2019 has been a year of transformation for me. Probably one of the most emotionally/mentally transformative years I’ve had. It was a fucking hard year though and I haven’t had one of these “transformative” years since 2009. A decade later I went back on a journey to dig deeper in myself to find more happiness and be a better wife, friend, daughter, sister, and hopefully eventually mom. I became more spiritual in a sense of truly believing in the universe and a higher power’s plan. I’ve reached higher self acceptance and found grace within my mistakes and flaws. I’ve developed more love and understanding for those around me. I believe in myself and trust myself more than I ever had.
2009 was the first time I was strong enough to seek a better understanding of myself. To make a fully committed effort to deal with difficult shit and better my life for the future me I didn’t even know was ahead. Making the choices I did in 2009 set me up for the year of emotional exploration 2019 gave me. And I hope the work I have done this year will set my up for the me I will be in another 10 years. The past decade has given me some of the worst, lowest, and most confusing times of my life but also some of the best, most rewarding times I’ll cherish forever and all of those have shaped me as a person. I feel like we can mostly all say that in regards to a decade, especially one that spans almost your entire 20s.
Looking at the me in 2009 - little, fierce, scared but brave at the same time, confident in the future but so unsure about myself. Then I could never imagine what my life would be today because the journey has had many twists and turns. But now looking back I see the fight and passion in 2009 me and I can see how I made it to where I am. Although this isn’t what I imagined, it is better and what I am meant for in every way possible. I am thankful for the experiences both good and bad that have shaped me these past ten years and I know there will be equally and more emotionally turbulent events that this next decade brings.
Starting this next decade I wish for myself to continue to trust in a higher power, to gracefully accept things I can’t change, to use my passion to do good for others, and to fully appreciate every little gift life bestows me. Instead of going into the New Year with resolutions and things I want to change, my goal is to be the best me I can be everyday and be confident that doing that is enough. I want to leave behind expectations of what I "should" be and appreciate every bit of who I am and who I am becoming.
I hope that as you read this, you are thinking of what you have done to make yourself proud this past decade. I mean, you made it this freaking far, that is an accomplishment in and of itself. I for someone this is an inspiration to channel their strength into dealing with some difficult shit they are going through in hopes of a better future. I hope that someone is reading this and is like YES GIRL I am with you in this journey, because the journey is a beautiful place to be.
I am so ready for the magic this next decade has in store for us and I am feeling stronger than ever as I embark on this new adventure.
The holiday season means you will, more than likely, be dashing from event to event all December long. From meeting up with friends, office parties, spending time with family, and checking everything off of your pre holiday 'to do' list, chances are you are letting your regular nutrition, fitness, and sleep routines fall by the wayside. With IBD, this can be the time when flares and symptoms can hit the hardest. In my experience, I see this happen due to changes in my routine and added stress. It is also, of course, sick season so the more you socialize the more you are exposed to potential bugs that can knock you on your butt for quite a few days. Every year, I feel like I tweak my routine a little bit and become savvier in how to keep my health in check throughout the holidays while still being able to enjoy myself.
This year I have five tips that I am living by to help me make it through this crazy busy, festive month.
Vitamins and hydration
Holiday season means lots of eating and drinking outside of your normal routine, or at least the option to. I like to indulge a little when I can. Wine night with friends that are in town, dinner out to celebrate a successful year with my team, gluten free Christmas treats..... My usual rule of thumb is to let yourself enjoy what you want, while being mindful of how they will impact how you feel. It is all about the balance, baby. And honestly, this time of year we can get a little off balance and live your best life, and you should not feel guilty. That being said, during this time of the year, proper hydration and nutrient intake can become an afterthought to all of the holiday cheer. Instead of stressing, I am making things easy by sticking to a regemine I can keep conveniently in my purse everyday. I am making sure I drink at least one packet of DripDrop ORS for dehydration relief each day (more than one for sure if I am having a few glasses of bubbly). This is also key for if my Crohn's symptoms start acting up. Even when I can get those under control, the dehydration can keep me down and out for even longer. Mixing in a packet of DripDrop ORS everyday helps to keep me on my A-game no matter what my body is throwing at me.
