Gratitude Challenge: Day 7-Must Haves (Sponsored Post)

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

20161107_201130


I have been traveling so much lately! Having a chronic illness makes it hard to leave spur of the moment so I try to always be stocked up on things I need. Here are my top items, missing from this picture is my hand sanitizer and pack of Lysol wipes because I ran out on my trip this weekend, but I ALWAYS have those with me so I don’t really consider them things to pack.

Fresh Assist- This stuff rocks. It pretty much turns any toilet paper into a wet wipe. Immediately. You just take the toilet paper like you normally would, spray 3-4 times, and wipe. Bottom-bing bottom-boom. I definitely wish that I had some when I was staying in the hospital, though I did bring my own toilet paper during my last stay there. This makes almost any toilet paper bearable. And there’s no harsh chemicals! And it’s safe for your toilet. Everyone wins. It’s really quite affordable too. Buy some for yourself here. (http://www.freshassistspray.com)

Sunscreen- Remicade makes me more sensitive to the sun, and it’s good to wear sunscreen anyway.

Eye Drops-I wear contacts usually, and my eyes get so dry from staring at a computer screen all day, or from sitting in a plane. These eye drops are my favorite.

Face Lotion- Washing my face after a day of travel and putting on a nice moisturizer makes me feel right at home.

Hand Lotion-I was my hands or use sanitizer all day long so my hands get pretty raw if I don’t keep them moisturized.

Shower gel- The W hotel I stayed at last weekend had some nice soaps and lotions, but they aren’t all like that! I don’t like the residue some bar soaps at hotels leave behind, so I bring my own when traveling.

Dry Shampoo- If this stuff isn’t for travel, I don’t know what it’s for.

Colgate mouth wash-Sometimes you need to feel a little more fresh than what a piece of gum might provide.

Face wash- Pretty self explanatory. Clean the dirt off your face, people.

Roller perfume-Easy to travel and you don’t have to worry about a bottle breaking in transit.

Hair tie, bobby pins and q tips- pretty standard. Multiple uses. Always wish you had them if you don’t!

I’m truly grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to travel and and to share my story and voice my ideas for improvements in this community. It’s been amazing and inspiring. I’ve met some of the best people in the world, and I’m proud to be a part of the change that I hope happens for patients with Ulcerative Colitis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge: Day 4, A letter to my Newly Diagnosed Self

Sorry for the delay, I was away for the last two days participating in a patient panel for Ulcerative Colitis and I could not get the internet to work on my phone so just had to wait til I got home to write.

Day 4: Do you remember the day you were diagnosed? Perhaps you were scared, felt alone and surely you had tons of questions. Write a letter to yourself for the day you were diagnosed, knowing all you do now.

Dear Self:

By now you are probably coming down from the anesthesia and are realizing that while you finally have a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis, you have no idea what that is. The doctor told you to go to the internet to do some research, and I am here to tell you that there is a lot of scary stuff out there, so be careful and cautious about what you read. Start building up a support team, right now. Make sure you have a GI you can trust, a primary care doctor who stands up for you and supports you, a yoga practice that grounds you, and family and friends who will not let you down.

This is going to be the hardest thing you will go through in all the years of your life so far. Your life is going to change. There are going to be lulls and uproars and pits of despair and highs of gratitude. Hang on. You will find a treatment that works for you. Do not despair when something isn’t going right or nothing seems to work. You will find what works for you. You will be sick, but you will heal, and you will have a new appreciation for the good days that you do get. A huge appreciation. Learn coping skills and stress management.

Get on Twitter and Instagram. There are people out there who know exactly what you are going through and they will be some of the best people you meet in your life. Hold them close, they will be huge resources and sources of inspiration for you right when you need them.

This disease is individualized. Don’t judge others for their treatment plan and don’t compare it to yours. Find what feels good for you. ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. This is your body. These are your veins. You know yourself best and you have rights.

You are not alone. Life may not be the same, but the new life you get is still pretty damn awesome. Don’t let go, keep fighting and get involved with as many opportunities as you can to raise awareness and change the way chronic illness patients are treated.

You can do this.

 

 

Gratitude Challenge : Day 4- color 

My favorite color has always been blue. My eyes are blue, my parents have blue eyes, my bridesmaids dresses were blue, my bedroom growing up as blue at one point; I’ve loved the color for a really long time.

I wore this blue vogmask today (check out my instagram or scroll all the way to he bottom of the page) while traveling to protect myself from getting sick. I picked this pattern because because it was blue and was called Chakra and I love yoga, so it was a perfect fit. I never thought I’d be picking out a mask color to wear on an airplane,  but I’m grateful that there are companies who offer fun options for immunosuppressed people to wear. It makes me feel less like a sick person and more like someone who is empowered to protect her health. 

