Fear, Danger, and Illness: What We Can Learn From One Astronaut’s Experience

“What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Or another way to say is what’s the most dangerous thing you’ve ever done and why did you do it?”

That’s how Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield opens his TED Talk, during which he shares his harrowing tale of going temporarily blind while working outside the International Space Station. I don’t know about you, but I’d pee my pants. Space is terrifyingly awesome and the simple thought of being in such a situation makes my head spin. But, Hadfield made it through the entire extravehicular activity. How? He argues it’s because astronauts are drilled and trained to recognize the difference between perceived fear and danger.

I’d argue that illness has a similar effect. Most people can think about what it must be like to float weightlessly in space just as well as they can think about what it might be like to fall ill with something that you will never be cured of. It’s foreign, alien, and unknown. But, unlike finding yourself blind in space, illness can strike any family and any group of friends. It’s the big gorilla in every room that no one wants to ponder. Which is why Hadfield’s experience can help those facing illness tackle the fear they see in the mirror, and the danger lurking in their own DNA.

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I don’t think that any sick person can say they are the same person before and after diagnosis. I’ve always battled anxiety, but my journey to finding out my brain is malformed changed me in so many ways, some I’ve yet to discover. Knowing that you will forever battle your body can be a hopeless kind of situation; I remember the moment I realized that there would be many nights where I could not feed myself, could not walk under my own power, and would have to make sacrifices that others can never understand. I spent a good, long while being afraid of every headache and doctor’s visit, of being alone, going without medication…of simply being afraid of everything. But, that’s not living. That’s wading and trudging, not living. This understanding is the line drawn between fear and danger

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Sew Your Own Sock Rice Warmer

Migraines are my worst enemy; sufferers who live with neurological conditions usually struggle to find relief without turning to medications with incredible side effects. That’s why I love rice warmers, which are really to make anyway, but wait ’til you see this DIY…with socks!

A coworker and I were talking about our migraines; she has had them for a long time, and I’m always picking her brain about her path of self management. She uses herbs, teas, and super simple things like sock rice warmers to live a richer life. “My husband always has that one sock in a pair that has holes,” she explained, which I completely understand. Husband is hard on socks, and the creative in me hates throwing things out if I can repurpose them somehow. Read on to see how a sock can bring you hours of relief!

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever come across any project that is as universal as rice warmers. No matter the season, they are perfect gifts for family and friends who have sore muscles, headaches, back pain, and the list goes on. I’ve made them in the past with colorful and comfortable fabrics, but socks are perfect for this. They are rather durable, soft, and the best part is that it limits the sewing you have to do!

I used a striped knee high sock to make my first rice warmer. To start, I cut off the toe end of the sock, turned it inside out, and stitched that end closed with embroidery thread. After turning it right side out, I slowly started adding rice until it reached the first white dotted line. I pinned closed the first pink segment of the sock and threaded it closed. That’s it. I repeated the pouring, pinning, and threading until I reached the last black segment at the top of the sock. I chose to leave the top unfilled and used a blanket stitch to close the end.

When I said it’s easy, I meant it’s really stinkin’ easy! You could personalize your rice warmer with dried herbs or oils like lavender. What sets this project apart from other rice warmers is how light it is, while maintaining structure. I have other warmers that go unused because they are just too heavy. But, the socks don’t need reinforced, they don’t burn because the weave of the material is more substantial, and they are machine washable! My coworker said she makes them in all sizes for her family, and said they are perfect for the freezer. I tossed mine in the freezer overnight and it helped an early morning headache today!


How’s your self-care Sunday, going? Spoonies, what’s your go to technique for finding relief?

Have a relaxing day, dears

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What I Mean When I Say “Migraine” + Dealing At Work

“Oh, I get headaches, too! I’ve got an IBUProfen, do you want one?”

The first thing I learned after being diagnosed with a chronic illness is that it is incredibly difficult for people to understand. When I say “migraine,” most people hear “bad headache.” But, migraines are so much more than most people can even begin to describe. And while you might mean well by offering an Ibuprofen to a friend or loved one who suffers from chronic migraines, chances are they’ve already tried most pain relievers on the shelf. The best thing you can do is offer your support and willingness to learn. So, today I’m going to pick through my migraine experience and share my defense plan that gets me through my work day in the hopes that it will help sufferers and friends alike.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!

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Migraines, Explained

We’re actually quite lucky here in the 21st century. Cavemen and 17th-century sufferers alike drilled holes in their skulls to alleviate severe pains and pressure. Trepanning, as it was called, is one of the more gruesome treatments people turned to, but consider the pain that a human body must be experiencing for this “solution” to even be a consideration! I can tell you from personal experience, pain can push you to a point where opening a 6-inch hole in your head seems like a good idea. But, pain inside your brain is inescapable; it’s not a bum knee that you can prop up, or a bad back you can ice. It’s all consuming and can distort your version of reality. It makes sense, then, that people have turned to electrotherapy, vessel ligation, and other incredibly invasive procedures to cure their migraines. What causes them, though? Why do people even have migraines?

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