About Me

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I'm a mom, a wife, a best friend. Sick with CFIDS/ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia since 1975 as a result of a nasty flu while still in grad school, it wasn't until the late '80's that I received a diagnosis. Until that flu I'd never really been ill before. With each year I get progressively worse and add to the bucket load of symptoms I'm living with. I've been blessed with an incredible family and best friend who've stayed with me through my struggles as we continue to find a way out of this monstrous illness and its complications. We've tried seemingly every approach to find my way back to health. Often I think our best weapon in this undesirable and unasked-for adventure has been laughter.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Naming names in the best formulas for sleepwear a la CFIDS/ME/fibro...

Wearing a very loose gown made of cotton - oh how I loved the gown and my friend and I tried to (unsuccessfully) replicate it!   Seen here: the pure joy of having a baby!

And so, as promised a few days ago, I have rounded up a list of the brands/designers who I feel relatively safe ordering through the Internet, having had pretty good luck with them...that is, I don't often have to return an item.  Actually, this is the third rewrite of this post because after my first "attempt," I decided to order a few nightgowns to test my tips.  The results are in and have been incorporated into the suggestions below.

I've declared my "formula" before, that is, my favorite fabrics, cotton being king, and my love especially for cotton jersey knit because of maneuverability in bed and the bed linens.  Tank type nightgowns are the way to go as far I'm concerned, with no lace, embroidery, or other embellishments because they irritate. 

Furthermore, nightgowns are the way to go if you have problems with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) because then there is no pressure around the belly area, and as stated in my earlier post with my "formula," they should be at least tea-length or there may be psychological trauma for all involved if that gown goes up too high when bending over, caught in bed with gown twisted up to waist, etc.  Please spare your loved ones (and especially the NOT loved ones like a plumber in the house you weren't aware of - it CAN happen!) the trauma.  Anyway, without further ado:

  • Hanro nightgowns, especially the tank style.  Although, unfortunately, they aren't a jersey, they are a beautifully luxurious mercerized cotton, very smooth and almost silky without the problems that come with silk.  I try to keep the bleach to a minimum with these gowns but sometimes the temptation is just too strong and so I have a couple that started out a beautiful soft robin's egg blue (which I always think of as "Princess Diana blue") but are now white.  They're uber-expensive yes (huh! she says, "exhorbitably so") but I find that they last forever.  I have a couple that have got to be at least eight years old and and are worn regularly, not to mention abused.  Hubby sees these gowns as "go-to's" for Christmas presents and Mother's Day gifts - bless his desperate heart!  
Addendum: In order to do my research for this blog (HA!) I ordered a short one and it also had sleeves.  Yes, I should know by now (over fifteen years of buying Hanro) that this was a potential failure.  How wrong was I? INCREDIBLY.  The sleeves were bothersome, though a cute and wonderful length for fall, winter and very early spring - IN CLOTHING, not in sleepwear.  The fabric was the heaviest I've experienced with Hanro.  I'm definitely sticking to the plain white and the longer length.  I looked preggers with the pleating below the buttons and my stomach was NOT bloated today!  No embellishments is definitely now seared into my head.  I'm very sad.
  • Natori - moving right along - is well known for it's silk (and polyester) super outrageously-priced gowns, but will occasionally come out with a simple knit white tank gown.  When they do, I snap them up.  Unfortunately, this has happened only once or twice, but I keep hoping that it'll happen again soon!  (Hope springs eternal, anyone?)  
Addendum:  I ordered a tank type of gown in a beautiful rich purple and am debating about keeping it.  It has a "built in bra" that I may find too irritating.  On the other hand, I do have one gown with a built in bra that I love, but again, I rarely wear it.  
  • Ralph Lauren comes out with a nice couple of cotton knit nightgowns each year but you have to keep an eye out for them and order immediately.  They disappear as soon as they show up on the Ralph Lauren website or on Nordstrom's or Macy's sites too. They last for years.  
Addendum: I ordered one and thought it would be long enough: only if I were a pre-teen!  And what was I thinking when I went for ruffles too?  Desperation (and the great photography, stylers and models) will get you every time. This was most certainly a cautionary tale!  
  • Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Dior I've lumped these three designers together because it is almost impossible to find any of these designers any longer in nightwear and most certainly with the "CFIDS/ME/fibro restrictions."  Please, if anyone out there happens to know how to get word to any of these designers, please ask them to get back to designing more nightgowns too.  I used to bank on their gowns and am really upset that they seem to have stopped designing nightgowns, or at best, rarely so.  I did find one by Donna Karan a few days ago and immediately ordered it.  It was almost enough to make me jump out of bed and do a jubilation dance!  
Addendum: Regarding the Donna Karan: what the heck???  The fabric (black) was completely see-through even before trying it on.  There was some awful ruching in the back of the neck, plus the gown went out and then in, tulip shape.  Really, Donna????  Oh, I can just see every single CFIDS/ME/fibro-er out there tripping on every step taken.  My heart is broken.
  • Eileen West:  After such a great success with the pink tank jersey one I bought a couple of months ago, I was ready for experimentation.
Addendum: Two came in and unfortunately, they were failures, but again, I was experimenting, hoping to find something besides my beloved cotton tank long gowns. They were really large and I was swimming in them.  The lace around the neck was bothersome.  This is what I get for tweaking with my "formula."  
  • Nautica:  Ah!  Finally, my experimentation worked in my favor.  I've never bought Nautica before but when I saw the tank, long, no frills, and 100% cotton and a jersey, I couldn't resist and I'm thrilled. The one I bought is a green and blue stripe (stripes are so "in" now but I hate to think what they'll look like in a season or two?  They ARE going the "wrong" way and so difficult to wear though I have a couple of dresses in stripes: to be worn WHERE, exactly?  Oh that's right: to the doctor's!)  
OK, back to topic.  So, I've learned a very good but expensive and time-wasting lesson.  Expensive because now those charges are on my credit card and will need to be refunded.  Time-consuming because hubby will need to do returns for me.  On the other hand, going to the store would have been even MORE time-consuming (I thought to myself as I was trying those gowns on with the a/c broken and wanting to cry from the sheer exhaustion).

Of course, there's also the boxer shorts/tank top combination to wear, but if you suffer from IBS the bloating and indeed, sensitivity around the waistline in general, it may be a bit hard to deal with.  I also keep a couple of PJ's on hand, just for variety and every-once-in a-while, and wear a tank top while using the top of the PJ's as a bed jacket as my body temperature does its St. Vitus Dance throughout the day.  

I have found that keeping down the carbs helps me with the IBS and temperature fluctuations, so you may want to see if there are any foods that contribute to your IBS.  I'm convinced that each person has foods that help them/harm them and these foods vary with each person.  Gosh: not too off-topic, am I?

Anyone out there with any ideas of comfy sleepwear that works as "live wear"?  Let us know.  Don't be shy!

Thanks for stopping in and hopefully there were a few pointers to make your life easier.  I'm hoping that the day is treating you well, or as well as can be!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Adventures with eye doctors: bait and switch!

One of the few pictures of me in my glasses...helping out my daughter's 3rd grade teacher.

My world has been jarred again as I see disturbing trends in our medical system, trends that immediately affect my health and the health of anyone who is a "complex patient," not your run-of-the-mill broken arm, kidney stones, nor dog bite, as examples.  Suddenly we have all sorts of health professionals who I have no idea what the heck their position is, much less what their training is.  What is the difference, for example, between a physician's assistant and a physician's nurse practitioner - and these are just two practioner titles being bounced about, with more being created each day.  And suddenly we are getting every type of semi-doctor out there "treating" us when what we really need, and even request, is an MD.

