Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wantable Accessories - June 2014

Sometimes some new jewelry just makes me feel better about myself. I don't have a ton of jewelry, and other than my wedding and engagement bands, I don't tend to wear jewelry every day (heck, I wear my wedding band every day but half of the time do not wear my engagement ring). However, I have a lot of friends who know how to accessorize and I want a bit of that! Wantable had a $10 off deal running on Facebook (I can't find it anymore) so I decided that I would give their Accessories box a shot. You get 3-5 accessories a month for $36 (or a one time box is $40). I've looked at blogger reviews and seen some great boxes, as well as a few that are just not at all my style. However, their questionnaire is pretty extensive so I figured I ran a good shot of getting at least one or two things that fit my style.

So, my profile says that I love bracelets and silver tone jewelry, and like classic style, rock 'n roll (I thought maybe an edgy piece would be fun), mix 'n match, necklaces, rings, hair accessories, and multi-tone. I didn't want to be too picky, but after receiving this box, I realize I should have been (and have gone in and updated my profile to match what I only want).

I like that the boxes always include a nice little message, and on the back is a quote. Some of my old ones from my Intimates boxes I've kept and used as book marks. I also appreciate that the box seemed carefully packaged. While there was nothing delicate, I do like that the items weren't just tossed into the box.

I received two headbands, the first of which is black and white striped. While I admit I have seen some people look awfully cute with this style of headband (the fabric wrapped around wire) I'm just not sure that I can pull it off. I have played with my friend's Cult Gaia headband and while it retails for more, it also feels like a much better quality than the two I received in this box. I also expected maybe one hair accessory not two, but that's okay. This feels kind of cheap, and I would definitely not pay $11 for it. Regardless, this is the "Addy Headband", and if I kept either of the headbands this would be the one - I have plenty of black in my closet and think this would go with many things I own.

The second headband is the "Bri Headband" and is not my style. While I think the pattern is cute, the colors do not work well with my hair color and I don't have a ton in my closet that would easily go with this. As with the "Addy Headband" I can't imagine paying $11.

Next is a bracelet - yay! I was hoping for a bracelet, and if I kept anything from this box, the "Amira Bracelet" would be it! I like that it's adjustable in size (some of my meds - I'm looking at you Prednisone! - make me swell a little). Also, while I was hoping for silver tone, I kind of like this mixture. I only have two pieces of jewelry that aren't silver, and my favorite is a gold necklace that was my grandmother's (my wedding band is white gold and engagement ring is platinum). This is a really fun bracelet and I could see myself wearing this to work or out with friends. It's not bulky, and I like that it has an interesting mixture. It also feels well made, so I doubt it would fall apart after a few wears. My sheet says that it retails for $21.

Lastly was a set of two necklaces. While I like that you could wear the "Kristen Necklace" together or separate it is NOT at all my style. Please file this under Holly things she is much edgier than she really is. Why did I select Rock 'n Roll? I have no idea. I thought maybe I'd get a bracelet with a few studs or something. I can't see myself wearing this necklace at all, and it's way too much gold for me. I went into my profile and took down Rock 'n Roll and multi tone - only silver tone for me now. This necklace retails for $29.

Why do I love Wantable? Even though this box was largely a miss for me, I'm not stuck with it. I just printed out a return label, taped up the box, and sent it back. When they get it, they'll credit the money back to me. To be fair, while this box did not fit my style, I still think there is a chance I can get some cool pieces, so I did order another box before returning this one. I still have hope!

If you're interested in trying Wantable, I highly suggest liking them on Facebook to get notice when they offer deals (around Mother's Day they did $1 boxes for new customers - I missed out on that, but several friends got the offer and had some great things! Had this been a $1 box, I would have been over the moon (and then swapped some items, for sure). However, if you can't wait, I'd like it if you signed up using my referral link

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Necessary Support

There are all different types of support, but I've found that my local Lupus chapter's support group is necessary for me. I know not everyone likes support groups. However, it works for me. It only meets once a month, and I love being able to spend time with people who really get it. While my husband, family, and friends try to understand (and are amazing), there's nothing like hanging out with people who are dealing with the same issues. I've also made some good friends.

