll get this fixed in a jiffy with some antibiotics and, maybe, nose surgery.

I sit in a cold, empty room, eyes closed because the fluorescent lights make me dizzy and nauseous. Palms sweating because I am certain he will tell me I am a hypochondriac, and that this is all in my head. The door opens and the doctor walks in. He looks at me, slumped, deaf and desperate. Three seconds later he asks me, "Do you have a thyroid problem? Have you ever heard of Meniere's Disease?" Three seconds to make the diagnosis that gives me most of my life back. And allows me to come to peace with what can be of my life, and make more beauty out of the rest. Three seconds to act like a human to someone lost and in need. Three seconds to re-teach me something I have known all of my life. How to be kind to others. How to care even if you don't know what they're going through. How to have empathy. Three seconds to humanity. 

It's been several months now, and every day, three times a day, I do vestibular rehabilitation, so that my brain knows where my body is in space and time. I have changed my entire life around, to make it work so that I can do what I want to do. What I NEED to do. To not let others down. To perform at my best. To be reliable. To do what I say I am going to do. 

To not cancel my life and exist in Fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of missed opportunity, Fear of what others think, if, no WHEN, they see me stumble, Fear of disappointing others and what they want to see me do and become, Fear of having a sudden attack and killing someone's beloved family with my car. 

Fears big and small, Fears real and unreal. Fears to freeze and inactivate, Fears that lead to a despair so deep that many with chronic disorders can't get out, so drown. Fears perceived, Fears that deceive and lie, Fears that dominate. 

Fear is no place to live. Fear is for dying. Little by little as it pares away at your soul, and who you are. I refuse Fear. 

I Refuse to Live in Fear. This is My Life. The only one I'm getting. I will not exist in Fear of failure because I will have an attack and miss a deadline. I now know and have practiced how to schedule my time so that that will not happen. Fear of missed opportunity. Strange, how life teaches us our lessons, whether we want them or not, isn't it? I have had to learn to take life at a much slower pace. To live in the moment, to cherish that moment. To be where I am and with whom I am with. I notice color and smell so much more. I enjoy life fully. I rest when I need, and run every day. I deeply regret working two jobs and going to grad school while raising my son as a single parent. I now know, even more than I ever did, that time spent with him is worth more than any grocery or sport at school. But sometimes, you need do do what you need to do. But I wish I had the knowledge then, that I have now. Opportunities are there. Plan how to take advantage of them in proper time. Stick to the plan. Time is precious, don't waste it. Be present. BE. Be you. Don't let what you think others will/are thinking keep you from going out and living your life. Do your best. Take time. Be loving. 

When you see me out and about, I will not be using a cane, so that people can know why I stumble. If they want to know why, they can ask. I will be moving through life as if it were a ballet. Because I choose to see the beauty in each moment, and choose to dwell there, rather to rush from task to task and thing to thing. I may stumble, I may look a wee bit crazed. I may take a brief break to stabilize myself. But then, Won't you come join me for a walk in the flowers, or a cup of joe and a chat about the fam?  A making of a quilt and a memory together? You'll find me in the midst of things, hearing people's stories, occasionally gripping a table edge, and Happy to be there. With You. Living.

Here are several other silent chronic disorders. This is not an all inclusive list, but folks with these disorders look perfectly fine from the outside. Won't you touch their hand and smile into their eyes and tell them you're there? Click on the link to see what you can say to them, or to learn more.

Meniere's Disease
Arthritis and chronic pain
Autoimmune disorders such as Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Rheumatoid Arthritis
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Migraine
Crohn's Disease

You can expect to see lots of quilting, and pics, and love over here at SewPsyched! in the coming years, but you will also see some pieces that I am doing to help increase awareness of vestibular disorders. I hope that they help to spread the word so that people can live their lives more fully. 


Friday, October 9, 2015

SewPsyched! How to Auction a Quilt: Tips

 I auctioned the Being Charming Is A Plus quilt, in my SewPsyched! CareAlong II, last week.
We raised $112.50 for charity, and $30 ($52 minus shipping for the quilt) towards the next projects for charity. Woo!!

