The Physical Ailments Archive

Lip Treatment

Posted March 21, 2019 By kmarrs

So on a whim this past winter, I made a lip scrub out of ingredients you can find in any grocery store. Not just all natural, because nightshade is natural, but a lip scrub you could literally safely eat because sometimes that happens.

I used a little half cup Rubbermaid container and filled it about halfway with honey. Then I poured in half as much sugar, and then a couple of tablespoons worth of oil. I used grapeseed oil, but you really could use any food grade oil that they stock at the store. I just think grapeseed is the one I’m less grumpy about accidentally ingesting because you will get some in your mouth as you apply it liberally to your lips.

The whole thing is shelf stable so I keep my container of this right in my shower and use it about once a week, or as needed.

The sugar helps scrub off that dead layer of skin that builds up and peels. If you are like me, you chew it off the best you can, but stop doing that because it only causes more damage! This scrub will get rid of it and keep it gone! Then the honey and oil moisturize your lips keeping them happy and healthy.

Also, you know how in the dead of winter, or year round if you’re like me, your elbows get really dry and scaly? This stuff will scrub off the dead skin and moisturize there too. I use it as a face scrub roughly once a month. Not all the time, because there is oil involved, but it hydrates my skin wherever I apply it.

I’m telling you, this stuff is wonderful. You need to pair it with chapstick, but it goes beyond what just chapstick can do!

Lucas always gets lips so chapped that his entire mouth area turns red. I used this stuff on him (and Sammy) at the first sign of trouble, and it worked. It saved the kid so much pain! Because severely chapped lips hurt like hell!

Anyway, I could go on and on about how great this stuff is. Just a little sugar, honey, and food grade oil. You can buy everything you need for like 15$ and have enough to make a dozen containers. I made one from my mom for her birthday. She swears by it too!

So consider yourself encouraged to pamper your lips! Winter may be over, but it’s great year-round at least to some degree.

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Dear Body

Posted March 18, 2019 By kmarrs

I’m sorry I have hated you for so long. Misguided in ideas that I was supposed to be a girl and society’s version of what a girl should look like.

Stretch marks don’t give my body character? Bullshit! They are there because my body held and grew three children. They are a beautiful celebration of the lives I gave birth to. I would no sooner fault a tiger for it’s stripes.

This does not define me, but it tells a story.

The weight I carry? I know it doesn’t help my fibromyalgia and I would like to lose some weight in the name of being healthier. But not through shame and mistreatment. Withholding calories out of shame for my shape does no one any good. Increasing my overall daily calories, but spreading them through the day so that I’m eating smaller meals, but more frequently, is the answer to both loving and respecting my current body, while gently shaping it to a healthier form.

And if this just never happens? I will not feel shame. Just like my stretch marks, my current form is the result of carrying three babies in my core. It’s also the result of 20-30 years of intense mental health meds. I feel no shame for this meds, I feel no shame for how they shape my appearance.

Make-up? Hair? Lack of both? Even if I was a girl, it is not society’s job to tell me what I’m supposed to look like. I do not choose to paint over my self portrait as a means of hiding who I am. And hair is just not something I’ll ever be able to work with. And that’s fine. The me I present is the me I am happiest with and there are no apologies offered.

I am, however, struggling with my breasts. I’m torn between hating them and indifference. They are a source of physical pain as the weight of carrying them destroys my back. They are a source of mental pain as they are a huge trigger to my dysphoria.

It is noted, though, that I used to appear to enjoy them, as I flaunted what I was given. What can I say? I was hungry for attention and breasts were a means of feeding that hunger. Ironically, a breast’s sole purpose in life is to feed… hungry babies. And a wept over my inability to produce milk. I wept over how such a large burden, a large weight against my shoulders, could fail to do their one intended purpose.

So how could I feel loyal to them?

The patriarchy says I am to have a painted face, long silky hair, and large firm breasts.

I reject the patriarchy.

