A Health Story: Seeking a Diagnosis

Illness is isolating. Undiagnosed illness can be even lonelier. You are so desperate to find an answer and are just trying to make it through a day. On top of it all, many friends, family and doctors think you are being over dramatic or question if you are making it all up. If you are in this place right now, I’m so very sorry.  Something that helped me when I was in that place was to know that I wasn’t alone. For someone to simply believe me or to just say that they’ve been there before.

Today, I’m sharing another health story because I find those so encouraging. We may not always experience full healing, but there is so much to learn from suffering in illness and it is incredible to see how people grow in those experience.

This health story is from a person very near and dear to me- my brother.  He has been struggling with episodes of symptoms for 5 years now without any answers. His story could be so discouraging, but instead it is filled with hope.  He has shared his story directly on his blog, which you can find HERE.  Be sure to check out his other posts- he has traveled the world and has such interesting content there from his many adventures!

Lastly, if undiagnosed illness is part of your story, I want to say that I’m always here to listen. In church on Sunday, the first week of Advent which is focused on hope, we studied a surprising passage – Psalms 13. But truly it was so filled with hope and so relevant to my brother’s story (and maybe yours too), that I had to end with sharing it:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die….

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.

Potty Training

Before my daughter even turned 2, she started showing interest in going potty on the toilet. As annoying as diapers can be, they somehow seemed easier than a potty-trained toddler needing to visit the public restroom constantly and not making it long on car trips. So I delayed it for a few months, knowing it was time to start, waiting for me to be ready more than her.  In early January, we decided that the cold weather was a perfect time to stay inside for a week and go for it. Success! Our girl was daytime potty-trained before her 2nd birthday.

I had no idea there was so much to learn about potty training. So many ways to do it and opinions.  If you are nearing this stage with your little on, here are a few recommendations:

9781501122989_p0_v4_s550x406FIRST- read the book Oh Crap! Potty Training: Everything Modern Parents Need to Know to Do It Once and Do It Right. It’s a super quick read, and funny, and filled with practical tips.  The author takes a long weekend inside & naked approach for teaching them initially, and then moving to no-undies for a stage until they get it. I appreciated that it taught about the signs your toddler will show, skills I have continued to use since.

She does not use a reward system, but rather simple praise and normalization of using the toilet to make them feel like a proud, big kid.  This worked really great for us.  However, several months into being potty trained, my husband and I went on our first vacation away from our daughter and she completely regressed when we got back. She stopped going on the potty AT ALL. It was so frustrating and it wasn’t until we started using jelly beans or M&Ms as a reward that she started using the toilet again. Eventually, she forgot about the reward and it became normal again, and has been since.  We occasionally still use the treats to convince her to go before a long car trip.

We prepared our daughter & kept her interested in the potty-training idea a couple ways:

  • We started reading the lift-the-flap book A Potty for Me! to her. She loved it and wanted to read it daily / multiple times each day / on the potty.
  • downloadWatched the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episodes about going potty & sung the songs from the show constantly:
    • Season 1, Episode 11 is free to watch on Prime. The song goes: “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away. Flush and wash and be on your way!”
    • Season 3, Episode 23. The song goes: “Do you have to go potty? Maybe yes. Maybe no. Why don’t you sit and try to go.”
    • Download the Daniel Tiger Parents app to your phone- you can play the songs there and watch related clips from the show.

And finally, a few must-haves to get:

  • For the very early days of potty training when you may have zero seconds to make to the toilet, it helps to have this portable potty in the room with you. $5 well spent!
  • We liked this removable toilet seat for $8.  We also ended up installing this toilet seat in our downstairs bathroom with a toddler seat built in- it looks much nicer and is super easy to install and to clean.
  • A couple of step stools
  • Wet/Dry Bag – I had these from cloth diapering, but they really come in handy when potty training for the diaper bag. Keep an extra set of clothes in there for accidents and then you can just put the soiled clothes in there to bring home and pop directly into the washer. These are also great for the wet swimsuits coming home from the pool!
  • Flushable Wipes – no one told me these are ESSENTIAL. I ended up getting these delivered via Prime Now the second day we were stuck at home potty training. They live by all our potties and in my purse now for on-the-go.
  • Make some foaming hand soap to make washing hands fun!
  • Coffee & wine. You’ll need it for that first weekend 🙂 You can do it, mama!

Good luck!

 

Ladies- Check Out the Cup!

Ladies – We all know it’s never fun when it’s that time of the month, but I’m about to share a recommendation that can make it a whole lot better!

Cramps and pain have become the norm. It’s not supposed to hurt.  I used to suffer for days each cycle, but have made a few changes that have dramatically relieved the PMS symptoms I experienced for years.  One was adding a natural progesterone cream to my routine. Another change was using magnesium regularly.  Changing what I used during menstruation was one I never imagined would have such a huge impact.

There are risks to using tampons and pads. Of course, the major risk from tampons is Toxic Shock Syndrome. The cotton often contains harmful chemicals and pesticides that can really mess with hormones. And the plastic can contain BPA, another hormone disruptor. The exposure for several days each month is likely more than you think. While going organic could solve those issues, you’ll also spend a lot. Plus, it’s still no help to the environment.

