Here’s a little bit more about me.
About Me 2017
Who am I?
Up until the birth of my children, I had always worked outside the home. I have a University Education, I was active in numerous sports, I loved many crafts and did quite a bit with my family genealogy. I was employed as an Operations Management in Retail (Future Shop, Ltd.) for many years but decided to transfer to a less active position after being hospitalized and finally diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2001.
I chose to apply to work at Manulife Insurance, in their Customer Service Center and then later requested a transfer to their Claims Department because of my deteriorating health (multiple Crohn’s flare-ups and 6 surgeries for a large abscess and peri-anal disease). It was very difficult to be in a Call Center tied to a telephone when my Crohn’s Disease was active – especially when the disease itself was not ‘visible’ to those around me. It is hard to be understanding of a condition you cannot see.
Crohn’s Disease can be a completely invisible disease. Very few people, even now, know I have it and live with it on a day-to-day basis.
Manulife was a fantastic company to work for and after being in their Claims Department for a year, I was able to transfer to a work-from-home position. This allowed me to more easily manage my diseases and still work full-time. My diseases and abscess surgeries made me become much less active (having to be on my stomach for 9 months while the abscess opening healed didn’t help my mobility issues) and the drugs (steroids) used to manage my Crohn’s episodes helped me pack on some extra weight. It probably doesn’t help that I am also genetically predisposed to being overweight and have fought this my whole life…but the end result is the same – I am now very overweight.
It was at this time that my husband and I moved to Wellesley, Ontario to provide a home for my maternal Grandparents. They were in their late 80’s and they were no longer able to maintain their own home in Fonthill, Ontario. We purchased a home specifically to be able to provide them with a place to live. We wanted it to be in a quiet town like they were used to (we had been living in Kitchener) and for their in-law suite to be above ground (not in a dark basement). Wellesley was the perfect location and the house we found was exactly what we needed.
My Grandparents moved in with us in September 2007 and I continued to work for Manulife during this time. I was blessed with a job that allowed me to be at home and available for any emergencies with my Grandparents. I managed their day-to-day appointments and activities because Gramps could no longer drive. Nana was super independent and strong and she managed everything else that needed to be done.
Gramps was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease very soon after he arrived with us and we managed his care at home, with the help of CCAC and Veteran’s Services for 3 years; until his care became too much for my Nana and I to handle alone. In November 2011 he was moved to a good Nursing Home in Milverton until his death in 2015. Nana remained with us in our home until her death in March 2012.
I was extremely close to my maternal Grandparents – you can probably guess this just by my willingness to ask them to move in with my husband and I – and I feel blessed I was able to provide a home for them and spend as much time as I was able to spend with them. My children were blessed to have their Great Grandparents at their “beck and call” and to know their unconditional love. I am blessed to have been there when Nana passed so she was not alone.
I have been struggling with sadness and grief since August 2007 and it has been a very real battle to me. I am going through a process called “Complicated Grief” – this is what the specialists call it and they compare it to almost a post-traumatic stress situation. I learned this after finally seeking to speak with a Grief Counselor in 2016. You see, I have been very blessed – not to experience death, or loss until my early 30’s. But this is also a double-edged sword…I was totally unprepared.
Beginning in 2001 we have lost one important person after another, a minimum of 1 immediate, or extended family member every year for the past 15 years. Having never really experienced death and then to become surrounded by death has been very overwhelming to me. The ‘Complicated Grief’ comes from 2 specific occasions where I was present at the time of death. My Dad succumbed to Metastasizing Kidney Cancer in 2007 and I was with him for the last 6 hours of his battle – listening to every rattling breath – until he passed. This was Complicated Death #1 for me. He was not ready to die – and we were not ready to lose him. Complicated Death #2 was when my Nana collapsed in my arms, in my home and I held her for 20 minutes as she slowly stopped breathing before the ambulance arrived. She had a “do not resuscitate” order and I didn’t realize I needed to have it on hand as soon as the ambulance arrived – or else they’d have to start resuscitation… It took less than 1 minute to get but they had already restarted her heart so she had to be transferred to the hospital – and then she had to be taken off life support once she got there. I’m still dealing with my grief over both of these losses on a daily basis and when I say grief I mean immobilizing, I can’t breath, or function, there is no air, kind of grief. I know I will get through this – but this struggle is my current reality. Talking about it is crazy hard but at the same time it helps me manage and come to terms with it.
These last 15 years have also been filled with more beauty and joy than I ever thought I would experience. My husband is my rock and I can not think of anyone else I’d rather spend the rest of my life with and we have two amazing children. Darla and Andrew are my joy and laughter. My family is my world.
I should probably mention here that I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression in my late teens and I have been treated for it ever since (for more than 30 years). Depression is an all encompassing disease which can strike at any time. For me it is a chemical imbalance in my brain and different environmental situations can trigger me into a deeper level of depression (like the Fall to Spring light situation in Ontario, Canada). Over the years I’ve learned some coping techniques (both mental and external like an SAD Lite) and I’ve also noticed queues in my own behaviors and thoughts which mean I’m going to need to seek some extra medical help managing the symptoms.
After the death of my Nana in March 2012 and my decision to stay at home and not return to work after Drew turned 1 year (April 2012) I started to crochet. A lot. Oombawka Design was created as a way for me to share my crochet projects with friends and family. Initially, I was crocheting and selling little stuffed toys. The name “Oombawka”, came from a word my daughter used for a little toy I was crocheting at the time – the Mini Meows (or Little Oombawkas). My daughter (who was almost 3 years old then) called them her ‘Oombawkas‘ – so when I was trying to decide what to call my blog I chose Oombawka because I was pretty sure no one else in the world had ever used the word before and because there was a personal meaning to me.
I honestly did not expect Oombawka Design to become a popular website, nor for it to become my full-time job! I am so happy it did 🙂 It is like a dream come true. I am able to stay at home which is perfect for managing my Crohn’s Disease and I am able to be there for my children before and after school – or even mid-day if they are are unwell and need to come home.
Oombawka Design is just me – when I say this I mean – I write the patterns, I crochet the projects, I take the photos and edit the photos for the tutorials, I film the YouTube videos and edit them and upload them and share them. I manage the social media sharing and the Facebook pages, I answer the emails…it is a one-woman show folks – no one is helping me with this site or the management of it. Every waking moment I am not with my husband or children I am Oombawka Design.
So, if it takes me a few moments to respond to your question – or all of a sudden you don’t hear from me online for a week – please know it is because something has come up at home. My husband and my children need me and I also have to try to remember to take care of myself. This year, 2017, I am trying to bring more balance to my life – I am walking 2 to 3 times a week, eating better and trying to get at least 7 hours sleep a night. I’m hoping this helps me become a stronger and healthier me 🙂
Read more about me here: https://oombawkadesigncrochet.com/about