Week 3-“hiding”

It’s too easy to hide.

I need to make more of an effort to get out and meet people, communicate and take in some of the Spring sunshine. Sadly, I had enough to keep me busy indoors last week to provide my semi-guilty conscience with sufficient excuses to avoid people and continue my isolation indoors. Naughty.

Too peoply

So what did I do?

Quilting of course- I finished my scrappy mug-rugs. Another sign of a restless mind is focussing on smaller projects which can be completed quickly and without too much concentration involved. I enjoyed putting together these mats with scraps from previous projects and it gave me a chance to practice a new quilting pattern (braiding) and to use my freebie quilting templates which I’ve had for a few weeks-see, I’m pretty good at justifying my lack of socialising by making something 1) out of scraps which otherwise wouldn’t be used; music to my frugal husband’s ears and 2) something practical.

I spent two days during the week sorting out my sewing kit and stash and my office so that everything is now in its place ready to use without rummaging through countless plastic boxes for just the right piece of fabric. Now I am not the tidiest person around, preferring to keep moving and leaving a trail of destruction behind me instead of being organised and tidy. This again is a sign that sitting on my bed folding small pieces of fabric into colour-coded bags was far more appealing than venturing outdoors.

I may have had to speak to someone. Horrors!

Whilst scouring Pinterest for mini-quilt ideas however, I did stumble across a fantastic Yahoo Group called “Smallquilttalk.” This is a mini-quilting group run and moderated by the “Sentimental Quilter” Kath Tracy. I found some of her free patterns on Pinterest, loved them and followed the links so that I finally came to the group. Most members are based in the US, but there are international quilters too. Kath’s blog describes the group as somewhere where you can “meet new quilting friends from around the world, share tips and show off your quilts.” All without leaving home- Perfect!

Being very self-critical it’s an easy option and a bit of a cheat but it’s a start. I have only been a contributing and active member of this group for two days but I have already found a new “tribe” of like-minded fellow-quilters who all seem incredibly friendly and helpful. It all seems so easy online. Why can’t I feel this comfortable in the actual presence of people? Strange and as yet, unexplained for me.

I’m trying to be kind to myself and am sure that this low-mood will lift in due course. In the meantime, I am participating in the “Mystery Quilt” challenge and the “Small-quilt 2017 swap.”

For the Mystery challenge, Kath gives the group instructions for a patchwork quilt Block every few weeks. The finished quilt won’t be complete and the mystery revealed until the last Block is made. This is good fun and although the challenge has been running for a few weeks now, I have managed to catch up;

 

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Mystery Quilt 2017-Block 1

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Mystery Quilt challenge- “square-in-a-square” blocks for later on

The quilt swap hasn’t been sorted out yet but I have listed my interest and am waiting for my “swap partner” to be allocated to me. I understand that we then correspond with each other regarding the quilts in order to find out favourite colours and patterns in the hope that the quilt I make for my swap partner and the quilt I receive is, at least, something that will be treasured.

Interestingly this is when the differences between quilts produced in the US and my quilts come to the fore. I have had a good look through the photos on the group pages and the different preferences and fabrics used are a lot more muted (in general). I understand that, having done some research, many of the fabrics and quilt patterns used relate back to the American Civil War  which clearly doesn’t impact us in the UK in the same way as in the US. I find this very interesting and with a passion for social history, I am already interested in finding out more of the history behind quilting both in the US and the UK.

Am I a nerd? (rhetorical)

So the end of week 3 leaves me with a new tribe, some interesting quilting tasks and an intention to make more of an effort to get out and about.

Let’s hope I can force myself past the front door and into the big wide-world.

happiness outside

 

 

Week 2- “productive”

After last week’s hectic schedule, this week just gone was a lot more relaxed and productive.

One of my favourite 2016 projects was revived for 2017 and I spent a couple of days putting together a “fidget” or “dementia activity” quilt following a request from a friend of my Aunt who had seen previous examples of mine on Facebook.

This project is more personal in that I have some information about the person I am making it for; I understand that he is a retired priest, a poet, loves Christmas and has an allotment. My task therefore is to tailor-make an activity quilt designed to be interactive, stimulate memories and discussion and to keep a sometimes troubled mind occupied.

