A few products that make things easier

I’ve been thinking about this blog for a while, and I really feel like writing it today, so here it is. I trust that all five of my readers (lol) know that I’m not being paid to endorse anything, that these are my honest personal opinions, and I hope I can point you to a product that might help you in some way. Hope you enjoy.

A troublesome symptom I’ve been dealing with the last few months are dry eyes. I wear contact lenses, and it was getting to the point where I couldn’t were my lenses anymore. I also had to give up wearing any eye makeup for a while, because the tiniest thing in my eye would result in major irritation. Then I found these eye drops. They literally changed my life.

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They’re Blink Gel Tears eye drops. When you put them in, it feels weird and they blur your vision for a minute, but if I put them in right before I put my contacts in, they make a nice layer of moisture in between the lens and my eye that lasts all day. I’ve been able to wear my lenses all day again, and to wear some eye makeups again. I live in a pretty dry climate and it was making my eye problems a lot worse. I was having a hard time with silly things like sitting next to a fan or reading right before bed. My eyes were just too dry and it was painful. Now that I have these drops, I’m not having as much of a problem. They aren’t soothing to eyes that are already irritated, but if you use them in the morning and before bed, they are a great preventative measure. I’d recommend getting some soothing eye drops to go along with these on the days your eyes are irritated and you need immediate relief. But the gel drops will help you have less ‘irritated eye’ days.

I have a lot of chronic pain, a good portion of which is muscle spasms. The best treatment for muscle spasms in my opinion is heat(not ice, because ice makes muscles cramp up). I’ve used Thermacare heatwraps for years and still swear by them.

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These patches are like portable heating pads. They produce actual heat, rather than other patches that produce a menthol burn. They last for up to 8 hours, and can be stuck just about anywhere you need heat. They come in a few different shapes and sizes, but the neck/shoulder ones are the ones that work best for me. Stay away from the generic versions of these heatwraps because they don’t get nearly warm enough to provide any relief. Thermacare brand costs more than generic but they actually work and are worth the extra couple bucks. They almost always have a $1 off coupon inside the box anyway. Read the directions and warnings accordingly to decide if they are right for you.

Ever since being diagnosed with Addison’s disease, and having to take maintenance steroids, I’ve had a problem with sweating and underarm irritation. I’ve tried a bunch of deodorants but I’m hooked on this one.

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It by no means solves the issue, but it doesn’t further irritate my skin like some other deodorants, and it’s like a cream deodorant. It’s a happy medium between a solid and a gel. My underarm irritation gets so bad that I can’t wear ladies tshirts. The way they tailor the sleeves on ladies tshirts causes me severe irritation. The sleeves are about half the size of regular tshirt sleeves so they bunch up under my arms, and there are a lot of seems in the armpit area that chafe my skin like crazy. I’ve had to stop buying these kind of tshirts, which is really hard to do because it’s all they make for ladies now. I wear a lot of tank tops, and dolman/flutter sleeve shirts, and unisex/men’s tshirts that have regular sleeves.

If you have Chiari Malformation, you know how much it hurts to open your mouth wide, and on bad days, even open your mouth at all. I have a hard time brushing my teeth sometimes. I still do it everyday even when it hurts, but it sucks. To make sure my mouth is absolutely as clean as it can be on the days where it hurts to open it, I use a water flosser. Mine looks like this:

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I also have some trigeminal neuralgia pain, which compounds the problem. A water flosser is essentially a tank and sprayer. The sprayer has a few different heads, one like a tooth brush, and one that is thin and long like the one dentists use. The thin long one is the one in the picture and the one I find most useful. You can turn up the water pressure enough to spray off plaque without the pain of having to open your mouth wide enough for a tooth brush. In fact, with the water flosser, you don’t have to hardly open your mouth at all. Another plus is that you can mix water and peroxide or water and mouthwash in the tank for added cleansing and cavity protection. And even still another plus is you don’t have to floss with floss. You don’t have to worry about irritating/injuring your gums.

