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Living Well: Joint hypermobility and dislocations

I know I said I wasn’t going to post today but after a minor disagreement with a family member this morning about attending a birthday party, I thought I would share some information on joint instability and what it’s like to live with chronic joint pain and dislocations.

This is one of the reasons that I started this blog – not only to vent about daily issues but also to promote awareness around this horrible disease.

Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders

As a small child, I was diagnosed with hypermobility joint syndrome. Or back then, they called it “knock knees.” It was through recent research and chatting with other “Zebras,” that I learned the this term is outdated. People who live with hypermobile joints are now diagnosed with Hypermobility Spectrum Disorders or Hypermobility Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (hEDS).

Here’s a picture of me in 1985 after corrective knee surgery to stabilize my right knee. It was such a traumatic experience that I’ve been afraid of surgeries since.

What is HSD?

Joint hypermobility in layman’s terms means having overly flexible or extendable joints. Some people may experience full dislocations – where the joint pops completely out of place. Or partial dislocations, also called subluxation of the joints. Others may experience locking or popping of the joints which is equally as painful, if not more frustating.

However, hypermobility doesn’t just affect the joints. There are many symptoms and comorbidities that come with hypermobile disorders. There are some lucky individuals that have minor or very few symptoms with HSD. And then there are others like me, who win the “joint lotto” and have a multitude of health problems.

Common symptoms of HSD

The more common symptoms that affect patients with HSD include the following (but not limited to):

  • Chronic joint pain: and fatigue with early signs of osteoarthritis or osteoporosis and constant state of brain fog (memory loss, poor concentration or sleep)
  • Trauma: frequent dislocations or subluxations – usually the knees or fingers and toes. Those who experience dislocations in more than one area of the body (fingers, knees, toes, shoulders) may also be diagnosed with hEDS.
  • Physical markers: other musculoskeletal disorders can also be an indicator of hypermobile joints. These include flat feet, misaligned bones, mild scoliosis, and reduced bone mass that can result in compression fractures.

Common symptoms of hEDS

(Ehlers Danlos Syndrome)

The following is a list of symptoms that I’ve gathered from online support groups. It came as quite a shock as I suffer from quite a few of these issues myself. This list has been gathered from chatting with other hEDS patients and months of my own research.

  • Stretchy or elastic skin that is slow to heal from cuts and bruises or skin that is prone to bruising without trauma.
  • Velvety skin or translucent skin where veins are more visible.
  • Small or non-existent earlobes that often result in chronic ear infections or popping and clicking of the ears
  • Vitamin deficiencies or the body is unable to process vitamins naturally. More commonly iron (anemia), vitamin c and vitamin D3.
  • Prone to bleeding conditions or after surgical procedures.
  • POTS – a condition that causes lightheadedness when standing up or lying down, or just moving too quickly.
  • IBS or chronic GI issues; bladder issues and loss of bladder control
  • MCAS – mass cell activation that exasperates ear, nose and throat infections or activity. This includes frequent incidents with hives, edema, or low blood pressure. Asthma is not uncommon with hEDS.
  • Organ prolapse – my uterus collapsed in 2013 and I can’t have children because of it. For others, they might lose a kidney or gallbladder – also true for me. I lost my gallbladder in 2000.
  • Mental health and neuro: Anxiety and depression, chronic migraines and headaches

What causes hypermobility?

Joint hypermobility is often heredity and can run in the family. In my case, there is a family history of protein disorders and musculoskeletal disorders like scoliosis. But for me, I’m the only one who has hypermobile joints. So, what causes it?

Collagen is a protein that is found all over the body in skin and ligaments. These ligaments help to protect your joints from serious injuries or trauma. People with hypermobile joints tend to have weaker collagen or another more serious connective tissue disorder.

If the collagen is weaker than it should be, this can present problems later in life with dislocations and subluxations. Popping or clicking of joints are also common issues that result in chronic and widespread pain and fatigue.

Living with HSD or hEDS

Unfortunately, there is no cure for hypermobility or hEDS and the prognosis is often poor. There are some people that are lucky and have only a few symptoms or very minor subluxations that don’t cause pain. But for people like me that suffer from full dislocations – this can seriously impact daily life.

Many patients with hypermobility are often misdiagnosed with Fibromyalgia. This was the case for me back in 2012-2013 I was finally referred to a rheumatologist. The guy was nice enough to deal with. He spent some time with me to cover all my issues and even referred me to a pain clinic. I had some help. But the misdiagnosis led to what possibly might be a missed diagnosis of osteoporosis. It wasn’t until I switched family doctors that I finally got a referral to a geneticist.

