The Short Story
Thank you for being here to find out more about me. The short story is that I have lived in pain since I was 12 years old. I managed to contract one of the first swine flu cases in Manchester, then got meningitis which left with fibromyalgia, energy problems, minor brain damage and numerous other aliments. However, I was lucky enough to be exposed to crafting as a young girl which I have now expanded upon as a result of the meningitis. Crafting has now turned into my main outlet to both express myself and to make a living as you will see from this page.
The Long Story!
I feel like I should be starting this story as …..
Once upon a time
Once upon a time there was a girl called Toria. She was a happy child with long flowing locks of blond hair who lived an idyllic life in New Alresford, Hampshire, UK but that really doesn’t work for me. I have two brothers who were unholy terrors when I was growing up and a father who worked away most of the time but an ace mother who had to coral us into some semblance of normality! How she managed to cope with me who was diagnosed with Marfans Syndrome at the age of 12/13 and in constant pain, one brother with Attention Defacit Disorder (ADD) and her continuously squabbling children, I really do not know. I do however, know that to relax mum would sit there either knitting away with the needles click-clacking, her bobbins bobbing along whilst she made lace or just doing a few stitches of her tapestry.
An early introduction to crafting
I was fascinated with my mums hobbies and wanted to learn how to do them myself, I started with long stitch tapestry and I started my crafting addiction. I progressed to knitting, but that was never really my forte. Tapestry, on the other hand was, as a teenager, but my true obsession did not start until I moved into my first house when I was in my early twenties. By this time my pain from the Marfans had escalated to a new level but there wasn’t much I could do so plod on I did. I was designing my own tapestries and stitching at all hours of the day and/ or night.
Come my late twenties and whilst I was doing my PhD I met one of my closest and best friends and together we discovered crotchet. Can you see where this is going yet?! I was hooked (I had to say it) and I gained a new wool obsession.
By the time I had started working my house looked like a crafter’s den or slum, you can choose your word, I know which one my husband would use. I hate to think about all that mess now. I then managed to contract some sort of lurgy and was so poorly that I had nearly 6 months off work, only to find that when I returned to work, I would get one of the first cases of Swine Flu in Manchester. It is safe to say that if there is something to catch, I will get it. Despite too many ongoing ailments I did eventually find some sort of normality in my life and even met my future husband during this time. I worked as a Project Manager and eventually Programme Manager in the engineering and banking sectors and I loved it. I even got myself a little dog called Tinkerbelle who is my best friend and therapy dog (although not officially). I honestly do not know what I would do without her fuzzy little face to say hello to every day.
I learned how to cope with my pain and to get the best out of life. I managed to do loads of travelling and visited many far-flung places including Africa, Nepal, trekking in the Himalayas with my Mum, visiting Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Hong Kong Fiji and New Zealand. I even used to cycle tens of miles with the man who is now my husband, although you would never know to look at me now.
The big change
This was fine until 14th July 2014. This date will be forever etched in my mind as I did not know it, but my life was about to change dramatically. I thought I had a horrendous migraine that was making me really sick, if only! To cut a long story short I had HSV2 Meningitis and it was running rife round my system.
From that date onwards it has been a whirlwind of tests and diagnoses and visits to I don’t know how many different consultants. I have been left with some minor brain damage where my brain doesn’t talk to my right leg properly so that causes some fun and games. I now have chronic migraines which hit in some form or another every day, luckily my medication helps keep the really bad ones at bay most of the time. I also get vestibular migraines which are fabulous as the whole world tips on its head. If I’m not sitting, then you can pretty much bet that I will be on my bum on the floor when I try to stand. This can cause some mildly amusing situations when you ungainly decide to fall-sit in a puddle in the B&Q car park or you have a ‘dizzy fit’ in the opticians. Everyone starts panicking and Graham just picks me up and we carry on. I’m used to bruises, in fact it would be odd if I wasn’t covered in them. The Marfans Syndrome means that I am very flexible and bend easily which is why I get called Mrs Bendy Lady and on top of it I also have fibromyalgia. I think my only other label is Functional Neurological Disorder. Ah yes, add into the mix anxiety and depression and it all blurs into one in the end.
Rediscovering life and crafting
Shortly after I came out of hospital from having had meningitis I discovered jewellery making and this has been my salvation and has helped created a new me. I discovered how wire can move and create the most beautiful designs with gemstones, how seed beads can be combined to create beautiful and intricate jewellery. These two areas have been amongst some of my successes. I have also continued to crochet and learnt so many new stitches and ways to combine them. Through this I met a very good friend Katie Parker from just chatting on a Facebook. I did a few shows on the Jewellery Maker channel as a Guest Designer, but this was too much for me at the time. I go to artisan markets to sell my jewellery, and then stay in bed for a week later from exhaustion, which is one of my most favourite things to do!!
Where are we now?
I now concentrate on my online shop and blog as this really helps with my new philosophy which is to help others and inspire women and men to realise that yes we can have these horrendous disabilities and illnesses but we also have the power to create beauty that can be shared with the world. I feel so good when one of my items sells, Be it a washcloth that means that there will be a few less face wipes being used or a beaded bauble that will adorn someones christmas tree year after year. I love to see the delight in my customer’s face and hear from them afterwards.
So this is me, Toria, I hope you like what I have to share on my site.