MY LIFE: Depression is a b*tch

Hi everyone. For two and a half months I’ve been plagued by illness, migraines, and exhaustion. It’s been a struggle to live my daily life, much less keep the blog up. I’m hoping to get some posts done next week, but until then, I just want to remind everyone…

In this time of current events upheaval, it’s doubly important to practice self-care. Whatever your brand of that is, make it a priority. Do it for yourself, do it for your family. Fight on, chronic illness warriors!

Is it just me, or does the title say 40, but there are only 30? Either way, there are some great ideas here! Taken from Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/444589794454822220/

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GO NATURAL: Top 5 natural gargle recipes & tips for a sore throat

GO NATURAL: Top 5 natural gargle recipes & tips for a sore throat

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from Viitor Technologies

 

When you battle a chronic illness every day, things like sore throats can be one of those “piling on” health problems. If you’re like me, you try not to add to the medications you’re already taking. Because of this, I use a lot of homeopathic remedies for issues like sore throats. Here are some recipes and tips for dealing with a sore throat. One caveat – you may have to gargle several times a day. Don’t get discouraged, just keep doing it.

Salt and turmeric:

 

Ginger and honey:

 

Honey and apple cider vinegar:

 

Clove tea:

 

Cayenne pepper:

Have you used any of these? Which have you found the most successful? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

RECIPE: Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake – healthy, easy, and delicious!

RECIPE: Paleo Pumpkin Coffee Cake – healthy, easy, and delicious!

Image and recipe courtesy of Jay’s Baking Me Crazy

 

How freaking good does this look? When the weather turns colder I am all about apple and pumpkin recipes. Coffee cake is one of those things you think you can’t have anymore when you go Paleo, but this recipe is proof you can!

Let’s see how you make it…

PALEO PUMPKIN COFFEE CAKE

Prep Time: 8 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 58 minutes

Yield: 9

Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 cup almond flour
    • 1/4 cup coconut flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
CRUMB TOPPING
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (I don’t like coconut flour, so I just use almond flour)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (ditto for this, I use a different sugar substitute)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (and again, ditto)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325° and line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper.
  2. Make the crumb topping first: in a small bowl, combine coconut flour, almond flour, coconut sugar, cinnamon, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Mix well- it should resemble wet sand. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and pumpkin. Mix well.
  4. Add in the eggs and mix until incorporated.
  5. Add in the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until no dry pockets remain. Pour into prepared pan and top with crumb topping.
  6. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  7. Store in fridge after the first day.

 

If you make this, take pictures so I can be jealous!

GO NATURAL: 18 best essential oils for nerve pain

GO NATURAL: 18 best essential oils for nerve pain

Aroma Utopia had an awesome infographic (see above) listing some essential oils you can use to deal with nerve pain. I wanted to highlight this information because, as you know if you a reader of this blog, I do everything I can to minimize drugs and other conventional treatments for my chronic illness. Essential oils are a huge part of my daily life, and the more things I can find to do with them, the better.

I’m going to borrow some of the background stuff they had along with the infographic, just so you can all understand nerve pain and how to treat it.

Symptoms of Nerve Pain

There are many symptoms of nerve pain, which might limit your ability to continue with normal daily activities. They include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch.
  • A sharp, burning sensation or stabbing pain.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Numbness in the hands and legs.
  • Lack of coordination and falling down.

Now for more on the essential oils:

Balsam Fir – Balsam Fir is often part of the quintessential Christmas tree. The Fir Needle is a natural analgesic and antispasmodic for relaxing muscle aches and pains. It is often used in the treatment of muscle recovery following exercise or a work out. It works by promoting more blood flow to the skin, which increases recovery.

Bergamot – Research studies conducted by the University of Calabria have reported that Bergamot essential oil modifies and inhibits the nociceptive behavioral effect. Another study showed that data gathered so far indicates that bergamot is endowed with anti-nociceptive effects.

Black Pepper – This essential oil is a known pain reliever by toning the muscles and use in sciatica. It acts as a tonic and analgesic for the nervous system and increases circulation. One study showed that black pepper essential oil possesses antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nociceptive properties.