Gratitude Challenge: Day 3-Fill Up My Cup

I would be a liar if I said I didn’t stress easily. I get stressed quickly when things are not in order or if life feels out of my control. Just a few hours ago I felt my blood pressure rise because I couldn’t get the tinfoil roll to fit in the drawer (first of all, why do they make tinfoil rolls to long to fit in a kitchen drawer?! What the fork.) and I was simultaneously freaking out because I haven’t finished packing and have to leave in the morning and forgot to get some extra snacks for the plane because I have this irrational fear that I won’t be able to find anything to eat. No major problems, but this kind of stuff can have the ability to ruin my night if I let it.

Ugh. Stress. Sweating the little things drains my spirit, and I let it happen far to often.  My husband rarely stresses like I do, and when he does it is usually warranted. He’s constantly trying to get me to “shake it off” literally by doing crazy arm waving moves and “shaking away” my stress.

I try to work on not letting things get to me. I really do. I know that stressing over all of these things that really don’t need to be stressed over  wears down my body and doesn’t contribute to healing or any sort of healthy lifestyle. I’m a work in progress.

Part of my self-care includes sitting down with a hot beverage and just sipping. It used to be hot water with lemons in the mornings, and that was awesome. Lately it’s been hot cider at night after dinner, and that’s great too. Something about a warm drink in a cute coffee mug fills my soul with comfort. It’s like with each sip some of that stress melts away, and I wonder why I was ever freaking out about the too junky junk drawer or whatever little thing that doesn’t matter in the first place.

 

What fills your cup?

 

The Health Activist Writer’s Month: Day 3

Quotation Inspiration. Find a quote that inspires you (either negatively or positively) and free write about it for 15 minutes. 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
-Emily Dickinson
This is more of a poem than a quote, but I love it anyway. To me, there is no life without hope. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to have hope, it takes a lot of effort to destroy hope. It doesn’t ask for anything in return. It’s always there, sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it.
I find comfort in looking for hope. I don’t like to ask why certain things happen, why I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, why some people are having problems healing and why I’m lucky enough to be in remission. I don’t ask why. I may never know the answer. I don’t look for the reason, I look for what good could possible come from a situation. I know it’s not easy for everyone to do, but I promise it makes life so much better.
There’s something to be hopeful for even in “the Strangest Sea” or the worst flare or the loneliest night. It makes your soul come alive. It sings. It floats. It lifts you up.
Hope is powerful. Some people think too much hope can lead to disappointment, but I don’t feel that way. I’d rather live in a world with too much hope than to not have any at all.

Gratitude Challenge: Day 2- View Out My Window

Well, it as dark when I left this morning and it is dark now as I write this so I can’t quite show you he current view out my window. This is what it looks like this time of the year. 

I love living next to water. I love going outside and sitting on our back porch, or doing yoga, or watching the geese land and take off. When we moved out here, it was a breath of fresh air. It is the perfect place to heal. 

In the mornings when I on have to work quite so early my dog and I snuggle up in our lazy boy next to he window and just watch the river and sometimes catch the sun rising over it. This time of year there are some exceptionally beautiful moments when the sun reflects off the leaves and the water, but it can be beautiful all year round. Something about just watching water flow relaxes me. Anyone else feel that way?

I know having a view like this isn’t something everyone has access to and I certainly don’t let a day go by without appreciating it. 

What is your favorite view outside your window?

The Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge: Day 2

​Every great writer has their own process! What’s the blogging process look like for you? Do you set aside time each week to write or do you wait until the inspiration hits? Do you finish a post in one night or use the week to perfect it? Do you edit your blogs or just hit publish? Whatever it is you do, it’s unique to you and we want to learn about it.

I have bad habits when it comes to blogging. When I first started I was posting Hope Warrior stories regularly on Wednesdays and then one other day of my own thoughts. Over the last year, the regular practice of sharing Hope Warriors has fizzled out. I am still more than willing to share inspirational stories, but people are busy. I send out interviews and they don’t get sent back. I don’t like to push people because I know what chronic life is like and I would rather have patients put themselves as a priority than stress about responding to my email. 

The lack of participation wasn’t the only contribution to my irregular posting. I also got married in June, so most of the last year and a half were spent planning (I LOVE PLANNING) and enjoying all of the festivities that come with getting married. Life has been good. 

I’ve been contacted to partner with more companies and bloggers lately, and that has pushed me to get back in to posting regular content. I’m still working on making updates to the blog and creating a regular posting schedule. I work full time so right now I just post whenever it is convenient. Currently I am on break at work, typing on the WordPress app on my phone. I’d like to get better about editing and learning more about creating cleaner, better posts, but for now getting back into writing is the goal, so I just hit Publish as soon as I can. Things might be a bit sloppy, but I’m writing again and hoping to support others. Right now, that’s what is important to me. 