I also make sure I take a quality multivitamin once per day. I have been taking Ritual vitamins for the past year and a half and absolutely love them. I can feel confident that no matter what weird combination of foods I'm grabbing from our holiday potluck, at least I am getting my core vitamins everyday.
Limit your plans - its okay to say 'no'
This one took me so long to actually live by. There are so many plans happening around the holidays, but you don't have to attend every single event you are invited to. I've realized that it is better to give your all at a few events you are really excited to attend then be half checked out at a laundry list of events that you only sort of care about. I also used to always feel really bad about saying no to events I would get invited to because I didn't want to let down the host. Well, let's be real, the host has so much going on, they probably don't really care one way or another. Not being rude, but unless you are the guest of honor, it is not a big deal. And if the host is a close enough friend, they would probably want you to be relaxing at home if that's what is best for you anyway.
As part of limiting my plans I make a list at the beginning of December of all of the things I want to do/attend and then I prioritize them. By adding the things I really want to do into my planner from the start I have a more realistic idea of what else I can commit to.
Work from home if your office is sick
If there is a bug cycling through your office, do yourself a favor and if you can, work from home. So many people will try to power through their illness and bring all of their germs to work with them instead of laying low at home. As someone with a compromised immune system, this does NOT sit well with me. If I notice something is going around and too many people are dropping like flies in the office, I try to limit my exposure. Whether that means staying in my office or requesting to work from home, this ensures that I can continue to get my work done and hopefully not succumb to the office plague.
Keep your sleep schedule regular
Sleep can be tricky when your social calendar is packed. You might be out late on week nights when usually your bedtime is 9pm or you may find yourself with extra time to hit snooze on your days off. The best thing you can do is keep your sleep schedule as regular as possible. I usually try to have an hour time frame that I go to bed and wake up routinely everyday (including days off!). If I am out at an event, I always set a target time for me to say my goodbyes and call an Uber, so that I can be home in time to do at least some semblance of my nightly routine and be in bed at a regular time. Of course there are exceptions and nights when you are having such a great time, turning in for the evening sounds miserable, and that's fine, stay out! Like I said, all about balance, baby.
If you have PTO take it
I can't tell you how many times I hear my coworkers talking about all of the hours of PTO they are going to lose at the end of the year. A lot of companies have a maximum amount of PTO that you can roll over to the New Year which leaves a lot of hours to be taken or lost. Most of us workaholics rack up time all year just to keep running ourselves to the ground until December 31st then starting all over again. If you have time banked up, please do yourself a favor and USE IT. It is your time, you earned it, don't feel guilty about taking off work to refresh yourself for the New Year. It doesn't matter if you are going on vacation or staying on your sofa watching Netflix for three days, either way, you're doing what you need to do to give you mind and body a break. This will help you to feel less rundown as you tackle the mid winter months, and hopefully help to keep you a bit healthier.
I hope you all have a happy and healthy holiday season full of B A L A N C E.
Next week kicks off Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Week (December 1-7) and I have a few fun things up my sleeve to celebrate and raise awareness. To kick things off, I’m excited to share some details about a live Q&A session being held by Nori Health. If you are an IBD sufferer and haven’t checked out Nori Health yet, first off, definitely do so. They are an awesome online resource to help with managing the physical and emotional impacts of IBD.
Their resident health coach and nutritionist, Lisa Booth, is hosting the webinars next week and focusing on nutrition and pain management while dealing with IBD. Lisa has coached IBD & IBS sufferers for years in her work for Ginger.io, 8fit and now Nori Health. She understands the challenges people with a chronic disease have to deal with, and helps them discover habit changes that promote an optimal quality of life. During Awareness Week, she is trying to make as big of an impact as possible by bringing the community together to answer questions and provide help.
Events that focus on both community and education are always my personal favorites because they provide connection and value. Nori’s focus on providing an optimized life with IBD in all facets, from physical wellness, to mental health, to social life, makes me bought into their mission even more.
I am so much looking forward to the webinar next week and it is totally free to sign up so you can join me. Click here for the sign up link and note the schedule below. Space is limited so if you’re interested, make sure to sign up ASAP!
