Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Are you ready for the #selfcaremvmt???

A while back, I wrote a few blog posts about self-care:

In each, I discussed how I was introduced to Self Care Catalysts through ePharma. Their upcoming movement centers around how important it is to care for ourselves as patients with chronic illnesses and to celebrate the moments where we have been able to care for ourselves.

Now it's time for the Self Care Mvmt event in Toronto! 

Thanks Wikipedia!
You best believe this Wisconsin girl is going to have a heck of a time near the Hockey Hall of Fame even if the Blue Jays aren't at home. I will also bring back as much maple syrup as they allow me to because I need the good stuff to make some maple donuts. For not having grown up in Wisconsin, I really fit in here. WOW.

Mostly, I am just so stoked to be spending time with my pals Lene and Kristin.

Please check out the tag #selfcaremvmt on Twitter for more fun stuff, especially Monday night. You can also catch up on stories that many chronic illness peeps have shared here.





Friday, June 17, 2016

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

With different types of arthritis and other chronic illnesses, it’s not always easy to know from one day to the next how our mobility may change. One of the most difficult things that those of us in wheelchairs face is getting vehicles that are wheelchair-accessible.


Today, I would like to introduce you to NMEDA, the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association.

I was originally introduced to them at the Abilities Expo in Chicago last year. NMEDA is a non-profit originally based in Florida that focuses on helping those of us living with mobility issues to live our fullest lives possible by providing a safe place to acquire mobility equipment. Since 1989, they have gone national in the United States and Canada. Now there are over 600 members of NMEDA, all focused on that same goal.








One of the things that makes NMEDA great is their Quality Assurance Program (NMEDA QAP).

The QAP is the only national recognized accreditation program in the mobility equipment industry. This program helps to keep quality high in order to protect the consumer. Requirements of the program include having a certified welder if modifications are done on site, undergoing annual audits, having a dedicated contact number for mobility-related issues and questions, and making sure to have their shops and dealerships ADA-compliant.

The biggest benefits for customers working with a NMEDA QAP dealer include: in-person evaluations, specialized training of equipment, 24-hour local emergency roadside services and so much more! 

I honestly had no idea how many amazing accessible options there were for car-related accessibility issues. NMEDA mobility equipment dealers offer wheelchair ramps, hand controls and steering aids, transfer seats and seating solutions, wheelchair securement and tie downs, scooter lifts and special acceleration and braking solutions for adaptive vehicles.

My great grandmother had MS, but she did not have an accessible vehicle. Due to this, she was quickly forced from being in the driver's seat to always being a passenger in my lifetime... She hated it. It's amazing to see the options that could have been available to her if she was alive today.

She would have loved having this freedom.

I think she also would have loved the great financing options that NMEDA has compiled. Part of why she didn't have an accessible vehicle is because they are so expensive. NMEDA, though, has information on state agencies, public assistance, grants, and ideas for crowdfunding on their site.

NMEDA has worked closely with organizations such as the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists. The testimonials on their website help to highlight this important work as well.

One of the things that I love about NMEDA is that they take the time to recognize leaders in the industry who have made a difference for those of us with mobility issues through their Hall of Fame. Currently, there are 18 people in the hall of fame, all of whom have helped people with mobility issues to live well through their innovations and non-profit work.

Make sure to check out the vast mobility- and illness-related resources they have on their site.

Photos were provided by NMEDA.

Visit Sponsors Site





Monday, June 13, 2016

Change

Be honest with yourself about what you most want to change in your life and why you haven't done this yet. Then identify one thing you can do to work toward this today, and do it. 
How have you been protecting yourself by lying to yourself? How has lying to yourself in this way actually hurt you? 
What would your ninety-year-old self tell your current self about making a change, starting now?
What did you learn about yourself, and what did you do to begin creating change?
This is definitely a fitting question for someone at the beginning of a big journey. 

I am nervous as fuck, but I also know that I've let that stop me in the past from doing things that I would have enjoyed and excelled at.

That's why I'm taking this leap now.

After September, we'll see if Chronic Sex goes anywhere further than jut a chat and podcast. Even if it was only that and it brought in no money, it would be worth this time off to develop it and to focus on my health.

This week, I aim to finish up my business plan and work on securing some more guest posts for the CS site. I'll also work on getting the podcast in motion - if you'd like to help, check out our Patreon page.

By taking this leap, I know that I will have little regrets about this growing older.

I'm just really excited to fully dive in.






Friday, June 10, 2016

Westward, ho!

This morning we started a fun trip - driving from Wisconsin to California!

T, ever the joker, put 'wagon caulk' on the list of things to bring as well as clothes fit to ford a river. My Oregon trail past will never disappear.

Via Playbuzz
I'm really excited because we get to spend time with my sister and her cuties, Sammy and Missa Mae. It's amazing how much they've grown since September and I'm anxious to see them.

JUST LOOK AT HOW BIG THEY ARE NOW Y'ALL
One of the awesome things we didn't realize when we picked this weekend is that the Milwaukee Brewers are playing the San Francisco Giants - AKA we're totally going to the game! The best part about that is honestly how excited Missa is to go to the game - and getting to watch T explain some baseball to her maybe.

