Let’s Make Our Bodies Our Valentines

First of all: I am so blown away by the responses to yesterday’s post.  Just, REALLY.

The comments, emails, and messages that have come in are just so comforting.  Hearing my fellow womenkind tell me about their own issues, their own struggles:  I feel comfort knowing I’m not crazy, I’m not alone with my body image issues; but I’m sad that SO MANY of us feel this way.

We should feel comfortable in our skin.  We should strive to be healthy.  But how?

After our conversation yesterday, do you want to find a way to be comfy in your skin? How can you become happy with your appearance?

We should be loving our bodies, for reals.  

Oh, and to the guys who gave me feedback too: thank you.  I know that body image struggle is NOT a woman-only thing.  It’s an all of us thing.  And then, hearing men speak up about the aesthetics they like, the reassurance – it’s just so nice. 

I feel like yesterday I exposed a big part of myself, and instead of being mocked or hurt, the Internet just gave me a big ole hug.  I cannot tell you how amazing that is.

THANK YOU.

this is me right now, working on this post, basking in the love y'all have shown me. what an awesome feeling!

So after my post, there was an epic guest post by Carly about respecting her body, her motivation for being healthy.  And then, my friend Sydney posted this amazing blog about why she loves her body.  Not only was it this bold and encouraging declaration, it was a call for all of us to do the same:

I encourage you to make a post, or just write down all the reasons you love your body you don’t have to publish it, the most important part is that you recognize that you are beautiful and that you remind yourself of all the amazing features you have, no one else has to know. So here I go, all the reasons why I love my body…

such a cute photo of sydney

Go read her blog to see her reasons (to give you an idea, it reads like a love letter to all of the amazing things her body can do – her strong legs that take her on runs, and etc.).

It reminds me of the attitude my friend Libby has.  One time when I was all down on my looks, she talked to me about how amazing our bodies are – oh the things they can do!  She explained how she’s so happy for the faculties she has, talking, walking, running, etc.  Our bodies are these complex high functioning machines, and well, they’re incredible.

Our bodies deserve our love.  So, i have an idea on where we can start, a way to love our bodies.  Valentine’s!

oooh! i have an idea!! oh yeah! i'm up to something, for sure...

This year: make your body your Valentine! 

I want to change my understanding of what a beautiful body is.  I want to be happy and grateful for what I have.

So, is anyone else interested?

Here’s where you, dear reader, come in:

I’m going to write a love letter to myself, and with it, I’ll include some honest photos of myself. It’s going to be a Valentine to my body!

I don’t want to do it alone, though.  Stand with me, post with me.  Please?!

1. Send in a brief love letter to your body, a couple sentences.  If you’d like to publish a longer letter somewhere else – go for it!  Give us a link along with your abridged version. Send what you got to happyhippierose (at) gmail dot com 

2. Include a photo of yourself.  It can be as honest as you’d like, it can be as cloistered as you feel comfy with.  Just have a headshot of your pretty smile? That’s fine too.  The photo is at your discretion and comfort level, and well – keeping in mind this is a family-friendly blog (for the most part), and WordPress has TOS. 

3. Mean what you say.  There’s no way to enforce this one, but maybe collectively, we can all help each other come to a better concept of body image.  And maybe this idea will spread all pay-it-forward style?  A paradigm shift starts with one person. 

And then, I will compile and post for V-day, a special ode to our bodies!

email pics and love letters to: happyhippierose @ gmail . com ; or just reply here on this post if you’d like.

Who’s coming with me?  Who’s in? 

On the photos: Yesterday I mentioned that I’m very picky about what photos I post.  I pose purposefully, I know what angles flatter the most.  I suck it in or put something in front of me, like a prop to hide a part that embarrasses me.

But right now, I don’t feel like hiding under a bulky sweatshirt.  I feel like loving who I am, really.  God has given me SO MUCH.   I live such an amazing life, chock full of abundant blessings, good times, wonderful people.

Even if you’re not in, thank you for reading and for all the love that’s poured in.   I’m so excited to help us all get a more positive self image.  I really am.

xoxo, hhr 

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Guest Post: Carly from Nourish.Nature.Love on What Motivates Her Most

Today I’m stoked to share with you an awesome post written by my pal Carly.

Carly is one of the healthiest people I know: a personal trainer, dedicated workout enthusiast and expert practitioner of the yoga.  She’s a kale eating human pretzel type, with enviable discipline!  Recently, some of her readers asked her to write on what it is that keeps her going – why she’s able to stick to it and work so hard.  

Know that Carly works for her body the old fashioned way.  She works hard for her amazing physique: sculpting, training, sweating, and she eats right; her results are well deserved.  Her dedication is so admirable, as is her attitude.  If you read my middle-of-the-night whiny rant about body size and image that posted a few hours ago (click here if you missed it) – allow Carly’s confidence, gratitude, and peace to be a breath of fresh air, a pleasant contrast to my confidence lapse.  

I’m going to try and take her outlook, attitude, and advise to heart.  I think it’s a beeline to physical success. 

Without further adieu: re-posted here, with her permission, Carly explains in three simple answers what motivates her:

carly is super fit

carly in pigeon

Why do I do the things I do? What keeps me going?  by Carly Hunkin 

Another question I’ve been asked.  And it’s a good one! I think we should all ask ourselves “why?”, especially when it comes to our health.

Body. Mind. Spirit.

First, let met state that I believe they are all interconnected, one acts and reacts off of the others and in order to have optimal health, all three aspects need to be cared for. This is the approach I take- holistic wellness.

I was raised in a home that took a holistic approach to wellness, so it’s been with me from the get-go. It’s be ingrained in me from the start that giving your body the proper nutrients, keeping your body in moving and working condition, and loving Jesus(or the Universe, or giving some sense of gratitude to a greater power) is key to happiness and health. So, in my home is where it all started for me, and as I matured and grew into my own, independent thinking woman I read and researched and asked a million questions…Istill do this. I will always continue to look for ways to improve my life.

Body.

We only get one body. Get(implying we were given) and one are the two words I focus on. I was given this body by God- to use and take care of. I don’t get a second chance,  I can’t return it or exchange it and I don’t get a do-over. This body is mine and I will treat it with respect. What a kick in the face it would be to give someone such a useful and complex gift just watch them trash it and not take advantage of it. Our bodies were made to move, we were designed to be active. I like to take advantage of that–I think the human body is so rad! the complex movements, how everything works together to complete a goal or task. So cool. Believing this, I move my body frequently, in all sorts of ways- cardio(low and high intensities), hiking, walking, bike riding, using wights and lifting heavy things(kids), sports, yoga and stretching. I also believe that our bodies were meant to be lean and strong(lean and strong will physically look different on everyone, though) and that God is a beautiful artist, and if we are his master piece then we will be beautiful also.  If we are using our bodies the way they were meant to be used and giving our bodies the nutrients they were meant to consume, then we won’t have to worry about how our body looks, aesthetically- it will take care of itself.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in goals and striving to be better or to improve your body aesthetically; I absolutely think goals are great. They’re challenging and the feeling you get when you achieve is amazing. I have the current goal of getting defined abs- the hard work and dedication that I have to put in to achieve that will be so rewarding in the end. When it comes to nourishing our bodies- nature has provided perfectly and unfortunately man has ruined it. Sad times. The love of money has once again ruined a beautiful thing. I try to give my body nourishing, nature -made foods. If it doesn’t come from the ground or doesn’t have a mother-don’t eat it. Additives,  food colorings, GM foods and crops and chemical concoctions don’t belong–they do nothing but destroy our health and the planet. What’s the saying?…”The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”.  I’m not sure who that quote is by, but whoever said it couldn’t have said more truth in a more direct way. In order to keep our bodies moving and working(exercise), we’ve got to fuel ourselves with the right kind of energy. It’s important to eat and eat well! Food is your friend!

