I am happy to welcome another blogger to the #SpoonieSeries , Juliette. I love having other fellow Spoonies to contribute to this series because we can learn and be encouraged by other Spoonie's Stories. Juliette Sebock is the founder of lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste. She is a poet and writer as well as a full-time blogger and influencer. In addition to the blog, she has created content for Her Campus and The Mighty and has poems and other creative pieces in a variety of outlets. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Mistakes Were Made. You can find Juliette at For the Sake of Good Taste or on social media.
I live with an assortment of chronic illnesses, both physical and psychological. Some are diagnosed, while others remain a mystery as of now. Diagnosed or not, though, I've had to learn how to manage my various conditions; I've talked about this a bit on The Mighty and my own blog (like in this post, featuring tips for managing chronic pain). One of the most beneficial things I've done in the process of figuring this out is create a "flare kit," which I affectionately refer to as my "spoonie survival kit." With these items close at hand, the worst of my flare days become just a little bit easier.
For me, personally, I don't always have these in a literal kit. I have some items in multiples, scattered throughout my apartment and my purses, and I keep others in a central location so it's always on hand.
Not all of these items will apply to everyone, but they've made a huge difference for me!
I especially like Absorbine Jr.'s products, so I usually keep something of theirs or a generic muscle rub in a few different places throughout my apartment and in various purses and bags.
This is one that will especially vary, but, for me, it usually includes a few different types of ibuprofen (Advil's original, migraine, and PM being the most common), something for menstrual pain relief, allergy pills, motion sickness medication, lavender capsules, and Pepto Bismol.
A heated blanket or hot water bottle will work to! I have a "normal" heating pad, a microwaveable sock filled with beans and essential oils, an electric blanket. and a hot water bottle, myself because heat seems to especially help me.
Of course, I keep this one in the freezer, rather than in various spots around the house! Sometimes I need ice, not heat for a symptom and an ice pack is the perfect way to get it.
Rubber jar grip
For me, one of the worst things when a flare hits is that my hands don't work very well. This sort of rubbery grip is perfect for opening my pill containers, water bottle, or whatever won't open.
I have a variety of braces, for almost every body part at this point! If I don't have an appropriate brace, an ACE bandage is the perfect substitute.
Especially when I was living at school, noise has always been a particularly unavoidable trigger. Ear plugs are great if I'm able to rest in bed, or I'll put in headphones and play some calming music or videos if I'm out and about.
This is another one that will vary. I previously had a pregnancy pillow that was the best thing for my chronic joint pain. Lately, I've been using a standard body pillow to "cuddle" with my the joint pain, a small pillow under my hips while lying down, and a sciatica pillow while sitting for a while.
For me, my emotional support cat, Fitz, is a huge help. In the future, I plan to have a service dog (my friend Lauren of Lauren's Journey has a great post on distinguishing between ESAs and psychiatric service animals). Not able to have a pet? A stuffed animal won't have exactly the same effect, but it can be a great comfort nevertheless!
Light is another major trigger of mine, and my bed is extremely close to a window. For that reason, an eye mask is helpful!
Similarly to the eye mask, sunglasses are a huge help when I'm out and about. I might get some strange looks when I'm wearing sunglasses at night ("so I can, so I can. . . ."), but it's worth it.
I'm a huge proponent of staying hydrated, and this is especially true when a flare hits. I try to avoid using excessive plastic, so I'll keep a reusable bottle on me.
If you struggle with drinking enough water, check out my post on ways to stay hydrated!
Even on good days, my feet get outrageously cold. A pair of fuzzy socks are a must-have.
Games or puzzles
A mindless phone game or distracting puzzle can be a great way to think about anything but a flare. I use the app "Virtual Hope Box," which features a Sudoku game and other puzzles, which inspired me to try this sort of thing more often. I keep these sorts of apps on hand, plus puzzle books featuring more Sudoku, crosswords, and more!
I'm a fan of tea at any point, but it's especially beneficial during flares. Yogi tea is particularly helpful--I like their stress relief, joint comfort, and woman's raspberry leaf varieties, myself.
My bullet journal is a sort of lifeline any day, but it's especially helpful during a flare. "Brain fog" is very real, so a to do list is absolutely crucial if I can't avoid being somewhat productive.
Want to start a "bujo" of our own? Check out our posts on bullet journalling on For the Sake of Good Taste!
While I don't use it often, my cane, "Viktor" is a saving grace when my joints or dizziness are particularly bothersome.
My hands are some of my most frequent issues, so compression gloves are one of my go-to items. I'm looking into trying some compression socks, too!
Tablet or cell phone
I've found that my full-fledged computer screen is a bit much when I'm not feeling well, so I turn to my tablet or cell phone to stay connected. Sometimes it's still too much, but when I can manage it, it's a nice alternative, especially with a "warm" or sleep setting on the screen.
Some crisps, crackers, basic cookies, or a protein bar are a good alternative when I can't eat "normal" food. I like some mashed potatoes or pudding if I need even less effort in terms of chewing.
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