The ‘ice vs. heat’ argument.

Now, I’m no doctor. But I’d like to think I know a good deal about pain relief and the way the human body works, seeing as how I spend about 95% of the time in some kind of pain, and about 50% of my reading materials consist of something to do with my health.

Time and time again I hear about people putting ice on a muscle cramp. I have one word for that.


I guess that’s six words. But think about it for a minute. What do you get when you jump in a cold swimming pool? CRAMPS. What happens when you eat ice cream too fast? The blood vessels in your head CRAMP and you get a headache. Ice makes things tighten. It makes things shorten. It restricts blood flow to the area. All of these things are useful of you have an injury such as a bruise, sprain, joint inflammation, broken bone, or bleeding of some kind. Ice reduces inflammation that leads to swelling.

As far as a pulled muscle goes, this is an instance where it is ok and probably necessary to use ice, but only for the first 24 hours to reduce inflammation. After that, it’s time for heat, because it will probably cramp up, and the heat will help it relax.

If your neck is tight because you sat at the computer too long, slept like a pretzel, or just kinked it trying to back out of a parking space, then you need to use heat. If you’re like me and you get cramps that are due to no particular activity, use heat also.

I see athletes and medical staff of all kinds mess this up. It makes me mad because people are causing themselves all kinds of unnecessary pain and discomfort because they have the wrong information.

A bad Chiari day.

I’m having one, so I figured I’d write about it. There’s something to be said about changes in barometric pressure and how they affect a person. I don’t feel that either high or low particularly bothers me (although I loathe hot weather) but I feel like it’s the actual change itself, like when the weather can’t decide what it’s doing. If it’s warm and dry one day and switches to cool and cloudy the next day, I’m definitely going to be feeling it, and vice versa is also true. Where I’m at, right now it has gone from warm and dry to cloudy today.

I know the barometric pressure is affecting me, because when I get up in the morning, I can’t catch my breath. My heart pounds, and I choke on water when I try to drink. The choking is a typical chiari symptom. When the barometric pressure changes, it directly affects the different pressures in your body. People with arthritis have a hard time on cloudy days because the pressure is low and it makes the spaces between their joints expand. Chiari is affected because of the change in spinal fluid pressure, which can result in brainstem compression and compresson of the nerves that pass through the foramen magnum, which is why I am experiencing those symptoms.

Most of the time, along with these symptoms, I get really bad headaches and head pressure, with the exception of today, I seem to not be dealing with that right now for whatever reason.

More hair stuff.

This isn’t a very serious blog. Just ramblings about the frustrations of being sick and still trying to feel like a girl. I hope maybe it’s informative in helping you figure out what to do with your hair, especially when you feel like crap.

Hair has been an ongoing frustration for me for a while. I’m not currently frustrated with it though. Things actually seem to be going okay for the most part.

My scalp inflammation seems to have subsided. When it was going on, I felt like I had a scalp sunburn. I couldn’t brush my hair, wear hair clips, wear hats, or my hair in an updo. I don’t mind wearing my hair down but there are just some days where it’s annoying and you want it out of your face, especially if it’s hot out. It was an ongoing annoyance for a long time.

My chiari malformation causes chronic migraines and what we call “head pressure” which can be likened to the feeling of severe sinus pressure, but in the back of your skull. Doing hair on these days can seem like an impossible task. Having the weight of your hair in a pony tail or bun can cause worsening of pain.

The pain from both the scalp issues and the headaches and head pressure caused me to chop off a lot of my hair. I couldn’t stand the weight anymore. This time last year, my hair was down to the bottom of my ribcage, and I’ve since chopped about 18 inches off of it. It was at my collar bone last time I cut it but it has since grown about 3 inches.

There was a time about 6 months ago where the pain was so bad, I came pretty close to cutting my hair really short. Like, Emma Watson Ellen Degeneres Charlize Theron short. Freaking short.

