Eye mask- easy make!

Yesterday I had a splitting headache.  Nothing I did would get rid of it – not the usual drink, food, sleep, no sleep etc.  I remembered, eventually, an eye mask that I used to have.  I had made a few of them for other people in the past and still had some leftovers.  It took about 15 minutes all told to make and while it didn’t cure the headache it helped.  And I had a nice glow of achievement!

This isn’t a sleep mask – it will fall off if you turn your head to the side and adding straps will change the pressure points which defeats the object.  I’m afraid there aren’t sew-along pics but it really is a very simple make so I don’t think a pics are really needed.  And it is a very appreciated present- no-one need know how easy it is!

Materials

Soft fabric (I used a cut off from a pillowcase.  I have previously used satin which is good but harder to sew)
Linseeds (these are apparently the perfect weight and size)
Scissors
Thread
Needle
Sewing machine (not essential but I wouldn’t like to do it by hand)
A funnel
Template (I haven’t provided one but you can see easily the shape)

Optional

Velcro
Essential oil

image

Technique

1]    Cut out two pieces of the material, using the template
2]    Pin together the fabric, right side together (the side you see)
3] Sew around the material using a straight stitch, about one centimetre in. Leave a two centimetre space. 
4]    Use zig-zag stitch around the edge of the fabric, leaving a space in the same place
5]    Using the whole that has been left turn the fabric the right way out. If you’re using velcro (so you can empty it to wash) then sew into the space
6]    Fill with linseed using the funnel.  If you lift it by one end there should be a couple of centimetres of space left at the top. Add essential oils if using. DO NOT USE MUCH!
7]   Sew up the opening/close the velcro
8]  Lie on your back, hood both side and put mask on your face. Allow it to settle and relax

I said it was easy, didn’t I?

Death Before Dying

I’m sorry.  I never intended to post to a schedule but I had hoped to post a little more frequently.  The truth is I have found this one, for which the blog was largely created, incredibly hard.  I knew it would be of course but I didn’t expect that I would have to bribe myself (with maltesers) to get the sentences written in my head pinned down to a screen.  It just makes the truth a little more real.

This won’t be overly pleasant to read.  It it is less pleasant to write.  But it is worse, far worse, to live.

I have lost my grandad.  What I have now is a confused, snotty shell of a man.  Leaking from every orifice, knowing no-one but wanting to cuddle us all.  He is not yet at the stage where he has withdrawn completely within himself, instead he wants so desperately to be with others constantly.  He needs the reassurance of others but he is a contradiction, he will accept anyone but is scared of all but a select few.  He fights everything, on occasion physical violence (although his body is so weakened for someone younger this is no threat) but mainly by having strops like a three year old.  He objects to everything – if you serve up salad he wants it on a warm plate.  He argues; about if he’s eaten, if he’s been out, about everything.  He still wants to help but doesn’t know how.  His organs are slowly failing on him.  He can be the nicest, sweetest person around or reduce you to tears by his cruelty.  He has forgotten everything but the buttons to press.

The cause is pretty obvious.  In his case it is a mixture of Alzheimers and Vascular Dementia.  There are various versions but the chances are one of them will come to you and your loved ones.  As we live longer we have more and more of these problems and right now we don’t know how to solve them.  Here’s a few stats for you (source: Alzheimers’s Society). There are currently 800 000 people living with dementia, 17000 of whom are younger (under 65) people.  The proportion of people with dementia doubles for every five year age group. There will be over a million people living with dementia in the UK by 2021.   In the UK there are 670 000 carers for dementia sufferers, saving the UK economy 8 BILLION pounds a year.

Only 44% of people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who have dementia receive a diagnosis meaning these stats are based on guesswork.  The reality could be much, much higher.

I, and others who know her, believe that my gran is also succumbing.  She’s not far enough gone for the doctors to see it but it’s there.  Her health is failing but her mind is too,  even without the strains on her body she really wouldn’t be fit to leave on her own.  Her sense of judgement has gone.  She certainly can’t look after her husband who goes a little further from our world each day.  The result is my mum has become one of those 670 000 saving the NHS £8billion; she has become a live-in carer.  She wipes his bum and clears the mess (which is considerable as he tries to clean himself with everything).  She cooks and cleans.  She keeps the diary, arranges and fits incontinence pads, liases with the various agencies.  And she sits in silence for hours on end while they sleep to too loud TVs, unable to change channel or leave as it will wake them and cause resentment.  Or listens to the same story for the fortieth or fiftieth time.  She is meant to be retired but while at her age my grandparents were going on holidays abroad her life is on hold so she can wipe up snot and shit. Myself and my family help where we can but ultimately it falls to mum as she is living there.  I do not know how to help her but I fear for her health.

