Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Spoonie Nightstand

What is a Spoonie?

For those with chronic illnesses, we have a general way to describe our energy levels and fatigue: the spoon theory. We get 12 spoons per day, which is a metaphor in which those with disabilities understand or use to explain how they feel. Each spoon signifies a measurement of energy. Going to the store costs 2 spoons, and on a rough day, taking a shower may cost 4 spoons. Cleaning the bathroom is another 3 spoons. That leaves us with 3 spoons left for the rest of the day. We may have to borrow spoons from tomorrow, leaving us bed-bound.

Spoonies are people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, chronic fatigue and anyone with medical conditions that limit their activity.

My nightstand essentials:

Some of my favorite necessities are found on my Spoonie Amazon List and others are from Wildling Apothecary.

  • Enchanted forest essential oil scented CBD and magnesium lotion, for aches and pains, from Wildling Apothecary

  • Salt lamp for purifying the air and of course to shed some light while I eat in bed… yes, I eat in bed.
  • A mini Buddha that was my grandmother’s. She was my favorite person and we had such a special bond. She lived to be 96 years old and I still think about her every day.
  • Lip balm is something I always need on my nightstand because I am often dehydrated, despite how much water I drink. I can’t stand the feeling of dry lips so they are always moisturized.
  • I always have water on my nightstand but since I just tidied up and added a little shelf, only herbal tea is pictured. I have herbal tea several times per day. I love peppermint and ginger for an upset stomach, kava or chamomile to relax and elderberry for immune boosting. I have quite a collection and also make my own blends.
  • Books! I won’t lie, it takes me forever to get through books because I flip through many and with a hectic schedule, it is hard to squeeze in the time. Really, I just need to make the time. My current favorite reads are The Dysautonomia Project and Dirty Genes.
  • My necklace from AWARECauses and labradorite earrings from Do Designs find their happy homes next to the bed because I can’t sleep with jewelry on.
  • My nightstand and granite heart dish were both handmade by my husband. He is pretty damn awesome.
  • I have my tiny (Walmart) heater year round. Dysautonomia is the dysfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System and can affect the automatic things that your body does, like breathing, body temperature, blood pressure, and heart rhythm. When my body temperature drops I feel freezing; my hands turn white and I have a hard time breathing due to shivering. This little heater keeps me warm without making my husband hot. I mean, he is hot though!
    I love my diffuser and use many different blends depending on how I feel, my mood, or the time of day. Certain oils also keep the air clean and act as antiseptics. Not shown, under my nightstand, is a box of things like a blood pressure cuff, pulse oximeter, thermometer, hot packs for stiff muscles, wrist braces, compression socks, and other necessities. I try to keep them organized so I can find them easily. Monitoring my health is important so having access to a blood pressure cuff, for example, is needed to make sure my bp doesn’t get too low. It’s like being my own nurse and helps prevent ER visits because I can manage my care to an extent.
    I keep a collapsible walking aid next to my bed because some days I overdo it and can’t get up on my own. Other times, my blood pressure drops and I nearly pass out. There are also times when my joints just give out and I fall. Some days are better than others and some days are worse.
    Also not pictured but under my bed, is my Biotronik pacemaker transmitter. It transmits a report to my doctor each night. Technology is pretty amazing! I have an apnea machine under my nightstand too, but I don’t have insurance so I am still working out the kinks on finding the right mask. I absolutely hate it but not breathing is worse and my heart has enough damage as it is. Sleep apnea is another common form of dysautonomia. I have had it since I can remember but was dismissed at a young age and literally called a liar because I was not overweight or with swollen tonsils. Dysautonomia is not well known, especially fifteen years ago. Here I am at 34 and I am just now being listened to. This blog is my sole purpose to educate, advocate and raise awareness.
Health, Healthy Food

Energy Sprinkles, Healing Sprinkles and My Health Story

Energy Sprinkles are the energizing sprinkle sister of Healing Sprinkles. Healing Sprinkles were created to help replenish essential minerals and vitamins, balance hormones, promote brain and heart health, reduce inflammation and stress. Energy Sprinkles became a reality after customers asked for a product that would help with energy. This blend is alkalizing, full of electrolytes, flushes toxins, boosts energy and improves overall mood.

Both blends are gluten-free, organ and vegan! Read more about Healing Sprinkles here.

