Wednesday, March 26, 2014

fabfitfun VIP spring 2014 box review

hi everyone!  i am so stoked to share with you my very first fabfitfun VIP box!!  i first heard of this box through another blog that i follow, tickled pink in the rain, and it seemed like a really cool thing.  i love beauty boxes and this one seemed like it had even a little extra towards the fitness part of it, and since i always am willing to try new things to stay healthy (since it's always a struggle for me!), i thought i would give this a shot.

what is the fabfitfun VIP box?  this box was started by giuliana rancic and is delivered once per season, or four times per year (spring, summer, winter, fall).  each box has that season's theme, and contains a variety of beauty, wellness, health, fashion, and fitness products, with a minimum of $120 retail value, for just $49.99 per box.  two items are revealed per season in the weeks leading up to the boxes' release (you don't have to find out what they are if you don't want to) and each box is limited edition.  you can check it out here, and use code SPRING5 to get $5 off your first box!

let me say to begin with, i was kind of hesitant about this box.  i looked at the products in the past boxes and they all seemed pretty nice, but $50 seems kind of expensive to me for a box.  granted, it's only quarterly, and the guaranteed products' worth is at least triple what i would be paying for the box.  but i was on the fence about it.  i have tried a bunch of beauty boxes in the past that i have ended up unsubscribing from just because, as someone who is chronically ill and doesn't have the social life that i used to, i don't use all these products that other people might, and would rather spend $50 on a quality pair of sweatpants than on a bunch of makeup that will probably just sit in my drawer.  but, eventually, i thought, what the heck, and i signed up.  and you know what?  i am VERY glad i did!

the team at FFF obviously don't know i have a chronic illness but the products that were in my box this season were so beneficial for someone like me!  i'm really happy about everything i received and am going to get good use out of all of it, and that's hard to do with a surprise beauty box.  so let's dive right in and let me show you what i got!!

to begin with, i thought the shipping was pretty good.  i got my tracking number on the evening of march 19, and i got my package on the afternoon of march 24.  that's pretty fast, especially considering the tracking number was sent at night and there was a weekend in there.  the box it came in was just a plain black cardboard box, and when you opened it, it was bursting with color!  i love nice packaging, and this was great.  everything was wrapped in tissue paper and the hot pink was a great contrast to the black.

when i opened the box, i was pretty surprised at how bursting it was with products!  i could tell right away that i had definitely gotten my money's worth, and was happy that i had ended up subscribing.

kai perfume oil  (retail value: $48)

so the first product i pulled out was this kai perfume oil.  i think the packaging is really nice and simple, and holy crap, it smells AMAAAZING!  i'm a sucker for floral scents, and it smells like this lovely mix of gardenias, lilies, roses... just like you stuck your face in a bouquet of the most amazing freshly cut flowers.  i sat there like a doofus for a good five minutes just sniffing, sniffing, sniffing... the dogs thought i was crazy but eh, what's new?! ha :)  but seriously, it's awesome.  it says that it smells different on everyone, which i think is very interesting.  it is a rollerball application which is nice, so you don't have to worry about it spraying everywhere if you carry it in your purse.  plus, it's a pretty big size at 3.7 mL and this product alone is over the price i paid for the entire box, plus i will strongly consider repurchasing it since i love the smell so much.  score!

cover fx spf30 protection primer (retail value: $38)

the next product is this face primer from cover fx.  i had never tried their products before, but i like face primers in general, and i love any face product with spf.  i am prone to having my moles develop into pre-cancerous lesions, so i am always careful to wear spf every day.  this is a great way to get extra coverage on my face!  plus, it's water-resistant (a big plus in the super humid northeast), paraben-free, gluten-free, mineral-oil free, talc-free, and vegan.  it also says it's fragrance-free, although i did detect a slight smell.  it doesn't bother me at all, and it was that baby powdery/clean smell, so it is a nice one, and not strong at all.  it goes on easily and sinks right in without being greasy or oily, as some primers tend to do.  it's a full fluid ounce, which is a lot of product to be able to decide if you like it or not.  at $38 i don't think i will be repurchasing it after this tube runs out, but i do appreciate it in my box.

