Monday, 21 December 2015

December Volunteering

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December Volunteering

I had to take quite a step back on my voluntary work lately because of my health, but I've had a great team of helpers who've helped me run Project Parent from my bed. I also managed to get out at the start of December to volunteer for Metro Radio's Cash For Kids Christmas Family Festival raising money for Calvert Trust.

Project Parent

This has probably taken up most of my time. I didn't quite realise how many hours I needed to do and also how close it is 'til Christmas. After a major incident with MyHermes, we have just about managed to pull everything together! Boxes will be going out this week! 

Metro Radio's Cash For Kids - Calvert Trust

I had a really fun afternoon helping out at the Christmas Family Festival. I managed to sell £100 of raffle tickets and in total they raised £1,580! I also set up my Project Parent box which gained some interest too! It was my first time volunteering for them, but I enjoyed every second. Plus, I met Elsa and Santa - added bonus!

Gift Bags For The Psychiatric Ward

I also made up some little gift bags for the inpatients to open at my local psychiatric unit on Christmas Day. After receiving a lot of support from the hospital and meeting some of the patients, I thought it would be a nice gesture to all of them.

Okay, so looking back, December has been busy. I think I lie here doing nothing, but it's only when I put pen to paper I realise what I've achieved. 

Hope everyone has a very merry christmas!

Kate x

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

A thought for the homeless

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FAs I lay here in my bed,
Pain pounding through my head.
I stop and suddenly see,
How lucky I must be.
To have a large, soft, cosy nest,
To feel the warmth of my duvet and vest.
Whilst many lie on the streets,
Feeling the ice cold ground at their feet.
Empty from hunger, no shelter from the rain,
Emotionally and physically exhausted from the pain.
Sitting. Waiting. In the darkness of the night,
As people walk by with not a glance; not a sight.
So as you sit here, reading this upon your phone,
Be thankful you've not just got shelter above your head, but a place you can call home.

Kate x





Friday, 6 November 2015

Updates and Awards

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Well, long time no see I guess. I loved blogging, but unfortunately my health had taken a rather serious nose dive and blogging went to the back of the list. 

Health wise I was on a steady decline for many months until it got to the stage where in August I became an inpatient for a month. I was on 15min observations and in quite a terrible state, but after 4 weeks I came home and received daily support in the community instead. This is still continuing so my life consists of hospital and visits from health professionals, but hopefully I'm on the right track. I'm still very ill but I'm managing as well as I can with what I have. 

Anyways, I wanted to share some very exciting news. My lovely mum (my number 1 fan ;)) has nominated me for an award. I have always dreamed of being nominated for something and I was very lucky to have this as a surprise. If anyone wants to see the entry, it's here. I'm so excited though, I'll keep you updated.

I'm also keeping busy with Project Parent. I feel so far behind with everything but hopefully it will all come together nicely. I'm also trying to make everyones christmas present too which let's face it could be disastrous. 

Hope everyone is okay thought and starting to get into the Christmas spirit!

Kate x


Monday, 3 August 2015

London Adventures

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I made it. We don't know how, but I got down to London. I needed to say a proper goodbye to the people that mean so much to me. But, goodbye for many, is not forever. 

Friday: After a rather traumatic train journey resulting in many panic attacks + trying to get off, we arrived at Kings Cross. We got a taxi (I love 'uber' now) to V&A where we went to see Alexander McQueens exhibition. Amazing. We went back to the hotel for a rest then went to meet all the Team V folks. Had an hour there and went on the London Eye on the way home. Busy day!





Saturday: Rested until midday and they went across the road for a picnic in the park. Had a go on the merry-go-round too. Rested in the hotel room then went to see Charlie And The Chocolate Factory in the evening - with free upgraded seats ;)





 Sunday: Little trip around Covent Gardens then to the station to see Hannah and Soli. Train home went smoothly (thank god) and I fell asleep as soon as I got home


I managed to get lots of rest during the weekend but of course it's taken it's toll! Eventful but nice weekend away with my mum. Now to rest.