My story:

These are blends that I have personally used over the past two years to heal my body. At the beginning of January of 2017, the 5th to be exact, I almost went into cardiac arrest. With a history of cardiac issues and years of medical negligence and misdiagnosis, my body was going into shock and continued to for months. Every day I worried that is was my last. I lost 30 or more pounds without trying, my skin tone was pale and colorless. I was complimented on my new figure but it was so frustrating because I was very scared. I learned about Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) and remembered that I was diagnosed with it as a teen. Because I never had a good cardiologist or medical team on my side, I never learned about it or how to manage it. It was my normal and less scary than my other heart issues like Supraventricular Tachycardia and Neurocardiogenic Syncope.

My heart rate would jump from 40bpm to 160bpm within seconds. I was going into circulatory shock because my heart was misfiring signals due to my other complex cardiac issues. Thankfully, I got a pacemaker six month later after several other opinions and searching for the right doctor. Dozens upon dozens of ERs dismissed me with anxiety. After finally getting an event monitor and a Tilt Table Test to prove my “anxiety” was something else, I was able to get the care I needed. I was so malnourished and my bloodwork was all over the place. I was always told to avoid salt because of my heart but the truth is that I needed to be on a high salt diet to expand my blood volume and raise my low blood pressure.

I also did more research, advocating and begged for more testing and finally found out why I have had a lifetime of heart issues (I have already had four cardiac ablations and open heart surgery), digestion issues, chronic migraines, multiple sensitivities, dysautonomia (dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system), chronic pain, joint hypermobility and subluxations, and so on. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I wish more than anything I had the right doctors who were educated and that could have helped me manage my debilitating chronic illnesses much sooner.

It is my mission to help others, to educate and advocate. There are 12 million misdiagnoses per year. My misdiagnosis of anxiety almost killed me multiple times. I am lucky to be here to stand up for our future. I am currently in school to get my prerequisites and finish a degree to get myself into the medical field where I can make the most of my mission.

 

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Health

Banana Bag Oral Solution

Banana Bag Oral Solution is a drinkable IV solution that can help skip the expensive ER visit and assist in recovering from an illness, long day of travel, hangovers or chronic illness management.

We get dehydrated easily from a night of drinking, illnesses, a day in the heat, lack of self-care or stress that causes you to forget to hydrate, patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Dysautonomia and many other reasons.

Banana Bag Drink is easily available online and they also have subscription options. It comes in a convenient single serving packet that you can bring with you in your purse or suitcase. It has saved many from ER visits where they would spend hundreds to be seen just to get fluids. People with chronic illnesses such as POTS sometimes need to get a bag or two of fluids and staying on track with Banana Bag has cut down expensive trips, saving time and money, less invasive, and less exposure to illnesses.

Each packet is formulated for easy methylation, so it is safe for anyone with the MTHFR mutation. Anyone who struggles from vitamin deficiencies will also benefit. People can also get deficiencies from malabsorption in the intestines from IBS, Crohn’s Disease, Celiac Disease, etc. When you are dehydrated, your blood volume is less than desirable and this can result on that dizzy feeling, nausea, and headache due to blood pressure dropping and your heart rate increases to compensate. Banana Bag is designed to expand your blood volume like an IV solution would.

It is a game changer and great to have around should you need a speedy recovery.

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

How To Be There For Someone With Chronic Illnesses

Don’t ask an open-ended question in regards to helping out.

    An example is asking someone if there is anything you can do to help; this is too broad of an offer. Though it is very kind, most likely the person you offered help to will feel too embarrassed to think of a specific thing. Instead, offer specific help, such as a housecleaning or dropping off dinner on an assigned night. Not only is this assistance incredibly helpful, but you also surpassed the uneasy ice breaker. No one knows what scope of help you are willing to give, nor do they want to feel like they might be asking too much. So, if you truly want your assistance redeemed then don’t give them the option to think and ask… just tell them when and how.

Let them vent.

    You don’t have to have any answers or advice, just listen. We are used to small talk and the autopilot response, “I am fine, and you?” Advice is usually not something we are looking for unless we ask. It is likely we are very familiar with our health and have been living with chronic illnesses for some time. We tend to research, educate and advocate for our health. However, if we don’t feel like talking about it then just being present and distracting us from our health is a nice break. But when we do want to open up and vent about our health, just listen.

We are not lazy.

    “It must be nice to be in bed all day,” is going to get you the asshole award. Trust me, we would rather have a life or be out at the beach, out with friends or working on a fun project, but instead, we are prisoners to our own body. Be mindful that spending the day in bed is not as glorious as it sounds for a chronically ill person… that means it was a rough day.

