Thursday, September 29, 2016

Changes and Moving With Chronic Illness

I haven't updated much because I've had a hard time organizing my thoughts and goals for here.  I'm still waiting on treatments, diagnosis, referrals.  A lot has started to arise at this time with our family and I know EVERYONE goes through these times.  I needed a moment to step back and be inspired while it all doesn't make sense and I may not see what the plan is.  

My youngest child has now been diagnosed twice by doctors as having hypothyroidism and I've read up on holistic ways to heal while we wait.  It may not sound like a big deal to some people but as someone who relies on medications and oxygen to maintain a disease that is still attacking my lungs and other parts of my body (still waiting on treatment for that, hardcore medication) it is because there's a load of side effects that come with it.  It's constant pressure enough for me as an adult navigating all of the health care system and at times feeling helpless. 

I read in the news recently about Katie and Dalton Prager's love story and battle with Cystic Fibrosis. At a time where I was feeling a little alone and lost for words, their story captured my heart.  I read Katie's blog, looked at their Facebook Page, and watched her Youtube Channel.  It breaks my heart that I didn't have the chance to find her sooner, because the way she spoke really reached out to me in my time of need as well as thinking back to other times I've felt this way.  

Katie and Dalton were fighters and put themselves out there without any regret, and you could just say, "YES, this was God's plan!" no doubt about it when you mention their story. Sorry, I'm fired up about it because of everything happening in my own life right now and talking to other people about this story.  This young, beautiful couple left hope, love, kindness, and strength behind for people to hold on to.  You don't have to have cystic fibrosis or lung disease to be inspired by their story, but let me say, "Thank you, Katie, for leaving behind these memories for me to not be discouraged. It may have felt like at certain times you didn't have much strength and control of things but the power of your spirit reached so MANY people! "  Seeing pictures of Katie and Dalton with their oxygen and in the hospital, every breathe was so precious!  I can't say enough, and I know there was much more I wanted to praise God for creating their story!

I struggle to put my true self out there because of fear, but Katie, Dalton, and their family knew how important these memories would be regardless of the outcome and didn't hold back.  That's what a true testimony is!  

What do you do when you're feeling kinda down?  Have any stories inspired you?  Have you read about Katie and Dalton?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Current Eyeshadow Palettes

I'll admit that when I get sucked into watching tons of reviews and tutorials on Youtube it makes me want to shop!  During my move the Shaaanxo BH Cosmetics Palette came out and I was a little bummed that I had to wait to get my hands on it but once I made it to Dallas I ordered it.  I haven't played much with the side that has lip glosses and I thought it was a little crazy since at the time it  launched matte and satin lips were all the rave... now it makes some since but I'm more of a tube glossy girl myself.  Anyhow, I've dabbled with the eyeshadow here and there thinking ugh it's one of those I have to mix with other palettes to get a more wearable look.  It takes some playing around for a pale neutrals kinda girl (even though I once said the Gwen Stefani Eyeshadow Palette didn't wow me, hey when it was full price it just felt like I moved the colors I owned into a shiny new case).  The orange color reminds me of Makeup Geek's Chickadee but I'll be honest the MUG formula is creamier and more pigmented.  Don't take this the wrong way, I think this BH palette is worth what I paid for it and it's still pigmented but takes working with for a mom like me trying to step out of her comfort zone without looking like a clown.  For now I would like to share what the shadows look like in the palette and swatched and then move on to talk about a newer palette that has similar colors with a formula everyone knows is worth every penny as well!

Shaaanxo's BH Cosmetics Eyeshadows swatched without flash. The first color is too close to my forearm color.

Swatched with flash.

These are the colors without names in the palette.

Anastasia Beverly Hills products speak for themselves. They make a woman feel luxiourous just saying the name. Yes, laugh when Youtubers sound hautey saying it!  I can remember the first palette I bought from ABH, the formula was amazing!  So creamy and pigmented and it took forever to even hit pan, which I never did because I tried to phase out some makeup.  I wanted the Amrezy Palette and waited too long to grab it then it was gone in the blink of an eye to never be seen again!  Back to Anastasia Beverly Hills new eye shadow palette, Modern Renaissance.  It has way more colors and you really barely have to touch your brush in the palette to pick any color up.  I sometimes get a little crazy thinking I need more to fluff off a bunch in the air.  That could be what's attacking my lungs!  Bad joke with a little truth, breathing dust especially talc is bad for you!