Each month, we have a topic that we focus on and chat about (plus we catch each other up on what's new in our lives and get to ask questions). This past month, we had two new people, which is always nice when there are new faces. Even though I said it's nice to have someone who understands, we don't all have the same issues. For example, most of the people who attend the group I go to have systemic lupus (so, it can involve the whole body). There are at least two people who have discoid lupus (the type that Seal has - it involves just the skin). Still, we are on similar medications.

My husband comes when he can (he works probably half of the time), and I think it's helpful for him not just as the spouse of someone with lupus but also since he is a nurse. He said that since we started dating (and more so after he started going to the lupus group and getting to know the people there), his patients with lupus are some of his favorites. While his floor is more of a stroke and telemetry floor, lupus patients can end up there either because of those things, or if there are empty beds, anyone can end up there.

If you have lupus, check to see if there is a chapter in your area - they probably offer support groups. If you aren't into support groups, it may be worth talking to your local chapter to see if they offer anything that can help you. My chapter has had pamphlets I've used to help explain lupus to people, and they have given me lists of the names of doctors. Their patient navigator (Leslie, if you're in Ohio) is amazing! She also runs the new patient education classes, which I haven't been to (I've been diagnosed since I was 10) but I have had many friends attend and say it's very helpful.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Beauty Box 5 - Free Box

A few weeks ago, one of my friends posted that you could get a free box for signing up with the beauty subscription service Beauty Box 5. I figured what did I have to loose, plus if I liked it, it's only $12 a month. While it didn't look to typically contain higher end products (like Glossy Box), it still looked interesting enough.

My box arrived over the weekend, and honestly, I will not be subscribing. For free, it was fun and there are a few items that I will use. However, if I had paid the regular price ($2 more than Birchbox or Ipsy, if you get those), I would be really disappointed.

The first thing is three packets of Just Being Sexy! body bronzer. You'd think as someone who shouldn't be out in the sun body bronzer would leave me thrilled, but I tried one of these once (I got it in a swap) and it was much darker than I'd like and pretty orange on my fair skin. I received 3 packets, that are each 8 ml. The estimated value is $6.63 so half the value of the box.

Next up is a travel size Aveeno Positively Nourishing Calming Body Wash. It has a nice lavender scent, and I will likely put it with my travel stuff. I've used Aveeno body wash in the past, and they've never irritated my skin or left it too dry. This travel size has an estimated value of $0.87

The other item that I am sure I will use is some travel face wipes from La Fresh. The travel pack has 8 wipes ($2.49). I haven't tried anything from La Fresh, but have seen their products in a few different subscription boxes as well as have friends who use them. If I'm feeling achy or am in the hospital, I like having similar wipes to freshen up. When I was in college, I used baby wipes to help take off my makeup and didn't think that there was a big difference between baby wipes and face wipes, but now that I've given some a try, I definitely see a difference. If you're looking to just freshen up (really nice on a hot day if you're sweaty!), baby wipes do the job and are cheaper but face wipes are great at taking off makeup without irritating or drying out my skin.

There is also a face mask from Montagne Jeunesse, and they sent me the Glacial Cooling Facial Mask. This isn't a packet that contains a face mask, but rather a sheet face mask. If you haven't seen one, I will take a picture next time I have one on. It's basically a sheet with spots for your eyes and mouth - you take it out of the packet and the best thing to do is recline or lay back, and relax, while you wait for it to work its magic. The last time I had one on, my dogs would sit near me. This one is mud infused. I've seen masks from this company (they have a huge variety) at my local drug store for $1, although Beauty Box 5 says the value of this is $2.49.

