BOOK REVIEW: The Pain Companion

I just finished reading a FANTASTIC BOOK called “The Pain Companion,” By Sarah Anne Shockley. Sarah provides an honest view into dealing and living with pain in a way that many others don’t. She is open and honest about what living with chronic, daily pain is like, even sharing how bad her quality of life got for awhile. When many people would only share that “perfect” viewpoint that makes living with pain look easy. Which anyone who lives with any kind of chronic pain knows is simply not the case. Throughout my reading I made so many notes of agreement or simply wrote YES in the margins, rather than highlighting a whole paragraph! Because what she said was so true and so valid. By reading this book, it made me stop and look at the way I deal with, and live with my chronic pain. I was able to take away so much at the end of the book and plan to put some of the meditation techniques she talks about (in section 3) into practice in my own life.As stated by Dr. Bernie S. Siegel in the foreword of the book, “Sarah Anne Shockley learned about pain that he hard way, by experiencing it and by being incapacitated by it. But she met the pain, and she worked with the pain, and she is offering you the benefit of her experience in this helpful, gentle book.”

Sarah divided her book into 4 sections: Part 1: The Pain Moves In. Part 2: The Emotional Life of Chronic Pain. Part 3: Meditative Approaches to Physical Pain, and the last section Part 4: When Pain is The Teacher.

In part 1 which she calls “The Pain Moves In,” Sarah talks about how a person feels in those moments when they start living with chronic pain. She also openly discusses the source of her pain along with things she tried to combat it. That being said I think Sarah truly said it best when she stated “At first, I thought everything was about to get better, and I would simply rejoin my life where I’d left off. I had always healed before. Always!”
I think that is how all of us who battle or have battled chronic pain felt when it started. Oh, this will just be like anything else, it too shall pass. You just want to think that maybe a few days off, a massage or maybe even some physical therapy will be all you need to get rid of your pain. Sadly, for many of us that’s not the case. The pain we feel today will be the pain we deal with consistently for much of our future without some type of cure. When it sets in that this may not be a small injury like back when you were a teenager or were back in your twenties. That brings up a whole new set of emotions and feels that have to be dealt with when you have to face what may be in your future. Which Sarah talks about in the next section, part 2.

Part 2 is entitled, The Emotional Life of Chronic Pain, which to me couldn’t be more fitting. Because living with chronic pain isn’t just about the physical pain that we feel on a daily basis. There are so many other aspects that have to be dealt with. Other things that people who haven’t fought chronic pain wouldn’t ever begin to understand, or so we think. But sadly, these are the kinds of topics and feelings that most who suffer from any kind of chronic pain don’t feel comfortable talking about. Mainly because of the way they think they will be judged. In the second portion of the book Sarah takes time to address the difficult emotions that come along with living in chronic pain and then provides suggestions on things that can be done to help relieve those feelings. One thing she discussed in this section of the book that really made me think about my own life was on page 36, she discusses how we need to stop making others feel better because they can’t make us physically better. That really struck a chord with me because I am VERY guilty of doing that. And now that I am aware of the problem I can use some of the steps to try to fix that issue within myself. And truth be told, most of the issues that she talks about in this section I do, or have done at some point in the years I have been dealing with chronic pain. But really did not realize it until reading Sarah’s work. At the end of each chapter in this section she provides you with a summary or take away, which I found to be so VERY Helpful.

Moving on to Part 3, which is called, Meditative Approaches to Physical Pain. As I skimmed through the book before actually sitting down to read it, I assumed that this would be the part that I would have the hardest time with. Because I’ve never really understood meditation. But truthfully that wasn’t the case at all. Sarah doesn’t jump right into meditation, instead she goes through a series of activities first. Like discovering your pains purpose, or finding a new approach, which takes your through and makes you see why the body has pain as well as taking a lot at the approach we are currently using to deal with pain. After that then she goes through several meditation activities that are really very clear and easy to understand and simple to do. I tried several of them as I was reading and I feel like they are things that I will be implementing into my daily life as I deal with my own chronic pain. One for instance was to focus on your breathing when you are really hurting. Trying to make sure that you are not always holding your breath. Which is common, that’s the first thing most of us do when we start hurting. It’s like we think if we don’t breath we won’t hurt as bad. But now that I did that exercise and I’m aware of my breathing patterns I can carry that forward to help deal with my pain daily!

