Sunday, January 22, 2012

I can't move my arms or my legs...Part 2

Part 2 of "I can't move my arms or my legs".


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lazy Saturdays

I needed this.

This past week was so busy.  I had appointments everyday except for Wednesday, though I did go to work on Wednesday. I'm glad that I was able to just to a nice long dialysis run last night and lazy myself around my bedroom today.  I slept about 3 additional hours after eating breakfast.

I did not use my neti pot last night, but I did use my Avamys. I was fine overnight, but I woke up with a headache! I used my neti pot again this morning and will use it once again tonight during my bedtime routine.

Before I resume doing nothing, I just have to discuss an irritating moment that occurred earlier in the week during one of my clinic appointments. My appointment was scheduled for 10:45am, so I got to the clinic at 10:30am.  Much to my chagrin, 1pm had come and gone and I still had not been called yet.  I heard one of the women who worked at the clinic say to someone else that the clinic has booked TWICE as many people as they normally would.  WHYYYY?

I finally got called in shortly afterwards, knowing full well that I would probably be in the "smaller" waiting room for at least another 20-30 minutes. As time passed, a woman come into my room. It was a fellow.  I have to say..I'm usually pretty good with being okay with doctors who are learning and such, but the last thing I wanted to do was sit there and repeat my life story to someone who already had my life story written on the chart in their hand after I had been sitting there for more than two and a half hours!

She asked me questions and I responded with as few words as possible.  When she asked me which medications I was on...I almost lost it.  "You don't have it written down there??" I asked.  She said "Yes, I just wanted to double check".  I just stared at her.  She then went on the read what she had written down and I responded with "uh huh"'s.

My actual doctor came in, said what she had to say, and I was done.  But, in this clinic, you don't just go to the secretary/receptionist to get your appointment.  No.  You have to sit down in the waiting room AGAIN, and wait to be called AGAIN for your appointment.  In the past, what I've done is simply ask for my hospital card back and ask for the appointment to be sent to me in the mail. When I got to the desk, the volunteer there told me that my chart had not come out yet.  When I asked when it would come out, she said "i dunno...sorry" and resumed doing whatever she was doing.  I told her that I wanted my card back so I could leave and if they could please send me my next appointment in the mail. "Your chart hasn't come out yet."  Another receptionist pointed to another reception desk that was about 15 feet away. "Maybe your chart is over there with that receptionist".  So I went "over there" where the other receptionist was.  As not to interrupt her, I stood there, waiting for her to look up.  Clearly ignoring me, I said excuse me.  She looked up and said "yes?"  I asked her if she had my chart.  She asked for my name which I gave to her. "No I don't have it".  I went back over to where the other receptionist desk was and waited.

I called my father to let him know that my appointment was finished and I was just waiting for my hospital card since he would be the one picking me up. After about 18-20 minutes, I went back to the receptionist's desk. At the same moment that I got there, the 3 receptionists that were there started laughing as something; perhaps one of them told a joke.  A different volunteer receptionist was there this time.  I asked her if my chart had come out yet. She asked me my name so I told her.  This volunteer asked one of the receptionists, who was still laughing, if my chart had come out.  Then that receptionist looked at me and says (while waiving her hand at me in a "just wait a minute" fashion): "I have it right here! I'm doing it right now! We're just laughing to try can calm down the stress!!!"

Excuse me? Is this lady talking to me?? She obviously thought that I had come up strictly because I saw them laughing and obviously that means that I felt like they should be doing less laughing and more working??

"Did I say that you weren't allowed to laugh? My question was: has my chart come out yet.  It requires a simple YES or NO response". The receptionist just looked at me briefly and looked down while resuming hacking away at her keyboard.  I hope my response to her let her know that she was out of line.

About a minute later she called me over and returned my hospital card and a sheet with my appointment on it (if they had been listening and communicating properly, they would have known that I wanted my appointment MAILED to me and I did NOT want to wait 25 minutes for it to be handed to me).