The last thing is a sampler eye palette from BH Cosmetics. They gave me 3 small shadows from the California Collection (the full size palette has 16 shadows and 4 face powder, and runs $18.95). I haven't used anything from BH Cosmetics, so this may be fun to play with. I like that you could easily use the three shades together, or mix them with what you already have. I estimate the value a little under $3

Adding it up, if you go by my price on the face mask, the value is around $13.99 (I think Beauty Box 5 would put it closer to $15.48), which is more than what I would have paid. However, I feel like even the worst Birch Box I've received was a better deal. I like my little surprises and pampering things, but this just missed the mark for me. However, I've seen a few other people's April and May boxes and preferred them, so it's all about what you like.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Influenster Mary Kay box

I joined Influenster a while ago, and have had plenty of friends get free boxes of goodies sent to them. I like that you can review pretty much anything on their site (recently I've reviewed face wash, dog food, a dog brush, yogurt, etc). I don't log in more than a few times a week, just because I prefer other social media sites and don't have as much experience (if you're interested in joining Influenster, send me a message and I will get you an invite). I was pretty excited when I got an email that Influenster would be sending me one of their "Vox Boxes", and a makeup one at that! I wasn't as excited about it being a Mary Kay box than if it had been Urban Decay or Hourglass, but since I haven't tried a ton of Mary Kay I didn't want to pass a ton of judgement - and this is a great opportunity for me to try out some of their products. When I pictured getting a Mary Kay Vox Box, I imagined a small box that likely wouldn't have anything full size, but some generous deluxe sized samples. Imagine my surprise when I received a box bigger than my usual Birch Box.

I opened my box, and boom! Totally full of FULL SIZE stuff. Whoa, Mary Kay definitely was generous. Plus, I couldn't help but smile a little at a box that greets me with "Hello, gorgeous!"

On top was a Mary Kay catalog that was full of pictures, and even some nice makeup application tips. I still wasn't sure what all was included until I moved the catalog out of the way. Basically, Mary Kay gave me everything to do a whole face application minus foundation and concealer (although that isn't for everyone, but I'm a fan). There are even three brushes included!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April Birchbox

One of my favorite subscription boxes is Birch Box. It's only $10 and for every review you do of an item in your box, you get 10 points to spend in the store. Every time you buy something, each dollar equals one point. 100 points are equivalent to $10. I just bought four items (plus a free pick 2 mystery pack) that totaled $104.00. I had a 20% off code and also used the reward points I'd saved up and ended up paying $5.20 - not bad!

With Birch Box, each month you get 4-5 samples and while sometimes it's not something I am interested in, it's been good to get things that I normally may not pick out for myself. It's definitely had me step out of my comfort zone and discover some new things.

Since April is all about rain, they went with that theme (I've noticed that sometimes they'll pick a theme but it seems that no one's box has anything to do with it. Whatever, just go with it). So here is the card that came with my box this month, with all of my goodies hiding underneath:

In case you don't like spoilers (even though there are many different boxes), I'll put a cut here

Wantable Intimates

In happier and less serious chatter, I like subscription boxes. I don't get a ton, but they are a little something that I look forward to and greatly enjoy. One of my absolute favorite subscriptions is Wantable Intimates. Wantable offers three different subscriptions right now: intimates (undies, soft bras, loungewear, and socks mostly), makeup, and accessories (think jewelry, scarves, and sunglasses). Here's how it works: you fill out a rather in depth, but not annoyingly so, profile. This lets them customize exactly what you like. You mark things as love, like, or dislike. The cool thing is that you will never get items you mark as dislike. And my favorite part? Once you get your box, if you don't love it you can return it. It's possible to return portions, but I find that it's not worth it from a money stand point (unless you're absolutely in love with something). While it is one of my pricier subscriptions, the fact that I am likely to want to keep it but can return it if I don't like it makes it worth $36 to me.

So even though I gushed about how I love Wantable, you'd think this review would be about how much I love everything, right? Turns out I returned it. That's okay - it didn't take long after I mailed it back (you just print out the return label, tape it on, and send that box back to Wisconsin - no need to apologize or ask) and I had my refund in my bank account.

Here's what I got this month:
I should have taken individual photos, but I knew pretty quickly that i wasn't going to keep it - ah well, now I know for next time. I'll break it down though. This month (and you can switch it up from month to month!) I "loved" panties and camisoles, and "liked" soft bras.