Last year, I auctioned off several stash alotments, over on Instagram, and they were very successful. This is the first time I have auctioned off a quilt. I thought I would send along some tips and lessons that I learned from the process :)

1) Choose your dates, carefully

  • Include weekdays, especially a Monday, and tag large fabric companies in your posts, so that they can share your post and increase the number of people bidding. 
  • Be careful about holidays, etc. I had forgotten that September is back to school month, since, well, the Kid hasn't gone back to school in a thousand years ;0 So, I reduced the number of folks who could bid on my quilt, as they had spent the budget in the previous month on necessities. October is also Halloween in the US, and that means buying or making costumes, which is also expensive. Note to self... September and October are poor months during which to post sales or auctions. 
2)  Take a variety of pics, in a variety of settings, to show the size and quality of your quilt.
  • It was raining like the dickens here, and I think my pics didn't show the colors as well as they could have. I now have bright white lights for photography. Amazon!! So cheap!
3) Have it be fun!
  • I tried to start a little friendly competition between my followers, and we all had a lot of fun with it. Even folks who weren't bidding, were having fun egging other people on :)
4) Have a purpose.
  • The purpose for my auction was to donate to charity, and to add to the fund for making more items for future charity auctions. I made no money for myself on this auction. If you were looking for dollahs for stash acquisition, and not charity, you might have that be the theme of the auction. Mama need some new stash, yo!!
5) Follow through!!!!!
  • I cannot emphasize this enough. You MUST follow through and contact our winner (s) immediately after the end of your auction. Then follow through with an invoice, and a thank you. 
  • I immediately let the winner know that she had won, and contacted her donation recipient so that she knew I wasn't going to rip her off, and keep all that green for moi.
6) Be grateful!!
  • Please please please remember to thank all who participated and bid on your object/quilt. There is nothing less inviting than a person who takes and runs. Know what I'm sayin'??? 
The recipient of our donation had this to say:

Oh my God I had no idea!  Seriously? Wow, that is so amazingly generous! I cant even believe that. Thank you with all my heart. Really!

People have simply amazed me at this horrible time. I never had any idea that there were such good hearts out there who cares for strangers. It really just has me in shock.

Thank you very very much.  Bless you "
 This Mom has recently lost her daughter in a horrible accident. If you'd like to learn more, or send along your love or a donation, check out her blog. I am warning you, it is a hard read, and completely heartrending. Oh Mom!!! I wish we could make it better for you.

Or check out @auction4caitlyn over on Instagram

I just adore the quilting community and how supportive and generous you are. Kuddos to you, you lovelies!!!!


Thursday, October 1, 2015

SewPsyched! Plus Quilt Auction for Charity

It's time for the SewPsyched! CareAlong II!!

Today, I am auctioning off this lovely lap sized, rainbow, Being Charming Is A Plus quilt.
This quilt is made entirely from Kona Cotton Solids. The background is Silent Film (greys) and the backing is Chartreuse. The binding is Ombre Greys.
The Being Charming Is a Plus quilt on a queen sized mattress. The perfect size for family snuggling,
She is super soft already,
The Being Charming Is A Plus quilt is made entirely with 50wt Aurifil threads. Grey 2600 in the bobbin, and a variety of rainbow colors in the Wonky quilting.
Her colors are so bright!! Perfect for a kid to read a favorite book, upon,
The Ombre Grey binding makes her shimmer. 
Crinkly goodness Front and Back!!

How it works:
  • I have an opening bid of $150. 50% of that goes towards making the next charity quilt, and 50% of that (minus shipping) goes towards the winner's favorite charity, charities, or person/people. The winner, also gets the quilt!! :)
  • Leave a comment below or send me an email at givbludplayhocky at gmail dot com, to tell me your bid amount. I will be checking every 5 minutes from 8 am to 10 pm AKST, Friday, October 2, 2015 through Sunday October 4, 2015.
  • You must leave me an email in your comment!!!! That way, if you are somehow a no reply blogger, you can still win your quilt!!! 
  • OR go to Instagram and leave a comment on my Newest Being Charming Is A Plus post. REMEMBER TO TAG the person who commented before you, so that they know they've been outbid. I will be updating IG every time I receive a bid from another venue. You can send your $ to an Instagram campaign and benefit someone over there, as well.
  • If you are outside of the USA, I will pay half of your shipping costs.
  • You can purchase the Being Charming Is A Plus Rainbow Quilt and auction it off, yourself!! How cool would it be if it kept going around and gaining support for more and more charities?! 
  • HAVE ANY QUESTIONS??? email me at givbludplayhocky at gmail dot com, and I'll get right back to ya!!!
  • This auction will be going on simultaneously on Facebook, Instagram, and here on the blog. 
Good Luck!!!