Thursday, August 25, 2016

Quotes That I'm Feeling At This Moment in My Life

I'm a self-professed quote junkie. I love reading quotes and I could probably look at them all day. When I'm struggling, I often look at quotes to help center myself. 

My life has been changing quite a bit lately. While Tori was here she taught me to meditate and I've been doing it every day. I've been in a peaceful place for the majority of every day. 

So I decided that today I'd share a few quotes with you (all credit to Pinterest) that have either inspired with me or resonated with me this week. I may make this a weekly thing. Because that is something that I don't know if you would enjoy, but I would definitely enjoy. 






Hope one or two of these resonated with you! 

Xo Michelle


 


 


 


 


 


 

Monday, August 22, 2016

To the Person Feeling Guilty for Venting About Their Illness

In the chronic illness community, I see it again and again: people having a little vent about their current situation who feel horribly guilty for complaining. I want to tell them something.

You are fighting a hard battle every single day. You have the right to complain. If having a little vent on Instagram or Facebook makes you feel even a tiny bit better, go for it. If ranting to someone close to you feels good, then do it. Pain is relative and everyone feels every situation differently. No one has a right to judge your pain. Life with chronic illness is anything but easy. And truth be told, most of the time, you probably don’t voice even a quarter of the pain you’re actually feeling.

You may be worried that someone will think you’re an attention-seeker or a negative person. I’m going to tell you a rule that I have personally chosen to live by: If someone has a negative or mean response to your true, raw suffering, they are definitely not worth knowing or having in your life. The people who are worth your time and feelings won’t judge. They will support you. They will love you. They will care. They will know that you only complain when things get really bad. They will know that we’re only seeing a blip in time of the real struggle you are going through.

So to the person feeling guilty for complaining, I see you. I see you going through absolute hell and handling it with grace. I see you making the best of things. I see you trying your best. I see you doing everything you can. I see your pain. But I also see your courage.

You are going through something that many could not handle. You keep on going every day even though it might hurt. You are fierce. So please, don’t feel weak for speaking your feelings. It doesn’t make you weak. It makes you real, and it makes you strong. You deserve to be heard.

Xo Michelle 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer Favorites 2016






I was going to make a ‘July favorites’ last month, but I decided I’d give myself another month using these products to give a better review. Then ‘August favorites’ time came around and I didn’t get around to it in time. So we will just call this one ‘Summer Favorites’, and I’ll share some new products of mine that I’ve been loving this summer.

Beauty Favorites


Tarte Tartlette In Bloom Palette 





















I’m not good at eyeshadow. This is just a fact that I live with. Maybe one day I’ll magically improve, but to be honest that day seems far away. Throughout all the past palettes that have been trending (Naked Palettes, Too Faced Chocolate bar, etc.) I was always tempted to purchase one, but never did because eyeshadow was not something I knew how to do. Then one day this summer I was about to run out of time to use a coupon I had at Sephora for a free makeover. I didn’t have an event to go to, but decided to book an appointment just so I could try out some new products. This Tarte palette was the one the makeup artist chose to use on me. I asked for her to do something simple and easy that I could replicate and she could teach me as she applied it. I’d never been crazy about eyeshadow on myself, but I truly loved what she did on me that day, so I purchased the palette. And I have been crazy about it. First of all, it smells amazing. Like Vanilla? Or chocolate? I can’t really tell, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a great smell. I tend to stick with a few shades (smarty pants for the crease, flower child for the lid, and charmer under the brow) because I’m such a beginner that starting simple is a good idea. But I’ve been really, truly enjoying it. The colors in this palette are beautiful. It’s easily blendable which is all I wanted in a shadow. And it doesn’t hurt that the packaging is cute. 




















Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Soft Brown













For quite a long time I was using Anastasia Brow Powder Duo, and in that free makeup session I did at Sephora that I was talking about earlier, she used the Brow Wiz on me and I instantly understood all the hype I’d heard about it. It just makes my brows look clean which I like. To other people looking at me it wouldn’t look like a big difference, but I just prefer this tool over the powder I used to use.

Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield 


















With my hair loss and breakage, I find that it is always looking kind of messy. So when I saw this travel sized bottle from Living Proof I decided to try the tester on my way out of Sephora. And it seemed like magic. One spray and just patting the frizz down and it was all gone and looked smoother than it had in ages. So I bought it and have not regretted it since.