Honeydew Intimates Scarlette hipster panty ($14): I loved this! I absolutely love Honeydew Intimates and own several items... including this panty (and in this EXACT color). I had no need for a second, but I took this as a sign that this is pretty customized and they at least have a decent idea of what I like. Anyway, this is a mixture of a very soft fabric, lace, and mesh. The back is slightly ruched and has the mesh at the back. It's comfy, cute, and a little sassy.

NikiBiki Camisole: While I liked the feel of this fabric because it was incredibly soft and stretchy, I wasn't in love. I do like pink, but it's a bit bright for me. It would be okay for lounging around the house but it's still a touch too loud for me. It also would have been the only thing I kept and as its value was around $20, it made it difficult to return the box (and I would never have paid $20-some for this, sorry!)

St Eve Tunic Cami ($15): this grey cami was just average. I happen to have a nearly identical camisole from Old Navy, but my cami is slightly softer than the St Eve one. I also noted a few strings hanging on this so no desire to keep it.

Nude Bikini ($??): I should have paid better attention, and Wantable's website no longer has the information for me (I feel like the brand was something like Creme Bralee?). I dislike bikini style panties and yet this one showed up. If it had been any color other than nude, I really may have kept it. The fabric was soft. I showed it to the mister and he was very indifferent. Return.

Am I bummed that I didn't really get to keep anything? Well, yeah. However, that's what's nice about this subscription - you can return it. Last month's Glossy Box was overall a dud for me (for example), but I'm stuck with it. Sure, I'll swap a lot of it away but I pay for stuff I won't use. I could also order another box for this month if I wanted.

If you want to join Wantable, here is my link: Wantable. Full disclosure, if you sign up, I do get $10 in credits.

When In Doubt, Check It Out

In one of the health classes I teach, I practically preach that if someone is doubting whether or not they are okay, it's worth getting it checked out. And if someone thinks that something is wrong, absolutely do not pass go, do not collect $200 - go directly to the ER or urgent care. If it involves any sort of chest pain, shortness of breath, or loss of consciousness - again, absolutely ER.

So on Sunday when I was experiencing severe chest pain and dizziness, I actually debated what to do. Of course, I kept thinking, those who can, do and those who can't teach. I can't follow my own advice. It also didn't help that my partner (an RN and soon to be MSN/FNP - that's a family nurse practitioner) was telling me that i just needed a nap. When the lower back pain in my kidney area started, I knew it was time to go to the dreaded ER. They're still figuring out what's wrong (I see my doctor on Wednesday) but they ruled out the emergency bad stuff (heart attack, blood clot, etc).

My point is, if you are in doubt if you're okay (or a loved one) or if you think something is wrong, then please please please get it checked out.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Weather Changes

I know that lots of other people I know with lupus notice that when the weather changes (especially drastically), our bodies suffer. I joke with one of my good friends that we always know it's going to rain before newscasters do because our joints ache the worst right before it rains. The last few days in Ohio the weather has been all over. Wednesday when I left to go teach, it was chilly enough that I grabbed my one of my wool winter coats (even though I despise wearing coats when driving anything longer than about 40 minutes - and this was a 90 mile trip one way). On my way home, it was finally feeling like Spring - I couldn't wear my coat even if it was a 15 minute drive. I even cracked my sun roof for a little bit!

Unfortunately, I've had more migraines than usual lately so I left my sunglasses inside the house, on my night stand. I tend to be a little bit more light sensitive, but luckily it wasn't too bright on my commute home. I stopped at one of my best friend's (it was about half way between where I was teaching that day and my house). It was so nice to just hang out and chat, plus spend time with her sweet little baby. Seriously, that child is one of the happiest babies I've ever seen and very smart!