Monday, December 2nd: Live Webinar “Managing Pain Through Nutrition”
Monday, December 2nd - Friday, December 6th: The online Q&A is open! You can ask your questions online and Lisa will provide answers.
Friday, December 6th: Live Webinar highlighting and answering the top questions received throughout the week.
I hope to chat with you all as we go through next week and continue to celebrate our community of warriors that fight this disease!
Today is Remicade day which means this morning I was packing my bag and getting my comfy clothes ready for a day at the doctor’s office. I’ve said this before in posts that I try and make Remicade day suck less by making sure I have everything on hand to relax a little and feel as comfortable as possible. If I am going to be stuck in an infusion chair all day, I must be prepared.
If this isn’t your first Remicade rodeo, you probably already know this whole scoop on what you need to bring with you, but if you are just starting out on your infusion journey, take notes! The first time I showed up for my infusion I was in my work clothes with my iPhone on low battery. ROOKIE FREAKING MOVE YALL.
First I start off with what I am wearing. I always go super comfy, even if I am coming straight from work, I bring a change of clothes. I usually go for leggings or a cute pair of sweatpants on the bottom with some layers on top. I always have some type of thin material shirt or tank top with a sweatshirt or sweater over top. Usually the office is pretty cold so I love being able to snuggle up in an oversized sweater. There have been times though where blood draws or IVs have gone amuck and I’ve been stripping down in a sweat trying not to pass out, hence where the cool layer comes from. I like to rock a fuzzy sock situation when it is cold, or Ugg slippers/Ugg boots. Heaven.
I am pretty much always working while I get my infusions since my infusion days are Fridays. I make sure to bring my fully charged laptop (+ charger just in case) along with a fully charged phone. Obviously these are critical for me being able to actually do my job, but if you are lucky enough to not have to clock hours during your infusion, some key items are necessary too. I highly recommend bringing a device to watch Netflix or a read a book on. I am also a huge fan of Podcasts and Audible, so I usually listen to something while I am working. Hearing the medical beeps going off for a few hours isn’t super fun so having something else to listen to/focus on is comforting.
For listening to whatever content you choose I highly recommend AirPods. I never understood how amazing these things were until my husband got them for me for my birthday. I love that I they are wireless because you’re already hooked up to so many cords, why do we need another? I also love that I can super easily take calls from the infusion chair. AirPods have awesome sound quality not just for the user, but somehow they basically block out the background noise for whoever is on the other end of the line. I always get super self conscious when I am working from the doctor’s office because a lot of my job is taking calls. I don’t want to have to explain to whoever I am talking to why I am working while hooked up to an IV. Just not a necessary part of doing business. So that explains why I feel AirPods are so crucial.
Let’s stop here to give a big reminder to ALWAYS BRING YOUR CHARGERS. I said it before, and I will say it again.
Next thing I have got to have in my bag is DripDrop ORS for quite a few reasons. Remicade usually means blood work and always means an IV. I used to be notorious for having shriveled up, hard to tackle veins. Turns out, being dehydrated was making it worse. Well I was dehydrated because by time it was Remicade time my symptoms were flaring and, well, you know the story. Now I make an effort to handle my dehydration with DripDrop ORS the morning off and during my treatment to keep myself hydrated. It is also miserable feeling sick and dehydrated while getting an infusion. Believe me, I’ve been there before, on the brink of passing out, trying to hydrate and get your blood sugar together with an old can of ginger ale. By sipping on a big waffles vigor of DripDrop ORS, I am making sure to keep everything stable inside, so all I have to focus on is getting my infusion and getting home to rest.
To continue on the whole keeping your insides feeling good and your blood sugar normal thing, I always pack a snack. Whether I eat it or not, it is always good to have a protein packed snack on hand in case you get shaky or lightheaded. I’ve also experienced complications and delays which have kept me at the doctor’s office a lot longer than I originally expected. This means that meal times can be messed up and you can’t exactly run to the local deli with an IV in your arm. I usually opt for Bhu Keto bars, almonds, or cheese sticks to throw in my bag and snack on. These also are not obnoxious things to eat in public so I’m not disturbing my other infusion center mates.