In the last section of the book, Part 4: When Pain is The Teacher, Sarah is vert straight to the point. One thing I had underlined was this, “Pain is present in your body for a reason. Instead of trying to get rid of something that is currently an unpleasant part of your experience, it works better to acknowledge the fact that pain is part of your reality at the moment, and then to work to transform and transmute the experience.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. But it has taken me many years to get to a point where I can agree with what she says. But I agree resisting the pain is going to get you nowhere, you have to come to a point of acceptance so you are able to deal with it and move on.

I can’t honestly say enough good things about this book and of course its author. I think what makes it so good and so easy to relate to is the fact that it was written by someone who has dealt with a lot of chronic pain in her own life. A person who has not ever lived through chronic pain will never be able to truly relate to someone who has. I will end on this, my favorite piece from the whole book Sarah says, “Having compassion for yourself means allowing yourself to feel the deep emotions that arise from living in pain and, once you have acknowledged and felt them fully, to let them go.” I will be highly recommending this to all the people I know who deal with chronic pain, as well as anyone who lives with people who have chronic pain.

*You can Find The Pain Companion on Amazon for purchase.

I want to take a moment to thank Sarah Shockley, Kim Corbin & The Chronic Illness Bloggers for allowing me to review this book. Thank you All!

With Love,

Amber

BOOKE REVIEW: FAB Health, By Paulette Agnew

I received this book From Paulette Agnew, as a collaboration with The Chronic Illness Bloggers.

Before I get into my review of Paulette’s book let me tell you a little about what her book is about. The book is described on the back cover “FAB Health introduces a new healing paradigm encompassing light frequency and bioenergy as an alternative to antibiotics and other drugs. Using only FAB (Frequency and Bioenergy) medicine, Paulette Agnew completely recovered from Lyme disease not once, but twice coming back from the brink of death to the radiant health.” Throughout the book she provides a look into how natural things around us like the sun, ions from rain, walking barefoot and eating healthy food can provide the body with rejuvenation. She also explains why and how these things provide the human body with what we need, and does so in a way that anyway can understand. Paulette does a really great job of explaining why we get sick down to the molecular level and explained how we can treat those illnesses using bioenergy and light.

To be honest, this topic was totally out of realm of anything I have ever learned. Frequency, bioenergy and healing without antibiotics and other medications was nothing we ever discussed or were taught in nursing school. Nor have I ever heard those words from any doctor I worked with or have seen over the course of my lifetime. That being said it did peak my interest because over the course of my life, especially the last six, I have been on so many antibiotics and am honestly terrified I will end up with a superbug. So the thought of learning a way to treat infections and my many conditions a more natural way was appealing. What I found even more appealing is that she was able to cure herself from a SEVERE case of Lyme disease twice. Without all the medication and things that those of us with chronic conditions take on a daily basis.

The thought of being able to give up all the daily medications and the IV treatments and the stuff I go through with my health sounds amazing. But to be honest it’s a little hard for me to wrap my head around. I’m not saying it’s something I won’t look into further but I really need to take some time to think on it. I think it’s harder for me to really wrap my head around because I have spent so many years working and studying modern medicine and it’s what I have put my stock into for many years. I did enjoy the book because it really made me think about the fact that there are other ways to treat illness other than just throwing anything medication at it! So if you are looking for for a book to give you a different look into treating chronic illness or even just an infection this is the book you should look into!

I do want to thank Chronic Illness Bloggers for facilitating this collaboration. And Paulette Agnew for being kind enough to send me a signed copy of her book.