To me the titles I'm encountering are as frustrating as trying to figure out the hierarchy and function of the "dust man" on the moon to the "sweeping man" on the moon.  I don't care for this trend, as you can see.  In fact, after all the time I've spent in hospitals, as well as going to so many doctors from all over the eastern part of the US, and then all the other hospitals we dealt with in my daughter's care in the Midwest, my head's been spinning trying to figure out who all these "semi-doctors," (often at best) are, and why they can charge my insurance company for a doctor's visit when the visit was by someone who is NOT a doctor.

Ah, I know you are wondering what does anything to do with anything?  But as I tell my children, bear with me...there is always a method to my madness.

I must say that, to me, one of the most frustrating aspects of CFIDS/ME and fibromyalgia is that we really and truly are in the caveman era as far as understanding this illness when it come to "eye health."  In general, I think we're in the Middle Ages when it comes to understanding this awful illness that has devastated so many lives, but in regard to eye care, we are definitely back in the caveman era.

But first let's get onto the same page here. When I was growing up, we were always taught/told in very clear terms, the difference between an ophthalmologist and an optometrist....and that you definitely had to go to an ophthalmologist to have your eyes checked.  Only if/when you were cleared for all sorts of exotic and not-so-exotic eye diseases and disorders, and IF you needed glasses (as was always the case for me), were you then sent on your merry way to the optometrist.  And mind you, the optometrist was the "poor man's option," which even my immigrant parents who made so little money never settled for: eyes were sacred.

And so, I grew up, and hubby and I united in marriage and had our typical American family. I, as well as my hubby and my children, always went to an ophthalmologist for "eye health."  It was hammered into us that an ophthalmologist is an MD who understands the entire "picture" of the eye, whereas optometrists, with all due respect, only have a degree in glasses and were trained to see if there are obvious problems like glaucoma, etc. Granted, in relatively recent years optometrists are also being trained in certain eye diseases and disorders and thus been allowed to perform some procedures and treat some illnesses, dependent upon which state they practice in. It's kind of scary to me to have semi-doctor treating my eyes, but hey, it's SUPPOSEDLY my choice if I want to pay the whopping fee for a physician (hopefully) or go the less expensive and lesser-trained route of the optometrist.

All in all, I must add, these distinctions are a simple explanation just to suffice for our intents and purposes here today.  Oh I know that there are those out there who can pick out bits of errors here and there, but for my purposes, this distinction is enough, to get us all onto the same page, as I mentioned above.

My experience, my family's experience, my friends' experiences have always been that when you needed glasses, the testing and prescriptions were handled by the ophthalmologist unless he/she had an optometrist on the premises who would do the test to establish what the corrective lenses numbers were in order to get glasses and/or contact lenses.  But on the whole, we've always had a eye exam for glasses done by the MD after he/she closely examined the eye for any diseases, or other problems.  Ay!  It is sooo hard to avoid stepping on people's toes here. But darn it, the truth must be addressed.

When my eyes go funky, I know it's just the illness, but still, it's rather disconcerting.  I feel that when it comes to our vision problems - agh! in addition to all the other problems we need to juggle - we're so busy putting out other fires that consequently vision is crazily put on the back burner.  However, there gets to be a point where the symptoms we experience finally hammer us down to where we DO need to see an eye doctor.

The problem is - I'm now learning - that with the rare exception, our vision problems for the "normal" person are no longer on the radar of the VAST majority of ophthalmologists because seemingly no eye doctors (MD's) seem to care about "us," the non-challenging, non-surgical patients.  I'm not sure just how long this has been the case.  But what, perhaps, may be even more frustrating, is trying to find an ophthalmologist who has even heard of CFIDS/ME and fibro - or even cares!  In other words, they don't give a poop and they want to make a ton of money from surgical procedures with their high reimbursements and don't care about underlying diseases, the "thinking" part of their practice, for which they do NOT get very "good" reimbursements.  So, in a way, shame on us for allowing these procedures to be highly reimbursed and shame on us for allowing the "thinking" appointments to be shabbily reimbursed.

It really frightens me, when I allow myself to think about it, that there's been no one in the vision field who understands what the implications of these illnesses are on the eye.  Without understanding, how are we to insure the health of our eyes?

For the last fifteen years or so, I've had the sorts of vision problems that all of "us" have.

How many problems do we have with our eyes?  Oh, it sometimes seems as if the troubles are endless. Aside from the pesky problem of having to wear glasses and the constant changing of frames every few years, we also have dry eye to contend with, as well as vision that fluctuates from day to day, often from hour to hour.  We have light sensitivity, we have focusing problems.

But basically, what we have wrong is that the signal the brain sends to our eyes is all screwed up.  There are a host of reasons as to how our eyes will do day to day, and I think that it depends an awful lot on how much sleep we get or don't get, as well as how ill we are and whether we're in a healthier state than usual, or are in the midst of a flare, under-stressed, over-stressed - the permutations are endless.

I'm smack in the middle of having my old eye doctor retire and not having found a new one.  One of the reasons for the problems in finding a new eye doctor is that suddenly ophthalmologists are too .... well, "high and mighty" might fit the bill.  When I last went to see a new eye doctor, hubby specifically told the receptionist that we wanted/needed an appointment with an ophthalmologist and not an optometrist.  I'm now speaking of the doctor who I thought might have been hitting the bottle on the side (as described in my March 1 post). 

After a very complete history was filled in during the waiting room experience and then an extremely bizarre examination, my eyes were finally dilated.  As we were waited for the doctor to come back to finish the exam, I was so bored that I actually started reading the various diplomas on the wall and for a moment thought I was hallucinating when I saw that the doctor was not an ophthalmologist, but an optometrist.  Wow!  I couldn't believe my brazenness when I asked her, upon her return to the room, "are you a MD?"  I really couldn't believe my ears when she said, that, no, she was NOT an MD.  And how was I to see the MD?  Well, she, the optometrist made the decision as to whether or not a MD's time was warranted and he only saved his time for interesting cases and surgeries.  Given that we had taken a disliking to one another by now (my having "called" her on not being an MD), we both knew that there was NO way that I'd get to see the MD.  Interestingly enough, hubby had no "interesting" problems a few months earlier, but HE was given an appointment with the MD.  Hmmm.  

How I wanted to tell her just how interesting my case was!  When I went to the "get your glasses in one hour place" at the mall, after the fiasco of the unique experience of having two sets of wrong prescriptions and having to sit through another optometrist's exam, I discovered that the situation I found myself in was not unusual.  The optometrist who had to redo all the work of the previous optometrist told me quite frankly, "Good luck finding an MD who'll do an eye exam these days or look at anything but the most interesting cases which they deem fascinating or not."

How crazy is that?   And how is that that NO ONE reads charts any more, much less the histories that we patients spend how much time filling out?  

I've been on daily shots of pitocin (oxytocin) for at least fifteen years now.  There is no test that can measure if you have an adequate amount of pitocin in your body or not.  Given that my body is so messed up, my GP and I thought that there was a good chance that the pitocin in my body was low.  Add to that the fact that my first baby was a week late and was a mid-forceps delivery, that baby #2 didn't come out for three weeks and then had to be induced with intravenous pitocin and baby #3 was induced and then had to be extracted with a vacuum device.... Well, the chances were high that I did have a pitocin problem.  Unfortunately, no one's really sure what pitocin does in a body.  Everyone DOES know you need it in order to push out a baby, and there is anecdotal evidence that eyesight is affected by pitocin, but even there, we're into some murky territory.

The only real way to know if you are pitocin-deficient is to get a shot of pitocin.  If your vision improves in ten minutes, then you're in luck: it's a problem that can perhaps be remedied by a daily shot of pitocin.  And so, each day I get a pitocin shot and for a part of the day, my vision improves.  How much is not predictable, nor for how long, etc.  I'd really like to see an MD "in eyes" about this aspect of my health, given how important eyes are.

After this way too long post (congrats if you made it this far!) do you now see what I mean about being quite fearful of this lack of understanding of vision and CFIDS/ME and fibromyalgia?