Hopefully if you are new to infusions this will help you prep better and if you’re a vet maybe you’ll be able to add a couple of my tips to your usual list.
What do you bring for a long doctor’s visit?
This post is about something I am super uncomfy talking about. I want to put it out there and get more comfortable because whenever I’ve shared things with this community it has lead me to more connection with other amazing ladies, often going through something similar. I mentioned this briefly in a previous post, that I took the leap and started talking to my doctors about fertility. Matt has wanted a baby since the moment we were legally married (and honestly before that) and I have been the master of excuses to push it off. Through a bit of self discovery I came to terms with the fact that I was actually truly terrified to be a mom. I had spent so much time focusing on just trying to get things stabilized to get through life, that it seemed such a distant possibility that me, myself, my body, could handle actually bringing a life into this world and then taking care of that life. To be honest, as soon as Matt and I started seriously talking about the potential of becoming parents, it triggered my anxiety to an ALL TIME HIGH. It is like every insecurity I ever felt about my body physically or emotionally bubbled to the surface, trying to convince myself that I would be a horrible mom and I was not qualified in any possible way.
I’ve been working through this for the past few months. As both a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, the thought of having a little being that I am responsible for and could potentially totally mess up feels absolutely terrifying. I mean, I am already crazy about caring for my dogs, how will we throw a baby human into this mix? Everyone keeps telling me, “You’ll figure it out”. And, yeah, I know we will. I’m resourceful and have basically played the figure it out game most of my adult life. What worries me is my body being on the same page as my brain.
As much as I know that rationally this thought is not healthy, I feel like it is my responsibility to bring children into the world for our family. I haven’t gotten this pressure from anyone else, but my own feeling guilty brain. No matter how many 'green lights' I get, somehow I still feel self conscious that something is wrong with me. Ever since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I have been told that pregnancy was going to be harder for me. I was also threatened with that when I was 18 years old suffering from an eating disorder. I will never forget hearing “If you keep doing this to yourself, you’ll never get pregnant and you’ll never have babies”. I get that those telling me that were worried about me and trying to scare me into ‘getting better’. Now it rings in my head every time I visit the Obgyn or see a baby in the grocery store.
I’m scared of ‘failing’ my family because my body isn’t ‘good enough’. The thing is, if a friend were to spill this situation to me, I’d tell them this way of thinking is totally irrational and they are being so incredibly mean to their beautiful body and hard on themselves. But when the dialogue is directed at yourself, somehow things always are narrated a bit differently, huh?
How do you get past the fear of ‘failure’? How do you believe in your body when you feel like it is out of your control? How can you trust this body to bring the most precious gift into the world when it is hard to trust it to make it through the work week.
I’ve been working on positive self affirmations. I’ve been living by the mantra, “You are doing the best you can”. I’ve been making lists of all of the amazing things my body can do. And I’ve been praying to the universe. It’s hard to share these fears with those close to you, because they are all so hopeful and they are the people you don’t want to let down. I’ve been following along with the journeys of strong, inspiring, and truly amazing women on Instagram. Some of them I have the pleasure of knowing and some of them, just strangers, who are brave enough to share their stories with those who need to hear it. I know that my story has barely begun and it might sound crazy to those who have been through so much that I am so initially paralyzed by fear. But this is how it is, and I’m working to be okay each day with just doing the best my body and mind possibly can.
Got a little real on this one, and I hope to feel inclined to continue to do so. Please drop me a message if you are a fellow spoonie, member of the chronic illness community, or struggling in a similar situation. Let’s stand by each other.
Photo by Jade Nikkole Photography
We touched down back in Baltimore today from our week look vacation. As much as I didn’t want to come back to real life, I am happy to be reunited with my pups and sleep in my own bed. The day we get back from trips is always full of trying to get us set back up for the rest of the week. Unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, trying to make the transition back to the daily grind as easy as possible. My to do list isn’t just full of chores though. I also make sure to take some time to reset my body after being on a different schedule (and potentially being jet lagged). I also prepare for my week and get organized so the 'back to real life' anxiety is kept to a minimum.
