Weathering the Storm…

Weathering the Storm…

It’s been a minute… two whole months to be exact, perhaps even a bit longer.

Save for a few holiday snaps in my stories, I haven’t posted on social media for two whole months. Literally a cardinal sin when trying to start your own business. But it hasn’t been a case of wanting or needing to take a break from the algorithm. The battle I’ve been experiencing has been a little different - less viral post, more post-viral…

At the end of February, I came down with what I thought was just another winter cold. But over the course of the week, the symptoms just got worse and worse. I felt like someone had punched me in the back of the head most days, couldn’t walk around without feeling light-headed, had odd pains in my hands and arms and a stitch-like feeling in the right side of my chest. Then the numbness and heart palpitations started, which got so bad that I ended up in the back of an ambulance one Sunday evening. I honestly thought that was it.

“Less viral post, more post-viral…”

To my surprise, everything checked out fine at the hospital. I continued to feel desperately unwell, despite the reassurances that it was very likely to be a viral illness. We had a holiday to Madeira booked in a couple of weeks - the doctor at the hospital and everyone else urged me to go, saying it would do me the world of good and kick-start my recovery.

Before I go on, I need to express how truly grateful I am to all the people who’ve taken care of me - the 999 operator, the first responder, the paramedics, the triage nurses, the registrar at Airedale hospital, my GP. The care and kindness every one of these people showed me was exemplary. Airedale hospital has been particularly busy for the last few months, but you wouldn’t have known it. The compassion, the odd joke when needed and the camaraderie the team had with each other was just perfect. Remember my last blog, where I talked about emotional labour? Check it out here if not. If any of the staff I met were having to put it on, I would never have known. All I saw were a group of dedicated, compassionate and incredibly kind people who genuinely wanted to do their best for sick people in their darkest moments. They’re a real credit to our NHS and I cannot thank them enough.

Despite what the doctor said, I desperately didn’t want to go on holiday. I’d literally lost all confidence that I could do anything, let alone get on a plane. But I persevered, mainly because David desperately needed a holiday after everything that had happened. The second round of blood tests came back two days before we were due to leave. Again, all clear, save for a vitamin D deficiency, which happens to all of us Brits in the winter months. All the signs pointed towards a viral illness and that the recovery could take time.

Woozy as I was, I made it. Packing and getting to the airport was probably a good distraction from all the symptoms and I started to get excited about the holiday. I walked around Madeira like an old man for the first two days. Fitting, given the average age of a tourist on Madeira is 78. I felt 78. Older. I went to bed at 8.15pm one night.

As the days went on, I got stronger. I walked further and felt better. The sun and vitamin D was of course helping me feel better, just as everyone had said it would. When the holiday ended and it was time to go home, I felt a lot better. I almost felt myself again. We got home and I plunged back into the ordinary - picked up my print proofs, did the food shopping, cooked for the first time in weeks. But by the end of the week, most of the symptoms were back.

“I felt 78. Older…”

Cue a full relapse, or near enough. Another week in bed followed, only made slightly more bearable by discovering ‘Selling Sunset’ on Netflix. Utter reality trash, interspersed with some very flashy homes in Beverly Hills. Just the tonic.

It’s all been very up and down ever since. More blood tests, nothing found. One day I feel stronger, the next I feel like I’ve taken two steps back. I’m slowly learning to navigate this illness and just accept that, at the moment at least, I can’t do what I used to do in the course of a day. As someone who’s been lucky enough never to have a serious or long-term illness before, I can honestly say I have every respect for those struggling with post-viral or undiagnosed health conditions. It’s brutal. Glimmers of hope when you have a good day, shattered by feeling terrible the next. It’s exhausting, mentally and physically.

It’s all a bit dramatic for me to be honest. People who know me well, know I’m a very chilled, laid-back person and my pace is always slow and calm… you should see me now! Literally slow motion. But they do say slow and steady wins the race. Plus I like tortoises…

David joked a couple of weeks ago that he was going to see if he could access any funding from the government given he’s now effectively a full time carer! To be honest, he’s been a diamond. I can’t imagine what the last couple of months would have been like without him.

I’m just having to roll with the punches and have accepted that this is my reality for now. Not knowing what’s wrong with me or being able to do what I want to do for a prolonged period of time is something completely new to me, something I’m having to navigate, make peace with. My own personal storm that I’m weathering.

But then I look back to what I have been able to do over the last few weeks. Sure, there’s been radio-silence on the social media front, but there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes. I have a new look website (let me know what you think while you’re here) and created a collection of Fine Art Prints. I’ve even managed to switch on EU and International shipping. Turns out it wasn’t that hard after all…

“...there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes

On one of my good days a couple of weeks ago and without thinking too much about it at the time (I’m an intuitive artist after all), I asked myself “what could I do art-wise that wouldn’t be to strenuous?”. Then I remembered a smaller canvas I’d started, but hadn’t finished, many months ago. I’d put it away for a few months as I wasn’t sure whether it needed more work so took a break from it. I looked it out and decided its story wasn’t finished.

Still woozy and a bit shaky, I looked out a palette knife, mixed some medium and thought “should I be doing this?”. I didn’t recognise this person… someone with doubt, questioning whether I could do something. So I just did it. It turns out it was a nice route back in to doing something creative. I didn’t need to prep a canvas or think too much about it. Perfect really.

The piece is from a collection called ‘Hurricane’, which inspires us to face challenges in life with determination, strength and endurance, even in the darkest of storms. The collection also speaks to my fundamental belief that every experience in life is valid - the good, and the bad. Without challenging times, our appreciation of the good times can never be as good. The Hurricane Collection is all about resilience, finding strength in the most turbulent of times. How apt that the only piece I felt up to finishing was a piece from that collection - almost like it remained unfinished for a reason. That piece is Hurricane Bianca. I needed to feel empowered again to have the confidence that I can get back to where I was. I needed a reminder of my own resilience. Subconsciously, I’d been drawn back to those messages and emotions when I needed them the most.

“I needed a reminder of my own resilience…”

As an intuitive artist, I don’t often think too much about the inspiration behind my pieces while I’m creating them. I let go and let my intuition tell the story. After all, intuitive abstract art is effectively an outpouring of the subconscious. But every so often, out of curiosity, I think back to what was going on in my life at the time and what the art I was creating might tell me about the emotions and feelings I was experiencing that were poured out onto the canvas or paper. Funnily enough, I started creating the Hurricane collection back when things started to take a turbulent turn in my corporate life… you can read all about that here if you haven’t already. 

“These hurricanes hit different…”

As each of life’s hurricanes hit, the Hurricane Collection reminds us of the overwhelming human desire to overcome. To overcome with grace, strength and resilience, even in the darker moments where we feel we no longer possess any of these attributes. Reinterpreting life’s challenges through the frame of these pieces is a daily reminder that we’re stronger than we think during the storm itself. The things we discover about ourselves during these storms are a valuable reminder of the resolve in all of us.
Whether to serve as a memory of a previous experience or a reminder of your strength during a challenging time, these hurricanes hit different.
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“The things we discover about ourselves during these storms are a valuable reminder of the resolve in all of us.” This is sooo real! What doesn’t kill is, makes us stronger!!
And the hurricane collection is beautiful!

Filipa Cabecinha

Aww man you’ve been through the ringer but glad to hear your coming out of the storm! And back creating, love it kx


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