Thursday, September 24, 2020

A year of dizziness

Happy 1 year of dizziness to me! 
I "celebrated" by seeing my doctor and having a blood test (the clinic at my doctors is hands down the best clinic ever they always manage to find a vein despite me having the worst veins) and then doing a bit of retail therapy. I told my doctor I couldn't believe it had been a year of dizziness and he responded that he could as we're still no closer as to what it could be.

I remember waking up on the 24th of September 2019 feeling exhausted and a wave of dizziness coming over me and thinking nothing of it as I thought it was part of what I call an "anxiety hangover" which is what I experience after any event where my anxiety is heightened. Then throughout the day I experienced a few more bouts of dizziness and as the week went on so did the dizziness. I had been experiencing monthly nosebleeds and feeling fatigued so I had a feeling that I had low iron and it was confirmed when I saw my doctor and had a blood test. I honestly thought an iron infusion would sort it out but along with dealing some not so fun side affects from the infusion the dizziness continued to increase. It crossed my mind that maybe my body wasn't processing the iron but the follow up blood test I had six weeks after the infusion said that my iron levels were great. 
By this stage it was mid December and I decided to wait until January to do further testing as I already a doctor's appointment booked then. The dizziness was a lot more frequent and increasing in severity by this stage. I had a glucose test followed by heart tests all of which came back fine and I then saw a specialist physio in February who diagnosed me with Vestibular migraines and put me on a diet which did nothing (but it did stop my dependence on chocolate). The dizziness was now consistent along with periods of more intense dizziness. I then had an MRI which came back fine. My doctor tried me on a variety of medications to see if anything would before I got referred to an ENT which thanks to Covid had a six week waiting period. The ENT sent me for two balance tests which came back normal and then referred me to a neurologist who specialised in dizziness and if he couldn't help me then I was a medical mystery. The neurologist said I either had Vestibular migraines or it was my anxiety which made me so mad as having done my research I only matched 50% of the Vestibular migraine symptoms and both my psychologist and doctor had crossed off my anxiety causing the dizziness (I was thankful to have a doctors appointment booked that afternoon and as soon as I saw my doctor I burst into tears because it had been such a bad appointment). But I took the medication the neurologist prescribed to me but after a few days he had to prescribe another medication as the first one reacted to my asthma preventer and was affecting my breathing. After four weeks on the medication which drove me crazy my doctor advised me to stop it and cancel the follow up neurologist appointment (I think he was afraid I would slap the neurologist...). By this point my mental health wasn't great due everything which was to be expected so it was decided we would take a break for an indefinite period of time and just see how things how play out because it had been just under 11 months since it started and trying to get to the bottom of it. 

The dizziness has restricted me in a lot of ways, I'm not allowed to drive more than 30 minutes and while I have on occasion driven for 40 minutes I have paid for it. I've limited with what I do at the gym and have cut it down to twice a week instead of three times. I have to be careful with what I do and my activity levels as my stamina has reduced and I find if I don't get a decent nights sleep I don't function. 
There are days when the dizziness isn't too bad but they're few and far between (maybe one day every 2 weeks) and it's easy to forget that I have it but then I get a big wave of dizziness. I never thought that I would be experiencing it a year later or that the cause of it would still be unknown, I honestly thought it was due to low iron. 
For those curious the following have been ruled out:
  • Low iron 
  • General vitamin/mineral levels that show up in blood tests (low vitamin D etc)
  • Kidney issues (that show up on a detailed blood test) 
  • Diabetes (including pre-diabetes)
  • Stiff heart valve/other heart problem
  • Anything that could show up on a MRI (tumour etc.)
  • Vestibular migraines (this has been ruled out twice!)
  • Inner ear issues including balance problems 
  • Anxiety/mental health (but my mental health has been impacted by the dizziness, which is understandable)
  • Meniere's disease 
  • Sinus inflammation 
And I have tried the following treatments:
  • Iron infusion (it increased my iron but didn't stop the dizziness)
  • Vestibular Migraine Diet 
  • So many medications that I won't list here but including anti epileptic medications, antibiotics, ibuprofen and medications targeted for Meniere's disease. 

While I have had to advocate for myself with specialists, I'm so thankful that my doctor believed me from the get go and took it seriously. He has told me repeatedly that we will get to the bottom of this and while it's not likely, it's great that he's not giving up. So what am I currently doing about my dizziness a year on? Well I've spent the past two weeks keeping an extremely detailed diary covering everything from what I eat to how many hours I sleep, the activities I do during the day and giving the dizziness a rating out of 5 (5 being bad). My doctor wants me to continue to do it for the near future and I'm hoping that it may give my doctor a clue as to why I have good and bad days with dizziness. It takes me 5 minutes a day to fill it out but I'm willing to do anything and maybe it can give us a new direction to look into. 