“You don’t look sick,”

    or “you are too young and healthy to be sick,” is something that we hear often and it only shows ignorance and a lack of empathy. Invisible illnesses are not obvious or blatantly apparent and because of this, we are often dismissed by medical professionals or deemed drug seekers. When you say that, it feels like a betrayal and a reminder that no one understands. We may post our good day selfies or fun outing but what you don’t see is the 24/7 pain, depression and grieving, the tears, the complications, and multiple doctors visits. You see a mask, warrior paint and the fake normal version of ourselves. We just hide it well.

Gift suggestions:

    • If we are in the hospital or recovering from surgery, there are many little gift suggestions. After being asked by a friend what to bring to a hospital visit, I came up with some awesome go-to items: face wipes, lip balm, books, magazines, fuzzy blanket, essential oils, snacks, headphones or anything from my

Amazon Spoonie List

    • or

Wildling Apothecary

    .

Patience.

    We feel guilt and a whirlwind of emotions for having a chronic illness and for anyone who is involved. Your patience and support mean the world to us, even if we have a hard time showing it. Don’t be afraid to point out our flaws but please try to be understanding and forgiving, as sometimes we don’t realize our suffering is showing in ways that can affect you, like an attitude or resting bitch face. Just tell us it’s okay and help is through instead of getting mad and angry.

The Spoon Theory

    . We have a name that we call ourselves: spoonies. There is a spoon theory. In a nutshell, we have about twelve spoons per day. Each spoon represents our energy. Taking a shower might cost 2 spoons and cleaning our bathroom is about 5 spoons. Running errands and a doctors appointment takes about 5 more spoons. Then we are out of spoons that day, meaning we are tapped out and exhausted. Sometimes we even have to borrow spoons from the following day, leaving us bed-bound. Many of us are trying to stretch our spoons out through the day, so when we cancel last minute, try not to get upset. Chances are we are pretty bummed about it but ran out of spoons. We still love being invited though!

Thank you for caring enough to read this.

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Moving Forward in 2019

2018 was a good year, despite having cancer, multiple surgeries and a few ups and downs. 2017 was awful and scary. My heart was at it’s worst. My POTS flare was the worst I ever had in my life. No doctors were on my side. I was having potentially fatal heart arrhythmias and I am shocked that I am here to tell about it. I am forever grateful for my pacemaker and supportive family.

2018 was the year I got my health under control. I learned my body and what I can handle. I take care of myself and minimize toxins in my life. I advocate for myself and after 33 years I found out what was wrong with me and that it isn’t normal to feel pain every day, among a million other things. Despite no cure, simply having an answer has made my life better by educating myself, spreading awareness for others and learning about what is best for my health, as opposed to being in the dark.

2019 is here and we all say that each new rotation around the sun will be the best ever, but I have learned that it is okay to feel. It is not okay to plaster fake positivity over emotions. I set goals daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and will continue to work on every aspect of my life whether it is day 1 or day 365.

Sometimes I have bad days and I hate that it affects others, especially those who love and care about me. I am not going to share just my perfect moments and give people Sunday’s best version of myself. I am human. I know I am not easy to deal with sometimes. I am sorry, but this is me. I’m working on it.

This year, for me, is about acceptance and moving forward. I have been grieving the reality of my health and the limitations and life changes that come with it. I was angry. I was in denial. It is important to focus on the good things in life but that doesn’t mean you need to pretend that tough times exist…. just don’t dwell there. I accept the cards I am dealt. I refuse to be in denial, ashamed or to hide, and will learn how to cope better and continue to improve the things that I can control.

I hope you all are inspired by a fresh start but don’t forget that you can start fresh anytime. Each day is a new story to write. We are in control of how we navigate through our story and how we handle the things life throws at us. Pick your own adventure and make it a good one.

Health

Detoxing Juice

Celery Juice

Did you know we all have gut rot? Gut rot is rotting food particles that have been rotting in your intestines for YEARS. Celery juice helps to clear that out and to increase and strengthen your bile, which breaks down fats and kills pathogens. This juice also supports and heals your central nervous system by clearing out toxins. This is also great for anyone who has Epstein Barr or Streptococcus, by cleaning the neurotoxins that are inflamed. If you have MTHFR like me, you have a hard time detoxing your body; celery juice is a great option.

Drinking celery juice on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning is a great routine to add for the start of your day.

Cheers to self love and healing your body for the New Year!

