• Warrior Life Planner

    I’ve never been much of a planner kind of gal. As chronic illness took over, all of my plans went out of the window. My life had to change. I learned how to fly by the seat of my pants, so to speak, but my basic organizational skills suffered. The latter no longer has to be an issue with the Warrior Life Planner. When I had the opportunity to try-out the prototype at the start of the year, I became reacquainted with some semblance of control. Let’s just say I am now a believer!! I am always looking for resources that benefit chronic illness patients, and the Warrior Life Planner passed the test by combining all of the best features of a basic planner AND additional health-related sections. Personal Spreads Like basic planners, the Warrior Life Planner includes sections for personal information. The goal setting page kicks-off the year.  However, the spread is not presented in a cliche “write your goal for the year” set up. The goals are categorized by family, social, career, mental, home, physical, and financial. A birthday tracker is also at the beginning of the planner. With the birthday tracker near the front, I am less likely to forget birthday obligations for friends…

  • My Crazy Life: A Humorous Guide to Understanding Mast Cell Disorders (Book Review)

    My oncologist entered the room with two books in his hand during my last appointment. The first I recognized as Dr. Afrin’s book, Never Bet Against Occam, having owned multiple copies of it myself. The second, however, I was unfamiliar with. He gifted me My Crazy Life: A Humorous Guide to Understanding Mast Cell Disorders written by Daniel and Pamela Hodge. Both titles were discussed at an hematology-oncology conference, and he felt the information could be beneficial. His only request was that I give him a review! Mast Cell Activation Syndrome Awareness Firstly, how great is it that mast cell disorders like Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) are finally receiving some positive awareness? While Systemic Mastocytosis is generally accepted amongst the medical community, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome does not always generate the same recognition. To know physicians are open to studying its complexities is encouraging for patients with this bewildering syndrome. Thus, my initial impression from reading My Crazy Life: A Humorous Guide to Understanding Mast Cell Disorders was appreciation over the positive awareness the book elicits. Synopsis My Crazy Life is about a woman named Pamela who is a great asset to our virtual mast cell support system. In her 40s, she developed severe allergic…

  • The Key To Relationships With Chronic Illness: Lemonayde Campaign

    I used to be a softball player. I found solace squatting behind home plate repetitively seizing pitches with a brown, leather glove. Hiding behind my catcher’s equipment, a metal mask and a chest-guard, I was invincible. I felt part of something. A team. But then I got sick. The fun of the game was replaced by my vision turning black as I stood to return each pitch, and running off of the field umpteen times in the direction of the toilets. I tried to continue playing. I mustered up my endurance, desperately clinging to the last semblance of my old life. …until I couldn’t. You are probably wondering what softball has to do with the price of tea in China, but keep reading. When I lost softball, I also lost my relationships as I knew them. My friends were sporty. The foundation my friendships were based on was destroyed as illness seeped into its rocky cracks. I just wanted to be like everybody else, but the progression of my condition did not allow it. After my nissen fundoplication surgery, I stopped playing ball entirely. Never did I relinquish my efforts of fitting in though. During the lonely summer of 2010, I sought…

  • Review: What Really Helps People With Chronic Pain

    I was provided with a copy of the What Really Helps People With Chronic Pain e-course for free by the course creator Esther Smith of Life in Slow Motion. I received this product for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. All opinions expressed are truthful and 100% my own.  About ‘What Really Helps People With Chronic Pain‘? What Really Helps People With Chronic Pain is an 8 week e-course taught by licensed counselor and writer, Esther Smith from Life in Slow Motion. Being an active reader of her blog, and truly enjoying her book, But God, Wouldn’t I Be More Useful to You If I Were Healthy? (Chronic Pain and the Christian Life), I was thrilled by the opportunity to review her chronic pain e-course. Key Topics Pacing for Chronic Pain Management Brain Neuroplasticity, Unlearning Pain, and Rewiring Your Brain Reducing Stress and Anxiety through Grounding Exercises and CBT Techniques Mindful Breathing, Tapping, and Acupressure Coping During Flares Post-traumatic Growth (Realistic) Goal Setting Planning for the Future Presentation The class curriculum is presented in a convenient online classroom format. It is divided by week. You will have access to the chapters for review, an area to raise inquiries and discussion,…

  • Plot Your Health Wellness Planner

    Medications, symptoms, specialists, labs, and procedures. With chronic illness comes additional responsibilities that require careful planning if health is to be of top priority. Although I am infamous for leaving appointment reminders written on crumpled pieces of paper strewn about, miscellaneous Post-It notes are not necessarily top-notch planning skills. Thankfully there are easily obtainable alternatives, like the wellness planner by Plot Your Work. I had the opportunity to trial the planner in exchange for an honest review. So, here’s the scoop! Offered in many colors, the Plot Your Health Wellness Planner is a portable three-month tracking notebook for all medical needs. Although the journal is paperback, it is durable enough to tote around through the day.     Opening the front cover, the section for daily affirmations makes a pleasant first impression. Printed neatly are quotes such as “focus on the good every day” to get started on a positive note. On the opposite page is room for important information. Aside from the emergency contact basics, I appreciate the sections for the preferred pharmacy and hospital, a patient number at the preferred hospital, and even the suicide prevention hotline 1-800-273-8255. There is also a place for allergies that is sufficient for the average patient. Those with an…

  • Dating With Health Challenges? There’s An App For That!

