Landscape Paintings – Mixed Media

Here are a couple of commissions I finished recently both done in acrylic, gel pens and colouring pencils. The first is the instantly recognisable Cushendun and the second is of Co.Clare. I usually do these and give them away to people, but a couple of people have mentioned that I should build a collection to sell. I think it would be (another) wee side line for me and give me a break from the computer! Look out for more coming soon :-)

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/cushedun.jpg?w=430

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/co-claire-blog.jpg?w=430

Diary Of A Neurology Patient

OK ok, so, I have decided to write a wee report about my time in London for brain surgery … a lot of you knew i was away and thank you for your support … some of you didn’t. To cut a long story short, I had to have a procedure called DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) to treat a rare condition I have called Tardive Dystonia. This is a movement disorder causing involuntary muscle contractions caused primarily by reactions to particular prescription drugs, in my case anti-psycotics. It started in 2010 very gradually with a slight twitch of my head and progressed to the point where I could hardly walk unaided. It was like someone was pushing my hips forward and my head back and I couldn’t rectify it. When I walked it was really noticeable. People would think I was really wasted, pregnant or even having a seisure. It was getting to the point where, if it got worse, I would really needed a wheelchair. I was avoiding going partying as I would feel people were looking at me and I couldn’t dance which made me sad :-(

Anyway, after trying all other options including medication and botox injections in my neck, the movement disorder specialist in Belfast decided it was best I was referred to the Hospital of Neurology and Neuroscience. After a few days of intensive tests, both mental and physical back in February, they gave the good news that I was a suitable candidate for DBS and the operation could go ahead. The date was set for the 6th of May and here is what happened…

To find out more about the operation itself see HERE!

Sunday 4th May – Arrived in London okay and found the ward. Greeted by a very fat priest proclaiming that all the staff were angels, it was not the 5* accommodation I was hoping for. There were bays of 6 beds and bay 1, bed 2 would be my home for the next 8 days. The woman beside me looked like Mr Bump which was a bit worrying. We went out for a Franco’s Pizza and felt a little tipsy. Upon returning to the ward a doctor was awaiting to do some balancing and co-ordination exercises. I did not tell him I had been on the vino…bad nights kip. Some man was shouting ‘ I can’t sleep! Why, why, why delilah?!’ … this would have been quite funny if I wasn’t so tired,

Monday 5th May – The day before the operation. One of the surgeons, Jonathan, came to see me during the day and I asked if I could have a wee drink with my tea that night. He said ‘no’ in case I fell down and jeopardised the operation…unsatisfied with this answer, the professor an head of department came to see me to get me to sign a consent form.I asked him about the drikies and he said it would be okay to have a wee one! This made me happy. I also had to meet the anaesthetist who was hilarious!!

I met Ju (who was kindly staying all week), Dave, Rebecca and Mike for a wee Pizza Express … I was probably being quite quiet as the realisation of the big op ahead was sinking in. The last supper…

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/ludvic_main.jpg?w=430

Tuesday 6th May – Operation time. I was wakened at about 6am to get washed in hibiscrub. I had to use this stinking stuff every day coming up to the op. It is a disinfect the skin of people who are having surgery and prevents MRSA. I had to put on my oh so attractive plastic pants, surgical stockings and gown thing. I got taken down to theatre about 7.45am and mum and dad came too. There was a slight drama over my gel nails which should have been taken off but with out the proper remover, these bad boys were going no where! The prof asked how my outing last night was making drinking motions with his hand which lightened the mood! The last thing I remember was Mr Zriinzo, the chief surgeon winking at me and being injected into my ankle. I had though the aesthetic would take effect gradually but no – black out.

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/3432jj43423.jpg?w=430

The next thing remember was waking up in recovery thinking they had not even done the operation yet. Then someone who I can’t remember came to say that it had been a great success. I was shaking really badly and I remember thinking ‘oh no, it hasn’t worked!’ but they said it was a common side effect. I was allowed visitors, family only, 2 at a time so mum, dad and my sister came in which I don’t remember at all. I was kept in recovery longer that expected due to high blood pressure and eventually got back on the ward about 8pm demanding a tuna sandwich which I also do not recall!

