What’s In My Bag?

As promised to my instagram followers, here is my What’s In My Bag? Spoonie Edition! As a sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses, it is most important that when I venture from the comfort of my own home that I bring certain essentials to help me survive the cold, harsh world ( a little dramatic, I know). Above are just a few items that are my necessities for a successful outing; one that I can manage pain for the most part and have everything I could possibly need for a spoonie emergency.

My Bag: Mossimo Supply Co. miniature backpack from a while back

What’s In My Bag?

For pain:

  • Mylan Lidocaine Patch 5%: I use these pain patches for my lower back, where my nerve pain drives me crazy at times. Although, I don’t use these everyday, when I do they tend to numb the area slightly enough to provide a little relief from relentless nerve pain.
    • “Mylan Lidocaine Patch 5% is a prescription medicine used to relieve the pain of post-herpetic neuralgia, also referred to as after-shingles pain.”
  • Real Time Pain Relief© – Pain Relief Lotion: I discovered this analgesic for muscle pain and more in the exchange at a booth and I actually really like this formula in comparison with brands such as Icy Hot and BioFreeze because it has a low menthol percentage. Menthol seem to have a rough effect on my skin leading to a burning-like sensation, so I was happy to find a natural pain cream that smells good and doesn’t hurt!
    • “Real Time DAILY Relief Lotion offers hydrating moisture for your skin with Homeopathic benefits. Made with 15 of Nature’s Ingredients including Aloe Vera, Arnica, and Nutmeg, Real Time DAILY Relief nourishes the skin while relieving stiffness and pain. It supports the regenerative processes of your body and provides the relief you need on the daily. With a fast absorbing formula, invigorating light-menthol feel, and great smell, Real Time DAILY Relief is perfect for everyday use!”
  • Pain Management Medications: Dicyclomine used for IBS related symptoms such as severe stomach pain and diarrhea, Tramadol my prescribed pain medication, I’ve been taking since 2015 to help manage my chronic back and neck pain, Methocarbamol – to help with muscle spasms (back), & Zomig, my migraine medicine that I have found myself using weekly.
  • Advil: I try to limit the NSAIDS I take, but just in case the prescribed combination isn’t doing it

For Reactions:

  • Mylan Epinephrine Auto-Injectors (EpiPen®): I have been administered epinephrine three times (one in hospital, two in clinic) due to anaphylaxis and near-anaphylaxis symptoms, so keeping these bad boys on me at all times can be a lifesaver for my reactions.
  • Allergy Relief – diphenhydramine (aka Benadryl): I never know when I am going to have a mast cell reaction. Since being diagnosed with MCAD (mast cell activation disorder), I have weekly reactions that results in severe hives, diarrhea and intentional upset, and can sometimes even lead to breathing difficulties.

For Beauty:

