A selfie of me outside with snowy trees in the background. I am wearing glasses and a bright yellow knitted hat.

Today, I thought I’d do something that I haven’t done in a few years: write a year in review post. I think the last time I did this was back in 2015.

2018 was a significant but challenging year for me as I healed after my stem cell treatment. My word of the year for 2018 was patience and I certainly needed that by the bucket load!

You would hope that getting better would be easy. In actual fact, it’s one of the most difficult things I have had to go through.

When your body is healing it can be amazing and incredibly uplifting. But, it can also be gritty, messy and relentless at times.

There were many ups and downs for me through 2018. And within all of that, I managed to do some wonderful things.

Each month, I recorded a few highlights and memories in my bullet journal. It’s a nice collection to look back through and I thought I’d share some of these here.

This is my 2018 in review. 

N.B. I am not focussing on my health in this post because I have this covered in all of my stem cell updates. Instead, I am sharing happy memories from each month.

Me wearing my need more sleep sweater.

January

In January, my parents went on holiday. Previously, I needed to rely on the help of others to walk my dog Oscar for me.

This year, I managed to take Oscar out for a short walk each day by myself when my parents were away. Oscar had gone through cataract surgery earlier in the month and he was on restricted exercise, which worked out well for me.

He usually gets two long walks each day but he was only allowed one short walk. This fitted in with my level of fitness.

It meant I had a little bit of independence when my parents were away. Which may seem like a small thing but to me it was huge.

In January, I also sat up at my PC desk and wrote a blog post for the first time. Again, this seems like such an insignificant thing but I couldn’t do this previously.

I had always written my blog posts on my laptop while lying in bed. This was because my orthostatic intolerance symptoms made it impossible to sit up for any length of time without causing me to feel terrible.

By January, these symptoms were no longer an issue for me.

February

I remember that I was having a challenging time with my health as we headed into February. I was struggling quite a bit mentally due to some healing symptoms I was experiencing.

However, we still went ahead and had our annual Super Bowl party, which was just the pick-me-up I was needing. They won’t know it, but watching the game with friends was so healing for me and I am so grateful for my pals.

And, not only was it a fun night but Ross had also placed a bet on the game and he won £180!

In February, I also managed to do a 30-minute yoga routine for the first time. Previously, my health had only allowed for 15-20 minute routines.

It was a positive sign that my strength and stamina were increasing.

I also headed back to Infusio for my follow-up and ACT treatment. It was great to see everyone again and the treatments really helped to give me a boost.

While in Frankfurt, Ross and I had lunch at a restaurant called Gingko that does the best vegan burger!

Sitting with Dr Bijan during the last day of my follow up appointment at Infusio. Another patient has their thumbs up in the background.

MARCH

In March, Scotland was hit by the Beast from the East and we got a lot of snow! I had some fun walks with Oscar and Ross in the snow.

I remember one day in particular where I was so filled with joy I stopped to make a snow angel.

I finally saw one of my favourite bands this month too– Imagine Dragons. Before the gig, we went for dinner at Cafe Andaluz in Glasgow (one of my favourite restaurants) and I remember being astounded by how well I felt by the end of the night.

Previously, the gig itself would have been pushing it for me. To not only take the gig in my stride but actually do something beforehand… well, I felt incredibly encouraged.

I hit another goal in March by completing an Escape Room with friends. This is something I had long wanted to do but I had always missed out previously due to my health issues.

The room we did was Jumanji themed and it was a lot of fun solving the puzzles. Doing this made me realised how much more switched on my brain was and how brain fog was becoming less of an issue for me.

To top the month off, I also walked all the way around my local park. This was the goal I told Dr Bijan I wanted to achieve when I was lying on the procedure table about to have my fat extracted for the stem cell procedure.

I remember walking around and reflecting on how far I had come with my mum.

April

Given the progress I had seen, April was the month I decided to sell my mobility scooter. I was confident I no longer needed it.

This month, I also surprised my husband Ross by making him dinner. It was the first time I had cooked us dinner in a long time.

I am very fortunate that Ross took on the housework and cooking when I got sick to allow me to save my energy for other things. It was great to feel able to cook dinner for him and not have it wipe me out.

