So last Saturday I let my hair down and enjoyed myself. I apologise to those of you who believe I should continually go around wearing sack cloth and ashes, never enjoying myself. I am suffering for enjoying myself? of course. Is the pain and suffering worth those few hours of fun? Hell yes. Will I be doing it again anytime soon? Not on your nelly.
I would just like to take this opportunity to say I am not paid or endorsing any of the products featured in this post. All products have either been birthday / Christmas presents or bought with my own money.
This years joint birthday party was postponed due to my continued ill-health. Normally we hold a get together of our closest friends on the nearest Saturday night to our birthdays. This year it would have been Halloween, so before we had to postpone it we had decided this years party would be fancy dress.
The town that I live in, Exmouth in East Devon has a massive tradition of fancy dress on New Years Eve. Before I moved to Exmouth nearly 20 years ago, I had never heard of this tradition. I am ashamed to say I have never been out on the town in Exmouth on New Years Eve. When I lived in Plymouth, I only went out once on New Years Eve and I can't say I enjoyed it. The pub was packed, we'd had to buy tickets (that irked me somewhat before attending) and it was no where near as much fun as I had been led to believe. I digress as usual, anyway Exmouthian's like to don fancy dress at the drop of a hat, so I knew the fancy dress theme would go down well.
Initially I had decided to dress up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I actually own this costume as I used to wear it into work during Christmas week, which made work rather fun. During my time at work I have dressed as a Christmas pudding, a rag doll, an angel, a fairy and a farmer, just to name a few. However as the end of October approached I changed my mind on the Dorothy costume and decided for a laugh I would dress up as my husband, wearing his full work uniform. Luckily he was replacing his shirts, so I used an old one (so as not to cause any damage to his uniform) a pair of his work trousers that had a hole in the bum (carefully stitched up), his old stained work tie and a jacket that the button had been smashed when involved in an incident with a roll cage. So no actual real uniform was harmed in my use of it (just in case anyone from his work is reading this!).
The costume was the easy part, I would have to employ some skill in managing to give myself his famous five o'clock shadow. Now I know I have moaned about sprouting facial hair but believe me even if I had let that grow in the name of art it wouldn't have been impressive enough to pass muster. Thank goodness for the Internet and Youtube. I had contacted a friend of ours who is mad keen on make up and who I blame solely for my latest obsession Mac Makeup, on how I was going to do a stubble effect. She pointed me in the direction of YouTube and there were countless videos on there about how to produce a designer stubble effect with face paint. After watching the video's a couple of times I then went online to purchased black and white face paint along with an item called a stipple sponge.
A stipple sponge is a textured sponge that special effects makeup artists use to create stubble, beards, cuts and grazes. I will admit I was extremely lazy and didn't bother to have a practice run on my make up which I should have done. All I did with the sponge was rub it on the black face paint and apply the sponge to the back of my hand to see what it created. Once I knew that I could apply the sponge quite lightly to get the desired effect I was reasonably happy I would be able to create the desired effect on Saturday night. The old me, pre-ill-health would have practiced the make up several times, I was low on energy leading up to the party and couldn't spare a drop practicing.
On the night I applied my usual foundation and concealer as a base (to provide my skin with a barrier to the face paint, in case of an allergic reaction as I have very sensitive skin). I moisturised my skin well during the day, as I know it can dry out when I have applied foundation giving me a bit of a flaky appearance. Once the base was on I then had to darken and enlarge my eye brows using an angled brush. My husband has much darker and fuller eyebrows than my own, doing the stubble effect without making up my eyebrows would have looked ridiculous. So I thought in for a penny in for a pound and went for it. I then contoured my nose to give me an altered appearance. I just used a matt brown eyeshadow very lightly applied to the outside of my nose and blended it in. I then applied a grey / blue matt eyeshadow to my under eye area, my husband has darker skin there so I wanted to ensure that I had the same. I then used a matt light brown eyeshadow over my eyelid again blended in well. I used the eyeshadow right up to my false eyebrow. Then I took a deep breath and approached the application of the fake stubble. First I applied white face paint using a stipple sponge, once that was applied I went over it with the black face paint, again applying with a stipple sponge.
I am terrible at taking selfies! Also both eyebrows are darkened but the photo makes it look like I only did one.
I apologise for the poor quality of the photo, it was taken in the evening with insufficient lighting. With the picture below you can see my make up in the context of the full costume.
I would like to point out that is a cushion acting as my belly!
To recreate my husbands hair, which is far shorter than mine, I slicked it back using hair gel, whilst my hair was still wet. I used a very low setting on the hairdryer to "set" my hair. Once the outer hair was dry, I then applied dry shampoo to give it a grey look and concentrated it on the area where I wanted a white streak. Jay has had a white streak in the front of his hair for as long as I have known him which is 19 years next February. This was then coated with ample amounts of hairspray.