Be still my auntie heart.

Anyhow, I will be much less responsive in the next week because I will be overwhelmed by driving, baseball, and soaking up cuddles from my niblings... and then resting after we're back.





Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Healing CBD Hemp Lotion

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


I have to admit that I was skeptical about this product when I signed up to review it. If you read my writings often, I have a weird mix of beliefs and tend to shy away from natural things because, as I was growing up, that was all my family would do to help with my pain.

Turns out, multiple chronic pain issues don't really respond to copper bracelets aside from turning wrists green... Anyway, it's safe to say that I was looking for this to totally bomb.

But it surpassed anything I could have thought.


The first thing I used this for was actually an injury. I managed to cut open my fourth toe on my left foot to the point where I needed three stitches to hold it on and heal. My pinky toe on the same foot was also injured and broken... The fourth toe may be broken too, but since there is little that can be done for a toe, I didn't ask for an x-ray.

I was told, after this accident, to make sure that I kept the area moist and clean. The day after, I began using this healing CBD lotion on the area to help with moisture and the whole clean thing. 

It greatly reduced the pain that I was having, both from the injury itself and from stepping incorrectly with stitches.

There was even a point in the next week where I drove home during my lunch time after a meeting specifically to apply this lotion to my foot. Within a week, I was able to remove my stitches. The lotion continues to help the scar tissue and skin in the area improve.

In the meantime, the horrible dry skin that I have on my heels has greatly reduced. I am no longer catching skin on blankets, but have smooth feet! And that is still the case without having used the lotion for two days.

It has helped immensely with the pain from my fibromyalgia as well, whether this is in my hands or - the worse area right now - my neck.

The other night, I had a bout of painsomnia that was the most intense I've faced in a while. I ended up having to take a large amount of medication in addition to getting a back rub and applying this lotion to my neck and tailbone area.

It finally helped to break the painsomnia cycle.

If this lotion can help solve my icky, scratchy feet in addition to helping me heal from an injury and deal with my fibro pain in the midst of my biggest fibro flare in years? 

I'm sold.

The CBD products from The Fay Farm are kind of badass. Guess what? They are offering my readers 10% off their orders! They will also provide free shipping to orders in the US as a part of this. All you have to do is use the promo code 'STILLS' when you check out.

Because I loved this product so much, I will be reviewing their Serenity CBD lotion coming soon, so stay tuned!

To learn more about The Fay Farms' CBD products, please read this post from Julie Ryan at Counting My Spoons. You can also visit Project CBD's Beginner's Guide.





Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Honesty

Be honest with yourself about how you feel right now and embrace the feeling, without trying to make it go away. After a short while, reflect on what this feeling is trying to teach you, and if possible, act on what you've learned. 
Try to peel back the layers of your emotions. There may be loneliness underneath anger, or there may be a feeling of inadequacy underneath jealousy. 
Do you find it difficult to identify what you're really feeling? If so, why do you think that is? 
Do you allow yourself to fully feel your emotions, or do you usually try to make them go away as quickly as possible? If you chose the latter, why do you think you do this, and how does this negatively affect you?
It has been over a week since I left my job. I am struggling.

As I consider why I'm struggling, it has to do with a few things. The biggest is that I realize that I've been overdoing it for far too long.

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time with some of my old classmates at my alma mater with my favorite professors and discussing a religious studies book we'd picked to read together. This is the fifth time they've done this but the first time I could go due to other events, conferences, etc.

My friends and professors in the group are incredibly supportive. When I told them that I needed to create a schedule, I was thinking about needing to do so in order to get anything done. The three people I talked to instead all jumped to me needing one so that I didn't overwork myself.

I haven't seen most of these people in several years and yet they know me, they know how I am.

I have loved doing so much while I've had an opportunity to do so, but stepping back for a bit now is incredible - if only because I understand why I've been so exhausted for so long.

The other piece of this all is that I'm scared beyond measure.

Starting your own thing is tricky. This is a fairly spontaneous thing for a couple that dated for five years before an engagement to do! Sure, T is still working, but that means he has that much more pressure. We're a team and we go through this as a team, you know?

I'm scared to fail. It would be sad not to try for just that, but I know that it'll be difficult and hard work. I know that I will have to hustle a lot and do things that I'm not always good at in order to succeed.

Honestly? I'm almost more afraid to succeed.

Over the last week, I have been trying to push those feelings off because my immediate reaction is that feelings are bad - especially unhappy feelings.

I am Unikitty, after all.

I'm trying to not do this, though. I'm trying to feel my emotions so that I can process them now and not have to do a ton of therapy forever and ever. I love my therapist, but it's hard to process after the fact all the time.


I'm scared because I'm not necessarily in control. I'm scared because the last time I wasn't in control was when I lived with my abusive mother. Needless to say, that loss of control is one feeling I'm shit at dealing with.

Little K got through it, though. And she became a freaking badass.