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Unveiling Invisible Illnesses with Natalie Rose – Lupus

Natalie is a very goal-oriented, adventure-seeking, well poised young woman. She also has that laid-back but tough vibe. An invisible illness is an illness that is not apparent or obvious. Looking at Natalie, you would see many other qualities about her and never jump to an illness. However, she has Lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes fevers, joint pain, fatigue, rashes, mouth ulcers, hair loss, sensitivity to the sun, pain and a wide range of various symptoms caused by your immune system attacking your healthy cells. Lupus comes in flares. It also must be managed and under control or it can be very scary and complicated, especially if your flare consists of a vital organ.

As you can imagine, Lupus is hard to diagnose with so many symptoms. When you are not currently experiencing a flare, your blood work levels can look normal at that time. Getting in with specialists can take a long time as well. This also makes it complicated for diagnosis. There are twelve million misdiagnosis per year. Natalie shares her story in hopes of raising awareness and helping others in the same boat.

What is your official diagnosis and when were you diagnosed?

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). I was diagnosed about 2 ½ years ago with Discoid Lupus, but my doctor warned me that SLE was still a possibility. About a year after that, a flare up landed me in the ICU; after seeing several different doctors, I was diagnosed with SLE.

Looking back, how long where you having symptoms before you got diagnosed?

At least a year or two. I had skin legions on my head and every doctor I saw diagnosed it as a fungus. After being on serious systemic fungal medications and seeing no change, I finally found a dermatologist who biopsied and diagnosed my legions. I always dismissed the joint pain as a side effect of being in the service industry for so long, but it turns out that my immune system was attacking my joints. I thought it was normal for people to be exhausted all the time, turns out it’s a symptom called “chronic fatigue.”

What do you do to keep your symptoms managed?

The most important thing that I had to learn was stress management. I quit the job that I hated. I’ve ended several relationships that caused me more stress than happiness. I learned how to either avoid stressful situations or take them in stride, rather than let them consume me. I wear sunscreen every day and do my best to cover up when I’m in the sun. One of the symptoms of lupus is being extremely photosensitive. Not only do I burn very easily, but it contributes to my other symptoms. A day in the sun usually means a few days of chronic fatigue and worse than usual joint pain. I try to get appropriate rest. Sometimes I have to bail on something I really wanted to do so I don’t push myself too hard and end up sick. It’s all about knowing your body and understanding your flare ups.

What advice could you offer to someone who is currently struggling with the same illness?

Keep a diary of symptoms so you can understand what leads to flare ups in order to try to prevent them. Don’t push yourself when you’re not feeling well, and certainly don’t let anyone make you feel bad for taking care of yourself first. Don’t let it hold you back though. I still enjoy all my outdoor hobbies, I just cover up and wear sunscreen. I’m still a career woman in a stressful field, I just manage my stress well. Most importantly, I would say not to waste time with people who are dismissive of your disease.

What is the scariest moment you have experienced because of your illness?

The time I ended up in the ICU. I woke up with a sore throat, and 10 hours later I couldn’t swallow, and was having trouble breathing. I had a simple cold but my immune system attacked my lymph nodes. I spent 3 days in the hospital on a high dose of steroids. I couldn’t eat or drink for a few days, and still had trouble for a while after that. While in the hospital I saw multiple hospitalists, my personal physician, an ENT doctor, a rheumatologist, and even an infectious disease doctor. They ran every test imaginable and just came back with the response, “looks like it was lupus”. It was by far the most painful and frightening experience of my life. Every time I get sick I worry if I’ll end up in that same situation again, or worse.

How do people react when they discover you have an invisible illness and how does that make you feel?

Most people don’t know what Lupus is, or they have some hazy image in their mind from episodes of House. For the most part, people are dismissive or just don’t understand. I think because you look happy, healthy, and young, they just assume that it’s not a big deal or not real. People often tell me that they’re “sorry.” I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. My life is pretty great, I just have an autoimmune disease that I have to live with. It’s really disappointing when people are dismissive of my symptoms. I don’t like or need anyone’s sympathy, but sometimes I would like to be able to rant about how terrible I feel without feeling judged or trivialized. I don’t like being held back by anything, so I get rather upset when a flare up causes me to call out of work, or bail on something that I want to do. It helps to be able to talk about it sometimes.

What way can others show support to someone with an invisible illness?

