My Journey With:

Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) ~ Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) ~ Focal Impaired Awareness (Complex Partial) Seizures ~ Fibromyalgia ~ Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP) ~ Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) ~ TMJ Dysfunction ~ Bipolar Disorder Type I Rapid Cycling With Psychotic Features ~ Migraines ~ Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) ~ Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) ~ Keratosis Pilaris (KP) ~ Complex-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) ~ Panic Disorder ~ Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) ~ Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) ~ Self-Harm ~ Bilateral Piezogenic Pedal Papules ~ Hashimoto's Thyroiditis ~ Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) ~ Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ~ Specific Phobias ~ Chronic Daily Headache ~ Eczema

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Review: How to Be Sick

This review is cross-posted at Smart Fibro Chick, Please Tape Me Back Together, and The Lovely Bookworm.

How to be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers
by Toni Bernhard

ISBN 978-0-86171-626-5
191 pages

© 2010

Wisdom Publications

Health, Fitness, & Dieting > Disorders & Diseases > Chronic Pain

How to be Sick by Toni Bernhard

The title of this book, How to be Sick, might make some people think that the author is recommending ways to be sick.  It couldn't be further from the truth.  Toni Bernhard takes the reader through different Buddhist-inspired practices to accept being sick, to meditate while in pain, and to dwell in the present moment.  She was a law professor at University of California at Davis.  She became a practicing Buddhist years before becoming sick, and attending many retreats before than time.  In May 2001, while on a romantic trip with her husband in Paris, Bernhard contracted what she calls "the Parisian Flu," whose later diagnosis included Myalgic Encephomyalitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or ME/CFS, dysautonomia, as well as other illnesses.

How to be Sick takes the reader through change, acceptance, finding joy and love, transformation, and solitude.  One of the practices that helped me the most in this book was one that Bernhard learned from her daughter, that came from Byron Katie.  When the thoughts, worries, and pain become too much, this practice helps me to stay in the present moment.  Some other mindfulness practices I've found useful is to wear a half-smile.  One I've yet to try, but hope to soon, is mindfulness while making tea.  The ideas Bernhard gives the reader in this book are many, and with practice and research I think you could discover even more.

Toni Bernhard
This book was written in an easy-to-read style; even in severe pain I could understand it.  Bernhard speaks to the reader as if she is confiding in you, and after I finished How to be Sick I felt like I really knew Toni Bernhard.  The book is divided up into chapters and sections, making it easy to find what you are looking for when you go back to do a practice.  The cover features a big blue butterfly, which I found calming before I even opened the book.

Almost all of the information in this book was totally new to me.  I felt my eyes opened and could hear myself actually gasping "wow" when I read particular practices that resonated with me.  If you are chronically ill or the caregiver of someone chronically ill, I suggest this book as highly as I can.  It would work for anyone needing a bit of inspiration, as well.  This was a wonderful book.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A is for Aspercreme - a review of OTC topical pain relievers

If you are a long-time reader of my blog, a Facebook friend, a Twitter follower, a YouTube subscriber, or know me in person, you may have noticed that I love Aspercreme.  Let me state, that I am not being paid for this blog.  I just really, really like Aspercreme, so I thought I'd do a blog entry reviewing topical pain relieving creams that I've tried, that you can buy over the counter.  These topical cremes, patches, and lotions are made for mild or moderate pain.  I'm going to be covering the following OTC topical pain relieving products:

  • Biofreeze
  • Freezeit
  • IcyHot
  • IcyHot patch
  • BenGay
  • Stopain spray
  • Flexall 454
  • Salonpas patch
  • Mobisyl
  • Aspercreme creme 
  • Aspercreme creme heat
  • Aspercreme lotion

The first one I want to discuss is Biofreeze.  I just tried Biofreeze for the first time a couple of months ago when I emailed their webiste, asking for a free sample.  I'm not sure if they are still running the free sample program or not, but the homepage for Biofreeze can be found here.  Biofreeze uses Menthol as the active ingredient.  Biofreeze helps a lot, but it makes you uncomfortable because of how hot then cold you get.  It's similar to getting chills.  Biofreeze comes out blue, but doesn't stain your clothes.  The chills eventually reside and the pain relieving properties get to work-but they don't last long.