I am hopeful that next year I will not be "celebrating" two years of dizziness but who knows? For now I am praying that we find some sort of treatment to at least reduce the dizziness and make it more liveable. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

One Interview Closer

 I told myself I wouldn't get my hopes up with this job, I told myself that whatever happened I wouldn't shed tears yet this is exactly what ended up happening. Last Thursday I got a message from one of my references that they had been contacted regarding this position and my hopes shot up maybe this job was the one, the one I had been waiting so long for. I let myself dream of employment and yes I knew the job was four days which might be a bit much at the moment especially after having a couple of days with more dizziness than usual and yes they only had funding for the position until December but maybe they would get more funding and I could be made permanent. I let myself get excited and I felt content for once, I imagined celebrating getting the job. I kept pushing aside the doubts I had about the job and I hoped my doctor would sign off on me working it. 

I didn't hear anything on Friday and I told people on Saturday night that my references had been contacted and that the job seemed promising ignoring the voice in my head saying that it wasn't a done deal. Then today I missed a call when I was at lunch with a friend and when I listened to the voicemail from one of the people who interviewed me saying to call them I got excited. I tried to ring them back multiple times and I kept getting a busy line. I got home after lunch and my anxiety was off the rails, I tried to stay busy and paid a medical test bill (that finally came despite having the tests in June) all the while wondering if I had the job. I eventually got through and I was told that it came down to me and another person and unfortunately I didn't get the job. I tried to stay upbeat and asked for feedback and asked if my references were good (which they were), it came down to experience at the end of the day. Towards the end the tears started to fall and the person on the other end of the phone got apologetic and concerned and said I was a good candidate and it was a close race. I hung up and the tears really started to fall and a mini panic attack started. I messaged friends and my bible study group thanking them for their prayers and support but I wasn't successful in getting the job. It had been over four weeks since the interview and four weeks of built up anxiety collapsed on my shoulders. I rang up my employment agency consultant and let them know and they were supportive and told me I would soon find the perfect job. I let the anxieties I had with the job bubble up and I wondered if it was even wise for me to work four days a week at the moment. 

I have always said throughout this journey God is in control and that he lead me to studying community services for a reason and would lead me to the perfect job and this job wasn't it. I prayed throughout this recruitment that if it was the right job that he would make it work but if it wasn't the right job that he would comfort me and guide me to the right job at the right time. So I'm back to square one and I feel defeated but tomorrow is a new day and I'm one interview closer to getting the job for me. 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Five Friday Favourites

These past two weeks have busier than normal, with various appointments and catching up with friends along with birthday celebrations. On Tuesday I turned 26 and it was low key and I felt very loved and appreciated. I honestly couldn't have had a more perfect day from the weather to having a great psych appointment to having a lovely dinner with my family. I also got some great gifts including a Fossil bag and a Shawn Tan print. Then on Wednesday night instead of bible study we did games and enjoyed cake as four us all have birthdays in September so it made sense to do a combined celebration which was fun. I of course had to make cake toppers using my Cricut which turned out great. Speaking of my Cricut I have been using it at least twice a week if not more and I am obsessed with making labels for everything (the cats are safe...for now) including my water bottle and bible. 

I'm still waiting to hear back regarding the interview I had four weeks ago (the recruitment process has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances) and I have so many feelings regarding it. I know I could do the job and I really want to work in advocacy especially having to self advocate this past year with my consistent dizziness and seeing various specialists and knowing that not everyone can self advocate. I just know that at the end of the day God is in control of it all and if I'm meant to get the job he will make it happen.

My doctor has asked me to keep a detailed diary regarding my dizziness to see if we can work out if there's a pattern regarding the good and bad days. I keep a daily log of what I eat, my activities, how many hours I slept and a rating of the dizziness out of 5 (5 being the worst). It's going to be interesting to see if we can decipher anything out of it when I see my doctor on Thursday. 

Onto Friday Favourites...

Away (Netflix series) - I am not a science fiction person at all, ask anyone and they will tell you it's one of the genres I avoid (alongside horror) but I saw this show on Netflix and decided to give it a go. I really enjoyed it and watched it in 3 days. It's about a group of people getting to Mars and how their families are coping back on earth along with their changing relationships. I can honestly say I was surprised with how much I enjoyed it and if you need something to watch I highly recommend it.

The Body Shop Lemon shower gel- I love the smell of citrus and when I saw this limited edition shower gel I had to try it. The scent is zingy, sweet and fresh and reminds me of Summer, it lathers well and leaves me feeling refreshed. 