So I will work on refusing to hate my breasts any longer, as that is a self destructive emotion, but I can still elect to be done with them. I do intend on getting a breast reduction as soon as I can. But I will not hate myself over the fact this could take years. I have bigger health emergencies in the forefront.

And nonbinary presentation does not equate to androgyny. So I can be me and still have my breasts, I tell myself. Anything to help the dysphoria.

The patriarchy find so much wrong with my body. The patriarchy has taught me to internalize those “imperfections” and hate myself for them. To want to mold and sculpt myself into me “perfect from”.

Yet in all the ways my body has truly failed me, having cellulite isn’t even related to any of them. I don’t need to contour and cover my face with makeup to fight my anemia. Long flowing hair only hurts my headaches and anxiety.

I am who I am and I will love myself for every bit of my appearance. I can work on being healthier physically as I work on being healthier mentally. The two can coexist and I don’t need to hate myself. Especially since society tells me I should.

But then society is trying to sell me something.

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Anemia

Posted February 4, 2019 By kmarrs

So I’m seeing a specialist and I’ve officially been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. My hemoglobin keeps dropping down to a 6 when left unchecked for too long.

This happened just this past fall. I actually had to take a couple of incompletes and drop a class completely due to my hemoglobin being too low to function.

I know it’s hard to understand, unless you’ve been there, what a hemoglobin of 6 really means, but the stark truth of it is, is that I have half as much blood in me that I need to survive when it’s that low. Symptoms include shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, and a mental fog unlike anything else.

But I get iron infusions now. We check my labs every 4-8 weeks and when it even starts to get low, I get an iron infusion.

On the right is just a saline solution to ease the entire process. On the left is liquid iron. I know this isn’t the best picture, but I only had use of one hand and well, the situation doesn’t call upon my best photography skills. Sorry.

Anyway, it’s kind of cool. But also painful. Especially the day after, about half the time. But that iron is forcing my bone marrow to make blood and it’s very cool, but it’s hard on the body.

Anyway, I’m chronically ill in yet another way. But the symptoms are well managed and they don’t let me get very low anymore before I get an infusion. So like, as long as I don’t dip below like a 9, it’s more annoying than it is… uh… I guess the word I’m looking for is horrible. Below a 9 is horrible.

Goal for a (biological) woman is a 12-16. I’m currently as of right now an 11-12. So anemic but not outrageously. My personal goal is to get to a 15 or 16. It’s a far stretch, but someday I’ll reach it. For like a week.

Really, now that I’ve come to terms with it and it’s being managed, my biggest disappointment is that I can no longer give blood. Probably never again, really. I’m very pro-blood-donation. I think it is a healthy person’s duty to give when there is a shortage. I myself have received a few units of blood and I’m just so thankful that there is such a thing as blood donation. And I’m very sad to now be a receiver and no longer a giver.

Anyway, it’s been a long 12 months with my anemia just recently coming under control. But I survived and made the best of it. And I’ll thrive despite it.

Despite all the hurdles in life, I am determined to thrive.

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Allergies

Posted January 31, 2019 By kmarrs

When I was pregnant with Thomas, 16 years ago, I developed an apple allergy. I go into full anaphylactic shock.

Over the past year or two, while my body has been otherwise failing me physically (more on that to come) I’ve been also developing new and exciting allergies as well. The one we’ve been able to pin down is spaghetti sauce. But we ruled out, on our own, that it wasn’t the tomatoes, mushrooms, parsley, oregano, or, basil. So about a year ago, I went to see an allergist. The following is pulled from my tumblr from the next day.

“So I went to the allergist yesterday for allergy testing.  See as an adult I’ve developed an allergy to apples (awhile back though it’s gotten much worse in recent years) and very recently Prego pasta sauce.  Both make my throat swell closed.  