L’Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes Mascara










With my issues with hair loss, my eyelashes have always felt like a problem area for me, so I’m kind of always on the hunt for a magical mascara that would make a huge difference. Last time I was in Wal-Mart I walked by the L’Oreal section and saw the False Fiber Lashes. I remembered using that mascara toward the end of high school and loving it and repurchasing it over and over again. To be honest, I don’t remember why I stopped using it at all. But I decided to try it again, and I really love it. I won’t go as far as to say that it’s magic, but it’s pretty close. I really love what it does to my eyelashes. They look full and long with this mascara and stay looking full and long throughout the day. I strongly approve and you should definitely check it out if you have short, sparse eyelashes.


Non-Beauty Favorites


S’well Bottle 


















Tori generously, kindly, and unnecessarily, bought me a S’well bottle as a gift after her stay here. Now what is a S’well bottle you ask? These bottles were launched in 2010 with a mission to rid the world of plastic bottles. The best part? They claim to keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 12 hours. And it WORKS. My cold bottle was left in the car for 3 hours with the sun beating down on it in sweltering weather. We came back to the car and did the test... Was it still cold? And it passed the test with flying colors. The water inside was still freezing, which seemed absolutely impossible. It was definitely some kind of sorcery. I haven’t tested out the hot drinks yet, but so far, I am in love with this thing. Not to mention it comes in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns. Tori got me mine from the Satin Collection in Monaco Blue and it is such a pretty color. I’ve definitely been enjoying my S’well bottle. Thank you Tori!


Breathe App

















I decided to include a meditation app that I’ve been using almost daily. This app is simple to use and great for beginners who want to start meditating. You can check in by choosing the emotions you’re feeling when you begin, and then the app suggests 3 or 4 different guided meditations for you that you can choose from based on how you’re feeling. They’re not long meditations so they’re fairly easy to do, and I always feel so much more relaxed, grounded, and closer to the earth, after meditating.  




David’s Tea


















I tried David’s Tea for the first time recently and have actually been enjoying it. I am not a tea person. Nor am I a coffee person. So I decided that I’d see if I could acquire a taste for tea, and it seems like it’s working. My favorite flavors so far have been Carribean Crush, Mango Madness, and the Me to We tea they have right now with the proceeds going to getting clean water for a developing community in Kenya. It tastes like fruit punch and I love it. People with Type 1, most teas have at most 10 calories and at most 3 carbs! Life is good for us over here! 


Xo, Michelle

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Vyvanse

Recently I started on an ADD medication called Vyvanse. I was diagnosed with ADD in high school and my doctor and I thought this could be a good idea. He expected it to improve three things for me; my energy, my focus, and my motivation. So of course I said "hell yes"! The most important of these three things was my energy, because of all my symptoms from my illnesses, the fatigue has been the most disabling. I would sleep about 16 hours a day, and not by choice. 

I started on 20mg a couple of weeks ago, and was pretty much in awe of what it did for me. I was suddenly able to stay awake all day. And though my other symptoms such as gut issues, muscle pain and weakness, and a general flu-like feeling persisted, I was so energized and motivated that I was able to push past them and get back up when they knocked me down. This wonderfulness lasted about 3 days. My doctor had instructed that I take 20mg for two days, then move up to 30mg and increase by 10mg every 5 days until I got to 50mg or a dose I couldn't tolerate. I kept taking it and going up on the dose in the hopes that I could regain that feeling I felt during the first few days of taking it. But it was gone. I was now able to stay awake all day, which was a big improvement, however I was very fatigued and not feeling the amazing wave of motivation I was feeling before. 

Unfortunately, after a few days on the 50mg I realized that towards the middle of the duration of the medication I would start getting very irritable and agitated. Not good and not how I want to be feeling. I'm looking for that great mix of energy, motivation and clarity that I found when I first took the medication. So I e-mailed my doctor and he told me that we should try going back to a lower dose. I agreed and decided to take a day's break from taking it today to let my body readjust. Of course I was exhausted and slept all day. Tomorrow I will take 30mg again hoping that it's the right dose for me. 

It was a little disappointing to have experienced such joy for a few days. In those few days I really thought my life was improved drastically forever, and when that effect faded and didn't come back it was definitely a big disappointment. It has also drastically reduced my appetite and worsened my GI issues with pain everytime I eat a small amount. But I'm not giving up on this medication yet. I still have hope that it's the right one for me and so does my doctor because of my initial reaction to it. I really thought in those few days that my chronic illnesses could now take a backseat. Unfortunately, I realized that there's a key word in the term 'chronic illness'... and that's 'chronic'.  This isn't something that can be magically cured.. but certain medications can certainly help things become a little easier. There's a reason I'm fatigued and that's because my body is inflamed and attacking itself and I have to understand that. So I'm trying to work on retraining my brain to have the right expectations about this, and see this as more of a tool than a cure. Though I am still hopeful that maybe it will be a great tool. We shall see! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

