Featuring Cheyanne Perry of “Hospital Princess”
Cheyanne is one of my favourite chronic illness bloggers out there who lives with a number of chronic illnesses: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Dysautonomia, Gatroparesis and Mast Cell Disease. Because of that, she can’t quite eat food the usual way, and needs to be fed through a tube or IV line. Having Mast Cell Disease also means that life will always be filled with endless allergies. She needs to carry an epipen everywhere she goes, because just about anything could trigger anaphylaxis – a life or death allergic reaction.
Despite that, she writes with such eloquence, fairness and joy. Her blog posts are authentic and filled with wisdom, and I love how she’s always willing to consider perspectives different than her own. Apart from writing, she also enjoys knitting and vegan baking. This young lady handles life and all her pain with such grace, humility and beauty; let’s find out how she does it in this interview!
Cheyanne Perry a.k.a. “Hospital Princess”
*Scroll to the end of the post for the link to participate in this series, too!
- Why do you enjoy knitting and how did it all start?
From June 2015 through March 2016, I spent eight months out of the year in the hospital. Five of those eight months were one consecutive stay. Lengthy hospital admissions obviously result in a significant amount of leisure time, which I dedicated to binge watching television programs. The TLC show, Breaking Amish, initially provoked my interest in knitting. I noticed that a main character was always knitting. I decided I wanted to learn too!
While still in the hospital, I began scouring YouTube for knitting tutorials. I ordered the necessary supplies, like yarn and needles, on Amazon. Once they were delivered, I taught myself by following the instructions of the tutorials.
- Favourite things to knit?
My favorite things to knit are scarves and cabled headbands.
- Any possible least favourite things to knit?
Fingerless gloves are probably my least favorite to knit, as it is a tedious process.
- Ever had anyone request for a creation and what was that like?
I receive requests quite frequently, especially in the winter. The most unique request was for a pair of purple fingerless gloves and a matching beanie. Both has owls cabled into the knitting design.
- Is this purely for pleasure or also for work?
It began solely for pleasure; however, I have since incorporated knitting into work. I now own a small Etsy business, called HospitalRoundKnits.
The shop name is derived from a combination of knitting terms and a reference to my endless hospital admission where I originally learned to knit. One can knit “in the round,” which is a knitting technique, whereas doctors make their daily “rounds” at the hospital. 🙂
- Where do you get inspiration from?
Obviously my initial inspiration was Mary on Breaking Amish, hahaha! Other sources of inspiration are from simply coming across cute knitted scarves or hats online that I would love to attempt to replicate a similar pattern.
- Favourite online resources?
My favorite online resource is Craftsy. They are an online store selling sewing and knitting supplies, but they offer free patterns and learning courses too.
- How long do you take to knit something, and how much skill does it involve?
The time it takes to knit a product depends on what I am making. Generally, I would say that knitting a cabled headband requires about 2 hours, an infinity scarf 6 hours, and a standard beanie 4-5 hours.
- What are some intricacies about this artform that people will not understand unless they’ve tried it, or enjoy it?
Those who do not knit, or are not fond of knitting, will never understand how therapeutic it can be focusing on the entire creating process!
Vibrant knits by Cheyanne
Knitting away all day…
- What sort of prose and poetry do you write? What’s your style like?
I would describe my writing style, in regards to prose and poetry, as an endless stream of consciousness to express whatever I am feeling at the moment. Sometimes it could even be perceived as kind of morbid depending on the subject matter.
- Why do you enjoy writing, and how does it make you feel?
Inevitably, writing is a such a relief. It is a safe outlet to vent that enhances positive feelings and “lets go” of the bad.
- How old were you when you wrote your first poem or short story?
I wrote my first short story while in the second grade. At 8 years of age, I wrote an elaborate story about a snowman who eventually melted. The teacher was so impressed that she sent my story to be read to a fourth grade class to use as an example for their upcoming essay portion of a standardized test.
- Any plans to write a book in future, or you prefer blogging?
Blogging will always hold a special place in my heart. I do, however, hope to write a book in the future. I have the beginnings of a novel in the works!
- How much do you edit your stories, poems and blog posts before sharing them?
It differs. Poems are hardly edited and are posted soon after completion. Contrarily, stories and blog posts are potentially edited over the span of a few weeks. I have some blog posts that remain as drafts for months until I am fully satisfied.
- How does writing play a role in your everyday life and communication?
Writing has an immense role in my everyday life. I realize that the goal of this blog series is to highlight aspects of identity that are separate from illness; however, writing is especially helpful in compensating for the isolation my illness causes.