Mind.

This one is simple and straight forward. Think positive and give thanks. Every day might not be beautiful, but there is something beautiful in every day…right? right. Find the good in every situation. It’s ok to acknowledge the negative, the negative makes us work and overcome, but don’t feed yourself constant negativity. It will take a toll on you in all other aspects of life and health.

Spirit.

We are all connected. And I believe love to be the foundation of connection and the spirit, your soul. I love God because He loves me and has provided me with so much goodness. I feel rich and alive inside. This feeling is on fire when I’m in a place of love, when I’m praying and talking to God, when I’m sitting and meditating on his goodness and love. It’s important to find that connection-wether it be with God, the Universe, nature, whatever. Finding that place of love, being able to feel the burn is humbling. It makes you feel so little and so important at the same time. God provides me with a sense, no…, a knowledge of peace and protection. I take care of my spirit because God takes care of me.

Explaining all this, what keeps me motivated is love. Love for my body, love for my mind and love for my God.

namaste.

….

Carly is a Personal Trainer, yoga enthusiast, God-lover, and health nut.  She’s lived out here in Hawaii (she’s a Marine wife too!), and we’ve been pals and neighbors for a couple years now.  Check out her blog about holistic living, healthy eating, outdoor adventures and all kinds of good stuff:  Carly’s blog – Nourish. Nature. Love.

homemade nail art

Nail Painting Fun and Foolery!
  1. Wet’n’Wild nailpoisl not only costs $1.99 a bottle, but it’s cruelty-free!
  2. OPI is cruelty-free, pricier than #1, but really high quality serious stuff
  3. Painting your nails = crazy, silly, whimsical-like is really fun!  Who knew?

My pals have all really gotten into nail polish and nail art.  Like REALLY into it.  They’re all obsessed, it’s been the big thing this summer.  So I decided to jump in and try it out.  I always keep my nails short, and don’t really get too clever with them.  But since joining the world of nail art. I’ve had so much fun!

I free hand everything.  I’m still a super beginner.  No sponges or stamps, fancy techniques for me.  Just basic painting with nail polish.

Check me out:

the health history of happy hippie rose

My Health History, Well A Brief Summary Anyways.  Consider this Part One of two, the “two” is going to be the update post about what’s going on now, okay?

Here goes nothing… and I’m sure I’ll forget something.  (If I do, someone let me know, will ya?)

Growing up as a kid and teen, it seemed like I was never sick.  I remember an occaisional fever, and the time we all got the chickenpox (my mom and all her friends had us all get it at the same time by rubbing us all over my friend Mary when she cropped a pox, clever thinking!).  But never “sick.”   I swam and ran track in high school, I was a beach lifeguard.  I was really healthy, athletic, I was fine.  (What a blessing!!!!).

My sophomore year of college, 2002, started off with an emergency appendectomy which lead to the diagnosis of “Crohn’s Disease” and it was all downhill from there. When they did they appy they realized my needless organ was fine, but that my small intestines was inflamed and horrendous, misdiagnosed as appendicitis, and thus the Crohn’s Diagnosis.

Immediately I started treatment for Crohn’s Disease, which was fun, let me tell you.  I took steroids, antibiotics, anti-inflamm meds, and immunosuppressants.  Tons of meds.  I was “sick.”  The meds for the Crohn’s didn’t work, things got dramatically worse, and in the spring of 2003 I has a major surgery losing a couple feet of small bowel and a snippet of colon.

2003: the prednisone made my face huge. woah.

not to be totally porn... but you can kinda see my scar that runs from hip to hip from the bowel resection. What a doozy!

In 2004 I battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which was actually acquired as a result of medications I was on to treat the Crohn’s disease.  All of the immunosuppressants done broke my immune system.

I did chemo (went bald, yes!) and radiation.  They also sliced me open a couple times to take out some lymph nodes, put a portacath in there.  At one point they hacked into my bone marrow (thank God the cancer hadn’t spread to there) and they did oodles of biopsies, fun times.

sasha's on the left, i'm on the right. i know this is terrible pic quality, but i hardly have any pics from back then!

Here I am on a news story about harvesting eggs.  Yeah, I had my eggs harvested before I started chemo (because of the chance I’d go infertile).   Check me out, I’m about four minutes into the video clip:  http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=617776n&tag=mncol;lst;8

The Sorority I was in raised money for my treatment.  The entire Greek system at my school did, really.

the school paper (UNF's "The SPinnaker) did a story on my cancer and on all the fundraising that went down. it was just amazing the love i was shown.

a close-up of the photo from the paper article, that pic is from right before i started chemo.

It was an intense time… coming from a Stage III Diagnosis and back to health all in one year.  But it was also formative, powerful, inspiring.  Clearly it changed me, and I think much for the better.  I had an AMAZING support system.  My doctors and cancer team was all at the Mayo Clinic, and they were pretty serious (duh).  My family was incredible.  Driving up to Jacksonville to take turns going to treatments and appointments with me.  The guy I was dating at the time was a lifesaver, literally, as well as all of my friends.  It was just incredible the literal physical love that embraced me.  Strangers and people I was close with all teamed up to save my life.  It’s such a hard thing to put into mere words.  Thank you, is as close as I can get.  Thank you for my life everyone. 

My overall ability to appreciate life increased tenfold – at least.  Ever since I’ve been happier, kinder, more grateful.  My faith is God was solidified (my testimony of God coming to me in those days is pretty awesome) and my trust in humanity restored.   As hokey and bullcrap as it sounds, I’m grateful for having had cancer.  It changes your perspective on everything and after having gone through it, everything is better.