Kate x




Fundraising & Volunteering - To Date

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This is probably a blog post for me more than anyone else. I wanted to post an update with how many hours and how much I've raised in total for charity!

*Drum Role*

1,750h of credited volunteering.
£4,450.25 fundraising total so far.

Pretty chuffed right now.
Kate x

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Metrocentre Accessibilty

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Linking into the last post, I have some rather exciting news about a little project I've been working on.

I've been working with the Metrocentre to help disabled people access the shopping centre more easily, in particular, the lifts. Now, from one of my suggestions, they are reforming their maps to show which shops have lifts in. You probably wouldn't know how much of a difference this makes unless you are in a wheelchair or have a pushchair, but I'm really pleased with the outcome. 

'I really like your idea of noting the lifts within stores in our guides and have discussed this with our Marketing Manager who is going to investigate it some more. So next time we print the guides this will hopefully be added'

There's such a growing number of disabled and buggy shoppers which require lifts and simply don't know where to find them. Hopefully this will make someones life just a little bit easier when shopping!

Kate x




Shopping with ME

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Shopping. Love it or hate it.

I used to love clothes shopping. Trying on all the dresses I couldn't afford, prancing around changing rooms and choosing hideous outfits for your friends to try on. That's how clothes shopping used to be. Now, it's a totally different story.

If I want to go clothes shopping, it has to be very carefully planned. I'm usually armed with sunglasses and earplug and have a strict time limit on how long I'm allowed out. I went shopping today for the first time in ages and had 20mins. In that 20 mins I bought 4 outfits. That's using your time wisely. So, I thought I'd put some little hints & tips for any ME'ers who are planning on venturing out.

Of course, online shopping is the simple option. But, If you're like me & particularly need to try things on because of being so tall, then the occasional shopping trip has to happen.

5 tips for shopping with ME

  1. Choose what time you want to go out and set a time limit. Shops are quieter early morning, but that might not suit when you're at your best. Limit how long you're going to be out for and set an alarm on your phone.
  2. Choose what shop(s) you want to visit. Look online first and decide which shop and clothes you'd like to go to. Department stores like House of Fraser and Debenhams are a good idea as they have lots of little outlets in one.
  3. Get a personal shopper. Today I had zero motivation and didn't want to choose clothes. But, when a lovely young lad went round the whole of Miss Selfridge and chose clothes which he thought would suit me, it made it one hell of a lot easier. Plus, all the clothes he chose I bought - good job!
  4. Try on clothes all at once. Getting changed is so tiring when you're chronically ill. So try them on in one go, or alternatively, wait 'til you get home (but keep the tags!)
  5. Be sensible. If you get dizzy walking, hire a wheelchair. If the lights are too bright, be a diva and wear sunglasses. Just do what's best for you.
So, it wouldn't really be a good blog post without showing you what I bought. This was just 20mins shopping in my chair and we got so much. These were all from Miss Selfridge. It took me a bit of convincing to buy them as I spend most of my time in bed at the moment and rarely go out, but hey, I can look good whilst resting.


Floral day dress 


Jumpsuit


Shirt and shorts (which I ended up getting in a powder pink too)


Chevron dress

Off for a well deserved rest now. Outings are getting very hard at the moment but I needed to get out today.

Kate x

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

My Love Of Epson Ealts

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When you have a chronic illness, you are always looking for things which may help you. Everyone tries new things and we all end up reporting back to each other, whether it's through instagram or in person. Anyways, I have always had a love for bath salts as I've created my own blends myself. But, it wasn't until I started rehab that I researched it further to find what benefits it can have. So I've put together a little blog post about the benefits and where to find them.


WHY THEY'RE SO USEFUL
Epson salt is a mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate. Magnesium is known to have a lot of positive effects on the body, so being deficient in this can lead to a decline in health. Also, a lot of celebs are raving about epson salts, so if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me!

