Visiting the hospital recently, bringing gifts and good cheer, we first raided our own garden as it was in full bloom.  We planted fragrant roses, so though they don't last long, the perfume was very heady which was great for the hospital.  

I was reminded of when friends visited me in hospital when I had an acute AVM stroke.  They brought gifts and good cheer too.  But it was only when I was taken in my wheelchair many months on, around the hospital, I saw libraries, gift shops, newsagents, salons for the hair and makeup, therapeutic massages still within the confines of the hospital – there was another world out there, just waiting...

I had been interested in makeup for a long time.  For a time, I was even a colour consultant.  Being an analyst programmer by day working for a software company, and a freelance makeup/skincare consultant in the weekends.  Draping a colour swatches over a client – to determine whether they were ''winter, spring, summer, autumn'' colour-tones; and accessorized, gold or silver, was a joy to do. 

We are who we are.  If you didn't want to spend loads of cash, employ surgeons to perform cosmetic surgery, rhinoplasty, etc. to alter your appearance, another way is to trick the mind of the viewer with light-play.  Highlight the features you want to express more of, downplay the areas you would prefer to conceal. 


Colour swatches, styles to project the slimming image, length of skirts/dresses, what to wear, not to wear, when colour consulting.

I did one side of the client's face - the client was able to do the other side herself.  The knowledge adhered better if you were able to practice the steps, especially there and then, before I packed up and left her to her own devices. 

Those were the days, when I would setup my equipment: lights, camera, action...!  It came as a dire shock when (unbeknownst to me, before it happened) ...

UK-J wheelch at S+J-edit.JPG

...I had an acute AVM haemorrhage (brain-bleed, a rare condition that I was born with) at work in London - resulting in a stroke, in 1995, needing emergency hospitalisation and open brain surgery.  Afterwards, I was paralysed on the right hand side.  Being prone on my back in the Intensive Care Unit, I couldn't move at will any more. 

Nurses had to help me for everything; even putting the security rails up at night to prevent me from falling out of bed if I somehow managed to turn.

As I had severe aphasia, I couldn't communicate my likes and dislikes.  I had to re-learn English, to count, alphabets were foreign to me.   For years thereafter, my memory was like a sieve, the fleeting thoughts just dangling, out of reach. ... if I could remember any words in the first place, slurring and stuttering, in an effort to get any word out, pronounced correctly - before I'd forgotten it again.   I had to re-learn everything from scratch, a second time round.

brain surgery reminder

brain surgery reminder

My brain haemorrhage and resulting stroke happened on our extended OE to UK and Europe.  I was heartened by the other patients I saw in hospital in London during my days as in-patient.  Older, younger, middle-aged... when I was waiting to be seen to by physiotherapists at the gym in the hospital, twice a day - there were so many others that had had strokes and were in recovery.

Murray, my husband, stood by me and was my rock.  He was tireless on his quest to find me things to do in stroke-rehab, to get my mind active again.  We were on our own in London; Murray's family ties were in NZ, mine were in Penang, Malaysia.

… makeup in hospital?  - with so many other considerations had to be dealt with, do I still remember what to do..?  - it was on the backburner for a number of years.  Even in the hospital, though, I did notice that when an in-patient had their hair done, and was nicely made-up for their stint outside the hospital – their face lit up, and they are happier, more confident in the dealings.

Friends and I were reminiscing about old times, and talking about makeup recently. Murray and I were in USA before my stroke, rushing to do many sights in the space of short weeks while on holiday.  Cape Canaveral, Orlando's Walt Disney Magic Kingdom, Epcot Centre, Universal Studios, and many more theme parks, very popular attractions. 

At Disney MGM Studios; rounding a corner, we saw a dress-up-&-be-photographed-in-the-outfit-of-your-choice, at some attraction. The featured photograph would be put on the cover of a popular magazine of your selection...

glitz+glam photo shoot, disney-MGM, orlando, florida

glitz+glam photo shoot, disney-MGM, orlando, florida

disney-MGM, orlando, florida

disney-MGM, orlando, florida

{Please do not wear that on the flight home}.

travel pouch minimum makeup: miami boardwalk, florida

travel pouch minimum makeup: miami boardwalk, florida

Should we just...?  It was a hot, muggy day.  Dressed in T-shirt, shorts, and sports shoes, a little bit on the sweaty side, we should really find an ice-cold drink soon.   And, I had very little makeup on, so...   probably not, was my thought.  Wait... hang on a minute.  I reached into my money-pouch and produced my survival-kit makeup: similar with what I have today; only I do it one-handedly now.  

In total – I had 1 lipstick, 1 eyeshadow and my compact mirror.   Lipstick acted as blusher, also as a lipstick, and a lowlight on my eyes and complemented the eyeshadow.  We changed into more appropriate apparel for the photo-shoot; never mind that our legs were still in sports shoes and also had my shorts on.... Voila!  The photographs, and the captions, looked great.