My Week with Tori

     A couple of years ago, after joining the chronic illness community on Instagram, a shining light came into my life. Her name was Tori and she quickly became one of my best friends. When I met her I was undiagnosed, and a complete mess. She was very recently diagnosed after having gone through some time searching for answers. She has Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglionopathy which is basically an autoimmune disease that causes complete failure of the autonomic nervous system. Her stomach, intestines, bowel and bladder don't function, among other things. And my goodness, is she badass. With all her medical knowledge she acquired over the years, she helped me on my painful path to diagnosis. She was there for me when my bladder decided to go into retention and I was diagnosed with neurogenic bladder. She was there for me when I had strange stroke-like episodes. She was there for me when the mental anguish of losing my ability to function was too much to take. Over the two years we got closer and closer, eventually FaceTiming almost daily. Tori is from Virginia, and I am from Montreal, so you can imagine the excitement when it came time for her to come stay with me for a week.



   She ended up coming a day early, arriving at 11:30 PM after being briefly stopped at the Canadian border and asked about her medical supplies. I was naturally waiting for her in the window, so as soon as I saw her white Ford Escape pull up, I ran outside and toward the car like an idiot. This is when we got to hug for the first time and it was so special. 

   Our first day here, we did what all chronic illness friends do together and went to a doctor's appointment I had. Then we went to my local mall, which is pretty much my natural habitat, and looked around a bit. I had a feeling Tori would like David's Tea and I was definitely right. We went back there multiple times during the week. 

   One thing I can tell you is that while Tori was here, I pushed myself to my limits. If I can tell you one thing about Tori, it's that she does not let any of her conditions stop her from doing anything. She's resilient, and this is a quality I'd love to rub off on me a bit. I'm not one to compare illnesses, because everybody has a different story, but Tori's illness is factually what you'd call more severe and life threatening than mine. However, she functions most of the time like a champ. It reminds me of what my amazing grandmother used to say when she was fighting cancer; "I'm in great shape for the shape I'm in.". And so this week I tried to learn to be a little bit more like Tori. To be a little more adventurous and when I feel like I can't take one more step to take one more. 

    On our first day, we started looking up tattoo shops. There is a tattoo that I'd been planning on getting for a while, and Tori loved it too, so we decided to get them together. We ended up going to Adrenaline and getting our tattoos. I'll save talking about the tattoo for another blog post, but even though I was pretty scared, it actually ended up being fun. I'm a baby when it comes to pain and Tori was great at distracting me by talking about cats, and it only took about 8 minutes. In the meantime, she didn't even flinch getting hers. Anyway, the tattoos turned out beautiful and exactly how we wanted them. The symbols read "I am greater than the highs and lows". For me, this represents being greater than the literal highs and lows of Type 1 Diabetes, and being greater than the mental highs and lows of a mood disorder. 


   Thursday, we ended up back at the mall and Tori got some good Canadian deals on clothes. We went to Michael's and got some jewelry making supplies and had fun with those for the rest of the afternoon. At night, my childhood best friend, Marlee, came over and met Tori and we pretty much just talked for hours and had a great time.

    Friday was probably our busiest day. We picked up my best friend, Rachel, and went to the Old Port in Old Montreal, which was a must-see for Tori. There was this wild "adult jungle gym", as Rachel called it, on a pirate ship by the water, and I knew right away that this thing was pretty much built for Tori. She had a good time even though she got stuck up there behind some slow kids. On our way home we went out for dinner with my parents, and then called it a day.

    For the weekend we kept it pretty quiet. I think we both needed some recovery from the busy days we had just had. 


   On Monday we went to the ecomuseum, which is home to a hundred species of Canadian wildlife. These are all animals who could not survive in their natural habitat due to injuries and such. We got pretty close to the caribou, so that was probably my favorite part. There was also a beautiful one eyed Arctic wolf named Gandalf. 







     Today was our last day together. We went to the lookout, where you can see the Montreal skyline, and went out for dinner. Spending a week with one of my best friends, but also one of my chronic illness friends, was just incredibly special. Having a friend next to you who understands the frustration of having a body that doesn't function the way it should, is priceless. There were many times we crashed. There were many sessions of laying on the floor. There were many MANY stomach pains. But all in all, I personally can't believe all I accomplished this week without falling flat on my face. There are no words to describe how much I am going to miss her. I really like it when she's not a floating head on my iPhone screen. Next time you hear about our adventures, it will likely be me in Virginia.