For me, it’s a bit too late. I’m almost forty-five and have multiple compression fractures throughout my body, evidence of bone degeneration and bone growth on my knee and shoulder. It’s been a hard diagnosis to accept. But it also makes a lot of sense.

Diagnosis and treatment

For others who get a diagnosis early on, the many comorbidities of hEDS and HSD can be managed by seeing the right specialists. What really helps is to gather as much documentation as you can with x-ray results, lab results or chart notes with diagnoses. Other useful information might be family history, and a complete list of your symptoms, no matter how small they might be.

I should have changed doctors when I presented a carefully thought out list to my family doc of more than 15 years and she was insulted. “What am I going to do with this?” I thought that was a normal reaction. Turns out I was wrong – it was unprofessional of her. She also got mad when I did any research on my own. I should have sought out a second opinion long ago.

  • Geneticist (diagnosis)
  • Rheumatology (pain and joints issues)
  • Neurology (migraines, headaches, neuro issues)
  • Orthopedist (feet issues)
  • Physio therapy or occupational therapist
  • Family doctor (for referrals, medications,etc)

For treatment, that will depend on the severity of symptoms. For me, I’m in constant pain. There are varying levels of pain that change from day to day. A compression fracture in my spine has resulted in wedging (arthritis). I also have bone degeneration in my left shoulder and bone spurs in my right knee. I only just learned of this in September 2021.

This past weekend, I also wiped out on a patch of ice and fully dislocated my left knee. It wasn’t my first bad fall and it won’t be my last.

The point is, the earlier you get a diagnosis, the more chances you might have of a healthier life. A healthy diet. Healthy weight loss. Regular and low impact exercise like swimming, or resistance training can help to keep joints healthy.

Seeing the right doctor who takes the time to listen to you and is willing to make referrals is also key.

If your doctor dismisses your concerns and tells you it’s all in your head or to lose weight like my doctor did for many years — it’s time to see a new doctor.

memes for days


Throughout my research, I was able to find a plethora of resources and supports. This research has helped to learn about my disability and how I can work on getting as healthy as I can.

If you are in the process of getting a diagnosis and need assistance, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments. I’m more than happy to offer advice. It can be a frustrating process – I know. But you are not alone. That’s what this blog is for. To share my experiences and to inform. And also to bring awareness to rarer diseases that many people don’t know about!

Living Well Series

If you’d like to learn more about the comorbidities of hEDS, then please feel free to check out my Living Well series. It’s definitely not a new idea – I’m just sharing my own personal experiences to help others like me.


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Living Well: the benefits of herbal tea

So, this is something I’ve never mentioned here in this blog in the three years I’ve run it. It’s not a new discovery for me – but as part of my “getting healthy” journey, I have rediscovered my love for herbal teas.

As the granddaughter of a proud British man, I learned early on in life, that tea was the staple drink in our house. I still remember the smell of freshly brewed Red Rose tea when he came over for visits. I wasn’t a fan of black tea and didn’t start drinking coffee until I was in my mid-20’s. But after mum died, we marveled at how amazing tea was if made in her favorite tea pot.

Is it weird to say that drinking tea sometimes makes me feel closer to her now? I always think of her sipping tea out of her favorite blue tea cups with a smile.

Coffee for me is a must have morning drink. But in an effort to cut back on caffeinated drinks, I switched to drinking at least one or two cups of herbal teas before bed. But the real reason that I switched back to drinking herbal teas is two-fold.

I’m tired of being sick. All medications have stopped working for the migraines and nausea. I got tired of popping pills every night which are often hard on the stomach. And so, about two weeks ago, I started drinking herbal teas. And thankfully, it has really helped with the nausea.

Years ago, when I studied Wiccan practices and rituals out of pure curiosity, I discovered a love for herbs and herbal remedies. I learned that most herbs could be used for medicinal purposes. And the easiest way to ingest these herbs safely – was through drinking tea.

Today, I’m going to share some of my favorite herbal teas with you and why I believe they can be beneficial to your overall health.

Chamomile Tea

At the top of my list is chamomile. I have a pot of chamomile trying to grow in my kitchen right now. The plant isn’t doing so well. I love the smell of chamomile. It’s like a combination of apples and flowers.

Chamomile has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. It’s main use has been to calm anxiety, induce sleep, and settle upset stomach. The easiest way to ingest chamomile is by brewing or steeping as a tea.

The reason I started drinking chamomile tea again was two-fold. I thought it might help with the nausea I’ve been struggling with, but it also helps with relaxation. The medications stopped working for my insomnia, so I’ve switched to taking a ginger gravol in combination with a cup of chamomile tea before bed. And I sleep like a baby.