Rehydrating is priority numero uno. Usually while I’m unpacking I put on a hydrating face mask to combat any dryness from being on the plane. This past trip I tried this new face mask from Summer Friday’s call Jet Lag, so fitting right? I've also been liking the Drunk Elephant Lippe Balm to help any dry or sunburnt lips.
I also make sure to rehydrate my insides too. This is probably the most important part of my reset routine. If I don't rehydrated properly after traveling I feel pretty miserable and that on top of a post vacation slump is not fun. I usually carry DripDrop ORS on the plane with me so I drink one packet on the flight and another once I get home. On top of the usual dehydration from flying/ traveling I pretty much always have some type of Crohn’s symptoms when I’m away and out of my normal eating routine. This always requires a little extra dehydration relief to make sure I’m feeling good once I’m back to business. I notice, too, that the more dehydrated I am the more my skin will freak out from climate changes between destinations. I think of dehydration relief as the ultimate way to reset my body and make sure I am fueled and balanced to get back to the grind. DripDrop ORS also helps to pack in some extra vitamins that can help prevent getting sick from the nasty germs you can pick up on the plane. Win, win situation overall.
Whether I traveled through different time zones, jet lagged or not, I like to keep my nighttime routine consistent and calming. I make a cup of mint tea with some CBD oil to help me sleep and enjoy this while reading. I always feel the anxiety build in me as the clock creeps closer to having to go back to work. I try and limit this anxiety by trying to stay as relaxed from my trip as possible as long as I can. By getting a good night sleep, I’m more physically and emotionally equipped to handle playing catch up at work when I am back in the office.
The last thing I do, is block out an hour of the day to read critical emails and map out the rest of my week. It’s easy to wait until the morning you return back to the office to catch up, but to me that feels dreadful and chaotic. By feeling prepared and organized for the week of ‘real life’ ahead, my anxiety is lessened and I know what to expect. I make sure to plan my meals and time to move (walk, at home workout, gym) so I can get back into my routine as quickly as possible.
Right now I’m snuggled up on our sofa with our pups, catching up on our shows, and feeling as ready as I can be for the week ahead. What do you do to get back into your routine after a trip?
Okay, so if you read my most recent post on my health update, you know that I recently started seeing a new primary care doctor. So far she has been great and I am super positive about my switch. One of the things I really like about her approach, is that she really strives to see the bigger picture, instead of just focusing on all symptoms separately. This is so critical when you are dealing with autoimmune diseases since they manifest so differently in everybody and their symptoms can be tricky to pin down. I wanted to share a conversation that we had because, number one, I really liked how she approached it, and number two, this advice may be able to help other IBD sufferers. Full disclosure, I am not a medical professional, or qualified to give any medical advice. What I can do, is share my experience in hopes that it may inspire you to have similar conversations with your doctor.
Our main discussion was around a few concerns I have had over the past few months, related to weird symptoms I was experiencing. I couldn't tell if these were related to Crohn's symptoms, medication side effects, or some other issue entirely. I had been getting headaches as well as spikes in my blood pressure pretty frequently. Usually my BP runs pretty normal and stably, I've been hooked up to vital machines every six weeks for the past four-ish years so I know. I had exams, blood work, EKGs, the whole nine yards done, but no one could figure out what was going on. Everyone was assuming these were due to my anxiety, which could be the case some times, but honestly I feel like my anxiety has been more in control over the past few months than it has ever been. Things weren't adding up.
My new doctor and I started having conversations around this and we uncovered the almost annoyingly simple answer. In my frustration I ranted about how my Crohn's symptoms being better the past few months, obviously not gone entirely, but things have been under control. I went on about how conscious I was about taking care of my body when my symptoms were bad and how I don't understand why something else seems to be wrong now. Then the question of how much water I was drinking came up. Of course I make sure to stay hydrated! When my Crohn's is bad I actually HAVE TO pay attention to my hydration at all times to make sure I don't end up in the hospital. Things started to click together as I explained my diligent hydration routine. I realized that since my Crohn's symptoms have been better, my avoidance of dehydration had slipped to the back of my mind. When I was doing a physical activity or out in the sun I was always careful to pack a DripDrop packet and track my water intake, but as far as day to day, for some reason I guess since I wasn't losing as much water due to my symptoms, all was well. This is NOT THE CASE. My symptoms aren't gone completely so I am still at a higher risk of dehydration, but I was acting like this wasn't even a factor anymore.