Gives you something to think about.  Or as they used to say when I was growing up, "put THAT in your pipe and smoke it!"  Ponder about it a bit, is what it means. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nightwear Online Shopping Tips

A safe but very expensive online buy: the classic Hanro.

So, what is it that dominates in the wardrobes of a person with CFIDS/ME/fibromyalgia?  Why sleepwear, of course! I've touched on this a bit before, in the March 15, 2012 post.  

At first glance, shopping online may seem to be the answer (akin to the promised land!) for the sick and/or those who are home bound and have no way of getting to the stores because, let's face it, with the Internet, all appears to be at our fingertips. 

But ay ya ya ya yay!  What a misconception online shopping can be.  First, nothing takes the place of seeing the true shade of a color, the proportions and cut of a garment, the weight of the fabric, the feel between your fingers. Secondly, everything looks so wonderful on the various shopping sites to the point that when said item arrives, often you cannot make heads nor tails of what the heck it is and need to go back onto the website to see what it was that attracted you so much to the item that you actually went through the whole hullabaloo of buying. Suddenly you realize what liberties were taken when the product description was written and you also realize that there was a huge army involved in the look: stylists, tailors, hair dressers, makeup artists and an veritable army of who know what to make the article of clothing you're holding in your hand and you are shocked by the "misinformation" or "brainwashing" or "propaganda" - take your pick as to which words apply to your disillusionment.

...I so miss shopping, the thrill of the find, the immediate gratification.  The KNOWING that this article has a huge chance of being successful, or knowing that said piece of clothing will never, ever work out.  Yes, there are times when my BFF Linda and I say right out loud, how we wished we had a crystal ball that would tell us if a garment will be a "success" or a complete and total disaster and a waste of our money.  And BTW: Linda and I are always on the look-out for one of those crystal balls, but no luck. Imagine that!

The perils of shopping online when you're never really able to go out to shop in real life is that a frame of reference is often missing and, unfortunately, desperation often causes you to start adding clothing to various online carts willy-nilly, most of which will need to be returned because of problems with size, suitability, fabric. In other words, said garment looks bloody awful.

To add insult to injury, this necessary "overbuying" and "unsuitability" also ends up wreaking havoc on your the credit card because of delays in refunds, etc.

However, I've finally found a bit of a formula that has allowed me to cut down on the returns part of online shopping, thus sparing my credit card and, hopefully, keeping the overinflated balances down to a minimum.    I have developed a few basic rules for buying my sleepwear (nightgown, of course) which is helping me, though not as much as I'd hoped for.  Another example of my being a work-in-progress!    

  • Cotton is, to me, king. It breathes even as we sweat.  It reminds me of gold: it's largely non-reactive, so fewer chances of skin allergic reactions.
  • Yes, the "new" modal is wonderfully soft, made of a natural source, cellulose, but it has a tendency to stretch out of shape and sag, so you do need to see if you think the spandex (an artificial non-breathing material) often added to the modal is enough, while at the same time not giving you the itches.  I have one beautiful modal gown sitting in my closet at the moment that needs to be returned.  Bummer.
  • White is most practical. I admit it: I love bleach!  Yes, I know that bleach isn't the greatest thing for the environment, but there are some things I'm just not willing to compromise on and that is, killing the heck out of germs!   
 Furthermore, "we" can go an awful long time without bathing and changing clothing.  (Oh boy!  This is just so embarrassing to put on paper for the whole world to see, but I'm really trying to say it as it is).  A lot of us eat all our meals in bed because it's just too hard to eat sitting up (shudder: sorry, I just got a visual of me eating at the table and the word "torture" flashed through my mind) and so our nightwear can start looking something like my babies' "onsies" did after a struggle of the mouth and spoon connecting.  Bleach helps me now just as it did with my babies' clothing.     

  • Jersey knit: may very well be my absolute favorite fabric.  It's soft, easy to maneuver in bed as you toss and turn trying to fall asleep.     
  • Tank-style nightgowns: my favorite.  Need more be said for this über-comfy style?        
  • Tea -length nightgowns work best for me.  If I'm having a clumsy spell, the extra fabric of a long gown can get twisted around the legs when I momentarily forget I'm not healthy and jump up to do something - and proceed to fall down very quickly.  (Admit it!  I COULDN'T make this stuff up!)  Short around the knees, on the other hand, is asking for family members to see something that might scar everyone for the rest of their lives.        
  • "Sleeveless only" is what I buy  99% of the time.  Those nightgowns, when I've broken down and bought them with sleeves, have just newer worked out for me for so many reason.  These buying mistakes tend to be never work, despite how cute they are, how welcoming they are to the skin.   Body temperature fluctuations can drive one mad, so going sleeveless where you can slip on something soft and light when you start freezing works well.  Layers is key to survival.  

So these are the basics I've come up with in this category of the sleepwear/loungewear we all too often live in at home.   Part 2 will be continued in my next post, though depending how I feel (physically) something may pop up before I put the finishing touches on Part Two.

In the meantime, I do so hope that something in this post may end up in your CFIDS/ME/fibro arsenal  as a great tip for survival.  

And I do so hope that all are doing as well as can be!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday night beauty pampering...

Nothing like a good soak on a a Friday night...or do I need a life?

Finally, the week is over and about half of the population will be celebrating the end of the week by going out, while the other half lies on a coach and is exhausted, happy to finally have a break.  For those of us in the US, it's a three-day weekend, Monday being Memorial Day when we remember and honor those veterans who died in wars fighting for our freedom and in protecting our freedom.  We salute them.

At the same time, we plan our barbeques, picnics and/or hit the stores for the Memorial Day Sales!

And then there's "us," the ones with CFIDS/ME/fibro, who feel weary and exhausted (what an understatement... so sorry!) and pain so strong and killing that it feels as if it can send you straight through the roof.   For "us," I'm going to suggest a few products that some call the "ultimate" in end-of-the-week relaxation and perhaps a bit of a reward for getting through the week, the good old-fashioned bath experience of lying back, relaxing and letting your pains and woes float away - OK, only in a movie, but even in real life, the bath, with something special added can help, especially if you can talk someone into running it for you and all you need to do is step in....

People with CFIDS/ME/fibro, rejoice! Just a couple of weeks ago, I was finally able to christen my new bathtub with a truly indulging treat!  I christened it with:
  • Elemis' "Skin Nourishing Milk Bath."  What decadence.  I even indulged myself more by adding three capfulls, instead of two, because...well, I was spoiling myself!  Because of remodeling I'd not been able to take a bath in a year and my skin has been so dehydrated that the words "prune" and "raisin" come to mind.  Hospital stays and almost dying, I suppose, are not kind to the skin.  So, I'm working hard on plumping up the skin, all the time trying to lose weight, of course.  Crazy, no?  Your skin is softened and washing it with a nice body wash leaves it feeling indulged. Anyway, I'm simply in love with the milk bath - insanely in love - and will reorder as soon as my finances look like they can handle it.

The next time I plan to melt away the aches and pains of the day, I'm going to add a real favorite:
  • Ahava's "Juniper Mineral Bath Salts."  I've used these in the past, the Dead Sea Salts are heavenly and really do help melt away quite a bit of the aches and pains going on in your body.  I tend to think that the magnesium in the salts have a lot to do with the success of alleviating pain.  I'm not saying it's the answer but I find that they give me a bit of a break.  The smell is that of most therapeutic salts.  This is not a luxury item in the sense of the milk bath (which reminds me of Cleopatra) but the results are so amazing, the skin so soft. And I do really love the sensation of floating in the water.