Roman Chamomile – This is an essential oil with anti-neuralgic properties. It helps to relieve the pain associated with nerve damage by constricting the blood vessels surrounding that particular nerve. In doing so, it reduces the built-up pressure and relieves the pain.

Peppermint – Peppermint is one of the most widely researched oils by the scientific community. It is known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. As a pain reliever it provides nervous system support, improves respiration, controls muscle spasms and relieves gas and bloating.

Rosemary – This essential oil is a mild pain reliever that increases circulation, helps with sciatica and neuralgia. It helps to relax the muscle fibers and remove lactic acid. Being anti-rheumatic it can suppress muscle spasms and improve respiration.

Marjoram – This essential oil is another natural pain reliever that is effective in helping to manage nerve pain. It works as a tonic on the entire nervous system by strengthening the area where the nerve damage has occurred.

Black Spruce – This essential oil is a natural antiseptic, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory pain reliever. It helps to relieve muscle spasms, promote muscle repair, improve circulation, help to stimulate the immune system and help to clear cell receptor sites. It is especially used for back pain, arthritis, and sciatica.

Lavender – Lavender has calming and stress relieving properties. It helps to relieve nervous tension and nerve pain. It has also been used and shown in some surgical procedures to reduce pain.

Helichrysum – Helichrysum is an anti-inflammatory antispasmodic naturally occurring nervine that strengthens and regenerates the nervous system. It helps to relieve nerve pain by reducing stress levels associated with it. It can also reduce inflammation for joint pain, acne and burns.

Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus is a must have oil for any household. Because it has antispasmodic, ant-inflammatory and analgesic properties, it has been recommended for relieving nerve pain, aches and muscle pain.  One of the best ways to apply is by massaging eucalyptus oil on the skin so it can help to relieve stress and pain.

Frankincense – The oil is known to transmit messages to the brain’s limbic system, which influences the nervous system. It stimulates the immune system, relaxes the muscles and works as an antiseptic.

Geranium – Geranium oil acts to reduce neuropathic pain, especially when applied to the skin. Studies have shown that it is effective in reducing pain after shingles.

Ylang Ylang – Among its many uses Ylang Ylang acts as a nervine and sedative. It repairs and reduces the stress of nerve damage.

Wintergreen – One of its main compounds is methyl salicylate, an organic ester which metabolizes in the body to salicylic acid, which has similar properties to cortisone, an NSAID. The oil therefore, has excellent properties for relieving nerve pain as a natural analgesic, anti-arthritic numbing agent.

Ginger – Ginger consists of sesquiterpenes, which are responsible for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and other analgesic properties. One study identified Ginger essential oil as possessing antioxidant activity as well as significant anti-nociceptive properties.

Clary Sage – One of its best uses is for soothing nervous tension. It can also be helpful for stomach pains, kidney problems, and tumors when applied to the skin.

Clove – Clove oil is high in antioxidants. One of its current applications is in toothpaste as it has the same analgesic effect as benzocaine, a topical agent also used for ingrown toenails, hemorrhoids, tooth pain and sunburn. It works by blocking the nerve signals.

Now that you know WHICH oils to use, here’s some information on HOW to use them:

How to use Essential Oils for Nerve Pain

There are many other ways that you can administer essential oils to your body. Some of them are listed below:

Creams and Lotions – There are creams and lotions available that contain the essential oils you need. You can also make your own cream and lotions by buying a blank lotion or cream and adding the essential oils to it.

Aromatherapy Bath – You can use essential oils in aromatherapy baths. Add a few drops of the essential oil directly to the bath water and then add some Epsom salt to allow the oil to blend with the water and enhance the effect. This will prevent it from floating on top of the water.

Essential Oil Massage – You can massage essential oils into the areas affected by pain. If you are making your own massaging oil, apply by blending with carrier oils.

Diffusing – One of the most common ways to apply essential oils is aromatically by using an essential oil diffuser. There are several types ranging in the way the oils are dispersed. Please check out our infographic.

Reflex Points – Applying essential oils to known reflex points can have many benefits, especially if you know what each point is used for.