The day I was diagnosed I pulled into Publix after leaving the hospital to grab a couple things to eat.  I was feeling pretty sorry for myself after leaving the hospital, knowing I had cancer.   I pulled into the parking spot and I’ll never forget what happened next… the spot next to me was occupied by a van.  I saw a mom get out of the driver’s side door and walk around to the other side… and a special door slid open: it was a wheelchair ramp.  Out came a child, maybe four or five years old in an electronic wheelchair.  I have no idea what illness that child had, but I just remember seeing scrawny, twisted legs… and a HUGE smile.  The mother talked to her kid as the wheelchair lowered down, using big smiles and a happy tone, clapping once the chair made contact with the ground.  These two people were so happy.   This child who would probably never walk was smiling, and here I was: 20 years old and getting sick now.  I’d had an untouched childhood, full of running around and doing “normal” kid stuff…  (now seriously, don’t anyone get all politcally correct on me for my retelling of the anecdote.   I’m not saying this child wasn’t normal or that I’m special because I’ve never been in a wheelchair…. that’s NOT the point, okay?).   I saw this child who would never run a lap or be on the swim team in the same easy way I had experienced.  I had about nineteen years of flawless health, and so many many people don’t even get half that.  Nineteen years!  (I got cancer when I was twenty, but I started getting sick when I was nineteen).  From that moment on I decided never to ever feel sorry for myself.  In the grand scheme of things: I have had everything to be grateful for and not a thing to feel sorry about.

Anyways… I could ramble on and on about my cancer experience…  chemo sucked, radiation was worse.  One night a sorority sister of mine cried because she had gotten a bad haircut.  We were all going to a concert together, and we met at a frirend’s house first to eat dinner.  This one girl, A, came into the house just in tears.  She’d gotten what she considered a bad haircut.  A cried, huge tears rolling down her face.  And I just sat there, bald and gobsmacked.  She really had the audacity to cry about a bad ‘do while I was sitting there bald?  At the time her insensitivity made me mad.  I remember being pretty annoyed.  Looking back it just gives me broader perspective.  Next time you think your mop looks ugly, just be grateful you even have a mop!

a wig and hat catalogue the ACS sent me, along with some other cancer info

my completion of treatment center from mayo clinic's rad dept - for the last several years i've been celebrating my cancerversarry as dec 5th - but son of a gun, that thing says the 3rd! shoots!

In 2006 I had an inguinal hernia which needed surgical repair; it was done openly (as opposed to lap surgery) and I had some mesh put in there.  They used the same scar as my bowel resection and just extended it.   In 2008 I had some skin cancers cut out, they were Melanoma, which is annoying because I can’t say “cancer-free since 2004.”  Ugh!

Backtracking for a minute… In 2007 (after a crazy series of events and symptoms) I was diagnosed with porphyria. Porphyria is a blood disease that has a whole variety of symptoms – for me the most notable is GI problems.  Tummy aches, digestion problems, nerve cell death in my GI tract, they can all be blamed on the Porphyria.  My doctors actually think now that I don’t even really have Crohn’s Disease, that it was the Porphyria all along.  Even though I was officially diagnosed with this genetic blood disease in ’07, I’m just now learning about it.  But that’s a post all on it’s own.

In 2009 they cut me open to get out scar tissue that had grown in me from all the times they had cut me open before.  “Lysis of Adhesions.”  The irony never ends.

I’m the “sick girl.”  I guess.  It’s weird.  As sick as I am, I’m also not really sick.  The most I’ve ever spent in the hospital was a couple weeks.  I have both arms, both legs, I can walk and talk.  I can even run more days than not.  I’m honestly okay, and I enjoy a fabulous quality of life.  I’ve never spent a minute feeling sorry for myself.

When I moved out to Hawaii I had never felt better.  Duggs and I quit smoking (I know, a cancer survivor who smoked = as ungrateful as it gets, I KNOW).  I got back in shape.  The only med I was taking was my thyroid pill (when I had radiation for the cancer they lasered my thyroid to death,  oopsies!).

2010: the best I've ever felt!

As I was feeling so awesome and healthy, we decided to strike while the iron was hot, and we conceived.   We found out we were pregnant right before Halloween and I would have been due ’round the 4th of July.  I don’t think I’ve ever been happier or felt better in my life. Honestly.  It was the best.

I miscarried around Christmas.  It was one of the saddest things I’ve ever experienced. Matthew was deployed and in Afghan when it all happened.  On December 17, 2010 I had a regular appointment, when I got there they couldn’t find a heartbeat.  They gave me some meds and sent me home to take care of business on my own.  I bled for almost a month; starting cytotec on December 19th and not passing the “products of conception” (my precious baby-to-be) until fifteen days later.  (If I could go back in time I would have done the D&C a million times out of a million times.  Cytotec should be illegal).

I’m so glad those sad times are over.  I don’t know what else to say about all of that except that if you’re blessed enough to have a baby yourself, give them a little smooch for me, will ya?  I know I’ll be a Mom someday, when God’s timing for me is better.

So I’ll end my “brief health history” there, and pick up Part Two with my 2011 Health Round-up in a post all it’s own.

I thank God for my health every day.  Despite everything that I’ve been through, I consider myself to be blessed beyond measure and more fortunate than 99.9999% of people on this earth will ever be.  I’ve had great care, good doctors, nice hospitals, and excellent treatment the whole time through.   Too many people who are sick can’t say the same.

Thank You God, for the health I have today and always.  Please bless every doctor, nurse, tech, and friend who’s laid a hand on me, cared for me, thought good thoughts for me, and been there.  Please bless them all.  I pray that you continue to bless me with a healthy body, heart, and mind now so that I may keep growing and bettering myself to do good things and help others.  I want to be healthy enough to pay it forward and take care of those who are sick.  For all those seeking better health and comfort, I pray.  Thank you God for your endless love and mercy.  Amen. 

oil cleansing method

Oil Cleanisng Method

I wash my face with pure oil.

Sounds crazy, right? It’s honestly what I do though, and once you hear me out, you might not think that sounds so very crazy at all. You may actually want to get in on this all natural, vegan/cruelty-free, easy, old-fashioned, simple facial cleansing method for yourself too.

Some friends were discussing the “oil cleansing method” months and months ago, and it piqued my interest.  Washing your face with oil?  I’d never heard of such of a thing.  It sounded insaneo and awesome at the same time.

You see, ever since I quit taking any form of birth control in 2007, and ever since my face has been a mess.  I have the worst acne ever.   And at age 28, it’s so tiring.   I should have been ending my acne phase a decade ago.  I’ve tried everything.  Even *gasp* Proactive. I’ve been to dermatologists, I’ve taken really strong stuff that I’m not allowed to go out in the sun while using.  I’ve tried creams and washes.  Been there, done that.

The Oil Cleansing Method was so far off course of anything I’d ever tried before, that it fascinated me.  The ideology is simple: since our body naturally produces oil, oil is part of our skin and not the enemy.  All the facewashes that proudly boast “oil free!” – are actually counterintuitive and making things worse.   When you dry up all the oil on your face, your glands react by producing more oil.   When your glands overcompensate and over-produce oil, you get clogged pores, breakouts, acne.

There’s a happy medium that should be happening on the surface of our faces: a natural, healthy amount of oil belongs on our skin!  So goes the ideology of the oil cleansing method.  The thinking is that by using oil on our faces, we stop those glands from getting protective and overcompensating.   We clean out our pores, keep our skin supple and moisturized, and stop over-washing.   Besides, the ingredients you need can be bought in a grocery store (or health food store, depending on what you choose to use) and in the long run are far cheaper than buying washes, cleansers, toners, soaps, etc.   And to prove to you what I mean, I made myself the guinea pig and I have serious results to brag about!