If you suffer from skin issues like dry and itchy skin or eczema, you can take a chamomile tea bath or use ice cold tea on your skin as a rinse.

Be careful not to drink too much chamomile tea. 1 to 2 cups daily should suffice to help aid with stomach issues. If you take sedatives or blood thinners, there is a small chance that chamomile could interact with them. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.

I would recommend buying tea bags like Twinings or Tetley as these can be safer to drink than brewing the tea yourself.

8 benefits of chamomile tea
Chamomile Tea – Medical News Today

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint is a popular herb used as flavouring in breath mints, candy and some recipes. It contains menthol, menthone and limonene. Not only does peppermint tea taste delicious, but it also has several health benefits.

If you’re a fellow IBS sufferer, then peppermint can help aid in easing gassy pain, bloating and digestive issues. In addition to helping with digestive problems, this tea can provide some relief to migraines and headaches. This was a huge bonus for me and I can’t help but wonder if it’s the reason I’ve experienced less migraines this week. And not to be a bragger, but peppermint tea has also been said to help with menstrual cramps and pain.

Plugged up with a stuffy nose or got the sniffles? Peppermint can also be used to help relieve clogged sinuses. Now that allergy season is in full bloom, you might want to keep a stash of peppermint tea on hand along with broth or clear soup.

The list of benefits that comes with peppermint tea ranges from sleep, migraines, reduction in cramps, but it doesn’t stop there. This glorious and refreshing tea has also been known to aid in weight loss and to help boost your concentration and memory.

Peppermint tea might just be the tea of all herbal teas. And it’s definitely on the top of my tea list! I actually tried to order a peppermint plant but the plant shop was out 😦

Peppermint Tea – Pexels.com

Lemon Tea

Lemon trees are small evergreen plants that predominately grow in southern Asian countries. However, lemons are also grown in southern US states like Florida and California. Lemons are part of the citrus fruit family like oranges and grapefruits.

Like oranges, lemons are packed with vitamin C which helps boost the body’s defense against infections. They are also loaded with calcium and magnesium which are essential nutrients.

Vitamin C is known to boost immunity and helps improve reproductive health. Lemon teas are usually paired with ginger, which can also promote healthy digestion.

Lemon tea can also help boost your digestive function, battle infections, reduce inflammation (joint pain or stiffness), enhance skin health, and heart health.

If you struggle with inflamed gums, lemon can help reduce the inflammation in between your dental visits. Other benefits include reduction of migraines, regulating blood sugar levels, alleviating depression and anxiety.

Not only does lemon tea provide you with all these great health benefits, but adding lemon juice to your favorite recipes gives it that extra punch for flavour. So, it makes sense that lemon tea is so popular!

Clear Glass Bowl With Brown Liquid
Pexel Library

Green Tea

Green tea is one of the most popular teas in North America and can found in many forms and flavours. It’s loaded with antioxidants that have an abundance of health benefits.

This tea is named for its color as unlike other teas – it becomes a beautiful shade of green when brewed. Steamed green teas taste bittersweet while other teas come out sweet. It could be why I like it so much. There is a science behind getting the right flavour for green tea – and it’s all about hitting the right temperature and sleeping time.

Like peppermint tea, green tea has a multitude of health benefits. It’s been proven that green tea can help improve brain function, speed up fat loss, protect the body against cancer and aid in lowering the risk for heart disease.

Green tea contains healthy bioactive compounds like polyphenols which is useful in reducing inflammation and fighting cancer. Other antioxidants can help prevent cells and molecules from damage.

This tea contains caffeine so it is not recommended to drink at night time. If you’re not a fan of coffee, consider drinking green tea in the morning to start your day. It is said that green tea can help improve brain function, and can improve your mood, reaction time and even memory. But one of the more popular benefits of green tea is that it can speed up the process for fat loss which is great if you’re trying to lose weight.

So for me, green tea is delicious but I’m placing it in the fourth spot of this list because it does contain caffeine.

Green Tea – WallPaperAccess.com

Popular Herbal Teas

These are just a few of my favorite teas. Other popular tea flavours include:

  • Matcha Green
  • Ginger
  • Hibiscus
  • Echinacea
  • Sage
  • Lemon Balm
  • Rooibos
  • Rosehip
  • Licorice Root
  • Sleepy Time Tea

I haven’t tried these teas yet. I’m shopping on Amazon for tea samplers so I can have a variety of tea flavours on hand. Many of my friends are tea drinkers so it is the right thing to do!

I can tell you that my cupboards are now stocked with green tea, peppermint tea, lemon tea, earl grey, chamomile and now – matcha tea. Which I think I brewed wrong because I was not a fan of the flavour.

