About Me

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Redbanks, South Australia, Australia
Contact me if you'd like to know more about this writing group. My email address is jeebers@aussiebb.com.au

Ananka - one of our Pharaoh Hounds

Ananka - one of our Pharaoh Hounds
Ananka knows how to enjoy life - catch and eat birdies!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Living With Chronic Illness

When a person's body is doing the wrong thing, and the person is suffering from a chronic illness, it can be a sad and lonely time. There are quite a few chronic illnesses (auto-immune diseases) where it's the body turning against you, that causes the problem.

Thers are a few different auto-immune diseases:

Diabetes (Type I) - affects the pancreas. Symptoms include thirst, frequent urination, weight loss and an increased susceptibility to infection.
Graves' disease - affects the thyroid gland. Symptoms include weight loss, elevated heart rate, anxiety and diarrhoea.
Inflammatory bowel disease - including ulcerative colitis and, possibly, Crohn's disease. Symptoms include diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
Multiple sclerosis - affects the nervous system. Depending on which part of the nervous system is affected, symptoms can include numbness, paralysis and vision impairment.
Psoriasis - affects the skin. Features include the development of thick, reddened skin scales.
Rheumatoid arthritis - affects the joints. Symptoms include swollen and deformed joints. The eyes, lungs and heart may also be targeted.
Scleroderma - affects the skin and other structures, causing the formation of scar tissue. Features include thickening of the skin, skin ulcers and stiff joints.
Systemic lupus erythematosus - affects connective tissue and can strike any organ system of the body. Symptoms include joint inflammation, fever, weight loss and a characteristic facial rash.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the one of these auto-immune diseases that I know well. I was diagnosed with MS in February 2010. I'm a poet and writer, and at the time of my diagnosis, both before and after, I used creative writing to help me to keep a hold onto how I was feeling and coping.

I'm doing well with MS. My current medication seems to be working well, and I'm able to still do most of the things I want to do. As well as my medication though, I believe my positive attitude to this illness helps me to manage how I'm going. I'm using positiveness and physical exercise to keep on moving. Not everyone with MS progresses inevitably to a wheelchair, and I want to stay out of a wheelchair for all of my (long) life, if I can.

I've written a variety of different kinds of things about MS, depending on how I'm feeling. Some of my pieces of writing are serious, some funny. Some are prose and some are poetry. The important thing, is that these are MY words, telling MY story.

I feel that an incredible important part of dealing with a chronic illness like these is to have some sense of control. I feel in control of MS, at least to some extent. Looking at MS in a positive way, and taking actions such as physical exercises to assist my body to cope, help me to be in control.

Creative writing, and Wii Fit exercises are helping me to keep on keeping on.

I'm currently writing a memoir about my experiences with MS. This memoir is in verse, and includes some of my poetry and prose about MS. Writing this memoir has been an interesting process, and I have had some amazing sources of help with the writing.

I applied for and received a grant from the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust to pay for a verse mentor (Ray Tyndale). I applied for and will receive an award from the MS Society SA & NT Choice Awards, which will assist with the printing of my memoir as well as some other expenses. Ray has been a terrific mentor and has helped me in many ways.

One of these ways was to introduce me to an illustrator, Simon Kneebone. I met with Simon, we talked and he read a draft of my memoir. Simon then set about doing some fantastic illustrations for me to look at and use if I wanted. I loved his illustrations, and I'm thrilled to be paying a talented artist, whose work will add so much to my memoir.

I'm hoping my memoir will be launched not too long after the middle of this year. My memoir will be titled "Mick, Jane and Me, Travelling Well With MS".

I've written some more about this memoir on another of my blogs, here

If you'd like to know more about my experiences in creative writing, or in living with MS, feel free to contact me.

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Waiting for night to come

Waiting for night to come
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