Again, it’s something so simple but a milestone for me.

Another huge milestone for me this month was visiting Dunnottar castle in Stonehaven. This is somewhere I had wanted to visit for a long time.

Unfortunately– as you can see from the photo below– it’s very inaccessible. So, I had to wait until I could manage the climb down and back up the stairs to the castle.

It was challenging and I was exhausted afterwards but I was incredibly happy to have done it.

A photograph of me stood with Dunnottar Castle in the background.

May

In May, I attended a family wedding.  I also had a very relaxing spa day at the One Spa in Edinburgh with my mum and mother-in-law.

This was my Christmas present to them to thank them for all the support they had given me (and continue to give me).

Later in the month, we took advantage of the good weather and hosted a BBQ at our house then spent the day playing board games.

I caught a virus in May so much of the month was spent recovering from this. I sadly missed out on a friend’s wedding at the end of the month because of this and was absolutely gutted.

June

Thankfully, I felt better come June and I had a brilliant month that involved some trips to Edinburgh with my mum.

On one of these trips, I left my mum to attend an appointment whilst I played tourist on my own. It’s funny because, before this, I had a lot of anxiety when thinking about going places on my own.

After years of being dependent on the help of others and always having someone with me, the thought of doing something outside my comfort zone on my own filled me with anxiety.

I couldn’t wrap my head around this because I thought I’d be desperate to get my independence back. With time, I learned that this anxiety was a product of poor health.

Having someone with me meant I always had someone else who could take control and help me if my health took a turn for the worse.

When I was out in Edinburgh on my own I felt well and, therefore, in complete control. I wasn’t affected by anxiety at all and I loved regaining some independence.

I visited St Giles’ Cathedral, wandered along the Royal Mile, visited the Harry Potter gift shop and stopped for a rest at a coffee shop before meeting up again with my mum.

In June, I also had a weekend away in Inverness visiting friends, which was fun. We had dinner out and then went to a craft beer pub.

I also achieved a huge goal this month and had my first snowboarding lesson! I wrote more about snowboarding in this post if you’re interested in reading about why this was so significant for me.

July

In July, we had family visiting from England and Spain so we all went out for a family meal.

Ross and I also spent an afternoon/evening out in Edinburgh. We had lunch at a vegan restaurant called Henderson’s then saw ‘The Band’ (Take That) musical at the Playhouse.

At the end of July, I also had my second snowboarding lesson, which was a lot of fun!

August

Our wedding anniversary is the 3rd of August and we spent it at the Edinburgh Fringe. I had always wanted to go to the Fringe but had missed out in previous years due to my health.

Ross and I had lunch at Cafe Andaluz, then met up with friends to go and see the comedian Russell Howard. His set was hilarious and a complete bargain at only £5!

In August, I also went wedding dress shopping with my mum and soon-t0-be sister-in-law. She purchased her wedding dress and I am so excited for the wedding, which is in June 2019.

I had my third snowboarding lesson. Unfortunately, I then got carried away and went snowboarding before my body had fully recovered from the lesson.

I pushed myself too hard and ended up falling and hurting myself. I decided to take a break from snowboarding until my body was stronger.

On a more positive note, August saw me getting to meet a friend’s new baby for the first time, who was just the cutest!

And, I managed to drive myself to the park and walk Oscar on my own when my parents were away for a couple of days. It was so amazing to have that little bit of independence.

Photo shows me sitting in the driving seat of a car with one hand on the wheel and one resting on my leg. I have shoulder-length dark curly hair and I am wearing sunglasses, a white t-shirt with the slogan "hey" and blue jeggings.

September

In September, I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in years for coffee. It was so lovely to reconnect and I hope to keep in touch with them.

I also had an amazing trip to Disneyland Paris with Ross and one of our best friends. We stayed at Village Nature Paris and had a lot of fun on this trip.

I walked an incredible amount of steps and participated 100%. It was incredible to have a few days away where I didn’t once have to think about managing my health.

Once back from Paris, we had a family meal to celebrate my nephew’s 5th birthday. I also went to Foxlake Dundee one morning to watch Ross learn to wakeboard.

We went with two friends who can already wakeboard. I took my camera with me and it was a lot of fun videoing and photographing everyone.