Before i started the oil cleansing method (January 28, 2011):

before pic - yikes!

acne city

acne on this side too

my mug

One week later I wrote: I can totally feel a difference in the quality of my skin, its much smoother and it feels supple.  i’m not sure if you can tell much of a difference in these pics… but we’ll see as it goes.

Pics from one week after I started:

one week later!

after just one week, looking better already!

i look so creepy in this pic.

lookin' good already

I linked to the site that taught me everything I needed to know to start the method earlier in this post, but in case you didn’t click on it… here ya go:  The Oil Cleansing Method.  Read that page, and it will explain to you how/when to use this method.

For my personal use, I mix Castor Oil and Sunflower Oil, in a 25/75 ratio.

castor oil, sunflower oil, and the glass vial that holds my 25:75 mix

As copied verbatim from the OCM website:

The Oil Cleansing Method

First and foremost, this is typically done in the evening, prior to bed. There should be no need for deep cleansing in the morning if you’re waking up with skin cleansed the night before. In the morning, a quick wipe with a warm washcloth should suffice. We don’t want to overcleanse our skin as this will serve only to irritate and cause more oil production. The objective of using this method is to deep clean while balancing our skins oil production at the same time.

  • You’ll need a soft washcloth, your oil blend, and hot, running water.
  • Pour a generous puddle of oil into the palm of your hand. Roughly, the size of a quarter, but more is acceptable. Rub your hands together to warm the oil and smooth over your face.
  • Begin massaging the oil into your face. This will remove makeup, dirt, and other impurities, so there is no need to use a makeup remover or wash your face prior to the massage. I’ve found that this removes even my stubborn waterproof mascara and concealor.
  • Using slow, firm motions across the skin, massage the oil deeply into your pores. Take your time and focus on your problem areas. You want the oil to work into your pores so that blackheads and the like can be dissolved and steamed away.
  • As you’re massaging, let your mind drift off to something calming and breathe deeply. Take this time to relax and release some of the stress that your body is harboring. Sit down, breathe deeply, and take your time. Give the oil enough time to work on dissolving the impurities in your pores and give yourself enough time to unwind. Picture what your face would look like if it were completely clear and free from blemishes. Focus on that image and know that it is attainable. Trust that it is attainable. Accept that it is attainable. You can have clear skin, free of blemishes and you will have clear skin, free of blemishes. Focus on perfect skin and breathe deeply.
  • Once you’re satisfied that your pores are saturated and you’re feeling calm, pick up your washcloth and soak it in clean, steamy water. We want the water to be warm enough to open your pores and remove the oil. Cool water will not open your pores, nor will it remove the oil efficiently. We’re not scalding our skin, we’re steaming to coax our pores to release the oil carrying the impurities. We’re essentially steaming our skin as an esthetician would, but without the luxury of a steam machine.
  • Hold the washcloth to cover your face. Allow it to stay until it cools. You will feel your pores releasing the impurities. Wipe the oil gently away and rinse the washcloth well in hot, running water. Hold the washcloth to your face again, allowing it to cool. Wipe gently, rinse well, and repeat two or three more times. Avoid any temptation to scrub, as you’ll find it’s completely unnecessary and your skin will be soft, smooth, and free of flakes without the additional manual exfoliation and irritation that will result. Impurities, dead skin cells, and bacteria will be gently swept away.
  • Have no fear of the oil, as the steamy washcloth will remove it. The Castor Oil, though it is an oil, will help with the removal of the other oils, as well. It is our main cleansing oil and is easily removed with warm water.
  • If your skin feels tight, take a tiny drop of your oil blend, rub it between your clean, damp palms and pat it onto your damp skin. Gently massage any oil residue into your skin so there is no film of oil left sitting on the surface. Your skin should now glow!

using my hot washcloth

so fresh and so clean, post-OCM! ahh! this is from a couple days ago... my skin has improved so much in past six months!

I use Sunflower Oil as a general moisturizer too.  I don’t even use any creams or lotions anymore.  Literally, oil and makeup are the only things I put on my face.  Well, sometimes I use a little soap (here and there, like in the shower on days I’m not doing OCM … and I use sunscreen, but you know what I mean: the lotions and stuff I used to use in the past, I haven’t touched in months.  I prefer my oil).  Before I apply make up, I use sunflower oil.  I just put a teeny amount in my clean hands, rub together, and then pat on my face.  I get such an even amount of moisturizer, it makes applying makeup so much easier.  It’s my daily moisturizer!

I get compliments on my skin all the time now.  My mom is out here visiting us this week, one of the first things she said after we picked her up from the airport was a compliment on how great my skin looks.  I can go out without makeup on now.  I feel happy about my skin.  I like the quality of how it feels, soft, even, nice.

a very recent photo - nice skin, huh?

Don’t get me wrong: I still get occaisional breakouts.  When its my time of the month, always.  Ugh.  But, the overall quality of my skin and the overall condition of my acne is so much improved.   I know many of us gals in our 20’s deal with acne and it just sucks.  I’m sure it happens to guys too.  So, as someone who’s been there, done that: hated the way my skin looks, piled on the makeup, hated going out and hating seeing photos of myself… as someone who’s dealt with that for years, and now doesn’t have to, I’m just passing on the knowledge of what’s worked for me.

Do you use OCM?  Have you had great luck with it?  Are you going to try it?  Tell me about your own experiences!

banana nut steel cut oatmeal = vegan love in a crockpot

I’ve recently jumped on the whole steel cut oats bandwagon.  Eating a breakfast of steel cut oats I feel so fitness-y and powerful, like a lean mean healthy machine.  For my first attempt at turning oats into edible gruel, I googled around to see what the good folks of the world wide web were doing to prepare said oats.  Turns out tossing them in the slow cooker overnight is a totally legit method.  I studied some oat-to-liquid ratios and then began inventing my own recipes.

My first try involved some dairy.  And by some I mean I had half-and-half going on in there. Whew. The oatmeal was delicious, but I was worried that simmering those hardcore oats in milk fat for ten hours was kinda defeating the purpose.   (I’ll put the recipe for my first attempt at the end of this post.)

Banana Nut (steel cut oat)-meal  

This recipe is vegan, vegetarian, super healthy and yummy.   [edit: I added nutrition info towards the bottom of the post, 269 cals per serving – not bad!]

don't you feel healthy just looking at this stuff?