I was so afraid a short hair cut like that might actually be more work, because short hair is like that sometimes, and I’m just anal about my hair. I kind of just pushed through the pain and irritation so I didn’t make the biggest mistake ever, and in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t chop it that short. My hair grows pretty slow. If I hated it, it would be about 3 years before it was long again.

I’m growing my hair out now, with the hopes of having it long without the scalp soreness again. I’ve been using some products to help it grow in thicker, which seem to actually be working. Around the time of my Lupus diagnosis, my hair was falling out. I had scalp sores and bald spots bigger than quarters on both sides of my head. The sores eventually went away, and the bald spots started to fill in, but my hair was still falling out at a steady rate. My brush and comb were always full of hair when I was finished using them, and I use a detangler, so it’s not like I was ripping them through my hair (not like I could, anyway, because of the scalp soreness.)

Something I’ve recently realized that no one seems to talk about is that taking a biotin supplement to help your hair grow works, but it makes your skin break out in zits like crazy. Not just on your face, either. That’s something I haven’t figured out how to balance out yet. I was taking 10,000mcg once a week. It says on the bottle to take it every day but I didn’t want to overdo it, and I’m glad I didn’t. I don’t want to know how many zits I would’ve had if I had taken the directed amount.

I’ve stopped coloring my hair. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to it or not. I’ve had a lot of hair colors, but I picked something that was similar to my natural color the last time I colored it so when my hair grows in the roots almost match. I’s faded and brassy but I have to not care about it for now. I chose to stop for now for a few reasons. The scalp irritation made me worry that I could make it worse. It never really seemed like it did, but I didn’t want to risk it. I have some lung sensitivity from the lupus and I didn’t want to be subjecting myself to fumes once a month. And lastly, the chiari makes it really hard to rinse the color out of my hair. Leaning my head back to rinse it so I didn’t get any in my eyes for 5-10 minutes was unbearable, and my neck would usually be sore the next day. I think that’s my least favorite part. I could get it done at a salon, but it’s way expensive, and I do just as good a job at home, and I hear other people with chiari say that rinsing in the salon sink is painful as well. My natural color is really light brown, like Avril Lavigne’s natural color in her sk8r boi days. I’ve been red, black, brunette, and blonde. The lowest maintenance was the brunette. My roots weren’t obvious right away, and after dying it a few months in a row, the color really held. I actually had to use a color remover when I finally felt like changing it up. My favorite look was probably the light ashy blonde. It suited me. Not in a dumb blonde way, but it matched my skin tone really well, and I didn’t get bored with it. If I color it again, I will probably go back to blonde. I really miss my super long blonde hair from last summer.

As far as current styling goes, my hair has a few subtle layers in the front which I cut myself. I’ve been growing out bangs for a year and a half, which now blend for the most part into the layers. Bangs have never really worked for me since being sick. They’re just annoying to me, and I would end up clipping them out of my face most of the time. On my bad days I usually just end up tying my hair up in a knot, unless I have a headache, then I can’t wear it up, so I flat iron it real quick to soften it up so it isn’t itchy on my neck (my hair is naturally straight, but when it gets ‘wrinkles’ in it when it air dries, it makes it itchy). When I’m able to, I wear it up in a bun, but never a pony tail. That always gives me a headache. I’m not sure why it’s different than a bun, but it is. When it was long I could wear one side braid and it was a good middle ground between having it up but not getting a headache. When my hair is longer I will be able to wear it like that again. Right now, my hair doesn’t all reach and it falls out of the braid, and it’s really annoying. I’ll wear it in 2 braids sometimes but that’s not my favorite. I feel like I’m getting to old for that. I can do dutch braids but all the different strands pulls on my scalp too much. When I wear it down, my favorite way is big bouncy waves, but I don’t get to wear it like that often. I usually just wear it straight, with the section would be bangs clipped back so my hair isn’t in my face.

I don’t use a lot of hair products most of the time. I’m not really big on hairspray or mousse unless it’s windy out or something. I use a leave-in cream just so I can get the tangles out when it’s wet, but that’s really it.

I think I’ve finally run out of crap to write about for this entry.