Sunday, December 15, 2013

The View From My Window

There is nothing like the first snowfall.  Pristine, white, and untouched snow.  I appreciate and marvel in the beauty.

Then the novelty wears off pretty quickly.   Because once I venture outside into the wind and the cold, I am instantly reminded of my painful joints and nerves.  It's hard for me to navigate beyond my neighborhood in this winter weather.

I'm grateful for the scenery and the view from my window.  But it also means more days inside.  It can feel like forced hibernation.  I don't know about you, but I would be satisfied with just one snowfall each year and then a quick progression into Spring. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Flare Has Come Around

Well, I've been absent for a bit with good reason.  It's something many of you are familiar with-- A flare.  

As one of my doctors says " for you flares always starts with the eyes".  My eyes become extra extra dry and uncomfortable (As if they weren't dry enough already).  And then the cascade of other symptoms tend to follow.  The neurological are really the most disabling for me because they are just so darn painful.  Once my trigeminal nerve and eyes are activated, (similar to the article discussed in my last post), reading and writing become a real challenge.  I have to limit my time "using my eyes" because it can only exacerbate the neurological pain.  I enter into prevention mode.  I am always calculating what can I do to prevent my symptoms from getting worse and to give myself some relief.  Because once the pain reaches an 8 or even a 10, it's very hard to get it back to being manageable.  

Keeping my eyes extra moist is one of my strategies against neuropathic pain,and I find the dryness at night to be a particular problem.  Local inflammation of the cornea can stimulate the trigeminal nerve so keeping the surface of my eye as comfortable as possible can at least help minimize my pain.  I've discovered a couple new products that have been somewhat helpful.  

The first, is called Niteeye The Dry Eye Comforter.  It's a disposable bubble bandage that I can stick over my eyes for bedtime.  It creates an airtight moisture chamber so that none of the minimal tears that my eyes produce can escape.  When I take them off in the morning, I can actually see a few small drops of my tears on the clear lens.  I still use my regular night time gel and then put the dry eye comforter on.  They are a bit difficult to order and  the least expensive way is to call the manufacturer directly and order a box as explained on the Dry Eye Shop website. The negative, of course, is that they disposable so the cost can add up over time. I do only tend to use them when my symptoms are particularly bad. 

Dry Eye Comforter
I've also tried the Quartz Nighttime Sleep Shield.  These I've had less success with mostly because I tend to rip the goggles off in my sleep.  That means I only have the eye protection they provide for about half the night.  My head is also pretty small so unless I adjust the band to be very tight, they can become loose easily. I was actually able to purchase these at a my physician's dry eye shop for about half the price listed online.  I've heard that many have had good success with Tranquil Eyes Goggles made by the same company.  These provide the benefit of having moisture pads that can be inserted and in the more expensive models silicone beads that can be made hot or cold depending on what works best for your symptoms.  I just haven't tried them yet. 

Quartz Nighttime Sleep Shield
They both make me look an alien when going to sleep at night, but this is the least of my concerns. Less pain and discomfort is my goal right now.  I'm going to try to keep writing when my health allows and they might just have to be shorter posts.  It will be a bit of an experiment, but so is this whole autoimmune journey. 

What are your go to products during flares that provide some comfort and relief?