Popular Brand Teas

I’m partial to brands like Twining and Tetly. If I can’t find something in Twinning packaging, then I’ll go with Tetly. These are definitely my top choices. When it comes to tea, I try to get the “good stuff” and not cheap out.

David’s Tea is a popular store to visit at Christmas time and for birthdays in our family. Everyone loves the gift of tea. And everyone loves a good tea sampler.

Peppermint, Peppermint Tea, Mint, Tee

What are your favorite herbal teas? Have you tried them cold as a summer drink? If so, let me know in the comments!

Living Well Series

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Love this kind of content? Then stay tuned. Mostly Single is transitioning into a health and wellness blog with a strong focus on herbal, and natural remedies. Join me as I embark on this chapter of my life – that I call spiritual awakening.

Living with chronic migraines – but you don’t look sick!

It’s nearly 8:00 am and I’m showered, dressed, have a cup of coffee and a load of laundry in the washing machine. I wish this could be the case everyday. I love early mornings. But alas, another migraine kept in bed most of the day yesterday. It’s not even the migraines anymore. It’s the dizzy spells and nausea that come with it. It literally comes and goes. One moment I’m sick as a dog, the next, I’m ready to get my day going.

This is the part I have trouble explaining to doctors. I did some research and migraines have now been declared to be as debilitating if not more so, than strokes or heart attacks. That gives me a bit of relief to know that I’m not alone in the struggle. I see my doctor next week for a follow up. I’m hoping we can go back to the drawing board on what medications to try. The mirtazapine does nothing for me. I gave that up a couple of weeks ago. It just made me sleep 18 hours a day. And who can be productive on that schedule? I also read one side effect is weight gain. Which is the opposite of what I want.

I think I’d like to try the amitriptyline again. It’s one of those drugs you can take as needed and you don’t need to constantly increase the dosage. The Zomig has stopped working. I can’t stomach the Cambia powder. And before you even suggest it…

Nope. I’m not going to be talked into Botox injections. For one, even with 80% coverage of benefits, it would cost $200 every twelve weeks. And that’s money I just don’t have right now. Or like ever in my current line of employment. My rent went up. So did the power bill. And it seems, everything else like the cost of food is on the rise too. Does it ever really end?

One the reasons I’m still off work is that my former doctor had requested that I work from home on a permanent basis. WCB disagreed with this decision. I was put back on the employer’s benefit plan. But that will run out soon. If I don’t get on long term disability, I’ll have no choice but to return to work. The caveat?

My employer refuses to let their staff work from home on a permanent basis. Our Premier is pushing people to go back to work as soon as possible. There’s just no compassion really. People don’t care if you’re sick or living with a disability. They’ll cite performance issues to push you out.

So, I’m looking at all options to carry me through while I figure things out. In a simple world, if I could just find work I could do on my own schedule from home, that would be amazing. The hardest part in the world right now is keeping to some kind of regular schedule.

Last night for example, I wound up getting out of bed around 1 am and I’ve been up since. I lazed in bed most of yesterday. Sometimes a migraine can feel like a stroke. When you lift your head or open your eyes, you instantly feel sick or fall right back into bed. I think the vertigo might be the worst part of it.

Part of the problem with migraines is the whole “you don’t look sick” or “you’re not sick 60% of the time”. But what people don’t realize is that even you’re not in migraine state, the rest of the time, you’re in that fog or hangover state. Sometimes that part is even worse than the migraine itself.

My worst migraine in my life happened after a trip with my friend to Calgary to see a concert. I wound up in the hospital with what I thought were stroke like symptoms. Every time I lifted my head up, or opened my eyes, I got sick. I mean, I had to call 911. I could the look of the paramedics face when they said, “Oh, it’s just a migraine.”

I felt validated when I nearly puked on the guy’s shoe. They finally believed me when I said I “got sick every time I opened my eyes.”

Good days have been far and few in between. And even though it’s dark and dreary outside, I feel like I can get a lot accomplished today. I forgot how much I love early mornings. Watching the sun rise. The world is quiet. There’s very little traffic. It’s serene. We have lots of trees around which means lots of birds. Even the gulls don’t get up that early in the morning.

And so, this is where I am this Thursday morning. Thinking about the future. Trying to reach out to former colleagues, friends and network as much as I can on the good days. And asking you, my dear readers, to pass on the word that I’m looking for work in marketing that I could do from home.

Do you live with migraines? If so, what have you found that works for you for treatment?