    I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was August. I was in my sophomore year of high school. Something was in the air, and it was not just the excitement of new pens, fresh notebooks, and reuniting with friends. No, it was smitten-kitten love as I took a seat next to a boy in honors algebra. I had chosen my most impressionable first-day outfit consisting of tan capris matching a polka-dotted peplum top adorned with my favorite pair of wedges and costume jewelry. I had my first date a few months later. My fiancé and I were high school sweethearts. Naturally, back-to-school season imparts a sense of nostalgia. There was always an enthusiastic frenzy associated with enamoring new beginnings. Although I was more functional at the start of my relationship, I had my feeding tube placed three months in, and my diagnosis added an element of insecurity to my whirlwind romance. Read The Blessing of Chronic Illness In A Relationship Chronic illness makes new beginnings like dating more difficult, but one should never allow the experience to be less special. The key to a successful relationship when either partner is sick is about overcoming the insecurities. Whether it’s struggling to meet a partner due to…

  • FAB Health: Understanding Why We Become Ill So We Can Get Better (Book Review)

    Mosquitos swarm on a hot, summer evening—the incessant buzzing prevailing over jovial laughter. Camping trips are interrupted by the nuisance of a painful spider bite, and impending “tick checks” are a total buzz kill following a relaxing, woodsy nature hike. Insect and arachnid bites are usually associated with fun-filled times. However, a future of illness may supersede those fond adventures when one is unaware of the risks of Lyme Disease and co-infections that stem from a single bite. I do not have Lyme Disease, but the diagnosis was considered earlier in my medical journey. A recollection of a previous trip to Rock Springs remains fresh in my mind. Beneath the shaded trees amongst the sunny Florida hangout, I located the perfect area to unpack my family’s lawn chairs and cooler before swimming in the fresh spring. As I glanced down, my foot was covered in approximately twenty baby ticks in which I proceeded to wash off in the water. The tick incident well preceded the onset of my symptoms, but as I became sicker, I sought a Lyme literate doctor to determine if the condition could be the root cause of my GI distress and autonomic dysfunction. It turns out that Lyme was not…

  • Top 5 Free Health Apps

    The world today revolves around technology. It is not rare to venture out in public to find numerous gazes focused on a cell phone, tablet, game console, or television. Chronic illness sufferers are no exception. “Sick” does not translate well in the real world. Technology is a way to escape the isolation, manage life, and connect with others enduring similar struggles. With that being said, I chose 5 cell phone applications that make life with failing health a little less complicated. MedManage MedManage has great value for any chronic illness patient taking multiple medications. The sole purpose of the app is to document medications based on name, dose, and time to administer. An alarm option programmed into the app serves as a reminder to take the medications entered. It is a solution for those moments of brain fog when medications doses are skipped or doubled dosed. I cannot even begin to divulge the number of incidents where I swear I took a dose of my prescribed medication, but hours later, at the onset of uncomfortable symptoms, I am unfortunately reminded that I actually did not. Thus, MedManage is a miracle in the form of a cell phone application, literally! Aside from reminders,…

  • WellWrap: Hope For Chronic Pain

    Pain. It demands to be felt. At least that is what the cliché saying wishes us to believe. Anyone who has fallen victim to chronic pain seeks to disprove that profound statement in their desperate attempt to repress the physical agony encompassing their very being. Day in and day out, the various facets of pain take its toll. Like many that comprise the chronic pain population, I myself struggle to discover a successful therapy. The instinct of doctors is to automatically prescribe medications with unfavorable side effects. I learned rather quickly in my chronic pain journey that I am anaphylactic to NSAIDS, that opioids are contraindicated with my already nearly paralyzed gastrointestinal tract, and that one medication gone wrong is not always a swift and easy recovery upon its discontinuation. Medicine has lasting repercussions. Feeling as if I cannot win for losing is discouraging. After every failure, I want to scream at my body’s ineptitude. Thus, whether risky pharmaceuticals, diet changes, or intense exercise regimens, no supposed “cure” seems entirely helpful for chronic pain treatment. I accepted long ago that chronic pain conditions need a combination of therapies because there is no single remedy. However, chronic pain treatments are constantly evolving. Advancements…

  • No More Hospital Gowns: INGA Wellbeing Review

    I am an adult, but you would never know it in the midst of the occasional tantrum—crying and cursing the tangled mess of tubes and lines hindering my every movement. I raise my hands in defeat, slightly wishing I could throw my pumps with them. I should be accustomed to this scene, as I have been dependent on feeding tubes and daily home intravenous infusions for years. Feeling tethered is still frustrating. INGA Wellbeing is a clothing company that seeks to alleviate the annoyance of unruly medical necessities, making it a bit easier to appreciate the life-saving interventions. So, what better way to conclude a brief blogging hiatus than to share a new product that accommodates my life with chronic illness? I had the opportunity to trial INGA Wellbeing’s Long Sleeved T-Shirt Top in the color ‘Dusty Pink.’ However, there are numerous options for both menswear and womenswear: dresses, tops, trousers. Each article of clothing has similar features designed to function as hospital gowns while appearing as everyday casual wear. My first impression is that the top actually does look completely normal. The fabric is soft and conducive to sensitive skin. The Long Sleeved T-Shirt is a wardrobe staple that I can dress up or…