Category Archives: Favorite Things

Favorite Things

Surgery Necessities

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If you’ve been following me on social media, you have seen me talk about my knee surgery a lot. On June 1st, 2017 I had a pretty invasive surgery on my knee that I knew would involve at least 2 months on crutches, a brace for most of the summer, and a hard recovery. I shared in this post, how I was preparing my life for surgery. I’ve learned over the past few weeks that in addition to preparing your job, your home, etc for surgery, there are things that are really helpful to have on hand. Don’t be like me and learn as you go (and place Amazon Prime orders almost every day)! And please, tell me what you would include as I would love to make this as comprehensive of a list as possible.

Amazon Prime

Speaking of Amazon Prime this service has been an absolute lifesaver for me post-op. I did an Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial which was great for me so I could get the things I needed right away, sometimes the same day, if not the next. In addition to getting some of the items you’ll see below, I ordered cat food, litter, shampoo, vitamins… This trial is something I’m probably going to continue or look into having items shipped from Target. I spend a lot of my precious energy going to Target every weekend to stock up on non-perishables. Sometimes that big Target trip is all I can accomplish without having to rest the remainder of the day. When I’m fully recovered, I’m definitely going to look into what I can have shipped to my door for a similar price.

Gloves

Yes, it’s summer here in Baltimore and yes, I’m saying that gloves are a mandatory item to have if you’re going to be on crutches full-time like me. I had ordered these awesome gloves from G-Loves prior to surgery because I was having so much trouble at the gym. My hands were in too much pain to hold on to weight training equipment. These gloves gave me the protection and padding I needed to get my workouts back on track with minimal pain.

I decided to try them with my crutches and they were awesome! I wear them all the time and haven’t had any wrist or hand pain from my crutches which is a big deal since my Rheumatoid Arthritis has been flaring. You’ll also see my Wonder Woman wrist wraps in the photo which would be great if you don’t need full hand support and they’re only $12!

 

Bolster Pillow

For the first week post-op, my sleep and swelling was awful. I had a tower of pillows that I used to elevate my knee and that tower wasn’t the best. I spent the whole night trying so hard not to move, so my tower wouldn’t fall down. I had my family haul pillows up and down the stairs, depending on which room I was sitting in. I went to physical therapy and my therapist had me rest my leg on a bolster while she iced my knee. I fell asleep instantly. She told me to look on online, that the products wouldn’t be a as sturdy (or as expensive), but that I could probably find a good one. I’ve learned from others that some orthopedic surgeons prescribe these prior to surgery and that they couldn’t believe I was trying to recover without one.

Here’s the one that I ordered- Restorology Elevating Leg Rest Pillow Memory Foam Leg Rest Pillow
I’d encourage you to read reviews and make sure the pillow will stay firm and check the measurements to make sure it’s high enough for your ideal elevation.

 

Compression Socks

Prior to surgery, I owned compression socks. Post surgery, I realized that those socks were enough for mild Rheumatoid Arthritis swelling but were no match for post op swelling. I ended up with 3cm of fluid in my ankle and was in a lot of pain as a result. I highly encourage you to have quality compression socks on hand- they really make a difference in recovery.

These socks, PRO Compression: Marathon Compression Socks, are the brand I ended up buying because they come in so many cool colors and patterns! I’m a sucker for fun, colorful socks anyway!

 

Your Pride

All of these items were extremely helpful but there is one thing that you actually don’t need when recovering. But do you know what you don’t need? Your pride. Getting comfortable with asking others to help was hard for me but necessary- I can’t drive myself anywhere, I can’t even cook yet. Admit when you’re hurting, admit when you just can’t do something. I can’t tell you how much better recovery will be if you put yourself first.

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Breathing easy with ImmunizeLABS

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I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

 

Let’s start with a little background on my…nose.

My sinus infections got so bad that my rheumatologist told me the only way I could continue using Humira was to have sinus surgery. So, I did. I will spare you most of the details but I was awake for the procedure, it was extremely painful and uncomfortable, and they were unable to fully get into my left sinus because well, I couldn’t take the torture anymore Continue reading

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Favorite Things Rheumatoid Arthritis

Review: TechCare TENS Unit, a must have for chronic pain!

