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Triggers are defined as, "a stimulus such as smell, sound or sight, that triggers feelings of trauma". If you've experienced any kind of trauma in your life, you'll likely have your own set of triggers. I always find it odd when people say that other people's triggers aren't your problem. If someone I love has a trigger that I can easily avoid; why would I ignore that? That's not to say people can't work on their triggers to function better. If I hadn't worked on many of mine, I'd not even be able to leave the house.


It's funny how when you're in the middle of something traumatic, you barely acknowledge that it's happening. Surviving the trauma is your body and mind's main focus, and nothing else seems to matter. It's only after you're out the other side that you look back and think, "wow, what just happened?". And that's kind of where I'm at now.

On Friday 28th February, I'd been experiencing some central chest pain. It was more of a dull ache, so I took some painkillers and popped off to bed. I was awakened in the middle of the night with sharp chest pain and nothing I did or took was easing it at all. After several hours, it wore off and I got back into bed. I never make much of a fuss with pain, as with chronic illness you find yourself with strange aches and pains, in weird and wonderful places, daily.

I assumed it was heartburn so took some antacids the following day when the dull ache had returned. Fast forward to Saturday night, I awoke with the same pain - except this time, I couldn't move because the pain was so intense. I felt nauseous and attempted a crawl to the bathroom. Before I reached there, I woke my husband up as I felt now was the time to call an ambulance. As I woke him to tell him, at that very moment, I was spectacularly sick. Several times. I took some more painkillers and decided to go back to bed.

Reading this back now, I realise how utterly insane I must sound not having gone to the hospital, but when you live with chronic illness, it's so incredibly hard to distinguish daily pain, and life-threatening pain.

By Sunday, I had completely gone off food, and I started to feel like something wasn't right. The same thing happened Sunday night, and by this point all of my bodily fluids had changed colour, and by early Monday morning, I knew in my gut something was wrong. I told my husband to stay at home and go to work, as everything would be fine. Boy, was I wrong.

I got to A&E about 7am. I was still being sick, had no appetite, bad chest pain and was just generally unwell. I felt like a walking zombie; the Walking Dead, if you will. I'd been to A&E several times with chest pain so the nurses did an ECG and basic blood tests and said everything was fine. I was reluctant to leave, and a few hours later, my skin was yellow, and the whites of my eyes had gone yellow. After pushing for a full blood test - they said there was something wrong with my liver, and that it was shutting down.

The on-call doctor pulled me to the side and asked if I was a heavy drinker, or if I had overdosed on over-the-counter painkillers. I'd already told her in the previous observations that I didn't touch alcohol, and that I hadn't taken too many painkillers. She asked me FOUR times over the next few hours; insistent that I had caused this myself. Knowing I'd done nothing of the sort, and seeing my body change before my eyes, I was worried by this point.

After 10 hours in A&E, a consultant came round and knew instantly what was wrong. She took my hands and told me I had problems with my gallbladder and that I'd need an ultrasound, an MRI and to stay in overnight. The thing I'm most grateful for that day was her kindness. I was terrified, but she made me feel like I was going to be okay; and that I was in safe hands.
During, and post-jaundice

Anyway, after taking blood cultures, they found out I had a foreign bug - as well as the gallbladder infection. I was in hospital for 4 days, and an inpatient at home for 5 days, with a nurse visiting 3 times a day to give me two lots of IV antibiotics. I was on morphine, codeine, paracetamol; every painkiller I could get my hands on. And boy, was I ill.

After a few days, I could finally get myself out of the hospital bed and sit on the chair beside it. I was feeling a little more human and a nurse came round to have a chat. She said something along the lines of, "it took them a while to find antibiotics strong enough for your body to respond to, you're lucky you came in when you did". And the surgeon I spoke to on the phone several days later said something similar, "Please don't leave it as long as you did last time. You could have been too late".

At the time I didn't take it in. I was just focused on getting better. But now, 2 months down the line, I realise how close I was to dying. The thought that I may not be alive if I'd left it even a few hours later is horrifying. (Spoonies - please don't ignore new symptoms!) And it's left me with the greatest appreciation for life, and being alive. We may be in difficult times, but I'm here to see them. And I'll be here when they end. And that's the most important thing.

I have had four gallbladder attacks since, but thankfully they've all been managed well at home. I was due to have surgery the beginning of April, but with the current situation, it's been postponed indefinitely. I was offered open surgery, but I'd really prefer not to unless absolutely necessary. My morphine and codeine supply at home is getting me through the attacks, and I can't eat much fat as that makes symptoms worse - so I've lost a huge amount of weight!

It's taken me two months and many sessions of counselling to stop waking up at 3am every night, preparing myself for the same pain to come. It's funny what the mind can do. It's only now two months on that I can look back and realise how traumatised that left me. I think even my family thought that because I'm so used to hospitals and because I'm so "strong", I'd cope fine. But the truth is, these few months have been filled of fear and anticipation that something will happen again.

