mercoledì 5 agosto 2015

My orbital decompression surgery

(Versione in italiano)

Hello everybody! 
Look who's here after two whole months! Where have I been all this time, some of you may wonder... was I on a tropical island? At the end of world in Patagonia? On a boat traveling around the world?
I had orbital decompression surgery at the end of May. Funny, right? Well, I cannot deny it was quite an adventure itself in a certain way... but why did I have to have such a fun surgery? Let's see.

As some of you may know, I suffer from Graves' Disease since 2007 (well, that was the year I was officially diagnosed with it, but I suspect I was already ill back in 2004) and in 2010 I developed a severe form of TED, which stands for thyroid eye disease. It means for five years I have had bulging eyes, protruding eyes, exophtalmus... however you call it, it stinks. And since I am among the luckiest people in the world, I was also hit by upper lid retraction and got two huge dark bags under my eyes. 

How can I explain how this affected my life? Well... it ruined it. Smashed it. Made it to pieces. If you don't know anything about exophtalmus and TED, I suggest you google it and you'll understand what I mean when I say it destroyed a 24-year-girl's life. It's not funny being a monster at 24.
Anyway, after years of crying and anger and suffering, I decided to get this surgery done. Orbital decompression surgery basically implies the removal of two or three walls of the orbit to make the eye socket larger so that the eyes, the muscles and the fat can fall back into it. I have found this picture which describes what happens in a simple but effective way:

If you think about the eye socket as a room with two walls, a ceiling and a floor made of bone, then I had the floor and one wall (the one adjacent to the nose) fractured and removed. The technical term for it is infero-medial transcaruncular/transpalpebral orbital decompression and mine was bilateral, which means I had both eyes done at the same time. I also had upper lid retraction correction surgery (mullerectomy) and inferior blepharoplasty.
Cool, right? Party hard with Natalia!
Surprisingly enough, I have never been in pain the days after all this major work was done, which was what I feared the most. I threw up the blood that went down my throat during the procedure, but that's ok. Gory but ok. They gave me morphine, but removed it when I got sick and then paracetamole for the first day only. I am still on prednisone though, which is annoying. 
Transcaruncular/transpalpebral approach means I didn't end up having any visible scar because the surgeon approached the medial wall next to the nose by cutting through the caruncula in the inner conner of the eye and reached the floor of the orbit cutting inside my lower lid. I only had two tiny stitches left from the inferior blepharoplasty.
Here's a drawing that shows where the caruncula is and the inside surface of the lower lid:

I have looked like a beaten up panda bear for a very long time though. The swelling was pretty bad but the bruising was even worse and lasted for almost one month and a half. I still have some weird coloring around my eye area, a kind of greenish, yellowish bruise on one lid and underneath one eye but they are pretty normal by now. 
I am now adding these two pictures of my eyes post-op. I don't have similar pictures of my eyes before surgery without makeup or without my face turned slightly to the side to hide my wide open right eye. It was just too painful, I couldn't stand the image of my face and my bulging eyes. The pictures of me on this blog are pre-op, with heavy makeup on the eyes, a good amount of concealer underneath the eyes and a good shot angle.

My lovely face 4 days post-op , when I looked like a panda who had meet an angry rhino. 
I still had two little blepharoplasty stitches underneath my eyes.

My eyes 2 months post-op. I got upper lid retraction surgery on my right eye (left in the picture)
that's why the lid still looks a bit different from the left one. I was also smiling and closed it a bit more though.

As far as my eyesight is concerned, I didn't have double visione before surgery and everything went fine for a month post-op, but I am now experiencing double vision in some extreme gazes and at long distance, which is what bothers me the most because I can't go out without seeing twins all around me. Sometimes my two cats multiply.
I feel a bit bad about this because everything seemed to go smooth and looked so perfect and then after a month this double vision problem sets in and breaks the magic. I mean, after a lot of crying and pain you expect something to work so that you can go back to a normal life but nope.