Man was I ever angry. Sometimes I feel like people think they can talk to me in any old rude way because I look like a child.  Yes, I look young, but not only am I NOT a child and I am NOT an idiot.  How very rude of that receptionist to assume that I was upset because they were laughing and therefore speaking to me in a rude and condescending fashion.  Also, this clinic was a hematology clinic full of cancer patients.  How insensitive is it for her to essentially YELL at me, telling me that they're laughing in an attempt to relieve stress? Yes, that's great, and I have nothing against relieving stress.  But if I'm at that desk waiting for an appointment, can it not be assumed that I might be a cancer patient? Did you ever consider that I may be under a certain amount of stress as well and the last thing I need or want it so be yelled at by the person who is making my next appointment?  Even if I don't have cancer...I'm still obviously there because I have an illness or health problem of some sort. That's stressful as well...so don't raise your voice at ME, lady.

Ok,

Friday, January 20, 2012

I can't move my arms or my legs...

I finally recorded a vlog about the time I was unable to move my arms or legs. This is part 1 of 2.  Part 2 will be uploaded shortly.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Raw Lunch @ Belmonte Raw

After finishing work today, I checked my cell phone to see a message from my friend Mo asking me if I wanted to check out this raw food spot downtown called Belmonte Raw. Mo and I had discussed this a few days earlier.  I expressed my interest in perhaps going on a raw diet/cleanse for a few days (3-5 days or so). Luckily we were both available, so we headed down there.

After successfully navigating the streets downtown, we were able to find the spot. Mo was luckily enough to find a great parking spot on the street right in front of the restaurant.



When we got in, we took a look at the two menus.  One had the two entrees of the day, and the other had a list of the different raw beverage offerings.



Feeling unsure, Mo and I asked our our lovely and warm server, Saidah. She recommended that we go for the raw burrito.

Man was I ever nervous! This is the first time that I've ever tried something like this and I was pretty anxious.  I was pretty hungry and was just hoping that it would not only taste good...but would be filling and satisfying as well.

After a few minutes, our meals arrived. I liked what I saw.
Our delicious meal came out and it was presented beautifully. The burrito is wrapped in a collard leaf with chips on the side.  I forget what is in the chips, but what I do know is that they were created with the help of a food dehydrator.  

 Our sides included a raw guacamole (left), "sour cream" which I believe was actually comprised of cashews (centre), and tomatoes (right).

Yum, let's dig in!

Mo and I gave each other "the countdown" before we took our first bites. Ok...three...two...one...*chomp*!"

After our first bites, Mo and I both went "...mmm!" in an almost "I'm shocked at how good this tastes!" kind of way.  It was quite delicious. I'm so used to pretty much eating meat in most of my meals, but in this case, the meat was not missed.  The meat was replaced with spiced sunflower.  The jicama was just delicious with an apple-y taste. It was just great. The rest of the ingredients are shown above in the photo I took of the menu.  There was plenty of filtered water with lemon which was also delicious.


Mo liked her raw burrito too :)

Now, the question is...did we finish our meals?

 We sure did! :)


We both definitely had a preference when it came to the dips/toppings.  We both enjoyed the cashew sour cream (interesting..as I love sour cream with tortilla chips in real life). I've never really been a fan of tomatoes. In fact, I requested that my burrito be made without tomatoes, which it was.

After we had finished eating, Saidah asked us if we wanted to try some dessert.  Sure, why not?  Mo got the peanut butter chocolate while I got the raspberry chocolate.

This is my chocolate raspberry dessert.



Mo's dessert is at the top of the pic.  The desserts look pretty much the same from the outside.  It was also delicious.  My dessert looked wonderful on the inside!





Did we enjoy our desserts?


LOL.

Mo also got a few drinks to go as well as a salad.  I should have taken pictures of them...but I didn't. Next time! :)

Eating at Belmonte Raw was a new, but positive experience. I cannot remember how much the dessert costs, but the burritos cost $14.95 each. A little pricey, but at the same time, when we go to restaurants and order chicken strips with fries or over-sized pasta dishes...we never complain about prices for THOSE dishes...

Saidah really helped us decide on our meals. She was great! I look forward to coming back sometime soon.

Lovin' my Neti Pot!

Back in early 2010, I came down with a terrible sinus infection.  My whole head hurt badly and my ears were both blocked.  They did not both block at the same time (maybe within a few days of each other). It's a bit of a long story, but the link to that story is above. In the end, it turns out that I had a severe sinus infection.  I was given ear drops and oral antibiotics.

By the end of 2010 when winter came around again, I ended up with bad headaches.  I was sent to see an ENT who prescribed Avamys, a nasal spray.  After using it for a few days, my pain has subsided.

