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.

Monday, May 7, 2012

How even we sick want & need beauty & our beauty routines.

Even in our Catholic boarding school, the Sisters insisted that we have a beauty routine, as evidenced by the rollers at a special Friday night ice cream sundae event!

Beauty.  It's a universal concern that affects even those of us who think we are above it, those who pretend they don't care and even those who are ill.  I think one of the saddest moments in my life was when I read a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman whom I admired all my life because she accomplished so much in her lifetime, especially after the war when she was no longer a First Lady.  At a time when women were not in the workplace under normal circumstances (i.e., post-WW2), she helped shape enormous social changes that affect us to this day.  So, when I read that her biggest regret in life was that she was not a pretty, much less a beautiful woman, I literally wanted to cry.  My gosh, I thought:  I'd looked up to her since I was in fourth grade and to hear that beauty was so much on her mind, that in the end that lack of physical beauty tormented her - well, to me that was simply mind-boggling.

As I analyze my stats for this blog (OK, I admit it, I'm completely obsessed with them!) I notice that the posts which get the most page views are the ones that address beauty.  At first I thought this was a result of readers coming in from the "A Model Recommends" website (thank you AMR fans, thank you, Ruth!), but then I had a realization, quite an epiphany of  sorts....

Yes, those who suffer from CFIDS, ME, Fibromyalgia, insomnia, migraines, POTS, even Lyme Disease, MS or any chronic illness, usually experience a plethora of other symptoms stemming from our core illnesses YET sometimes we just need a break from all the health problems.  We just need some time to feel like a person who occasionally looks good, and at times even looks great, and certainly someone who doesn't scare little children and even grown men if we're seen. Yes, this is hard to accomplish, but darn it, we have to try - and I think an awful lot of the "sick" readers here feel this way too.

The closet beauty junkie in me also has to wonder (and hope) if perhaps the beauty part of this blog is helping those who are interested in beauty but don't know how to go about it because our skin can so easily turn on us, depending on the medications we're taking or what problems we experience, either in general, or for a limited time. Furthermore, how can we get more "bang for our buck," in our cases, the best results for the minimum of effort? Perhaps those with these chronic illnesses need guidance on how to accomplish some of the easy beauty rituals, such as my suggestion of using micellar water to wash your face when you can't get to a sink (see this link for that recommendation).  Perhaps those who are chronically ill just need a little encouragement and some relatively easy tips on how to keep beauty in their lives for self-esteem issues.  Let's face it, we ALL feel better when we look better and live in a pretty and environmentally-friendly area, even if we can only wander as far as our bedrooms and bathrooms.

Whatever it is, let me know about the beauty tips.  Let me know if they are of any help to you.  When I write about La Mer, one of my points is that you do NOT have to do all the steps in a cleansing routine. If you are sick enough, I know all too well what is going on in your bathroom and bedroom and it's not a pretty picture.

I have a few suggestions for today that may help ''us" get closer to our beauty goals and help us feel better about ourselves.  And though I have a huge number of tips that I'd just love to throw out at once, I'm only starting with a few easy ones, to be continued.  Too much at once (I tell myself) will be overwhelming.  On the other hand, I don't want any of us, at the end of the day, to feel badly about ourselves the way Eleanor Roosevelt did.  Darn it, we have a hard enough time with self-esteem!

Tip #1:  Mind games and rewards.
Think of  your beauty routine (of washing face, exfoliation, whatever your priorities may be) as a treat and pretend you are at a spa.  These little mind games, I find, really can make a difference in our lives.  Yes, they ARE mind games, and yes, it's easy to say "try this!" but it's only a suggestion.  Some days nothing at all will help, not even if the house were burning down and your life were at stake.  But occasionally the day does pop up that some mind game finally tricks the body into getting up and doing something.

Tip #2:  It's OK to be sick.
Remind yourself, if you're going through a bad spell and can't bathe for days (weeks) that that's OK too.  Know that one day you WILL be able to do something that gives you pleasure.  Feeling guilty about what we are not doing does no good and puts an incredible burden on us not only psychologically, but physically.  We need to be in touch with that part of ourselves which understands that overdoing it is only going to cause more harm in the long run. Furthermore, guilt only makes it that much harder to get good substantial rest, the kind which helps heal.

Tip #3:  We deserve more than just doctors.
Our lives don't have to revolve around doctors 24/7.  Take pleasure in the little "miracles" surrounding us. (This definitely belongs in the "do as I say and not as I do" category on most days...I'm a work in progress, sigh!)

A few days ago I could barely move because I got an infection in both my big toes (ouch!) but the right toe kept getting worse, despite antibiotics.  It got to the point where I  finally had to take massive doses of antibiotics every two hours.  With my neuropathy, plus the numbness in my left leg which woke me if I COULD fall asleep, I became a limping hunchbacked insomniac mess.  Plus I still kept getting those migraines from that flu our family all had last week, hitting me at the oddest moments.  In other words, I was a complete wreck.  But in the midst of it all, I happened to glance at my hands and realized that the manicure I gave myself - and that "the claw" could now actually do a manicure on my right hand, though granted with a great deal of patience - lasted beautifully for eight days.  That was such a great moment!  AMAZING!  (I never claimed I was NOT superficial: joke!)

Beauty.  I am finding that no matter how sick we are, we still want to look our best.  It's ingrained in us. Think of how our moms warned us to always wear pretty underwear in case we got hit by a car!  I was in full labor and nearly-hysterical hubby was ready to take me to the hospital when he found me shaving my legs in the shower - around a belly holding a 10-pound baby with labor pains two minutes apart! I still get upset remembering that one leg was badly shaven and the other not at all.  Hubby also gets upset when he remembers this but for a completely different reason! (Go figure!)

So, as long as you want me to write about beauty, I'm willing to do so, finding ways and products that might help you feel better about yourself and to get a reprieve for a few minutes, at least, from our very severe and debilitating symptoms and problems.

Don't worry, I'll write about all the other messy medical stuff too, but when you see a beauty post, you won't need to wonder from which planet I've just landed.

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  1. Irene,
    Just read your piece about beauty and must admit I zeroed in on your comment about neuropathy. Now if you mean peripheral neuropathy, I have a comment. My husband, Pete, has had type I diabetes (as you know) for about 40 years. He had very painful peripheral neuropathy until about 10 years ago. He started taking a supplement, Evening Primrose Oil (1000 mg) once a day. It has been miraculous. He has been virtually painfree ever since. (He had been advised to take it 30 days before the positive effects kicked in.) So if this is something you have, give this a try.
    Otherwise, have a "beautiful" evening. I really love reading your blog.
    Take care,

    1. Martha, a wonderful suggestion! Thanks! I know I've taken it in the past but can't remember for what...but do know I have a good "memory" of it, so will definitely look into this. Wow! I'm so glad you mentioned it since I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what I could do supplement-wise with the answer there at the tip of my BRAIN, but the connection not quite happening. I have a feeling I'll be giving this a go! And thank Pete for me too, please. (Yes, it IS peripheral neuropathy.)
      Love that you're reading the blog and especially your kind words! Irene.