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I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

I have a lot of products that I’ve acquired in my battle against the pain Rheumatoid Arthritis brings. Lotions, patches, creams, pills, compression braces for almost every joint in my body, and a TENS machine. Some work great, others not so much. Some were planned purchases, others acquired out of desperation (when you’re at the grocery store and your body somehow ends up in the pain relief aisle and you are looking up and down because there has to be something new).

When the opportunity to try and review the  TechCare TENS massager came up, I jumped at the chance. I already own a TENS machine- I’ve had it for almost five years. Initially it was great but as my disease progressed and my pain increased, the machine couldn’t keep up. I was maxing out intensity and not getting much relief. My physical therapist tried to order me a new one yet my insurance decided that even though I lived in Maryland and my insurance policy was Maryland based, it would only be covered if I lived in Pennsylvania. Go figure.

I’m now happy that I couldn’t get a machine through my insurance because I probably wouldn’t have tried the TENS from TechCare. The TENS unit that I absolutely adore and use daily. The TENS unit that provides me with immediate, intense relief.

So why do I love this unit? Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s rechargeable. Ahh, no batteries! And the charge lasts for multiple uses and recharges quickly.
  2. Intensity. Whoa. Going from my run of the mill TENS unit (at a comparable price as well) to this has been amazing. I have yet to use the intensity above 60% and that’s with knee pain that requires surgery this week.
  3. Can use 4 electrodes at the same time. This is awesome. I can have one set programmed to work on my extremely painful knee and have the other set massaging my calf muscle which tightens up from pain.
  4. Six massage modes- tapping, acupuncture, deep tissue, foot, cupping, or a combination.
  5. Time- my previous TENS only allowed 20 minute treatments. This allows you to dial up to 60 minutes and keep adding time as you wish.

Here’s what is included in the box:

1 controller: this unit is lightweight, painless to operate (RA has not been kind to my hands)

3 pairs of electrodes: small oval shape, medium oval, and larger rectangle; the multiple sizes are great- small ones work well on my elbow or wrist whereas the large rectangles are perfect for my legs

2 electrode cables: this enables you to use 2 sets (4 pads) at once

1 carrying bag: dark blue, drawstring, and everything, including the charger, fits inside

1 usb charger with wall adapter: easy to charge whether it’s via your computer or a regular outlet

1 electrode pad and wire holder: these are great and my only complaint would be that the kit included a total of 3; I tend to use all 3 sets of pads and have kept the plastic sheets they came with to stick the pads on when not in use

1 user manual: this leaves a bit to be desired- although it explains how to use and care for the product, it doesn’t explain the different modes in detail

1 treatment points chart: I honestly haven’t used this- it looks very similar to the charts you would see in an acupuncturist’s office; I tend to just place the pads where I’m having pain

The bottom line:

This TENS unit from TechCare is awesome, worth its low price, and a definite must have for patients with chronic pain. Interested in purchasing one of these TENS units for yourself? Check them out on Amazon:

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Favorite Things

The Whole Health Life Review

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I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

The Whole Health Life is, to put it simply, a book that discusses how our mind and body are so tightly connected and how that connection impacts our lives, especially the lives of those with a chronic illness.

Before I tell you what the book is about, let me tell you what it isn’t. The Whole Health Life is not:

  • a quick fix or a cure for your disease or a guarantee that you won’t get a disease in your lifetime
  • an alternative to every medication your doctor has prescribed for you
  • full of expensive supplements and treatments

What it is, is a comprehensive guide of simple, evidence-based solutions to improve your health from all angles. Continue reading

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PillDrill is a must for patients!

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“I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.” 

 

When I was offered the chance to have a PillDrill system sent to me to review, I had high hopes. Like many of you with a chronic illness or two, I take a lot of medications. Some are morning only, some have to be taken at night, and others are taken weekly or throughout the day as needed. I found myself jotting pain medications or antibiotics on post-it notes around the house. I tried to remember the last time I took a pain med by seeing if I happened to tweet about my pain earlier. There were days I’d start feeling strange at work and didn’t realize until I got home that night, that I hadn’t taken my morning medications.

In short, my system wasn’t working. All of that time and energy I spent trying to remember my prescriptions and jot down how I was feeling that day (to share at future doctor’s appointments) could have been spent on much better things.

Enter the PillDrill.

Continue reading

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Favorite Things Rheumatoid Arthritis

A Glowing Review for the Oska Pulse

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I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in now way influenced by the company.