Yesterday it was chilly, but not out of the ordinary for April in Ohio (around the 40s), it's now been raining on and off for two days. And since it's been raining for two days, I've been achy for two days. Naturally, my husband hasn't been feeling all that great (he thinks he has a bad cold) and is in the middle of working two days in a row - and he works 12 hour shifts, so he basically comes home to sleep, which I absolutely do not mind. I feel lousy because I hurt bad enough that I can't even wash the dishes in the sink all at once (I wash a few, take a break, wash a few). You'd think after dealing with lupus for over 20 years, I wouldn't be surprised by any of this.

I don't need it to be summer weather, but I just want the weather to decide on what it wants to be (preferably not rain) and stick with it.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's not all about me

It's true - it's not about me. While this is my blog and about my life, I would get bored always talking about myself. Right now though, my heart is with friends of mine. This past summer, my friends K and E were vacationing with their three children, and their middle daughter fell ill. She was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. Now, these are two of the best people I've ever been blessed enough to know. While I do not think anyone deserves cancer, hearing that they are dealing with this broke my heart.

They have been back in town, and things seemed okay. Their oldest daughter shaved her head for St Baldrick's Foundation, and I had meant to go be there (but had a stomach bug). I know at her age, I would have most likely never shaved my head. What a brave move!

Then last night, scrolling through Facebook while my partner and his brother played Wii, I learned that my friends' daughter is not doing well. Thursday she had an MRI and they found a mass that is growing incredibly fast. I can't begin to imagine her family's pain. If you happen to be reading this, please keep this family in your thoughts. If (and a huge if) they are able to operate on this little girl's tumor, it will involve cutting out some of her brain. If they are not able to operate, she will likely live a few weeks, maybe a month or two. This family has been so strong and so brave.

I have no more words.

Finally Spring!

I realize that it could very well snow next week, but for now I'm just happy that it's finally Spring! The sun was out for most of today and while it's still brisk out, I loved being able to walk to the mail box with just a sweater on (no coat or snow boots)!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

It's Not You, It's Me

No. Those two little letters are so difficult for many people to say - I've been hearing this more and more from my friends with chronic health issues. My mom doesn't have chronic health issues, and I've even been hearing it from her. I'm not sure if I'm just paying attention to people saying they can't (or feel obligated to not) say "no" or if people are feeling more obligated.

I don't want to focus on why people feel obligated to say "no", especially as there can be a litany of reasons. Instead, I want to focus on being able to say no, and my feelings surrounding it.

I've spent the past year, trying to say "no" when I either can't or do not want to do something - it was actually one of my New Year's Resolutions! In the past, I've pushed myself beyond my limits because (in most cases) I felt like if I said no, it showed weakness or that I was obligated to do whatever it was.

Here's an example: a friend of mine wanted some help and wanted me to come to her house. Unfortunately, this past week was not the best for me. I was rather busy with work, and on top of that had picked up some extra hours to help out a colleague whose wife is ill and I also had a deadline for my other job. I was frazzled. My partner also picked up extra hours at work. Plus, I'm getting over a flare. My friend asked me to come over and help her, and I offered up the day that I had most available. Unfortunately, that didn't work for her. I'll be honest, she guilt tripped me. I was crying out of sheer frustration and stress while texting her back, trying to explain that the single day my partner had off the whole week (for what it's worth, he typically works 3 days, as they're 12-13 hour shifts so working 6 days is a lot more than usual!) was the day before my deadline. She actually asked if I could come over that day!

Sorry... but not sorry. I need time for self care and also time for my partner... if I have any extra time. I used to push myself to my limits, and when I did that, I often ended up more sick. I do feel for my friend, I genuinely do. However, I can not help her if it will end with me missing a deadline, or ending up sick or bedridden in pain for a few days. If this had been an emergent issue for her, I would have considered it. I don't want anyone reading to think I'm a lousy friend. However, I also get a little annoyed when I feel that my friends aren't being considerate of me.

So sometimes I need to "just say no". And a firm "no" at that. I don't do a lot of "maybe's" any more. I try to be upfront with my friends. I knew after working several days in a row, plus being on a deadline would mean that I would need time for myself. (and self care is so incredibly vital, especially for me!) I've practiced saying no on my own. When someone asks me to do something, I now try to think about if I really want to do it, and if I do it, how will it impact me - if I help my mom paint her house, will that leave me possibly missing work? Then I try to consider if there are other options. For example, if I can't help my mom paint, is there anything else I can do that would help her without stressing myself (perhaps by helping to prep, gathering supplies, or evening bringing her lunch).

