Monday, May 26, 2008

So Freakin' Cool!

You know what rocks? Meeting one of the lead Fiskateers in person! Holly is a sweetheart and fiercely committed to Fiskateerhood. Get this: She goes to the hospital the week before our planned crop and despite needing part of her insides removed came all the way to Raleigh for my crop. Poor girl was still fluey and in pain and yet managed to be incredibly fun, witty, and as creative and cool as she seems on her blog.

We had a small group due to the holiday weekend and some no-shows, but the timing couldn't have been better as far as I was concerned. I really, really needed some cheering up after my visit to UNC Pain Management. Things didn't go well. I was hoping for some help with the pain, whether in the form of more effective medicine or some sort of procedure that might have longer term effects. I thought maybe they'd take me away from my current doctor who I feel pretty uncomfortable with and given up on.

Instead, they told me there is nothing they can do and that I don't need to come back. We grabbed the wrong MRI pics and so they only saw my lower back which isn't the problem. When I asked them if it would make a difference if I brought in the other ones, they said that cervical and thoracic damage doesn't respond well to epidurals and that pain meds don't help much with the kind of pain I have from the 8+ badly damaged disks and the extreme muscle pain that comes with it. If my extremeties were numb they said they could do something about it, but since they're intensely painful there's nothing that could be done. They said there's a slight possibility that a rhumatologist could help, but that they felt that it was a slim chance. I'll try it of course, but I guess I better not get my hopes up like I did for pain management. When I asked what I am supposed to do he told me to enjoy life now because the pain will get much worse as time goes on. Yeah, thinking of that'll help me enjoy life. When I dared snivel quietly, the doctor told me I needed to "put this into perspective". I lost it. I asked her how I was supposed to put being told I am going to be in unbearable, untreatable searing pain every day for the rest of my life, pain that will only get worse and worse until the day I die into perspective. Yeesh.

Suffice it to say it was not a good week, so it was fantastic to have the crop to cheer me up. Holly brought the cutest little goodiebags and let us play with some Fiskars tools using some beautiful Heidi Grace and some outdoorsy Cloud 9 papers and accessories. I thought we might have to tazer Teresa and Karel--they went a little nuts when they saw the papers. I was sure it was about to turn into biting and hair pulling, but thankfully there was plenty of pretty paper for everyone's layouts. Whew!

Scott, sweet little thing that he is, stopped by with popsicles from Loco Pops, one of the coolest things in Raleigh. They make the most amazing Mexican popsicles. My favorite is lavender elderberry, but as you can see by my black teeth, above, I had the berry madness. They also make mojito ones, rosemary pear, and Scott's favorite, lime with lemongrass. Mmm. If you haven't been to Loco Pops yet, you seriously need to go. Now. Really. I'll wait right here. Back yet? Good. See what I mean? Mmmm.

I've been working on my album from my recent trip to San Francisco to see my best pal, Darcy, and our mid-trip trip to Dan and Steve's weekend place in Sonoma, next to the Martinelli apple juice folk (the little glass apples that are so cute? You know what I'm talking about, right?) Well, you'll get to see more of those layouts later once I get the pages uploaded here. Down the table, Holly was working on a baby album...I believe it was for a gift--forgive me, Holly if I am wrong. I was having really bad back spazms so I took a muscle relaxer--effective, yes, but they do slow my brain waaaaaay down and obliterate my short-term memory.

Down the table, Teresa and Karel were making cards from a class they took (not from me. Hmph. Yes, they cheated on me with another demonstrator. Sure, I used to have two demonstrators before I became one, but hey, I'm making up my own classes, girls, not copying them off the internet like your other woman. Oooh. The jjjjjeeeeaaalllloooouuussssy. [I'm kidding, you two. No need to buy me flowers and candy and come crawling on your knees. ;) Though...if you wanted to...actually the kneeling would be a little much, even then, wouldn't it? Oh forget it. You will show me how to make those cool cards you've got there, right girls?]) Back to the crop. Vanessa spent the evening working on some really neat clipboards for her kid's teachers. She even used the flower decorations on the table to accent the design. Very clever. If any of DeVan's teachers are reading this, you are very lucky. And pretend to be surprised.

Holly had another cool trick up her sleeve...PRIZES! I got the incredibly cool new Ink by Steph papers and embellishments for being the person with the most tattoos (nine), then there was a mad scramble to win the others--fishing for library cards, frantically pulling lipsticks from purses, and...oh yeah, having the second most tattoos. :) Holly did a great job keeping the excitement coming and keeping the fun going. I know she was in pain because she was ready to head for home to recover from the evening's events just before I was and I was in pretty lousy shape after a long day of prepping for the crop--I made a little gift for Holly, spelling out "Fiskateer" in chipboard letters, covering each in orange or green seed beads, microbeads, or ultrafine glitter. It was a wee bit more time consuming than I expected so I didn't have time to make it into a banner as I had hoped. Sorry Holly! While I briefly considered supergluing them to the hood of her car, I decided she'd be far more appreciative if she got to choose where she'd prefer to hang them. I was in such a rush I forgot to take a photo, but I'm sure you can figure out what chipboard with beads and glitter on it looks like. Actually, that sounds pretty awful doesn't it. It was cute, I promise.

It was a fun evening all around. If you have the opportunity to crop with a celebrity like we did, I highly suggest you do it. Now, what are my chances of getting the rest of the lead Fiskateers here? May? Stephanie? Cheryl? C'mon. Please?