Now I can avoid both, but what is it about the Prego that sets me off, was the million dollar question.  See, with some careful experimentation we ruled out tomatoes, mushrooms and your more common herbs that would be used in a pasta sauce.  I mean fully ruled out.  We’ve since switched to Kroger brand red sauce and I can eat it just fine.  Tons of it.  We also buy Stouffer’s lasagna and I also eat that just fine.  A few other red sauce things, just fine.  It’s only Prego brand sauce.  So what’s in Prego that isn’t in the others?  Is it how they preserve it?  Also, the label is no help.  So my doctor referred me to the allergist.

“So you think your throat swells,” this brilliant doctor asks.

“Well, my throat becomes tight, I can’t breathe very good, and I have a lot of trouble swallowing.”

Like I said, you /think/ your throat swells.”

He proceeded to confirm I have no trouble with tomatoes.  No trouble with mushrooms.  Proceeded to confirm we use basil, oregano, and parsley all the time, no trouble.

So what does he test me for?

Tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, oregano, and parsley.  Nothing else.  Not a damn thing else.

Like fam, I’m not saying there is a test specifically for the preservatives used by Prego, but come on.  There has to have been other options than the common ingredients that I, on my damn own, completely ruled out and stated as such.  Red pasta sauce is a staple of my diet.  I love mushrooms and eat them all the time.  Pat seasons a lot of things with those exact herbs,  If any of that gave me trouble, we’d know by now.

What the FUCK was the point of going to that office, I cry, beg, and ask.  What did I even learn?

His professional advice?  Stay away from Prego and apples.

Yeah.  Really?  Because I look forward to using my EpiPen.  That’s an experience to be cherished.

And whatever this mystery ingredient is, I guess I just have to hope not to run into it again.

Oh!  OH!

He did offer, very matter of factly, that if I wanted to bring in some Prego, he’d test me for that to see if I was allergic to it or not.

Because, after all, I only think my throat swells shut.

I must also be imagining that tightness in my chest that comes with it.  And all the other classic symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock.

*sigh*

I knew I needed a second opinion from someone who wouldn’t gaslight me, but I was not in a good place so I put that off a bit and continued to narrow down, on my own, what I was allergic to, with EpiPen in hand.

In time, I realized I was allergic to all jarred pasta sauce, and even some pizza sauce. But it remained true, that it wasn’t the tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, parsley, or oregano.

Pat eventually made his grandmother’s red sauce from scratch, otherwise using all the same ingredients, and I ate SO MUCH of it and did not have a reaction. Not even a hint of one. This has led us to hypothesize that it’s the preservative I’m allergic to.

So it was time to go to a different allergist and get that second opinion.

I was there bright and early Friday morning. I explained everything, including the failed allergist appointment the year prior, to the doctor and just preyed that she would be different.

And OMG. That was one of the most validating appointments with a doctor I’ve ever had. She came for my life and then validated every tiny bit of it.

Now she was honest, and confirmed what I kind of suspected, that there was no test for the preservatives. But she listened to everything and declared it both not unheard of, and the probable source of trouble.

Then she did full allergy testing on all the usual suspects.

The first, interesting thing to note, is that I’m not actually allergic to apples. Not even a little. I’m apparently allergic to birch which cross pollinates with apples, and therefore I have the reaction. Of course, because of this, all apples are now suspect and I still can’t eat apples, but it’s not the apple’s fault. Everyone else finds this hilarious. I’m… bitter.

I’m apparently also allergic to dogs. I’ve just failed to ever notice it.

Something, something pollen and ragweed and shit that will cause reactions in the fall when everything is dying, which I basically already knew and had told her about. But it was good to have that validated.

She had also decided, before she even did any testing, that she was going to put me on an antihistamine. The goal being to calm my body down some. However, the tests did confirm that was a good idea.

There were no other reactions of note. So while there are other undetermined things at this time that I’m allergic to, they aren’t anything that’s going to show up on a test. Just like that preservative. So all I can do, really, is keep a journal of sorts and track what I eat that causes a reaction.

And keep my EpiPen on me.

So that is basically that.

On Monday the 4th we’ll talk about my anemia. That’s been a bit of a bumpy ride too. But I’ll fill you all in, in a few days.