Here you will find a link to Paulette’s book if you would like to check it out!

FAB Health: Understanding Why We Become Ill So We Can Get Better https://www.amazon.com/dp/1683508610/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_

With Love,

Amber

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

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

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

Finding God In…….Chronic Illness

A dear friend of mine, Bethany writes an awesome Christian blog, (which I’ll link at the end) and she recently contacted me asking if I would be willing to share my testimony and how I found God through my chronic illness. I was truly honored that she would think of me to be a guest writer for her blog, because she is a much better writer and her blog is so very good. That being said after the honor wore off and I stared putting pen to paper I started to wonder if I was really the best person for the job! The truth is that I haven’t had the strongest belief in God in recent years. In all honesty over the last six years I’ve really struggled with my faith. I have struggled to understand why I’ve faced so many struggles and what I did to deserve the things that have happened. I have felt at many times in the last decade that if God was truly a good God that I wouldn’t have faced the trials that I have. I wouldn’t have had to go through a bad marriage or lose my grandpa so suddenly. I definitely wouldn’t have had to live through the trials surrounding my health. But through the eyes of others and the work that he has done in my life I’ve come to realize that this isn’t true, I know that my God is good God. I still struggle daily to truly understand why things happen, but I suppose I may never completely understand.

Lets rewind and take a look at the journey that got me to where I am today. In the of Spring 2012 I was living the life that I had dreamed of. I was working as an RN, serving as charge nurse most shifts and helping to train nursing students and new co-workers. I loved my job, I loved that I was able to work three twelve hour shifts a week and that I had a job with direct patient contact. In January 2012, I was hired as an adjunct Clinical Instructor for a local nursing school and I was so thrilled because that is something I had wanted to do since I graduated nursing school in 2007. I also started working on my Masters in Nursing Education in January 2012 as well, and I was so excited to be moving toward my goal of teaching in a nursing program. My life was on track and I was happy with my the direction it was going.

Then in February 2012 all that changed. I was hospitalized for a week with a respiratory infection that no one could quite figure out. Looking back I can see that, that was just the beginning of the decline in my health. I had to be off work for a MONTH at that point because I just couldn’t breath, despite all the treatments we tried. On top of having trouble breathing, I was also always exhausted, and was dealing with so much joint pain. More pain than I had ever experienced before. That July, I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus among other things. Though troubling and scary, it explained so much. It explained why I had been feeling the way I had and the symptoms that no one could ever figure out that I had experienced over many previous years. In the months and years following my Lupus diagnosis I was also diagnosed with so many other life altering diagnosis that made it hard to see any kind of future for myself. Just to name a few, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Endometriosis, Interstitial Cystitis. Not to mention the migraines that morphed into hemiplegic migraines in 2016. Following the Lupus diagnosis it became clear that I wasn’t going to be able physically to continue working as a nurse on the floor. And due to my health I not only had to leave my job, I had to step down from my teaching position with the nursing program. And I had to drop out of the masters program that I had just started. To say the least I was crushed. I just couldn’t understand why God would allow these things to happen and what I had done to deserve so many trials.

At that time I honestly couldn’t see past the diagnosis. I couldn’t understand why my ability to do the things I dreamed about was being taken away. My job, furthering my education and the ability to have children. As I mentioned above I was also diagnosed with endometriosis. Having Endometriosis along with Lupus has made it so I will never be able to carry my own baby, which is something I have always wanted more than anything! As long as I can remember I have dreamed of being a mom and all the things I would do with my children. And all that has been taken away. I do hope to adopt one day if I get to a place where I can care for another person. At that time though I couldn’t fathom what I could have possibly done to deserve what was happening.

In the months following my diagnosis I really began to struggle with my faith. Even though I grew up in church and knew all the teachings of the Bible, I still struggled. I stopped going to church and just couldn’t understand why a God who was supposed to be a caring and loving God would let all this happen! I couldn’t see past the present to see what he was working on for my future.

