Monday, 26 May 2014

Zelda is finished!

At last, I've had more than 30 minutes to myself that hasn't included laying on the sofa recovering from having done too much!

These last couple of months have been hard going - a combination of trying to do more than I could, having ME flare-ups due to trying to do too much, then lying on the sofa doing nothing because I'm too tired to do anything.

My husband has been up for re-election as a local councillor, so for the last month, I've been a canvassing widow as he's been out every evening and most weekends. The election was last Thursday, and he was re-elected. I've been trying to do more around the house so that he could focus on politics, and at the same time we decided to put our house up for sale and move to a bungalow. 

Our house sold within just a few days, so now we have to find somewhere to move to!


Enough of all that though, let's get onto what you want to see. Zelda.

I've ordered some batteries for my camera online, but I'm still only iPad, I'm sorry!

Here's the whole thing:




Then a close-up top:



And a close-up of the bottom half:



This one was fun to do; once I receive payment it will be winging its way over the Atlantic to its new owner.


Sunday, 11 May 2014

National ME Awareness day

No pictures of paintings today, just this blog post.

If you're a regular checker-inner of canvas and paints you may well have noticed I have ME; Myalgic Encephalopathy to give it it's full name.

I've had it for almost 9 years now - I was on a cycling holiday round North Wales when I started with what I thought was a bad cold/flu. I've never recovered.

It's a mainly invisible illness - invisible because you can't easily tell that there's anything wrong with me if you see me sitting down on a good day. Invisible because on a bad day I can hardly make it downstairs let alone go out, so I'm invisible.

Why am I telling you this? To get you to think about invisible illnesses and the assumptions we all make. To get you to think about the impact of cuts in the UK - disproportionately affecting disabled people. For pity? No - what's the point of that? You can't eat pity, it doesn't heat your home, doesn't help you walk.


What does having ME mean to me?

Nine years ago, an average week saw me swimming a mile, running 2 miles and cycling around 60 miles. I also went circuit training, worked out at the gym and lifted weights. I wasn't muscly, but I was strong and fast on my bike. I used to do a cycle ride for the Christie Hospital in Manchester every year, cycling 57 miles to raise funds for them.

Then I caught that cold/flu. I got lost on what should have been a 30 mile afternoon's ride, ended up riding about 35, and feeling dreadful from about half way.

Now, walking up and down stairs exhausts me. Doing the food shopping causes uncontrollable muscle spasms in my legs and causes significant pain (despite the anti-spasmodics, anti-inflammatories and painkillers I take). I was on morphine patches for the pain - they were brilliant at first, but my skin breaks down too quickly so I've had to stop using them. 

Some days it can take me 2 hours to get up, shower, dress myself and make it downstairs. Some days I'm too tired to shower, so I sit on the loo lid and wash. My memory is shot - I can be told the same thing several times and have no recollection. I forget words and talk drivel when I'm too tired. I lie on the sofa lots, just resting, specially on a Thursday. I rely on my family and friends to do so many things for me, things that I used to enjoy doing, and some things just cos they have to be done. The glands in my neck are often inflamed and painful; I ache all over; I get bone-numbingly tired, so tired that I can't eat as I'm too tired to chew or swallow.

I walk with a stick, and if I'm walking more than a short way, I also walk with a gutter crutch - I can't hold a stick in my left hand, so I have a crutch that velcros onto my arm instead. My disability is fairly obvious because of the stick/crutch combo, and because of the speed I walk - well, lack of speed if I'm going to be accurate. For years I've hidden that I have a crutch as well, as I'm almost ashamed of needing it. Ridiculous.

I have friends who also have ME; they've experienced discrimination due to having invisible disabilities, I have too, and it's rotten. Think about what that must be like, even for a minute. People look at us funny. People make comments about us even though we can hear their mean comments. People treat us differently. People stare. People push past us. People try to push us over. People ignore us. People target us. People think we're scroungers. It happens regularly. (Thank you Cameron, Osborn, IDS, Daily Mail. Not.)

My fears for the future include never getting better, slowly getting worse. They include not being able to hold down a job (I currently work 3 days a week in the NHS as a Learning and Development Facilitator). This job is why Thursdays are so hard - I work Monday - Wednesday; my husband makes dinner on those days, and often on others. I try to spend Thursdays resting so that I can do something on a Friday. I'm fortunate to be able to work. Many people with ME are unable to - either because they are too ill, or because they cannot find suitable part time work. My employer is very, very flexible, and values the work I do. This government lied about the help I would receive to get into work (I was made redundant and didn't have a job for a while). This government have cut the Access to Work budget without publicising it - this money is supposed to help disabled people into work. It didn't help me. This government are scrapping the Independent Living Fund - the fund that enables severely disabled people live independent lives. It will cost more both in £££s as well as the impact on individuals to stop this fund, but it's an ideological cut.