The following winter (this winter), the headaches came back.  I have to just conclude that the sinus infection has somehow affected my sinuses permanently and these headaches will continue to come back every time the weather changes.  I refilled the prescription for the avamys, but then I remembered the Neti Pot I purchased previous to the first time I used the Avamys.  I did not end up using it as the Avamys did the trick.  But...wouldn't it be nice if there was a more natural way of helping these headaches? Taking Tylenol every 5 seconds simply wasn't doing the trick.  So, I pulled out my Neti Pot and decided to give it a go.

I gotta admit- I was scared to use the Avamys as I was nervous to have fluid shot up my nose.  I felt like it would hurt or something. Now...I plan on guiding a continuous stream of fluid through one nostril and out of the other?  I must be crazy!  Well..all I can do is try!

So I got the box out and read the instructions. I would need distilled water, which I already have on hand as I use it in my hair steamer.

After cleaning the Neti Pot, I poured the distilled water into the pot up to the fill line.  As per the instructions, I put the Neti Pot into the microwave for a total of 25 seconds (in 10 second intervals) to warm the water up.

The box also had these little sachets in it which is to be emptied into the pot after the distilled water in the pot has been warmed.

So I did as instructed, emptied the packet into the pot, placed the lid on, and gently swished it around to mix.

I had to brace myself for several seconds before I built up the nerve to put the end in my nose, opened my mouth slightly so I could breath through my nose, and watched in amazement as the water flowed out of my other nostril. No discomfort...actually kinda soothing (I know, this picture is weird and perhaps creepy, but I'm trying to document this as accurately as possible! LOL)


I've used my Neti Pot 4 times so far. I haven't used it yet today but I will shortly.  So far, it's been helping with my headaches.  If you want to try it too, I bought mine at Shopper's Drug Mart, but I've seen them at Walmart too.  Just follow the instructions; don't use regular tap water in it...make sure it's distilled.

Now excuse me while I go and flush my sinuses! :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So busy

I have so many things/appointments going on this month!

I am first of all happy to announce that I wrote what I hope was my final exam before I graduate from college! Woo hoo! Now, I must say that the exam was quite difficult (microeconomics, or economics in general, simply isn't my subject) so I hope I passed.  I need to achieve at least 60% in the course.  The exam is worth 50% of my mark and the assignments are also worth 50%.  I did quite well on the 5 assignments, achieving 95%, 85%, 93%,  95% and 92%.  So, I went into the exam with a 92%, or 46 out of 50. I actually haven't "crunched" the numbers until right now. I suppose I would have really needed to mess up badly on that exam to at least not pass with a 60%.  To be honest, until right now, I initially thought that the assignments were worth 40% and the exam worth 60%.  I actually feel a lot better about the fact that the exam and the assignments are weighted equally.

(Assuming I pass, that is...hehe) Right now, I am just happy to be able to say that I have succeeded where this particular matter (college) is concerned.  That is not to say that I may not eventually go back to school (university) to get my degree. I had an appointment with my nephrologist on Thursday and he actually encouraged me to do so.  Blegh! I need a break from school!

Next, I have so many appointments this week.  X-rays, ultrasounds, blood work, oncology, hematology, nephrology (two different ones)..so exhausting!  But I still hope to find time to continue on with my vlog "mini-series).  The next video is supposed to be about the time I lost my ability to walk/use my arms. That was a terrible time :(

Hope to record that soon! I'm happy to have found some time (the last two days) to just lounge around and do nothing, even with all I have to do this month.  I'm glad school was finished already (first week of Jan) so
I didn't have to worry about that...!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Houndstooth Infinity Scarf ftw!

I was browsing around on etsy a few weeks ago looking for a new scarf.  I came across a seller who was selling a nice houndstooth infinity scarf! When I saw it, I couldn't resist...so I bought it.

What's even better is this: before I got the scarf in the mail, the seller messaged me and thanked me for my purchase.  She also told me that because I bought this scarf, another scarf would be donated to someone in need! I had no idea that this was the case when I made the purchase.  In the email, the seller also asked me to take a picture of myself in the scarf as she wanted to compile a blog post or something with everyone who made a purchase of one of her scarves.  I was excited to get it.

The scarf would be coming from the States.  It came rather quickly..it probably took a week and a half.  When I took it out of the envelope that it was packaged in, this is what I saw!