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Update on Life

Posted August 19, 2017 By kmarrs

Ugh.  I’m suppose to be working on a science paper.  However, I have time to do that later, and I have not written here in a while, so why not procrastinate?

School:

I am a little more than halfway done with my bachelor’s degree.  I am estimating my graduation, if everything goes as planned, to be the spring of 2020.  Which I know sounds so far away.  But that’s me going halftime, taking two classes a term, and also me taking (hopefully) next summer off.  I’m due for a summer off.  And apparently we can do that now and still work.  See as a work-study I have to study to be allowed to work.  But they realized that sometimes we need a break from the study part.  So as long as we have studied the previous fall and winter terms, we’re allowed to take the summer off.  I would have done that this summer but I didn’t know about it in time.

Fall term has officially started.  I’m in week one of it.  I’m taking a general science class that is more focused on critical thinking and analysis than it is on a specific field.  But that’s ok.  We live in a world of global warming deniers and this is a business school.  So basically I took the science class that was both offered and required.  It’s a 12 week class (compared to the usual 6 weeks) and then I have a 6 weeks management course.  I don’t remember the specifics of the management course.  I’d look it up but I’m about 11 weeks away from giving a crap.  It’s an elective that seemed important to me at the time.  So I’m sure I’ll benefit from it.

Work:

Still doing the work-study for the mathematics department gig.  I basically plan to do this until either my boss gets sick of me or I graduate.  Hopefully the graduation happens first.  Then I’ll do a work-study, or whatever the equivalent is for a grad student, gig for OSU or wherever I end up.  Hopefully OSU.  Anyway, work is going well enough.  I just had a performance review.  My first of many.  18 months, almost, into the job.  But eh.  Anyway, there were no surprises.  I knew going into it where I need to improve and we agreed on everything.  So we discussed how I can do better in some areas and that was that.  I’ll get another review in 30 days or so.  I think.  At least that seems to be the plan.

Kids:

Everyone is happy and healthy.  Funny story, actually.  Sambam had a couple of major cavities in two of her molars, and at that size and at her age, they don’t fill them, they put crowns on them.  Something medical jargon here about the crown lasting longer and they’re just baby teeth.  Seemed weird to me but I got a second opinion just to be sure. (We had a bad experience with a dentist when Thomas was this age.  The dentist did unnecessary work for the insurance money and was later the recipient of a class action lawsuit.  So like we’re a little paranoid.)  Anyway, it’s legit so we took her to get her crowns this past Thursday.  They put her on laughing gas to calm her before using the needle to numb her.  And I’m telling you, my daughter was so calm and high (as a kite) she didn’t even notice the needle.  I sure did though and I hurt for her.  Anyway she got the crowns and was like the number one best patient of the day, everyone agreed.  And I was super proud of her.  She’s a good kid.

They all started school this past Wednesday.  Sammy is in first grade and loving it.  Lucas is in fourth and start intermediate school, which means he now has 8 periods, or so, and is switching classrooms.  He was nervous at first, but seems to have taken to it like a duck to water.  Thomas is in eighth grade and in his last year of middle school.  He’s growing up.  I’d say he’s as tall as me, but if I’m being truthful I think at some point in the past month he’s officially passed me.  And I’m not short.  I’m about average height, but he’s going to be tall.  Sammy turns 6 in a couple of weeks.  She’s maturing into quite the big kid.  She’s also turning into quite the artist.

Dragon

So most of her birthday presents this year are various art supplies.  The grocery store sells sketchbooks for like $2.50.  Plus colored pencils and of course huge boxes of crayons.  Then she is also getting coloring books just because.  Coloring is fun yo!  Anyway, the whole family is in on it together to supply her with all her art needs.  Plus a few other odds and ends.  But I think she’ll be happy with her haul this year.

