Official Enviroklenz Affiliate! MCS-approved Cleaning Products

Hey guys! I’ve talked before about how much I love Enviroklenz, and I’m still using their laundry products and air filters every day. You can read my thoughts in-depth by clicking here.

If you’re interested in getting some of these environmental protection products for yourself, and supporting this blog at the same time, I now have a handy button at the bottom of every page on this site! When you order using that button, I get a little commission and every little bit helps me keep this blog up for you guys. Plus you get some great, safe cleaning products for yourself. Using stuff like this helps lighten the day to day chemical load you put on your body, which lowers your chances of MCS and other chemical reactions and helps keep you healthy.

I’m also going to put a couple of big banners in this post since we’re here and they’re cool.

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Ya need to clean anyway right? Plus, you know that I wouldn’t put a permanent button on this website for any product I didn’t believe in and use myself. I’m not going to sell out on you guys – this button is really here for you. I hate shopping for cleaning stuff. I read the labels to try and be informed and usually can’t find a single thing with little to no harmful chemicals and fragrances. I don’t have MCS or eczema (if you do then you probably already use things like these) but I’ve always been sensitive to fragrances products, especially laundry stuff. So yes, I really am using this and it really has helped me.

I promise to stop talking your ear off about it now! Just know that handy button will always be down there just for you the next time you need cleaners or air purifier stuff.

Love you all! And OF COURSE don’t forget to make a rage comic and enter the #spoonieragecomiccontest! It’s free and there’s prizes! Go go go!

Invisible Illness Rage Comic Contest!!!

You don’t see rage comics around as much these days, and that makes me sad. I love a good rage comic.

What’s a rage comic, you ask?

It’s a comic strip made from a series of pre-drawn expressions of various emotions– oh nevermind. I’ll just show you!

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So yes. These little characters can be strung together with doodles to convey little weird slices of life. So I thought WE NEED INVISIBLE ILLNESS RAGE COMICS.

SO LET’S HAVE A CONTEST!!!

You can make your very own rage comics by clicking here!

There’s only one rule: your comic must be about living with invisible/chronic illness.

You can submit as many times as you like!

Just make your comic, save it, and post it on instagram or twitter using the hashtag #SpoonieRageComicContest by March 20th! You have ONE MONTH! Use it well!

What will you win? Your pick of any item from the Official DoILookSick Store!

So hop to it!

Here’s my chronic illness rage comic for inspiration:

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I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

Doing What You Can Even When It Seems Too Small

There’s all kinds of things wrong with the world, and everyone has some issue that they get fired up about. Recently, the Women’s March made waves around the world.

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And lots of women were out there marching for lots of different issues. Pro-choice, Pro-life, women demanding equal pay, women demanding a safer world, women standing with Standing Rock, women who won’t tolerate being talked about they way certain Presidents talk… almost any issue you can think of.

BEN GARVER — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE  A sign carried in the Washington DC Women's March was delivered by Paul Johansen to the Shire  City Sanctuary for Febuary exhibit of art from the women's marches.

This was a march for like…everything. It seemed like every issue that people get fired up about was represented, even both sides of arguments showed up. Pro-lifers were marching right along with pro-choicers. Yet there were still some who just couldn’t find an issue to cheer for, so they protested protesting!

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But all of these people all over the world with all these views have something in common. They all went through a series of universally human steps:

  1. They felt a fire in their belly about something.
  2. They made up their mind to take action towards real change.
  3. They took whatever action they could think of.

Take me, for instance. I was diagnosed with endometriosis as a high school senior, but it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I started feeling the fire in my belly for health activism. At the time, I didn’t know a word for it, but it was health activism. I saw the discrimination of myself and others who don’t “look” sick, and were written off as liars, party girls, drug addicts, or attention-seekers.

Once the fire in my belly got hot enough, I reached step two: I NEED TO DO SOMETHING.

I cannot accept the way things are. I know that people can learn. I want to teach them. I want them to learn the science of these illnesses and health in general! Health education is so, so lacking in America. I can tell you exactly how a plant uses water and sunlight to create energy and grow and what makes a plant healthy or unhealthy, but I graduated without even knowing what all my lady parts are even for and how diet can drastically affect how your body functions. As Trump would say, “SAD!”

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But here’s the kicker. Everyone everywhere has gone through steps one and two, but so many people give up before step three. Why? It’s not because the fire has gone out. It’s because any action we can think to take often seems too small. I’m just one person. I’m not a politician, I can’t control laws. I’m not an educator, I can’t change what people learn in school. I’m not a doctor, I can’t cure people. I’m just one sick person. There’s nothing I can do.

Either that, or we reject the ideas we do have. I could start a fundraiser, but it would annoy my friends and family. I could protest, but what if I’m alone? I could donate money, but where does it go and what does it do? I could write things on the internet, but literally everyone does that and it would be a drop in the ocean.