ABH Renaissance swatched without flash.
ABH Renaissance swatched with flash.

Cute, fuzzy palette but so easy to smudge with makeup.

Even in the palette these colors look amazing!

I think if you're looking for the colors that are in right now and will transition great into the fall then you should look into one of these palettes.  Shaaanxo's BH Cosmetics Palette has less shades to choose from compared to the ABH Modern Renaissance Palette but a few more shimmers and costs only $11 for anyone that is frugal when it comes to makeup.  The Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette is said to be a permanent part of the line which buys you some time if you're willing to fork over $42.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Healing Scars Skincare Reveal

I've been dealing with cystic acne, hormonal breakouts, and scarring on and off for the past seven years and I do believe that was all part of the tale tale sign that something was off on the inside. I'm going to skip all the internal talk for now and jump into what I see on the outside.  It bugged me that I would use creams and so many different products to fight acne to the point it hurt my face, my skin! I picked and tried everything.

There was a moment some of it was slightly under control and then flared up again. There were times the acne was tolerable and I would say not that bad compared to other people that came online to share their stories.  When my acne was "tolerable"  I still would look in the mirror at scars and get upset that I had to "cake" makeup on to hide it.  Wearing makeup,  you sometimes get those looks and comments from other people how they like their makeup more "natural" or don't have time for all of that.

It's an inner battle I've gone through between wanting to wear makeup, not wanting to wear makeup, to feeling like it was necessary on my way out the door (30 minutes later, okay I planned 30 which turned into 60).  I wanted my life back because I would stare so much and felt like people would stare or think I'm not pretty enough.

I once even went to a med spa and bought a package that included IPL treatments, chemical peels, a skin care kit for cleansing and treating at home, as well as makeup applications done in the office.  I never used the makeup applications and I know how gross it looked when the peel caused my skin to flake in public.  Did it work?  Yes, but it cost a lot of money and was somewhat painful as well as very inconvenient to set all of the appointments.  I didn't finish treatment because I moved and knew I couldn't keep up with it during life changes.  So I continued to deal with cystic outbreaks here and there which left more scars after some had faded (it truly worked because I was starting to lose some of my freckles that came back when I lived for the sun in Hawaii) and tried natural home remedies I found online as well as burning my face off with tons of heavy duty benzoyl peroxide (isn't so good for you).

So here I am, 32 years old with a child who has hit puberty and I'm the one reaching magic potions to clear my skin!  I purchased something a few months ago that has given me a positive outlook and helped me to feel more comfortable in my skin when I look in the mirror.  I had been waiting to review it once it stopped working; it did and I'll explain what happened.  I added another product into the mix that caused me to break out.  I was jumping way ahead of myself saying if this product works and I haven't had any sensitivity then let's go ahead try this other stuff.  I spaced the two products out by a couple of weeks because they're both chemical peels.  The other one did not sting or cause any burning sensation so I thought this is good.  My husband decided let's take the kids to the water park on that same day, so I ended up throwing on a heavy duty foundation with SPF as well as the Supergoop Setting spray with SPF I was using at the time.  When we came home and I washed off my makeup... ouch my face was so red!  It calmed down the next day but I started breaking out.  I read that it can cause your skin to purge so I continued using the other product as well as my usual arsenal I knew would help.  Unfortunately after a full two weeks on the product my skin never got better.  I went back to the original "new" product I had loved and started to see improvement right away once again.  I have only gone back to using it once a week though to give my skin a break after seeing one YouTuber share her story with overdoing it with peels and burning her skin off! Sometimes it's hard when you want to test new products in hopes to share your story of how awesome it is, because your skin doesn't always agree.

So the product that didn't work well and I had seen so many amazing reviews about?  It was luxury product Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment.  It may work for others but it didn't for me.  I bought the boxed set that came with the Luna Oil (the set costs $78 while Good Genes alone costs $105) because it sounded like a better deal.  I thought maybe one of the products could wow me if the other didn't.