Do I feel sorry for myself? No, not really. I get fed up at times, but being sorry for myself doesn't help anything change. Do I get cross or sad? Sometimes - I'm human, not superhuman, and I have grieved for what I've lost. Life expectancy for those of us with ME is 57 years. That scares me.


What else does having ME mean to me? are there any positives?

Yes - for a start, I paint! I run canvas and paints, something I would never have done before. I have to rest so much, and painting is something I can do even when I'm a bit tired. 

I've had to slow down. I have more time for other people because I'm not busy rushing to do the next thing.

I've enabled people to feel good about themselves by letting them help me - I have to ask total strangers for help sometimes - they walk away feeling good about themselves because they've been kind to someone. I never used to let people help me - I'm stubborn and quite bloody-minded, and was always the helper. Now, that's reversed, and although it can sometimes be hard, it's also really positive because it blesses others.

I campaign online - once over I'd have been on the march, the picket line, the barricades. I can't do that now, but I can email, sign petitions, publicise stuff.

I support other people in their struggles with disability as well as receive support from others.

My life is a charmed little bubble, where I am loved and love; where discrimination and intolerance get short shrift; where I am helped and am able to help.


My hopes for the future?

A cure for ME. There has been some interesting research in Norway with a chemotherapy drug that's had some success. There may be a trial in the UK. There's been some research about what's going on in our bodies at a sub-cellular level, in the way our mitochondria release, reabsorb and re-release energy.

One day I might recover. Til then, I'll hope.


Possibly useful sites:
ME Association
Action for ME
AYME


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Zelda almost done!

Well, I've painted twice today - this morning I've painted the walls in my front room, this afternoon I've painted more of Zelda. 

I've concentrated on finishing the bottom half of the painting - all I need to do there now is the white outline of Link and then the grey wash over all the background to fade the paint out a little.

Tomorrow I'll finish off the top, then finish painting Link. I've still not been able to buy some batteries of my camera, so I'm afraid I've used my iPad again, sorry.

Here it is:



Saturday, 12 April 2014

Even more Zelda done

I've been catching up with thei ting - looking after my mum following her knee replacement has taken lots of time, and has given me little time to paint, but I spent some time yesterday and this morning painting. 

It feels so good to paint, but I've had to stop as I'm heading out to a policy forum on disability in an hour or so, and need to get ready.

Anyway, see if you can Ot what I've been doing - I need to apologise for the quality of the photos as I've had to use my iPad as my camera has decided to stop working. I'll have to save up for another one!

I've done most of the pink here:



I've tightened up some of the black outlines here:





Hopefully, I'll be able to paint some more tomorrow :)



Friday, 4 April 2014

Zelda continued


Well, I completely overestimated just how much time looking after my mum would take - she had a total knee replacement 4 weeks ago, and I moved in to look after her, and carried on going to work. Consequently, very little painting got done! I managed to paint on a couple of days, but that's all. 

She's doing really well now, so I moved back home last week and am painting today.

My camera has decided to refuse to save any images, so I've had to use my iPad to post an update, so I'm sorry the photos aren't quite as crisp as I'd like them to be. I thought it would be better to post rather than not!

Here's where I'm up to; the whole image: 



The top half:




The bottom half:




I need to go over some of the black outlining, but I'll probably do that next to last, before I do the grey colour wash. Today I'm going to finish the background, and *maybe*, just maybe start Link. 


Thursday, 27 February 2014

Zelda - a bit more done

I've been a bit busy the last few days - my mum has gone into hospital to have a new knee, and so I've been visiting her instead of painting.

I've arranged for other family members and friends to visit my mum though, so she won't get lonely in hospital, as I'm going away this weekend - its my church's every other year weekend away. 

Apparently some people are going for walks or playing football on Saturday - I'm taking Zelda to do some more.

I think pink and brown will be next, I'll be painting Link last, after I've slightly greyed out the background. 

I'm not sure quite how much painting I'll get done, but I'm hoping for a few hours.


Here's where I'm up to, I've done the orange tones:



Thursday, 20 February 2014

Zelda is a little further on

Here's some more of Zelda done - I'm back at work, so I'm not getting quite so much painting done as I did last week. Ah, well, until I can give up the day job and just paint, I'll carry on painting slowly!


Here's the whole painting:





Here's the top half:




Hopefully I'll get some more done this week.