Pre-Made Synergy Blends – Many of the major essential oil companies now sell synergic blends of different essential oils for a particular ailment or purpose e.g. “Anxiety Ease”, so it is useful to look out for them if you didn’t want the hassle of creating your own recipe or blend.

 

Which oils do you use for nerve pain? Tell me in the comments!

STORIES FROM OTHERS: Lady Gaga shares her pain

STORIES FROM OTHERS: Lady Gaga shares her pain

Image courtesy of Netflix documentary

This is not the Lady Gaga we’re used to seeing, is it? In a new Netflix documentary, Lady Gaga talks quite candidly about her struggle with fibromyalgia. Other celebrities have spoken about how they handle chronic illnesses, but Lady Gaga really didn’t hold anything back (I didn’t think she would).

One quote from a press conference she did shortly after Netflix released the documentary explained why she was so candid:

“My pain does me no good unless I transform it into something that is. So I hope people watching it who do struggle with chronic pain know that they’re not alone. It’s freeing for me…and I want people that struggle with it to hear me,” Gaga said.

She also said, “There is a degree of self-deprecation and shame with feeling in pain a lot. And I want people that watch it — that think there’s no way I live [with chronic pain] because they see me dance and sing and don’t think that could possibly be — to know I struggle with things like them. I work through it and it can be done. We have to stick together. I don’t have to hide it because I’m afraid it’s weak. It’s a part of me, and I’m grateful to Chris for caring. The compassion is overwhelming. That’s why it makes me emotional. It’s very touching.”

I heard so much of the things I think and feel every day reflected in her words. I hope you all have a chance to watch the documentary. If you saw it, what did you think?

RESOURCES: 10 bras to try if you have a chronic illness

RESOURCES: 10 bras to try if you have a chronic illness

Image courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from Kathy Chareun

How many days do you wake up like this? Spend the day like this? Go to bed like this? And ladies – does it help to have to wear a bra every day? Not in my book, but it is a societal norm, so I try to conform, when I have to.

Luckily, the wonderful folks over at The Mighty asked chronic illness warriors for some bra brands they recommend. Hopefully keeping this post in mind when you go bra shopping (I recommend tequila first), will help you wade through the morass of choice.

  1. True & Co, True Body Collection, ~$45 – a user said, “True Body is the only bra I can wear anymore. I don’t know how much money I wasted buying hoards of bras until I found something that didn’t hurt.”
  2. Glamorise, sports bra, ~$50, a user said, “Anytime I try to wear a different bra within a couple of hours the pain becomes unbearable.”
  3. Aerie, unwired bralette, ~$35, a user said,  “Aerie has some amazing [bralettes] that are priced fair and are a quality product from my experience.”
  4. Reebok, sports bra, ~$40, a user said, “…it’s not constricting, and it’s a very soft material…”
  5. La Senza, lightly lined full coverage bra, ~$25, a user said, “La Senza is the only brand I can wear. It’s not too thin that it cuts and the bras with and without underwire seem to not hurt me until the end of the day. Plus they still give me that yummy cleavage!”
  6. Rosie for Autograph, padded plunge bra, ~$45 (may only be available in the UK), a user said, “So, so comfy and pretty, too.”
  7. Miss Mary of Sweden, soft cup bra with front closure, ~$50, a user said, “When my arms are tired or painful I can’t handle a back fastening bra, even fastening it at the front and twisting it around isn’t an option.”
  8. Champion, Spot Comfort sports bra, ~$30, a user said, “No underwire. Adjustable straps. Soft and comfortable.”
  9. Genie, Genie Bra, ~$20, a user said, “Inexpensive and extremely comfortable.”
  10. Pact Organic Camisole (at Target), super soft cotton women’s camisole with shelf bra, ~$17, a user said, “That’s what I wear under my shirts instead of bras. And sometimes even that’s too much pressure on my chest!”

So there you have it, from your fellow chronic illness warriors. I have to say, I’m liking the camisole idea and just about any sports bra or front closure. What’s your favorite bra? Tell me in the comments!