How sweet!

So the scarf is gorgeous and I'm glad I got it.  I'm even happier that a donation will be made to someone else who needs a scarf.



Here's the link for where I bought the scarf, though my particular scarf does not seem to be available anymore :(

http://www.etsy.com/shop/juliemarieshop

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Operation: Venofer

 As per doctor's orders, I am going to administer 5 doses of venofer to myself: 1 for the next 5 dialysis runs.  Apparently my iron stores are low.  My hemoglobin is 103 (or 10.3) which is not bad for me, but my iron stores are on a downward spiral, and if I don't act fast with these venofer injections, my hemoglobin may begin to fall.

So, what's venofer again? Below is some cut and paste from drugs.com:


Venofer contains iron sucrose, a form of the mineral iron. Iron is important for many functions in the body, especially for the transport of oxygen in the blood.
Venofer is used to treat iron deficiency anemia in people with kidney disease. Venofer is usually given with another medication to promote the growth of red blood cells (such as Aranesp, Epogen, or Procrit).


Here is a picture of the vial:



So I draw it into my syringe while I'm setting up my dialysis machine:



I tape it to my dialysis machine's movable/adjustable screen so that I'll remember to use it!




Safety first! Gotta make sure to wipe the port before I stick my needle into the dialysis line to administer this stuff.



I only push 1cc of venofer per minute. If I push the whole thing quickly/at once, it could drop my blood pressure...and I definitely do not want or need to drop my pressure while I'm doing home hemo!




I checked my blood pressure immediately after administering the venofer to make sure my blood pressure isn't too low before I turn the lights off and go to bed.  My BP is not low. Perhaps maybe a little high! Heart rate is good though.  So I'll continue to do this for the next little while until I've done my 5 doses...then I'll wait for further instruction, probably after my next monthly blood work is brought in.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Canada Goose Trillium Jacket Review

I decided to do a review of my new Canada Goose Trillium Jacket.  It has really become my best friend on the colder days (not that we've had that many this season..!) But as someone who is anemic and gets cold easily...I'm quite pleased with the jacket!  For good measure, I also threw in a "Canada Goose vs. TNA Aritzia Parka" comparison as well.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Finally! Relief for my blemish/Acne prone skin!

I didn't always have acne. My skin used to be quite blemish free.  But after I was diagnosed with SLE...I don't know if it was the medications or what...but my skin exploded.  I had blemishes everywhere.  I'd wear tons of makeup in an attempt to cover it up...but little did I know that this was actually making the problem WORSE, especially since I finally figured out that the makeup I was using was simply making my skin worse.

I was one of those people who tried everything on the market. I tried proactiv, murad, clean and clear, obaji...the list is essentially endless. My skin simply was not responding.








I finally found something that made my acne go away, but there was a problem.  It made my skin look dull and lifeless.  I thought to myself...oh well, my skin may look dull and lifeless, but at least I don't have bumps on my face.  I can easily cover up the dullness with makeup!  But the last straw where that product was concerned was when I accidentally got some of this product on my pink t-shirt...and the spot on my t-shirt where the product landed changed colour...like bleach!  If this thing can bleach my clothes..what is it doing to my skin?? (It was benzoyl peroxide, by the way).

I decided to take a more natural approach.  I tried OCM (the oil cleansing method).  You can read about the oil cleansing method HERE. I really liked the idea of OCM but it did more harm for me than good.  It caused several little bumps to pop up on my forehead, an area that was usually not heavily affected by blemishes. I read that this could happen and that there was a "purging" stage that I would have to get passed...but I believe that I gave it a fair enough chance.  I had to find a way to reverse the damage that had been done.

After doing a lot of research which included a great deal of trial and error, I finally put together my own routine which seems to work quite well for me.


First, I wash my face both morning and night with African Black Soap.  There are a lot of soaps out there claiming to be African black soap, but you want to get something that is 100% black soap. I personally got mine at Black Onyx World.  The soap from Black Onyx world comes in a big bar, so your best bet will be to break it off into pieces (perhaps just slightly smaller than the size pictured below.  When the bar I bought from Black onyx world is finished, I will use the black soap that my parents bought me when they went to Nigeria.
In the morning, I would just dry my face and put a few drops of grapeseed oil in the palm of my hand along with some Solar protective moisturizer SPF 30+ (bonus: This sunscreen does NOT TURN YOUR WHOLE FACE WHITE when you put it on!!!)