merrithew mini stability ball and dvd (retail value: $28.94)

i was very pleasantly surprised by this being in my box, as i've never seen anything like it in a beauty/fitness box!  it is an exercise dvd that is 88 minutes long (with 48 minutes of actual exercises), containing 16 exercises designed to strengthen your breathing techniques and affecting your posture, your core muscles, improving your mobility, and breathing away your negative tension, using the included stability ball.  the exercise difficulty level is the easiest level.  i have to say, i am really pumped about this!! anyone with chronic pain knows that it suuuucks to try to exercise!  the pain is sometimes just so overwhelming that it's hard to go out and get the freakin' mail, let alone try to walk (or, gasp, run!) a mile, let alone try to contort our bodies into some crazy yoga poses or something like that!  and for me, with my heart condition, i have to be very careful of what type of cardio i do, because my heart rate shoots up faster than you can say heroine.  so this seems like it is going to be really great -- easy level, easy poses using a stability ball, breathing techniques that even *i* can do, building up my core muscles -- woohoo!  can you tell i'm excited to try this?!  plus, they included a 15% off coupon for my purchase at the merrithew store, sweet.

dermasuri deep exfoliating mitt (retail value: $19.99)

this mitt is freakin' awesome, let me tell you.  i have been searching for some sort of an exfoliating glove/product for a long time, and haven't been able to find one.  with my fibro and other problems, my skin is very sensitive.  loofahs seem to be too soft and don't do enough exfoliating, but even a lot of the sugar scrubs or those harder scrubs that come inside of soaps were way, way too rough on my skin and hurt too much to even use them.  this mitt is the perfect inbetween texture!!  it is slightly rough but not too rough that it hurts my skin.  the bottom has an elastic band so that it won't come off of your hand while you are scrubbing, and it has a large, double-sided surface area so that it is easy and quick to do your scrub down.  there was also a 25% off coupon included with this as well, which i plan on using to order another of these gloves!

cult gaia turband (retail value: $48)

this was probably the most anticipated item of the box, at least in my case.  this item, along with the kai perfume, was one of the two items that was revealed in the weeks leading up to the shipping of the boxes.  this is the cult gaia turband, which is a sort-of headband accessory from the brand cult gaia, which is super big right now.  a lot of celebrities have been seen wearing these, and it's the big trend for spring.  the first picture is a picture from the so that you can see what they look like when they arrive.  they are kind of strange when they come out of the package, just a weirdly bendy length of fabric.  the magic about them is that they have a fairly thick wire in them that allows them to be twisted and bent in all different ways, making them really versatile and useful.

i was somewhat disappointed at the pattern i got.. i saw a few people's boxes before i got mine, and i really really REALLY wanted one of the cherry print ones.  however, this print is really adorable and will actually match more clothes that i have, so it's okay.  it also reminds me of taylor swift and we all know how much i love taylor swift, so.... :)  i was also kind of hesitant because i am not a big headband girl because they also slide off my head, but i LOVE this turband!!  it must be because of the wire being able to mold to my head, but it does not move.  at all.  it's wonderful!  in the picture, i twisted the ends once around each other and then tucked the tails under the sides, but i've seen other people do it so many other ways and they all look adorable.  these will be perfect for summer, and the wire will help so much to keep them on my head when it's slippery and sweaty!  they also included another coupon (loving all these coupons!!) for 20% off cult gaia so i can get that cherry print one i wanted too.  ;)

oscar blandi pronto dry shampoo invisible spray (retail value: $25)

i have heard so many raves about this product but for $25 i just haven't been able to justify it to myself, so i haven't gotten it.  some things i can justify spending the extra money on for good results, but i buy the tresemme dry shampoo that works great for me and that's like $7? dollars i think?  but anyway, i was really excited to see this full-size (!) can in my box so that i can finally try it.  it's a super hassle for me to take a shower (standing up too long causes pain, hot water makes my heart race, it makes me so tired i usually have to lay down after, etc etc) so i don't wash my hair as often as i would like to, and i really rely on dry shampoo to get me through.  i am pumped to see this has a "no white residue" promise, so that i don't have to go out looking like i need to dye my greys.. that's always a nice look, haha.  but anyways, i am very happy about this, and once again, another 20% my next order at their website!