I have seen several times recently articles on carers,; on each it glosses over the messy reality and says that although it is hard it is worth it.  It isn’t.  No-one is happy about the situation.  My grandad is far enough gone that he will be happy anywhere and in a care home the carers would at least be trained on how to deal.  And they would be able to go home and put it to the back of their minds, instead of being on call all day.  My gran hates what she is reduced to.  She has admitted that she wishes she was dead but she is a committed Christian who would never consider suicide and she is determined enough that she will hold her body together until grandad no longer needs her.  She resents that my mum is often better at dealing with grandad, because mum reads (and uses!) the advice and because she is strong enough and stable enough that she can do things like change his pads with ease.  And my mum, my mum is in hell.

I do not pretend to know the solution.  I do know that if grandad were to go into a care home he would have to pay some costs, over £100 a week.  I know that my gran, who can barely walk, who cannot climb stairs, who can only lift with one arm and who recently made a single meal and could barely move the next day, is eligible for all costs, which can easily be over £500 a week.  I know that on the news most days there are care home abuses reported.  And I know that 99.9% of the people involved in care and provisions for the elderly hate the system but continue in the hope that they can make a tiny difference.

We have developed to a stage where we live long enough to suffer from previously rarely seen illnesses.  Dementia and arthritis are just two examples of illnesses that were present previously but rarely had a chance to take such a cruel hold.   We have this but we don’t have the ways to properly treat them and we don’t have the systems in place to care for the sufferers.  The current system is cruel, adding financial worries to everything else at a time when people are just worn out.

Two elderly people were hit by a train near me yesterday.  It was described by police as “non-suspicious”.  There has been no inquest: I do not know what happened. My thoughts are with their families and with the train driver who will live with this forever.  But my immediate thought at seeing the news was; were they going through this hell too?

Thank you for reading this.

The Bad Samaritan

I recently watched The Departed.  For those of you not familiar with it the basic premise is a cop undercover as a bad guy and a bad guy undercover as a cop.  It works, and they are successful, because they dress and act the part.  The one pretending to be a cop has the full button-down, deferential attitude required while the cop-come-criminal plays the angry man to a tee.  Everyone there believes them; they have no reason not to.  Although the audience know the truth the plot works because people see what they want to see.

Dr Harold Shipman was able to become Britain’s worst serial killer because he gave the impression of the caring doctor – one who even went out to see his patients unasked for when they were dying.  It was no wonder people apparently put him in their wills!  No one suspected him for so long simply because he played his part so well.

We hear sometimes of the most unlikely people helping out – bikers doing toy collections for example.  They make the news because we are surprised, although why should they be less human simply because they dress in a certain way and like different things?

What really shocks us to the core though are those people who are meant to be doing good but aren’t.  Cleaners who steal from vulnerable employees, careers who abuse their charges, nurses who leave patients begging for water.  These cases are incredibly rare but when we hear of them we are rightly appalled.  It is not simply that they are paid to do a job – by accepting that role they have agreed to take on a persona, even if it doesn’t come naturally, and to be honest and fulfill it. We start to fear that if these few people are able to disregard this moral contract it might be widespread.  It’s not, but the fear has entered our hearts and we lose trust in image dictating behaviour.

In some ways this is actually a good thing.  I don’t mean people abusing their position (there’s a special place in Hell for them as far as I’m concerned!) but maybe we shouldn’t think that an image dictates a personality.  The heavily tattooed man could spend his time helping at a hospice, the sweet looking little old lady could be a right cow.  The point is we don’t know until we have spent time in their company.

And the Bad Samaritan of the title?  Once again there has been an accident victim robbed by someone supposedly helping him.  They have a seat in Hell right next to the others.

The migraine monster (guest post)

I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend of mine, Bunny, agree to do a blog post.  She suffers from severe migraines but has been using a new treatment to deal with it.  In this entry she talks about the effect that migraines have had on her life.

You can find Bunny’s writing blog at http://bunnyssnippets.blogspot.co.uk – it’s well worth a visit.

