Six Spoonie Summer Must Haves

No one has to state the obvious, that Summer is HOT. But many don’t think about how hard the summer months can be a hard time for Spoonies! We may nit admit it, but it is really hard not being able to be a part of the activities our friends/family love doing in the summer. In fact it can be just plain disheartening. Especially for those with certain conditions or taking certain meds that cause sun sensitivity like Lupus or certain antibiotics. After spending time sulking indoors for a period of time while your friends and family are out at the pool or at the ball-field, you find ways to get back outside to enjoy your time with friends and families. So today I want to share a few summer MUST HAVES that every Spoonie needs to have to get through the summer.

1. SUNCREEN

For spoonies especially those with lupus, Sunscreen is a MUST. I asked around and this brand was mentioned the most.

My TOP PICK: Sun Bum Sunscreen

PRICE: Around $12

WHERE CAN YOU BUY IT: Amazon

WHY IT IS BEST: This product is so well liked because it is gentle enough for kids and adults and can be used on a daily basis. Also due to the fact that it protects from UVA & UVB rays which many other products don’t. It is also very important that this product is hypoallergenic and is made with reed friendly (VERY IMPORTANT) ingredients. While also helping to prevent premature aging, while moisturizing the skin. This product comes in SPF 15-50.

***Example if your normal skin would burn in 10 min without any protection so a 30 SPF sunscreen would provide 30 times the protection of sunscreen. Meaning it will take you 30 times that original 10 minutes, 300 minutes.***

2. SELF -TANNER

As I mentioned above, many spoonies have a sun sensitivity so walking around pale is the norm! However, with this product those who can’t spend time in the sun can still look like they spend time in the sun! I tend to run in the Casper family and I often joke that you can almost see through me. So any self tanner that works and doesn’t leave me orange is great for me. I miss being able to be in the sun at least for a little while. But being sick just to get a little tan isn’t worth it!

My TOP PICK: Senegence Self-Tanning Bronzing Coconut Milk.

PRICE: $50

WHERE CAN YOU BUY IT: www.senegence.com/kissthislips.

WHY I LIKE IT: One of the biggest reasons I love this product is that it has seneplex complex in it, which increases your cellular turnover by 23%. And provides anti-aging benefits while getting that sun kissed look we all dream of. The product gives you a long lasting streak-free, Orange-free tan. That is visible in as few as a couple hours and will last for 3-7 days, and you can reapply every 2-3 days to maintain the tan you want.

**Note- make sure to exfoliate before applying this tanner in order to get the best tan possible.

** Each bottle should get you between 10 & 15 uses which would make it much cheaper than going to a tanning bed

3. UPF/UV SUN PROTECTION CLOTHES

There are going to be times when you want to, or have to be outside. Whether it be going to a family party, or doing some work in the garden. In either case spoonies need something to protect them from the sun to help minimize the negative effects that they may experience from being in the sun. So the best we can do aside from staying in, or sunscreen, is to wear UPF/UV Protective Clothing.

What is it: UPF stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. This indicates what fraction of the suns UV rays can penetrate the fabric. A shirt with a UPF of 50 for example, will allow just 1/50th of the suns UV rays radiation to reach the skin. The higher the UPF, the higher the protection. In general fry fabric is going to be more protective than wet fabrics.

Price: Ranges from $15-$50 per item.

Where Can You Find It: Walmart, Ahtleta, Lands End, Amazon, Coolibar, LL Bean and many more.

Why I Like It: Three simple reasons: they are lightweight, they protect me from the sun, and they wick moisture away from my skin!

***Remember that covering your skin isn’t enough. If you can see your skin through the fabric the suns rays can also get through. So make sure that in order to provide full protection, that you can’t see through the fabric.

4. Maxi Dresses

Why I Like Them– I chose this item to make my summer must have list because I personally live in these dresses during the summer. They are light weight and comfy and they don’t feel tight on your belly or any part of your body that might be hurting. They are also great for outdoor events because they cover your legs like you need but also allow air to pass through so they aren’t as hot and restricting as Jean or jeggings might be.

Where Can You Buy Them: Any where dresses are sold!