level naturals shower bombs (retail value: $7.99)

these shower bombs were the one and only product in my box that i did not like, and it's not even their fault.  they seem really awesome... you put one in the bottom of your shower, and the organic menthol&eucalyptus-scented bomb mixes with the steam of your shower to create a spa-like experience right at home!  it has tea tree oil in it to help relax your feet (and it's good for your skin), and a bunch of other stuff to relax you and help you unwind.  they seem great and i'm bummed i can't try them, but since i was little, the smell of menthol has made me super sick to my stomach.  =(  as soon as i opened the little box these were in, i had to quick take the photo and put them in a plastic bag.  eek.  i am giving them to my mom, though, who i am sure will love them, as she loves eucalyptus.  if they were another scent, i would be thrilled about them.  either way, i think they are a great addition to the box and would be a nice thing for someone to relax with!

the better chip spinach and kale with sea salt (retail value: $1.99)

the last product from the box, these chips are a gluten-free corn chip made with spinach and kale, with sea salt.  i thought it was a nice touch to add a food product in with everything else, and a healthy one at that!  it's hard to find good, gluten-free snack foods that don't taste like dried animal poo (trust me, i've tried almost every variety), but these are actually pretty good.  i bet with some sort of low-calorie dip (i like dill dip), they would be a great snack.  the only thing i am wary of is that the whole bag is 130 calories, which seems like a lot for a small snack bag, but just like anything else, it's all about adding these in and subtracting something else out.  :)  there is also a $1.00 off coupon with these as well.

overall, i am SO glad that i signed up for this box!  the grand total for the retail value of all the products was $217.91, and the box cost me $44.99, including shipping and handling.  that is a steal!!  plus, almost every single item also gave you a coupon for the brand/store that the item came from, which is a lot more savings, too.  i know i will be using at least a few of those coupons, and most of them don't expire for a few more months or until the end of the year.

like i said in the beginning, they certainly don't know me or know that i am sick, but it seemed like this box was tailored for us chronically sick people, doesn't it?  between the dry shampoo and the headband for the days we can't make it through the shower, the mitt for the days we can, the exercise dvd on the days we're feeling up to it, the perfume oil when we want to feel a little bit pampered, the chips to help us eat right, the primer to help us feel just a bit more glamorous, and the shower bombs to help us relax after a tough sick day... this was a perfect box in my opinion, and i can't say enough good things about it.  i can't wait to see what is in the summer one, either.

there are limited quantities of the box left, so if you want one, you should sign up as soon as you can.  use code SPRING5 to get $5 off your first box, and you can sign up here.  go check it out!! :)

what did you think of the box if you got one?  are you planning on getting the summer one?  i'd love to hear your opinion in the comments!

Friday, March 21, 2014

ipsy march destination beauty bag review

after having to go to an appointment every single day this week, i was so happy to have absolutely nothing to do today!  these are the days that i am grateful i don't have a full-time job, because i have no idea how i would be able to go to one when i am this sick.  i have to set my alarm for 4 hours before any appointment, just to give myself enough time to hear my alarm (my meds make me sleep so deeply it usually goes off 5-6 times before i even hear it), wake up, do my stretches, get out of bed, take the dogs out, take a bath to get my muscles and joints loosened up, eat a healthy and substantial breakfast so i can take my morning pills, & get dressed/do my makeup before i leave.  it's usually quite an ordeal and takes me a bit of time, not to mention that depending on the type of doctors appointment, my body kind of freaks out afterward and sends me into a flare.

yesterday, i had the brain MRI for my migraines.  i had it with and without contrast, although i didn't know i would be having it with contrast.  since getting since, my body is extremely sensitive to anything at all foreign and rejects anything non-native, and takes a super long time to heal.  i got a small amount of the contrast, just enough for the 8-minute scan, but afterwards, my body freaked out!  my face was flushed, i was hot and sweaty, my neck lymph nodes were swollen, i was super super nauseous, i had diarrhea for about 12 hours right after the test and through the night, my nose was stuffy, i had a headache in the back of my head, my visual auras were really bad, i was very dizzy and disoriented.  i just laid in my bed staring at the ceiling for about 2 hours because i just could not focus on my book, and i kept forgetting where i was, and feeling like i was outside of my body.  it was very scary and strange!