Photo shows Donna standing to the right of the photograph with Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland Paris behind her. Donna is wearing a white t-shirt, denim shorts, sunglasses and a baseball cap.

October

In October, we had dinner at Nando’s to celebrate my Dad’s birthday (it’s one of his favourite places to eat).

I also managed to drive and run a few errands on my own one day, which included going to the post office. I was so happy to have managed to achieve this on my own.

Particularly as I have a past memory of my mum taking me to the post office where I found it really challenging standing and waiting in line (and almost gave up and got my mum to do it for me).

This month, I also began doing more housework. I had started doing little bits of hoovering and dusting here and there but had still left the more energy-demanding tasks to Ross.

It sounds silly, but I can’t tell you how satisfied I was by being able to clean the bathroom on my own from top to bottom!

I also felt the return of my creativity this month and looked out my paintbrushes. I love painting and created two pieces for the gallery wall in my hall.

It was lovely feeling motivated and inspired to create– something that had long been missing.

October concluded with a trip to Valencia with Ross for my birthday. It was a really fun trip and I even got on a bike for the first time in years!

Photo shows Donna stood against a brick wall in the Serrano Towers in Valencia. She wears a black and floral jumpsuit, black ankle boots and dark sunglasses. She has her hair in dutch braid pigtails and is looking off to the right.

November

I had taken a break from snowboarding for a few months to build up my strength. In November, I returned to the indoor slope and regained some lost confidence.

My mum and I also had a spa day at Bannatyne’s. We each had a massage and I even got a mini-facial because my therapist forgot what my voucher included and upgraded me by mistake (I had no idea I wasn’t meant to get the facial as my mum had booked).

My creativity was thriving in November and I completed more paintings, which made me happy.

Photo shows Donna stood at the top of the indoor snow slope. She has turned her body towards the camera and is smiling. The photograph is cropped at her knee so you cannot see the snowboard attached to her feet. Donna wears a teal hoodie with black sleeves and a white helmet. Her dark hair is braided.

December

December started out positively and I went snowboarding twice. I continued to be creative and practised modern calligraphy in addition to painting.

I had a lovely dinner at a friend’s house too. Unfortunately, I woke up the next day with the cold.

As luck would have it, just as I was getting over the cold I was hit with the flu. This completely wiped me out but I managed to kick it in time for Christmas.

I spent Christmas day at my parent’s house with Ross, my brother and his fiancee. It was a great day but I was struggling with post-viral fatigue (which is still hanging around me).

I’m hoping I’ll kick the fatigue and get my energy back as we head into the new year.


It’s been really great reflecting back on 2018 and reminding myself of all the milestones and achievements.  It’s really something to think about where I started the year and where I’ve ended it.

I would highly recommend keeping a note of happy memories throughout the year to look back on.

I do this in a bullet journal but you can also create a memory jar, where you write down memories and place them in the jar. At the end of the year, you read through all the notes.

Would this be something you’d consider for 2019? Or, if you already do this, I’d love to hear about one of your memories in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Author

Hello, I'm Donna. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2013 and started this blog shortly after. After my health declined significantly the following year, I decided to become my own advocate and searched for answers. It took two years but, in 2016, I finally discovered I had Lyme Disease. On February Stars, I share my personal journey back to better health; discussing what has helped me and the mistakes I've made along the way. I also cover topics on self-improvement, managing symptoms and living life to the fullest with chronic illness.

2 Comments

  1. Donna I am welling up reading this post. What an incredible year you’ve had, and things are only going to get better as you progress in your recovery.

    Have the happiest of new years – come 2019, my sister will be sharing a wedding anniversary with you 🙂

    I write down my happiest and most exciting memories at the front of my journal and share them in my birthday blog posts. So 2018/19’s list is already halfway done and I’m looking forward to seeing what else fills it.

    xx

    • Aww thanks Lis! It has been some year and I hope 2019 only sees things improve further 🙂 That’s so exciting! I bet the wedding will be here before you know it. My brother gets married this year too and it’s so lovely to have a wedding to look forward to, isn’t it?

      I’m so glad I started writing everything down as it’s so lovely to look back on. I look forward to seeing your list when the time comes and I wish you all the best for 2019! 🙂

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