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I decided to go for it. What could I think to do? Well, I was a creative writing major. I could write something – what? A blog. Because it’s free and (in theory) the whole world could read it. Could. Probably wouldn’t, but it was possible. And what about my school? The discrimination that put a fire in my belly all happened at my university. I needed those students, specifically, to read what I had to say.

How? I decided to make posters. Just black and white, 8 1/2 by 11, self-printed posters.

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Aww look at my old url. Anyway, I posted these all over campus, occasionally getting scolded, and feeling quite sure no one would ever read them or my blog but whatever. Like I said, I had to do something.

I got an email from an anonymous person thanking me for bringing this issue forward, but it was one out of the dozen or so emails I got telling me to please stop so it seemed like not a lot. But then a really crazy thing happened – a girl stopped me on campus and said “I recognize you… you’re on those posters!”

We ended up having a seat on a bench and talking for upwards of thirty minutes. She had a bone marrow disease (I wish I could remember exactly what) and had struggled so much with faculty and other students not believing how sick she was. She was vibrant and full of life and of course, didn’t look sick. She told me that seeing the posters made her feel less alone. And she thanked me.

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So this one little thing that I was sure would make no difference… made a difference. This dumb thing that was the only thing I could think to do actually did something. What I thought would be too small to notice was noticed.

I did what I could and it made a small difference.

I did what I could and it was worth doing.

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Nowadays, I’m still pretty sure everything I do for this fire in my belly is too small. Womens’ healthcare costs remain high (LORDT that is always on my mind) and we have some lawmakers now making things harder. People still post hateful notes on cars parked in the handicapped spot if they’re driven by a healthy-looking individual. This blog has won some awards, but I get about 50 views a day, post super irregularly, and still get a lot of hits from people looking for info on David Bowie.

Most days, this feels too small to be worth doing.

But occasionally I get someone thanking me and telling me how much it’s meant. And I have to think that for every person who says something, there must be more people who don’t speak up, but who glean something from this. And hey, I even had the head of the UNT disability office call me to chat and make sure they were doing all they could for their students.

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So just know that even if it seems too small, do it. Do it for the fire in your belly, do it for yourself, and do it for the world. Think of how much better a place the world would be if everyone did what they could!

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A Written Spoonie Experiment Review: Peggy’s Turtle Song

So. This blog has been basically dead and empty for….an embarrassingly long time. I’ve had a sort of perfect storm of good intentions and too high expectations. I’ve been working on three things: a book review (I’m about 2/3 through reading it), a review of an awesome health tool from The Allergista, and a Spoonie Experiment video review. And sorting through a few guest posts and interviews. The problem is that each of these things take a lot of time to prepare, and I had nothing to fill the gap while I prepared them.

So I’ve decided that henceforth, Spoonie Experiment reviews will be written instead of being videos. I was going to (finally) film today, but of course I have a cold and can barely talk. And when am I going to have time to film again? Between my almost one-year-old (what??) and working from home and LIFE in general, filming these reviews just isn’t sustainable. Plus I don’t think the videos have been all that popular with you guys. If there was a high demand, I’d find a way. Because I love you.

Anyway, long story short, I’ll try to plan better in the future and here’s a review and analysis of another King of the Hill episode!

This one is called Peggy’s Turtle Song, and you can watch it here:

So the story begins with Bobby in a situation I am all too familiar with: the guilty pleasure of eating terrible breakfast cereal. I freaking LOVE cereal. I try to eat “healthy” options from time to time… but right now my pantry is full of Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops. I am addicted.

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Anyway, enough about my problems. Bobby starts the day with three bowls of cereal and is flying on an epic sugar high. Under the influence, he acts out in school and winds up in the school nurse’s office where he is promptly diagnosed with ADD.

Now sure, this is played for laughs but I do think ADD is way over-diagnosed in this day and age. And it’s not that I don’t believe it exists– my best friend has ADHD– but I do think that kids today are over-medicated and over-diagnosed with behavioral and developmental disorders. They’re growing and learning, each kid is different, sometimes they eat sugar…

Right. So back to the episode.

Hank: “Why has no one mentioned this before?”

Nurse: “Very few people have access to the pamphlets I do.”

The very first thing the nurse suggests is medication. Again, the hastiness is played for laughs (plus we’ve only got 23 minutes to get this story told), but it’s a joke that kind of flies by because that’s how healthcare in America is. There’s medicine and alternative medicine. Anything that’s not a chemical drug falls under alternative medicine, and everyone knows alternative medicine is for hippies. We’re conditioned to expect a pill every time we talk to a doctor. So it isn’t all that farfetched to think a boy might be put on medication for ADD after one day of acting out in class.

