CDC Symptom Diary Card

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fragrant Cold Pack Hack To Relieve Hot Flashes

I have been having hot flashes since 2008, ridiculous I know. I started having them in a severe way approximately 9 months or so before my diagnostic surgery. My bosses at work were a little perplexed at my sudden need to stand outside in the cold multiple times per day, HA.  I was told to "monitor" the situation because it could be early menopause.  Well, unfortunately it was not just early menopause.

So fast forward to the current day, summer heat and me trying to minimize my electric bill and you have one uncomfortable mama. So in the past 7 or 8 years I have tried many remedies to reduce or eliminate these disruptive hot flashes.  In addition to this cold pack I keep some cute oriental hand fans on hand to make the air around me breezy if I am not using a fan.

Hormone patches are a no-no for me because of my BRCA1 mutation. It is imperative to avoid them in order to reduce the risk of getting breast cancer. 

Hot flashes love me, they never want to take a break.  They arrive every hour or two, and come on with a frenzy if I am talking about anything uncomfortable, rushing to get out the door, or being active for any reason.  Exercising comes with all kinds of fun extra sweating.  I have night sweats EVERY night.  If preceeded by an anxious conversation or thought, the hot flashes are combined with nausea and panting.  Sort of a "fear" feeling that paralyzes me temporarily. My face turns tomato red and I sweat terribly. Yuck a wucka woo!

Otherwise I look normal. HA

So here are a few photos showing how I make this little neck wrap that is kept in the freezer at home. 

 I apply this directly to the back of my neck but if your skin is sensitive, you should cover this wrap with cheese cloth or a very thin dish towel/cloth to protect your skin from the direct cold.  

This fragrant cold pack feels GREAT on the back of my neck and speeds up the hot flash recovery time. I only need to have it on for a few minutes at a time. It works quickly.

If you are anticipating a hot flash coming on, place this on the back of your neck right away to lessen the severity of this unwanted experience (that is if you have time to run to the freezer) ;-)

This cold pack smells AMAZING!

Place about 1 cup of water in a stainless steel bowl.  Add just a few drops of Rosemary Essential Oil and Peppermint Essential Oil if you like.  Gently mix the oils and water together.

Place the clean large washcloth in the bowl to soak up the water and essential oil mixture. 

Wring out the washcloth and place it on a clean surface.  Straighten and then roll the cloth into a tube shape starting at one of the corners.  

Form the cloth roll into the shape of a horse-shoe and freeze.  Store in a clean ziplock bag once frozen for re-use. 

This fragrant compress will gently rest on the back of your neck when you are in urgent need of hot flash relief.  

I have placed a few links that provide some education about the benefits of Rosemary and Peppermint  Essential Oils.  You can use the essential or fragrance oil of your choice if you have any on hand, or no oil at all. It is up to you.  I recommend researching the oil beforehand just as a precaution.

I hope you find this cold pack helpful to provide some relief from those uncomfortable and sometimes intrusive hot flashes.  

Peace and Blessings,

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Energy Conservation: Its A Family Thing (or should be)

When I worked as an occupational therapist, several decades ago, one of the founding principals of maintaining independence with chronic illness was implementation of energy conservation techniques into one's daily life.  That would mean showing a patient how to complete an activity using less energy.  Back in the early 1990s it seemed a lot easier to talk about and incorporate these kinds of things into one's lifestyle because at that time our culture was not so focused on technological multi-tasking.  I miss the old days of giving 100% of my attention and energy to one thing, finishing that and moving to the next thing.

Multi-tasking is very exhausting and unfortunately for those of us in chronic states of fatigue, such as from cancer and its treatments, trying to keep up can be overwhelming.  When I am out in public, say at the store, I can sense the frustration from the person behind me in the check out line if I am not swiping my card fast enough or if I am moving my cart too slow.  Everyone else is running circles around me.  I want them to slow down and enjoy the day.  I want them to be more at ease and they probably want to slow down too.....but they can't because our culture demands that we do fifteen thousand things at once to be more productive.

So because cancer is a family thing, sometimes treatment can be a family thing as well.  In the case of conserving energy I highly recommend that anyone who may be directly involved with supporting your care learn about energy conservation as well.  It could benefit them by helping them conserve their own energy and also have more patience with changes.

I found a helpful this link about managing energy related to cancer fatigue:

Cancer Related Fatigue

Here is a scholarly article that may be of interest about energy conservation research:

This all came to mind as a result of time spent on job searching.  I want to try working part time again, maybe starting at 10 hours per week. It would greatly help me with my living expenses.

My last part time job was very stressful and every second of my time was incorporated into a productivity metric. Companies nowadays are not enthused about letting employees pace themselves...ha.   I just cannot work in that kind of setting.

I am in treatment and will forever be in treatment.  Sustaining basic living will at some point be impossible unless I go into remission and regain a normal level of energy.  I trust in God that He has planned for me good things and as long as I keep Him in front I know I will be OK.

Today is a good day.

God Bless you