Hope in the Internet

When I was going through my first major flare and found support on social media, it was incredible. There were so many supportive, understanding and encouraging people checking in on me, sharing their experiences and relating to what I was going through. I gained so much strength from some amazing people and their ability to care about strangers in the same predicament they were in or had been before. I loved opening my twitter app and checking the ibdfamily hashtag, and looking for others who had my same diagnosis under ulcerative colitis or autoimmune disease on instagram. I have formed some great relationships with some of those people and they are all very dear to me. That may be why I get so upset about seeing a change in the ibd community out here in the social media sphere.

image

Every single person I know with IBD has a different treatment plan. Every single person. Some might be on the same medication but one doesn’t eat gluten. Some may use stress relief practices to prevent flares along with biologics to keep inflammation at bay. Some might be on steroids and following an SCD diet. And the list goes on.
So, why am I seeing so many attacks on people for their choice of treatment? A treatment should be between that individual and their medical professional.  Who am I to judge their choices?

Disclaimer* I’m not referring to when someone tells you “you must use walnut oil and you will be cured.” Forcing a cure on someone that was not asked for is rude. Particularly when it’s absurd and false and maybe more harmful than good.*

What I am referring to, however, is the “you can’t sit with us,” vibe going on when someone shares their story. Oh, you’re using a combination of meds and diet to treat your disease? Well, this is firmly a diet treatment only ibd community. Find another table to eat lunch at.

Or.

You’re not taking any medication? How dare you.  Take down your post about having Crohn’s disease and go be alone.

Who are we helping when we exclude others from the community because they follow a different line of treatment? This disease is lonely enough as it is, and there’s so much good and bad information out there, attacking others does not help anything. It makes people scared to talk about what’s going on. It takes us steps back instead of forward. 

I’m not saying everyone is like this. I have some great ibd family members who support and encourage and make me and others laugh and smile and they’re great. This has just been weighing on my mind a lot the more this community grows and I’d hate to see it turn into a negative attacking environment after it was such a haven for me when I found it 2 years ago.
I like to hope that it won’t become that way and that we can put these treatment differences aside and fight this disease together. We’re all fighting against the same enemy,  doesn’t help anyone to turn against each other in a right or wrong battle on the Internet Ibd community when it comes to sharing experiences.
There’s no reason to become mean and attacking for one persons choice of treatment when they are just sharing their story. And there’s no reason to push a form of treatment on someone just because they say they have a certain ailment.  This used to be a place of support and connection in the lonely world of invisible illness, and my hope this week is that it can stay that way for others who are desperately searching for someone who understands what they are going through, like I was when I first came here.
Please be kind, remember everyone is fighting a battle of some sort.

Sparks of Hope

It’s been 52 weeks since my first remicade infusion. I’m rarely rush to the bathroom anymore. The blood that used to show up every time I went has taken a hike. Bloating and gurgling still occur, but rarely. Mostly, and I feel like I should knock on wood and jump into my bed and hide under the covers as I say this, mostly I feel good.
I’m not cured. My life is no where near where it was before. My diet is very restricted. I don’t drink. I carry sanitizer everywhere and avoid sick people because my immune system is suppressed. Sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.The remicade could decide to stop working at any time. I don’t know what will come next.
I’m tired a lot. I tire easily, especially at large social gatherings. It can take me days to recover from long weekends like this.  But the important thing is, I’m able to attend those gatherings. The important thing is, I may not have my life back in the way that it was before, but I have a life again.
This brings me to the reason for this blog post. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to move forward with this blog. I’ve met some incredible individuals that I want to keep supporting. I want to keep a part of this community of fighters. I’m not, however, an IBD advocate. That role is currently filled by some superhero and ninjas and doctors and your every day patients and they are ROCKING it. I will happily retweet and comment and like their articles and will continue to refer people to their websites, but I’m not one of them. I don’t have the knowledge or time to research for accuracy. (I’m not sure these people have the time either but they somehow continue to find a way,  thank them for that!).  I don’t have the answers, but I will gladly point someone in the direction of someone who does, and cheer them on along the way.
What I am is learning to live with my disease. And I am so full of thankfulness and gratitude for this second chance at life. At my last meeting with my general practitioner, after looking at my labs from a year ago, I was told that I should have been dead. I. Should. Have. Been. Dead.
I’m not dead, clearly. I’m alive and fairly well and given a chance to really truly enjoy my life. I just turned 27. I’m learning to do a handstand away from a wall. I go for long walks. I read books. I watch sunrises and sunsets. I go to garage sales  with friends and host cookouts and am getting ready to be married in a year. I hold babies and laugh and cry tears of joy because I can.
And I want to spend this 27th year of life paying it forward. I’m so blessed and so grateful for this life and I want to bring this sense of joy to everyone I can. I know that I alone can’t cure IBD or any autoimmune disease. But if I can make someone else smile, and maybe they feel the need to pass it on, then I can do something. I can do something. Doing something keeps me hopeful that it will lead to something greater.
So, the next year I will be focusing on a specific “hopespark” or random act of kindness each week for the next year. Follow on Instagram and twitter #52weeksofsparkinghope  and I’ll be documenting it here weekly. Stay tuned for next week and see what I’ve been up to!