*** I prefer to get mine from Old Navy, as I find them the most comfortable and for the best price

Prices: This can be a wide range of anywhere from $10 to several hundred dollars

5. Ozark Tumbler

What is it/Why I Like It: Everyone knows about the Yeti coolers and tumblers, but the Ozark tumblers aren’t as common. In my area they are very well known and in my opinion are just as good. For Spoonies it is essential that we stay hydrated because our bodies need it, especially if you are going to be out in the heat. I have tested it out and I can keep ice in my Ozark Tumbler for 18-24 hours!

Price: Price varies depending on size, from $6-$22.

Where Can You Buy Them: Walmart, Amazon

6. Hats

Why I Like It: Whether it’s a ball cap or a wide rimmed hat, they are an essential part of the spoonies wardrobe. Not only are they good on a bad hair day, they also work to keep the sun out if your face. When worn in combination with the sunscreen it’s a great way to save your safe from being burned.

Price: Varies

Where Can You Buy Them: Anywhere hats can be purchased.

I hope you all enjoyed my summer must have list! I just wanted to share a few things I have to have to get through the summer. I would love to hear about some of your summer must haves. So please leave a comment below and let me know one thing that is on your must have list to help you get through the summer!!

With Love,

Amber

The Truth Behind Photosensitivity

By AMY NORASummer is officially here. It means we go to the beach, we sit outside at the Ballpark, we go and plan for those wonderful picnics, we spend time with family barbecuing, it’s about the time with friends family and just enjoying those wonderful late nights at the lake. The other thing is that we are out in the Sun a lot. When you have an autoimmune disease that also means that most likely you experience photosensitivity. Photosensitivity is that nasty little friends that accompanies us everywhere. It means that we lather on that sunscreen as if, well honestly, she were our best friend. We layer it on at 2 hour intervals as if our lives depended on it; ironically in a way our lives do depend on it.“Photosensitivity is the term used to describe sensitivity to the ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight and other light sources, such as indoor fluorescent light. Photosensitivity can cause rashes, fever, fatigue, joint pain, and other symptoms in people with both cutaneous (skin) and systemic lupus. Excess exposure to UV rays is a common trigger for increased disease activity (flare) of both cutaneous lupus and systemic lupus.” (Lupus Foundation of America)Remember, with the 4th of July holiday coming and summer here,  have fun but also protect yourself.  Use sunscreen often, stay in shaded areas but remember you are still exposed to UV rays, wear hats, and just be smart. Lupus Love…

What Abbreviation CDC Means For The Chronically Ill

When you hear someone say CDC I’m sure the first thing you think of is Centers for Disease Control! I thought the same until earlier this year. In early spring I joined a twitter chat on Healthcare and insurance issues faced by the chronically ill. It was a great chat and I felt a lot of issues were brought to the forefront. Due to this chat I found (they actually found me) a great organization called The Chronic Disease Coalition (CDC). Once I took time to look into the organization, I really liked the work they do – advocating for those with chronic illness by promoting awareness and encouraging all to take action Per Below, I will tell you more about this incredible organization and how you can become involved if this is something that speaks to you!

The nonprofit organization was founded in 2015 with the goal to create a platform for people with chronic conditions to speak out and take action to make a difference in their community, state or even across the United States. The CDC dedicates their time to protect patients’ rights and fight against discriminatory practices or policies that prevent patients from accessing care. Since the day they became an organization they have focused their efforts to advocate for people who live with lifelong chronic conditions like, MS, diabetes, lupus, kidney disease and cancer. The CDC promotes awareness and education in hopes that they can raise public awareness of the chronic health issues that we deal with on a daily basis. They do this in conjunction with encouraging other to engage in advocacy and provide advocacy tools that help fightagainst discriminatory practices As a whole, they recognize that we are strongest together, so they enable supporters to speak out and do the same when help may be needed to protect the rights of all patients.

One of the big things that this organization spends a lot of time on are the health issues that are being dealt with by the government at both state and federal levels. They really encourage us to get involved with any issues that may put patients lives or access to care in danger. Recently, they have been focusing a lot of time on the opioid crisis. Many have written letters, sent emails or called their representative to educate them on the issue. They have also been focusing attention on legislation across the country that would allow insurance companies to reject coverage for individuals simply because part of their medical bills are being paid by nonprofit organizations! This could mean that people would be unable to receive care of any kind, and would be especially dangerous for those who rely on treatment to stay alive.