Ingredients:

  • steel cut oats
  • one or two bananas, ripe/ near ’bout mushy
  • brown sugar
  • water
  • almond “milk”  (Almond Breeze, vanilla flavor)
  • chopped walnuts
  • cinnamon
  • a slow cooker
Directions:  Dump ingredients into a slow cooker and let ‘er ride on low for about eight to ten hours, basically just overnight.  Eat as-is, or maybe garnish with a little maple syrup, maybe some additional nuts or chopped banana?
How I did:
I’m doing the steel cut oats with about a 4:1 ratio of liquid:oats, so to get about six decent servings I did a cup and half of oats and about six cups of liquid.  I broke it up as 4 cups water and 2 cups of the Almond Breeze.   I dumped all that oats and liquid into my slow cooker.

vanilla flavor is pretty dope

I had a couple bananas sitting around that were just too soft to eat.  Totally ready for banana bread.

this photo is just all class: old fruit + booze + booze. nice!

I took one of these soft banans and just mashed it up.

just like baby food

Add that mashy ‘nanner into the glop in the crock pot.   Next: I found a little packet of chopped walnuts.  I got the idea for this recipe because I needed to use up those bananas before they were useless.  As I was brainstorming for other flavors/items to compliment the banana, walnuts seemed the natural choice:  it’s just like banana bread, yeah?  It turns out, we actually had walnuts in the house, and they were ready to go.  It was fate!  I took my nice pre-chopped packet, and I added the whole thing in with my other porridge-wannabe ingredients.

duggs bought these for a diff recipe, but ended up not using them. so i totally scored - these were the perfect size for this oatmeal.

I added a nice spoonful of brown sugar.  Maybe it was a tablespoon?  I’m not sure.  Sorry, I never really measure things – I’m one of those cooks who just kinda knows how much of what goes where by eye-balling it.  So umm… put a little brown sugar in there.  However much you feel comfy with.  Then do the samesies with some cinnamon.  Just sprinkle generously some ground cinnamon on top and mix it in.

winnie the pooh: honey :: happyhippierose : brown sugar sack

Wisk it up so everything gets mixed together.

all mixed up and ready to slooooow cook

Put the lid on.  Sleep all night long and have sweet banana nut dreams.  (Make sure you keep the slowcooker on low for eight to ten hours).    When I woke up, I gave it a little stir and voila, it was ready to serve!  I divvied it up into six servings.

breakfast to go!

oh yes yes yes

I served my husband a bowl with a little more cinnamon and a small dollop of maple syrup mixed in.  For myself, I ate it straight up!  Both ways were delicious.  Walnuts are pretty soft anyways, but after cooking all that time they do soften down a bit more.  They still lend to the texture of the oatmeal, but there’s no big crunch in there.  The bananas totally mix in.    There is a little skin that occurs, btw.  I just work around it.  I think next time I’ll double up on the banana for the amount of oatmeal I made.  I totally recommend using two.    The Almond Dream was an excellent choice!! I’m using that instead of dairy in my oats, from now on.

For clean up:  this go round, I scooped out as much oatmeal as I could right away, put it in tupperware.  That way, I soaked the slow cooker pot asap so I could get off the sticky part that gooes to the walls of the pot.  (Last time I let it sit too long before soaking, and it was hard to remove).

ENJOY! 

If you make this recipe: please give me feedback!  How did your’s come out?  Was it gooooood?  What did you do differently?

 

NUTRITION INFO

Based on nutrition labels from the specific ingredients I used: oats, brown sugar, almond breeze (vanilla flavor), walnuts, banana, and water.    The entire pot made six servings for me; I just did the simple calculations to come up with this nutritional data.

per serving              whole crock pot

Calories                                   269                              1615

Fat                                            10 grams                   60 grams

Sugar                                       10 grams                   60 grams

Protein                                    7.1 grams                  43 grams

 

……………………………..

My First Attempt:  Berries ‘n’ Cream Steel Cut Oats

  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup half and half
  • maple syrup
  • frozen berries   ~1 cup
  • a packet (or two) of splenda
I chopped up the frozen berries (I bought a mixed bag and those blackberries are too big not to chop up! Same with some strawberry pieces).  So I chopped up the fruit and essentially just mixed/whisked everything together and let it cook on low overnight.   It made five-ish servings, and was really tasty!  The dairy taste was just a bit heavy for me.

my first steel cut batch - berries n cream

does your bathroom abuse bunnies?

How Cruelty-Free Are Your Cosmetics? 

I used to be like you.  I bought my shampoo and soap from my neighborhood super wal-mart or other megagrocer.  Dove, Secret, Suave, etc. – I shopped based on price, smells, or the promises made in high budget advertising.    It just seemed like a simple, obvious thing to do.  No big deal, just buy whatever you like, right?  In my mind and heart, I’d always been an animal lover.  If and when “animal testing” came up in conversation, I’d get ill just thinking about it.  But somehow that visceral connection was lost when I went a-shopping, and I never thought about rabbits getting shampoo squirted in their eyes as I grabbed whatevs off the shelf.   I just didn’t think about it. 

i used to just grab whatever was cheap and easy and go for it.

now i know better and i always look for the cruelty-free logo to make sure i'm buying something that is safe for my little sweet animal friends

During my early 20’s I was doing a lot of self-discovery.  I found my political voice, learned how I really felt about the world.  I actively chose not to live an unexamined life: I don’t want to just go through the motions of living, autopilot style.  I am a person who examines the world around me, gets the most out of life, and uses my mellon as I’m saying and doing (or at least I try to make that effort, ya know?).

In learning to ask questions, open my eyes, and identify where I draw the lines between right and wrong… I realized that animal testing is not something I’m okay with.   I can get so fresh and so clean, or do my eyes up without killing, hurting, maiming helpless small animals.  I didn’t become a vegan or cut red meat out of my lifestyle.  I still take medications that have pointlessly been tested on animals (different argument for a different day)… but choosing which bathroom supplies I buy is an active decision that I can make; I use my consumer power to stand up for something I believe in.  By purposefully choosing to own and use only products that are cruelty-free I put my money where my mouth is.

It’s more of an awareness/mentality shift than an entire lifestyle change, ya know? I’m still washing my hair and wearing make up, I’m just conscious of what products I use to do so.

In the past three and a half years I’ve done a lot of learning.  Some cruelty-free products can be more expensive than your mainstream brands.  Often cruelty-free companies go hand in hand with using organic ingredients or are produced by smaller, mom and pop kind of entities.  I’ve used some hippie-dippy stuff that was lackluster at best: gooey deodorants, shampoos that won’t lather.   Back in 2008 when I started this journey, finding safe items in mainstream stores was hard.  I’d have to speciality shop around, and keep trial and erroring different goods.  The issue has come a long way though, and now many stores carry the brands I trust, making this commitment easier than ever.    I’ve also found lines of products I love, and I feel like I’m taking my stand whilst maintaining convenience.

So, are you ready?  Interested in learning more?  Want to make the change?

Why Cruelty-Free? What’s the Big Deal? 

Animal testing is so icky.  It’s still legal in the USA (which is crazy), although the FDA does encourage that companies seek the most humane methods possible to prove the safety of their products.  That’s cool.  But encouragement ain’t the law, we need to take it further. Here’s the FDA’s stance:  http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductandIngredientSafety/ProductTesting/ucm072268.htm

Google “vivisection.”  Go on, do it.  Open a new tab and give it a google.