Chocolate Mousse Cake - I made this cake for Wednesday night and while it had a lot of steps it turned

out really well and while it was rich I made it with almost all 70% dark chocolate which reduced the sweetness (I did use some milk chocolate in the mousse layer and a bit in the ganache). I topped it with maltesers which gave a crunch factor and it was a huge hit all round. I would definitely make it again for a special occasion. 

Mini Pen Pals notepad - I've been eyeing these for a while and I decided to buy one the other week as I got sent a $5 off voucher to use during my birthday month. I love how they're a keyring with a pen and notebook but you can't tell. I bought the cat one and it makes me smile whenever I see it in my bag. 

Glitter Vinyl - this is the vinyl I am using for labels at the moment, I have it in 4 colours (gold, silver, black and pale blue) and I love it. You will need the strong transfer tape though but thankfully each roll comes with a sheet of it. I also advise that you increase the blade pressure to more as even after selecting the correct vinyl (glitter premium) I found it needed a boost to cut it. It weeds relatively well mind you after weeding it I always find vinyl stuck to me (as is always the case!) but I'm making it a trend haha!

Monday, September 14, 2020

The day before turning 26

 It's the day before my 26th birthday and I'm surprisingly feeling ok about it. I have spent today baking cupcakes to share with my family tomorrow and a chocolate mousse cake to share with my bible study family on Wednesday night. I have done so many dishes (I'm pretty sure I washed the mix-master bowl + beaters 5 or 6 times) and there were times when I had no idea exactly what I was doing (because I keep forgetting that multitasking is hard while experiencing consistent dizziness!) but everything turned out in the end. 

If you had asked me this time last year how I saw myself celebrating my 26th birthday I would've said that I would go to work and then go out for dinner somewhere with my sister. Instead Covid has meant that my parents didn't go to Peru as planned and the economy has crashed so I don't have a job. I'm also experiencing consistent dizziness that started 9 days after I turned 25. But I know that I am exactly where God wants me, it's funny but this year is one of the first years that I haven't asked for a job. Instead I am giving it to God and letting all that anxiety go, because it's not worth the energy. So tomorrow I will go see my psychologist and then I will do some retail therapy, before we go out to dinner as a family to celebrate. I'm going to try and ignore this dizziness for at least one day and enjoy the nice Spring weather. I will probably wear this top and my sparkly silver Keds because they make me happy. Then on Wednesday night I will have a combined birthday celebration with 3 of my friends who all have birthdays in September. It's going to be a low key celebration but that's what I want, I just want to turn 26 quietly and keep taking it one day at a time and not be anxious about the future and the what ifs that keep running through my head. 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Five Friday Favourites

 And just like that we're in September and as is the case September is filled with birthdays and things

just start getting busier. I think the promise of warmer weather causes people to start planning things and I always have an influx of events in September/October. Last week I had my fortnightly doctor's appointment (I have honestly forgotten what it's like to only see my doctor a few times a year) which was uneventful and we're still waiting and seeing how the dizziness goes. I also had my annual hair cut so my hair is now short and a lot more manageable, which is good. Then this past week I played with my Cricut and caught up with a couple of friends which was nice. 

I have yet to hear anything about the job I went for two weeks ago but I am almost certain I haven't gotten the job as none of my referees have been contacted. While I'm disappointed, I'm continuing to trust in God throughout this time and I know he has the right job for me which I will get at the right time (though I'm not going to lie it would be nice if it could happen sooner rather than later!). 

Onto Friday Favourites...

Hamilton Australia - I really enjoyed seeing Hamilton on Disney+ and the music has been on repeat ever since. When I heard that the play was coming to Australia next year I jokingly said to a friend that we should fly across and a mutual friend contacted me asking if I was interested in coming as she was organising a trip so I thought about it for 5 minutes and decided to do it. So last Monday my friend G was on presale grabbing tickets for July and we have tickets. We still have to organise airfares and a place to stay but we're going to wait, as we're not allowed out of our state (thanks Covid) so we will book closer to July and our priority was getting the tickets. It should be a fun trip though and I'm looking forward to going. 

Review Pretty Petal Top - I ended up buying this top on Thursday and I really like it. The cut is super flattering and the print is really fun. I also like how it can be dressed up or down and I could get away with wearing it in an office. I will say it was a splurge but I did have a $20 voucher as well as it being 25% off so it wasn't too bad. 