I got this.





Monday, June 6, 2016

Workplace or Professional Self-Care

I was introduced to Self Care Catalysts when I attended ePharma back in March. I really had a great time speaking with the SCC team and am extremely happy to say that I will be participating in their Self Care Mvmt at the end of June in Toronto! 

O, Canada!

There is some great buzz out there already on Twitter using the tag #selfcaremvmt. The movement centers around how important it is to care for ourselves as patients with chronic illnesses and to celebrate the moments where we have been able to care for ourselves.

For the next few weeks, I'll be posting on some self-care topics as a part of the lead up to this awesome event - and my foray into world travel. 

It is important to mention that I am being compensated for these blog posts and my involvement in the Self Care Mvmt. However, all thoughts below are my own and have not been influenced by said compensation.


Today's topic is Workplace or Professional Self-Care.

You might be thinking: "What does this person who just left her job know about self-care at work?"

I know enough to know that I had to quit my job, y'all.

When I was working my previous job, I would spend around eight hours sitting in an office or in my car traveling to various sites for meetings. I spent all day at work, stuck writhing in pain because I was trying to save sick time for when I was worse off than that. When I was 'worse off,' I wound up needing multiple days off of work because I had pushed myself too hard.

It didn't work well because I wasn't practicing self-care and self-love the right way.


Earlier this year, I began dealing with a flare-up of my fibromyalgia that I frankly still am in. It has been four months. I was missing up to two days per bi-weekly pay period of work while trying to deal with this. I began to feel bad for being gone.

I was assured that it was okay since I had a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) plan in place.

Once this had gone on for a certain time period, though, I began to get passive aggressive comments from physicians and other staff members about my absences.

It wasn't enough that I was beating myself up about missing work and that I had an office mate who wanted me to fail all the time - now I was getting comments from people engaged in the care of people like myself!

It was scary!

In retrospect, a long time ago I should have sat down with my supervisor and the physician I worked most closely with and outline just how negative and harmful my office mate was. I should have complained about physician and other HCP behavior when it was negative and harmful, not just to me but to others.

Setting boundaries, though, was never something I was good at.

Now that I work for myself, though, this is changing.


I handle my breaks as I need them - emotional, mental, and physical. There is a reason why Netflix is on while I work!

I am engaging with others but setting limitations on what I can and cannot do.

I am working towards balancing my workload, though I'm still working on figuring out what that is for me right now.

The one thing I know for sure is that I have a boss that understands my illness better than anyone else in the universe. She's always up for coffee, a quick run-around with the guinea pigs, or a nap. And I'm pretty excited to work for her - not just because she's pretty okay, but also because she's good at self-care when she's allowed to be.





Thursday, June 2, 2016

Psychological and Emotional Self-Care

I was introduced to Self Care Catalysts when I attended ePharma back in March. I really had a great time speaking with the SCC team and am extremely happy to say that I will be participating in their Self Care Mvmt at the end of June in Toronto! 

O, Canada!

There is some great buzz out there already on Twitter using the tag #selfcaremvmt. The movement centers around how important it is to care for ourselves as patients with chronic illnesses and to celebrate the moments where we have been able to care for ourselves.

For the next few weeks, I'll be posting on some self-care topics as a part of the lead up to this awesome event - and my foray into world travel. 

It is important to mention that I am being compensated for these blog posts and my involvement in the Self Care Mvmt. However, all thoughts below are my own and have not been influenced by said compensation.


Today's topic is Psychological and Emotional Self-Care.

Self-care is hard. When it comes to physical self-care, we can write it off as needing to do maintenance like oil changes so our bodies don't fall apart.

Mental, psychological, and emotional self-care, however, cannot be handled so easily.

In order to take care of our minds and souls, we have to discover what helps us individually to a further extent than physical self-care. Fulfillment and enjoyment are at the root of this type of self-care. 

Personally, there are many things that I find help with this type of self-care. Meditation and mindfulness help me immensely as I discussed with Rohan Gunatillake for his book This is Happening:


The app Rohan created, Buddhify, helps so much.

Therapy helps me as well. My therapist is AMAZING and she does such a great job of helping me to think through things, even if I don't see her as often as I could. 

As I touched on in my last post on spiritual self-care, being in nature and/or with loved ones truly helps me to re-energize.

Laughter is key as well. Without laughing at my hands when they don't work or at myself when I slip and harm myself due to the lack of strength I once possessed... I would cry. I have learned that crying isn't bad but merely a release of emotions. Still, I don't enjoy it. It feels more harmful than helpful and isn't conducive to my overall health.

I can track my moods through the Health Storylines app which helps me to practice self-care more earnestly.


One of the things that I enjoy from the Health Storylines app from Self Care Catalysts is how easy it can be to gather wisdom and thoughts for the day:


There are also portions of journaling (which I don't necessarily utilize because I write here!) but is a great set-up:


It isn't always easy to figure out what things to write, so these are great prompts for those new to journaling.

What are some ways that you practice self-care for the emotional and psychological parts of you?