If you visit the CDC Website you can find the facts on all the issues that have resulted from insurers, policymakers and others within the health space, trying to cut corners and increase their profits and the patient’s expense. They provide information about the problems that the chronically ill may face with insurance companies, in the workplace or at school! The website also gives you the options of sharing your experience dealing with all the issues brought upon by chronic illness. As well as the option to take action and write your legislators about some of the big issues like the ones mentioned above.

You also have the option to join the coalition.When you join the coalition you will receive information on the important issues and alerts when they need you to help stand up for patients rights. I joined the coalition in March of this year, and it has been a great experience. I have learned so much and realized just how much I didn’t know about the real issues at hand. If you are concerned that they will overtake your inbox with alerts and such, that is not the case. I may get as many as 5 emails a month. In those emails we receive information about bills that we need to focus on or ways that we can help spread awareness or act as an advocate.

I asked a few of my “co-advocates” why they decided to join forces with the CDC and this is what they said.

I am an advocate because it seems like a lot of what we go through is unspoken in our society. I really want to bring a focus to those of us who struggle with chronic diseases and pain on a regular basis. I want lawmakers to know what we go through, so they can make informed choices, instead of voting against our interests. -Gwendolyn Bahu

I chose to become an advocate because I don’t want anyone to go through what I have with endometriosis or any other illness. Chronic diseases are debilitating and wreak havoc on every aspect of our lives and desperately need more funding and awareness. I decided to be part of the Chronic Disease Coalition to help others and bring more awareness to chronic illnesses. – Samantha Bowick

If this organization sounds like one you. would liked to get involved with make sure to go to their website and find out more about getting involved. It feels so good to know that you are working on something that could impact thousands of lives.

With Love,

Amber

**All pictures used for this post were taken from the CDCs Website with approval**

What You Need To Know About Headaches……..Part 2

In the first part of this series we discussed the different type of headaches and the possible causes. We also discussed the number of people in America who deal with headaches. I was actually shocked to find that more Americans present for care of headaches than any other condition. Now that we have looked at the kinds of headaches and the causes let’s take a look at how headaches are diagnosed.

In order to be able to get proper treatment of your headaches, a proper diagnosis is necessary. In order to get the proper diagnosis your doctor will need to ask you about your headaches. They will most likely ask questions about the characteristics of your headaches, and any symptoms that come along with your headaches. The following questions are examples of questions you can expect to be asked.

Headache History

As you are asked these questions it is imperative that you answer the questions to the best of your ability.

  • How old were you when you began having headaches??
  • Do you experience one kind of headache (like migraines), or do you think you have more than one type of headache (migraines, sinus, hormonal headaches) ?!?
  • Do you know what causes your headaches? (For example, do certain situations, locations, food or medications trigger your headaches)?
  • Does anyone in your family have headache?
  • What symptoms if any occur between headaches?
  • Has your school or work performance been affected by your headaches?

Headache Characteristics

During your visit to the doctor it is very important to tell them how you feel when you get a headache, any sensation before the headache and what happens (if anything) when you get the headache.

  • Where is the pain located?
  • What does the pain feel like (throbbing, aching, pounding)?
  • How severe is the pain on a scale of 0 (no pain) to 10 (severe pain)?
  • How long do the headaches last?
  • Does the headache appear suddenly without warning, or gradually with accompanying symptoms, or a combination of both?
  • Do your headaches occur at the same time of day?
  • Do you have any kind of aura (change in vision, blind spots, seeing flashing lights) before the headache starts?
  • What if any symptoms or warning signs occur with the headache (ex weakness, nausea, sensitivity to light or noise, appetite changes, change in attitude or behavior)?
  • How frequently do your headaches occur?

It is important that you tell your doctor if you have been treated in the past for your headaches, and if so by what doctor. It is also important for the doctor to know what medications you have taken, or if you have taken any over-the-counter medications. If you take a lot of medications it is okay to bring all your medications in a bag to your appointment or ask your pharmacy for a print out. You should also share during your appointment if you have had any diagnostic studies (X-rays, MRI or CT Scan) because of your headaches, and where they were done so the doctor can get copies of the reports. This can save time and money by avoiding duplicate studies.

