Covid Masks – What’s Your Experience?

The whole covid mask thing has been a struggle for me. Probably for several reasons:

#1 – I have bad asthma, especially in hot weather and wearing a mask makes it much worse. Sometimes to the point that I have to escape a store or building immediately so I can breathe again before I have a full-out asthma attack (masks are required in buildings in our county).

#2 – I’m autistic. I have sensory issues galore and masks drive me crazy. I don’t like the feel of them and for me, I never really adjust. Of all the kinds of masks I’ve tried, the only ones I can even kind of stand are the surgeon ones, but even those bug me, and I can only bear them for a short time.

#3 – I have a little piggy nose, so I can’t keep a mask up, it is always slipping below my nose. It has gotten to the point that sometimes I quit pulling it up because it will just slip down again in 2 seconds, and it is easier to breathe with my nose uncovered anyway.

#4 – Anxiety. I think this plays into the asthma and the sensory issues thing. The more my asthma and sensory issues worsen, the more my anxiety kicks in, till the point where I’m not even sure if I’m having trouble breathing because of the mask and asthma, or because of the anxiety.

At this point, I pretty much just try to do outdoor activities or if I do have to go to a store or something, I get in and out as quickly as possible. Thank God I don’t have to work at a business. I don’t know how I would survive.

So what has your experience with masks been? Do they bother you? Did you adjust and get used to them? Are they required where you live? Do you have any of the same issues I have with them?

Best CBD Creams for Pain

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As my regular readers know, occasionally I will partner with another company or website to share information that I feel may genuinely help some of my audience. Today, I’m sharing this post from AgingInPlace about the Top 10 Best CBD Creams for Pain – Top Picks for Seniors.

I know many of my readers do suffer from chronic pain and are senior citizens, so I thought maybe this information might help some of you. Of course, I am not yet a senior citizen, but I have still found that CBD has helped my own pain quite a bit. It can be intimidating at first to know which CBD company to give a try (there are simply SO many out there!), so hopefully this resource can help narrow down the choices.

If you have experience using any of these products or just CBD in general, feel free to chime in and tell us how it worked for you in the comments!

My LetsGetChecked Hormone Test Results!

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As I told you guys in a previous post, I partnered with LetsGetChecked.com, an online business that makes medical testing at home convenient and easy. They offer a wide range of tests, everything from sexual health tests to male/female specific testing, and wellness tests (all privacy guaranteed).

As I do with any business I promote, I used their service myself to make sure it was a good deal. I decided to do their female hormone test, as I have suspected for a while that I might be going into early menopause. The test did show an abnormality, but not in the way I was expecting at all! I figured if anything, my levels might be low, but I was wrong.

The test measures 4 biomarkers – Lutenising Hormone, Follicle Stimulating Hormone, Prolactin, and Estradio. Three of the levels were normal, but my Prolactin level was actually pretty high. Quite a bit over the average level. Normally this level is high during pregnancy and after birth (neither apply to me lol). Prolactin can also be high due to various health issues and medicine side effects.

Since one of the health issues that can make Prolactin levels high is hypothyroidism (which I do have a history of), I definitely need to see my doctor and have that looked into. If it isn’t that or one of the other health problems, it is likely my medicine – probably the psych meds from what I read online after researching my test results.

High Prolactin levels can cause the menstrual symptoms I attributed to early menopause (skipping or irregular periods, irritability, acne, hot flashes, night sweats, etc.), so this might be the answer I was looking for, even if it is unexpected. I am really glad I had it checked!

If you decide to try out one of the tests on LetsGetChecked.com, please use the code marandarussell20 for 20% off your purchase! 

At Home Medical Testing with LetsGetChecked.com

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My blog gets many offers to partnership with various companies, but I am always very picky about who I will partner with. I have two important guidelines I always try to stick to. First, I will only consider partnering with companies that promote things I would actually want to use myself. Further, I want to use their product or service myself to know the quality of what I am sharing. Secondly, the product or service has to be something that fits the themes of my blog and that I believe may genuinely be useful to some of my blog readers.

Recently the home medical testing company LetsGetChecked.com reached out to me. I liked how they offer a wide range of affordable, at-home medical testing options for sexual health, both men & women’s health, and general wellness. When I saw that they offer a women’s female hormone test, I decided to give it a try since I have been wanting to get that test done but my insurance won’t cover it and it is far more expensive if I get it done at a medical center. I have the test now and will do an update post once I get the results. I am hoping the test may reveal if I am indeed dealing with early menopause as I and my doctors have suspected.

I was curious about how an at-home blood test may work, as I am no phlebotomist, but it turns out they use lancets, similar to at-home diabetes testing, so it isn’t scary or complicated at all. I am excited to get the results of my test (which will be available online within a number of days after the test is returned). All of the testing is confidential of course, so there is no need to worry about your privacy being invaded.

In the future I may try their cortisol test as well, as I have always wanted to see how high my cortisol levels are. Other tests available include STD testing, hepatitis testing, fertility/prostate tests, a variety of vitamin/nutrient testing, tests for organ function (like liver and kidney), and colon cancer, lyme disease, diabetes, and celiac testing.

I personally feel that services like LetsGetChecked.com are most beneficial for people who have had certain tests turned down by their insurance, but still want to get those tests done, or people who have no health insurance at all and can’t afford the high costs of testing at hospitals and medical centers. Additionally, some may prefer the convenience of doing it all at home and not having to deal with insurance forms, waiting rooms, and medical personnel.

If you decide to try out one of the tests on LetsGetChecked.com, please use the code marandarussell20 for 20% off your purchase! 