As we pieced this together I honestly felt like an idiot. She explained how your blood pressure can be seriously impacted by dehydration and I needed to make sure that was a priority even if I was seemingly feeling fine. She was convinced that the chronic dehydration I had recently been unknowingly experiencing was the cause for my blood pressure spikes. I was cracking myself up with how crazy this sounded after I went through all of these tests and freaked myself out to no end. "I have a partnership with the best Oral Rehydration Solution company out there. I drink them whenever I work out or am outside or am sick." I was literally yelling at myself in her office. "Well start not just drinking them when you think you 'need' to. Start drinking one per day at least and two in the summer." My doctor literally just prescribed me DripDrop to fix my BP and headache issues.....
Over the past six weeks or so, I've been taking her advice and making sure I am being way more conscious of my water intake and making sure I am adding DripDrop to my water at least once per day. I also have been diligent about the one glass of champagne to one glass of water ratio rule, which I am very proud of. Go. Me. Miraculously my headaches have improved and my blood pressure has been way more normal. Wow.
So what did I learn from this story and why am I sharing it. One, I am thankful I have a doctor that actually thought of chronic dehydration instead if just trying to prescribe me an unnecessary pill. Two, sometimes the seemingly more simple answer is the right one. Three, just because you are feeling okay doesn't mean you can slack on your usual care and precautions. Last thing, I was really excited to share this story because DripDrop genuinely has helped me so much. I know I talk about DripDrop often and how it is a product I am proud to be a partner to. But I also know in the world of social media where bloggers are promoting products all the time it is hard to tell what is authentic and what isn't. I like being able to share a story like this, where you can see how DripDrop truly is a part of my health protocol. It isn't just part of an Instagram post, or a blog post. This isn't just a lifestyle product I am taking cute photos of (although, yes, I think they are very cute). This is a product that changes lives and saves lives. And I am very proud to work with them.
It has been a while since I’ve shared a health update. Over the past few months it feels like nothing has happened but everything has happened at the same time. My Crohn’s symptoms have been under control for the most part, which has been a relief. I still have rough days (like today, ugh), but I can usually pinpoint the trigger and get things handled before they spin out of control. Usually the typical things are to blame, either having to push back Remicade, increased stress, or accidentally eating something that bothers me. While I feel like I actually have things somewhat under control, I’m embracing it! I also am feeling hopeful about looking at things in the bigger picture health wise and future wise instead of focusing on just getting by. The past six months have been focused around making sure other areas of my health are up to par. I’ve been working on my mental health, following up on skincare concerns, and I found a new primary care doctor. There are a lot more details through these appointments, which are definitely important and I will share in the future. For now, I'm giving you the high level overview.
As I got my ducks in a row health wise, I finally felt like I was getting some positive news. This gave me some confidence to start exploring some new possibilities. I finally took the leap and started to talk to my doctors about fertility. AHH! I know just talking about it might not sound like a big step, but for me, it is! I have had anxiety around these conversations for a long time, because I was so self conscious about how my body functioned. What if I heard answers that I couldn’t handle? So I just avoided asking. Through talking things through with Matt, I finally decided I needed to take control of what our future family was going to look like, and get educated on what that was going to look like with Crohn’s. My OBGYN referred me to a Maternal and Fetal Medicine specialist, which began the first step in learning what pregnancy and fertility could look like for me. I was incredibly nervous for my appointment, but it ended up going a lot smoother than I thought. I sat down with my doctor and we walked through everything from my medical history to my current medications. She let me know about potential risks, along with easing my mind about things I shouldn’t be anxious about. We talked through timeline, what my appointments would look like in the future, and how pregnancy can look a little different for someone with Crohn’s. Afterwards, I took the next step and followed up with my new primary care doctor. After some blood work and tests, I got the green light that my body is actually functioning pretty well even with the Crohn’s.