For now I'll be sticking to what cost me almost $30 from and that is the Perfect Image Glycolic 30% Gel Peel Level 1.  At first it does tingle for a bit but carefully follow the instructions and it gets better with each use.  My skin appeared brighter to me each time.  I had some minor wrinkles forming between my eyebrows that faded after my first trial.  My pores were looking smaller and I was able to lay off primer the more I saw improvement.  The videos below were very helpful getting me to jump in and try the peel after purchasing and hesitating for moment on whether or not to give it a shot.

These are my personal results.  I am wearing the same foundation (one light layer of Gressa Minimalist) in both pictures with powder in the recent.
July 4, 2016
July 19, 2016
The long line at an angle is an impression I get wearing my nasal cannula for oxygen.

I'm trying to remember to take pics and take baby steps out of my comfort zone, unfortunately the lighting was different for both pictures.  Hopefully with more use I can share the improvement and help someone else dealing with this.  It does dry my skin which is helping zap the acne.  I remember sharing with one of the nurses after my lung biopsy my struggle with acne and she shared hers and actually recommended a glycolic peel as well.  The only downfall is that I will not be able to use this once I start treatment for a more concerning health issue, but that's okay!  I'd rather be around to say God has healed me!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Greater Power

I've been searching for the words to put into action over what has recently happened. Earlier this week I was riding around with my husband and mentioned we haven't visited downtown Dallas since we've been here.  I'm now left explaining to my children the current events that are in the news and in our very city.

Social media gives us the freedom to express our feelings with people all over the world.  I hope not to abuse the privilege but to bring comfort and the love of Jesus to anyone that crosses me.

Bishop T.D. Jakes said it best this way, "When something is wrong it is just wrong, and calling it wrong doesn't make you racist; doesn't make you a bigot; doesn't make you insensitive.  It just make you walk as Jesus walked: in truth." Amen!

What we are seeing is evil.  And it's opening the door to greater evil.  But as I explained to my kids tonight; when Satan moves this way it is good to know God is still more powerful.  "It would be like mommy letting you guys jump around and get the crazies out or throw a tantrum and wear yourselves out.  Then mommy could laugh because you've worn yourself out and thought you could have your way. But you know that mommy is right and in charge."  God will always have that control and we are watching and waiting for something better, but we must be obedient and continue to serve HIM!

I just want to leave it simple that my sympathy goes out to those who are hurting.  You're in my thoughts and prayers! God Bless!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Road of Referrals

I'm not one to usually make waves or ask for special treatment when I'm out in public, but when you are diagnosed with a chronic illness such as Lupus, there is an appropriate time to do so.  Let me explain what has happened.

Four years ago I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Lupus.  It was tolerable to deal with the first couple of years.  I then started having stabbing chest pains all the time and heart palpitations that sent me to the ER with normal test results.  So then it just sounded like I was crazy and worried too much.  I thought I was having a heart attack when my left arm pain came into the mix but I was sent to physical therapy for that.  Down the road my rheumatologist at the time decided to run a chest x-ray and from there on more tests and throw a pulmonolgist into the mix.  Any doctor that saw me was pretty much staring at me like you are too young for this to be anything serious. I honestly thought the cheeseburgers, pizza, hot cheetoes with queso, and sodas had finally caught up (they have if you know anything about inflammation and diet).  I was completely honest.  I did not take care of my body;  don't let my weight and appearance fool you. The only one who knew better than to judge this book by it's cover was my rheumatologist.

Anyway, after waiting over a year and a half on a diagnosis, which is still foggy to me, I am on a new path with different doctor's to fight this disease.  Positive thinking was that I get into the doctor right away and seek treatment at a hospital my old doctor suggested.

Round one, the doctor said, "I don't think it can be done."  I spoke life on it and said God would open the door.  I was also informed on what an expensive disease Lupus is to live with as if it were my choice! I declared that day it was time to stand up for myself and put up a fight. Something was a little fishy that I was being referred to the doctor's friend that is an out-of-network provider so quickly.  For being such great friends, I didn't receive the correct phone number to set up an appointment and had to search the internet and pray on this.

Was I being too picky that I wasn't being referred to one of the university hospitals my previous doctors had suggested?  I researched any information on this doctor's friend to make sure I wasn't passing up a better opportunity God had presented me with.  I couldn't find anything on this doctor except that their office runs clinical trials.  I gave them a call from the number I found online and played phone tag for the next week with their office. This practice  made no mention of patients like me with lung involvement, interstitial lung disease, or pulmonary fibrosis in their list of treatments and clinical studies.