luckily, today i feel a lot better, but i am just very tired.  those with chronic illness understand that the word "tired" doesn't even usually feel accurate for how we feel.  it is more of an exhaustion that is so deep in your bones that sleep doesn't even make it feel better.  the kind of tired where you can sleep 12 hours, and you wake up and all you can think about is when you can go back to sleep.  that's how i feel today, and why i am thankful that i don't have to go to a job and can just lay around and rest.

on a much brighter note, i have something exciting to share!  i subscribe to the ipsy beauty bag, and i got my march bag yesterday to share with you all!

what is ipsy? for those of you that aren't subscribed, ipsy is a beauty subscription.  for $10 per month, you receive a glam bag full of full-size and and deluxe sized beauty products, specifically tailored for you through a beauty quiz you take when you sign up! you can watch videos on the website to learn how to use your products, and each month you get discounts on the brands that are included in your bag, along with additional special discounts.  you can also review the products you receive each month to receive points to use towards future purchases!

interested in becoming a member?  check it out HERE!

this month's bag was themed destination beauty.  let's check it out!

 first up was the beautiful bag!  each month all of your beauty products come inside a reusable makeup bag, which i think is wonderful.  the bags are always really cute and i find many uses for them, not just makeup.  i put pencils in them, lipglosses inside my purse, sometimes i use them for a clutch, a nailpolish holder  -- the possibilities are endless!  it says that this month, the bag is an exclusive print from artist klari reis' geography-based series, "street anatomy," which showcases san francisco, california.  the bag is a nice study vinyl, which is easy to clean for those accidental make-up spills, and a fun and bright pattern for spring.

the first product was this body butter from the brand pacifica.  this is a pretty decent sized deluxe sample at 2.5 oz.  the packaging is really cute, and the flip top is really easy to open.  i find that sometimes they are quite hard to get open with your thumb, but this one was easy.  it also smells AMAZING.  yummm.  definitely strong on the coconut, so if that's not your thing, you wouldn't be a fan of this body butter, but i definitely enjoy it.  i think it's a clean but luxurious scent.  it has a very silky texture and it sinks into your sink easily & quickly without leaving much residue behind.

next up is this marvelous moxie lipgloss in the shade "rebel" from bareminerals.  i have always wanted to try something from this brand but have just never gotten around to it.  i have to say, this is the perfect product to start with!  i love lipglosses, but i am also very picky about them.  however, this lipgloss is perfect!  it is a great shade, very neutral but with just a hint of color.  it's not sticky, either (one of my biggest lip product pet peeves) and it smells exactly like mint chocolate chip ice cream!  how can you get any better than that?!

ipsy also included this coupon attached to the lipgloss, which is a great perk, in addition to the discounts they offer online for the products in the bag this month.

this is a swatch of the lipgloss in the shade "rebel".  as you can see, it's a fairly neutral tone but with a pinky/coral lean.  this is one swipe, so you can see that it is pretty pigmented and very shiny!

the next product in this month's bag was a nail polish from nicole by OPI.  this is a full-size (woohoo!) nail polish from their new roughles line, which is their new set of textured polishes.  it is my favorite when i get a full sized polish in my bags!!  but.. i do have mixed feelings about this one.  i LOVE the color -- it is a beautiful robin's egg blue that is definitely perfect for spring.  but i really don't love the whole textured nail polish trend.  i've tried a few here and there and they just bug me.  i don't know, i just don't like the texture and the feeling.  but, i still gave it a shot...

unfortunately, my camera died right when i was taking the nail pictures so this is the only one i got, hence why it is slightly blurry.  but i have to say, this might be the textured polish to change my mind!  you can sort of see in the picture, it has pink flecks in it, plus tiny royal blue flecks and some tiny goldish/brown ones.  once on my nail, it looks really really pretty.  it reminds me of those malted candy speckled eggs at easter time.  it really is gorgeous, the application was very easy and the dry time was super quick.  the picture is two thin coats, and it was opaque.  well played, OPI!

the last product in my bag this month is this stunning eye shadow quad from the brand be a bombshell.  the name of the quad is "bora bora" and this is a full-size product.  this quad is beautiful!  i was pleasantly surprised when i opened the box it came in.  i have never heard of this brand before, but these colors are very pigmented and strong in real life, very jewel-toned.  i mostly wear brown and gold shadows, so this is perfect for me.  i love the turquoise accent color, because it will be a great pop of color for summer!