Physical and Neurological Exams to Diagnose Headaches

Once the provider has finished taking a full history of your headache events and symptoms they should continue on and do a full physical and neurological exam. During this exam they provided will look for any symptoms of illness that could be causing the headache. They will be looking for any of the following:

  • Fever or any abnormalities in pulse, blood pressure or breathing
  • Infection
  • Nausea &/or vomiting
  • Any changes in personality, or any inappropriate behavior
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Excess fatigue, or wanting to sleep all the time
  • Any muscle weakness, tingling or numbness
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Any problems with balance
  • Any recent falls
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Any changes in vision

The neurological test that will be done are done to rule out any disease or issues with the brain, or any nerve issues that could be causing the headaches. There may also be done to look for any physical or structural abnormality of the brain that could be the cause of the headache. They are looking for things like tumors, infection of the brain, bleeding on the brain or any excess fluid on the brain.

While it is not necessarily a normal part of diagnosing headaches, you may be sent to a psychologist for evaluation. An appointment with a psychologist may be made to help identify any stress factors that could be triggering the headaches. If you are sent to a psychologist you will more than likely be asked to complete a computerized questionnaire. The questionnaire is used to provide much more in depth information to your doctor.

After you have seen the required doctors, they may decide to order further testing to help them determine what is causing your headaches. However, if you are experiencing migraines, cluster, tension or hormonal headaches the blood tests will not show anything definitive. They might order any of the following:

  • Blood tests like a complete blood count (CBC) or a basic metabolic panel (cmp), and a urinalysis. With these tests they are looking for conditions like diabetes, problems with the thyroid or infections that could cause headaches.
  • A CT Scan maybe ordered if you are having several times a week or daily headaches.
  • A MRI may be ordered if you are having daily or almost daily headaches or as a follow up if the CT Scan does not give a definitive answer. An MRI may also be ordered to get a better picture of parts of the brain are not easily visualized with a CT Scan.
  • An X-ray of the sinuses may be ordered if the provider thinks the sinuses are the cause of your headaches.
  • An EEG is not a standard part of a evaluation of headaches. But it may be ordered if your provider thinks you could be having seizures.
  • Eye Exam – Your provider may have you get an eye exam to check the pressure in your eye in order to rule out glaucoma or increased pressure on the optic nerve.
  • A Spinal Tap May be done to look for conditions such as an infection of the brain or spinal cord, or an increased amount of cerebral spinal fluid which could be a cause of your headaches.

Once you have seen the doctors (your primary care, a neurologist and possibly a psychologist) and a compete headache history, physical, neurological and psychological exams have been completed your provider should be able to determine what kind of headache you are having.

Now that we know what kind of migraines there are as well as what causes them. And we have looked at what may be done to diagnose said headaches. Now in the final part of this study on migraines, which will post in a few days. We will spend some time looking into treatment options for of the kids of headaches we have discussed and diagnosed.

So stay tuned for part 3, later this week!!!

With Love,

Amber

What You Need To Know About Headaches……. Part 1

June is headache awareness month, so let’s take some time to look at all things headache. There are said to be 150 different kinds of headaches from cluster headaches to sinus headaches. And the most commonly known, migraine headaches. Each kind of headache contains some kind of pain and that pain can be located indifferent parts of the head based on the kind of headache! We will also look at other symptoms that accompany the headache that range from nausea to double vision. Below in part one of a three part series we will talk about the types of headaches that are most common, as well as possible causes for headaches overall. So let’s just jump right in!

Most Common Types of Headaches

The two most common kinds of headaches are tension headaches and migraines so we will discuss those first.

Tension Headaches– These are the most common type of headache among teenagers and adults. Generally, this type of headache causes mild to moderate pain and come and go over time. On most occasions they have no other symptoms. It is said that 80-90% of the population suffer with this kind of headache at some point in their life. Overall, 80% of women and 69% of males will experience tension headaches. With age of first onset is usually between 9 & 12 years of age.

Migraine Headaches– These Headaches are often described as “intense.” The pain from a migraine is often described as pounding or throbbing pain, and often last from a few hours to a few days at a time. The frequency is going to be different for everyone but on average happen one to four times a month, or potentially more. Sadly most who suffer from migraines also deal with other symptoms that accompany the headache. The symptoms can range from person to person, but the most common are sensitivity to light, noise or smells. Migraines can also bring on nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, belly pain or upset stomach. For children with migraines their symptoms can be different. They can look pale, feel dizzy, have blurry vision, a fever or an upset stomach.

