Have you tried herbs or supplements for your chronic illness? I’ve had to find “other options” for treating my fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder because of my financial situation, so I’ve been doing a lot of research and collecting some tools for working with the herbs I like to experiment with.
Capsule Machine and Completed Herbal Capsules
In other words, I’ve been learning to make my own herbal treatments for my various symptoms. I ordered an “encapsulator” for making my own herbal capsules, and have been playing with that a LOT. Instead of buying bottles of herbal supplements, I’ve been making my own. Continue reading Making My Own “Medicine” for My Chronic Illness »
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Chronic illnesses tend to wreak havoc with family finances. Between the cost of treatment, and the reduction in the ability to work; having an illness like fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, myalgic encephalitis (chronic fatigue syndrome,) lupus, migraines, or any of the thousands of others out there can destroy a family’s financial security and severely limit the ability to provide traditional healthcare.
My illnesses have put me in the position of not being able to afford the several hundred dollars a month I was spending on medications with my insurance (and with the insurance we have now, the more than $1000 a month they would cost would take pretty much our entire income,) so I’ve had to find other options.
It’s been an interesting journey, and there have been times when I’ve seriously considered just killing myself and getting it over with (mostly during the forced withdrawal from the psychiatric meds I used to be on for my bipolar disorder.) I’ve reached a point now where I’ve found enough other options to manage fairly well, and I’m actually happier without the prescriptions than I was with them. (Even if I hit the lottery tomorrow, I wouldn’t go back to taking all the stuff I used to be on.)
It’s more work than just popping a handful of pills several times a day, but using herbs and aromatherapy to treat my symptoms is also very satisfying. I have much more control of what I’m putting into my body, I’m supporting the natural processes my body uses to heal itself rather than subverting them, and I’m not dealing with multiple side-effects that have to be treated with yet another expensive medication that comes with its own set of side-effects.
Natural treatments do take longer to “kick-in,” and I sometimes deal with slightly higher pain levels than I would if I could just take a heavy-duty pain-killer, but I don’t have to worry about becoming dependent on most of the herbal treatments I use, either. (Which also means that I don’t have to worry about withdrawal symptoms if I switch things around or run out of something.)
There are several herbs that I make certain I always have on hand, and as I promised in part 1, those are the ones I’m going to focus on in this post.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and nothing I say in this post is intended as medical advice. If you find the idea of using herbs in your treatment plan intriguing, be sure to do the research and discuss any changes or additions with your healthcare provider to ensure your safety.
Making Skullcap Capsules
Skullcap: I use this one for pain reduction (it has actually helped more with my sprained shoulder than the Lortabs the doctor prescribed,) stress reduction, and help sleeping. I try to get it online, from Mountain Rose Herbs, because it’s half the price that I pay at the organic grocery down the street. ($15 a pound, as opposed to $30; so even after I pay for shipping, I save money.)
It works well for headaches (especially tension headaches,) and muscle pain; and in combination with other anti-inflammatory herbs like ginger and turmeric, it also helps with my arthritis/fibromyalgia pain. Continue reading Making My Own “Medicine” – Part 2 »
There’s a new blog carnival in town, hosted by Jolene at Graceful Agony, and the topic of the first edition is, “Let Me Introduce Myself.” This is my least favorite topic in the entire world, since I am NOT good at telling people who I am.
I think a big part of the problem is simply that there’s just so much to say, and the connections aren’t very logical. (I’m a Pisces, logic just isn’t part of my makeup. Intuition, emotion, passion: yes; history: I’ve got tons; logic: not so much.)
I’m a mass of contradictions, a mess of chronic illnesses, a pile of insecurities; and very much a product of my past. Continue reading Introductions Again? Yikes! »
Do you suffer from bipolar disorder or depression? Are you pregnant, or planning to get pregnant?
If so, and you’re taking an SSRI (Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft, Sarafem, Lexapro, Luvox) or SNRI (Cymbalta, Effexor, Pristiq) type antidepressant medication, or a combination of two different types of antidepressants, you may want to talk to your doctor about other options during your pregnancy. A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that taking these medications during pregnancy increases the chances of spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) by MORE than two-thirds (68%.)
Withdrawal from these medications is extremely dangerous, and should never be attempted without the supervision of a qualified specialist with experience in handling “Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome.” The symptoms of withdrawal can be more severe than the original symptoms, even when doses are only reduced, rather than stopped entirely.