these are the swatches of the colors in the quad, clockwise from the top left.  each swatch is one single swipe -- they are super pigmented!!  the blue is the only one that was slightly less pigmented than the rest, which you can tell in the photo.  they are definitely shimmery shades but it's not overwhelming.  the color feels really silky and easy to work with, too.  i can't wait to try these out!

overall, i thought this was another excellent ipsy bag!  i have been subscribing for about 7 months now and have yet to get a bag that i didn't love.  plus, i think $10 is a total bargain -- the nail polish alone is $8!  what a steal.  i definitely recommend that you check it out, you won't regret it!

stay tuned this week for more beauty boxes, and hopefully i will be getting the results of my MRI tests. i was also thinking of doing a post on the foods i normally eat that i have found help my body out the most in reducing inflammation and keeping me feeling good.  let me know if there is anything you would like to read.  until next time! xoxo.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

all about me.

i thought it would be a good idea to make a list of the illnesses i have and a brief description of what they are and the symptoms i have from them, as a reference point for anyone reading the blog (and also for my own progress notes).  if you have any questions, feel free to ask.  remember, not everyone has the same symptoms even if they have the same disease/illness, because our bodies are all different!

  • interstitial cystitis -- i was diagnosed with this in april of 2012, and this is what started everything off.  i almost always feel like i have to go to the bathroom, even when i don't.  "normal" bladders can hold about 700 cc's of fluid before they absolutely have to go, mine can hold about 250-300 cc's before it's bursting in pain, due to scar tissue restricting its ability to expand properly.  i go to the bathroom about every 45 minutes, and when i am having a bad day, i go about every 15 minutes.  sometimes i pee chunks of blood, and sometimes it burns when i pee, like there is fire coming out.  this is the main thing i have to take into consideration when going out and the main thing that keeps me housebound, along with my fibro, because of the frequency with which i have to go to the bathroom.  i have to make sure that wherever i go has a bathroom that is pretty much always immediately available for me to use.  this makes it difficult to take car rides as well, because the bumpy roads are extremely painful to ride on with a full-feeling bladder.  although it might seem obvious to just drink less liquid in order to not go to the bathroom as much, unfortunately if i drink less liquid, it hurts more when i do pee (it burns), so i have to drink a ton of water to dilute my urine, thus resulting in me urinating frequently.
  • ovarian cysts -- shortly before i was diagnosed with my IC, i had an ovarian cyst rupture on my left ovary.  at the time, i didn't think it was a big deal, but looking back, it may be what caused my IC to flare enough that i had to go out of work and on medication.  when it burst, it was so painful that i couldn't stand on my left leg at all, and when i sat down, i had to lean to the right so there wasn't any weight on the left side.  i ended up in the ER to get strong painkillers and even then, it was almost 3 weeks before it was fully healed, even though a normal one takes about a week or less to heal.  i continue to have many of them on each ovary all the time, not just during my period which is typical, and have also had two abnormal pap smears in a row, resulting in a colposcopy.  my gynecologist wants to do a laparoscopy because she suspects i have endometriosis due to my regular, abnormal bleeding, but i am waiting until my other medical issues are more under control before i have the procedure.
  • ocular migraines -- these are different from regular migraines in that they are more similar to a stroke than a typical headache.  the first symptoms i get are a shimmering in my left eye, or splotches in the direct center of my vision.  it quickly progresses to a sharp, intense stabbing pain in the left side of my face, followed by the entire left side of my body (leg, torso, arm, tongue, face, mouth) going tingly and then numb.  no medication or any remedy helps it go away or make it better; i usually take ibuprofen around the clock (4 pills every 4 hours) just to make me sleep through it until it is over -- usually 12-16 hours later. for the 24 hours following my migraine, i feel on the verge of one constantly, my eye and head feel weird (no real way to describe it), and i have trouble focusing and just feel very out of it. i get about one of these per month.  lately i have also been experiencing strange visual auras without headache, including multi-colored bursts of light in my vision, waking up to see spots covering my vision, patterns look like they're moving, spots of zigzag lines in my vision, clouds of flashing lights, etc. my neurologist thinks that i have some brain lesions because they don't really follow any pattern and have come on suddenly, so i have to go for an MRI in a few days to get it checked out.