I’m pleased with the result.

I also included a card printed with one of my favourite poems by Gerard Manley-Hopkins;

Pied Beauty.

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced –
fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

I hope he likes it.

 

Week One-“Hectic”

These years keep rolling by at a worrying rate and I find myself, yet again, at the beginning of my 16-week break from work. The plan was that I have a couple of weeks catching up on my sleep and generally chilling, but the best laid plans of mice and men dictated otherwise.

So the first 7 days went something like this…..

Saturday- a lovely evening out with our next-door-neighbours at a charity “do” for Menphys. No suitable photos available.

Sunday- Will came over for lunch and a catch-up.

Monday-My birthday and up early to take Jasper for his quarterly groom.

Tuesday- A quick tidy and clean up ready for the workmen to arrive.

Wednesday- I fell down the stairs and chipped a bone in my ankle. I hopped into the minor injuries unit and came out in a neoprene support-boot and crutches.

Thursday/Friday-the workmen turned up as planned and replaced our aged boiler, 4 radiators and left us sweltering in unaccustomed 22.5 degrees of heating-loveliness.

Saturday- Hubby and I both came down with coughs/colds in various forms and spent most of the day in bed and plying each other with Lemsip.

Sunday- I feel much better and have actually managed to take Jasper for a walk without doing my ankle any further damage, made some panels for hand-quilting, cleared out and re-filled the airing cupboard now that we have no hot water tank and sunk half a bottle of vodka after a hectic week.

Just reading this back makes me tired but, as they say, the Devil is in the detail, and of course the summary above is only half the story. I am hoping to keep my Blog up to date as far as I can, even if it is only a summary of the week’s activities. There is so much going on behind the scenes however that I should be able to embellish the week’s highlights more regularly than once a week. I need to write more-it makes me feel better.

A Bientot

Caroline

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4 panels ready for hand quilting

 

 

 

Kenalog-the only treatment that worked

Most people don’t know what a Kenalog injection is  but I imagine that there are quite a few in the sporting world who are now familiar with the drug Triamcinolone. Triamcinoclone is an anti-inflamatory cortico-steroid used to treat a number of conditions, including hay-fever and asthma and which is prescribed under a number of trade-names, including Kenalog.

As a life-long sufferer of severe hay-fever which often led to ad-hoc asthma  attacks when the pollen count was very high, I tried every drug available to control my symptoms. I admit that no-one is going to die of hay-fever, but the symptoms are horrible and quality- of- life-limiting. This is before it develops into an asthma attack, which we know can be fatal.

My symptoms were so bad that when I was referred for immunotherapy treatment, the allergy  specialist who was evaluating my claim for treatment said that he had never seen anti-bodies attack the pollen which was introduced to my blood sample so aggressively and recommended that my 3-year series of immunotherapy injections should start as soon as possible.

When I was a young girl, my sister used to take me to watch her and her friend play tennis. She still remembers sitting me down on the bench by the court and covering my head with a damp towel. I was “happy” to sit like this until they had finished because the damp towel kept the pollen out of my eyes and nose. My sister then used to lead me home by the hand; me with the towel still on my head.

Unless you have suffered with hay-fever, you cannot grasp the scale of irritation, fatigue and frustration which goes with it so, when a group of hospital  Doctors against whom I was playing a tennis match and who couldn’t believe that I was still playing despite having to sneeze and blow my nose between each point suggested I had a Kenalog injection, I was more than happy to trot off to my GP and demand the needle.

At the time in the mid 1990’s, my GP was happy to prescribe it and so I arrived back at the surgery within a couple of hours desperate as I was, for the nurse to administer the drug. I had been told that it was a high-dose steroid that I was having and that there were potential side effects; I had to stay in the surgery for 30 minutes after the injection in case I went into shock (I didn’t) and that I may suffer from localised muscle loss in the injection site leaving a “dimple” (I did).

But when I woke up the next morning, and every morning after that for 2 months, I had NO hay-fever or asthma symptoms. To this day, after taking part in drugs trials and after 3 years of immunotherapy treatment, I can honestly say that this injection of Triamcinoclone was the only treatment I have ever had that worked. No symptoms at all.