Due to a combination of health issues, washing/hand sanitizing, and living in a dry climate, I get hands dry enough to crack and bleed. I dealt with this by wrapping them in cloth bandages with A&D ointment at night, but sometimes that wasn’t good enough. My mom picked up a little travel lotion to keep in my bag, and it’s strange how much it has been helping.

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I’ve been using it just after I use hand sanitizer, and suddenly my hands are no longer cracked and bleeding. They aren’t even dry anymore. For the first time in a while, they’re actually soft, too. Give it a shot.

My hair has been falling out for a long time. I’m nowhere near bald, but I’ve lost about 1/3 of my hair thickness since…well…I don’t know. I’ve just had thin hair for a long time. It started really bothering me in the last 6 months to a year. First it was head sores, then those disappeared with the start of Plaquenil, then my hair was falling out from taking methotrexate, which I am not on anymore. The plaquenil could be the cause of my current hair loss. But I found a couple products that seem to be thickening my hair.

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L’oreal Everstrong Thickening shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in spray tonic. I’ve been using them for about 2 months. I don’t wash my hair everyday, because I don’t have the energy to blowdry/style it everyday (which is probably better for it in the end). But I am noticing a lot new hair growth, and it just overall looks thicker at my scalp. I also take biotin 10,000mcg once a week (don’t want to overdo it) so I would imagine that is playing a role too. I recommend giving these hair products a try. They smell nice too.

I don’t know if it’s the lupus, the side effects from the lupus meds, or both, but I get spells of really bad dry mouth. Sometimes it’s so bad I can’t sleep at night because it makes me feel panicky. And of course, the dry climate makes it way worse.

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This helps with the dry mouth some. It’s not perfect but it’s way better than regular mouthwash, and with regular use it lessens the chance of getting dry mouth to begin with. It’s also really great for lupus mouth sores, which I luckily don’t get anymore.

As you’ve read, I play guitar, and have a hard time with pain when playing. I’ve lost most of my calloused skin on my fingertips from not playing as much, and to get back into it, I bought some Gorilla Tips For my fingers. They are basically silicone thimbles. They’re really thin. I use them after I’ve already been practicing for a while and my hands start to hurt. I don’t put them on immediately because I still want to build callouses, but I use them after a while because I want to continue my practice session without pain and developing bruises.

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You can use them for other stringed instruments too. I use them on my mandolin as well. The only problem I run into sometimes is they make it hard to bend notes and slide up and down the frets. But they elongate my practice sessions and help me become a better player, so I deal with it.

Another thing for my guitar I like to have is a string winder. I can’t sit there and twist my wrist around forever to change a string. These work like a crank and make it much easier and faster, and this one doubles as a wire-cutter, and a peg-puller-outter (the technical term) if you have an acoustic guitar that has string pegs.

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Onward,

I love to read, and had to give it up for a really long time, partly because I have terrible concentration issues, and partly because it’s so hard for me to find a comfy position to be in while reading because my pain is so easily influenced. Then I found this neat invention from lovely Australia called “The Book Seat” and it has since helped me be more comfortable while reading. I can only lie on my sides because of the Chiari Malformation (looking down at a book is a huge no-no for me) so I lie on my side to read, and holding a book up like that can become quite tiresome and painful after only a few minutes, especially hardcovers.

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It’s like a pyramid shaped bean-bag with a concave side to nestle your book into, and it has a clear plastic sliding guard to hold your book in place. It can be leaned to the side a little bit for when you’re lying on your side. It works with novel-sized books and textbooks. My only complaint is that it wasn’t heavy enough to support the heavier books without tipping over, but it has a zipper in the bottom so you can fill it with more sand or rice if you wish to make it heavier. I used rice and it’s perfect now. It also works great with tablets and e-readers for when you want to be hands-free. I use it frequently with my Nook Tablet. I ordered The Book Seat from amazon.com. Please get one if you’re an avid reader. They’re really a great invention.