I Bought a Cricut (blogpost) - I have finally gotten round to writing a post about my Cricut and the tools I have along with the resources I use. It's gotten quite a workout this past week, I have finally figured out how to cut vinyl so I have a feeling that everything will be labelled soon and I made quite a few cards as well. I am getting more confident in using it and I'm looking forward to seeing what I can create with it. 

Dear Anaesthesia (Dear Theodosia parody) - this an extremely well done Hamilton parody and when I sent it to my cousin and her husband (both who are doctors and my cousin in-law is currently doing a placement in anaesthetics) and they loved it. 

Initial Necklace - I've bought this necklace on two different separate occasions for gifts and each time it has been well received. It's really delicate and simple so it suites most people and being sterling silver it's going to last and be a great keepsake. 

Thursday, September 3, 2020

I Bought a Cricut Maker

  As many of you know my two hobbies are crafting and baking, so I decided to invest in my crafting

hobby and buy a Cricut (pronounced cricket like the bug). 
Due to Covid the Job Seeker payment I have been on had been increased so I was saving the bulk of it and I realised that I had/have spent close to $2000 on medical expenses over the past year (well since the dizziness started last September). I had always been interested in buying a Cricut machine but they're not cheap and it can be hard to justify spending such a huge amount. So when I decided to really treat myself (at the advice of my psychologist) I looked into buying either a Nintendo Switch or a Cricut and the Cricut won out in the end. I researched it really well and a big part of the reasoning of why I decided to buy it was that could become a business for me down the track. I also knew that I could use for so many things and I would really get my monies worth out of it. Also each year I buy myself a birthday gift which is something I wouldn't normally purchase and so I see it as an a early 26th Birthday present to myself. I have also said to friends and family members they are always welcome to come over and use it. 

A Cricut machine is like a printer but it cuts things out of paper and other material such as fabric, vinyl and thin wood (depending on the machine and blades used). You connect it to your computer and using the program Cricut Design Space you create designs that you send to Cricut and make. You can use your own designs, upload one of the many designs on the internet (you can find a heap of free ones or there's a lot of inexpensive ones on Etsy if you search Cricut cut file), or pay $14 a month (first month is free) to get access to the Cricut library and use their patterns.

All in all I spent around $800 on the machine including the set up and accessories on it and I only paid full price on the basic tool set so I got really good deals. I purchased everything from Spotlight which is my local Cricut supplier and I know that you can buy things online but I found even without the sale price taken into the consideration Spotlight still had some of the best prices around. I will say for vinyl though it depends on what you want and if you're after a particular type. I imagine if I start using vinyl for a lot of projects I will look at where best to source it from but Spotlight has a great range and it's not super expensive either.

So here's my current Cricut setup and what I have:

Cricut Maker (Champagne) - I did a lot of research on what was the right machine for me and I ended buying the Maker. This is due to the range of materials it can cut and that it seems worth it in the long run. Along with the machine you get two blades, two mats, a practice project and a black fine point pen.

Cricut Core Colours Basic Tool Set Coloured - this was the only thing I had to pay full price for

because none of the stores near me had any in stock (though I later realised a store 45 minutes north of me had it in stock and I would've been able to use a 30% off coupon and not pay for postage). The tools are really helpful and quite a few are multiuse which is helpful. 

Cricut Premium Removable Vinyl Variety Pack (Multi Coloured) - I ended up buying this vinyl pack so when I feel brave enough to experiment with vinyl I have some on hand. I have a few projects in mind that I want to create and attempt with it but I want to get used to paper first. (I have since bought this vinyl in black, gold and silver along with a foil sampler pack).

Cricut Vinyl Strong Transfer Tape Clear - you need this to transfer the cut out vinyl to things and I was only able to get strong transfer tape but I'm able to use this for all vinyl types. I will say after attempting to use it to transfer normal vinyl it's best to just get the regular transfer tape as while it's doable to transfer it is a bit challenging. 

Cricut Wisteria Fine Point Pen Set (Multi Coloured) - I have no idea how to exactly use these markers they are currently one of the (many!) things I am still figuring out how to use! But they're pretty colours and I figure they will be handy to add some writing to some card making.

Cricut 12 Inch Cutting Mat Variety (12X12 Inch) - it was advised to get some extra mats and it's cheaper to get a 3 pack than it is to buy them individual ($30 each or $50 for 3). The maker comes with two mats (one light strength and fabric strength) but it's helpful to have a few extra mats of various strengths. I also like having two light strength mats as it means if I'm cutting multiple of the same project I can do it continuously.

Cricut Scoring Stylus - this helps scores cardboard which is handy if you're making cards. You just stick it where you stick the markers and select "Scoring Stylus" instead of scoring blade (which you need to buy separately anyway) on projects. 