Wednesday 7th – This day is quite blurred…I remember being awakened quite early and given really strong morphine like pain killers. I was quite bruised where the battery had been put in and it was sore to move. I decided to try walking and it had improved loads even though my battery had not even been been turned on. Ju came to visit with her lovely new haircut and we were amazed (at the walking and the hair)! I felt totally exhausted so we decided to leave the power turn on until the next day.

Thursday 8th – Ju came to visit again as did my mad London Aunt! My walking was still great though EPIC FAIL! My bag had been stolen, most likely when I was in surgery. Another woman opposite me had hers stolen as well even though hers was in the security box. It did say in my itinerary not to have valuables on the ward but I didn’t think anyone would steal from a hospital..i mean really? It must have been a member of staff. The rotters. Got my battery pack turned on. Power up! 53K of technology built into my body.

Friday 9th – Juju came early to say goodbye and hid snuck me in some cider. I decided to practise my walking and went all the way to Starbucks across the Square. I was pretty knackered at this stage. On the ward they woke us up at 6am to do blood pressure, breakfast at 8am and it was also really noisy at night. I was not adjusting to this routine :-/

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/mayo.jpg?w=430

Saturday 10th - My aunt Mairead from Leeds came down to visit me for the day and well as my friend, Pip and her Mammy Mayo from Lincoln!. They brought me a fab owl door stop and a new owl bag from my friends Mel & Chris to replace the stolen one. It was brilliant. I went to the pub with the mayos who were also amazed that my walking was so good. After that we said goodbye to them and went to a delicious Peruvian restaurant in Soho. Mum found the cider in the drawer and I got told off.

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/bag.jpg?w=430

Sunday 11th – A flirtatious police man came to take a statement about the missing bag. I drew a picture of what it looked like but he wasn’t very optimistic about getting it back. Apparently hospital thefts are quite common these days. He was very friendly but had a big beard. No hairy kisses for me! My Aunt came over from Ballymena to see me today and brought some creative cards my sister’s class had made (she is a primary school teacher). They were very funny. Back in Soho for a nice italian. Yes, I had done well at avoiding the hospital food!

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/pics.jpg?w=430

Monday 12th – Yesssss got discharged today to the Cotton Room. This is a hotel own by the NHS. 4* and only built in 2012 it is really nice. It is mainly for Cancer patients. No more 6am starts – whoop. Mum and my Aunt went to visit my Uncle. At this stage there was an absolute head melter opposite me in the bay– a 17yr old girl who would not stop complaining and going ‘awwoooo’ every so often. I was very glad to get away though I did meet some nice people there. That night we went to a good old fish and chips restaurant.

https://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/stockings.jpg?w=430

Tuesday 13th – Mum and my Aunt went shopping to Portobello while Dad and I checked in to the hospital to getting my battery adjusted again. A lot of people wonder if I can feel anything when they change it but I can’t. Back at the lovely Francos tonight again with my Aunt who is off to a play with mum. Met up with Mike for a quick drink at the pub on the corner but couldn’t stay long as he was working.

Wednesday 14th – My Aunt went home today and mum and dad walked her to the station in the morning time. My walking is still going strong and we go for a wee Cafe Neros. That night we went to a Dim Sum restaurant called Ping Pong. It was delicious and the cocktails were amazing … I always said the Lockside Lounge did the best Mojitos but these were close competition. I could quite happily have drank my way through the whole menu!

Thursday 15th – My last day in London. Checked in at the hospital again to get my stitches out and learned how to turn the power up on my battery myself. We rush across the city just in time to catch Billy Elliot the Musical. I had seen it before but it is still one of my faves. Very funny! Met up with Dave, Rebecca and Ivanka for another Francos and a good old natter. Rebecca said she couldn’t stop starting at me, the change was so dramatic and this made me happy!

Friday 16th – Checked out of the Cotton Rooms at 11am and set off home…what an experience!

