Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Surreal Life

A year ago my life was very different than from what it has become, it is drastically different from 2 years ago. I never would have imagined that I'd be where I am at now in my life. I foresaw my life being very different in 2016 than what it presently is. And yet I'm full of gratitude and amazement as I struggle to believe my present life is reality.

To fill you in, a lot has transpired in the last 24 months:
  • I decided not to have any children because of my health and FAP 
  • My husband was diagnosed and hospitalized with diabetes
  • My marriage began to fall apart
  • I entered a bout of extremely severe depression
  • I was hospitalized for the first time in 8 years
  • I developed increased chronic pain and started having chronic nausea
  • I went on a dream family vacation to Alaska (highly recommended by the way)
  • One of my very beloved great uncles died at 99 years old
  • Estrangement from some very dear friends and family members
  • Marital separation
  • Moved back home to my parents
  • Divorced
  • Bought a house
  • Became independent once again
Not everything that has happened in the last 2 years has been a hardship. In spite of very difficult, trying situations throughout the last 2 years every situation has held life lessons for me and has helped me grow as an individual.

I psychologically surivived situations I never imagined I would face and wasn't sure I would survive at the time of their occurrence. And yet, with each hurdle I became stronger and fiercer. I never saw myself as a survivor or as a brave person before in spite of surviving 7 surgeries, near death experiences, and the cancer that was developing in my body. I've lived through PTSD, suicidal ideation, and severe depression. I've survived the physical and emotional loss of many. I survived. I learned I am strong and after I've faced physical and psychological torments, I can survive anything.

It's true that we don't realize how strong we are until we have no other choice. Feeling on the verge of a mental breakdown for months on end last year, my mind somehow held onto the smallest amounts of hope and strength to keep me alive to fight another day. And now, I'm stronger than ever before. Now, I'm prepared to fight whatever future fights may be in store for me. I know I've survived the worst psychological torments I've ever encountered and it's only up from here. Even my bad days are not my worst days because those are behind me.

I've harnessed my inner strength that for far too long I didn't know existed. It's easy to ignore our inner strength. We tend to minimize our feats of mental strength. We become accustomed to survival mode without acknowledgement of what it actually takes to survive. We get caught up in surviving day to day without relishing in the fact that we are surviving. Let us stop cheating ourselves. Let us honor our strength and harness it. When we bear witness to our strength we honor ourselves, our survival, and our life. We begin to free ourselves of the draining mental fight by power housing our strength. Thereby allowing increased utilization for continued survival and breaking free of our mental chains. And after the fight, we will realize that we deserve to be free.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fresh Assist: A Sponsored Post

This is a sponsored post

As an individual with chronic GI issues due to Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS), I'm always excited for anything that can help reduce the side effects of SBS. SBS causes frequent diarrhea that in turn can cause raw skin, itching, burning, and painful sensations. It's common for individuals with SBS to utilize products such as flushable toilet wipes and creams to aid in hygiene and soothing the bothersome effects of SBS.

So when I was asked to review a similar product, I was happy to do so.  I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

I received Fresh Assist Spray, which reinvents the flushable toilet wipe by making available a conveniently sized, 2 ounce portable spray bottle with a solution to be sprayed on toilet paper prior to use after a bowel movement. I used the recommended spray amount with each use and found the solution to be a comfortable room temperature. I like using a spray bottle as one can spray the solution at their own discretion. This is not an option with conventional flushable toilet wipes, which can be too wet and cold. An additional benefit over wipes is the spray also reduces the amount of waste flushed with each bathroom use thereby being an easy, eco-friendly option.

Fresh Assist Spray comes in two fragrances: Soothing Lavender and Cooling Chamomile. I received Cooling Chamomile and was content with the subtle fragrance that was balanced well. Some products are too heavily scented leaving the user with a noticeable odor. This, however, was not the case with the spray. I was concerned about using a fragranced product on my sensitive skin but was pleasantly surprised that the scented product didn't cause any burning sensations on my already sensitive, at times raw skin. To my surprise, the solution didn't cause any burning or stinging sensations during any of the times of use no matter the condition of my skin.

I found Fresh Assist Spray to only require the recommended 2-3 sprays and that it effectively improved cleaning in a single wipe. I use a skin protectant cream regularly to combat raw skin from the effects of SBS and found the spray to cut through the cream without difficulty. The solution provided a cool, soothing sensation that reduced itch and soreness. I found the soothing effects of this spray to become addictive as using toilet paper without any spray was immediately uncomfortable and rougher feeling than with the spray. I used this spray with a 2-ply soft tissue which proved to absorb but not become disintegrated by the solution. I would caution using this spray with a 1-ply toilet paper as the tissue would not likely hold up to being sprayed. However, I did not experiment with 1-ply toilet paper so I can not fully speak to the integrity of 1-ply toilet paper with use of this spray.

Although I am heavily dependent on the use of a skin protectant cream with each bowel movement, the effectiveness of Fresh Assist Spray left me being able to reduce use of the skin protectant cream after every bathroom trip. I didn't feel comfortable discontinuing use of the skin protectant cream altogether but I was able to reduce using the cream to after every 2-3 bathroom trips. Based on this, with regular use it is possible that this spray could aid in healing raw skin to the point that protectant creams are no longer required.

Based on my experience with Fresh Assist Spray, I would highly recommend use of this spray for anyone. It is particularly useful for individual with GI issues that cause painful skin conditions from frequent bowel movements. The spray bottles come in a reasonably priced single or two pack and lasts a relatively long time even with 3 sprays a use.