Now I can, one-handedly, put on makeup in the car when someone else is driving.  Touching-up  lipstick or lip gloss at a restaurant, in a train, on a sea-going vessel or ferry, surreptitiously - my compact mirror was really handy.   I haven't got much feeling in the right side; so I have to physically see my face.  A reflective window when out shopping, a bathroom mirror in DIY warehouses...

My regime is very easy for makeup after my stroke.  I used to do the whole process, which I can still do, one-handedly, but I prefer to keep it simple now.  Wash/dry and moisturize my face.  No foundation for me, except for special occasions.  Lipstick and eyeshadow are the two items I carry with me at all times.

Eyebrows, frame for the face, could be teased/tweezed/plucked.  There are ranges of websites on the internet for guidance.  

Dramatize the eye-makeup to make it pop and perk; contour the cheekbones; tweeze eyebrows to open up your face; slim down the nose.   Highlight to accentuate, create more shadow to minimise.  Lipstick? I use to use lip-pencil before my stroke.  It is great as a barrier to keep lipstick from bleeding and that it can even be worn on its own as a lip colour. 

Persons of all ages could be struck by stroke.  Funny that.  Before, I had thought that only older people were more susceptible.  I was a mere 34 year old, when I had my AVM haemorrhage, which left me one-handed. Older, younger persons are stroke survivors, with a life-after-stroke to lead.  Even Tim Burton's Do-It-Yourself Makeup, very dark, nightmarish look is possible with one hand.  Probably, some makeup session at a department store across town, to show you how, for a Halloween party, or a Ghoulish weekend convention...?  Now there's a thought. 

Or you can DIY it here. Smokey eye-shadow; deep purples, graduating dark brown to deepest black creates this gothic style.  Use a skin-care make-up line that combines natural ingredients.  A very light-coloured foundation to start, one and two skin-tones lighter than your natural colour.  Next, concealers to have an even, very pale, lack-of-sun look.  Loose powder, eyeliner, more black tones to your eye-makeup, even false eyelashes make for a very convincing view. And voila! It is done...

There are loads of makeup counters the world over, in major department stores, for makeup tips.

Some you have to make an appointment for, others are walk-off-from-the-street and ask.  Extensive ranges of gorgeous shades are on offer: sometimes complimentary makeup lessons are offered; others give free skin consultations and analysis, plus provide samples for customers to try.

hollywood boulevard, los angeles

After the stroke for the first few years, I reverted to wearing prescription glasses again; even though I was wearing contact lenses for quite a number of years before my stroke.  I was paralysed on my right hand side (my dominant hand), and in a wheelchair, so I had to learn to use my left hand for absolutely everything.  Even to use chopsticks with my left hand, took some time to learn....

So, how would I put contact lenses in or take them out?  Now, my DIY-Stroke-rehab videos show one-handed putting-on contact lenses, plus plenty of other activities....

Paralysis affected half my face, I had a challenge to speak any word that is not slurred and indistinct.  Having to retry-retry, again, and again, stuttering to get the word out.  To enunciate well, as my mouth was very sloppy.  It needed practice, patience and practice again.  Facial exercises really do help. 

We have filmed 18 videos: how I walk, How-To, One-hand... it is thought provoking...

One-hand: insert contact lenses; to put on zipped jackets one-handedly, ..zipped shorts or culottes with onehand,.. zipped skirts, using just the one hand?  Or, one-handedly wrap-around skirt; to one-handedly hook a bra or tie a bikini, one-handedly.  Even one-handedly giftwrap or ribbon-bowtie; it is not as challenging as one would think.

Persevering with the effort is a key.  Lacing up shoes and boots, is do-able with one-hand.  Non-slip mats for a one-handed person to open cans, doing pottery.  Many models of one-handed cutting board, on the market.  Zesting lemons one-handedly for baking or cooking – is relatively simple. 

Being in a wheelchair for some years, I now walk with a pronounced gait.  Walking on different terrains presents its own challenges: walking on slippery surfaces, or walk on paved roads.   Walk on gravel pathways or walking with unseen debris littering the pathway can cause balance issues.  Walking on sand meant finding traction.  Walking assessment with multiple activities? 

Just recently we've put up an additional 11 walk videos:  South of Spain & Beyond, a walking travelogue.

Stroke-rehab depends on the severity on which part of the brain is suddenly damaged or destroyed.  Neuroplasticity works, given time. Twenty-three years since the AVM haemorrhage, and I've had to relearn everything from scratch - my journey continues... and today in 2017, I still scrub up pretty well:

skycity, auckland cbd, nz

skycity, auckland cbd, nz

viaduct harbour, auckland waterfront, nz

viaduct harbour, auckland waterfront, nz