I called my old doctor in North Carolina because she had offered to help if I hit a wall getting into the hospitals we had discussed would be best for me. I spoke with her nurse and she completely understood because they help Cancer patients who are looking for the best doctors no matter how far they are.  She told me not to give up and that it's worth fighting for; one of their patients fought the insurance company and won to see a doctor way down in Florida.  That conversation was so inspiring that I called my insurance company and tried to find out how to get this referral approved.

I was on the phone for close to half an hour asking questions back and forth, talking in circles, how did they approve this but they won't approve what I'm asking for in my situation. That didn't go well and left me asking the question, "What if my doctor won't put in the referral for the doctor I'm asking to see?"  I was told to go back in there and insist that they put the referral in because it would be approved if put in electronically at my primary care physician's office but not over the phone with the insurance company.

I thought and prayed more about whether or not to go back to this doctor's office who just came off so negative.  It just felt ridiculous to go back there as if God had placed these obstacles and warning signs to stay away from that!

Eventually I spent some time researching doctors and came across a couple that stood out by being involved in the community and in church.  Amen, here we go!  I called my insurance company and changed my primary care doctor to who was a closer drive. I made the call to get the ball going again and was told I couldn't see this doctor because he was no longer accepting new patients.  The thought crossed my mind about what I had said the first day I got heated up about being denied my preferred doctor.  I said God will open that door, I'll show that doctor!  Maybe God did want me to go back and say run the referral again this way so that doctor would have proof how great our God is?

In the mean time, I prayed and I waited. I looked up the university doctors' profiles and still felt this is exactly where HE wants me.  We came all this way, and I'm having trouble adjusting to the change but God this is what you want for me!  You want me healed!  I'm not blowing this blessing!

I called the doctor's office who wasn't accepting patients and was able to be seen by a nurse instead.  She's amazing and listened to the whole scenario without any awkward questions I'm used to and made this so quick and easy, without feeling rushed.  I had a list of doctors and explained that the insurance company would automatically approve an electronic referral.  She took notes for the person who actually submits the referrals.

I got a call a couple of days later about the referrals and for a moment it felt like we were back at square one with , 'It can't be done.' It was a little hard to really put thought into the conversation because it was so loud being in a public place. My husband suggested we step outside and call but I figured that it's the end of the day and they said they would call me tomorrow to let me know how it went with the doctors they said would be approved.  My husband gave me the extra push and my mind was refreshed sitting outside where it was quiet.  I called and left a message asking that they at least try and explained what doctors I thought would be approved at the university that were on my list of out-of-network providers like the earlier doctor's friend.

We drove home and I got a call from the referrals specialist. Doctor number one on the list was not approved but the two other specialists (a rheumatologist and a pulmonologist) were! They sounded surprised and said they had no idea how but they submitted the other requests
and they got approved!  I let out a breath of air and said, "Thank God!"

This is all a road for me to travel and share that HE does provide!  Do not give up whatever you are going through.  There will be trials, and sometimes we get impatient or cast with doubt but I'm so grateful for who HE has placed in my life to support me to fight.  Spend time in scripture even when you have to force yourself to do it.   We all have had those days!  This isn't over, but HE did open the door!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Rally For Lupus An Annual Lupus Education Conference

So, let me admit something.  I haven't exactly handled my move to Texas from North Carolina with complete grace.  I know there are awesome doctors here that can help me through this journey to cure my body from lupus and put it into remission.  I just truly miss the wonderful people I met along the way while living in North Carolina, who helped me work on my faith and feel God's presence around me.

This was filled with slides and places to take notes.
May was Lupus Awareness Month and I decided to make the best of my move here by looking to connect with other Lupus patients at the Rally For Lupus.  I was in for a big surprise.  I thought the rally would just be in like a reception area filled with people that you could slip in and out unnoticed.  Haha, funny I can't go anywhere now and hope people forget something embarrassing I did because I'm the one with the tank!