So that is a rough guide to my brain surgery experience. Looking back I did FAR too much and not enough resting. When I came home I felt thoroughly exhausted and a bit depressed – A combination of tiredness and the come down from the anaesthetic which hit me really hard. I would say it took me a good 2 weeks to feel normal. I had a bit of a relapse where my movement came back a bit … apparently this is due to the swelling going down in the brain which can help stop the dystonia. To counteract it, my power had to be turned up more to try and balance it out. They say I am very lucky to see results so soon as for some people it can take months. I have stated physio to try and straighten me out a bit. I know that after over 3 years of walking incorrectly it won’t happen over night. I find that it is better walking in heels, when I am tired or with my hands in my pockets it helps! I am so happy I can go out without people starting and even doing simple things like going round the shops. DBS team, London, I can’t thank you enough! You have given me my life back!

Mc ‘Ream – I dream of burgers!

Have you ever had a Mc ‘ream? Mc’reams are dreams experienced by those who have worked in Mc Donalds, mainly in the past. I personally was employed by the burger flipping overlords between about 1997 and 2002 part time between school and uni. Sometimes I have dreams I am working in the same store, sometimes a new one. I thought I was going mad until one day I posted on Facebook to find that I was not alone. There were more ‘remers out there as well.

I could not find much information about this phenomenon on the interest but one dream dictionary said:

A dream of McDonald’s may refer to the entire idea of fast. You might be speeding through life too fast. Alternatively, you might be having problems with your diet. A dream of fast food may indicate that you are worried about not getting proper nutrition.

I doubt there is much truth in this and the only way to find out is to try asking them myself and compose a letter without sounding like a lunatic…could be difficult!

If you are still haunted by your days at McDonalds let me know!

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/mcd-big-mac.jpg?w=430

Hardwell Belfast gig – EPIC FAIL!

mums

So, upon getting up yesterday morning I checked the msn news page as I usually do and was surprised to see that a ‘rave’ in Belfast had turned into tragedy with 100 young people being treated for (mainly) alcohol abuse.

*Before I continue … it was Hardwell’s show (billed as a ‘concert’) … he is no 1 in the DJ Top 100 Poll …. never heard of him in my LIFE’*

Of course the media have been all over this in a rash – (Party! Drink! Drugs!) and the news went live shortly after midnight causing mammies and daddies flocked outside to see if their youngsters were okay. Out of 10,000 people attending, over 100 were treated, 40 outside, 68 inside and 18 were taken to hospital.

Anyone that knows Belfast will know that the Odyssey is a reputable venue where most big acts, bands and musicals come to when visiting the city. A wee bar man on the radio said they were on top of their game when it comes to serving underage punters and thoroughly checked for ID and many were turned away at the door. The Tiesto gig at the end of last year went completely smoothly.

Well, word on the street (my roving reporter SK) is that most of these youngsters were off their chops before even getting to the concert … 2 coaches worth of kids never even made it inside and ambulances were called right away causing scenes of panic outside. If all this chaos had happened in the arena SURELY the concert would have stopped. The people inside were having a great time.

Edinburgh gig has now been cancelled due to these kids and their stupidity letting thousands of fans down :-( DANCE MUSIC – GOOD! MEDIA – BAD! Surely there are more important things for the news to report on – Shame on you UTV!

07_belfast_w_LRG

Psychopath Test

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/psyco.jpg?w=430

So, last Saturday was Psychopath night on Channel 4. Experts in the field including trained officers from the FBI reveal their traits, how to spot one and a top 10 of movie psychos. Can all psychopaths be described as ruthless people who lie, manipulate and sometimes murder, with no hint of conscience of remorse? Personally, if I was one of these individuals (estimated as 1% of the population) if would probably find the documentary’s approach to be quite blasé, glamourising the Hollywood perception…movie psychos mentioned included obvious ones like Hannibal Lecter and Batman’s The Joker to less obvious characters like James Bond or Blade Runner’s Replicants.

Key features can be: Lack of Empathy, Superficial Charm, Manipulative, Callous, Fearless, Grandiose. It also briefly touched on the advantages on having psychopathic buddies.

Find out how you compare on the scale: http://psychopath.channel4.com/quizzes.html

Coming it at 12%, channel 4 tells me: “You are warm and empathic with a heightened awareness of social responsibility and a strong sense of conscience. You like to carefully weigh up the pros and cons of a situation before you act and are generally averse to taking risks. You are very much a ‘people person’ and dislike conflict. ‘Do unto others…’ are your watchwords. But, although you avoid hurting others, those residing at the higher end of the psychopathic spectrum might not be as considerate, so stay vigilant to avoid being hurt unnecessarily.”