  • Go-To Skincare Very Useful Face Cream: I got this product in my Be Kind To One Another Box (BKTOAB) from Cass and I love how light and refreshing the formula is. It makes a perfect base before applying foundation and leaves my skin feeling gorgeous!
    • “This is face cream that is as much about anti-oxidants as it is moisturisation, because anti-oxidants are just as important. They stop free radicals (found in UV rays, smoking, environmental pollutants, toxins) attacking your skin, which is the main cause of ageing in the shape of wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity and suppleness. And since we get 50-80% of our free radical damage before we turn 21, there’s good reason to be incorporating anti-oxidants into your skin care as early as possible, (and for as long as possible.)”
  • Wet n Wild CoverAll Créme Foundation: Finding the fight foundation has been a long time problem for women. What’s the right shade? How much coverage do you get? Does the foundation fade? Is it matte or sticky? So many questions and so many foundations tried and this one has been a favorite; It’s cruelty free, light on my face (not super heavy like Kat Von D’s Lock It Foundation), and covers/blends well. With it being super affordable, it’s definitely worth a try!
    • “Acne scars? Dark spots? Under eye circles? We’ve got you covered! Our cream foundation does it all. This cream makeup blends seamlessly for all-day wear, and its flawless, lightweight formula provides buildable, medium-to-full coverage that evens out skin tone and conceals imperfections. Absorbing powders rid excess oils on the skin’s surface, leaving behind a soft, satin-matte finish. Contains VisiBright™ Technology: a skin-perfecting complex that reduces the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, while hydrating skin’s natural collagen for a rejuvenating lift.”
  • Oil & Wind Silicone Beauty Applicator: I previously was using a Beauty blender, but was annoyed at the time it took to clean, the breaking of the sponge, and the amount of product wasted. This Silicone applicator has completely fixed all those problems! It’s extremely easy to use and doesn’t absorb any of the product! This ultimately saves money and is less messy! (Also doesn’t irritate my skin like the BB has in the past)
  • e.l.f. Bronzer – I’m very much in to bronzy looks, so this palette was a steal at only $4! It has made its way into my everyday makeup look.
    • “This bronzer creates a healthy looking glow all year round! The sheer soft powders provide the perfect hue of color. Blend all 4 colors together to achieve a blend of perfection or choose your favorite color.”
  • BH Cosmetics – Flat Top Buffing Brush: I got this wonderful set for Christmas last year and I love these brushes, plus they are cruelty free, which is a must!
    • “Professional makeup artists and beauty mavens will appreciate our Sculpt and Blend 2 – 10 Piece Makeup Brush Set. With face and eye brushes, the versatile collection was designed for use with liquids, creams, and powders. The full range of dual-fiber cosmetics brushes tackles a wide variety of application needs, from applying blush, bronzer, and powder to lining, defining, blending, and smudging to achieve a flawless look. Cruelty Free Synthetic Duo Fiber Brushes”
  • Natural Mineral Blush by Dusty Girls: in Golden Delicious – This was a BKTOAB item from Australia that I absolutely fell in love with. It has been my favorite all time blush that I have ever tried. The blush is really pigmented and perfect for my olive skin tone!
    • “Softly contour your cheeks with this versatile shade for a flawless, matte finish. Pressed with a blend of gold and terracotta tones to brighten your smile and enhance your complexion.”
  • Brow Wiz® by Anastasia Beverly Hills: I have extremely thin brows, so filling them in is something I like to do for a confidence booster. This has been my favorite brow product thus far, although the wand broke over time, but at least the pencil still is perfect. I had to go to the website to learn how to properly apply the Brow Wiz to get the perfect brows.
    • An award-winning ultra-slim, retractable pencil that creates precise, hair-like strokes. Use Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz®‘s fine tip to spot-fill areas where brow hair is sparse, and the custom spooley end to blend for a flawless finish.”
  • Better than Sex Waterproof Mascara: I discovered this mascara right before my engagement in October of last year and have loved it ever since. This mascara makes my lashes look so amazing and it truly is tear proof!
    • “Go ahead and cry happy tears, Better Than Sex Mascara is now WATERPROOF! Our iconic hourglass-shaped brush unlocks the volumizing formula that thickens, lengthens and curls for the most extreme, mind-blowing lashes. One coat and lashes are full, defined, and stretched to unbelievable lengths. Two coats and lashes look even more luscious, curled, and dramatic. Three coats and you’ve achieved the most intense, voluminous, waterproof lashes possible!”
  • Anderson Lilley Sicilian Tangerine Beach Butter Body Cream: I absolutely love this lotion! I got this wonderful body cream in my first FunFitFab box I ordered last year and this product has been one of my favorites, but being honest, everything in the box was pure gold!
    • “On a walk through the Sicilian countryside we came across a grove of tangerines that inspired us for this mouth watering fragrance.  Juicy citrus, fragrant blooms, Mt. Etna in the background and a warm summer breeze all around us. Tangerine, mandarin, peach, bergamot, jasmine, mango, black currant, musk, vanilla.”