Friends:

I have more friendship in my life right now than I’ve had, well, ever.  It’s mostly online, but I’m ok with that.  I do need someone local to meet for coffee or dinner once in a while but I’ll work up to that.  In the meantime, I have so much online friendship that like, I don’t feel like there is anything missing.  We’re all on Tumblr and it’s just this big group of us.  You should come chat me up over there.  I will warn that my feed is a constant stream of snakes and reptiles and fish.  One posting automatically every hour.  And then when I am on, it gets really political.  Like really political.  So like if you can’t stomach snakes or politics, maybe you shouldn’t join me on Tumblr.  Anyway, here is the link.

Health:

I haven’t almost bled to death in a couple of months.  So that’s a plus.  And last we checked my hemoglobin was up to 12.7 which is in the normal range.  The low-end of the normal range, so I’m still on the iron supplements, but I’m not like as anemic as hell as I was even a month ago.  Anyway, I’m just going to keep up with the iron and hopefully I’ll stop almost bleeding to death, and things will be good, yeah?

Mental health wise I’m ok.  Mostly just really tired.  I could have used this summer off from school.  Really really.  But it’ll be good in the long run to keep pushing though.  I’ll have a nice long break soon.  2 weeks for Christmas and then I think I can schedule another 6 weeks on top of that during winter term if I take 2 6 week classes and neither of them start in the beginning of the term.  Terms are 18 weeks long, so this is doable.  I just have to make it until then.  Also, that two weeks off for Christmas, will also be two weeks off from work, because the whole university shuts down.  So like, I’m counting the days.

I have not had any medication changes lately, but it’s been awhile since I’ve listed my meds, so why don’t I do that now?  In no particular order, and everything I take:

  • Gabapentin 900mg for fibromyalgia.
  • Ativan 1mg for anxiety – up to twice a day, but usually only once
  • Vitamin D3 2000mg because I get no sun ever
  • Ferrous Sulfate 650mg this is the iron
  • Protonix DR 40mg this is a super antacid that helps prevent my stomach from eating itself since I keep nearly bleeding to death
  • Geodon 100mg this is an antipsychotic I use off label for Borderline Personality Disorder.  It isn’t for everyone but it can be very helpful for those of us with BPD to be on a medication like this.  It helps with things like impulse control and angry outbursts.  In general I just feel more in control of myself on this medication.  However, a medication like this is not to be taken lightly.  There are serious possible and likely side effects so really talk it over with you meds doctor and weigh out the pros and cons.
  • Topimax 100mg for headaches mostly, but there is the added benefit of weight loss.  Again talk a medication like this over with your doctor.  There are better medications for headaches generally, but as I’m obese, I wanted something that would help with weight loss and I knew this one did so I asked for it by name.
  • Fetzima 80mg this is my antidepressant.  It’s a newer one and my insurance is not happy about it, but dudes I’ve been on them all and this is currently the one that works.  It has the added advantage of a norepinephrine boost so like it helps with my energy levels.  Which, between depression and fibro and anemia (these days), I need that boost.

And that’s everything.  I take these all at once in the evenings.  Which is not ideal but I’m horrible about remembering to take meds and this is the system that works for me.  So this is what I do.  My doctors know this about me a prescribe around it.

Also, on the subject of health, I have given up regular pepsi, and have switched to diet (coke).  I’ve lost 20-30 pounds in doing so.  I know it was the switch because that’s when I started losing weight.  So yay?  I have a long way to go and I’m working on it.  Taking walks.  Making healthier eating choices.  Eating less in general.  But I’ll get there.  I’ll never be super skinny.  It’s just not my body type and I’m on too many major psych meds that cause weight gain.  But I want to be at a healthier weight, whatever that means for me.  I’m also over all more interested in a healthier blood pressure, blood sugar level, and cholesterol level, than I am the actual shape of my body.  Health over size.

That’s everything I can think of so I’m signing out.  It’ll be awhile, I imagine, before I write again.  Life has me pretty busy and since my mental health is stable, it’s pretty boring.  Which is a good thing.  I promise to try and touch base next month.  I promise to try anyway.  If I can write monthly, I think that’s a good goal.  And of course, if anything interesting happens, I’ll write sooner.  In the meantime, I leave you with this photograph of my daughter cracking up on laughing gas.  She really is a doll baby.