The only alternative is a “special school.” So Hank takes home a stack of the aforementioned pamphlets and tries to pick a medication while Peggy worries that this is somehow her fault. So, with all the best intentions, Peggy decides to quit her job and “devote herself full-time to being a mother.”

Now, I know I haven’t even been a mother for a full year yet, so maybe I’m not qualified to speak on the subject, but I don’t think Hank and Peggy are being helicopter parents or bad parents in any way here. They trust in their doctors and they’ve done a little research of their own and they want to do whatever their son needs. That’s all awesome. I’ve had enough experience with doctors to know not to trust everything they say and that they don’t always have the best information (or your best interest at heart). If it were me, I’d have done a lot more research and sought out more opinions. Not that that’s easy, since most doctors have a wait list of months for new patients.

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So Hank has a talk with Bobby about is “rare disease in his brain” and tells him that even though they’ve always taught him to “never do drugs,” he will now be taking medication after every meal.

The show is such a great commentary on this situation that I really don’t have much to add. Underappreciated genius, thy name is King of the Hill.

The next morning, Luanne speaks very slowly to Bobby, asking “Do you know me?” Now even though the show is obviously implying that Bobby doesn’t actually have ADD, this is nonetheless a great example of what people have to deal with after a diagnosis. When I was diagnosed with anxiety, I had people ask really delicately “…are you…okay?” As if a diagnosis drastically changes a person overnight. You know, because they didn’t really have ADD/anxiety/whatever until a doctor made it official!

Public service announcement: people with illnesses are as normal as they were pre-diagnosis after they get a label.

“In a half hour or so, you should find yourself real interested in stuff that would normally bore the pants off you.”
-Hank Hill

Another public service announcement: Pills aren’t made of magic.

But they are powerful.

As Bobby soon finds out.

On the bus to school, his speech is slower and he hears a loud grating noise – a fly on the window rubbing its legs together.

I personally have not experienced drugs like Ritalin, but I have felt my perceptions change under the influence of different drugs. When I was first put on anxiety meds, it was from a gastrointestinal specialist and he just kinda said this might help. I believed him and agreed after minimal research– just like Hank and Peggy. And after I had been on it for a little while, I still didn’t feel much different, so he upped the dose. I found myself feeling very numb. I would hear sad stories on the news and think “that should make me feel sad. I should feel something about this.” but I just didn’t. I started noticing that things I usually got excited about seemed boring as well. It was like someone had just turned my emotions off.

Drugs are crazy, man.

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Peggy starts to go a little nuts being a stay at home mom. Bobby is strung out on meds all the time, commenting on the tiny, mundane details of life. Luanne says she wishes she could take “miracle smart pills” too.

That’s another great, subtle nod at how people react to a chronic illness in a friend or family member. I’m sure you’ve heard similar things: “I wish I got to stay home from work!” “It must be nice to take naps.” One I hear a lot is “now that’s a problem I wish I had!” when they hear that I’m underweight and have a lot of trouble gaining weight.

Yup. Being unhealthily skinny is pretty in right now I guess. But would you want all the problems that go with it? Because it sure is easy to only see one detail and miss the big picture.

From here, the episode focuses on Peggy’s stay-at-home-mom problems, which I’ll keep my comments on to a minimum. I am a new stay-at-home-mom myself, but this isn’t going to turn into a SAHM blog, I promise. 😉 Needing to fill her extra time, Peggy starts taking guitar lessons and writes a song about a turtle – hence the title of the episode.

Bobby’s story is the subplot, but even with minimal screentime this episode captures perfect snapshots of things everyone with a chronic illness can relate to. Over dinner, Bobby interrupts the conversation to groan “when can I take my next pill?” Peggy tells him not until after dinner. “I’m going to take a little nap. Paying attention all day really tires me out.” responds Bobby, before falling asleep with his eyes open.

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I know those feels, Bobby. I know those feels.

So later on, Luanne is talking to Bobby about her problems at beauty school. She says she tried to figure out why she’s doing poorly on exams, but she gets bored just thinking about it. Bobby realizes she must have caught his ADD. “I know when, too. It was when I sneezed in your face.”

“I don’t remember that…”

“Well… you were asleep.”

For any yahoo answers people who wound up here by mistake: ADD is not contagious by sneezing or any other means.

Anyway, angry and desperate to do well in school, Luanne snatches Bobby’s pill and takes it herself.

Later on, at Peggy’s concert, Bobby is really just a background character but he’s the old Bobby we know and love. On the drive home, Hank comments that he really noticed an improvement in Bobby’s behavior today. Bobby sheepishly admits he didn’t take his pill today. His parents asked why and he said Luanne needed it really badly. And anyway, he just couldn’t take the rush anymore. He tries to describe it but eventually it just degenerates into shuddering.