Research shows about 16-17% of the population will suffer from migraines at some point, with the median age of onset between 5-8 years of age. Migraines are by far the most debilitating kind of headache. It is said that 25% of women and 8% of men suffer from migraines. Research shows that 60% of migraines present on one side of the head. 80% of migraine sufferers report that there are some kind of trigger that causes their headache. Just to give you an idea of how many people suffer from migraines and how much of their lives are dedicated to dealing with migraines. It is reported that 157 million work hours are missed each year due to migraines.

Other Types of Headaches

Cluster Headaches– Those who experience these headaches say that this type of headache is intense and feels like a burning or piercing pain behind or around one eye, and is usually throbbing or constant. It is the least common type of headache but often causes the most severe type of headache. People who suffer from these headaches often say the pain is so severe that they can’t sit still and will often be seen pacing during an attack. The pain is often said to be one sided and the eyelid can droop on the side of the pain. The eye may redden, while the pupil decreases in size or tears. The nostril on the side of the head where the pain is can either run or feel stuff. The reason they are called cluster headaches is because they tend to happen in groups. They may happen one to three times a day during a cluster period, and that period may last 2 weeks to 3 months. And each single headache attack may last 15min to 3 hours and may often wake the patient up from sleep! The headaches may disappear or completely go into a state of remission for months or years. Cluster headaches affect men three to four times more often than women.Sinus Headaches- These headaches often cause a deep and constant pain the cheekbones, forehead or bridge of the nose. They are caused by the sinus cavities in the head becoming inflamed. The headache usually does not come alone, it is usually accompanied by a runny nose, feeling of fullness in the ears, a fever, and even swelling in the face. A true sinus headache is caused by a sinus infection, which usually causes yellow or green discharge from the nose, unlike the clear drainage noted in cluster or migraine headaches.

Hormonal Headaches – Last but definitely not least. These headaches are seen primarily in women. They happen from changing hormone levels during menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause. Headaches may also be triggered by birth control pills in some women.

Most Common Causes of Headaches

What actually causes the pain of a headache? The pain that is felt during a headache comes from a mix of signals between the brain, blood vessels and nerves in the area. Specific nerves of the blood vessels and head muscles switch on and send pain signals to your brain. It is not the totally clear why these signals turn on to begin with.

People often get headaches due to:

Illness: Anything from an infection, cold or fever can cause a headache. Also common conditions like inflammation of the sinus cavities, an infection of the throat, or even an ear infection.

Stress: Any kind of emotional stress or depression, as well as alcohol use, skipping meals, change in sleep patterns or taking too much medication.

The environment: things like being around secondhand smoke, strong smells from cleaners or household chemicals, perfumes, allergens, certain foods, pollution, noise, lighting, and weather changes are possible trigger

Trauma: In some cases headaches may be caused by a blow to the head or rarely may be a sign of something more serious.

Other causes can include things like: eyestrain, neck or back pain, poor posture and even to much exercise.

Sadly, Headaches especially migraine headaches, tend to run in families. Most kids and teenagers (90%) that have migraines often are not the only one in the family. Most of the time there are other members of the family who also suffer from migraine headaches. Kids who have two parents that have a history of migraines have a 70% chance that they will also develop migraines. If only one parent has headaches the risk will drops to between 25-50%.

America complain about headaches more than any other medical condition. It is said that there are approximately 45 million Americans who complain of headaches every year. If you break that down it works out to one in every six people or 16.54% of the population who deal with headaches. Research shows that more than 8 million Americans will seek medical treatment for headaches EACH YEAR!

Headaches impact a huge number of people every year. The the causes of headaches are multifaceted, and will impact every body differently. There are over 150 types of headaches and they are each slightly different than the next. What causes one person’s headache may not cause the next persons. Be on the lookout for the next part of this series, during which we will be looking at how headaches may be diagnosed. And in the last issue of the series we will be looking into treatment options for migraines.

With Love,

Amber

The Honest Truth About Our Periods

Lets just really honest today! Periods…… they are not the favorite time of ANY ladies month. But even less so for those who have endometriosis. Men will never be able to truly understand what its like to deal with a periods every 28 days or how often you might be “lucky” enough to get to deal with these awesome body function.