Once my hair was completed, it was an enforced rest period. Due to the amount of rest I needed this meant I was fully made up from 5pm with the party not starting properly until 8pm. I needed to get my pain under control as my back had been behaving really badly for a week prior to the party.
Jay dressed as Fox Mulder from the X-Files
There is always one part of my body that likes to really play up before a big event. More often than not it is my back and it didn't disappoint. Usually when I have back pain it is a trapped nerve caused by my shifting vertebrae, this pain was different and it is something I haven't suffered from for many years. My back is continually going in and out of spasm. Any movement of my arms above shoulder height, so moving my arms so that my elbow is in line with my shoulders will set my back off. Standing still, not that it happens very often, also sends my back into spasm. Despite being maxed out on all my painkillers and muscle relaxants on Saturday, the pain was incredibly intense. For all of the party I had to sit with my electric heat mat on my back and all that did was take the edge off enough so I could enjoy myself.
I had sworn off alcohol for months leading up to the party because every time I had a drink (just a small glass of wine) it would induce the spins. It has been awful not being able to have the odd glass of wine or gin and tonic. I am not a massive drinker but I do like the odd one throughout the year. I know many people with Dysautonomia can't drink as it exacerbates their symptoms, I can but the next day I will suffer with a racing heart and whilst drinking I will have problems with things like temperature control and I will become freezing cold. I do infrequently use a small amount of alcohol as additional pain relief when all else isn't working. On Saturday night I tried a small amount of sangria and to my joy found that an hour later I didn't have the spins, which has happened all summer long (so I stopped having any alcohol). I decided to then have a larger amount (half a glass) and I waited an hour to see if I got the spins and I didn't, so I then decided that I would let my hair down and have a few drinks. It relaxed my back enough to reduce the pain. It's now Monday morning and my back hasn't gone into spasm. I am not prescribing alcohol as a cure or recommending anyone else do it. I certainly won't be drinking again until Christmas, regardless of what my back does in the meantime.
Our guests made a supreme effort in their fancy dress costumes so I wanted to share them here:
The Christmas Elf
The Joker and Harley Quinn
Immie and me (another terrible attempt at a selfie!)
We held a vote for the best costume of the night, embarrassingly I won but as we had bought a prize ( not expecting either of us to win) I gave the prize to K who came as the Joker. Not only did he apply fake tattoos, spray his hair green he removed his chest hair!!
Well done to The Joker, for winning best in show and thank you to everyone for dressing up for the party.
Even the alien got involved on the night.
Frankie decided to sit between Jay and I during the pub quiz. Hubby and I won for the third time in a row! I can't take much credit as it was him who answered the most questions.
I was very surprised that the dogs didn't get scared due to the fancy dress, I know some dogs can get funny about costumes. They did sulk when I got dressed in hubby's uniform. They equate the uniform with going to work and on occasion my husband does work night shifts, also I wore a version of that uniform many moons ago. I am sure that for a moment there that they were convinced I was going off to work, which is weird as I haven't been for 8 years.
As you can see from the photo above, I have the tell tale sign of an electric heat wrap, the elastic belt squishing down my belly so the wrap is nice and close to my back. This is always my reserved chair during a party as it's the closest one to a plug socket.
I am paying heavily for having fun as I always do. Long gone are the days when after a night out I could get up and carry on with normal life. Sunday morning I was woken up at 8am by the feeling that someone was stabbing me in the stomach with a knife. The pain was off the charts, I stumbled to the bathroom as I thought for a moment I would be sick, thankfully I wasn't. The pain continued it was what I class as my 10/10 pain. I started to lose consciousness for a few seconds at a time however I managed to take my morning meds and some oramorph. I then passed out again and then lay in bed wondering if I should wake up Jay. I didn't because I knew I had more chance waking the dead and I also knew he would call an ambulance. Eventually I went back to sleep but was woken again with the horrific stomach pain at 10:20am. Jay came into my room and got into bed beside me. I had to beg him not to make any movements that would rock the bed, as anything other than lying perfectly still was causing the pain to get worse. Then within 15 minutes the pain had disappeared, I was just left nursing a hangover.
During the evening the abdominal pain started up again, I took some buscopan and oramorph and went to bed. On Monday (the day of writing this) I have pain it's probably 7 or 6 /10 so much less intense but I am acutely aware of the fact at any moment it could ramp back up again. I have decided to fast today and have only liquids. I can only sip them as taking on too much in one go makes the pain worse. I don't know why it started up it hasn't been this bad since 2013. I really hope I am not in for months and months of pain again.
I think this sleepy picture of Frankie sums the mood up perfectly and explains why he won't leave my side.