African Black Soap


In the evening, I make a mask with the following ingredients:

Lemon Juice (half a teaspoon)

Raw Honey (1 tablespoon)


Rosenary Oil (one drop)

Vitamin E oil (2 drops)

Brown sugar (half a tablespoon)
I keep a set of measuring spoons in my washroom to use just for my face.
When everything is combined, it'll look like this.
I forgot to take a picture before I slathered it all over my face, but you get the idea! 


 DIRECTIONS:
1. Put the brown sugar and the honey into a small container and mix it well until combined.
2. After it has been combined, add the rosemary oil, vitamin e oil, and the lemon juice.
3. Mix until combined.
4. Apply to face and massage it in.
5. Look as pretty as possible until you are ready to wash it off!




After it has been on your face for a while, rinse it off with warm water. After it is all washed off, give your face a quick rinse with cold water to close up those pores.  I then moisturize with a few drops of grapeseed oil and Cerave lotion.

Why these ingredients?

Brown sugar: works as an exfoliant in this recipe
Vitamin e: some say that it is an anti-oxidant and good for acne scarring
raw honey: natural antiseptic (anti-bacterial), soothes and heals your skin while keeping it moisturized.
rosemary essential oil: astringent
lemon juice: good for lightening dark spots, rich in alpha hydroxys-great for exfoliating skin
black soap: reduced my outbreaks, kills bacteria, does a great job of removing makeup (and it is inexpensive!)

This routine has done wonders for my skin. (Yes, I have makeup on in this pic, but no amount of makeup could make my skin look like this based on the pictures above...!)

I

Now, for my foundation, I use mineral foundation by Valana Minerals.  This makeup not only matches my skin colour perfectly, but it does not break me out because it is made of all natural ingredients.  I am wearing it in the above picture. Another benefit is the fact that I do not get that "grey-ish" colour that I would sometimes get from the flash of cameras which would make my skin colour look "off".  I bought samples first before figuring out that I am "Gentle Amber" during non-sunny months and  a mix of Gentle Amber and "Red Amber" in the summer time. You only need a little bit and it has lasted me a long time.


Where do I buy all this stuff?
Organic Honey, Rosemary Essential Oil, Vitamin E oil, and grapeseed oil can all be purchased online at vitacost.com.  It doesn't really matter which specific brand you buy (i.e. you don't have to buy EXACTLY what is pictured), just as long as you buy the above things. Except, of course, the Solar Protective Moisturizer-that's a very specific name LOL.

If you would like $10 off your first purchase at http://www.vitacost.com, use the link HERE within 60 days of the date of this post

The above is a referral link; it will save you $10 and get you on your way to hopefully find something that works for you as well as it worked for me.

For my Canadian friends, the Cerave can be purchased and delivered for free to your home from Well.ca.  If you spend over $40 on other stuff, you can get $10 off of this as well! Just use the following coupon code:

mizflow



For the African Black Soap, you can purchase that at Black Onyx World Online, or your local African store.



For the Valana minerals makeup, you can purchase some samples and check it out by clicking HERE.


I hope that this post helped you out a bit and will make you think a bit differently when it comes to taking care of your acne prone skin and the scarring/hyper-pigmentation that comes along with it. What I like about the products above is that they can be used for other things.  Rosemary smells great and I use it in my hair steamer when I steam my hair.  I use my grapeseed oil in addition to regular body lotion on my skin after I take a shower, etc. I think it is all worth it.  And, the icing on the cake is the fact that most of the above products are organic, raw, natural, etc.  Even the Solar sunscreen is a much more natural sunscreen than others on the market...and it does NOT make your skin white!

All of the items mentioned in this blog post were purchased by me with my own money and I was not asked or approached to endorse anything.  The above routine worked quite well for me. After that benzoyl peroxide bleaching my shirt fiasco, I asked myself..how can I cure/fix/get ride of my acne without chemicals?  I think I may have found the ticket!

Extra bonus: the hypergranulotic dyscornification that my dermatologist diagnosed me with seems to be becoming less and less noticeable! Hurrah for the fading away of annoying white spots!!  




Definitely post any questions you may have below so I can try and answer any questions you may have!
 
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