Everyone Needs These:

  • Guess Sunnies: My dad bought me these on sale at the exchange and they’re perfect for protecting my baby blues.
  • Hurraw! Lip Balm in Vanilla Orange: Another BKTOAB perk! I love this lip balm because it is so smooth and smells wonderful.
  • Michael Kors Wallet: a tiny little wallet, but within lies my whole life in card forms.
  • Spare Change: for those 99 cent deals that charging the card is out of line.

Just in Case:

  • Everyday Good Emoji Bandage: I love these little bandages that Cass sent my in my Be Kind To One Another Box earlier this month. I have adhesive allergies, so these bandages are perfect for sensitive skin and their good for the environment too!
    •  “Just like the Nude range, our Emoji Biodegradable Bandages break down in 2 years and decompose completely in around 4. They’re made using 15% recycled materials and the packaging was carefully sourced to be 100% from recycled material. It’s end to end as sustainable as we could find!”
  • Fresh Nap Towlette: one word: germs.
  • Little Buddha: I bought this little guy back in 2012 on Spring Break in New York City (China Town) and since then he’s kind of my lucky little charm that I bring with me when I take my college tests a few years now. He’s even made it through being sucked up in the vacuum, so I’d say he’s pretty lucky.
  • Diet Coke: Although I am now limiting my addiction, I still indulge in a couple of precious fluid ounces of Diet Coke a day. No, Coke Zero is not the same nor better.
  • Extra Hair Ties: I never know when my hair will act up becoming unmanageable or I have had several ties actually break while in my hair (thick hair problems)

I hope everyone has a great final week in April! It’s definitely been a rough couple of days this past week, but I am trying to keep pushing forward. I am most eager to graduate on May 19th and to finally be rid of my undergraduate campus! So close, yet so far.

Xoxo,

Cass

Three Days.

I tried to write this post earlier, but a migraine came on and I had to give up and takIMG_7021.JPGe a nap. I could feel it pulsing in the vein that resides smack dab in the middle of my forehead. Naturally, I had to capture a photo to document the intensity my vein had trying to escape from my face. I mean wow, I’ve never seen it like that.

Anyways, I feel like a lot has happened since the last time I journaled:

I spent Thanksgiving morning with my boyfriend’s wonderful family and they provided a delicious home cooked meal with lots of vegetarian friendly options: sweet potatoes, mac n’ cheese, corn, rolls, potato salad, casseroles, and the amount of desserts! mmm. The only time my family has Thanksgiving is with my grandma who would cook all day and the day before making a variety of dishes, so I won’t lie, it was hard. I was happy to be around loved ones, but felt a since of great loss. I felt the sting of emptiness and pain as I remembered my grandma’s wonderful foods and her working so hard to make everyone else happy, just as Zach’s grandma did. It was bittersweet. As soon as we finished eating and searching for black Friday deals, we were off to Midland for my grandma’s visitation and funeral.

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I knew it was going to be hard. My entire dad’s family was in attendance for her funeral and she had a beautiful ceremony. I was in charge of getting the music together and I wouldn’t want anything to go wrong. I made sure that everything was perfect for the technician. I was surrounded by my aunts and uncles, cousins12295526_1518058948520350_3981899939229491289_n, parents, brother, niece, sister-in-law, and boyfriend as I confronted the heartbreaking loss of my grandma. I held my darling niece the entire time. She looked up at me with tears streaming down my face and her little confused look made me smile because she was so innocent and pure and knew nothing of pain. She couldn’t comprehend what was going on, only that her daddy and auntie and her loved ones were crying. She felt a teardrop on her hand and pointed at my eyes. She began to say something, but was quieted as it was during the service. I can only imagine she was going to say why are you sad, or why are you crying Aunt Cass? She definitely helped me with the loss because I felt so much love. I am not a mother, so I don’t know the entirety of the love a mom has for her child, but I do know how much I love my niece. I would easily die for her in heartbeat. Unconditional love felt instantly. I am lucky to have my family. My mother, father, aunts, uncles, my brother, who has completely changed from when we were children into a loving father and husband, my sister-in-law (who is eight months pregnant with my second niece!), my niece, Emelia, who is the best behaved toddler I have ever met and is genuinely kind and caring and full of life, and my boyfriend, who reassures me everything will be okay and puts up with my many moods of sadness, anger, and happiness, that interchangeably occur at various times of the day. I am lucky to have my grandma in my life, who made the biggest effort to see my brother and I as children, despite us being a military family, and I am lucky that I got to live in Texas for the past seven years to see my grandma more often and connect with her (and my extended family) for the remainder of her time on earth. After she was placed to rest we had to part ways and head back to Waco for my MRI. It’s hard to “snap” right back into normal life again. It doesn’t seem normal. Nothing seems normal.