I spent so much time the first couple of years following my diagnosis praying to God, yelling at God, and asking simply asking why, before the plan God had for me finally started to become clear. My world as I knew it had essentially came to an end or so I thought. I was no longer able to work the job I loved, my most recent relationship had come to an end, and people who I felt were life long friends just up and walked away, saying they couldn’t handle the changes I was forced to make because of my declining health. I knew what I needed but I couldn’t find it. I knew I needed to find support in people who were or had gone through the things I was dealing with. I needed a place where I could be totally open and honest about how I felt and what was going on without fearing judgement. Because so much of the time people who don’t have chronic health issues can’t really provide the kind of support needed.

I searched and searched for a place I could go for support. Someplace I could go and talk to others who were living through the same issues that I was. A place where I could go and openly express my feelings without being judged, and also a place where I could find information on the issues I was dealing with. I looked for local resources and online resources, but I couldn’t find a place where I really felt comfortable. After spending time searching, it became clear to me that I was supposed to create the place I had spent so much time looking for.

After I realized that I was supposed to create this place of solace and education that I had been looking for. After I finally came to the realization I spent a lot of time researching support groups & educational groups. I wanted to find out what made these groups successful, and what made them flourish. In the weeks after I realized Gods plan for me I spent a LOT of time praying that God would help me create the place I had been longing for. And he did just that.

I recruited a few of my fellow Lupies (aka someone with Lupus) to help me and we created a Lupus & Chronic Illness Support Group on Facebook. A group called Lupie Groupies. My friends and I created a group where those of us dealing with chronic issues could go and be real. A place where judging others for their thoughts and feelings is NOT allowed. A place for those who were newly diagnosed, as well as for those who have been diagnosed for decades and everyone in between. A place to find education on their conditions and as well as information on treatments.

At first we were a very small group, but over the last 4+ years we have grown to over 600 members. When I started this journey I could never have dreamed that I could develop a support group that would grow to be so big! I have received such amazing feedback over the last four years from people in this group. People telling me that the group has given them hope, and that they have made life long friends in the group. I know for sure that I couldn’t have done what I’ve done without God’s helping hand.

I did finally figure out Gods plan and worked to implement it. But I would be lying if I said that I haven’t questioned God and his plan for me more recently. I definitely questioned my faith when I had a car accident last summer and totaled my car due to seizures, that have restricted me from driving for almost a year. And during the times I have had so much physical pain that I couldn’t see past the pain. Or when the car accident led to me losing my job. I have definitely questioned God and his plan. I think it’s only natural to struggle to see his plan when you’re life is not going the way you want. But Isaiah 66:9 has given me some peace as I’ve made my way through the trials.

Looking back I realize that God put me in situations with certain people for a reason. At the time I didn’t understand but now I know he put me in those situations and put those people in my life to help me reach my goals, and to help me get back to him! When I had to move home at the age of 31 I was devastated. But now looking back I know this was imperative for my health. I needed to be with my family so they could help me care for myself. Had I not moved back home I don’t think I would have ever asked for help, or told anyone just how sick I was. Moving back home wasn’t just essential for my physical health, it was essential for my spiritual growth as well. If my health hadn’t declined to the point I had to move back home and quit working, I don’t think I would have ever gotten back to having a personal relationship with God.

I give my 18 year old sister a lot of credit for helping me to get back to the relationship I now have with God. She is an amazing young lady and she has been such a blessing to my life in so many ways. I often feel like I am her second mother due to the fact that we are 15 years apart. She truly has the most unwavering faith in God of anyone I’ve ever known. Without moving home I would have never gotten to witness her testimony or see her constant faith firsthand. Even when I felt my life was falling apart around me she would tell me she was praying for me, and that God would make things better. Many times I blew her off and didn’t think much of it. But in the last 6 months I’ve seen God work in her life and in mine. He has helped both of us get through trying times, and brought the two of us closer together. None of that would have ever happened had I not been sick and had to move home.