Some famous people that come in high ranking include:
Charles Dickens – 73%
Hitler – 69%
Church Hill – 66%
Oscar Wilde – 71%
Freddie Mercury – 48%
Shakespeare – 46%
Isaac Newton – 61%
Maggie Thatcher – 53%

Well worth a watch – catch it on 4OD http://www.channel4.com/programmes/psychopath-night/4od

Cushendun Landscape

So, a wee while ago now, I good friend of mine requested a wee commission of Cushendun beach down the road. I’d never done a landscape before but anyway, accepted the challenge not really knowing how it would turn out! I did it in acrylic, gel pen and coloring pencil. I tried to put my own stamp on it, a little Gustav Klimt, and was pretty pleased with how it turned and the feedback on Facebook was quite overwhelming. I may have found my niche! I have another piece  to do after Christmas but would ideally like to build up a small collection to exhibit. Easier said than done though, I am a very slow worker. At least i have something to fall back on when I am an old woman and no one wants logos or flyers designed! Here’s the painting and the image i took it from:

Painting:
cushendun2

Photo:
cushendun landscape

Daniel and Kj get Mangafied!

A couple of weeks ago I was giving my room a good clear out and discovered some of my old Manga Manias and Manga sketches I did at school. I was very big into it, though my art teacher did not see things the same way and I was strongly discouraged from continuing in this style as drawing in comic book style is seen as a bit of a jobless dead end. This particularly annoyed my graphics tutor in my foundation art graphic design class who deemed it was not for me! (How things change!)

manga mania

sketch bookI used to be pretty good at anime drawing and even did portraits for people in my space time. I posted a couple of bits on Facebook and my friend Danial Evans liked them a lot! To set myself a wee challenge to Mangafy himself and his partner the lovely Kj. Started when I was bored in Heathrow airport and finished in Ballymena, here are this results!

Before:

dan kj photo

After:

dan kj

My Trip to the the Neurology Hospital London

I’ve had a lot of family and friends asking how I got on at the Neurology hospital in London so i thought I would write a bit about it here. For those of you that don’t know I suffer from a condition called tardive dystonia – It is a movement disorder characterised by involuntary muscle contractions caused primarily by reactions to particular prescription drugs. It started in 2011 and has gradually been getting worse and worse. Imagine someone pulling your head back and hips forward and trying to walk!

Despite having no reaction to medication to counteract this and even trying botox it was decided that neurology could be the way forward. The neurologist was really nice and said what we thought he would suggest – a treatment called Deep Brain Stimulation, Mainly used for Parkinson’s Disease it can also be used to treat OCD, depression, tourettes as well as dystonia. The operation (lasting 4-5 hours) involves inserting two fine electrodes into the brain. They are connected to a subcutaneous power source which delivers a constant, painless, signal which blocks the signals that cause the disabling symptoms. Although it sounds scary, the doctor was very positive that I would have good results and has treated 6 patients with this rare condition before. I will have to stay about 10 days altogether and thankfully won’t have to shave all my hair off!

Unfortunately they is a bit of a wait until spring but at least hope is in sight. I will have to go across for 3 days before that to get a brain scan, speak to the physiologist, do a memory test and meet the surgeon but that probably won’t be until after Christmas.

I try not to let it hold me back but activities like dancing and gigging are off the cards as i can’t stand up for very long…. sitting in a pub though is doable and there shall be plenty of that over Christmas. Thanks to everyone for their support.

dbs

Depeche Mode @ The Odyssey, Belfast

After hearing loads of amazing reports about the DM tour in England & Dublin, I was VERY excited when I heard they were doing a date in Belfast. I had the feeling it would be something special and I wasn’t wrong. I had only been to the The Odyssey arena once before and that was for ‘We Will Rock You’ which was shite and half empty so i was hoping for better things for the Mode!! Slowly but surely, 6000 people filled the place to what was nearly a sell out night.

I was half excepting it to be full of aging rockers with their guy liner on but i was surprised to find a real broad range of people from teenagers to OAPs. I guess with DM they have never really stopped from the eighties to the nineties to the noughties gaining new fans along the way… no other band I can think of has really done that.