Although I don’t have a specific plan as far as timeline, taking these steps have helped me feel more confident that my body can handle being a mother someday. We’ve started the conversation and now I can approach it with a more realistic and informed view, instead of coming into it anxiety ridden. This is just the very beginning of this journey, and I don’t know what speed bumps I may hit moving forward. For now I am appreciative of this time where my body has been feeling better and allowing me to explore these options. I am proud of how far I have come in both my physical and mental health so far in 2019 and I am giving myself the opportunity to celebrate that. As I continue to sort our my thoughts and experiences from the past few months, I will share some more details and I will continue to share as I move forward. For now, I at least wanted everyone to have an update on where I have been health wise. I feel like in the past I’ve shared the challenges I have faced with my health, so it is a blessing to be able to share some bits of positive news with you all!
The incoming of summer sunshine reminded me that I was overdue for my annual dermatology appointment. I made an appointment to be seen this Friday and have a nice skin check up to make sure all is well. I never used to put much thought into skin abnormalities because the chances of it being skin cancer seemed so far fetched to me. This was seriously naive behavior considering both of my grandfathers have a history of skin cancer and in college I was visiting the tanning bed like it was my second home. Bad. Idea.
As I took more of an interest in skincare I realized how horribly I was ruining my skin by baking it in the sun. I started lathering up with SPF instead of tanning oil and called it a healthier lifestyle. Once I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, my awareness of the risks of skin cancer heightened. The more research I did, the more I understood the link between Crohn’s and skin cancer. The immunosuppressants us with Crohn’s are often on, can highly increase the likelihood of skin cancer. While the exact reason for this link is not 100% explained yet, the correlation can’t be ignored.
I started lathering SPF 50 all over my face, neck, and hands on the daily. I started covering up my scalp while on walks with my dogs. And I started spending a whole lot more time under the umbrella while on the beach. The risk of skin cancer is not worth a balmy glow I can easily get from a bronzing lotion. Even if you are not at a high risk for skin cancer, the sun is the most damaging thing to your skin. Is it worth getting prematurely wrinkled? I vote no.
All things in the table here, I am a firm believer in regular dermatology evaluations, especially if you have an autoimmune disease/ are on immunosuppressants. No matter how much you do to protect your skin now, you can never be 100% immune to the dangerous effects of UV rays, and sadly, the damage you have done can contribute to problems you may face now or in the future.
Obviously none of us are perfect. There have been days I forget my SPF and there are days I’ve spent too much time in the sun in favor of a good time with friends. I’m not saying you can never allow your skin see the light of day because, let’s get real, that’s super unrealistic. What I am saying though, is that you can do your best to 1. protect your skin and 2. do your due diligence with check ups.
Hopefully I’ll be reporting back after my appointment tomorrow with good news of no skin concerns. Until then, I wanted to leave you all with a few kick ass sunscreen recommendations. These are a few of my favorite products that infuse my love of skincare with the responsibility of protecting my skin.
Drop me a comment and let me know your SPF loaded product recommendations. I’m always in for a good new product to try.
Photo by: Madison Short
It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about me. I talk about what trips I’m going on, products I’m trying, recipes I’m cooking. But, it has been a while since I’ve pulled back the curtain and given an update on what is going on behind the scenes of social media perception. Honestly, when things are feeling crazy in my life, it is a whole lot easier to keep my content light and airy. It is an escape from having to deal with the hard stuff. The thing is, the reason I started this blog in the first place was to talk about that hard stuff. The outfits, beauty products, vacations, and shopping recommendations are an added plus. Through feedback I’ve gotten, I know it is the hard stuff that makes the most impact and means the most in this community. It is also Mental Health Month so... what better a time than now?
The past two and a half years have been a total whirlwind. I bought a house, I got promoted, I bought a new car, I moved into my house, I got engaged, I got married, I planned another wedding, I had a big wedding, I planned a honeymoon, I went on a honeymoon, I finally feel like I got my health under control. And last fall I freaked the fuck out. It was literally the weekend of our first wedding anniversary I had an anxious meltdown. I had done so much and checked so many things off my list over the past two years, what do I do now? I thought it was just me being affected by the season change and feeling a little more down in the dumps. But, as I continued to have overwhelming anxiety week after week I called my mom because I knew I couldn’t keep being that miserable.