Did you do it?  Do you already know about vivisection?  Vivisection is the scientific experimentation of LIVE subjects.   When applied to the cosmetic world, the rampant use of needless vivisection is disgusting.  Millions of small animals are tortured alive in the name of science, under the guise of proving product safety.   When you google the term a lot of graphic images pop up:  so gut-wrenching nasty, huh?

DoSomething.org gives some fun facts about animal testing, explaining that millions of small animals are subjected to cruel and painful tests each year in the USA:  http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-animal-testing

Here’s a great youtube video, chock full of vom-inducing graphic images, and heart twisting stats to help paint the picture of what cosmetic animal testing is really all about.  Warning, VERY graphic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSwR70Xtaug

Animal testing isn’t making our world safe one eye shadow at a time: it’s performing redundant and unnecessary tests that can be easily managed in other, harmless ways.  The body of data we already have is sufficient for creating safe products made of ingredients that are safe for human consumption or use.  Here’s a page that debunks some myths about animal testing, very informative: http://www.leapingbunny.org/myths.php

Third party testing is something that also must be taken into consideration.  Many products will say “final product not tested on animals.”  That’s neat, but that’s not fighting the whole issue.  Ingredients are being tested on furry critters.  The problem is that many ingredients have already been tested on animals, and that can’t be un-done.  We don’t have a time machine.  But certified “cruelty-free” products don’t currently test on animals or use new animal testing to develop a product.  They buy ingredients that aren’t currently tested on animals.  So while the sad past can’t be taken back and information obtained from those experiments is used: new testing is not needed or condoned.  We can build off the body of knowledge we already have without subjecting more animals to torture.

Make The Switch

Making the actual switch is easy-peasy.  Like I said, it’s not a lifestyle change.  There aren’t any habits I’m greatly altering, it’s just the specific products I use.  I still brush my teeth, apply deodorant and what not – I just am careful about what I toss in the buggy when I’m shopping.   I use my consumer power constructively.

Dont like reading?  Or are you dying to see my mug and hear my voice?  I made a little video to accompany this blog, here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkVUGzkyGek

a screenshot of my super sweet video. go click the youtube link and watch me!! yeah, the pooch is in the background. bonus! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkVUGzkyGek

Here’s a like-minded fella’ giving his point of view, Wayne Goss (makeup artist) on animal testing in relation to cosmetics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cd0g4shOXSI&NR=1&feature=fvwp

Here’s an easy-to-use list that can help you identify cruelty-free products: http://www.peta.org/living/beauty-and-personal-care/companies/default.asp

And here are some other good resources:

Out at the store and not sure what should buy?  There’s an app for that!  I just got it today, actually.   http://www.peta.org/features/Stephanie-Pratt-iphone-app.aspx

the "bnb" app is right next to "angry birds" - yay iphone!

so easy to use, tres cool

 What am I using? 

Yay! The fun part.  I love reviewing products and spreading the word about something I really love to use.

When I first dived into the cruelty-free world I used a lot of Kiss My Face products.  Burt’s Bees, Kiss My Face, and Tom’s of Maine are probably my top three go-to companies.  All of them are becoming accessible to the masses, I see them in every drug store and super market.  Awesome!  The Kiss My Face body washes and hand soaps are my fave.  I don’t really care for any Burt’s Bees or Kiss My Face hair care products, though.  For that I use the Say Yes To… brand (Say Yes To Carrots = my shampoo/conditioner of choice!).

here's my shower line up

nature's gate chamomile shampoo

That Nature’s Gate shampoo isn’t the best shampoo ever, NGL.   But, it’s an epic body wash.  My husband goes crazy for the smell, it’s delicious really.  I get a huge lather on my loofah and I just love to use it all over myself, just not on my hair.  That’s okay though.

i am so in love with these two - my hair has never been healthier or happier!

organic oils have so many uses!

my oil vial next to one of my many aveda products. i love aveda, so great.

Sunflower oil is so very moisturizing – I love it!  I use it in combination with the Castor oil as part of my face cleansing regime: The Oil Cleansing Method.   (I’ll make a post about that in a bit, it’s a whole ‘nother topic).  I use the Sunflower oil as a general skin moisturizer.   It’s so softening and light.  Good stuff right there!

when i'm not using oil - this is what i use on my face. amazing wipes!!

Yes To Cucumbers is my favorite product (as in other than the oil cleansing method) to use on my face.  They have a facewash that I use, as well as these wipes.

bought this on a whim, can't imagine living without it

best deodorant i've ever used, i promise!

So Kiss My Face makes a deo, and I’ve tried it before.  It says somethingerother about “active enzymes” on it, so I gacve it a whirl.  For me, and whatever my body makes my pits do, it was not a good choice.  By nature, I don’t really have stinky sweaty pits.  I actually don’t even wear deo most days, and no one notices at all.  I’m just not really stinky.  Unless I work out or something, then it’s on and I sweat like a crazy person.  Or go to the dentist: I’m terrified of the dentist and I break out in the craziest sweat ever.  Buckets.  Anyways… here’s my point: not all natural deodorants have worked for me.  I didn’t care for the kind with the “active enzymes.”  But the Tom’s Apricot stuff pictured above = wonderful.  I lurve it!

When it comes to makeup – ALL I use is M.A.C.  It’s the best quality anyways, it has the awesomest variety of colors, coverage types, etc.  The stuff you buy lasts and withstands travel, being in my lil makeup pouch and getting tossed around in my giant purse, and sitting in the car when I accidentally leave it there.  And it’s just the best, and they do NOT test on lil animals at all.  So rad!

the only makeup i use

best lip balm of all time

body shop's body butters = excellent. the smell of the mango flavor is so delectable i try and eat my own arms after applying, maybe.

welcome to my purse... i must make out a lot.

Brands I love and trust:

  • Tom’s of Maine
  • Burt’s Bees
  • Kiss My Face
  • Say Yes To…
  • M.A.C.
  • Aveda
  • eos – Evolution of Smooth
  • Lush
  • Body Shop
  • OPI
  • Clinique
  • Earth Nature Essentials
If you really took the time to read all of this, maybe clicked a couple of the links I’ve tossed out there, and possibly considered making sure your next cosmetic purchase is a cruelty-free one, THANK YOU.   I know I’m long-winded and all over the place; my zaniness is a reflection of my passion though and this is a topic I feel most passionately about.  Your time and thoughtfulness are much appreciated.

i have trigeminal neuralgia? (a new diagnosis)

I have Trigeminal Neuralgia?   (I am Ron Burgundy?)

Here is a REALLY long update about what’s been going on with my health and I’m going to explain the new diagnosis I’ve been given.