So, how about the North Carolina Fiskateers out there? Let's get together and play. How about we put together a Fiskateers Local 506? Thanks also to everyone who posted their tips for the above entry (I'll update the tip list soon!) And the winner, picked at random is...Sandy the Turtlelady! Only problem is that she didn't leave her Fiskateer # or email. Sandy, if you are out there, please contact me with your postal address! You've got a page kit coming.

Everyone else, are you ready for a new challenge? I want to see your layouts about a crop you've attended and/or a famous person you have met. Post them to your Fiskateer profile, blog, or website and post a link to your layout here! The winner will receive a custom page kit I'll put together just for you! You get to choose the theme and I'll include enough goodies to make some fun pages on that topic...pretty neat, huh? The deadline for this RAK is June 15. Get to work!

Friday, May 23, 2008

This is one girl who's hot to crop!

I love crops. I like crafting with other people around, the paper and glue version of the ol' stitch-n-bitch. I love sharing my toys and playing with other people's supplies to get a feel for them and decide if I really want to purchase one or not. I love swapping ideas and having lots of people around to give out hints when I can't quite figure out how to get one thing to stick to another and whatnot.
Crops can be tough for the chronically painful. You sit in a sometimes-unforgiving chair for hours on end. The crop machine can be set too high for the wheelchair-bound, there's no place to park your cane while you use it, and the arm may require your full bodyweight to pop out one weensy mailing tag. A crop set in a store has some added obstacles, with all those seductive aisles of magic metallic powders, sheets and sheets of paper, and inks...let's not forget the inks...
No matter what, you're probably going to return home in more pain than when you left, but I've found a few tricks that help minimize the punishment on flimsily constructed bodies like mine.
  • Try to sit near an outlet. If you mention you want to be near one when you make your reservation, it will help a lot. This way, you can bring along a heating pad which can help a ton when the third hour rolls around. If you can't get an outlet or you don't go for heat...
  • Be prepared. Bring along some of those instant cold snap-packs. They fit easily in your purse and are there when you need one. They aren't funny smelling like icy-hot, a substance I personally deplore. They also make instant hot stick on patches that can be handy provided you don't squirm around too much. I haven't had much luck keeping them stuck to me but they'll do if there's no other option or you don't like being tethered to the wall. If you get desperate for a cold-pack, see if you can swipe some ice from the cooler or buy a soda from a machine. It won't stay cold as long, but it'll do in a pinch.
  • Space out your die cutting if you are using a manual cutter. I always feel worse when I die cut for 30 minutes solid, than when I split it up into short intervals. Know when to stop, too. If you start feeling the probably aren't doing yourself any favors, no matter what Richard Simmons tells all those unhandi-peeps.
  • Bring a friend who really likes you. Don't be a pest, but most of my pals don't mind making a few die cuts for me, squeezing a punch I can't get to work, or bending over to help me pick up my cane when I drop it. Friends are great when it comes to grabbing stuff from low shelves. And if they're hot, you can enjoy the view, too, naughty girl!
  • Always pack your pillbox in case you need a pain pill or muscle relaxer. It sounds obvious, but it's also easy to forget when you are packing up your stuff.
  • Don't be afraid to leave early if necessary. You got to hang out and have a good time for a while right? There is no shame in quitting while you're ahead. You don't have to try to make it through the whole thing. If you got a few good hours out of the crop, that's a whole lot better than being stuck in the house all day.

I'd love to hear suggestions from others...leave a comment here and I'll add my favorites to the list. Don't be shy...I'll draw a name at random to receive a Stampin' Up page kit I put together myself (yeah, I'm a demonstrator--how'd you guess?) as a RAK! Make sure to leave your email or Fiskateer number so I can reach you if you win!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hello, my name is Veronica and I am HandiScrapped.

Hi there. That's me. The one with the tattoos. I've been thinking about starting a blog about how things are now that my spine is crumbling. Or, rather, the disks are. Whatever the details, it has really put a crimp in my plans to not be in pain all the time for the rest of my life. As everyone likes to point out to people who have crappy stuff happen to them, "it could be worse" and it's true. I walk with a cane most of the time if I'm out of the house, or sometimes I need a wheelchair, mostly if I have to walk or stand a lot, like at museums or if I'm shopping a while. Sitting hurts, too, but hey, everything does now. And I can sit faster than I can walk (provided someone is pushing me or I'm rockin' the electric power) and I can sit longer than I can walk or stand before the pain puts me completely out of commission, both of which make the whole trip a lot more fun for everyone else involved.

The other thing I wanted to blog about is paper crafting or "scrapbooking" if you will. (Ah ha! Now the name is beginning to make sense, right?) I've always been artsy, but it's only relatively recently that I have become craftsy. I started really getting into altered books, ATC's and scrapbooking when the pain got really out of control about 3 years ago. It gave me something to do when I was stuck propped up on pillows on the couch. Sure, I'm a writer, but you can't work all the time.

So, smash the two topics together and here you are. I plan to keep the two topics pretty fluid. If you listen to me talk about the stuff going on in my life, I'll give you helpful this 'n that about scrapbooking for the unusually abled. Tips, tricks, reviews of products good and bad.

As the time stamp likely told you, it's pushing 4:30 in the a.m. and I should probably slip into a hot bath, and then something more comfortable. Lately, the pain gets a lot worse after I've slept so I'm really paranoid about sleeping. I'm a bit of a vampire anyway, but I'm hitting new highs here. I don't want to do this. I don't want to sleep. I don't want to stay awake. I just don't want to hurt.