My internal struggle is that I care for my friends. I want to help people. However, I have had to learn to care for myself. Now, when I turn a friend down, I try to explain - it's partially for me and partially for them. I want them to understand why I'm saying no, that it has less to do with them and more to do with me (so I guess it really is true, "It's not you, it's me"). I try to talk with them about what other options there are. Most of my friends are amazing, and are very willing to adapt when I'm not feeling well. The first few times I gave someone a negative when they had a request, I was meek. I was so worried - would they be mad? Would they be put in a bad place? Overall, most people were like, "Oh, okay, no problem! I'm sorry you're not feeling well" (and in some cases, I was feeling okay but just did not want to push my luck). And remember, practice does make perfect - try saying "no" when you're just sitting there on your own. Roll those letters around on your tongue and try them out for size. And if they aren't the right size, carry on.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chronic Health Helpers

I'm always on the look out for things that will make my life easier, so I figured I would share my current favorites. Some of what helps me can be beneficial even if you don't have chronic health issues.

1) Be organized. Interpret this as you will. For me, this means carrying a little card that lists all of my medications and dosages in my wallet, and I recently copied it on to my phone (you would not believe how many offices just take the card). If you have a lot of medications, it is significantly easier to carry a small card than all of your medications. Plus, you would not believe how many medical professionals (mostly nurses) actually thank me for carrying this (my husband is a nurse, and he says it is completely usual for a patient to say, "Oh, I take that small blue pill. I think it's for my legs.. or headaches..."). I also keep all of my doctor appointments (and work schedule, husband's work schedule, birthdays, etc) in a planner. It may be overkill that in my house we keep a planner in our kitchen with all of that stuff in it. It's centrally located, and carries everything in it. I typically tape my doctor appointment business cards into the planner.

2) Have a pill case. It took a while for me to find a pill case that I liked. I only have two compartments a day, but the days split apart (fantastic for trips, or just an overnight). I use Apex's pill case, and my husband has the smaller version for his vitamins and one medication.I bought mine at, but have seen them at drugstores near me. This helps me not double dose, as well as having my meds at hand ahead of time is so helpful - think of a day when you're exhausted. Now you don't have to open all of your pill cases, because it's right there.

3) Take time for yourself. You need to relax a bit each day. It doesn't need to be several hours, but do something for yourself. I'm a fan of books, so I love to take some time at the end of the day to read and indulge that habit. I'm also a fan of baths, so I have a collection of bath bombs and the like - I love grabbing a cup of hot tea, a book or trashy magazine, and soaking for a bit. Sometimes I skip the reading material and just let my mind go.

4) It's okay to ask for help. I'll admit that I'm terrible at this, but getting better. I hate bugging people, and I often try to pretend like I'm physically okay. I've learned who I can rely on, and for what - so for example, I have a friend who is not great for talking on the phone but will hop over to my place on short notice. She's great for just having someone to talk to at home over a cup of tea or if I need a ride somewhere. 

5) Don't try to be Superman/Superwoman. Related to the previous "helper" - don't feel like you have to do it all or have everything be perfect. I spent so much time either trying to do it all and then ending up sick or feeling awful because I couldn't do everything I wanted. I have settled (and I don't think of settling as always a bad thing). Sometimes I need to prioritize both what I want to do and what needs done - and then think about my limits. This means that sometimes I don't vacuum my living room as much as I'd like, but if vacuuming meant I'd end up incredibly sore and out of "spoons", then so be it. (related: if you aren't familiar with the "Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino, definitely check it out). Find out your limits, and do not push yourself if you don't have to. Sometimes for me this means I have to change plans (often last minute), for example instead of going for a walk or shopping, I may do better just getting food or sitting around my living room chatting. Luckily, I have some really great friends and family who get this, which leads to...

6) Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. Shouldn't this be a given for everyone out there? I don't mean only be friends with peppy, upbeat people (well, do that if you want) - but surround yourself with people who support you. Obviously, some people are closer and more supportive than others, but that's okay. I have some family members who I do not consider myself close to because I just feel terrible after I spend time with them - why should I go out of my way to spend time with people like that? Honestly, I was afraid for a long time that my friends would not be there for me if I needed them, but it turns out that I have some amazing, wonderful friends (if you're reading: you're also all very intelligent, attractive, and funny).

7) Find out what there is out there that can help you adapt. For me, this means that we have a plastic can opener under one of our cabinets because I have a difficult time opening many containers. I also am a huge fan of GPS apps (I love Waze!) - I have brain fog often, so sometimes I just get a little forgetful and driving directions are incredibly helpful. I also utilize Post-It Notes (probably way too many).

8) Have a good medical team. I love (most of) my doctors. You need to have doctors that you can trust that you feel that they take your health seriously. If you have more than one doctor, you need doctors that communicate with each other. My lupus support group suggests keeping all of your health care in one health system, but I disagree. My doctors are not all in one health system because quite frankly, I have two doctors that I would not trade for the world and they are in different health systems - I'm not trading either of them, and the do communicate quite well. 

When I had lousy health care and couldn't (or not without lots of money) see my rheumatologist for several months, I called him. I was literally in my car on a lunch break crying and he called in medication because the other health system had me on a wait list (of several months). I had the "new" doctor telling me that I didn't take my health seriously (are you kidding me??!??!) and my lupus was flaring... and they'd see me in a few months. I called my old doctor (crying) with my lab results, and gave them verbally. The person I spoke to on the phone chatted with me, calmed me down, and assured me she would get the info to him and if I needed to be seen, they would work with me. When I left work, the woman I spoke to had left me a very kind message, telling me what to do and that medicine was called in to my pharmacy. I cried on my ride home - not because I was scared and overwhelmed but out of a sense of relief. 

Also know that you CAN fire doctors and medical professionals (to a limit). I was once in the hospital and did not like my nurse - now, please know I am married to a nurse, so I know what they deal with and I do try really hard to be a decent patient and understanding (okay, I'll be honest, I do not have much patience when I'm hurting). So I'm in the hospital, and this nurse is treating me lousy. She wasn't abusing me, but she was rude and she forgot one of my medications and said she gave it to me (but she did not). I also think it is ridiculous to be ready for pain medication, ask for it, and wait over an hour. I get that they're busy, but that sucked. Couldn't another nurse have brought me my medication? Well, only if the nurse had told them I needed it (no one knew). Turns out, this particular nurse had several complaints on her record. I politely asked for the charge nurse and requested a new nurse. Most hospitals also have an advocate, who I also spoke to. You don't have to do all that, but just know if you don't jive with someone, you can ask for another person. Think of it this way. If you went out to eat and ordered some ravioli. You're excited, you're a huge carb freak and love cheese, and are excited that they said they'd put vodka sauce on it. You're practically drooling because this is just what your stomach is craving. Then they put down fettuccine alfredo. Not the same. You can send it back and ask for what you originally wanted, or not say anything and quietly eat the food. It might still be good or it may be rubbery gross pasta so you don't even eat a few bites. 

Do you have any other "helpers"? Maybe I'll add some more later, but these are the things that have been the most helpful for me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Keeping it together when I am

A couple of months ago I was at an event for work. I had been excited about it for months, but also extremely stressed and had debated many times just not going. My business partner was shocked - why would I not want to be at this event that would be furthering myself, furthering my business, fun, and a great opportunity to connect? When someone I really don't want to see will be there. Maybe I'm just a wimp.