HOW I USE THEM
I bath in epson salts at least once a week. I put at least 2 heaped cups worth of of salts, usually 3, in a nice hot bath and soak for a minimum of 20 minutes. I also blend my own epson salts with essential oils, which is really easy to do, but feel free to contact me if you'd like me to talk you through it or do some for you. I usually have my epson bath on a Monday night, after rehab, as it's suggested you bathe in them after activity. I also have magnesium spray for top ups when I can't get in the bath.

3 BENEFITS OF EPSON SALTS
  • Relaxation - the salts are easily absorbed through the skin and immediately work inside your body. It relieves stress by promoting the production of serotonin and reducing the effects of adrenaline. Magnesium also plays a role in the production of energy in our cells, without feeling anxiety and restlessness.
  • Relives muscle and join pain - relieves tension, pain, cramping and inflammation.
  • Helps muscle and nerve function - this definitely helps my muscles recover after exertion.
RIGHT, WHERE CAN I GET SOME?!

I buy my salts in bulk from amazon, blend them with essential oils, then store them in large glass jars. So, if you're looking for plain salts, you can easily get them online. If you're looking for already blended salts, I personally recommend these by a lovely lady local to me. If you want a bulk order I'm sure she'll help! Otherwise, if you want me to help out in any way, I'll do what I can!
 
I'm not a health specialist, to please seek advice if you're wanting to know more about the effects of magnesium and if you think you may be deficient. 

Kate x



Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Little Things Mean A Lot

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Today is a little blog post inspired by the little things in life which are getting me through at the moment. 

I've had a bit of a rough time at the moment health wise, to the point where eating has become an issue. It's a hard balance to keep your mind busy from anxiety and rested from tiredness. But here are a few things which have helped, and, might help others suffering too.

First and foremost, my family have been my rock. I've had a few really good friends who've been offering visits and have been texting which has been amazing. These things get me through more than anything.


Never underestimate the power of comfy shorts and fluffy socks.


Comfort is key. Knitted blankets, soft pillows and fluffy toys.


Something to take your mind off things. In this case, little craft projects.


Relaxing. Notebook for thoughts, magazine, cream for massages, headphones for music and my anti-anxiety remedies.



For trouble eating/swallowing I have nice teas, energy gel and straws.


And for resting. Eye mask and ear plugs.

Hope everyone is doing well, Kate x

Friday, 10 July 2015

Don't Run Before You Can Walk

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'Don't run before you can walk'.
Its a saying we're all familiar with and understand that it means taking things step by step; one thing at a time. 
Well, if i would abide by this rule, I probably wouldn't be where I am now. But sometimes, you just have to push your limits.

After relapsing in September 2014 I had to take little steps again. And when I say little steps, I mean little. We're talking about sitting up for 5 minutes longer, or, standing for a few seconds more. Before that, however, I was taking giant strides. I definitely craved the progress I made and was probably a bit too determined to start improving again. Over the last month or so I started making progress at a faster rate and started to 'run at the light' again. Pushing myself further and further.

I finished my a-levels (finally - if anyone who's got a chronic illness is reading this, stick with it. It may have took me 5 years but I got there in the end!) and then had a lot more time on my hands. My usual routine of going on my recliner, watching some tv, revising and going to bed had been abolished. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as coming up to exams I had a years worth of work to cram in in 2 weeks, so all my energy was spent on revision. So, when exams were over, I was expecting relief. Instead, It'd been replaced with frustration. I was getting frustrated that I wasn't achieving anything anymore and had nothing to do. I wanted to achieve by doing something but totally lacked the energy and motivation. Looking back, I still was achieving so much. Project Parent, rehab class, a small amount of teaching and little outings. I wanted to do something new and stupidly started looking at what other people were doing and comparing it to what I was achieving. 