When the family gets home, they find Luanne in the front yard trimming the shrubs into different shapes.

“Welcome home! I cooked you brunch and I tuned your car and I fixed your mower and I ate the brunch.”
~Luanne

After seeing this wild display, Peggy suggests they do some more research on those pills.

Even as a subplot, King of the Hill not only captures these struggles and situations really well, but it even has a few lessons. The biggest moral of the story is to do your research, and read more than the information your doctor gives you. Get a well-rounded education from multiple sources on any medication or diagnosis you get. It doesn’t matter if you’re not scientifically inclined or if you think it’s boring. In the end, it’s your body and you’re the one who’s got to live in it– NOT your doctor! So do all you can.

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I want to apologize one more time for taking so long to post something. Our first Christmas with a little one has been crazy and it’s still over a week away. Like I said, I’ve got a lot of cool things in the works for you guys, and I’ll be posting again soon.

Happy Holidays everyone!

DoILookSick Online Caricature Event!!! Sign Up Now!

Health isn’t just skin-deep, and many of us don’t look as sick as we feel. But on the flipside, being chronically ill can have a very negative effect on our self-image. When we look in the mirror, we often see someone who is tired, a failure, lazy, too skinny or too fat, not strong enough, or any other innumerable examples of negative self-talk.

One remedy to these feelings is to see yourself through someone else’s eyes. That can be easier said than done. One whimsical way to do this is through drawings. Check out this video from Dove where a police sketch artist draws each woman twice – one based on her description of herself, and one based off a description given by someone they just met.

I love this idea. And I love having drawings done of myself! I think it’s so interesting to see how someone else sees me.

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So this idea has been rolling around in my head for some time now. I’m hosting an online portrait/caricature drawing event! You do NOT need to have an invisible illness to participate! The whole point of “Do I Look Sick” is that looks alone can’t tell you what’s going on inside a person, so we need participation of well and sick alike.

Since September is Chronic Pain Awareness Month, let’s get a good visual of people from all backgrounds and age groups and show that you can’t tell by looking who is dealing with chronic pain.

GROUP PORTRAIT – FREE

Anyone and everyone can sign up to be a part of the group portrait! It’s completely free! All I need is for you to send a picture of yourself to diehardguardgirl@yahoo.com with the subject line “GROUP PORTRAIT.” It will be in a similar style to this one I did of me and my coworkers a while back:

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SOLO PORTRAIT – $2.00

This will be the exact same drawing from the group portrait, but singled out so you have a nice little doodle of yourself. Send $2.00 via paypal as a gift (“to friends and family”) to diehardguardgirl@yahoo.com and write SOLO PORTRAIT in the note. Email me your photo and you’ll automatically also be included in the group portrait!

SUPER YOU – $5.00

A while back I did an entire blog post where I illustrated some of my favorite bloggers using their blog title to design them as a super hero. If you would like me to do this for your blog, just send $5 as a gift (“to friends and family”) via paypal to diehardguardgirl@yahoo.com and in the notes include a URL to your blog. You’ll also be included in the group portrait! Don’t have a blog? You can still be a superhero! Just tell me what powers you want or what you want your name to be and I’ll take it from there.

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MY BEST EFFORT – $10

For $10 (gift “to friends or family”) via paypal to diehardguardgirl@yahoo.com I will sit down and do my best portrait attempt for you. Write “MY BEST EFFORT” in the notes and email me your picture and I will include you in the doodle-y group portrait but I will also do a “real” portrait of just you in my style using all my patience and great effort. I don’t have any kind of recent examples of portraits I’ve done, so here’s a random drawing I did of Maleficent with some eyeball problems:

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Disclaimer: I’m not a real artist and I’m kind of a weirdo BUT I promise I will draw you with the correct amount of eyeballs in the proper places. You’ll also be included in the group portrait!

BIG SPENDER REAL LIFE PORTRAIT – $20

There are no example pictures here because it’s pretty rare that I get out real paper and pencils and paint and like, make an actual physical picture. But if you send $20 as a gift via paypal to diehardguardgirl@yahoo.com, we’ll test my artistic prowess together. Email me your photo and mailing address and I will send my original painting to you. You will of course be included in the group portrait as well!

Commissioning artwork of yourself is fun and promotes good self-image and self-talk. I’m excited to see how this portrait of all of us together comes out. I think it’ll be a really cool keepsake commemorating our community here.

The sign up period will END on September 18th – that gives you 10 days to sign up and spread the word so that our group portrait is full of awesome people! The group portrait will be posted by the end of September (which is chronic pain awareness month – don’t forget!). After September 18th I’ll let you know when the other commissioned portraits will be done depending on how many people sign up for them.

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Happy Pain Awareness Month! And remember – love yourself!