We don’t have to talk about the obvious, the bleeding. But its a major part of why we all love them, oh so much. Then we are lucky enough to also get to deal with irrational mood swings, cramps that are not easily explained to men or others who don’t have to deal with those, and the bloating. Then there is the insatiable hunger. And of course we couldn’t want veggies, and fruits and lots of protiens. NO most women want anything sweet, salty or fried!!!!! Which does NOTHING for the ache that comes along with eating crap food.  Okay, you may be thinking that I am going overboard. But no…… I think most women would agree that, that one week of the month we would rather not deal with is far from pleasant and is oftentimes just awful.

NO, I am not here to write an ENTIRE blog post on how bad a menstrual period is. Because chances are those of you, that read past that first paragraph are women. Or men in committed relationships with a women so they know the ins and outs as well. What I really want to talk about is what we can do to make that week of every month a little easier.  So I went to my friend Mr. Google to help me with information for this post. Below you will find my (and others) recommendations for how to make that wonderful week a little easier for everyone involved.

1. Exercise With Lighter Activities –

If you are anything like me when you read this the first thing you said was “ARE YOU CRAZY, HOW WILL EXERCISE HELP?” But that may be my common response to several things LOL. In all seriousness a lady can increase blood flow which will help cut down on the cramps. So if you decide to do this you need to go light. Do easy exercises like yoga, or stretching or walking, some encourage swimming but that sounds like a disaster to me!!!!

2. Hug A Heating Pad

This is and always has been my go to. For any abdominal or back pain I have during my period. I find a good heating pad and don’t let it out of my site for the whole week. The heat can actually sooth your muscles which in turn eases your cramping and overall discomfort

3. Its Important to Drink Plenty of Water and Stay Hydrated

I know some of you are thinking “No way, I am already holding on to three pounds of water weight, why would I choose to drink more water?”  I know, it sounds crazy but the more water you intake, the easier it will be to eliminate the extra water building up in your body. We should always try to drink more water, because it really is good for out bodies even when we think it sounds crazy. No matter if we are on our cycle or not we should all really try to drink 10-8ounce glasses of water a day.

4. Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine has truly become an issue for many people around the world. But for women its important to remember that caffeine actually makes you hold on to water weight, and definetley contributes to that achjy, crampy, bloated feeling we often feel during out period.

5. Eat The Good-For-You Food

Even though the only things you want are chocolate, ice cream and french fries (okay, maybe that is just me), we should all really try to eat more fresh fruit and green veggies. By eating enough of the good stuff it could potentially help to steer you away from the bad choices. You could try snacking on carrots with hummus, apples with peanut butter (which will give you the sweet and the crunch you make be looking for,) or blend up a smoothing with good fruits.

6. Try To Stay On Top Of Your Sleep

We all need 7-8 hours of good sleep all the time. That is especially important for teens who are on their periods, They really need eight to nine hours of sleep per night. Getting enough sleep will help you wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

7. Take Notes

Being prepared is your best defense when it comes to that time of the month.You should start keeping a record of your period each month. You can do this on paper or now with just about everyone having smart phones there are great apps that you can get that help you keep track of not only the dates of your cycle but also the symptoms, and how heavy they flow is. After a few months of doing this you will be able to see a pattern and can talk to your doctor if needed.

8. Use Period Protection That Lets You Stay Active

These days there are pads and tampons for every shape and size. Even special items made who are more active. And completely natural options. But what it comes down to is efficiency and comfort. It doesn’t matter what the women in your family has used for 3 generations, or even what your best friend uses. Don’t be afraid to jump out of the comfort box and do some research on products that are out there. You honestly just need something that makes you feel less self conscious and takes care of what it is supposed to.  And be prepared to be able to change said pad or tampon every 4-8 hours. This is especially important for the younger girls in our life who may not have been told the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Since we are really being open and honest lets talk about a couple of other things. One being at what point should you contact your doctor about your cycle.

The symptoms that you need to be talking to your doctor about quickly:

  • heavy bleeding
  • extended bleeding (more than 7 days)
  • bleeding after sex
  • spotting
  • excessive clotting during periods
  • abdominal pain
  • any odorous discharge
  • excess hair growth on face
  • unexplained weight gain

Likely Causes of an Irregular Period

Many issues can cause irregular periods, things like changes in the bodies production of estrogen and progesterone can alter the normal pattern of a ladies cycle.  This is why young girls going into puberty and women approaching menopause often experience irregular periods.