And while I was in the tub the last time, I tested out my:Liz Earle "Energizing Body Scrub."  First let me just say that there is nothing energizing at all in this scrub for this CFIDS'er, so I'm not sure you need to fear that it's going to energize you just as you want to start working on falling asleep.  The ingredients include  Damask Rose Flower Water (and I love anything of quality that smells of roses, very cliche of me, but true), Sweet Orange Oil (clean smell and feel), 8 essential oils (unnamed) and Vitamin E, all with ground-up olive stones.  I'm not sure that the ground olive stones were a selling point with me other than that they ARE natural, and the Rose and Orange together are bliss.  My shoulders and upper arms were especially rewarded with this scrub and it's a real keeper.  In fact, thinking ahead (really, Irene?) this would be a nice Christmas present...or birthday gift.

And finally, just because my eyes have been giving me such a hard time lately:
  • Liz Earle's "Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion."  I pour a bit onto two cotton pads and let them soak onto/into my eyes for about 15 minutes.  Eye drop do me no good: I contend that it's because the eyeball itself is so hard, perhaps from dehydration, perhaps from inflammation, I have no idea other than it's as about as porous as a marble.  These soaked pads are the best relief I've had for my eyes. I'm not saying this is the answer, but again, I'll take relief where I can get it.

I hope everyone has a really wonderful long weekend, that everyone stays safe and that everyone feels good.  Till next time! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Beauty CFIDS/ME/fibro tidbits...

I'm already missing spring, my favorite season!

Today, I have three "helpful hints" (or "tidbits") for the CFIDS/ME/fibromyalgia crowd.  And guess what: it's a short(ish) post!  Perhaps I can write shorter posts too - you just never know!  I'm certainly working on it (trust me!).

  • Tip 1: Dial Liquid Pump Antibacterial Soap

Let's face it, we sweat! And it's big-time sweat, because for the most part, living is difficult, and more often than not, a monumental, Herculean and Olympic-worthy effort.  On the other hand, we also have skin problems.  So, what to do?

Long ago, I finally realized that in the summer, just when I really need a hard-working soap like Safeguard, my skin simply can't tolerate it any longer, much to my chagrin.

However, I've discovered that using the Dial liquid pump antibacterial soap (I especially like the Pomegranate and Tangerine one at the moment), works beautifully under my arms and I now have those pump bottles strategically placed in all our showers, bathrooms and even by the kitchen sink.

In fact, this works so well in killing the bacteria which causes that "ripe" smell, that I even use it with my razor, as the foam needed for a good shave.  (Though I admit that for the legs, I'm back to my good old Dove, working up a nice lather.)  

BTW: I find that the "Gillette Venus" disposables with the refill cartridges for women, and its multi-bladed cartridges surrounded by soap, to be the most gentle and efficient razor for me.  My skin is sensitive and I have little hair to deal with, so....

  • Tip #2: Phyto; Phytophenere with Vitamins and Essestial Fat Acids - Five Thumbs up!
This prize-winning supplement is truly an amazing product and I'm surprised that so many people have not heard of it.  I understand that thinning hair and brittle nails are a really serious concern for those of us with CFIDS/ME/fibro, especially after we've gone through a rough patch, including a "simple" flu. 

Phyto's vitamins (a two-month supply) work like a charm. After a month, the tiny hairs start making their way through my scalp and I'm actually filing my nails down instead of breaking them at every turn. I'm not sure if they help with teeth, but I HAVE been taking them a lot of months out of the year, so my "no cavities" turn might have been helped on that end also. (I'm in the midst of another kind of vitamin regiment and will let you know in about another month or so if that works out.)  There were a few negative reviews on the drugstore.com site, but these reviewers, are, for the most part "healthy" buyers.  I would, however, check the label (as in anything!) to make sure you don't have an established reaction to any of the ingredients.  But as I stated before, I was in a desperate situation and am very glad I took "the risk." 

  • Tip #3:  My final tip of the day, taking a probiotic, comes to me via my stay in the Intensive Care Unit, this stay a few years ago. (Hard to keep track of them all, isn't it?  Ha!)
While in the ICU, in addition to my normal medications, a probiotic was added. 

For those not familiar with what a "probiotic" is, a simple explanation is that it's healthy bacteria that help to promote health by competing against the "bad" bacteria, which does cause disease. 

When I asked my nurse about the added probiotic, I was told that all the ICU patients get them, even the ones who were not going to be with them much longer, and I don't mean that in anything but in an after-life dismissal. The hospital found that bacteria/germs/viruses spread less easily in the ICU if everyone was on a probiotic and that their patients did better, on the whole, with one.

Therefore, when I arrived home, I ordered "Align" for no other reason than it looked good from the reviews on drugstore.com, not a very scientific way to go, I know. I saw that "Align" was a digestive aid and since I had done well with digestive enzymes in the past, I thought this might be a good way to go.  Furthermore, I had tried other kinds of probiotics in the past, but due to refrigeration concerns, never succeeded in staying the course and ended up throwing them away all too often.

With "Align," I immediately noticed a change in my IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), for the better - MUCH better. However, due to fibro-brain, I'm a forgetful type of person, often feeling the expession/observation "out of sight, out of mind" was made up just for me.  (Perhaps that should be the motto for CFIDS/ME/fibro?)  When I've run out of "Align," two weeks will go by and suddenly I'm trying to remember what in the world I'm doing wrong.  I'm embarrassed to admit how long it has taken me to remember what the problem is and now absolutely BEG hubby to remind me to take it.  

Were it a medication that made me have a seizure if I forgot to take it, I'd have better luck (we all know I'm talking about Klonopin and Neurontin, right?). But anything short of that, I'm afraid that I'm a hopeless case.

I also take an oral probiotic, "Evoraplus," when I can remember it and do think that's helped me too. Unfortunately, because of my aforementioned memory problem,  I can't give it an 5 thumbs up. It would be hypocritical/dishonest. But perhaps by writing about it here will shame me into remembering to take it regularly since I really am convinced that it helps me and I think it may well have been an added factor to the "no cavities" front from  last week's visit to the dentist. 

So, there you have it: a short-ish post from me!  I do hope that at least one these tips helps make your life easier! Here's to hoping all are doing well!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Self-tanning and bronzers à la CFIDS/ME/fibro-style...

Some of my self-tanning supplies for this year.

Now that we're explored the world of exfoliation, we're ready for that all-important "sun look."  I'm not sure about you, but since my skin is chicken-skin white, self-tanners really are a life-saver.   Normally, I don't do "the whole bit," but since this is my year of "making myself look human," I've decided that I really am going to go the self-tanner route and streaks be darned.  You see, I'm such a perfectionist that I can take all day just applying self-tanners. Granted, most of the day is spent trying to get my energy up to do it - and the rest of the day is taken up with giving myself a pep talk that I don't really need to do a perfect job.  But this year, I've told myself, I'm just going for it.  

Except there's been a bit of a kink in the system, just as it's started.  I put on two of the tanners I've been excited about and you'll hear the results in a moment.  Two or three days later when I was ready to reapply the self-tanners was the day that I'd had those unfortunate baby hives and when I went to take a bath in order to exfoliate the skin, I found that those pesky little hives had left the front of one leg abraded!  "Foiled again!" as Popeye might have said.  

So, yesterday was to be my day to do the whole exfoliation experience followed by self-tanners.  I'd written up (yesterday's) post and decided I needed to take a picture.  Everything was finally arranged downstairs in the new bathroom, pictures taken, but I wanted to take a few more with the window shutters open and as I stepped back out of the bathtub from adjusting the shutters, I fell.  Badly. I even shattered a tray that was standing outside the tub to bits, one I didn't think was even breakable - I must say I'm most talented!  I'm not quite sure what happened, although I do remember thinking, "NOT THE FACE! NOT THE FACE!" as I came crashing down and was rather badly banged up. The face is fine!...the rest of me, not so much.  I've become a bit accident-prone lately, and I don't like it!  Usually, I'm as agile as a monkey.  I have no idea what is happening to me.

All of which is to say that the products were tested only once this year and I'll have to rely on the experiences of last year as well.  I'll have to wait at least another week or two before I get to work on my "tan," but rest assured, what follows will be what I'll be using since it all is basically the same, year in and year out, with one notable exception.  