Sadly, Kenalog as I understand, is not licenced for use to treat allergies and when I moved house and changed GP, I could not secure a prescription. Instead, I was referred for the immunotherapy treatment.

The reason I am writing about my experience is because Sir Bradley Wiggins used this drug under a TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) before he rode in the 2012 Tour de France. He is now accused of “abusing the TUE system to his advantage” and I was particularly incensed when I heard a previously banned cyclist talking on Radio 5 Live a few weeks ago (I can’t remember his name) criticising Bradley Wiggins’ use of this drug as a TUE. He inferred that Sir Bradley had abused the drug and cycling rules for a “minor illness.” Clearly he has never suffered or seen anyone suffer from severe hay-fever/asthma symptoms. I struggled to maintain any sort of normality in the summer months before I came across Kenalog, let alone take part in elite sport and the fact that Sir Bradley took this drug to enable him to take part at that particular time of year when the pollen count is particularly high, is no surprise. In fact, if his symptoms are so severe there is no way he could have taken part without it.

I would therefore like to know what experience the critics have of allergy-related illnesses and how they are treated. Do they understand what treatments do and don’t work?

I doubt it and I support Bradley Wiggins all the way.

Triamcinoclone provided him with the means to compete on a level playing field.

Go Bradley.

 

 

 

 

 

On The Up

I don’t know where the time goes and I cant believe that its 8 days since I wrote my Blog. In that time however I have managed to establish some sort of equilibrium and am much calmer.

Earlier in the week Jasper alerted me to a juvenile hedgehog eating its dinner in the night garden. It was clearly obvious that the hedgehog was not particularly big, so I asked hubby to bring me the scales from the kitchen.

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I weighed “Cheeky Charlie” (named because he/she didn’t curl up for long) and found that the 375gms was not sufficient for him/her to survive winter hibernation. I understand that hedgehogs should be at least 500-600gms to survive over winter so I prepared the cat carrier, complete with towels, hot water bottle, newspaper, food and water for the hedgehog’s overnight stay with us, before taking him/her to the local Wildlife Hospital the next day.

The hospital welcomed the new addition and promised that we can have him/her back in the Spring.

The hospital will keep the juvenile hedgehogs, not ready for hibernation, in warm conditions so they don’t try to hibernate. This would probably kill them as they don’t have enough body fat to live on whilst their body slows down. Hopefully, after a Spring and Summer back in our garden Cheeky Charlie will be ready to hibernate this time next year.

In the meantime, soft as I am, I have built the hogs a shelter so they don’t have to eat their dinner in the rain……..

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Am I daft?

My frustrating brain

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I’ve had a good few months. My brain has been behaving as expected; waking up nice and early ready to take on the day’s challenges quite willingly. It has enjoyed and embraced the challenge of technical tax work and I have gone to bed at night feeling mentally tired but still in control.

That is until I woke up this morning.

Today I could have cried. I woke up feeling overwhelmed, confused and angry with a head that felt like cotton wool. Why does this happen? I do know why but as hard as I try, I seem to have little control over those pesky grey cells between my ears.

Whilst I hate to labour the point, as an “HSP” I am a square peg in a round hole; Something I have known for many years but have been too chicken to resolve. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my job. I do but maybe for the wrong reasons. It satisfies certain criteria in that I enjoy a challenge, I am target driven and I like to learn new skills which stretch my brain. What it doesn’t do however, is help me satisfy my long-hidden creative instincts and the basic need to do something “meaningful.”

So, I really tried to continue as normal today. All the time fighting the urge to jack it all in and  disappear into a large cave somewhere. As an HSP susceptible to periods of depression and anxiety I need my periods of respite so mid-afternoon I caved in and logged off.

When I get very bad hay fever, I want to take my eyes out of their sockets and wash them clean. When I get brain-fog, I feel the need to do something similar. Remove brain from skull; immerse in liquid chocolate and breathe. I need complete sensory respite from targets and tax legislation.

So what did I do?

I went into the garage and sawed some wood. I switched off and made something. Something meaningful.

A hedgehog house.

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