Living Well Series

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Living Well – Skin care for winter’s itch

Yes, you’re reading this right. It’s before 8 am and I’m up with my first cup of coffee for the day. Mostly because I’ve been up all night again. But I made the mistake of having a nap last night. Sometime during the night, I looked down at my feet and marveled at how dirty they were. I’ve been cleaning my condo like mad. My condo is all laminate flooring and no matter how much I clean it, my feet always seem to pick up dirt. I hate socks for the most part.

This is one thing I’m looking forward to – is having carpet again when I move. There is nothing better than a freshly cleaned carpet to sink your bare feet into. Am I right? I’m also looking forward to having a proper bath. And if all goes well tomorrow, I’ll have a fitness centre too. All good things.

I decided to take some time and really wash my feet. Like scrub between the toes. Got the toenails done. I forgot how good that feels. I’m not a feet person. I hate looking at feet. I hate touching feet. Even my own. But there’s nothing quite as satisfying as giving yourself a food and toe massage, and then lathering your dry winter skin with some aloe vera skin cream.

For me, I notice that the end of winter usually brings dry and itchy skin. We had a very dry winter this year with very little snow. This climate can be harsh on all skin types. And so, I’ve learned a few tricks that I’ll share with you on how to keep your skin healthy, moisturized and also how to fix cracked heels.

What causes dry and itchy skin?

Dermatitis is usually the culprit behind dry and itchy skin. But there can be other causes too like exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals, allergic reactions, changes in diet (rare), dehydration and of course, winter itch. This is common in places like Alberta that suffer with long and cold winters.

Winter itch can hit anyone, at any age with any skin type. I have sensitive and pale skin – it often turns red this time of year. If I neglect or get lazy with my skin care, then my skin becomes super flaky and itchy, very fast. Some people develop bumps or spots or even a pink or reddish rash.

Hard water can also cause your skin to become dry and itchy.

Where does winter itch strike?

More commonly, winter itch can affect the feet, legs, hands and arms. The degree in which it affects people depends on multiple factors from other health conditions, skin problems, aging or being overweight. Hormonal imbalances can also wreck havoc on your skin.

What can I do for winter itch and dry skin?

The good news is there are lots of great home remedies that can be used to help combat the icky feeling of dry skin. I know my skin often looks like leather when really cold or dry.

I have a few products that I go to for all my skin care needs. The combination of a really good facial wash, body hygiene (regular showers or baths) and skin lotion usually is enough for me.

The most important thing you can do for your skin is to practice good hygiene. I’ve been slacking in this area since being at home. I’ll shower every other day instead of every day like when I was working. I’m trying to get back into the habit of getting up in the morning, showering and having some kind of normal routine. This is so crucial for problematic skin.

The other thing is to eat a healthy and well balanced diet, avoid foods high in sugar or cut back on caffeine and pop. Reduce your alcohol consumption. Wine for example is terrible for people with Rosacea.

Stay hydrated! Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses or cups of water each day. Not only is this great for the skin, but it can help to leave you feeling full longer after your meals, and can aid in weight loss.

Home Remedies

CeraVe Facial Wash or lotion

I love CeraVe products. The facial wash helps to keep my Rosacea at bay and leaves my skin feeling so soft after use. I found that leaving the bottle of facial wash in the shower helped to remind me to use it daily. I use it for my face, neck and chest area – and even behind the ears. Follow up with an application of either CeraVe skin lotion or something like Aloe Vera lotion will really help reduce symptoms of winter itch.

I swear by Nivea products. It’s what I use daily on my face. I use the Aloe Vera Refreshing Nivea Cream for my skin and it really lives up to its name. My mum used Nivea too – so it’s a trusted brand in our family.

I cannot recommend Aloe Vera based products enough. It comes from a natural plant that has been used for healing various ailments for thousands of years. There is also a great Vaseline Aloe Vera skin lotion too.


This is an old trick my mom used to make us do for our feet. I remember my brother had a heck of a time with cracked heels. Use good old fashioned vaseline on your feet. Rub a generous amount on your skin before bedtime. Really rub it in. Give yourself a bit of a massage. Of course this feels better after a good soak in the tub. Then take a pair of cotton socks and wrap up your feet for the night. Do this for a few days and the itching should subside.

The key to skincare is repetition – and getting into a daily routine.


When I was younger, I used oatmeal mixes on my face for my acne but it also made a huge mess and dried out my skin. Apparently, colloidal oatmeal has known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can help with itchy skin. You can buy the ground powder and it to your bath – or you can purchase a lotion with oatmeal in it.

Baking Soda

Not only will soaking in a bath with baking soda in it will help clean your bathroom – but it can also help to reduce inflammation in your skin. Baking soda is a natural ingredient without harsh chemicals and can be a great remedy for winter itch.