  • TMJ -- when i was a senior in high school, i got in a head-on car accident where i totaled the car.  it was a pretty bad accident -- roof collapsed, airbags went off, frame was bent, entire passenger side crushed in, etc. and i am lucky that i escaped with what i did: a torn MCL on my left knee, and TMJ from the airbag hitting my face.  i have the snapping and clicking of a typical TMJ case, and a lot of pain.  i wear a mouthpiece at night that prevents my teeth from coming together and gives my jaw relief, and sometimes i wear it during the day if i'm having a lot of pain.  i notice it especially if i am in a very social situation that i have to do a lot of talking in, or if i laugh a lot on a particular day, because it stresses the muscles.
  • fibromyalgia -- ohh, fibro. such a lovely invisible disease... NOT! fibro is truly awful because there is no real explanation for why you have it or what parts are affected, and no real tried-and-true method to get relief from it.  it sucks.  besides my peeing problems, fibro affects me the most, i would say.  before i got sick, i was very active, always on the go, going out about every other night or so, very social.  now, i can be out for about 4 hours, 5 hours max at any given time before i am just... done.  exhausted, and in a ton of pain.  and obviously, i can't do some of the activities i used to do, because they are just too much on my joints (and my heart, but more about that in a second). ironically, daily exercise is what is recommended most to relieve the symptoms of fibro, but (at least in my case), daily exercise is sometimes the #1 hardest thing to try to do.  there are many "trigger points" in the body that one has fibromyalgia pain/discomfort in, and not everybody has the same ones.  some people experience mild pain, while others can experience a stabbing pain simply from someone running their hand over the area. in my case, i have mild/fleeting pain in my fingers, wrists, elbows, and ankles.  i have moderate pain in my toes, shoulders, and neck.  i have severe pain (the kind where just running your hand over it hurts) in my lower back, hips, and knees.  so pretty much any activity i do, at least one of my "severe" category joints is affected, since they are my core moving joints.  getting out of bed in the morning is quite interesting.. it takes me about an hour between the time i wake up and the time i can actually get out of bed, because of the stretches i have to do and just moving my body enough to get my muscles limber to be able to sit up and get out of bed without squealing in pain and being super stiff. if i don't get my time to do my stretches, it's not a pretty sight.
  • inappropriate sinus tachycardia --  i found out i had this last summer.  it's a hard condition where there is an abnormality in the way your adrenaline is released, and too much is released at one time, sending your heart rate up to really high rates for no good reason.  there were times i would just be sitting on the couch watching tv and my heart rate would be 140-150 (a normal person's heart rate is between 60-100).  i was attempting to do a few simple yoga poses with a yoga ball, and my heart rate shot up to 220, so it is very dangerous and makes it hard to do much cardio activity. because there is anatomically nothing wrong with my node that releases the adrenaline, the only way it can really be controlled is through beta blockers. there is an option of having is ablated (where they send a balloon up through your thigh to burn part of your heart), but a high percentage of people end up having too much burned away and immediately have to have a pacemaker implanted, so there is a high risk.  the beta blocker is helping somewhat.. i am on the maximum dose per day, and my resting heart rate is still about 100-110.  so, it's lower, but not very good, still. 
  • atrial septal defect -- i actually didn't find this out until about two weeks ago.  when my OB/GYN wanted me to have my laparoscopy, i needed cardiac clearance because of my IST.  when i got my echocardiogram, they found out i have an atrial septal defect, or a hole in the heart.  it is a congenital heart defect, meaning i have had it since i've been born.  it is a hole between the two upper chambers of my heart, which essentially messes with how oxygenated and unoxygenated blood are delivered to the lungs and body, and they are mixed (that's a really simple version of it!). it explains a LOOOTT of things that happened when i was younger, and why i have been feeling so short of breath lately and having such chest pain.  they thought it was just the IST, but it is obviously because of the hole.  i have been feeling like i can't catch my breath, having pain and heaviness in my chest, get very tired very easily, plus my heart rate goes up super fast with the IST, so i've kind of been a mess lately.  i am just waiting for the insurance to approve it, and then i can have a transesophageal echocardiogram -- they put you under anesthesia and insert a scope through your esophagus in order to view your heart and it's flow and function better.  this will be able to tell the doctors how big my hole is and if i can get it fixed through catheterization, or if i will need open heart surgery.
  • IBS -- probably the most common of my problems, IBS is also known as irritable bowel syndrome.  basically, i have diarrhea all the time, i am almost always bloated, and i get really bad pains in my stomach that i like to call death pains because they immediately make me drench with sweat and i can't focus on anything else or even breathe, they hurt so bad.  they are followed by an explosion on the toilet, which is so great.  woohoo!