I'm lucky enough to be friends with many inspirational people. And I'm not just talking about people who do a good deed a day. This is life altering stuff and making a difference on an entire community. I love seeing what they're doing but sometimes, when my mood isn't as stable, I find myself thinking I should be doing amazing things like them. I do often have to remind myself I'm ill too, and know that my number 1 priority should be to get myself stable, instead of taking on the world. So, after getting frustrated for a week or so, I finally cam round to thinking what I was currently doing was good enough. I don't need things like having 12k followers on instagram or having an article published on a well known website. I'm doing my own little things and if I help anyone else along the way, that's a bonus. I want to do so much but my health is so restrictive, and I'm fine with that 99% of the time, but sometimes it just gets too much.

So, because of all of this, I was trying to do too much. I also started having panic attacks again, which people who have them will know are energy draining. I started running at the light again where as I needed to be slow and steady. Which has got me where I am now. Due to my EDS flaring up I haven't eaten a meal this week, causing me to collapse this morning. It was a bit of an eye opener really, and now I know that I've just got to take small steps and build myself up again. No giant leaps... yet. 

It's good to test your limits. How will you know where they are if you don't? But maybe, Kate, hold it off for now, and just focus on getting some stability back.

Kate x

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Birthday - Part 2

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Well, it's now July, meaning I have finally stopped celebrating my birthday! I think I've majorly overdid it, but it was well worth it...

My birthday weekend was the last weekend in June, and what a weekend it was. Some of my favourite people travelled far to celebrate with me which meant so much! So a special thanks to Alex, Becca + Andrew for all that travelling. We started the weekend by going to the Great North Children's Hospital's 5th birthday party. I made a cake (which in the end we couldn't give to them...) but we met Jean-Christophe Novelli (which I'm not going to lie, I had no clue who he was!) and we had a look around. Andrew smashed (literally) the coconut shy and they had gluten free goodies which was perfect!


There was a stand with a bike school. Now, take you back 7 years ago before I got ill, I was always on my bike. I've wanted to at least try get on a bike for awhile now, and since there was a whole team there to support me, that seemed like the ideal opportunity. And, I did it! We only went a few metres but it felt so good. Achievements all round!


My party was in the afternoon and I had close friends and family round to celebrate. It wasn't a huge gathering as I struggle having many people over, but it was just the perfect amount. People who I haven't seen in many months turned up which was so lovely!


In true ME style I had to have an hours rest whilst my 'party' was happening. Andrew took this photo when he came to wake me up!


We got a taxi into town and went for cocktails for a few hours. We all (eventually) got a photo by the quayside which was so special. This is one for the photo album!


Here we all are (plus 2 random guys). Thank you so much to everyone who celebrated with me :)


We got some lovely pictures in the evening. One of which was the beach by the quayside - not ideal in heels!


So yeah, overall, a lush a special birthday. This month I have definitely learnt who my true friends are and a special selection of them made it a birthday not to forget!

Kate x




Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Volunteering

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Volunteering


I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. I always want to give 110%, or if I can't, I feel like I haven't achieved anything. This is something which I've really struggled with at the moment. My health hasn't been that great, so all these 'big' plans I'd made for fundraising, or just generally opportunities, have had to be put to one side. I felt for awhile that I wasn't achieving anything with my voluntary work, as I can't do any of my big + crazy ideas. But, then I realised, that a little difference can go a long way. In fact, it doesn't matter how smaller task you do, you are making a difference. And, even if you haven't managed to do it, its the fact you tried to make a difference that counts. Whether you're skydiving for charity, or simply stopping to chat to someone about mental health, know that the smallest thing can make the biggest difference. I always strive for perfection, but I've come to realise that even if one day I simply talk to my volunteers about Project Parent, that has made a difference. And if everyone does something small, together, we can make something big.