((note: this blog post was originally published on 24.feb.2011 – since that date, i’ve eventually had trigeminal neuralgia ruled out, although i am having neuro issues that do involve the trigeminal nerve.  just to clarify, thanks!  -30.nov.2011))

Yup, you heard me correctly – I have a new diagnosis.  As in, I have a  new medical condition to claim on my pre-existing conditions.  For those of you keeping track, you may now add Trigeminal Neuralgia to the list.  Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (remission for 6 years), Melanoma (remission for 2.5 years),  Crohn’s disease, Porphyria, Hypothyroidism (related to radiation), ADHD, and Extreme Awesomeness should already be on your list.

(If you’re listing surgeries: right inguinal hernia repair, pelvic lysis of adhesions, appendectomy, bowel resection and during cancer they took out a lymph node, harvested eggs, and put a port-a-cath in and out).

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia? How did this happen?  Wtf is going on?  I know there are lots of questions to answer.  Lemme start at the beginning here.

Backstory

So I have porphyria, this rare blood disease that runs in my family, right?  Well, for the past four years I’ve been learning more about it, learning to better identify porphyria exacerbations (“attacks”) and learn my symptoms.    I’ve had several attacks, and sadly they’ve been happening closer and closer together.  The cool thing about porphyria though is that there are triggers, and I’ve been learning a lot about triggers and avoiding them.  Its a big reason why I don’t really touch the booze these days.  Or Motrin.  (You can learn more about porphyria here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porphyria).

For the past two-ish years, I’ve been getting these bizarre ear aches.  And the lymph nodes behind my ear get super inflamed, tender and hard – to the point where doctors have actually thought there were cysts back there.  Or some kind of infection.  (Honestly, we’re still not sure what those bumps are back there, cysts vs. nodes).  Well, porphyria can do weird things and pop up in weird ways, so these ear aches/bumps behind my ear have been loosely associated with my porphyria.  As in, when the porphyria attacks, the bumps behind my ear show up too.  And as the attack fades out and I feel better,  my ear seems to get better too.  Weird, but whatever.

this is from summer 2009, at my dad's in leesburg - i had a terrible ear ache and i'd posted on FB about it. the hat was keeping it warm, and warm seems to always help the pain.

In nursing school I was so stressed out nonstop, my body was going haywire.  Insomnia, anxiety, frequent porphyria attacks, GI troubles, etc.  It was a rough year for me health-wise.  I got out to Hawaii last July, and detoxed.  I got off all of my medication except for my thyroid meds (super vital) and I was feeling great.  I de-stressed.  Worked out, did yoga, laid out at the beach.  My stress level went into the negative and I’ve never felt better.  I quit smoking, quit drinking and cut out caffeine too.  Then I got pregnant, and I felt the best I ever had in my life.  I was loving it!

Then… the miscarriage. Ugh.  Between the physical toll on my body (I bled for 2+ weeks and had some dehydration, low B/P issues) and the emotional stress, I braced myself for a porphyria attack.  And it came.

In order to treat the attack, I finally got hooked up with a hematologist out here.  And well, as what I thought was part of the attack – I got those ear bumps and a super bad ear ache; I wasn’t surprised and just assumed it was porphyria.  To treat the symptoms though, I went to the clinic here on base and saw a primary care doc.  He thought the cysts behind my ear were some kind of weird inflammation issue, so he injected them with steroids.  At the time it seemed super clever and it was a unique approach.  Sadly, it backfired.  It actually made them WAY worse.  That was on January 11th (my mom’s birthday!) that I saw the PCM and had the ‘roids shot up into my head.

So a few days later I ended up in the ER, because like I said, the shots made this junk get way way worse.  They threw some pain meds at me and sent me home with a referral to an ENT – an ear, nose, and throat specialist – in the works.

duggs took me to the ER while he was home on emergency leave - i took this pic while we were playing 20 Questions, and i was making him laugh because I'm so witty and adorable.

The ENT clinic was super booked.  They couldn’t see me for weeks (three weeks later, Feb 8th).  By the time I finally went in, the ear thing was almost all better.  It had kinda gone away on its own, just as my porphyria attack was clearing up and I was feeling a lot better in genral. Just to be sure the ENT did a super thorough work up, including an ultrasound of my ear/neck and sticking a camera up my nose to see my inner ear (super uncomfortable btw, i hated that one).  He told me if it gets bad again to call him and he’d see me right away, at least we had a baseline now.

The ear thing crops up like every 6 months, so I was fairly confident I’d never see him again.  Wrong!

My Ear Hurts, Yo!

I woke up the morning of February 16th and my ear was feeling tender and weird.  By the afternoon, I had those bumps and it was getting more serious.  I called up the ENT the next day, and he told me to come in on Friday afternoon (the 18th).

I took myself down to Tripler (the Army Hospital here with all of the speciality clinics).  I assumed  the doctor would poke around a little bit, tell me some BS like “take it easy” and it would be what it is.   Well, he starts assessing me and nothing is “wrong” with my ear.  I’m hypersensitive to sound on the right side, but anatomically – he can’t find anything wrong inside my ear.  No redness, swelling, oozing, nada.  Trying to figure out wtf is going on, he decided to do a cranial nerve assessment.  I remember that sonnovabitch from nursing school (we had to learn how to test all 12 of them, a total pain in the ass and tricky to remember); so once he started testing my nerves, I knew exactly what he was doing.  The dude is thorough, so I played along and let him do the full assessment.

Here’s where everything gets WEIRD.

I didn’t “pass” the cranial nerve assessment.  As in, I had totally abnormal responses to some of the tests.  He had me close my eyes and he lightly touched my forehead with two cotton swabs – right above each eyebrow.  He asked me, “do you feel a difference?”  I sat there with my eyes closed all confused, “difference in what?”  He explained, “does one side feel different than the other?”  I shift uncomfortably.  “Uhh, I can only feel one side, so yeah I feel a difference.”   Fail.  He was touching both sides, I just couldn’t feel anything on my right side.  Same thing happened with my cheeks.

i found this on google images - he kinda did like this to me, except less aggressive with the mashing of my face. and with a cotton-tipped applicator.

yeah, this is more like it! (i just like adding pics into a post, can you tell? i like to jazz it up. that's why i found these random photos on google images. but they do help illustrate what i'm talking about). .

Next, he did the whole follow-my-finger-with-your-eyes thing.  When I look waaaaay over to the left, all was fine.  I could move my eye balls, follow his finger, etc.  When he had me go way over to the right, it was hard.  I couldn’t hold my gaze, I didn’t have control of my eyes, and it hurt!  (This is actually not cranial nerve V, this is more for the fourth nerve – but the doc feels that because of the serious pain I’m feeling near my right eye, it was hard for me and anything affecting that area is just super sensitive/ouchy/stressful).

to the left = fine. to the right = EEKS!

Cranial Nerve testing: http://www.clinicalexam.com/pda/n_cranial_nerves_exam.htm

I could puff out both of my cheeks, smile, blink, wrinkle my forehead – there were a lot of things I could do just fine.  It was a sensory thing that I was all messed up on.  I couldn’t feel things properly.  And when he did some testing with the tuning fork I was hypersensitive on the right side.

ouch! jeepers!!