Anyway, we'll see how this too goes...there are different scenarios and solutions I will have to face and meet. I hope I 'll be able to go back to my miniatures, I have tried to do some and my eye muscles feel really sore afterwards, I feel dizzy and my double visione gets worse, so I think I may have to slow down and take it easy but hey, Halloween is around the corner ( a miniaturist's corner) and it's my favourite holiday to work for so I think I'll face reality and work no matter what.

Well yeah, that was basically what happened in these two months. If you have any questions or doubts regarding this surgery or TED, or Graves' Disease, feel free to ask me and I'll answer.

Bye for now, Natalia.

venerdì 8 maggio 2015

Miniature vegetable soups for vegan and vegetarian collectors

Hello everybody, I have been a mess as usual and I haven't updated my blog as much as I should have. 
My apologies to you. Unfortunately I will be away for even a longer period of time since I will have eye surgery soon and I will be totally unable to work on miniatures or even look at a computer screen for more than five minutes.
In these past months I have been working on a lot of new miniatures for a dear customer of mine and today I want to show you some vegetable soups I made for her using epoxy resin.
It was the first time and though using epoxy resin is harder than it sounds I really enjoyed the end result and the realism of the soup.

Using epoxy resin I also made pieces of almond crunch which looks pretty nice, with all those little almonds inside the transparent sugar caramel. These are part of a mix of dried fruit and nougats I made for a Christmas table.

Custom orders are always appreciated because they push me out of my comfort zone and teach me lots of new techinques I would have never thought of using or trying. So thank you customers!

martedì 18 novembre 2014

French croissants and pains au chocolat

Am I back? So soon?
Yes! I am back to show you something I had never done before, some miniature croissants and pains au chocolat.

For a miniature breakfast or tea time, a crispy croissant covered with powered sugar and a delicious pain au chocolat filled with dark chocolate.

 I loved these when I was on holiday in the South of France. I took them to the beach and they were warm and buttery and the dark chocolate inside was simply pure heaven.

domenica 16 novembre 2014

Traditional Panettone cake for an italian Christmas

Hello miniature lovers!

This week I had the opportunity to think about the upcoming Christmas and make some new miniatures thanks to a customer of mine who requested some miniature dishes. You know whenever I lack inspiration, my customers are always the best source for new ideas.
Our traditional italian cake for Christmas is called "Panettone". It is a cake, or a sweet bread loaf, filled with raisins and candied fruits. There are different sizes and shapes of it, that is why I made a larger one and a taller, domed shaped one. I also reproduced the authentic packaging of the most known Panettone, the one made by Motta. Motta was the first industry that started producing panettone cake in large quantities and contributed to its diffusion.

 This is the traditional domed-shaped Panettone, wrapped in brown paper and with its original packaging.

This is a larger version. This is usually sold in pastry shops.
It is filled with candied fruits and raisins. You can see raisins on the top as well.

The version I made for my customer 

When I made the packaging, I tried to reproduce every detail, including the expiring date on the bottom!

To see more pictures or purchase go to my ETSY SHOP

martedì 30 settembre 2014

Italian pastry and jelly cakes

Hello miniature lovers!
I have some new miniatures for you, but not Halloween miniatures yet... I know... I am not working so much in these days...I am trying to put together miniatures I already have, instead on doing new ones. 
Lazy lazy girl I know!
I hope I'll find the right mood to start again and do something new for Halloween. In the meantime I am going to share with you something I put together yesterday.

First, let's start with some classic miniatures by MiniAcquoline: rum babà and sfogliatelle from Napoli and cannoli from Sicily. I had hundreds of single italian pastries left from previous works and projects and I thought I should make trays with them. They fit in miniature pastry shops, miniature kitchens, on miniature tables...they're almost my trademark as you know.

Now something colorful and funny to add a touch of color to the upcoming month of October: an orange jelly with fresh slices of orange all around the base.

I really don't know how to call this miniature, is it a jelly? A bundt cake? A cake? A pudding? 
Let's say it's a mix of all these: a banana cake with a chocolate base.

I promise I'll be back soon with something new, a table maybe.

Have a good day,