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Nearly Died. Twice.

Posted June 17, 2017 By kmarrs

So.

Ok.

In something like March I was placed on Iron Supplements because my hemoglobin was a little low.  For women it’s suppose to be in the 12-15 range.  But mine was off a little.

Then in seemingly unrelated news, in early April. I had a bad night.  I thought I was just dehydrated severely, because I had really bad diarrhea. But “whatever the cause” I passed out twice.  Once while actually sitting down.  Full on blacked out and came to only after landing hard both times.  I rehydrated and took it easy the next couple of days, but went about my business.  Oh and my stool was black, but iron supplements do that, ya know?  Anyway, I had a doctor’s appointment in about a week and a half, I’d report all this then.  Couldn’t get in any sooner.  Nothing to fuss over.

But like those two passing out spells really knocked it out of me.  I was so fatigued.   And could hardly catch my breath.  But like I’m a fat chick and I’m always winded and the weather was nice so I was trying to be more active.  Walking more.  And well, fatigue is like an everyday thing with me.  This was more than usual, but I had just had a really bad health night so… Anyway I was seeing my doctor soon.  It would all get squared away.

So the big doctor day came.  I filled her in on all that and also my history or chronic loose stools that I thought had led to me passing out a week and a half prior.  She took all this in and it sort of made sense.  But she wanted some blood tests.  She needed to check on my hemoglobin anyway because I’d been on the iron for about a month and she wanted to see how that was going.  So I left the office with a new appointment for in a month, and went down the hall to the lab to get my blood drawn.  Thought nothing more of it.  And went home.

That night, right as I was crawling into bed at 10PM my phone rang.  It was my doctor’s office.  I needed to go ASAP to the hospital, no I couldn’t drive myself, my hemoglobin was at 6.8 and I needed a blood transfusion or two (hint I got 2) and they needed to find out why I was literally bleeding to death.

Anyway, to speed this up.  3 days, many tests, and lots of drawing blood and transfusioning blood later, I was sent home with the knowledge that the blood was coming from polyps in my stomach that had ruptured (and were treated), and my hemoglobin was back up to 9 something.  Also my antacid for my acid reflux was changed out to a protonix, that both helps with reflux, but will help prevent my stomach from bleeding anymore (laughs).  Oh, and I’m up to twice a day Iron Supplements because my hemoglobin is really low now.  But not dangerously low like it was.

so I take my meds like a good girl.  I go to the follow up appointment like a good girl.  I almost punch my doctor in the face like a good girl.  (long story)  I schedule an appointment for another month out.  This one was for this past Wednesday.  So like mid June.

The Thursday before that appointment I wake up, go to the bathroom, and am greeted by the very obvious signs that I’m bleeding again.  I sigh, email my boss, and get my husband to drop me off at the Emergency Room.  They check my hemoglobin, sure enough, in the span of about 6 hours it went from 8 something to 7 something to 6 something.  I wasn’t just loosing blood, I was loosing it fast.  Or had lost it fast, because they can’t find where it’s coming from.  This was the same hospital.  They had my history from my previous stay and are affiliated with my doctor’s office so they have my full work up.  They knew where to look first.  No sign of bleeding anywhere, other than, you know, the obvious blood loss.  So 2 more blood transfusions and they send me home.  Only this time I also got what’s called and iron infusion.  Which is basically the supplement liquified, tons of it, straight to the vein.

So here I am with the explanation that GI bleeds frequently heal themselves and I shouldn’t worry.  And oh by the way, the iron infusion I got at the hospital, and the second one I got as outpatient Friday, will make it look like I’m bleeding again, but I shouldn’t worry.  I know what symptoms to watch for when my hemoglobin is dangerously near death low, right?  Right.  But I probably won’t start bleeding again.  I mean why would I?

*turns and looks at the camera*

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