He started to ask me questions about this ear pain and where else it hurts.  I was explaining how the ear ache must be really serious because it radiates to other places.  Like my right cheek, jaw, behind my eye.  Just the whole right side of my face in general.  I really was thinking I had something wrong with my inner ear, and that’s why the pain seemed to spread from my ear, out.

He consulted with other doctors in his group, gave me a 10 minute break then re-assessed my cranial nerves, looked inside my ears again, tested my eyes, and had me explain in detail where/how/when it hurts.

My ear itself looked fine.  A CT scan of my head/neck I had just done on that Monday was normal, coupled with recent labs that all came back normal – the doc felt like he could rule out infection, abscesses, or anything really blatant.

He left for a while to go look some stuff up.   Finally, he came back in and gave me his best hypothesis.  He’s pretty sure what I’m experiencing is nerve pain and that I possibly have something called Trigeminal Neuralia (TN).    I sat there kinda freaked out, not even knowing what that meant.

Trigeminal Neuralgia: WTF

The term trigeminal neuralgia sounded familiar though, and I was pretty sure one of my friends has it.  I started texting her, and I’m so glad I did.  She ended up talking me through the rest of the appointment and “being there” with me until I got home.   D, I love you and I’m so thankful for you!!

I was sent home with some pain meds.  Over the weekend I did some online research (of course).  The more I learned about TN and nerve pain, the more sure I became that this was really what was going on with me.  While its not super common to feel TN in the ear, it does happen.   And what I learned about “nerve pain” (as opposed to regular ole pain) just made sense – everything I could read online sounded exactly like what’s been going on with me.

Wednesday, the ENT and I talked over the phone and we both decided it most likely is TN.  The weirdness of touching my ear and having my jaw and teeth hurt so badly, the building and waves of pain, the sharpness of the pain without any pathological origin, and the sensory disturbances (the numbness, the hypersensitivity) are all hallmarks of TN.  Its like all of my wiring is switched up and broken.  Press hard on my gums, and my right eye hurts.  Brush the side of my face near my ear, and it feels like I have a cavity and a migraine.  Resting and taking it easy doesn’t help, and I don’t feel ill at all.  Its not a sick thing, its a weird PAIN thing.

Today I started on a new med: Gabapentin.  Technically, this medication is used to prevent seizure in epileptics.  An off-label use is that it curbs nerve pain.  Basically, if gabapentin can relieve my pain, it can be determined I most likely do have TN.  The only other “test” they can do is an MRI.   There’s nothing indicative of TN that will show up on an MRI though.  As long as I don’t have a tumor, lesions (MS) or something obvious going on inside my noggin and brain, TN can be assumed by process of elimination.  No dental abscess, no brain tumor, no anything else they can find +  the nerve assessment indicative of sensory abnormalities + the way the patient describes the pain = TN diagnosis.

I’m hoping the gabapentin helps me out.  Not because I want this diagnosis to stick, but because I’ve been in so much freaking pain.  I have a wicked high pain tolerance and this has got me all kinds of cranky.  Its pretty serious pain.  The gabapentin is a pretty reliable drug that’s been around for a while.  It does, like all drugs, have some side effects though.  I’m a little nervous about which ones I could have, so I’m a bit nervy right now.  I’m really hoping/praying for the best and staying positive though.

gabapentin, for all my neuropathy needs!

So for those of you already googling TN, you’re going to find some weird stuff.   Its rare, has no cure, and isn’t very well understood.  Yes, it is nicknamed the “suicide disease.”   It earned the nickname because the pain from TN is considered to be so terrible,  its considered the most painful condition one can have.  So painful that people who have it get all suicidal because they’d rather die than live in this much pain.  Scary?  Kinda yeah, thinking I could experience that kind of pain is scary.  BADASS?  Let’s not kid, that is pretty hardcore and badass.

How much pain have I been in?  The waves of pain are pretty serious, I won’t lie.  Once TN gets triggered, it keeps going and going until the nerves calm down.  I left the doctor’s office Friday and over the weekend everything kept building and getting worse.  By Monday, I was about in tears (okay, I was actually in tears).  Its no joke.

I will keep everyone posted about the success of the new med, and what happens from here.  I have a trip to the mainland already scheduled for next week, so I won’t be seeing a neurologist for further assessment until mid-March when I get back out here to Hawaii.

Of course I’m going to be sappy about this

Seriously, don’t cry for me Argentina.  No pity party or feeling bad for me.  If you know me, you know how I roll and that when medical stuff happens to me, I take it in stride.  In general, I have an amazing life without any reason to complain.   The name of this blog is HAPPYhippierose.  I’m a very happy, content, fulfilled person and I feel immeasurably blessed every single day.  (I never go hungry, I have a roof over my head, a warm bed, an amazing husband, family and friends who love and support me… I could go on but at some point its just gloating.  Just the fact that when medical stuff does happen to me I have access to safe, well trained and affordable health care – that’s an epic blessing right there.)

People all around me deal with challenges and trials that I couldn’t imagine going through.  That whole God-only-gives-you-what-you-can-handle thing, cheesy and trite as it is, it feels very true in my life.  If the worst thing I have to deal with in my life is more doctor’s appointments than the average bear, I can handle that!  Well that and deployment, right?

Probably the worst part about this is not having my Matthew home to go through this with me.  I do wish I had Duggs here to take me to appointments, and drive me places when I’m high on pain meds, to hold my hand and comfort me – all the stuff he’s so damn good at.  But let’s not kid, I have awesome friends out here who take care of me and my church family has my back and looks out for me; I know I’m in good hands until my hubs comes home.

I’ll keep y’all posted and update about how the meds are treating me and how I’m feeling.  For now, think happy thoughts for me, send me good healing vibes and keep me in your prayers!

Like I said earlier, there’s no “cure.”  But from what I’ve read (and what my doctor has explained), treatment with medication can be very effective.   This isn’t life threatening, and once its under control it shouldn’t really impact my quality of life much at all.  This is all great news, and very reassuring.

As far as we know now, this is unrelated to any of my other conditions – and thus, I’ve gone from being a medical anomaly with a truly unique case history, to being even more of a medical anomaly with an even more unique case history!  I’m 99.999% sure that no one in the history of the world has ever had a medical history that’s the same as mine.  I really am special, really!

More info about TN (well… if you’re clever enough to get to this blog you can probably google, but here ya go anyways):

this week in workouts (14 feb 2011)

Monday – nothing

Tuesday – 60 mins power yoga in the morning; walk the pooch in the evening

Wednesday – 35 mins on the elliptical (it said 3.2 miles, but I never believe the elliptical) + 30 mins core class; stretched in the evening

Thursday – 3 mile run/jog/walk outdoors with the pooch, stretching

Friday – nothing

Saturday – 60 mins power yoga

 

………..

This week’s workouts weren’t very great or exciting.  My excuses are:

1.  I started the week out super sore from the Stairway hike we did last Friday

2.  I haven’t been feeling well, and I’ve had a lot of doctor’s appts this week that cut into workout time (I was at Tripler three times this week, ugh).