Hi, I’m Bunny, I’m in my late 30’s and I suffer from Refractory Chronic Migraines. In this post I will try and give you an insight to how it affects me, what treatments I’ve been through. Finally how one treatment has had a big effect on my life. I often refer to them as “migraine monster” because that is how it feels. Like being attacked by a monster.

I first started getting them when I was 13 when my period first started. This is common for most girls. The doctors in the hospital thought that I had a tumour in my head because of the pain and the symptoms that I was experiencing. All the tests for that came back clear. Had a CAT scan, MRI scan amongst other tests. It was a migraine, they classed it as “severe classical migraine with aura”.  I was sent home and on my way.

What followed wasn’t that simple. The pain in my head made me feel like I was going to explode and implode at the same time! It felt like my head was in a vice. If anyone has seen the Saw film with the girl with her head in that head cage thing, you will get some idea. Aside from the normal symptoms of this time of migraine, the pain in head, the flashing lights etc, I also experienced sound as colour. All of which was (is) normal.

At one stage in my teens I was visiting ER that often that I was telling the doctors what amount of drugs to give me. They gave me pethidine and valoid which isn’t ideal to get every time. Over the years I was given the normal drugs, Migraleve which are yellow and pink tablets. That didn’t work. I was also given Imigran both in tablet form and injection. It was a pen injection that I had to inject in the muscle of my thigh or in the arm. The thigh was the less painful. Was given the “usual” triptains, none of which worked. Then they faded away, only appearing now and again. Until they came back with a vengeance.  

In October 2012 the migraine monster came back and it seemed like he had friends with him. I was getting two or three daily. On the pain scale they were level 9 or 10. After seeing the doctor and he had exhausted his drug options, I was referred to a Neuro (Neurologist). After an appointment with them, they eased away for a few days but then came back. After weeks of changing doctors I finally got another appointment with him. My symptoms had changed, evolved. More on that later. He classed them as Refractory Chronic Migraines.

I was given a high dose of Epilim (900mg) and then at a different time Topiramate or Topamax as it is sometimes known as.  When the drugs didn’t work and he had exhausted all drug routes I was given Nerve Blocks in the Optical Nerve.  Two sessions of this didn’t work. Next step Botox.

I had my first session of Botox back in March 2013. It made some difference, then I had another session 3 months later. Then I had a time of cluster chronic migraines. These are when you get a batch of them after having not had them for a while. It is now May 2014, and after the fourth session of Botox, I noticed a marked improvement. I can now plan to go out. It doesn’t just affect the sufferer, but the family, friends and those around the sufferer.  Family members get fed up with you always being “sick”. Although they are concerned about you, it does get to be a strain. Also noise has to be kept to be at a minimum. I have lost friends over it, always cancelling plans at the last minute saying “I can’t go, I have a migraine” wore thin. It’s something all of us who suffer from migraines face. Work wise, I have been lucky. I was on a temporary contract when they struck hard and on the sick. Despite this I got made permanent. I suppose declaring that I suffered from migraines on the application form when I first applied for the job helped. Work was and is great, they support me. I have meetings with my boss every month or so. They ask about my migraines and if there is anything they can do to support me. I was told that “Chronic Migraine” is classed as a Disability in their workplace. This is just my experience, I have known others who have lost jobs over having Chronic Migraines. 

Symptoms and how I feel

How I feel with a migraine attacks and afterwards. I will try and explain this the best I can.

A migraine can happen at any time, any place. If it happens during the daytime I often get warning symptoms, this is commonly called “pre-migraine”.  I get what is known as Aura, I see colours around people and objects then comes a mild form of colour synesthesia. I see sound as colour. Next come the hallucinations, I get both auditory (hearing) and visual (sight) hallucinations. Then the migraine attack starts, my head all of my head feels like it is in a vice. That is slowly being squeezed until I can’t handle the pain anymore then it squeezes some more. Also I feel like there are screws being twisted into my head. Then we come to my eyes, my eyes feel like they are on fire, like they are being burned from the inside.  Also my face goes numb on one side, I also get some trigeminal nerve pain. 