Skin Treatments

About once a year, I have to visit my doctor for a prescription for my skin. I don’t get breakouts often anymore, maybe twice a year now. The meds help with that. If you’ve tried various home remedies without relief, then I suggest a trip to your doctor. The issue may not be winter’s itch at all – it could be another form of dermatitis or something else all together.

One thing I used to do when I had the money, was go for a massage every spring. It was a steam massage that used sea salts for exfoliating the skin. I can’t tell how you amazing this made me feel. Exfoliation is a great way to help remove dead skin cells which can also contribute to the irritating itch.

You can easily do this treatment at home by using a sea salt scrub and applying it to your body. Let it sit on the skin for 10-15 minutes before climbing into a hot bath. If you’re lucky enough to have a steam room – then try it in the steam room. It will help to open your pores like they’ve never been opened before.

I think I’ve convinced myself to book one of these as soon as personal services are available!

Are you a dry skin sufferer? What do you do for your winter’s itch? Let me know in the comments!

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Living Well: Skin care and treatments for adult acne

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know that I live with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome which is a disease that affects hormones. What also happens with PCOS, is living as an adult in my forties with acne. Sometimes I look like an overgrown teenager with skin problems.

And I hate it.

As a teenager, I never had skin issues. It wasn’t until later in life when I started experiencing hormonal issues, that I really started experiencing adult acne. When you’re a professional trying to work in a professional office setting – people often stared at me when I had bad breakouts. I often wonder if it was a reason why I didn’t move as far as I wanted to in my career at the time.

Over the years, my doctor and I have tried all kinds of creams and medications. I even saw a few dermatologists. One thought I had a good case of Rosacea. While another doctor, didn’t think it was Rosacea, but thought it was something wrong with my blood vessels. Which kind of made sense, since I also have Factor V Leiden.

Yes, I’m a complex patient – even though my doctor doesn’t think so. That’s just because she’s treated me for so long.

Because we also have winter eight months of the year, our air can get so dry in winter months that it really wrecks havoc on our skin.

As you can imagine, the cost of skin products can add up over time. I’m always looking for natural products to use and have found some success with Aloe Vera based creams and a good face wash. That said, when breakouts are bad, I have to take Minocycline which is an antibiotic for fungal infections. It seems to get rid of the acne – and the great thing is, usually keeps the acne away for six months to a year.

So, today’s post is going to be dedicated to skin care and products I’ve found to be helpful for keeping my acne breakouts at bay.

NOTE: this is not a paid sponsorship – but hey, Cerave or Nivea, feel free to reach out!

Cera Ve

Face Wash – budget friendly

It was my family physician who recommend this brand to me and I have used it for a couple of years now. It feels great and refreshing on my skin too – especially after a long day.

I started using the face wash in the shower in the mornings and at night time as well about a month ago. I can already feel the difference in my skin.

I’ve also combined this treatment with Omega 3 – fish pills – and it’s a great combination for dry or acne prone skin.

You can pick this up at just about any pharmacy, or order from Amazon. Cera Ve also makes face creams and lotions.

Nivea Skin Cream

Nivea Soft Refreshingly Soft Moisturizing Cream - 25ml | London Drugs

A soft and soothing hydrating lotion

My mum introduced me to Nivea creams when I was a child. She used it for things like rashes, dry skin or sunburns. As an adult, I started using Nivea Soft cream which felt less greasy on my skin.

I wear this product daily – apply once in the morning and before applying foundation, which is the only makeup I apply to my skin.

A 200 mL container usually lasts me about two months and you can buy it at any pharmacy or visit Amazon.

Aloe Vera Lotion

NIVEA Aloe Vera Body Lotion, 16.9 OZ (with Photos, Prices & Reviews) - CVS  Pharmacy

A natural product that comes in many forms to help hydrate your skin.

Aloe Vera is another great natural plant that is used for medicinal purposes. You can buy many aloe vera based products from oils, creams, gels and even in beverage form.

I switched to the Aloe Vera Nivea Soft cream for body lotion and it feels amazing on my skin. The first time I put the lotion on my legs, I breathed a sigh of relief. It felt like I had just stepped in the shower.

You can buy these bottles from any pharmacy – or on Amazon. One bottle will last me several months.

Tea Tree Oil

Nature's Bounty Tea Tree Oil | Walmart Canada

A natural remedy for dry and acne prone skin

Tea Tree Oil, in combination with Coconut Oil or Olive Oil, can make for a great product to help combat acne.