And last but not least, my exercise and pain management program:

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Yup. My Xbox. Unfortunately I haven’t been feeling well enough to use the kinect, but when I do, it’s great. The Your Shape 2012 fitness game with the Kinect Sensor has yoga and tai chi that gets me off the couch and moving, even if it’s just a 5 minute session. It’s great for people with lupus who can’t overexert themselves at a crazy gym, but need a little motion in their day. It has gentle beginner stuff as well as some butt-kicking cardio. It’s great because you can do it in the privacy of your own home on your own time, so you’re not held-up by a scheduled class at a gym. It differs from exercise DVDs because the Kinect sensor tracks your body to make sure you are doing the yoga and tai chi poses correctly, and there are exercises that are more like games and it makes it a lot of fun. The game tracks your burned calories. I’ve never found that to be accurate, but getting up and moving is what counts. You aren’t constrained to just fitness games either. You can get up and get moving while playing arcade-type games like fruit ninja, various sports games like diabolical pitch and basically any sport you can think of, dance games, there’s even one where you get to march around a haunted house.

On the days that I don’t feel well enough to play kinect motion games, I still play regular controller based games. It has been an important coping mechanism when it comes to chronic pain. It’s fun, it feels productive, and it takes my mind off of it. It also gives me a good subject to chat to my friends about. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, which might sound odd to the average person, but if you’re in pain and sick enough to be stuck on the couch instead of being what one of my stupid doctors called “a productive member of society” you’re glad to have an activity where you can say you accomplished something, even if it’s just “getting to the next level” or whatever. So until my Lupus is entirely in remission, my job is to play Xbox and allow my body to heal and get healthy. There are other things I do to feel productive too. A few chores when I’m able to, and I do a lot of art. Walking my dog. Writing my blog. Reading makes me feel productive too. And of course, studying Japanese, when my brain allows such nonsense, which I believe will be useful in the future for part of my career.

That’s it for now. If I find more helpful products, I will write about them. I hope there is something here you will find useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

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5 Comments

  1. I was simply amazed by how you have modified your world to fit your needs! You are such a go-getter and I really admire you. My husband is allergic to all deodorants, so he now makes his own. His own shampoo too, because the commercial stuff is too drying for him. Dry eyes is a sign of some inflammatory conditions, have you mentioned it to your Rheum?

  2. Hi there

    Have just read your post and it was such a good, informative read! Firstly I just want to say “good on ya!”; I think it’s such a good thing to think of solutions and ways to modify your lifestyle to suit your body’s needs. Taking control of what you can! Reading your post I can really relate a lot to some of your symptoms. I am a 23 year old girl who has had primary Addison’s disease (and some other stuff but that’s what we share!) since I was 16. It’s pretty unstable so I know where you are coming from with these little ‘lifesavers’! Like you I have found little bits and pieces over the year which really help! So thanks for sharing your top tips! I definitely will be investing in a lot of your suggestions to go alongside my own. Why not throw double power at our ailments! Put them in their place 🙂

    So I thought you might be interested to know what I’ve found have helped, in case they can help you further too?

    For dry eye I also wear contact lenses and am a beauty junkie (hence want to wear eye makeup!) I’ve had to stop wearing my contact lenses as my eyes are so dry…until the MGDRx EyeBag entered my life (I have an excellent optician to thank for this one!) http://www.eyebagcompany.com/ It’s absolutely brilliant, and not to mention soothing and relaxing! If you have trouble sleeping it is great for helping to send you off….zzzz! My Nan who has glaucoma has found it really helps her dry eyes too, which shows how effective it can be with continued use.