My relationship with God has changed so much in the last few months. I have seen his work first hand and I have seen his work in others. I have not officially gone back to church, mainly due to fear of catching something from the large crowd. But I have gotten back to watching the weekly sermon online, and worshipping at home. I can honestly say that since I have gotten back to church and back to talking to God and praying that my outlook has changed. As sad as I am that I may never get back to working as a full time RN, or getting to fulfill my career and educational goals, I have come to terms with it. I know there is always a reason for the things that happen in my life. Even though I may not be doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing or impacting others lives the way I thought I would. God has showed me that through my work as a chronic illness blogger and through my Facebook support group I can still have an impact on people’s lives. My life may not be headed in the direction I would have chosen 5 years ago, through Gods work in my life I have found to raise awareness and provide education on health issues. And quite frankly I am lucky to just be alive. My testimony has certainly been a rocky one but I can truly say I have found God through my chronic illness!

With Love,

Amber

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Relieve Knee Pain Naturally With The WellWrap

This post may contain affiliate links

Everyone deals with joint pain of some sort from time to time, especially as we get older. When I was in the fourth grade I was playing softball and as I rounded third base my right leg went one way and my knee went the other. That was some of the worst pain I have ever felt. I saw a surgeon and he told me that I had torn my Meniscus, sadly it wasn’t torn enough for them to do surgery. So over the years I have reinjured that same knee many times, in eight grade when I was a cheerleader, in high school during PE and most recently last August when I had a car accident. Over the span of the last 24 years I have tried everything to deal with the pain in my knee. I have tried many different types of braces as well as over the counter and prescription medications and nothing has really done the trick long term. The best luck I have had is with medication. Including prescription pain medications, which is not the ideal way to treat this pain. As of late I have been looking for a better way to treat the pain without taking medication, and I think I may have found the answer.

There is a new brace coming out in this summer called the WellWrap. This brace is like no other brace you have ever seen or tried. This brace is embedded with NASA LLLT lasers that treat musculoskeletal joint pain. The embedded lasers in the Well Wrap provide stimulation to the ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) production which will reduce inflammation and pain and will help to accelerate recovery. The brace has not been associated with any side effects, it is found to increase circulation, and decrease inflammation and is a great way to help relieve joint pain naturally.

The WellWrap can provide relief for anyone who has joint pain, from athletes with sports injuries to those who suffer with arthritis. It only requires only 7 minutes of treatment TWICE DAILY. Meaning you don’t have to wear it all the time and doesn’t require treatment outside the home. Most people who have tried this treatment modality found  pain relief after ONLY 1-2 treatments. The WellWrap will also capture your vital signs while you wear it including temperature and blood pressure and the data can be found on the mobile app.

The WellWrap offers fast acting pain relief at HOME, with no medications required. Even though this is a new product that is not yet on the market it has been trialed by many people. Below you can see how those who have trialed this product feel about the product.

Watch the video below to see exactly how the WellWrap Technology works.

I am SO excited about the WellWrap and can’t wait to try it out when it is available. The fact that I can treat my knee pain without hours of icing or needing pain medication is fantastic. Currently when my knee flares up I have to rely on the RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation) method and rely on OTC or prescription medication. I love the idea that I can wear a brace for 7 minutes a day and be done, without spending hours treatment my knee pain.

WellWrap will be doing a crowdfunding launch this summer and will be offering a 40% discount. You can signup for information on the wrap and for information on the discount Here

Please check out WellWraps Website for more info along with pictures and video on the coming project.

With Love,

Amber

PRODUCT REVIEW- Carbon Coco Teeth Whitening System

I am sure that you’ve seen the recent big trend in dentistry all over the internet. The trend I am speaking of specifically is the use of Charcoal Toothpaste to whiten teeth and provide more benefits than other toothpastes. I hadn’t done much research on these products as I was hoping the madness would soon die down. Leaving only the top products for more studies and testimonies from customers. In fact up until a few months ago I really had very little knowledge of what Charcoal Toothpaste did and why it had suddenly become so popular. That is until a few months ago when Meg With Carbon Coco reached out to me. They offered me an opportunity to try their product in return for an honest review & that is what I am going to do today.