A few years ago, I found out about menstrual cups.  It was a healthier option that was re-usable, so better for the environment, and claimed to be more effective and comfortable. I decided to try the Diva Cup and I’ll never, ever go back to tampons or pads!!

My cramps went away almost immediately and I found it so much more comfortable.  I don’t ever notice wearing it, which is something I could never say about the other options. I also found it so much more effective. It truly lasts ALL DAY – 12 hours – and I’ve never had a leak.  PS- there is no risk of TSS from menstrual cups.

If you are still using tampons and pads, you absolutely must try the Diva Cup. (FYI- there are two sizes, one for pre-kids/age 30, and one for after). Many of my friends are now on this bandwagon and will also never go back.  A few also recommend other brands like FLEX or Luna if you want to check your options.

Skeptical? Let me know if you try it and what you think!

I’m also here to answer those awkward questions… like the “how to use” tips that me and my girlfriends have talked about while watching The Bachelor that I didn’t detail here 🙂

Roasted Delicata Squash

delicataSquash season might be my favorite food season! And delicata squash is my favorite of all. Yes, even better than acorn and spaghetti and butternut and pumpkin. Haven’t heard of it? I hadn’t either until last year.  You’ll see them with the other squashes in the grocery store and they look more like decorative gourds than anything edible. They are named “delicata” for their delicate skin- so thin you can eat it.

Delicata squashes are narrow and yellow with green stripes (and sometimes orange too) on the rind. Select one that is firm and heavy for its size. Avoid ones that are more light green- they are not ripe. Even the ripe ones I have purchased have lasted a few weeks in my pantry before I cook them.

Besides tasting so yummy, my favorite thing about this particular squash is how easy it is to prepare and cook.  This is my recipe for the perfect roasted squash – the slightly sweet bites will melt in your mouth, with a perfect crisp to the skin.

Ingredients:

  • 2 delicata squash
  • drizzle of oil (I recommend olive, coconut or avocado)
  • salt & pepper

Preparation:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 420 degrees.
  2. Wash the squash since you will be eating the skin.
  3. Cut the squash in half length-wise. If you have trouble cutting it, pop in the microwave for 20 seconds to soften.
  4. Scrape out the seeds and stringy stuff (is there a term for that?) from the inside of your halves.
  5. Cut horizontally into 1/2 – 1 inch slices.
  6. Arrange on a roasting pan, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Split apart so each has its own spot on the pan.
  7. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes (depends on the thickness of your slices), taking out halfway to toss so pieces get equal time to brown on the bottom of the pan. It’s perfect when both sides are a light roasted brown.

Enjoy!!

 

Natural Deodorant Review: Kopari & Alaffia

It’s been years since I found out how dangerous and toxic regular antiperspirant deodorant is, and since then I have been on a mission to find a safe, natural alternative that actually works.  I’ve tried A LOT of different kinds and brands and most have worked for awhile but seem to lose their effectiveness over time.  Maybe that’s the way natural deodorants go?

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I’ve been using a new natural deodorant for the past 6 months, through the hot Texas summer, and I’m still loving it, so I hope it’s okay to finally share this recommendation.

Kopari Deo has none of the bad stuff- aluminum, silicon, parabens or phthalates.  It does, unfortunately, contain fragrance, but I haven’t had a reaction to that like some do. It also doesn’t have baking soda, which makes it less of a skin irritant.

I do find that this deodorant lasts the full day. I wore it to Sea World this Summer and it passed that test! I love how smooth it is and easy to apply (more like a “normal” deo you would get at the store- I missed those). I love the very light scent. And I feel like this is a hydrating (coconut oil), non-irritating option that I can actually apply right after shaving.

Kopari has an auto-ship program that gives you a discount on the product + free shipping, so I get this delivered to my door for just $12 every 3 months. If you would like to try it for $10 off your first order, use this link. Plus – if you don’t love it, you can return it for free!

I also find that I generally need to switch up the deodorant I use, at least a couple times a week, in order for it to stay effective. I’ve been switching off with Alaffia Lavender & Activated Charcoal Coconut Reishi Deodorant. Alaffia is also free of parabens, phthalates, sulphates and aluminum, with the added bonus that it has no artificial fragrances!

There isn’t enough charcoal in this to irritate the skin (it is still a super smooth stick), but enough to provide a bit of an antiperspirant effect. It feels very hydrating and I love the light, natural scent in this one too.  I also like that you can get this at the grocery store for only $6, so makes it cheap and convenient. The only reason I don’t use it every single day is that it doesn’t last for an entire day like Kopari, but it is a really good “relief” option.

If it helps, here’s a list of what I’ve tried previously that worked at least for a bit:

    • Primal Pit Paste – my favorite in terms of the ingredient list, but didn’t last through an entire day.
    • Tom’s, Silver Shield & Lafes Crystal – all just simply stopped working over time.
    • PiperWai – the most effective natural antiperspirant I’ve found BUT I had a reaction to the charcoal during pregnancy and I’ve never been able to wear it again without major skin irritation (hormones??)
    • YoungLiving AromaGuard – actually very effective but I don’t like the price + shipping and the scent is a little strong to me.
    • Schmidt’s Rose Vanilla Natural Deodorant – I really wanted to love this one as it is easily available at the grocery store, cheap and smells great, but it just didn’t last a full day for me.

 

I’m always open to suggestions! Native is currently next on my list.

Let me know what you think!