When I talked things through with her, it really made me realize what was going on. For the past two years I had been going, going, going. It had been great. I had been achieving goals and conquering huge life events. I had been in a constant state of planning, working, and productivity. I was at a point where I had so many big things planned, that once they were done, I was lost. I’ve always been someone who need to feel constantly productive and if I can’t be I pretty much lose it and shut down. Don’t worry, I’ve been in therapy for this for a long time. I also love and crave the stability of always knowing what is next and having a plan.
So here I was, coming out of my first blissful year of marriage, not knowing what is next. People were asking me left and right when I was going to have a baby, as if that were the only logical next step in my relationship. Was I a horrible person because I selfishly wanted more time to spend with just my husband? I came out of busting my ass at work only to find I don’t know what my next step is or what I am working towards. I was happy in my house, with my dogs, with my family, with my life. But I felt so, so sad and hopeless. For absolutely no apparent reason. My anxiety was back in full swing and my OCD that I struggled with as a child was back and terrorizing me. This also truly didn’t make sense to me because my Crohn’s was the most under control it has been in years and everyday was no longer a fight. But what do I do when I’m not just fighting to get by? Its like I had no idea how to function in a calm world.
I started up therapy again and I have gotten medication to help with my anxiety and OCD. Its a work in progress to simply be happy with how things are instead of always chasing the next achievement. I am getting there day by day and I’m also being a lot more open with what I’ve been going through. I was reluctant to share how I was feeling before, because I felt ungrateful. If I was sharing how anxious and unhappy I was when I was blessed with so many things in life people would 100% think I was a selfish, crazy, asshole. Turns out, that is not the case and the more I share, the more I realize there are a lot of other women (and men) out there going through the same thing or who have gone through it before. Its like you have an emotional hangover that you can’t get rid of. It can happen after a big life event, after achieving a goal that you’ve been working towards, or coming back from an amazing vacation. I just listened to The Skinny Confidential Him & Her Podcast episode with Mark Mason and they were literally talking about exactly this. For those of you who don’t know, Mark is the insanely successful author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck”. If he feels this emotional hangover and is so wildly successful, that in a weird way, made me feel even more validated in my feelings. The fact that he shared his experience so openly AND wrote his next book about it too, is a testament to his vulnerability and drive to help others. I recommend for everyone to listen to that podcast episode because it may make things click just a little more. It might make you feel like you’re not alone and it is valid what you are feeling. Or maybe this post will do that for you too. Who knows?
I think we all have our own “why’s” behind why we get this dark, heavy feeling. I haven’t figured out my “why” yet because, truthfully, this is always how I’ve been, and it's probably going to take years for me to unravel the root cause. Over the past 5 months, I’ve been working on balancing being happy with the now while still moving forward to whatever “next” is. Its been a test of my patience, self awareness, and mindfulness. While it hasn’t been easy, I feel so much better and more equipped to deal with life in general. My anxiety can still be crippling some days. I might have meltdowns about stupid shit. But, hey, at least I am owning it. I don’t know what is next for my family, my career, or pretty much anything else in life. Do we ever really know? Instead of focusing on the unknown I’ve been focusing on embracing that wild freedom of the universe and appreciating it for what it is.
I know this post got a little deep, but I feel like it needed to happen. I’ve been focusing inward so much the past few months and if you have noticed or not, I felt it would be beneficial to provide some context. As you all know, mental health is something I am very passionate about, whether it is in relation to chronic illnesses or a stand alone battle. It is something that impacts me, my family, my friends, pretty much everyone I know, in some type of way. Whether it be for fear of being judged or other reasons entirely, a lot of us suffer in silence. In today’s world that seems absurd. We are sharing what we have for every meal on Instagram but we aren’t addressing something that has such a large and painful impact in our lives? I hope moving forward we start sharing more about the real shit.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.