To say I was skeptical when I first saw the Oska Pulse would be an understatement. How could a little, glowing, UFO looking device, help my intense, chronic pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis? In short, it could and it did.

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For over 60 years, PEMF signals (Pulsed electromagnetic fields), similar to those in the Oska Pulse, have been used to treat pain and edema in soft tissue. It’s been established that tissues, including blood, muscle, ligaments, bone, and cartilage respond to biophysical input. Where there is better blood flow (circulation), better structure, and turnover of old structures, significant improvement is possible. The signaling processes of the Oska Pulse are wide enough to respond to the majority of pain experiences and to help the body start its natural internal recovery processes. There are multiple scientific clinical studies that demonstrate the pain relief effects from PEMF signals, click here to learn more.

In short- pain radiates from a damaged area of the body and that same area then exhibits inflammation. When PEMF is applied, your body is stimulated to repair and renovate the damaged area. Immediate relief is delivered by reducing inflammation and long term relief is delivered from the repair mechanisms your body implements while using the Oska Pulse. Continue reading

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Favorite Things Rheumatoid Arthritis

Fay Farms Rejuvenation Review!

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“I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. “

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If you’ve read my blog or followed me on Twitter for awhile, you’ll know that I’ll try anything to get rid of my pain. Even when my pain is relatively under control, I still find myself wandering the first aid/pain relief aisle at the grocery store. I’ve tried every spray, balm, patch that’s OTC and plenty of prescription products as well. So, I was skeptical when I received The Fay Farm‘s Rejuvenation lotion to try and alleviate my pain.

In short, I absolutely love this product. Let me tell you why. I received this lotion shortly before my knee surgery. I was in tremendous pain prior to my surgery from both my knee and almost every other joint due to a lack of my RA medications as I was trying to keep my immune system somewhat strong for the surgery. I was taking pain medications around the clock and still wasn’t getting relief. I initially tried a little of this lotion on my hands and noticed they felt better but was still skeptical because, as I mentioned, I was taking pain meds nonstop.

After the surgery, I started having sciatic nerve pain, which was brand new to me. My hip pain came back with a vengeance, I’m sure walking with crutches didn’t help keep it away. And this lotion helped! And by helped, I mean it took my pain away! I could rub it on my hip and literally within a few minutes (sometimes needing a repeat application for stronger relief) my pain was gone.

Now that my incisions have healed, I’ve used this lotion and again, it substantially reduces my pain on my post-operative knee. This lotion is the difference between me taking a prescription pain medication and not. It even relieves menstrual cramps (TMI I know…).

So what exactly is this magical lotion? The Fay Farm’s Rejuvenation Lotion is a blend of herbs and essential oils designed to relieve joint and muscle pain. Notes of vanilla from peru balsam essential oil complimented with a delicious top note of camphor makes for a mild, almost decadent aroma.  Made with organic ingredients: Purified water, hemp oil, grape seed oil, apricot kernel oil, emulsifying wax, stearic acid, argan oil, magnesium, white sesame oil, jojoba oil, essential oils, 200 mg. CBD oil, fennel, licorice, turmeric, valerian, gluconolactone and sodium benzoate (certified organic preservative).

The lotion has a thick consistency- thick enough to really be able to rub into problem areas but not too thick that you struggle to get it out of the bottle/pump. And you truly don’t need a ton to get relief. One pump usually is enough for each area (big areas, like a hip, might need two). I’ve been using this lotion almost daily for weeks and still have half a bottle remaining.

And guess what? The Fay Farm is offering my readers a 10% discount and free shipping (within the US) if you use the code “ATJAX” at checkout. What are you waiting for?! Click here to order your own and please let me know how it works for you.

 

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Favorite Things Rheumatoid Arthritis

Mo’s Dream Cream Review

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Disclaimer: I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

As you’ve read in countless posts by me, I take a lot of pills. And although some of my pain can only be relieved with a pill, there are times when I will try everything I can to avoid taking one. I have lidocaine patches (great relief, if you can get them to stick to you…forget about large joints that you might want to move and keep a patch on at the same time), prescription NSAID gels (work pretty well but the smell leaves a lot to be desired and the copay can be expensive), and every over the counter cream you can think of (yes I own BENGAY).