Canadian Medical Association Journal, abstract: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/abstract/cmaj.091208v1
Baker, S.L. (2010). “Antidepressants during pregnancy cause alarming 68 percent increased risk of miscarriage” (retrieved June 7, 2010). http://www.naturalnews.com/028943_antidepressants_miscarriage.html
The new ChronicBabe Blog Carnival theme is favorite self-care tools and techniques, and will go live on Tuesday June 1.
I love this topic . . . self-care is a very important part of managing a chronic illness, and we all deserve to take good care of ourselves. I use a lot of non-medication methods to manage the symptoms of my multiple chronic illnesses (the short list is fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder, but if you’re really interested in the entire list, check my “Who Am I” page,) and I love sharing them with anyone they might help. I use a lot of aromatherapy and herbal teas for symptom control; and stress reduction techniques to minimize flares, anxiety, and bipolar cycling; so let’s get started. Continue reading You CAN Feel Better: Self-care Tips and Tricks for Fibromyalgia and Bipolar Disorder »
My personal idea of a good day is one where I don’t have to go to work, and I can spend some time just doing things that make me feel better. It does NOT mean that I’m not in pain (I haven’t had a day when the pain levels were below a 4 or 5 on the pain scale in at least 5 years.) It also doesn’t mean I’m not exhausted, or that I can actually remember all the things I need to take care of without lists, notes and reminders from the people around me.
What it does mean is that the pain levels are at a 6 or below, and that I can lay down with the hot pads when I need to, or take a nap. Continue reading What does a "good" day look like to you? »
A few years ago, my rheumatologist suggested that I try a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) for my fibromyalgia pain. She gave me a prescription (be sure to make a copy of the prescription to keep in the case with your TENS in case you need to travel with it,) and I jumped through all the insurance hoops, picking up my TENS unit a few weeks later.
I visited a physical therapist to learn how to use it, and started taking it to work with me every day. I used it constantly for a while, Continue reading Does Using a TENS Unit Ease Fibromyalgia Pain? »
Another bipolar man has died due to the lack of training in dealing with the mentally ill, and the family has filed suit against the police department as a result, according to JusticeNewsFlash.com.
These kinds of deaths are so totally unnecessary, and it pisses me off to know that any one of us could be killed by police, just because they are totally clueless about how to deal with mentally ill people who are in crisis. This seems to be a bit more than just ignorance though, since Mr. Cardall’s family claims that after tasing him twice on his bare chest, police officers left him laying face down in the dirt, totally ignoring his wife’s requests that they check and make sure he didn’t need medical attention. Continue reading Yet Another Mentally Ill Person Killed by Police »
We’ve all been there – many of us deal with it every day . . . the well-meaning friend or family member who comes running every time there’s a new pill or treatment available for our chronic illness. We know they just want to “help” us get better, but it’s crazy-making to constantly be bombarded with new things to try. It’s especially bad when we try the wonderful new treatment, and it DOESN’T WORK! Then we get to deal with their disappointment and questions about, “Are you sure you’re doing it right?” or “Did the doctor give you a strong enough dosage?”
Healthy people mostly only have experience with things like colds, flu, and infections; with maybe a few injuries thrown in. For simple stuff like this, it’s easy — take a few pills for the symptoms of the cold or flu, and in a week or so, it’s gone; take an antibiotic for about 10 days, and the infection is CURED. Injuries involve some down time for healing, and maybe a little physical therapy, and everything is back to normal. Because this is all the experience they have with illness, they assume that ALL illness is like that.
I call it “the antibiotic theory of chronic illness.” Continue reading Are Well-Meaning Friends/Family Driving You Crazy? »
I had one of those horrible days today (actually, it seems to be a bit of a pattern lately.) I’m normally pretty calm at home, but shortly after I walk into work I’m furious, and I stay that way until well after I leave.
I work in the deli at a grocery store, which probably isn’t the best kind of job for someone who’s bipolar. It’s extremely stressful when it’s busy, but I don’t have much choice if I want to eat. The real issue for me is that we’re expected to wait on customers; price, rotate, and stock product; mark down anything that’s approaching expiration; pull, scan, and throw away expired product; make deli trays for special orders; cut and package block cheeses; slice meat for the department that makes the custom subs; help customers find things, answer the phone, and keep everything clean. (Oh, you have to drop everything and update the temperature log every 4 hours, too. )
We NEED two people working during the busy times, one to slice and wait on customers, and one to work on everything else; but they never schedule more than one person. It is absolutely impossible for one person to keep up with everything they expect you to do. Continue reading Bipolar Rage: Am I the Only One? »