Recollections Hudson Cart White -  in an ideal world I would have a room set aside just for crafting but

I live at home, so I needed somewhere to store it preferably a place that's easily accessible. It's a heavy machine so a cart seemed like a good solution and this one was perfect. This one was advertised as being the perfect storage solution for the Cricut (due to the length), so fits it perfectly. It actually makes things so much easier and I love being able to wheel it out to the dining room table to set it up plus everything has its place - Top shelf: Cricut (including cables) and accessories that fit in the machine (pens, scissors, extra blades, weeding tools etc.). Middle shelf: mats, vinyl, paper and paper scraps. Bottom shelf: Sculpey (polymer clay) and sculpey accessories (mats, rolling pins, scalpels etc.) so not Cricut related but it's easier to get to and otherwise it was wasted space (though I imagine that this is temporary).

I have found that the blog Daydream Into Reality is amazing and I keep referring back to it. She covers everything from which machine is right for you, to how to use Design Space with pictures and for a visual learner like myself it is a great resource. 

I am still learning how to use it and I have a long way to go before I feel fully confident using it but then again I am learning a whole new skill set. I have a stack of scrapbook paper that I am playing with and trying new things with (one of the best ways to learn is to play with the machine and do a lot of trail and error). For me it has been worth the cost as it's proven to be a great distraction especially when my dizziness is really bad and I'm really enjoying creating a lot more. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Friday Favourites

 This week was meant to be quiet but instead it's been busy and mentally tiring . I did play with my

Cricut Maker though on Tuesday and made some cards, I'm feeling a bit more confident with it so I think next week I might try cutting vinyl with it. On Wednesday I had not one but two ReachOut speeches both over Zoom. The first was a casual interview/chat with Bart Jawien who is hiking 110km on The Overland Track in Tasmania to raise funds for ReachOut which was awesome and I can't wait to hear about his experiences once he completes it. The interview has been recorded and will be edited and then shared on social media so that's exciting. Then the second was giving a speech to 20 young people about living with anxiety and my experiences with a mental illness. Trying to write this speech as a bit challenging as I really had to go back to the beginning of it all but I managed it and I did a good job. 

I then had a job interview today, which is for an advocacy agency and I'm not sure how I went. I was one of eight getting interviewed and surprisingly they didn't have a huge amount of applicants which I found strange but I was told it really depends on the type of job. I should hear back within the next two weeks if I've been successful or not and I am just giving it to God and trying not to think about it. 

This dizziness is still existing and I see my doctor for my regular appointment on Thursday and it will be good to check in with him. Despite being off the medication for over a week now, I still don't have the greatest appetite and I am still having strange dreams, so my sleep isn't of the greatest quality (which affects my mental health). It's a bit weird not to be trying any medication on it or waiting for any specialists or tests and just waiting to see how things go on.  I'm expecting the 24th of September to be a hard day for me as that's when the dizziness started in spells and I never thought it would be still be happening and there's no end in sight unfortunately. 

Normally weekends are when I recharge but I have an engagement party open house to attend on Saturday before church and on Sunday I am going to some markets with a friend which I'm looking forward to (there's a 50% chance of rain so hoping it holds off) - it's my reward for doing two speeches on Wednesday and the job interview today and I love supporting small businesses. 

Onto Friday Favourites...

Bull (TV show) - trying to find something to watch that isn't a comedy but too intense but keeps me focused is a bit of a challenge at the moment, but I decided to give Bull a shot and I have been really enjoying it. It's about a (fictional) trial consulting firm and how choosing who makes a jury can make or break a case.

Darrell Lea liquorice bullets - I have probably eaten like three bags of these over the past week and they are one of my favourite treats. I like my liquorice chewy and the bullets are perfect, plus the chocolate is great quality so they are always worth the calories in my book.

Work It (movie) -  Netflix has been keeping me entertained with their original movies recently. I've watched this movie twice so far and I will probably watch it again this weekend. It's just a good feel good movie, with awesome dancing scenes and a great cast in it. I mean you can't really go wrong with Jordan Fisher and Sabrina Carpenter plus Keiynan Lonsdale (from Dance Academy). 

Pitch Perfect Reunion - I loved the Pitch Perfect films and seeing the cast all reunite made my week, you can just tell how much they love each other and the song is done so well. 

Sukin Oil Balancing Mattifying Facial Moisturiser - I'm trying to switch to more natural skincare and makeup and I decided to give this moisturiser a try. I'm really liking it, and find it absorbs nicely and does its job. It's also good that it's in a pump bottle which makes things easier in the mornings and means you can control the amount more easily (you don't need much at all).