I've found it a good policy to basically go with Clarins since it appears to be fine with my skin and, really, I shouldn't do too much experimentation any longer since I've had a few disastrous results in the past. Often, I find, "don't fix it if it ain't broke!" is indeed the smart policy.  So, off we go with:

  • Clarins "Delectable Self-Tanning Mousse with Mirabelle Oil."  I used this on my legs and they came out looking rather nicely.  
If anyone recalls, due to a flu I had a few years ago which lasted two years (yes, this is not a mistake, I had a whole full blown-out flu for two years: amazing what this CFIDS/ME/fibro can do to your system!) and was left with mottled legs as a souvenir.  Given that my legs have been one of my vanity points (i.e., one of the few things that I actually liked about my body - oh come on, we American women ALL hate our bodies!  It must happen in the hospital when we're born and then just gets worse over the years) I thought at first that the tanner would sort of disguise the "mottle-ness" or "mottled mess."  However, after the whole arm/hand thing and with my muscle tissue coming out in that bag of urine in the hospital as I lay dying (sorry, Billy Faulkner, for using your words), I now have these veins that are not going back into the body and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get rid of them. Horseback riding lessons are one idea (my GP just gave me a huge lecture that it is time and, man, how I do not want to do it, at this point, but only because of timing considerations!!!) and I have an awful feeling that for many reasons that it's simply not going to happen. 

Anyway, I thought the self-tanners may help disguise...well, that with a lot of very long skirts?!  Anyone with ideas, please figure out my funky comments section and write in as I'm pretty desperate.

But, yes, from one application of the Clarins Mousse, I came out with a very nice tan on my legs that I could see would help me with my "disguise" plans.  

In previous years, I've also tried the following Clarins self-tanners and intend to do so again this year:
  • Clarins "Self Tanning Instant Gel"
  • Clarins "Self Tanning Milk with Sun Protection"
Both have done nice jobs and given that I already have them in stock, I'll be using them until I run out and then will most likely buy again.

But we have a surprise!
  • Omorovicza's "Glam Glow self-tanner"....5 thumbs up!
I'd received a full-sized sample of Omorovizca's "Glam Glow self-tanner" when I bought one of their sample bags - when it was on sale a few weeks ago.  I was bold enough to ask if they had a substitute that I could have instead of the self-tanner but the substitute was so unattractive compared to the self-tanner (OK, it was a $20 value compared to a whopping $89 value for the self-tanner!  And OK, I was momentarily dizzied by the dollar in this instance - but I also knew I'd have a better chance of using the self-tanner than the substitute, which I guarantee you I would never have used!).  As soon as it came in I used it on my arms (we have 30 inches of scarring to somehow camouflage) and I loved the color and smell.  It just looked like my arms, but darker.  Best, it made my very white (read: untoned, flabby) arms, that is, from shoulder to shoulder, including the collar bone and décolleté SHINE! Even my daughter, who'd stopped by the house, remarked on it.  I GLOWED!   And it was nice.  I'm not sure that it will be "strong" enough for my legs, though I know I'll give the legs a layer of it after I've built up some color on them, thanks to the Clarins, plus I can't wait to see what'll happen to my legs with a bit of glow.  I just hope it's not neon veins!  BTW: only the best of ingredients are used.  Omorovicza tries to keep it as healthy and natural as possible, albeit remembering that they do want to give you a tan! 

Moving on, every summer I use the following periodically:
  • Jergens Natural Glow Revitalizing Daily Moisturizer, Fair to Medium Skin
  • Jergens Natureal Glow Firming Daily Moisturizer, Fair to Medium Skin
Now these are really and truly very nice products, but you need to apply them every day and there is nothing that I do every day, other than eat.  NOTHING!   I have CFIDS/ME/fibro, and that's the beginning of  my problems, so nothing else is a given.  Let's face it, even breathing every day if often difficult.  So, I've applied the Jergens now and then, but really, it's a lost cause for me and I'm not even sure I didn't throw them out when we were decluttering.  Let me tell you, I had quite the collection as each new kind of Jergens gradual tanner came out, and once my ever-optimistic middle child bought me the medium-dark skin one.  Sad.  He's just so darned optimistic, that dear child!
  • Bare Essentuals "Faux Tan"  
Now, hubby was sent out to buy me a self-tanner last year, with no specific instructions, I'm the first to admit, at least not instructions specific enough for him.  He came home with the aforementioned "Faux Tan" and I wanted to cry.  I'd already had a bad experience with it a few years back. (Daughter to mom/me: "WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOURSELF????")  After looking at the happiness on hubby's face and hearing everything that the salesclerk told him (VERBATIM!), I tried the stuff on my legs again (on the principle that no one would see the disaster) and I still do NOT understand how this mess works!  I've read up on it, watched people on YouTube and people actually swear by it.  The saleswoman must have been telling the truth when she said she couldn't keep it in stock but I've had no luck with it. 

I HAVE read that you can now buy a brush to apply it with.  Are they insane?   Why would I want to fork out 50 bucks for a brush to use a self-tanner that MIGHT work if I do it ABSOLUTELY correctly and am, by the way, a Snookie-like pro with self-tanners, which I'm not?  And then the brush has to be washed, I would imagine?  I love brushes but, really, in this instance, my life is already difficult enough, so I'm not even going there...unless, I get very desperate about my legs....

But then I'll use the
  • St. Tropez's "Tan Optimizer Applicator Mitt"  
Right!  OK.  I'd like to think that I'll use it, especially since I already own one.  I hate orange hands perhaps even more than streaks, so washing my hands is usually a huge ordeal. I do one leg and wash hands thoroughly, including using the all important nail brush.  After a while (at least 15-30 minutes because I'm now exhausted and need a rest) I do the other leg, wash hands and rest.  Same goes with the arms, shoulders, back of neck, etc.  Wash hands and rest.  Actually, you've/I've earned the rest by now!  Congratulations!
  • St. Tropez's "Tan Optimiser"  ("Tan Removal")
This is what is giving me the confidence this year to go on and risk the streaks, orange hands and mishaps.  I've used this a bit and haven't had any problems with my hands.  Good!   A lot of anxiety not needed, a definite plus in my book.

Now, I do not tan my face.  That is a sacred area.  (See above account of accident last night to remember just how sacred the face is!)  

But thanks to Ruth, The Model, I've discovered: 
  • Chanel's "Soleil Tan," a cream bronzer that you apply with your fingers, or with a brush if you really want a mess and have the energy to clean brushes.  I like the control I get with my fingers.  It is heaven!   Yes, this is just a cosmetic, which is all I'll use on my face, thank you very much!
I've found that bronzers can be tricky.  They can be muddy, they can be orange.  They can "over-stick" if your face is over-moisturized, they can do heaven-only-knows-what if your face is under-moisturized.  I own Guerlain and many other "best of" bronzers.  My daughter always thinks she's my mother and will start smudging off some of the bronzer I apply (I guess it's not the right amount or not in the right place to please the ever-critical "children.")

However, the Chanel goes on beautifully and because it melts into your skin - it is a cream - it works like a dream. It blends so well that it's almost mistake proof. Critical daughter had nothing to criticize the few times I've worn it!  I get no awful facial reaction to it, my face actually seems to LIKE whatever is in there.  So, that is it for bronzers for me.  

Oh, I'm sure I'll fool around with a few other products - it's my nature.  And I do have a few products lying around already that I really should give a try.  But really, I'm happy (or not happy in one instance) with the products I've listed and so there you have it. 

And finally, just to keep everyone safe, the best sunscreen ever:
  •  La Mer's "The SPF 30 Protecting Fluid," bar none!
When I visited my son in Australia, I had at least five different sunblocks to choose from/foisted upon me, that is, by various members of my family as they all feared for me because they all tan while I only burn - and Townsville is in the tropics. (We also went during the height of their summer so we could spend time with said son!) I hated every single one of those sunscreens as much in the topics as I did anywhere else, not surprisingly.  