They found two tumors on my spine: benign hemangioma(s) on my T7 and T9. My doctor called me on Wednesday to let me know that he wasn’t going to operate on them because he didn’t see that they would cause an issue. What bothers me is the increasing numbness and pain I have felt in my lower back and legs. My neurosurgeon seems to think that the Chiari is causing these issues, so I trust his judgement and am proceeding forward with the decompression surgery without the tumor removals. I will be evaluated a few months after surgery to see if any problems persist. I’m praying these tumors won’t cause me any problems and that all my issues are stemming from the Arnold-Chiari itself.

I decided to take an incomplete on chemistry and pick up where I left off next semester. My teacher said he is willing to work with me and help me anyway he can so that I do’t have to retake the class and can literally pick up right where I stopped. This is all assuming I feel well enough to attend school for the spring semester. I was luckily able to finish my other classes successfully (and I believe well): microbiology, ecology, anatomy and physiology (online) and personal fitness and wellness (online). I can’t explain enough how extremely hard this semester was for me. I am impressed that I prevailed and pushed myself through. With the support of my family, friends, and boyfriend, who provided me with love, encouragement, and transportation, I was able to make it. If I didn’t have them I would have dropped all my classes and swallowed myself in self-misery. I now only have one more final to take online and finish tomorrow.

I also got an undercut in preparation for the surgery this past Friday. My wonderful hair stylist, that I’ve been going to for over a year now, graciously donated her skills to provide me with a shave that wouldn’t turn out totally butchered (As I have sIMG_7022een with some decompression surgery photos). I understand this is an esthetic pleasure, but it meant a lot to me to keep my self confidence through this and my hair, for me, is a source of my femininity and creativeness (I like to style it [when I’m not totally exhausted {so hardly ever}]!)

I’m winding the days down now until my surgery. It’s this upcoming Wednesday.  Three days left. I am finally beginning to feel the jitters. I becoming nervous and scared. I have thoughts: maybe I should just forget about it and cancel my surgery, I would live, but be in misery. I picture a life full of pain and then say, no that would be ridiculous because I am in so much pain that it can only get better. I think about death. As much as I try to avoid it, the thought always comes back. I’m still dealing with the loss of my grandmother, which makes thinking of this even harder. I can’t imagine what would have happened if she passed away during my hospital stay. I wouldn’t have been able to go to her funeral or make peace (if you can call it “peace”). I still ache knowing I won’t see her on earth again. I know she wanted to go and be with God and didn’t want to suffer, but it still is hard.

Today was a decent day. Despite from suffering with nightmare and night sweats, I slept until about 10 am. I got my toenail and fingernails painted, purple and sparkly for Chiari, took a nap, and even got the strength to get up and go see Krampus with my mom, boyfriend, and boyfriend’s brother. This was the first movie I had seen since The Martian and was worried because I was in a lot of pain for that movie, but today I managed it quite well and only started getting pain jolts towards the last twenty minutes or so. I would say a good day.

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I ultimately want everyone to know how much I love them and how I much I  appreciate all the wonderful things that have been done for me. Never lose faith and keep pushing forward.

xoxo,

Cass.