Something wonderful is ending next month. Vinspired's 'Team V' programme. I know it's very cliche, but it honestly has changed my life. I started it 2 years ago as a shy, practically friendless leader. I was 'the girl in the wheelchair' and had little self-esteem. But I knew I wanted to make a difference. Throughout the year, I grew in confidence. I sang in front of people I didn't know, I made lifelong friendships and delivered campaigns which I felt strongly about. I enjoyed it so much that I applied to mentor for the next year, which I thankfully got. Unfortunately, this year I haven't managed to support my leaders as much as I wanted, due to health reasons, but the one residential I made it too I had the most amazing time. These guys are family. We all gathered to make a difference, and each doing our own campaigns meant that together we made a huge difference to different causes. Graduation this year is going to be a sad one, as I've grown so much through the programme. But, I know the friends I've met will be there for me for the rest of my life, so I'm hoping the Team V legacy will continue. A huge thanks to everyone from Team V, you guys are amazing.

Finally, I want to talk about how many opportunities I got through volunteering. Not only did I get to meet new people, campaign for what I believe in, making a difference, I also (somehow!) got a scholarship through my hard work. Through this I got funded to do my dance teaching qualification (which has been one of the best things I've ever done!), lessons + books, pottery classes and more. I never did any of this to expect for things back in return, but this was one of the nicest surprises.

So basically, go volunteer ;) Whether its an hour a month or 40 hours a week, it's the fact you are doing something to make a difference which counts. If you're struggling for opportunities, check out the vinspired website where you can gain certificates for volunteering. You can volunteer from your bed, like I did for much of my campaigns, or get out and work with the public. I've even managed to set up my own community interest group through my voluntary work, so the possibilities are endless.

Perfectionism isn't everything. Making a difference is.

Kate x

Latest Artwork

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After finally finishing college, I have had a bit more time to be artistic. Here are a few things I've been creating :)

 Cake I made for my birthday
 Up canvas
 Peter Pan canvas
 Zebra watercolour
Flamingo watercolour

Will post more when I get on a creative streak!

Kate x

Birthday Part 1 - In Pictures

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Some of the many photos I took to remember my 21st...
One of the many balloons I recieved
 Afternoon tea & spa day at Slayley Hall
 My surprise presents
 Boyfriend who spoils me...
 Balloons!
 Gorgeous pudding
 Andrew and I
 Our view from having tea out
Bingo!

Kate x

Birthday Month - Part 1

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Birthday Month - Part 1

Having a chronic (well, more than one...) illness does have its upsides. Instead of having an actual birthday I'm having a birthmonth. I had to spend a lot of my actual birthday in hospital, so we planned little things through the month so I had something to look forward to every week. And here's how it's gone so far...

5th June - I went to Nandos with a few of my friends which was lovely. There's nothing quite like celebrating your birthday with chicken ;)

7th June - I had a Spa Day at Slayley Hall which was honestly amazing. I had a massage, exfoliation & facial as my treatments, they made me my own special almond milk milkshake with gluten free brownies, then, I had afternoon tea at the Duke's Grill. The whole day was really nice. I didn't get to make use of the spa facilities as I was too tired, but the treatment and food was divine. Also, they get extra points for making me gluten free afternoon tea! I loved spending some time with my mum and sister, so that was the icing on the cake!

8th June - My actual birthday. I spent the morning in hospital at rehab and appointments. It was ok though, we had cake! I did have some tests done which didn't come back so positive, but it didn't dampen my day. I rested in the afternoon and went to dance teaching for half an hour in the evening. They all sung happy birthday which was cute! Then, I went to Cafe 21 for my birthday meal which was amazing. The food was possibly the best food I've ever tasted and I had a lovely night with my family. I got some lovely presents for my birthday too - hello Michael Kors bag, Tiffany bracelet & Pandoras. My friends and family spoilt me rotten which was so cute. I got to the stage where I thought I had no friends, but was bombarded by presents and cards. A special mention to my friend Merryn, who got me the most gorgeous balloons delivered to my door too - so special!