Other common causes of irregular periods include:

  • Having an IUD
  • Changing birth control pills or using certain medications
  • Too much exercise
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Being Pregnant or Breastfeeding
  • Stress
  • Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroid) or underactive thyroid (hypothyroid)
  • Thickening of or polyps on the uterine lining
  • Uterine Fibroids
  • Endometriosis

The hormone estrogen thickens the uterine lining before ovulation, so when estrogen levels become unbalanced the uterine lining sheds irregularly. This may result in heavy bleeding.

The conditions Endometriosis can also cause extreme cramps, very heavy bleeding, pain with intercourse and pain in the rectal area.

If you have any of the above issues or just want to talk to your doctor make an appt to do so. Most of the issues that cause irregular periods can be treated in one way or another.

With Love,

Amber

Book Review of What Lies Below, And Interview of Author Barbara Sissle

Within the last year I was lucky enough to discover an author by the name of Barbara Taylor Sissel, and I fell in love with her writing. I have read many of her books and often think there is no way she can top the one I just finished. But boy, was I wrong. I just finished What Lies Below, her newest release that came out May 2018. As always Barbara had me guessing till the very end. She truly writes the story so you feel like you are right there in the book, feeling what the characters are feeling. What Lies Below is set in small town USA, where everyone seems to know everyone. That is until Gilly one of the main characters moves to town. She is new in the small city and really falls in love with Zoe and her dad. She loves to make her animal shaped pancakes at the local dinner.  Then out of nowhere the unimaginable happens, little Zoe goes missing. And Barbara takes us along for the ride. We get a glimpse into the past of Zoe and her dad, as they look at the possibility that Zoes mom could be the one with her. We also get a look into Gilly’s past as the book goes on, and the search for Zoe continues.  I NEVER saw the end coming. I was totally shocked but Barbara wrapped it up in a nice package so at the end the book fell totally complete.  For anyone who enjoys reading a good book with many twists and turns this would a great one for you!!!

Barbara was kind enough to do an interview, of sorts, with me! Below you can read her answers to my questions and get to know one of my very favorite authors!

Barbara, what made you decide to start writing?
Reading. From the time I was old enough to listen to a story or to read to myself, stories took me away. I was around 11, reading Wuthering Heights and utterly lost in Catherine’s and Heathcliff’s drama, when I vividly recall my head popping up from the page and the thought zinging into my mind that I wanted to do it for other people. Write stories so vivid they would become utterly lost. It’s so relieving, I think, and comforting to lose oneself reading about others, their troubles and triumphs.
Who are your favorite authors to read? And who’s work has inspired you?
I like Lisa Scottolini, Anna Quindlan, A.J. Banner, Christine Baker Klein, Diane Chamberlain, Elizabeth Strout, John Hart, and Wiley Cash to name a few. Longtime favorites who inspired me besides the Bronte Sisters and several other classics authors are Anita Shreve, Kent Haruf, and Pat Conroy.
Where did the premise behind your most recent book come from?
I’ve always been interested in ESP. Whether a person dreams the future or has visions, whether the capability is even real, is something I find fascinating. I’ve had a bit of experience with glimpsing the future myself so I kind of asked my muse about doing a story, featuring a character who had the ability through dreaming. Gilly in WHAT LIES BELOW is who came to life, a very reluctant psychic.
I’m curious, what does character development look like for you? (How do you go from an idea and a name to a full-blown character?) Do you base any of your characters off people you know?
Sometimes a plot suggests itself first and it seems to call characters to it, and sometimes the character introduces himself or herself. They’re usually in some kind of mess. I never know too much about them initially, but they strike a chord. I want to know them. For me, to make them full-blown takes writing about them day in and day out for months. After I finish a first rough draft then I really feel comfortable with them. They’re very real to me so in subsequent drafts they just get realer. (Is that a word?!) I don’t write a person I specifically know. I think I cannibalize people with whom I’m familiar, taking a bit of this one and a bit of that one. I don’t think there would be a way to take my life experience out of my writing experience. I think the uniqueness of our various experiences is what gives each writer his/her unique voice.
 Why did you decide to have drug addiction play such a big role in What Lies Below?
It’s never a conscious decision when a character comes with issues like alcohol or drug addiction. That said I’ve got some personal experience with it. Not my own but with members of my immediate family. Both my parents struggled with depression and self-medicated with alcohol so it’s ground I’m familiar with and have now done a ton of research about. In WHAT LIES BELOW, the history of addiction that two of the women characters share, the way each one deals with it, and the fact that Jake at different times in his life was drawn to both, unfolded naturally. His attraction for them was at once his greatest flaw and his saving grace.
What is it about the genre, within which you write, that you love so much?
The fact that it allows me to explore in a realistic way the troubles, problems and dilemmas that all of us face, and to then work out how to resolve the issues, whether it’s even possible. Is whatever happened forgivable, and if not how do you live with it? I love to hear that something I wrote sparked a dialogue, brought on a healing, made someone turn from anger more toward compassion and forgiveness. So often books have helped me to rethink situations in my own life. I feel that while you can learn a lot through non-fiction, fiction, too, is a powerful tool for transformation.
If you could give a new writer advice what would it be?
Persistence is key. That and discipline. Writing at the same time every day, making the commitment is important. There’s no boss to tell you when to show up or how long to stay. Write, write, write and write some more. I’ve heard it takes a million words. I’ve also heard you need to have read 100 books in your chosen genre to adequately know how to write the genre. But to me so much of writing is intuitive. I think you have to know how to be still and listen.
If you could use only 5 words to describe you as a writer what would they be?
I would hope to be honest, heartfelt, compassionate, human, compelling
Lastly, what do you think sets you apart from other writers around today?
I’m not really sure, but maybe it’s that I tend to write a bit more “thinky” type story as opposed to a thriller type story.