Being that, I had no real knowledge of charcoal toothpaste or Carbon Coco as a whole, I decided to do my research before I jumped on the bandwagon. I was honestly very impressed what I found and by their customer service. One thing I love about the company is that they offer free shipping WORLDWIDE, and they have a love it or leave it policy where they will refund your money if you see no results in 14 days. One of the big reasons I like this company and will continue to support them is that they do no animal testing. More about these offers can be found at the end under the link “Frequently Asked Questions”.

According to the Carbon Coco website “Carbon Coco is your holistic alternative to oral health. We have carefully chosen 100% natural ingredients to safely whiten and polish your teeth, strengthen the enamel, detoxify your mouth, and keep your breath fresh without any risk what so ever from harmful chemicals or additives.”

After visiting the website and researching their products And ready others testimonials, I was thrilled to get to try it. When my package arrived it contained THE ULTIMATE CARBON KIT. This particular kit comes with the Activated Charcoal Tooth Polish, the Activated Charcoal Tooth Paste and one toothbrush with Bamboo Bristles.

I will admit when I opened the Charcoal Tooth Polish and found it to be very black. At that point I was really starting to wonder if it work for me. I knew it would whiten my teeth, but I was concerned with the texture and taste. I have a major aversions to overly minty tastes and can gag easily from taste or texture. And neither of those are an issue for me.

The black powder is an oxidized version of charcoal and has been found that it works very effectively to whiten teeth. It works so well by removing external stains from the teeth without using any toxic ingredients that are often found in commercial whitening products. This way of whitening teeth helps to promote good oral health, and helps to reduce issues that can cause cavities, gum disease and bad breath. I was also presently surprised to find out that Carbon Coco is 100% natural. It also does not have any toxic preservatives that are found in other whitening products. Per the website the tooth whitener contains 100% Organic Coconut Shell Activates Charcoal with a hunt of bentonite powder and lemon myrtle.

The Carbon Coco’s Activated Carbon Toothpaste has a unique formula. The toothpaste has an Activated Charcoal fluoride free formula, that fights cavities, plaque, gingivitis, bad breath, while keeping your mouth feeling refreshed and will replace your everyday toothpaste. Honestly, I’m not sure if the rates of other toothpastes, but this toothpaste reduces bacteria build up by up to 90% for 12 hours!

I was very impressed with the packaging of this kit! Not only were the items clearly labeled, they also provide a a card that had clearly worded instructions on how to use each product. Which you can see below along with pictures of the packaging and products.

Toothpaste Packaging

I used these products religiously for about two weeks. I didn’t see any results the first few days. But by the end of the first week! I also started to notice that my breath was much fresher for much longer than any other toothpaste I’ve tried. And after a few uses my teeth felt as smooth as they do after I have them cleaned by the dentist.

I would not think twice about giving these products 5 stars. The only negative I can find with this product is the mess is makes. (And truth be told I’m sure I could brush my teeth without making as much of a mess!) One thing I did not mention is that there are different size kits that include different products. These kits can be found on the website that is linked below. Overall, I am very very happy with this product and the Carbon Coco team!! Below I am going to share before and after pictures. (It’s really hard to get good pictures of your own teeth!). I will also post links to the main Carbon Coco website as well as a link to the Frequently Asked Questions.

Carbon CoCo Website

Frequently Asked Questions

I hope that you enjoyed this review and that some of you decide to try the product!!! If you do please let me know what you think!!!

* Disclaimer: Even though your teeth will feel good, clean and smooth, while also helping to reduce bacteria, a visit to the dentist regularly is still important!

With Love,

Amber