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: The self-care wheel

DISEASE MANAGEMENT: The self-care wheel

I found this online a few weeks ago and I’ve been giving a lot of thought to it. I think the whole idea makes a lot of sense. Personally, breaking down your well-being into six different areas really helps focus me on making sure I’m not ignoring one part of myself.

Here’s the wheel:

See the information at the bottom of the graphic for attribution.

The six parts are:

  1. Physical
  2. Psychological
  3. Professional
  4. Emotional
  5. Personal
  6. Spiritual

I think the best way to go about using this self-care wheel is to figure out where you’re adequately taking care of yourself and where you’re dropping the ball. Once you know what parts you’re neglecting, you can do further investigation into that area and make some decisions about actions to take to re-balance your life.

Many of us chronic illness warriors especially ignore the professional side, which can be to our detriment in a variety of ways. For instance, you may not know this, but I’m a romance writer. Unfortunately I can’t write as fast as I used to, and my royalties have gone down drastically as a result. I need to figure out how to manage my energy better so I can write more, so I’m trying to do things listed on the physical side in order to help the professional side.

What part do you think you’re doing well? Where are you lacking? Tell me in the comments!

MY LIFE: Things I do to manage everyday pain

MY LIFE: Things I do to manage everyday pain

Image courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from lisa-skorpion

Chronic illness warriors face pain all day, every day. Because of this, we need to have a lot of tools at our disposal. Here are a few I keep on the front burner:

  1. These aren’t physical items, but they do serve as wonderful distractions. I have subscriptions to Hulu, Amazon TV, Netflix, Pandora, and a couple of other entertainment venues.
  2. Leggings and t-shirts – long-sleeved and short, depending on the weather. They’re almost the only things I ever wear. The leggings I prefer are LuLaRoe, but they do get quite warm in the summer, which is when I switch to capri leggings and pants. I find shorts uncomfortable, personally.
  3. Find somewhere or someone to vent. We all need it, and there must be a safe place to do it.
  4. I have bath products. Lots and lots of bath products. That’s because I like baths. They make me feel better. My favorites are baking soda and epsom salts like Dr. Teals. There are other formulations than yours.
  5. The ability to say no without letting it overwhelm you with guilt. It’s a valuable skill and one that will keep you sane.
  6. Coloring books. I have nearly 20. I also have colored pencils (in a variety of colors and types, like my favorites – metallics!), gel pens, and markers. When I need a quiet distraction, I color. Sometimes they come out well, sometimes they don’t. And it doesn’t matter which happens.
  7. Me and my massage therapist have been together for seven years. I see her more often than I see most of my friends and even some of my family. I try my absolute best to keep appointments, because she helps me so much. She’s a huge part of my pain management plan.

What things do you rely on for everyday pain management? Tell me in the comments!

RESOURCES: Three myths about decluttering and organizing

RESOURCES: Three myths about decluttering and organizing

Image courtesy of Creative Commons, used with permission from TrixSigio

Clutter – and aren’t the types increasing every day? – are one of the worst things for us chronic illness warriors. Yes, clutter and excess “stuff” is bad for everyone, but for those of us who battle fatigue and pain 24/7, it’s even worse. We don’t have the energy to keep up with basic tasks like the dishes or laundry. How can we be expected to keep all the crap that comes into our homes under control?

There are ways to keep control, though. Overcome the hurdles.

  1. Understand there’s no need to have hours and hours to declutter. The key is to start. Start somewhere. Start anywhere. Then plug away.
  2. You can buy cute matching containers or devise a complicated color-coded system, but it’s not necessary. Ordinary, common items like banker’s boxes (or ones from Amazon – we all have those lying around!), are perfectly useful for getting your life in order.
  3. Know that decluttering and organizing never stops, because the things coming into your house never end. Understand that even after you’ve separated important papers from recyclables, more important papers will appear and way more recyclables will turn up like clubbers at a free rave.

Now, this sounds extremely simplified. It’s not. And yet it is. If you keep these three things in mind, and base your efforts on them, hopefully you can dig out from underneath the mountains of stuff threatening to overwhelm us every day.