The next one I want to discuss is the off brand of Biofreeze, called Freezeit.  I used Freezeit a lot before I ever used Biofreeze.  Freezeit gives you worse chills than Biofreeze does, but the pain relieving properties last much longer.  I think Biofreeze relieves more pain, but since it lasts so short, I think I recommend Freezeit.  I like using the roll on kind.  I buy Freezeit from Wal-Mart.

IcyHot is a popular choice and a sort of tried and true topical pain reliever.  Personally, the chills IcyHot gives me are incredibly uncomfortable.  When I use IcyHot and I'm already in pain, it feels like someone is dipping acid on my raw nerves, especially if I am experiencing nerve pain at the time.  I really do not recommend IcyHot.  The Icy part makes me so cold my teeth chatter, and the Hot part makes me so hot I have to take off all my clothes, stick my in the freezer, and I still sweat like crazy.  I really, really don't like IcyHot.

I like IcyHot patches a lot better than IcyHot you get from the tube.  For some reason, IcyHot patches don't give me chills like the IcyHot in the tube.  Instead it seems to put in a constant amount of pain medication into the area of the patch.  I forget I have them on.  They are really comfortable, and they usually stay on quite awhile, unless you put it on a part of your body that moves a lot.  I can even keep them on all day on my mid-back or my hips.  I really like these.

Ben Gay is an old stand-by for many people, causing a lot of "old people" jokes about the elderly smelling like it.  It is a stinky, stinky medicine, but it does work--somewhat.  It burns your skin sometimes, which hurts.  I know to never, ever take a warm or hot shower after rubbing on B en Gay.  Also, do not rub your eyes, do not not cover up with a heating blanket after putting on Ben Gay, and do not put it on your face.

Stopain spray really can lower muscular pain levels, but at the extent of incredible chills and a strong acidic burning sensation on your skin.  The trade-off is too unequal for me, and I choose not to use Stopain.

Flexall 454 was the only way I made it through the physical pain in high school.  I "discovered" Flexall 454 when I was in junior high school.  I'm sure that it didn't help me trying to make friendships.  I don't really remember much about it, except I liked it a lot better than Ben Gay.

I really like Salonas patches.  You can get them really cheap, too.  They work really well at relieving mild to moderate pain.  They stay on really well, I've even had one stay on through a shower.  They don't tear your skin when it comes off (at least it doesn't mine) like a lot of sticky things do to us EDSers.  It doesn't even hurt when you pull of the patch.  The patch is very soft on the outside, but I have to warn you to try and get it flat and exactly where you want it on the first try.  I really like these.

I first tried Mobisyl after my dad's podiatrist recommended it to him because of his heel spurs.  Mobisyl is very good for swelling or arthritis pain, and has the same active ingredients as Aspercreme.  Another advantage Mobisyl has is that it's like a lotion/body butter in a jar, instead of a tube.  So, while it may or may not help those with  fibromyalgia, it will probably help those up us with EDS.  I really like Mobisyl a lot.

I'm going to review three different versions of Aspercreme.  First I want to talk about the "regular" creamy Aspercreme Creme. Aspercreme is my go-to OTC topical pain reliever.  It doesn't smell, it doesn't make you hot, cold, or tingle.  If my pain is at a 7/10 it can take it down to a 6/10, once it took me from an 8/10 to a 6/10.  It's main ingredient is a type of aspirin, and it works really well for inflammation.

Aspercreme Creme Heat is different than regular Aspercreme.  It doesn't have aspirin in it, it only has, menthol as an active ingredient.  Menthol is a heat producing substance that causes tingling and a strong odor. I don't like Aspercreme Heat.


Aspercreme Lotion is great for rubbing into my hands.  I put this on my hands before I slip on my Oval-8s finger splints.  The consistency makes it easy to rub into my hands, feet, wrists, elbows, and knees easily.  I use this almost like regular hand lotion for my hand pain.  It has aloe in it, which leaves your hands soft.  I really can't recommend this highly enough.


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