This Oil is also known as melaleuca oil, and is an essential oil that comes from steaming leaves of Australian tea trees. It is believed that the tea tree oil is antibacterial and can help fight fungal infections. It is often used to treat acne, athlete’s foot and other skin problems.

The oil should never be used on its own as it can burn skin. It is suggested to mix a few drops of the oil in with a base like coconut oil or olive oil.

If you already have oily skin, you may want to avoid this treatment. Tea tree oil should not be taken orally. There are a number of options to purchase. I recently tried this brand which you can get on Amazon.

Honeywell Humidifier

Review: Honeywell MistMate Cool Mist Humidifier - Today's Parent

A quiet humidifier to help keep your skin hydrated

I love this humidifier. I bought it in the fall when I was struggling badly with allergies. What I noticed after a few nights of use was how great my skin was starting to feel.

Even the bags under my eyes were starting to lighten up and I felt better overall.

A humidifier is an easy solution if you’re living in an extremely dry home or live in a dry climate province like Alberta.

It’s important to keep this machine clean as fungus and bacterias can get trapped inside the machine. I have this model and have not had any issues with it. It’s also very quiet.

I should take my own advice and clean this machine out and use it again.

Trial and Error

So, if you’re like me and you have acne prone skin, I hope that at least one of these products may help you. Winter is coming fast and I’m cringing already at the thought of how the weather affects my skin. I’ve stocked up on my daily vitamins and skin care products – and hope to beat the acne breakouts this year.

My doctor and I tried so many products over the years for my acne breakouts. I’ve finally found something that really works. And hope it continues working!

Sometimes the only thing that works for bad breakouts, is prescription medicine. I tried a gel during the summer that actually burned my skin. It did nothing for the acne spots. I turned to my pharmacist and she sent me a month supply of Minocycline, and my skin is back to normal – thankfully!

Also, I will add – that a healthy diet, regular exercise, natural vitamin D (sunshine) – and drinking plenty of water – will help improve your skin health.

What is your daily skin care regime? Let me know in the comments!

Living Well!

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Living Well: how to cope with chronic insomnia

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I suffer from a few chronic conditions – one of those conditions is chronic insomnia. Insomnia is something I’ve lived with for more than thirty years. There’s nothing worse than feeling tired and wanting to sleep – but not being able to sleep at all once you hit the sack.

In this article, I’ll share some tips I learned on living with insomnia and how you can rest better.

Before we get into how to treat chronic insomnia – let’s go over the basics of what it is.

Three Common Bedtime Habits Destroying Your Sleep | by Nick Wignall |  Elemental

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of people around the world each year. Your body may feel tired but the moment you lie down, you start to toss and turn. Your mind just won’t let you rest. Not getting enough sleep can severely impact your life – you might have mood swings, you might feel lethargic and move slowly during the day, or worse – you could seriously hurt yourself in an accident at work or while driving.

Insomnia can last for days. If you have chronic insomnia, it can last for weeks or even months. My longest spell with insomnia was over two months. I also had sleep paralysis during this time.

Symptoms of Insomnia

  • Feeling tired but not being able to sleep when you lie down
  • Feeling anxious or stressed out about daily life – and not getting enough sleep
  • Mood swings, depression, living in a state of confusion or “brain fog”
  • Waking up several times during the night or waking up too early and not feeling rested

If you wake up during the night and are unable to breathe or feel like you are choking – you may want to get tested for sleep apnea which is a condition that can cause weight gain and breathing problems.

Causes of insomnia

For me, insomnia comes and goes. Staying up too late or sleeping in one day or even having a nap can throw off my sleep schedule. Drinking caffeine too late in the day – coffee – can make it hard to sleep. Or working out too late in the evening might be the culprit. But the number one cause for my insomnia is – anxiety.

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Change in work schedule or traveling often for work
  • Poor sleeping habits and sleep hygiene
  • Eating too much late in the day or drinking coffee past a certain time
  • Hormonal shifts or conditions like menopause
  • Aging can cause you lose sleep as you get up to go to the bathroom more

My father used to sleep like a log until about five or six in the morning. When he started showing signs of Parkinsons, he started getting up three or four times during the night.

Some medications can cause insomnia like GERD, Parkinsons and Alzheimers, asthma, diabetes, cancer, restless leg syndrome or living with chronic pain.

Preventing insomnia

Take it from me, getting out of an insomnia funk can be difficult. My worst spell with insomnia happened in 2013-2014 when I fell ill. I went through all the tests you can imagine and everything was coming back normal. The moment I would lay down, my body would go into spasms or cramps and it prevented me from sleeping. The longest stretch that I went through was 100 hours without sleep – at all.

