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Who is The Chronic Elephant?

ME and Chronic pain keep me bed-bound... and creating art and writing blogs keep me sane.

I blog about how to cope when pain is bad, what it feels like to receive well meant advice ( don't do it people!), how to keep your faith when you don't get better, explorations into planet Gluten Free, and how to avoid steering your disability scooter through something the dog owner should have bagged and binned..
The images posted on here are of me reclaiming my life and living it one tiny bit at a time. You can see art works inspired by my everyday life, about coping with life in bed, and images of flowers, plants, imaginary worlds, my faith and my felt tips.

You will also find my mumblings- writings, thoughts and blog entries, about being me and about having ME!

I have been writing blogs on ME and disability for the last year using 'the elephant' avatar and name. It started as a joke...(I am not likely to be wandering 'back to the jungle' anytime soon)....but I think the l…

Disability Anniversary??

This time 18 months ago, I was struggling to accept...( or even to refer to in speech), the 'D' word- Disability. The day my spouse asked if I thought I could be classed as Disabled, I felt a sick pit of dread opening up inside me.The road from there until here, has been an stony and uphill route. Illnesses in my mind imply a temporary state, something you will get better from, and Disability sounds a lot more permanent. 

Not everyone with a Chronic Illness would be classed by themselves or other people, as being Disabled. In my case, the limitations that my body place on me, and my complete inability to do things that I NEED to do, have made it a no-brainer.

Accepting the situation is not so straightforward. There are times now when I feel really comfortable with asking for the help I need or with other people seeing me as disabled...and times when I really hate it. Times when I can see how much I have grown because of my disability....and times when nothing feels possible.

I he…

Spot The Difference!

Here are two photos: One is a photo-library image of:  'Woman with CFS,'
and the other is what you look like when you have ME/CFS. 
Can you spot the difference?! ;-)

In this Blog,  I am going to compare my 'image' as a 'vertically challenged, bed-dweller, ' with probably the most famous artist to ever rest a paintbrush on her blankets :Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954). How very dare I?!!  For anyone not familiar with her work: can I suggest a lengthy visit to Professor Google, who will be happy to show you many fine examples of her paintings. Including many self portraits. 

It was when I was contemplating asking my husband to take some photos of me drawing in bed, that I realised just how tricky a thing this is. To explain we will need to take a closer look at Frida  Kahlo at work- or more correctly, how she was portrayed when she was at work.

Any artist from the advent of commercial photography onwards, has had the additional decision to make of w…

In the Dentist's Chair

" Don't worry- you'll get used to it,."

I am writing this after a frustrating day of worsening pain. It is early evening and my energy levels are low and my stress levels are correspondingly high. I am writing a Blog, so that I don't have to be entrapped in a butterfly net and led away by men in white coats....

I think it is the combination of pain AND the huge stress of knowing that it is not a healing pain, not a short term situation, that makes chronic pain so difficult to be shackled to. 

Many of us have bad memories of going to the dentist as a child:the needle, the smell of that foul pink stuff you had to gargle with...and the phrase ' This may hurt.'  The dentist is our seminal experience of pain that is out of our control!  The sense of having to be fixed in an uncomfortable position, feeling anxious and finding it hard to breathe and swallow with ease, make a really good metaphor for how pain finds me after it has beaten me into a mush.

The sense of …

525,600 minutes...A Year in the Life...

Some of you may be wondering why this Blog is titled: 525,600 minutes. Those of you, like me, who love the rock musical 'Rent' will already be humming along. This is the 'overture' song at the beginning of the musical, that sets out what you are going to be watching and listening to. This song details ' A year in the life'..' A year supposedly takes 526,600 minutes- and no, I'm not going to be doing the Maths to check.

Rent follows a group of impoverished young artists struggling to survive and create a life in New York City's East Village in the thriving days of BohemianAlphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The show follows them over the space of a year when lives will change both for the good,...and for the tragic. Love is made and broken, disease is fought and lived with, drugs and decisions are taken...and a wonderful selection of numbers are sung. The story is loosely based on Puccini's Opera La Boheme, but if  like me you would rathe…

The History of Elephant Art - Part 4, Denial Isn't Just a River in Egypt

Dorset 2013,

2013 was a huge year for me:Ms Elephant very happily became Mrs, I got Confirmed, was the year The Pain started. 

 Here I am (above) trying to use a standing desk to paint , after some weeks of being in constant pain. I was unable to sit at all and standing was really painful. Sleeping was tough too...

I had a history of chronic pain in other areas...and had been a visitor to numerous Doctors in Italy, as I struggled with pain that wouldn't respond to pain relief. It was too scary to think this had happened again....

This time round, pain actually gave me permission to be creative.After I  was unable to work part time, I designed and got some cards printed, as well as designing the altar cloths for my local church. 

It became clear as months turned into years and I got worse, that this wasn't going away. I was on sick-leave which over time was going to turn into leaving work altogether.. I had been in denial, for some years, that ME was getting worse again..…

The History of Elephant Art Pt 3- The Elephant in the Garrett.

As a child I had dreamed of being a bohemian artist living and creating, in a bohemian garret in Paris. Well I didn't live in Paris...but as fulfilling your dreams goes, I came pretty close :-)

The story of your favourite pachyderm artist resumes in 2007. We are in Milan, Italy and I am living alone in a 5th floor appartment (with a stonking view) and spending my days bombing around on various transportation to get to my students.

 I had become a teacher of English to Italians ranging from toddlers to businessmen/women...AND at the urging of friends I had splashed out on a set of colours...the same type of crayons I have used ever since.

At the weekend I would sit in my kitchen and stare at the view across my balcony. This was the balcony where red geraniums flourished one year, and basil plants the next. It was where an Italian serenaded me, and where a friend of mine gallantly swept a pigeon corpse out into oblivion. It you have ever seen the film 'Rear Window' you will kno…

Mini Blog: Fun with CFS ( yes, really!)

As you would imagine, I make a point of reading other people's blogs and memes about the subject of ME. Some are interesting because they are really informative, some make me feel less alone on the dark days, and some give me ideas for fashion or how to deal with greasy hair ( and other tragedies). Some are written by other creative people. and some by people who make me smile. Some are just to depressing to engage with: I am able to get my misery first hand if I so wish :-)

Yesterday I was checking in with Phoenix Rising ( the forum for ME/CFS ), when my attention was drawn to this video below. It made my jaw drop. Not just because it was frighteningly accurate, but because it was audaciously funny! It was taking a grim subject ( Doctors being ill informed/unsupportive/neglegent of the care of ME patients), but did it in a way that hammered the point home with chuckles.

Her channel on Youtube is Fun with CFS..and she is witty, sassy and deserves to be listened to...and not just by …