If I can go to sleep with it, I’m okay, sleep it off for a few hours when I wake up, migraine gone but still have post-migraine. This is often called the “hangover stage” because it feels like you have a hangover after a heavy night’s drinking. If it happens in the middle of the night, it is a different story, if I wake up with it, that’s me for the rest of the day. When I eventually get back to sleep in the morning, it is usually due to exhaustion. Then when I wake up in the afternoon I have post migraine but the migraine headache is gone. I have no pain in my head. The post migraine stage is also sometimes called as a “fog”. Like you have a fog over you, if you’ve ever felt faint, that swimming sensation you get? That is what the “fog” feels like. Sometimes this also happens during a migraine. 

The colour synesthesia and the auditory and visual hallucinations do progressively get worse. To give you an example if travelling in a car, the lines in the middle of road rise up and twist and turn like a snake. Trees move and birds seem like large predators. The auditory hallucinations are sinister voices talking to me or whispering to me. Mix this with the feeling of someone behind or next to you and it is very scary, being told it is “normal” does not make it any less scary. 

I also get very disturbing migraine dreams. These are scary and often seem so real that I am left shaken when I wake up.  I started writing these dreams down and from them has spawned a series of novels, Book I of which I am currently writing. The link at the top of this blog post, is a link to my writing blog. 

Triggers

A trigger can hide in your body for up to 72 hours before you get a migraine. By keeping a detailed migraine diary in theory, you can look back and see if anything could be a trigger.

I do believe that, this did help. I’m already a strict vegetarian and during the few months of keeping a diary a few triggers were found.

MSG (Mono-Sodium Glutamate) also known Yeast Extract, Maltodextrin and Hydrolised Vegetable Protein. It also hides under E621. Now here is the thing when E627, E631 and E635 boosts the flavour/effect of E621 up to 15 times. So if you’re sensitive to E621 and it’s mixed with E627, E631 or E635 you are basically getting E621 boosted 15 times.

MSG is found in lots of food, takeaway Chinese, gravy, tic-tacs to name a few.

Carrageenan is another one. It is a derived from seaweed. It is used as a stabaliser in vegetarian/vegan food. It is found in some chocolate bars and also in ice-cream. Also Algae or any form of seaweed I cannot take.Yeast is also a product I can’t have, natural or chemical. I also don’t drink alcohol.

Slide projection is a trigger for me. The digital one, the old fashioned type with an acetate sheet and using light and mirrors is fine with me. Also flash photography and quick flashing images is a trigger. 

Hormones is another trigger, nothing I can do about this one. I normally get two-four hormonal migraines a month. Compared to migraines daily, this is a big improvement. Also something else out of my control is atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric pressure in the air, can sometimes (but not always) trigger a migraine. 

OCD

This is an off-shoot from chronic migraines. I have OCD, not many people may realise this. When I say I have OCD, I am not joking. My Neuro said that is is normal (again with the “normal”). He said that a lot of people who suffer from chronic migraines develop OCD.  He said it is the brain’s way of find organisation in amongst the chaos. I have my own set of cutlery that I use, things have to be in a certain place. I have items on my desk at work, and I know if they’ve been moved. Even if it is moved by a sixteenth of an inch, I know. I know if someone has been in my room when I haven’t been there. Even mundane stuff like housework has to be done in a certain order and a certain way otherwise it’s not done “right”.

The Migraine Trust is a Migraine charity in the UK. It is a good source of information. 

So it begins…

This is it.  I am finally getting around to what I have said for a long time I will do and started a blog.  It’s going to be a bit of a mish mash – things from my life, things from other people’s lives, stuff i found interesting,  craft, baking and anything else that appears.  

One thing it won’t be is in support of any political party.  That isn’t to say that I don’t have views that might fit with a party but some of my other views will fit with another.  I am very confused basically!  So if I say something it’s because I think it, not because I want to promote something.  But that will be pretty rare anyway.

There are a few things likely to crop up.  Dementia – how it effects lives. Because it really does, not just the sufferer and their carer but all those around.  And despite the best efforts of those doing the work there just aren’t the resources to go around.

Complaining!  Now please understand; I am a nice person who
doesn’t like complaining.  But it was recently hammered home to me that if companies don’t know what is wrong then they can’t improve it. So complaints (provided they’re done nicely) are actually a positive thing.  But if you do go down that path then be fair and praise the things that go right too.

Food and craft.  For me these things go together.  Both are about creating and both have loads of sites already devoted to them online.  So I think I’ll add one more.

Beyond that: who knows?  Wish me luck!