But I do remember being wonderfully shocked by the feel of the La Mer, especially since I was in the midst of trying them out one by one, constantly, no rhyme nor reason other than someone was always yelling, "MOOOOMMMM!!!!," horrified that I'd expire from melanoma right there in front of them.  After about thirty minutes by the pool one day (a record, trust me!) I fell in love with the La Mer (who knew?  I'd been using it for years whenever I got a nice lecture from Sylvia). For the rest of our time in Oz, I kept reapplying the La Mer, and was able to come home as pale as I left. To tell you the truth, because it is so pricey, I use it only on my face, shoulders, décolleté and arms.  I figure the rest of the body can use the less expensive sunblocks and since my legs aren't funny about having anything on them, it's basically a non-issue. Besides, if I did burn those legs, I'd kind of like it (again: remember, I'm a product of the '70's!)

And if you're in the sun: please remember to wear a hat!  The sun really does have a tendency to wipe "us" out, those with CFIDS/ME/fibro, and a hat with a wide brim is hard to beat.

If you want to be a bronze goddess this summer, these products may work for you.  Or, if like me, you just want to look a bit healthier, this just might be the ticket for you too.  Whatever, enjoy!   And if you can sneak a few minutes of sun for your Vitamin D without any cover, go for it, as long it's for just a right amount of time - I've heard ten minutes in the gentle morning sun, not the afternoon harsh 3PM sun - and it might be a good idea to carry a timer with you, as it is all too easy to misjudge how long you've been out in the sun. (Personally, I'm really hoping umbrellas in the sun, as in "parasols," come back into style!  Think about it: it's a nice idea, and we would get a bit of sun, just enough for that oh-so-necessary Vitamin D!)

Finally, my GP, who knows me all too well, has put me on Vitamin D capsules to take daily since, for the first time ever, my Vitamin D level has dropped significantly, to an unhealthy number.  Hmmmm...perhaps he doesn't know me as well as he thinks: I have hit my quota as to how many meds I can remember to take and supplements are a whole 'nother ball game in the memory department, one I will also get into at some point!

In the meanwhile: Happy Sunless Sunning! 

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Exfoliating methods and products for my funky skin: deliciously satisfying.

Some of my favorite exfoliating products.
I thought we'd get away from a bit of the depressing medical aspects of CFIDS/ME and fibromyalgia, and that we'd  have a bit of fun with beauty tips.  I've been experimenting with a few products and thought it might be fun to let you know what's been working in my world.  I promised "exfoliation" in an earlier post and so here goes my version, or at the very least, the one I've been fooling around with most recently.  As always, all disclaimers are in full force.  What may work for me might not work for you.  But I really have tried to list products that I think will be fairly safe for our "funky" CFIDS/ME/fibro skin.

  • First, in the category for cleaning my face with a gadget, I have fallen absolutely in love with my Clarisonic Mia.  (It's in coral: how "today" - can you get and how much will it haunt me in a few years, no?)  
This was a bit of a surprise since my original Clarisonic wasn't a complete success.  I would use it periodically, but it seemed a bit rough for my face.  Mind you, at this point I hadn't realized that my skin was, indeed, problematic. (I'm a slow learner, remember?)  I just kept thinking we didn't agree for some reason.

When feeling virtuous and diligent about "doing my face,"  I'd occasionally go to my Clarisonic, but I wasn't in love with it.  In fact, when I bought the Mia, I only did so because I thought (hoped?) that I'd thrown out the original when we moved everything out of of our Master closet, bedroom and bath for the big remodel -when I'd bitten the bullet and ruthlessly thrown out anything I didn't want or need, looked awful on me, or was in anyway just taking up room. Whoops. Somehow the old Clarisonic wasn't thrown out (it was the toothbrush I'd thrown out) and so I was now "stuck" with two Clarisonics.

However, I started to fall in love with the coral Mia when I realized it didn't make the water rolling-down-your-arms-when-using-it mess.  But the old Clarisonic needed a new head - I was not about to use a cruddy looking old head!  So I finally ordered two heads from Sephora: the "delicate skin" one and the "sensitive skin" one because, of course, I couldn't make a decision - a CFIDS/ME/fibro problem in general.  When they came in it took me forever to decide which I needed, the one for delicate skin or the one for sensitive skin.  I mean, really, didn't I have both types of skin, delicate as well as sensitive?

Here are the great distinctions, from the Clarisonic site:

      *Normal: Perfect for normal skin, shaving prep and for use on the decollete and body.
      *Sensitive: An easy introduction for sensitive to normal skin types.
      *Delicate: Ultra-gentle for those with delicate or extra--sensitive skin.

What?  Fibro-brain here was having a hard time making the distinctions!   But I finally decided  that the old Clarisonic would be used on my body with the "sensitive" head and the Mia on my face with the "delicate" head.
  • Oh my!  The "delicate" head put the Mia into another world and I am in love.  It was so gentle that I didn't want to stop using it and I felt as if my skin was finally getting cleaned out for the first time ever.  This was not something I'd felt with the original ("normal") head.  I really wanted to write a post about it immediately, but given that I was in the midst of my DIY ("Do It Yourself") spa experience, I was certainly not able to do so because I was so busy melting in the bath.
This now leads us to what did I use with the Clarisonic?
  • Well, I certainly didn't use the cleanser that came with the Mia.  Sorry, but it's a bit too generic for me.  I don't want to take chances.  And who really knows who even made whatever is in there?  No, I do not want to go there.
  • I have a bottle of Perricone MD "Nutritive Cleanser" (12 oz or 354 ml) and it was no better on my face with the Mia than before.  It absolutely strips my skin.  I really should just toss it into the garbage, especially since I still have four trial sized versions sitting around but I can't stand to throw out so much money.  So periodically, I'll used the Nutritive Cleanser on my body.
  • However, I know a lot of people do well with Perricone MD "Nutritive Cleanser."  I was told by a beauty expert that it's the foaming action that must not agree with me.  Other people swear by this product, so please take that into consideration.  Do you have problems with products which have foaming action?  (Of course, that doesn't quite explain my love for Dove and certain foaming shampoo's....) Is this a general CFIDS/ME/fibro reaction or is just me, I do not know.
  • I used La Mer's "Cleansing Foam" and that was not the greatest product that I've ever used but not the worst.  I wash with it occasionally, but am very careful and will be happier when it's out of my life.  In other words, though I am in love with La Mer products (and have been since the Creme de La Mer since first came out), this particular product has not been a huge success story for me and not really worth the money for me.
  • I hit a home run, finally, with Kate Sommerville's "Gentle Daily Wash."  This is great for face and body, I find.
  • And believe it or not, I actually use my good old Dove "beauty bar" soap, the original, the classic.  And I see that it has made it onto InStyle's "best of" list again...GO DOVE!  Not perfect, but much better than the products above, save the Kate Sommerville.
  • I tried Estée Lauder's "Soft Clean Tender Creme Cleanser" the other day and will try it again.  It looked very promising.
What exfoliation do I use besides or instead of going the Clarisonic methods?
  •  "Daily Microfoliant" by Dermalogica is great.  It's a powder that you rub into your very, very wet hands in order to turn it into a foaming paste and then into foaming "nothingness."  It reminds me a lot of Bare Minerals "Exfoliating Treatment Cleanser."  It can be a bit harsh for my skin, so I use it when I feel like my skin can take it, especially if I've gone through a long period of not washing my face and really need to even out that skin, especially my nose.  I like the massaging and "rubbing" action when it's called for.
  • On a more daily basis, I prefer the Dermologica "Gentle Cream Exfoliant."  It seems gentler on my face (I have combination skin), not stripping, nor scratching, just nice smooth skin afterward.
  • My favorite exfoliant must be La Mer's "Facial Refiner," something I admit I didn't care for too awfully much for years, but kept using samples.  Well, ladies (and gents?) this really should be used in the shower!!!!  It makes a huge difference.  My beloved Sylvia also gave me a couple of tips when I got that first sample but somehow, I didn't listen/hear her.  A couple of years later, I finally tried it in the shower and then promptly bought the full-sized "Facial Refiner."  Furthermore, while in the shower, don't wash it off immediately, but let it sit on your face (and the backs of your hands if you can manage that?) and do something else in the shower, like wash your hair, shave your legs.  Let the "Facial Refiner" work for you.  Make sure you have it completely massaged and activated before putting it on you face.  This is one mighty fine beauty treatment.
  • A less expensive, but more difficult to acquire exfoliant treatment, is by Liz Earle.  Now the award- winning Liz Earle has a US branch on the internet, however, and I'm in love with her products.  Liz Earle's method employs the muslin cloth.  In fact, she was the first to come up with this idea and other companies are now copying this method.
Essentially, you pump some cream on your dry hand and smooth it onto your dry face and gently massage it all in, including over your eyes.  It takes all the makeup off, if you're wearing it.  Personally, I prefer to take off that first layer of makeup with Dove and then move on any other product, but that's just me.  I use "Clean and Polish" even when not wearing makeup because I love the cream  and results so much.  As you massage, the skin softens and I find that if I'm in the tub, it's hard to stop.  And as if that's not enough: Liz Earle's products are all very natural but not at the expense of it feeling luxurious.  The "Cleanse and Polish" has Rosemary, Chamomile, Cocoa Butter and Eucalpytus essential oil. 
  • Step two of the Liz Earle "Cleanse and Polish" is gently "polishing" off the cleanser with a hand hot muslin cloth.  I used face cloths a lot with other products before buying the Liz Earle and have found that the muslin cloth is indeed more effective than a washcloth.  
However, be warned to remember the words to "gently polish" the cleanser off.  In my enthusiasm for the muslin cloth, one day I decided to use it with her "Energizing Body Scrub" on my shoulders where I tend to get really rough skin.  It's a great product, but like I said, I was a bit too enthusiastic and ended up with two knuckles abraded when the cloth rolled on me and my fingers somehow got twisted in the cloth.  Don't be as dumb as I am, please!   For those who would like to check out Liz Earle's website (and I do encourage you you to do so) it's: http://us.lizearle.com/?cmp=google_brand&kw=liz+earle+com+b
I especially loved the travel weekend kit with its travel-sized products.  It's a sweet kit, just the right size to put in loads of trial-sized products while traveling, including shampoo and conditioner.  And because Liz Earle has trial-sized products you can buy, I know I'll be restocking that travel kit once I buy the normal-sized products too. http://us.lizearle.com/kits-and-gifts/pampering-weekend-kit.html