You see, I left a graduate program. I don't want to get into details but I do not regret my choice one bit (this often shocks people in my field). I made the absolute best choice for myself in that situation. Would I choose that same choice if outside factors were different? I have no idea. But I am comfortable with my choice. For several months before I left, my adviser was difficult to be around. My adviser was the opposite of supportive and helpful, even when things were smooth sailing. The first time I got accepted to present at a conference, instead of cheering me on or even wanting to chat (I would have loved to have someone guide me), my adviser said, "Oh. Well, I guess that's okay. That's a very small conference, and not very good. You better not screw up." Um, thanks?

I have chronic health issues before I ever applied for that program. This same woman mocked my health in front of my classmates. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It got a lot worse. I was crying at home most evenings.

So guess who I knew would be at that event? Her. I was so afraid of even seeing her that I almost didn't go. That's ridiculous! Luckily I got a grip on reality and realized it was a disservice to myself to avoid a wonderful occasion because someone who should not matter to me would be there. I would bet $20 right now that this woman did not even care (if she noticed) that I would be there. I psyched myself up, and had several friends who were so supportive (and I'm forever thankful to you people - I had the best text messages those few days). So I walk in the first day in an outfit that made me feel good. One of the first people I saw was a good friend of mine - off to a good start! I tried to not cling to the people I knew (I mean, come on, what was the worst this woman could do to me? A dirty look? Psh. Whatever).

And I didn't see her the first day! I wondered if maybe she didn't go. I was having a blast, and let my guard down. I actually let my guard down after about an hour because it was stopping me from fully enjoying myself. So I stopped caring. That's when I saw her - the second day at breakfast. I was seated at a table with new friends, and she walked past. Looking back, I'm glad that she didn't just make eye contact and move on. She stopped by, and we briefly chatted. I refused to look nervous (at least on the surface). You know what she did? She put down the event in front of a table full of people! I had to stop myself from laughing. I kept the conversation short, and basically signaled that I wanted to get back to the (amazing) people I'd been chatting with. I wished her well, and meant it.

I moved on. A few hours later I realized I wasn't anxious or upset. I was... calm? I was also proud of myself for not wimping out or running away. I faced it head on and lived to tell the tale

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Improved communication, thanks to a subscription box

Sorry for neglecting my new blog! But now I'm back.

I recently subscribed to the Fantasy Box (review coming) but wanted to mention possibly the best part for my partner and I, and it isn't what I expected. In the first box (and possibly others, I'm not sure) there was a short questionnaire for each person to fill out. It was slightly racy (it is an "adult" box after all), but not so racy that I would have felt uncomfortable talking about it. I would have been fine discussing our answers out at a dinner, depending on the restaurant, but I'm also a health and sexuality educator by trade so I tend to forget that not everyone talks about sex every evening (most of the time I'm not talking about my sex life, mind you). There were definitely some questions and answers that I could see making people blush.

A lot of the questions my partner and I agreed on, and I think if we had to, we could have predicted each other's answers. However, that said, there were a few that were a surprise! Some of the questions included when you most prefer to have sex, what you would love to see your partner in, if you are more of a leader or a follower, and where you would most like to have sex (answers included the back of a taxi, a friend's bathroom at a holiday party, or your living room with the windows open knowing your neighbors could see you).

Instead of just going through and discussing our answers, we took some time out to talk about the answers. After dinner, we sat together in the living room - no tv and no phones! We each had a drink and some candles lit - just to start to get the feeling of romance started (without laying on rose petals on the bed or anything). I totally expected the questionnaires to be the most boring part of the box, and didn't expect to get anything from it! I was pleasantly surprised, and think that they were interesting and fun. I would love to see questionnaires in the future. I know that while I'm pretty open and comfortable talking about sex, my partner is still getting used to that. And I totally get that! Not everyone is comfortable, even with their partner(s), sitting there chatting about a sex act they want to do, their favorite underwear on their partner, or sex in public (for the record, not really for us - have you seen the back of some taxis? Some are really clean, but it's still not for me. Plus taxis aren't as common where we live as other modes of public transit).

I've used checklists and questionnaires for teaching before - more as handing them out and encouraging students to use them for themselves (to discover things they may or may not like) and in a relationship. I'm definitely planning to unearth some that I've used for teaching and even if we don't go through them, at least using them to help communicate.