What a way to start the morning, we couldn't find the right address thanks to the navigating app we used, and so we arrived at a nearby hospital instead of the actual location to then finally build up the nerve and ask a nurse if they knew where we should go. By the time we got signed in and pointed to our final destination, we walked clinking my tank to the  front of a filled classroom in the middle of one of the speaker's presentations. My husband teased that it reminded him of high school all over again to show up late to class and then you're left with the seats up front where no one else dares to sit.

Just some of the goodies any Lupus Patient would be so grateful to receive!
Skip past my grand entrance and we were introduced to some amazing people that help patients like me manage their lives and take control of the disease, Lupus.  I was pretty psyched that there was a yoga instructor and we actually did a few moves that I whispered to my husband, "Hey, I remember doing this!" It was a breathing exercise I saw on a Yoga For Lupus video on YouTube.  We were taught some cool strengthening moves by a personal trainer, who showed so much passion to helping others live healthier lives , he also understood what Lupus Patients battle and that some may need modifications to their exercise plan.

Dr. Jamie Lynn Guyden is who really spoke to me though.  I broke down in tears because she shared such an amazing story of a young girl that struggled from Lupus but put it in remission by changing what she was putting in her body and taking care of it.  She then shared that girl was her!  She's a holistic doctor in Austin and was so fun to be around.  She approached me later because like I said, I can't blend in, only this time it was from my crying.  I would love to see a doctor like her, she's someone you could trust to be your friend through this.

I didn't know it at the time, but Tessie Holloway, President of The Lupus Foundation of America Lonestar Chapter came up to me and was so warm and welcoming.  She shared some kind words with me and I can't wait for more events like this!

I was inspired by this event that I can be healed and it's my responsibility by what I put in my body and what I do with it.  I also met a couple of ladies that are on Cytoxan treatment (like myself soon) and they were amazing to meet and keep in touch with!  God gave this all to me to speak to me and say my day is coming!  I won't be in this alone!  I am also so blessed that my husband came and sat through this long event to learn about the battle we are both fighting!

I've always wanted to share my story with people in few words and  now I can!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

My First Vegan Subscription Box!

I struggle finding natural and cruelty free beauty products that wow me from time to time after being spoiled by mainstream products that have quick results.  I've also heard that some companies claim to be cruelty free although it's really the finally product that has not been tested on animals.  I am not vegan, but I do have an interest in controlling the ingredients used on my face as well as knowing it was ethically made. 

I have been enjoying the many choices I have to shop natural products at health food stores here in Dallas.  I decided to put my online shopping habit to good use and sign up for the Petit Vour subscription box.  

I received my May and June boxes just recently and I am enjoying giving this all a test drive into a healthier choice for makeup, skin care, and hair care.  This will help me sample a few brands at once to see if anything wins me over, rather than buying full size products and paying more out of pocket. I'm so used to the easy returns through Sephora, Ulta, and Nordstrom, but I feel like I'm not losing much with the subscription costing only $15 per month. 

The boxes are hot pink and so cute with the Petit Vour bunny emblem on them and the phrase, "Be Bold. Be Kind."

May Box
I have to admit I wasn't thrilled to receive the Juice Beauty blemish treatment in my first box, because I've tried it in the past and it irritated my skin.  I probably will pass that on to someone else.  I am pretty excited to test the Mermaid Sea Salt Hair Spray for some texture on the no fuss hair days, which is often since I don't have the energy to blow dry, curl, etc.  You can never have too many lip-glosses so this one will be fun with its own mirror for applications on the go. I have never heard of Ursa Major, but the face balm sounds pretty nice that it dries down with a matte finish.

The June Box
I received two samples of mineral sunscreen lipstick by Lip CPR in the shades Sunset Coral and Plum Eclipse.
This is a Juice Beauty product I don't mind giving a shot.
I was hoping to get this to try out!  I'm a mom, 'nuff said.

I love using clay masks and this is a little different.  The full size bottle values at $70!

Like other subscription companies, Petit Vour includes a list of products and their description in the box, as well as their price.  Also, if you decide you like a product and buy it from the Petit Vour website, you collect points that you can later use to buy other things on their site.  You can earn points by reviewing what you received too!

I'm pretty pleased by how quickly my first box arrived.  I remember waiting on a list for Ipsy, especially because I don't have a Facebook account. I have a few things added to my wish list already for when I decide to buy the full size items.