And finally, a real surprise:
  • Aveeno "Clear Complexion Daily Cleansing Pads."  I love them!  My skin never breaks out in tiny bumps, nor rashes, and always feels just right after using these pads.  I'm on my third jar of it, and since it's a relatively new discovery, that's really saying something!  The product info under the name says "Gently Exfoliates for Clear, Even-Looking Skin."  Exfoliates, yes. I'm not so sure just how much it helps even out my ahem....ugh...."mature" skin.
So there you have it.  These are the latest exfoliating products and processes I've been fooling around with lately.  After this, your face will definitely be ready for serums...

...of course, I haven't even touched upon the deep cleaning masks yet....they are really lovely things to have in your beauty arsenal.  More to come, I promise!

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Note: I somehow lost this original post and, of course, it was the ONE I didn't back up.   Worse, I hate to think how many errors there are in this copy...but can't bare to look through it all right now!   Someone grab me some anti-nausea med, please!  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

CFIDS sensitive skin: Some of us need to learn the hard way...

My mom is proof positive that eating healthy and exercise really helps you look great even when you're 70.  Here in Kiev in '93.

At times I marvel at my colossal stupidity.  I mean, I've had CFIDS/ME/fibromyalgia and all of the health issues that have resulted from this core illness for 37 years.  And yet, somehow, I'm still in denial and do incredibly dumb things.  

I KNOW I have sensitive skin.  I've even written in this very blog about some of the problems I've had because of this.  I take an anti-histamine every night in order to keep hives at bay.  For Pete's sake!  You'd think by now I'd be a bit more careful about what I put on my skin and what I eat and/or drink.  But I'm constantly doing stupid things. Well, I guess I needed to go too far in order to start back to where I would get some real help.

Yesterday, Saturday afternoon, was quiet around here.  Hubby was exhausted and was taking a long nap.  I'd gone to the dentist on Thursday, a hugely needed event, and had my teeth cleaned - YAY!  The plaque was driving me absolutely bonkers and I had two year's worth because of the whole thing going on with my daughter.  Now we're, of course, catching up with everything.  

BTW: I had some really good news that could be taken as a tip perhaps.  For the first time in my life, I had no cavities.  My dentist (of almost 30 years) was quite surprised and said so: with my dry mouth, it's always a given that there'll be major problems, at the very least, cavities.  Given how long it'd been since my teeth have had any professional attention whatsoever, this was nearly a miraculous happening.  But once the conversation turned to bad backs, I thought to mention that I was able to brush my teeth more frequently because we had remodeled our attic bathroom (the one we've been living in for a year because the "master" bedroom and bath are being remodeled - SCREAM!) and that we'd put in a tall vanity with the sink.  Rather than those low vanities where you have to bend down so far when you wash your face and do your morning or nightly routine, our new vanities are now the height of the ones in a normal kitchen.  What a difference.  Now I have much less back pain so my brain doesn't rebel as much when I try to go brush my teeth.

But on Saturday, I came down with hives and couldn't figure out what the heck was happening. 

We remembered that on Friday I was feeling so cruddy that I called hubby at work and said that I absolutely needed a hero, loaded down with tons of processed meat: salami and ham, especially.  I needed the salt big time.  And I told  him to add a pizza to the whole bit.  If I was going to be "bad" and eat those things that hurt my body (the carbs and combining carbs with proteins/fats, plus processed food in general), I was going to at least enjoy it.

On Saturday, having already messed up my good eating habits, and feeling worse, I added cookies and milk to the whole eating disaster, and asked hubby to defrost some of my piroshki while he was at it.  Piroshki are these wonderful baked rolls with a ground beef filling that also has my beloved dill in it, etc.  (Everything Russian has dill, or sour cream, or better yet, both!)

So hubby and I tried to figure out what in the world had caused these baby hives that were breaking out all over, section by section, like a general sending troops out to occupy new territory a bit at a time.

I remembered that after the dentist we had stopped at the pharmacy nearby.  I had needed some retail therapy. I've never been a believer in "retail therapy," but now that I am getting out even more rarely than before, I just needed to hit a store and look at those items I see on the Internet.  Wow.  The shampoos and products I see on "Project Runway" or even on the occasional commercials I don't manage to skip through - I never thought I'd get excited seeing them in real life!  What has my life come to?

So, as hubby had laid snoring next to me, I'd picked up the bag of what I'd bought two days earlier.  Yes, by the time I got home I was in no shape to even look at what I'd bought, much less appreciate it.  Friday, the day after the dentist's appointment I was in more pain than I've had in a long time, weaker than I've been in a long time.  

Post-exertional malaise anyone?  

As I wondered about the adventures at the dentist, I  remembered a nurse who was a patient at the holistic clinic I went to weekly for an entire year, back in 1997, something I'll get into at some point, I promise.  I'd see Betty there every once in a while when I'd get my weekly chelation or a "nutritional IV," a variation of a "Meyer's cocktail" (one of many therapies I underwent in that clinic each week) and wondered why she was there.  She didn't appear to be sick.  Yes, she was "elderly," but that certainly didn't "mesh" with what we had going on at the clinic.