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/depeche.png?w=430

Despite being in their 50s, Dave Gahan rocked the stage with his top off like some kind of gothic, strutting, peacock, booty shaking like Beyoncee! Also to note: not gay! They really don’t make front men like this any more … what can I say…he owned it! Martin Gore’s solo performances broke up the evening nicely and were particularly moving (he’s the one who writes all the songs – I didn’t know that until the man beside me informed me). Highlights for me include Black Celebration, Martin singing ‘Home’ and of course the special version of ‘Personal Jesus’.

Although not one of my favorites ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ was the one that made the already rocking crowd go mental. Everyone was on their feet jumping and the building felt like it was shaking – absolutely phenomenal. The city hasn’t been on their tour schedule for almost 30 years but hopefully after such an amazing gig they will be back next summer. Depeche Mode  – Belfast loves you!!

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/setlist.jpg?w=430

Summer Spectacular 2013!

I have been doing a bit of reminiscing on my Summer today and what a Summer it was! Here are my favorite moments. Thanks to everyone that partied, helped me around and generally were allround superstars :-)

1. Wickerman Fesitval
For those of you that don’t know, Wickerman is a festival in Scotland and this year I had the honor of playing there. If being asked to spin beats at it wasn’t enough, I was sharing a tent with two of my heros – Elite Force and Meat Katie (a big tent that is, not a small one!). Upon arrival I was chauffeured to the disabled parking area on a quad where the Lincoln boys awaited all branded up in ‘fifties crew’ t-shirts – I was delighted! Highlight of the weekend apart from playing was Chic. They definitively stole the show. Quote of the weekend ‘he’s hung like a budgies tongue!’ (in a very Scottish accent)! Many thanks to Simon Jackson for having us and making us so welcome.

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/wickerman-2.jpg?w=430

2. The Marbs Weddding
4 star all inclusive hotel in La Cala de Mijas, Marbella! The Mayos, Friests and friends get together for the wedding of my good friend Pip and fiance Dan. We had amazing scenery, we had all the lemon fanta and vodka we could drink (not to mention the cheese and ham toasties!), new friends were made and it was a great chance to hang out for fun in the sun. The bride and bride’s maids looked amazing coral red everyone scrubbed up well. Highlights – Seeing Mayo get hitched, the Irish Bar and buying trinkets from the lookie lookie man!

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/mayo.jpg?w=430

3. Michael Buble at the O2 Dublin
Okay, so I am going to loose some of my street cred saying this but the Buble really was something – a showman to the end, he had the audience on his side form the moment we got on stage. Plus Buble is hot! Let’s just forget about the lingerie modelling wife for a second… Lots of swooning women and bored husbands. Poor Dad. The staging and visuals were also top notch. For some one who used to hate him … he now has +1 fans. His version of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ made the night.

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/buble.jpg?w=430

4. June London Weekend
Well, it was that time of year again – the Elite Force Boat party! The hottest day of the year in London, a group of swash bucklers boarded the vessel for a night of sweaty, sweaty partying! Although I couldn’t dance, I enjoyed catching up with a few people I don’t get to see in person very often. 2 thumbs down for the drugged up American teenager I got stuck beside on the bus talking about EDM while I tried not to be sick because it was so hot! The jerk chicken man at Jamm sorted me right out!

The next day I took the chance to hook up with Mr No Hands and the lovely Rebecca for boozy fun beer garden times plus I went to my first ever improvised music, comedy at the Udderbelly and it was hillarious! The plot involved a couple called Adam and Steve living in the garden of eden! I don’t know how the actors did it … so clever.

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dave.jpg?w=430

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/boat-crew.jpg?w=430

5. Venice
This year, the O’Donnell clan set of to North Italy for their annual vacation! The hotel was georgeous and the food was immense (as long as you like seafood that is – otherwise you’re f**ked). Venice sure is an extraordinary city though difficult to get round if you are physically impaired. It was good to liaise with my uncle who was there with work and his workmate that took pictures of absolutely EVERYTHING. Dish of the trip was definitely the octopus on the last night. It was simply delicious!

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/venice.jpg?w=430

http://louisejuicebox.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/dinner.jpg?w=430