13th June - Surprise weekend. Andrew came over to treat me to my late birthday weekend. I wasn't very well so it was pretty tricky and didn't quite go as planned, but hey, it was still nice! We went to Six at the Baltic for tea. We had champagne overlooking the quayside, absolutely lush food and a very nice time. I was spoilt all weekend!

14th June - Bingo! Mum, Michelle, Jennifer, Abi, Andrew and I all went to the bingo. None of us won, but it was a great night!

The next week was busy with finishing college (yey!) and dance shows! But, 27th June is my family/close friends birthday party which I'm really looking forward to. We've planned for if I'm not very well too, so I just need to relax and enjoy it.

So, overall, a very good start to the month. Bring on the 27th!

Kate x

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

National Carers Week - Our unsung heroes

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National Carers Week - 8th-14th June 
Our unsung heroes

I wanted to do a short blog about carers. I've had my article on young carers published before, but I feel like every year I need to spread the world about how amazing carers are and how they've made a difference in my life.

Let me take you back a few years. When I was at my worst with my ME, I suffered paralysis and couldn't do any daily tasks by myself. I was totally reliant on my family and small group of carers. My sister, now 19, was classed as a young carer at the time too. They used to have to do tasks from washing me & brushing my teeth to making meals. It's not only until you have to write all these tasks down, that you realise how much they did for you. 

Now, it's a totally different picture, but I'm still very dependant on carers for many of my tasks through the day. Currently, my family cares for me most of the time. I also have a care agency who come around every day (currently hoping to increase to twice a day because of my relapse). 

My family do most of my tasks. Examples of these are cooking meals, collecting items from downstairs, making drinks, making sure I'm awake at the correct time, helping with medication, taking me out occasionally, taking my to hospital appointments, helping me communicate (I can loose this very quickly on bad days)... plus a tonne of other things. They'll look after me for as long as I'm awake, and if I'm particularly having a bad time, through the night too.

My care agency do slightly different tasks. They'll make me breakfast/lunch which they'll bring up to my bed if I'm not well, or to my recliner if I'm ok! They'll help with my meds, have a general chat and help with any little tasks they can do in the time allowed. On Mondays, my carer takes me along to weekly rehab sessions and helps me with walking, managing appointments and making my lunch. On Wednesday, Vicki (who is a star) takes me on usually my only non-hospital related outing of the week. We have to play it by ear depending how I am on the day, but it can range from lunch out to shopping trips. She's my only carer who's my age so we always have a good chat too.

There are so many carers about, a lot of them not having the recognition they deserve. All my carers do so much for me and they'll be people out there who need a lot more help. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all those who've helped me personally, and are helping everyone else!

Because of all the work my family especially put into me, that really egged me on to start Project Parent. Have a look here at how we're supporting carers!

Sorry it's a bit of a shorter post, I'm so exhausted today.
Kate x


Saturday, 6 June 2015

June plans & shed updates

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I'm never really excited about certain months. In fact, I'm never usually that excited for my birthday. But this year is different. I turn 21 on the 8th and due to health (as always!) we've planned a birthday month instead. Lots of little activities to spread it out. It doesn't help that I have exams around my birthday, and even better, I'm in hospital that day too!


Activities include: dinner out, spa day, garden party and finally finishing my a-levels.

Now, my main present is my shed. This has suddenly got a lot of attention, with people asking to see it on instagram and lots of visitors. Well, we had thought about it for awhile, and after a bit of a depressing hospital appointment where the outlook for my health isn't so good, we decided to go for it! I put a lot of my savings into this, but my lovely mum&dad have kitted it out for me! It's not quite finished, but, here it is!






 I have a nest of tables which I am currently up-cycling for my tea set. Oh, and I've got a light up kettle, thats a necessity. Still got blinds to go too, and a few things to put in (yes Alex, my guitar will be featured) but it's getting there! I'm hoping for it all to be done for my later birthday weekend where some of my (amazing) friends are travelling to see me. But for now, it's still perfect to me.

Kate