Enter a new product into my pain relief arsenal: Mo’s Dream Cream. What makes this product different? It’s all natural. As in legit all natural- you can read and pronounce every ingredient: Capsaicin paste, essential oils, cocoa butter, glycerin. Sure it’s nice to be able to pronounce the ingredients but you know what’s even better about them being all natural? They are safe. Safe to use and to have around pets, children, etc. One of my favorite things that the creator, Keri, told me was that she used the lotion on her Chocolate Lab for his hip dysplasia and he was able to run again! And I absolutely love that the product is named after him and his adorable photo is on the bottle.

What else makes this product different? The product creator and owner, Keri Anderson. First of all, Keri understands chronic pain. She herself has spent years suffering from pain and has taken a variety of pain medications as well. She understands that although a pill may relieve your pain, the side effects can be gruesome (she notes being so confused that it was hard to remember her kids names at times). She also understands that most over the counter creams/lotions typically don’t offer lasting relief.

Keri spent years studying Apothecary and Chinese Herbology in an effort to create a product that would eliminate her pain for a long period of time- long enough to get a decent night’s sleep! She learned how to make her own homemade capsaicin paste that would be powerful enough to eliminate pain but not so powerful that it burned the skin.

So why should you give Mo’s Dream Cream a try? First of all, it works. I was able to use the Pain Relieving Lotion and notice a difference within a few minutes. Sometimes I would need a second application which Keri herself mentioned can be necessary with severe pain. Secondly, the scent. This product smells nothing like those drugstore creams and lotions that you’re thinking of. It doesn’t smell of chemicals- it smells fresh and clean. Even I was surprised that the cayenne sent wasn’t as strong as I expected.

Want to give Mo’s Dream Cream products a try? Use code “MOLLY4U” at checkout and you’ll get 10% off of all products/promotions. This code never expires! Click here to visit their site and please let me know in the comments if you purchase a product! I’d love to hear your opinion.

 

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Favorite Things Rheumatoid Arthritis Type 1 Diabetes

PillSuite Review

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Disclaimer: I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

Anyone with a chronic illness or two, will tell you that managing it often involves pills. A lot of pills. I easily take up to twenty pills a day- usually split into AM and PM doses. I have a great pill case for home but what about when I travel? I usually bring my bottles (which are cumbersome, large, and not good at staying closed), resulting in a ginormous carry on. If I’m just going away for a night, I use ziploc bags. A giant ziploc to hold teeny tiny pills makes no sense. So what’s a pill popping gal like myself supposed to do?

Enter PillSuite.

PillSuite is an awesome innovation in pill storage. You fill up a funnel compartment with a week’s worth of pills. You dump them into teeny little plastic bags, and push the open end into a little green machine with one giant button. Pressing that button triggers the little green machine to heat seal the plastic bag together. It is extremely easy to do and very gentle on my hands which are often not the most cooperative.

When I first received the PillSuite system, I couldn’t wait to go on a trip. I figured that would be when I would use this item. Luckily for me, I did have a trip planned very soon after I received this product. And yes, the PillSuite was extremely helpful for travel. But I learned, it has many more uses for me.

I was recently prescribed Leucovorin, which is a single pill, that I take 24 hours after injecting methotrexate. My injections tend to be in the middle of the day- not first thing in the morning or late at night, when I take my pills. I simply packaged one pill and dated the Suite for each weekend..then I didn’t have to worry about adding a pill to my case or trying to remember if I took it or not.

It’s also helpful for my children- if they go on a sleepover, I can easily pack them the single pill they will need for the day.

Overall, I found the PillSuite system to be easy to use and a great help to me in managing my medication regimen at home or away. 

You can visit PillSuite here and on their Facebook page

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Favorite Things Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lidocaine patch tip!

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If you have lidocaine patches prescribed to you, they’re a blessing and a curse. If and when they stay on, they can be really helpful in managing pain. But, depending on where you put them, they may roll off. 

In the past, I tried wrapping an ace bandage around but the pressure made the patch irritate my skin. I’ve tried tight clothing but they still tended to roll. 

But yesterday, I grabbed my cover tape that I typically use with leukotape to keep my kneecap in place:


Three strips covered the lidocaine patch and kept one in place on my knee for all 12 hours! The tape is really gentle on your skin so I had no issues when removing it. 

The tape is inexpensive on Amazon and easy to use. Let me know in the comments if you have any other tips or tricks that work for you! 

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