I got to know Betty and she was fascinating.  She loved talking to me because she'd gone to nursing school in my home town - back in the early 1940's - and would love to hear if certain stores were still in business, what had happened to this place and that.  I loved listening to her because she'd been a nurse during WWll and I was absolutely stunned by the one time she did open up about what she'd seen when she worked at Dachau for just a few days or a week, after the war once the concentration camp was liberated.    

So, Betty was truly one of a kind.  I wondered, why was she there, hooked up to an IV?

Well, Betty was also very spry for her age, very energetic, looked at least 10-15 years younger than her real age. But she had always taken good care of her health, even when we Americans were not doing so.  Like my mom, she exercised every morning as soon as she woke up and took walks, even when people would stop and ask if she (or my mom) needed a ride.  No one walked when I was growing up.

And Betty felt that going to the dentist was an assault on the body, thus the "nutritional."  Wow.  I was really impressed. 

You see, though she never practiced in the US, my mom became a dentist after the war.  When she was in her DP camp (Displaced Persons camp) near Munich, the DP's, along with various international organizations and the Marshall Plan, started schools and my mom was able to continue the education that was stopped because of WWll when Ukraine was invaded by the Germans.  In her camp, where she lived for five years, she was able to get a wonderful education, including dental school.

Mom was always taught that dental work IS an assault on the body and that they should recommend that patients take it easy after any dental work.  In fact, they were also taught that during the woman's "time of the month," she shouldn't have any dental work done, it was just a bit too much.  

I know this sounds very old-fashioned and I know that it even sounds anti-feminist.  But the times I had dental work done on me at "that time of the month," when my mom wasn't aware of the "scheduling," I always came down with a cold or was generally run down.  One day, I famously barfed and passed out in calculus class, two days after the procedure.  Talk about embarrassment?!  And my mom was furious with me when she had to leave work and drive me home, asking me, hadn't she taught me better?

So, yesterday, visions of Betty bounced in my head as I tried to talk myself out of this awfulness I was going through.  No meds were helping, no mind games were doing any good.  And I tried not to think about the couple of dental projects I was scheduled for in the next couple of months.

Lying there, bored to death, I'd opened up the bags from the pharmacy I'd dumped by my bed and started looking at the "treasures" I'd brought home.  "Treasures," I might add, that hubby had warned me about, unfortunately.

I'd already tried the cotton pads.  Hubby had asked me if I REALLY wanted to buy them, since I usually curse the ones he gets me at the drugstore and I try to go with the Shu Uemura (which are almost impossible to find) or my second choice, Sephora's.  Annoying hubby was so right: when I took my makeup off that evening, it took seven of the new cotton pads to wash off the makeup with the micellar water I used, whereas you only need two pads from Sephora, and to add insult to injury, my face reacted to the very rough cotton, becoming very red and irritated. Those pads are definitely going back to the drugstore.

Also, lying in bed, I'd picked up a certain "correcting powder" that I'd seen someone on the Internet recommend, someone I like to follow on YouTube and whose recommendations which I've tried I've had great luck with.  I brushed a bit on my hand, the one with the huge scar, and wanted to see if I could see any change.  The powder in the compact was not bound together very well and it flew everywhere as I picked it up onto the brush.  As I tried to tap off off the excess, it was still flying all over, as well as when I brushed it onto my hand.  Nope, no difference.  I put it further up my arm, past my watch.  No difference, with powder still flying all over, cough, cough.  I was surprised hubby was still snoring away and that the flying powder hadn't woken him.

About 15 minutes later the area I'd bushed with the correcting powder on my hand started burning.  Stupid me, I tried to rub it off.  Of course that's just rubbing whatever was irritating my hand further into the skin.  Finally, I realized I needed to wash it off.

Finally! I fell asleep before I could do more (inadvertent) damage to myself.  But then I kept waking up, scratching. Each time I woke up scratching in yet another place but made myself fall back asleep - I really needed sleep, the bane of my existence.  After about the fifth time I realized that the scratching wasn't going to get any better, only worse.  My neck was affected, the shin of my left leg, and on and on and on it went.  

Hubby gave me Tylenol PM because it has Benadryl in it.  I knew that wasn't going to cut it so I reminded him of my nightly anti-histamine.  I took that and after about an hour the hives started to die down. We started reviewing everything I'd done, trying to figure out what could have caused the hives.  How in the world did whatever it was get into my system - what had caused the hives?

Later last night, very late, I happened upon a blog and the woman was someone I think someone here wrote about earlier, when talking about a muscle biopsy.  I read a few posts, enjoying the blog tremendously and even left a (long, of course!) comment.  I was convinced it was the milk I'd had that caused the hives.

But today, in the light of day, having analyzed everything, I am convinced it is the cheap pharmacy makeup.  My daughter stopped by as I got ready to take a long bath with a soothing milk product (ironically), and also gave me "a look" and said she was sure it was the makeup.  After all, I do get lactose intolerant if I've gone a long time without any milk, but it's never made me break out in hives.  Cheap makeup?  Yes, it's given me hives and other trouble in the past.

So, a little mystery solved.  And I feel stupid.  I already know I cannot handle silicone, or at least a product that has a lot of silicone in it, especially if it's in a cheap product.  And I also know that I can't handle a lot of the ingredients in the less expensive makeup and skincare products.  When I buy La Mer or Chanel, there is a reason. 

And yet, I worry so much about appearing like a spoiled diva that I end up sabotaging myself.  It's about time that I take a reality check and realize that the there is a reason I come back to the higher-end luxury products and they aren't because I'm trying to be a spoiled brat. 

But Betty and the IV nutritionals...why did I bring all of that up?  

Last night hubby and I realized that things have really gone too far.  I'm still recovering from everything my body went through with all those weeks and weeks of staying by my daughter's bedside at the "major medical center." I've not recovered well from the whole hospitalization and surgery thing I had going on back in November/December. I've not recovered from our visit to get my hair done, which was over a month ago.  I've not recovered from the GP's "normal" visit, nor the subsequent visit when I had to get my toe lanced because of the infection that wouldn't go away.  And now my body is trying to recover from the dentist and my stupid application of a cosmetic full of ingredients that don't agree with it.

We had to bring in the big guns.  It was time.

My GP and I have a great relationship.  I've been going to him for at least fifteen years and he remembers how well I did with all the treatments I underwent at the holistic clinic.  His philosophy and I quote: "I don't care if they put cow sh*t on your head.  Whatever they're doing, it's working.  Keep it up." 

One of the things that helped so much were the nutritional IV's.  In fact, there have been athletes in the past who have had CFIDS/ME and been able to play but do nothing else between games.  They've had their doctors on the sidelines pumping simple saline solution during the games.  But when the games were not in play, these athletes have gotten versions of "Myer's Cocktails."  Basically, your physician figures out which vitamins and minerals you are deficient in and puts those nutrients into a saline solution and it usually takes about two hours for the IV to get through your system.

So, last night, we resolved that my "eating right" was no longer enough.  I'd tried for a few months, I'd incorporated vitamins into my routine and I was doing much better on the migraine front but the rest of me...well, not so good. In fact, in some ways, I was doing worse, having become extremely accident-prone, a completely new development.

So, I had a health professional administer a nutritional last night.  We sat in my bedroom and watched a movie ("One For the Money" with Katherine Heigl and Sherri Shephard from Janet Evanovich's series, cute!!!) and by the end of the movie the IV was finished.

Today, I'm still feeling pretty bad, but I can tell that the nutritional has helped and am going to try to get a couple of nutritionals a week for a while, though I have no idea how long that will be. 

However long it is, it is well worth it and I highly recommend investigating this approach if you are in a state where nothing is helping.  

And I recommend that you stay away from some of the cheaper cosmetics too.  

Boy, this illness sucks and costs a bloody fortune! 

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