But the main thing is, I'm getting better - physically and mentally. And the best part is? I'm still here.

Family Prints | Mid-Week Motivate & Create

Hello everybody, and welcome to the final week of Mid-Week Motivate & Create. I've had the best time working on this series with designbundles. This week's activity is definitely something all members of the family can enjoy, and participate in. This week, I'm making family prints.

For this post, I used the Build a Family bundle, which is just under £10, and comes with over 600 files! Whether you have ten children, or your family is just you and your partner - you can definitely utilise this bundle. I chose to do my sister, future brother in law, and niece and nephew; as I thought it might bring a smile to their faces.

This bundle genuinely quite scared me when I opened it - it's absolutely filled with body shapes, skin tones, clothes, hairstyles; there is a lot. But what I loved about this bundle is that nothing needed resizing and everything was easy to navigate; which made playing around with this bundle a lot more fun. And a lot easier for younger children to get involved too.

I used Photofiltre (as always) to work on the print today. Photofiltre is a free editing software which you can download online. Everything I design is from Photofiltre, and I'd highly recommend it. It's a simpler version of Photoshop - but a more advanced version of paint.

I started with an A4 landscape, as it seems that the default sizes of the PNG files are made to fit that image size (Width: 3508 x Height: 2480). I did try using the mother and father, but I actually found using the Child 5 option for the mum and the dad worked much better - plus all the "adult" hairstyles still fitted perfectly onto this child option.

I found starting with the adults first was best, as then it's easier to work out what size the children should be in comparison (if you have them!). My niece is only 11, but is almost the same height as her mum...and already taller than her auntie Zo!

All you need to do is copy and paste to your heart's content, and move the PNG files around. As long as your child knows how to copy and paste - they can have fun with this designing themselves, and their family, for hours! Once I was happy with my design, I hadn't quite made the family central, so I cropped it down ever so slightly and copied it onto a fresh A4 landscape, and it looked much better.

The cropped photo on an A4 background
You can then make the background transparent using this website that does it for you, to get it printed onto anything you'd like - or you can print it yourself onto card like I did, and frame it for yourself, or a family member. I think this would really put a smile on someone's face at the moment - so it's the perfect time to do it. It really does look so lovely when it's finished.

And that is it for this series! I really hope you've enjoyed it, as I've loved creating new projects every week, and my friends and family have seemed to like them too. I hope you're all keeping safe and well; and keeping those hands, and minds busy.
Zoe x


Designing Bridal Party Prints | Mid-Week Motivate & Create

Hello everybody, I'm back with the third week of Mid-Week Motivate and Create. I hope you're all keeping safe and well. I'm so excited for this week's post, as I had a lot of fun designing this. For those of you who don't know, my sister is due to get married at the end of August (fingers crossed!). I'm her maid (matron, I know - but that does really make me sound old!) of honour, and my niece is her bridesmaid. So when I saw the Bridesmaid Clip Art bundle, I knew I had to design something for her wedding.

This pack from designbundles comes with 16 different hair styles, and you can choose from a variation of skin tones. Me, my sister, and my niece are all blonde and pale - so not much ! The pack is so easy to navigate, and besides a few images to resize, it's really fun to explore.

As usual, I used Photofiltre to design my image (Photofiltre is a simpler version of Photoshop - but is free!), but you could quite easily use paint, or any other software you might have on your computer.

I opened a new project with the dimensions, Width: 3508 x Height: 2480 (this is a standard A4 landscape). You then open the images you wish to use, and copy and paste to your heart's content. I left the sizing of the bodies the same, but I did struggle a bit with sizing of the heads - I used Width: 400 x Height: 560 if you want the same measurements! I also added some font at the bottom of mine, but you can use whatever you'd like on your design.

Once you're happy with your design, you can crop out any white bits at the sides (if you have any), and this next step is really important. You must make the background transparent. The photos below show you how to make your background transparent on Photofiltre (left is transparent, and right is normal), or alternatively, you can use this website, which does it for you. This ensures that when the design is printed onto anything, you only have the outlines of your bridal party.

This is where I may have cheated slightly! If like me, you enjoy being creative, but you're not quite Kirstie Allsopp's level yet - this is what eBay is for! You can buy anything on there from iron on transfers, to mugs, to tote bags; absolutely anything. I bought a personalised tote bag for £4.99 with my finished design on - and it is beautiful.

Next I'll be ordering iron on transfers to iron on to the back of the t-shirts we wear to get ready in when the day comes. You could even just print out the design on a greeting card, and give it to the bride on her big day - see how I made greeting cards here.

There's so much you can do with the design once it's complete, and I hope my sister loves it as much as I do. Whenever she does get married, this maid of honour will be ready and raring to go.

Join me again next Wednesday, for part four of Mid-Week Motivate & Create! And please send me anything you make.
Stay safe.
Zoe x