That Shaking? Oh, It’s Just My Essential Tremor…Yet Another Diagnosis

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Yesterday I had my regular neurologist visit to follow up about my migraines and while there I was also diagnosed with Essential Tremor, a genetic condition that is often confused with Parkinson’s from the symptoms. It most commonly affects the hands, head, and voice, but can affect any body part. It can also affect balance, mood, and possibly memory.

My balance, hands and voice are already affected pretty bad at times which scares me since it can be a degenerative condition and it can eventually become hard to speak, eat, write, or in my case, make art, since I am an artist.

My tremors started out in both hands a few years ago and have definitely worsened. At first, I only noticed that I could never take a good picture because I couldn’t keep the camera steady enough to take one. It has worsened since then and affects more daily activities, such as writing, typing, pouring/drinking liquids, dropping almost everything, etc. I noticed the voice tremors starting probably a year or two after the hands.

My balance has noticeably worsened to the point that I often start to fall over while just walking around the house or even standing still. It isn’t unusual for my husband to push me back up as I start to fall over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

For a long time I tried to dismiss it because I didn’t want to think something might really be wrong. I tried to blame it on anxiety or weird medicine side effects. I am glad that I don’t have MS or Parkinson’s which I feared sometimes. What finally made me bring it up with the neurologist is that the geneticist I saw for my Ehlers Danlos testing a few months ago seemed concerned by how much my hands shook.

The last thing I want to do is take yet more prescription medicines, but I am considering it in hopes that it might slow down the progression and alleviate the symptoms a bit. The only bad thing is that all the meds they use to treat this condition can worsen my depression, so the neurologist wants me to get the ok from my psychiatrist before we decide on a med to try.

I Miss Having Kids Around

Today my husband and I went to go see one of his students dance in a special recital:

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Seeing all the cute little kids dressed up in their costumes and dancing made me really miss having kids around. I used to be almost constantly surrounded by kids between foster parenting, volunteering with the kids at our old church, and working in the school system as a teacher’s assistant/aide. My favorite age of kids to work with were always the younger ones, 3-4 years old to around 6 or 7, although I bonded well with kids of almost any age.

At this point, I don’t know if my physical/mental health will ever consistently improve to the point that I can do those things again, but I miss them. I am thankful for the experiences and memories though.

Neurologist Visit Update

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Yesterday I saw my new neurologist for the first time to try to figure out why I am suddenly having so many migraines. I must say the visit didn’t start out well. For one thing, they only see new patients first thing in the morning, and I am NOT a morning person. However, I did make it there on time at 9am in the morning, but then I ended up waiting to see the doctor until after 11am!!! Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

The doctor seemed rather grumpy when he finally came in too. Maybe he was having a bad morning (I would think so with being that behind schedule for a specialist), but after waiting two hours, dealing with a grumpy doctor was not ideal. I will say that even though he was a bit grumpy, he was thorough at least. He asked tons of questions and investigated all the leads I could provide, even bothering to request additional medical records and taking a second look at my imaging tests that have already been done.

By the end of the visit, he had decided to send me for an EEG to check for possible mini strokes or seizures, and another head/neck MRI to see if my cervical issues have worsened in the past two years or if anything else has changed. He also wants me to be tested for Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that may be contributing to my vertigo, ear pain/pressure, and tinnitus.

He noted that my neck was constantly spasming, so he switched me to another muscle relaxer and also put me on Topamax to try to help prevent the migraines (we are hoping it might help my fibro pain some too). I guess we’ll see how it goes from there.

Fluoride Fears

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Sometimes I worry about fluoride…specifically ingesting too much of it. Too much fluoride can cause a condition called skeletal fluorosis, which is often mistaken for arthritis or fibromyalgia. Most people know our toothpastes and other dental products often contain fluoride, but many don’t realize all the other sources of fluoride we ingest every day.

There is fluoridated water of course, which has been a point of contention for years. Should the government put fluoride in the drinking water? Is it necessary? Especially when most Americans use toothpaste with fluoride anyhow? Did you know that both green and black tea (two of my favorite drinks) are a high source of fluoride? It often has way more fluoride in it than the water, often over the “safe limits” established by the government (which are still debatable).

Because our water is fluoridated, almost everything made with water stands a chance of being fluoridated too – all our drinks, alcohol, soups, fruits, grains, vegetables…even our meat! (Often our food becomes contaminated with fluoride more due to pesticides rather than our water, and our meat gets contaminated because animals eat food with these pesticides in them.)

Some people claim antidepressants like Prozac can contribute to fluoride poisoning, although this is definitely debatable. I’ve heard scientists argue that because of the way the chemicals bind together in the drug that the fluoride should all get washed out, but who knows for sure?

Maybe I am just an anxious, sometimes paranoid person (all true), but maybe this really is a problem that is often ignored or overlooked. After all, fluoride is still a poison.

Another Fun Visit to the ER

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I spent yesterday in the ER. Always lots of fun. I was rather freaked out because I literally couldn’t swallow at times and felt like I was going to choke to death or something. I also was having chest pains, trouble breathing, and feeling like I was going to pass out. Now I get to go back to the GI doctor because they think there are probably issues with damage to my esophagus.

Still not feeling much better today. They put me on some meds that are supposed to protect and hopefully help repair damage done to the esophagus, but no relief yet. I still struggle to swallow, keep coughing, and feel like there is something permanently stuck in my throat. Eating and drinking is no fun, even the smoothie I tried to drink earlier struggled to go down. My chest, especially around my breastbone feels like there is an elephant sitting on it. Man, this sucks.