I hope you will go out an pick up one of Barbara’s books! And that you will fall in love with her writing as much as I have!

With Love,

Amber

The Question That Should Never Be Asked

Why is it when you turn 30, the only thing people can think about is when you should be getting married and having babies??? Why is 30 the magic number?!? And why do people seem to place that “burden” mainly on women?!?! Why is it that when men turn 30 they aren’t constantly asked when they will have kids?!? Once a women turns thirty its almost as though that internal clock starts ticking and all those around you can hear it. Why do people feel that it’s okay to pressure women and married couples about when they are going to have babies?!?! Some may not want to have kids, others may be waiting to be more stable in life. And some, sadly can’t have babies. But no one seems to think of the latter. They all just assume that like everyone else in the world you will conceive a baby with no problems.

I would bet that every single one of you reading this knows someone who has had trouble getting pregnant, had trouble carrying a pregnancy, or even someone who can’t get pregnant. According to the CDC 6% of women ages 15-44 in the US are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying. And 12% of women (or 1 in 8 couples) in the same age group, will have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term! You may not think that this it is that big of an issue, but if you do the math, infertility impacts around 7.4 million women!

Why do I feel the need to put all the statistics in there? That’s simple! People need to realize that infertility really is a problem. Having a baby for many people is not as easy as simply being intimate with their partner a few times. For many it looks more like taking ovulation tests so intimacy can be planned during ovulation. Or taking daily injections of hormones so your body will produce eggs that can then be retrieved, frozen, and implanted after fertilization!

People need to understand that it’s never okay to ask someone when they are going to have babies. Nor should anyone ever ask a women that they don’t know “when they are you due!?” Fertility is really a personal topic and isn’t one for the family dinner table or over wine with friends. I know from experience that it is hard to watch all the people you know getting married and having kids. It’s hard to be the lone wolf knowing that you will never be able to have your own biological baby! It never gets easier to explain to people that you can’t have kids. They always want to argue and ask if you have tried x, y and z.

As far back as I can remember I have wanted nothing more than to be a mother. Sadly, the last few years have changed all that and I won’t be able to have kids of my own. In 2011 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis and have had three surgeries since, and in 2012 I was hit with the Lupus diagnosis. I know many women with Endometriosis go on to have children. But for me the combination of the two make it much to high risk. It wouldn’t be safe for me or the baby. It took a long time to come to terms with that. And for a long time I would cry when anyone brought it up. Now 6 years down the road I can talk about it without tears (most of the time). I now know that I wasn’t meant to have my own kids but that I was meant to adopt.

I guess what I want people to really understand is that it’s not okay to ask a women about when she will have babies, or when she is due. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors. No women should ever have to feel bad saying that she won’t have children! Or that she can’t have children. And they definitely don’t deserved to be bothered by everyone all the time about when it’s going to happen. Every women’s journey is going to be different. Some women will have no problem getting pregnant, some will chose not to have kids, and other will not be able to. So just think twice before you ask someone about having children.

With Love,

Amber