Finally, after getting five weeks of iron infusions to help with the cramping – I managed to grab some sleep. I had tried everything – even sleeping pills – and nothing was working. Things were so bad that I attended a sleep clinic before going back to work. Here are some things I learned on how to manage my insomnia.

Regular sleep schedule

This is crucial. Going to be around the same time and getting up in the morning around the same time is important to help naturally regulate your body and get your “internal clock” working again. I’m working on this now – I can’t seem to get up earlier than 9 am and going back to work is going to be such a shock. Avoiding naps is important too – I’ve managed to get through the day without a nap for several weeks now.

No caffeine past noon

If I drink coffee later in the day – than it may impact my sleep. I’ll have one or two cups of coffee in the morning and won’t drink it for the rest of the day. If I do get the caffeine craving later in the day, I’ll try and get a latte with skim milk. Or you could switch to decaf.

A Massive New Study of 347,077 People Just Revealed Exactly How Much Coffee  You Should Drink Each Day. (Before the Health Dangers Outweigh the  Benefits) | Inc.com

Regular exercise

Daily exercise helps me to sleep better at night time. The best sleep I ever had was after an aquafit class. Or after a steam massage with a salt scrub. My skin also felt amazing – I’m actually do for one any day now.

The 10 Most Important Yoga Poses for Beginners | DOYOU

Sunshine and Vitamin D

Getting some sunshine and natural vitamin D not only will help with your mental health but it can also help improve your sleep. If you live in a place like Alberta where we have such short winter days, I recommend getting a SAD light or talking to your doctor about taking vitamin D supplements.

Because of my history, I take two vitamin D3 gummies in the morning. My condo has large windows that lets in a lot of natural light and it can feel like I’m outside. I know going for a long walk or a hike in the wilderness can help me rest well.

How Little Doses of Sunlight Help the Body

Meal Spacing

As many of you know, I practice intermittent fasting to help lose weight. While weight loss progress is slow going, eating between certain times can help you sleep at better at night. I now eat between 11:00 am and 8:00 pm at night. Sometimes it’s 12:00 and 8:00 or 11:00 and 7:00 pm. But never past 8:00 pm at night time. This way I am never going to bed on a full stomach.

Eating healthy foods and staying hydrated can also help!

Healthy Food Doesn't Have to Be Expensive: How to Eat Well on a Budget |  AHU Online

Sleep hygiene

Practicing good sleep hygiene is an important part of sleep well. Some people take baths or showers at night to help unwind after a long work day. My nightly ritual is to listen to some relaxing music before bed. Wash my face and neck. Make sure the bed is neat and sheets are tucked in. If my room is messy – I have to pick up things off the floor or take them off the bed – or that distracts me from sleeping.

Brushing my teeth, brushing my hair and even what I wear can impact my sleep. Sometimes a fan or white noise can also help block out other noises that may be happening.

I love my blackout curtains as well. These really help in the summer time when the sun is out early in the morning – way earlier than I need to get up.

20 Pretty Girls' Bedroom Designs | Home Design Lover


Some people swear that meditation or yoga can help them sleep better. For me – I might listen to some Native American flute music or yoga music to help clear thoughts from my mind. Add in a cup of sleepy time tea and this can really help you catch some z’s. Check out my meditation page for some youtube suggestions.

10 Things We Know About the Science of Meditation - Mindful

No screen time!

Get off your computers and put your phone away for the night. Keep the phone on a nighttable and close the cover so you can’t see messages come in. If you need to, turn the phone on silent. Turn off notifications from social media sites that might otherwise keep you up.

If you’re using meditation music, lie down and close your eyes in your bed while listening to the music. Turn off all the lights and your phone.

If you’re a reader, you can try reading a book to help tire out your mind.


If anxiety is affecting your sleep, you may want to consider therapy to get to the bottom of what’s causing your anxiety. Sometimes things are out of our control – as I’m learning – and you may need more help.

Talk to your doctor about medications that can help ease your anxiety or help you sleep. Melatonin is a natural supplement that can work to regulate your sleep schedule naturally. However, it doesn’t work for everyone. If you’ve tried Melatonin and all the remedies I suggested above – then you may need medical intervention to stop your insomnia.

I am seeing my doctor later today and will be asking for a little “help” for my insomnia. I don’t ask for medications often and she knows this. She may have some new ideas that can help me out. If she does, I’ll report back here.

There may be a medical condition that is causing you to toss and turn during the night – if so, then I highly recommend that you go for some labwork and routine tests with your doctor to rule things out.

Do you suffer from insomnia? What tricks have you learned to help you sleep at night time? Let me know in the comments!

Living Well Series