Due to Mast Cell Disease, I am unable to be exposed to most people if they are wearing scents of any kind, (i.e. perfumes, colognes, strong shampoos, soaps, aftershave, many cosmetic products, etc.) I risk epi-pen worthy anaphylactic reactions upon exposure. Family and close friends are willing to make the necessary changes to be around me, but it still leaves me estranged from the remainder of society that are not Cheyanne “safe.”
That is exceptionally isolating. Through writing and social media, I establish contact with the outside world that I cannot physically have access to. It gives me a voice where I would otherwise be voiceless. It also allows an outlet to vent.
- Would you say it is your best method of communication with other people? Why or why not?
Undoubtedly, yes, writing is my best method of communication. I find it is easier than speaking to convey exactly what I wish to express. While talking often requires an immediate response, writing is able to be contemplated and edited.
- Do you keep some sort of diary?
I do have a diary. I try to make it a point to write in daily. Whether writing a random praise or a complaint about that day’s events, it is enlightening to go back and read the diary entries years later.
- Do you have some sort of notepad where you track ideas down for new poems or prose?
I typically jot down new ideas in the note section of my iPhone. I do not have a specific notepad dedicated to solely to ideas, as I prefer to reserve space in the journal for any completed writings.
- Favourite writing resources online?
As far as actual resources, I am not sure. I do browse writing and poetry tags on tumblr though. It is interesting to convene with other writers there to share tips and experiences and to gain inspiration.
- Favourite authors/books?
My all time favorite book is Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Additionally, I love novels by Charles Dickens.
- Least favourite authors/books?
Although an unpopular opinion, I disliked The Great Gatsby. (*gasps*) I am not fond of works by Hemingway either.
- What about genres?
Oddly, my favorite genre of books are psychological thrillers. I have been really into the suspenseful murder mystery thing lately. I also enjoy historical fiction.
“Blogging will always hold a special place in my heart”
“Mast Cell Disease renders me airborne reactive to foods” – hence the mask
ON VEGAN BAKING
- Were you always a vegan baker all along? If no, how did this evolve?
Vegan baking is definitely one of my more recent hobbies. With the exception of 10 months, I have either been tube fed or on TPN (IV nutrition) since 2013. In those 10 months, I was in a remission period while following a mostly raw and all vegan diet. Unfortunately, that progress was not sustained and my health did progress again. However, it was during that brief remission when I started to experiment with vegan recipes.
Despite my health decline, I had become passionate about vegan ethics in my research. The animal cruelty that occurs in the food industry is horrible. So even when I was unable to eat myself, I stuck with it – I thoroughly enjoy baking for my family and friends. Although they are not vegan, they luck out with yummy desserts.
It is a smidge difficult baking currently, as my Mast Cell Disease renders me airborne reactive to foods. To avoid reactions I wear a mask and gloves to bake because it is still a pleasurable hobby. It might appear silly, but hey, it works!
- Any extra difficulties in baking with vegan ingredients only?
Surprisingly, there are few difficulties baking strictly with vegan ingredients. There are a plethora of substitutions, like vegan milks, margarines, egg replacers, etc. readily available. Some are cheaper (and healthier) than their non-vegan counterparts.
- Is the taste a lot different from non-vegan baking?
The bulk of typical vegan baking recipes do not taste different from what most are accustom to. However, raw vegan treats do because they are made with fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds. With practice, they can taste just as delectable!
- Kitchen equipment you can’t live without?
My Vitamix. It is a high speed blender with the capability to smoothly blend ingredients and to act as a food processor.
- Favourite online resources?
Pinterest! Pinterest has everything, ha.
- Your most-loved recipe?
My most loved recipes are these cinnamon date cookies and mango cupcakes made with mango coconut yogurt. The cookies do not last long in my house.
- Is this also your personal favourite? If not, what is?
I am not able to eat, so not sure. Judging by smells, I think banana nut muffins are my favorite.
- What kind of stuff do you like baking?
Muffins and cupcakes are my favorite to bake.
- Complete the sentence: “Never forget to _____ when baking.”
Wear a mask and gloves if you have Mast Cell Disease. 😉
Mango cupcakes with mango coconut yoghurt
*Note: All images here used with permission from Cheyanne Perry. This article is meant for educational purposes and is based on the author’s personal experiences. It is not to be substituted for medical advice. Please consult your own doctor before changing or adding any new treatment protocols.
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Cheyanne Lives with the Following Illnesses (Just the ‘Main’ Ones!):
Learn more about her experiences living with them on her blog.