    Heat patches wise I use the ‘Cura-Heat Period Pain’ ones, although not for period pains! I find the different shape of them makes them more flexible in moving to the shape of whatever body part them have been stuck too! (http://www.boots.com/en/Cura-Heat-Period-Pain_24307/) They are brilliant for when you are out and about. But in the house I use standard heated wheat bags. Do you use them too? They come in really cute, soft designs now, as they’ve become more popular than the hot water bottle! Some are even scented! (although I’m yet to find anything other than lavender haha)

    Deodrant wise I swear by ‘Triple Dry’ (http://www.boots.com/en/Triple-Dry-Anti-Perspirant-150ml_32039/) which sounds very similar to Degree deodorant you mentioned. And I find applying Bio Oil at night is a very effective ‘soother’ (http://www.boots.com/en/Bio-Oil-60ml_19765/)

    It’s great you have found a hand cream to help your hands. An alternative I’ve found (and don’t laugh) is nipple cream for breast feeding baby mammas! The cream is designed to sooth what is already cracked, bleeding skin, so is super gentle and effective. The magical ingredient is lanolin. (http://www.boots.com/en/Avent-Moisturising-Nipple-Cream-30ml_33499/) This however, can be a little embarrassing to whack out of your handbag, so I use ‘Yes Nurse’ (http://www.yesnurse.co.uk/) for when around the general public! It is a handcream designed for nurses, who get cracked hands from constantly having to wash their hands to meet hospital hygiene requirements. It has such cute packaging and is little so not too heavy to lug about! Plus its something to chat to the nurses about when you are in hospital yourself!

    Your hair falling out I can totally I relate too. I too lost about a 1/3 of my hair and spent many any evening crying about it! As a girl it just feels like the last thing you need on top of everything else eh! I ended up getting clip in hair extensions (which only gave me bald patches but it was a great short term solution!) In the long run though, ‘Alpecin Caffeine Shampoo’ is fantastic! (http://www.alpecin.co.uk/) Designed for balding men, expect to smell a bit manly in the shower. But I leave it on my head for roughly 3 mins (to soak in) every time I shower, and with continued use (and I mean months as that is how long hair takes to grow obviously!) It has made my hair SO much thicker and stimulated growth again for the first time in years. I didn’t realise L’oreal had a product on the market though! I will definitely be looking into that just for a change 🙂

    Like you, I use gentle yoga to help get me moving! I don’t have an Xbox though I use a Wii. But when I fancy a change I also do youtube videos etc, and also follow Vinyasa Flow Yoga for beginners (http://www.ekhartyoga.com/programs/vinyasa-flow-yoga-for-beginners) It’s good as she explains where you should be tensing what (!) So it’s really informative and just nice to mix up the yoga routine!

    When you said “my job is to play Xbox and allow my body to heal and get healthy.” That really rang true with me too. My Doctor always says to me, “Your job is too look after yourself” – which in its self is a great accomplishment! I love to watch beauty youtubers online, like you with your xbox, its nice to have an actual topic to talk to your friends about, as medical woes aren’t that fun! And behind every disease is a person with the same interests and worries of every other person out there! So it’s nice to have other things to talk about, even if you haven’t been able to leave the house in the while so technically have nothing to talk about! I also am a keen cook which is always gives a great feeling of accomplishment! If you are interested in make up/ fashion (I wasn’t to begin with, but got hooked on the ‘youtubers’ personalities and they make me laugh, and before you know it I’m a foundation matching expert!) I recommend: ‘essiebutton’, ‘zoella280390’ ‘beautycrush’ and ‘sprinkleofglitter’. They all have blogs too so its always fun to read!

    Sorry for this absolute essay of an reply, but it brought me a lot of comfort reading your blog post and I did so much “ME TOO!” when reading it! So thank you for sharing your solutions, it was a really helpful read.

    All the best, Pippa x

    • Thank you for taking the time to share all your helpful products with me. The eyebag looks especially awesome, especially since I get headaches, a warm compress on the eyes would help both dry eyes and headaches at the same time! I will definitely be checking out your products, I need all the help I can get to be feeling my best. One of my favorite makeup youtubers is elliejayden and a few others but I can’t remember their channel names right now. Thanks brain! I watch more youtube than TV I think. No need to apologize for writing an essay, I enjoyed reading! I’m glad you liked my post ^_^

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