Just listen to us and try to be understanding. We know how to take care of ourselves, but sometimes it’s frustrating and overwhelming and we need a shoulder to cry on. If you’re in a relationship with someone who struggles with an invisible illness you should read up about it and be there for them as best you can. Don’t downplay or ignore their symptoms. Personally, I feel like laughter is the best medicine. My friends will make jokes about me being a vampire or how I need to start carrying a parasol. I much prefer that over someone telling me how sorry they are or being treated like I’m fragile.

Favorite quote:

When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. -Hunter S. Thompson

Three things you can’t live without:

Great food, great friends, and my dog.

What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?

Haha, I have a ton of goals! Anyone that knows me would describe me as very goal oriented. My goals are a little different than most because I’m not going to have children. In five years, I want to own my own home somewhere close to the water. Preferably on a creek somewhere in Melbourne. I plan on being very successful in my career. I’m working on getting in shape, so in five years I plan to be on a great work-out routine and to be healthy and fit. I just recently completed my dive certification which was one of my goals. Now I want to have all the certifications I need to be able to dive wrecks and caves. I plan to be travelling a lot and exploring beautiful new places as much as work will allow.

*Photos taken at Traditionals Cuts, Shaves and Brews in Eau Gallie Arts District (Melbourne, Florida) by Misti Blu

Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Unveiling Invisible Illnesses Documentary

Unveiling Invisible Illnesses – Documentary

First interview down!

I am looking for more volunteers to share their story on struggles with invisible illnesses, misdiagnosis, medical negligence, rare diseases or anyone in the medical field or a loved one who wants to share their side.

mistibludream@gmail.com

@mistibluday

Health

Fudgey Vegan Holiday Brownies

Fudgey Vegan Holiday Brownies

Featured in The Beachside Resident December 2018 issue

Maybe you don’t have time to whip up some baked goods from scratch but you still want to bring something impressive to the table that everyone can eat. I always stick to organic labels to avoid extra fillers, pesticides and chemicals. Organic tend to list healthier ingredients. Don’t be fooled with “natural” or “organic” labels unless you see the USDA stamp of approval. Gluten-free is the route I go. Most of us have a relative with sensitivities so why not be safe?

You will need:

• Box of organic GF brownie mix

• Cooked sweet potato

• Applesauce

• Cinnamon or Healing Sprinkles Spice Blend

• Carob chips or cacao nibs

• Coconut flakes (optional)

• Cashews (optional)

• Coconut oil

Preheat oven as instructed. In a bowl, combine brownie mix and substitute eggs for a half cup of applesauce and half a cup of cooked, mashed sweet potato. Add water or oil as directed on the box. You can add more sweet potato if you want to add less oil. I usually add just a tablespoon of coconut oil instead of the recommended amount. Sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon and your choice of carob chips or cacao nibs. After blending the mixture, top with chopped raw cashews and coconut flakes. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes over recommended time. Now you have an almost made from scratch, rogue batch of brownies! I like to drizzle a little CBD oil on mine.

Health, mental health

What Are You Thankful For?

Throughout my life, I have struggled with depression. Actually, I am lying. I am underplaying it; I have struggled deeply my entire life with depression. I never felt like I was enough. I never felt worthy. I was born with serious health issues and minimal care due to negligent doctors and lack of insurance. I chose the wrong people to enter relationships with because I had no self worth so my standards were nonexistent. I sabotaged relationships as well because I felt like I was doing them a favor. I let friends take advantage of me because I was happy just to have friends. Twice, I had to get expired food out of a pantry and I mastered making meals out of what was left in the cupboard. I cursed the universe because life was not fair. I have bottled childhood trauma up and carried it with me throughout my life.

I am grateful that one day I decided to wake up and appreciate what was good in my life instead of numbing my pain and feeling like a failure. I cut out toxic people in my life and raised my standards on what I expected out of a relationship. I stopped letting negativity consume me and tried being positive for once. I took my health into my own hands and advocated for myself and educated myself. I stopped eating like shit and corrected imbalances and deficiencies and taking care of myself and my body. (Also, huge props to correcting my MTHFR mutation which really was a significant part of depression for me).

I am now in the most loving, abundant and stable relationship I have ever been in and my heart is full of love and happiness. I don’t feel worthless and I know I am a good mother and if anyone tries to change how I feel about myself, they will fail miserably. I am strong, determined and passionate. I am thankful that I never gave up. I almost did, many times. I am grateful that I pulled myself out of the dark and loved myself. I never would have known this beautiful life I have now. I don’t know who needed to read this but I felt a strong urge to share this. Never give up! You never know what is around the corner for you. You are worth the love you give everyone else and everything is going to be okay.