so there you have it.  that's all of my illnesses in a nutshell.  i don't say all of this for your pity, by the way.  lots of you have it worse than me, i am sure of that.  i just want people to see that those of us who don't "look sick" are fighting battles that are just as bad as those of us who do, and judging us for our appearance isn't fair.  i also know that some of you can sympathize with the symptoms i list, and i want you to know that you're not alone! other people go through what you go through, too -- me! and maybe you know of things that i haven't tried that can help me, and maybe i know of things that don't work for me but might work for you and we can help each other out. isn't that what life is all about?! :)

my upcoming posts include foods that i have found help my body, reviews of this month's ipsy bag, and a look into things i'm loving this month! stay tuned!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

let me introduce myself.

hi everyone, and welcome to my blog.  i wanted to start out explaining a little bit about myself and why i wanted to start this blog, so here goes.

my name is gabbi and i am 27 years old.  i live in upstate new york, and have all my life, though i can't wait to move down south.  i have a wonderful boyfriend who is in the army, a great family who is super supportive including a mom who is my best friend, and two amazing & goofy dogs who are the loves of my life.  i have a small but growing jewelry business on etsy that i have recently started and am really enjoying working on, as well as other various crafty projects.  i love drawing and am slowing working my way into painting as well.  i also crochet, make paper cards, work with clay, and will try basically any craft project at least once!  i love taking pictures and exploring new places and being outside as much as possible when i can.  i also like trying out new foods, especially looking for new, healthy ways to get the vitamins and nutrients my body needs, as diet is very important.

my dog, zoe.  she's a pug/min-pin mix.

my other dog, hendrix.  he's a jack russell.

me! :)

almost two years ago, i was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, a bladder disease characterized by inflammation of the lining of your bladder which results in inability to empty your bladder completely, pain when peeing and also just all the time pain, sometimes blood in the urine from irritation of the lining, the feeling like you have to pee all the time, and a variety of other symptoms.  i was taken out of work for what we thought was a few months, in order to heal.  i loved my job more than anything -- i worked in the operating room as a surgical technician, assisting the surgeon during operations -- and having to leave my career indefinitely is one of the things i have had the hardest times coming to terms with.  over the last two years, i have been diagnosed with a slew of other disorders, diseases, and abnormalities, resulting in me taking about 25 pills a day and being somewhat confined to my apartment.  most of the things i suffer from are considered "invisible diseases," meaning that i don't "look sick".  it is very hard for most people to understand or be sympathetic to why i am as sick as i am when i appear to be normal and healthy.

throughout these past two years, because i have gotten many negative responses from people regarding me not looking sick and therefore not truly being sick, i have mostly kept what has happened to me private, sharing with a few friends and family and an occasional facebook update here and there.  it is embarrassing to be such a young person and be so severely sick, so unable to do things people my age are doing.  it is also extremely frustrating, since it seems like every time i go to the doctor, i get yet another medication added to my list, another test that has to be done, or another ailment added to the list of things that are wrong with me.  it's difficult to process and deal with on my own, so i figured nobody else would want to know about it, either.

but recently, after reading some other blogs online about those living with chronic illnesses, i have realized that that's not true.  it's nice to read about other peoples' struggles and know that i'm not alone.  more importantly, over this journey, i have gathered a ton of information about my diseases and helpful tips and hints that the doctors don't tell you -- things that you only learn through trial and error -- that would be selfish of me to keep to myself.  i also want to give others hope, to show that just because i have all these illnesses, i am still trying to make the best of my life and do the best i can with what i have.

so i have decided to start this blog.  it will contain information about my illnesses, hints and tricks i've learned along the way about them, updates on my progress and how i'm doing, and also regular, real-life things -- beauty products, movie reviews, tv shows i'm watching, trips i take, and fun stuff like that. hopefully you will enjoy reading my blog and get something out of it, and we can help each other along the way!

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