Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Things I Like

It's been a long time since I've done a post about the various things that help me keep functioning in my daily routines. This is NOT an advertisement of any sort, just things I've found that help. I'm linking to them simply because maybe someone else can be helped. Some things might have been discussed before, but I have no good way to look back.

Here we go, in no special order:

Clocky is an alarm clock that forces you to get up. It makes a hideous noise that is a bunch of randomized sounds so you can't get used to the beeping and sleep through it. It is very, very loud. And annoying, but that's good when you are highly sedated. After a period of time you select, if you've not turned Clocky off he takes off randomly on his wheels and goes until something stops him. So then you have to crawl around to find him and that definitely wakes you up. I don't use this every day simply because it is quite annoying, but I use it every time I have to be awake by a certain time, or if I'm super tired/have had to take ativan and know waking will be harder. I also travel with it because I can't really take all of my 7 standard alarms with me, and I can't take my incredibly useful sunrise/sunset clock.

The BluLite is what I use for SAD. Traditional lamps are large and require 30 minutes of exposure per day. Research shows that blue light is the effective wavelength and this little box is blue light only. It's tiny, travels easily, and only has to be used 15 minutes. It also is nice because there aren't bulbs to replace. There are a lot of little diodes and it will still work fine after some diodes don't work, so it's supposed to last about 30 years. If it really does then it is also very cheap.

Dr. Body gave me a sinus rinse bottle last year as a product sample. I cannot take any cold medication. The only one that I can theoretically take (guiafession) I was taking when I developed the Lamictal rash. Although we're 99% sure that was from Lamictal I've been told not to take the other again either, just in case. So whenever I get a cold I wind up with a sinus infection, and they tend to be bad sinus infections. I seem to be 100% likely to get at least 2 sinus infections that require antibiotics each year and often these require more than one course of antibiotics to clear up. This bottle has little packets of a salt solution that you mix up to the same salinity as tears, then squirt up your nose, through your sinuses and out the other side. It sounds terrible, I know, but it actually feels really good and it really gets a lot of nastiness out. The only caution I really have is to be sure to not forget the saline powder or it does burn badly. Not that I'd ever do such a thing.

I keep this Homedics clock in my living room. I got it for Christmas to use as an Ipod dock. Which I do, but it turns out that it has another wonderful feature: a 2 alarm feature with volume control. I find it impossible to sleep through. The first alarm is set so that I get up at 4:00 AM to take my morning meds (including a med that lets me wake up easier). The 2nd is set so that if I manage to sleep later than I should I still wake up. It really makes a big difference/ I used to sleep through the 4:00 alarm frequently and then wouldn't be able to get up later. Clocky isn't appropriate for this alarm because I need to only wake up slightly then sleep a few more hours.

My Dreamcatcher weighted blanket gives me the gift of sleep. I had some specific reason for choosing this place, although I'm not entirely sure what it was now. They are a bit more expensive, but (I think this was the kicker) they are very washable, they make any size, they make very heavy blankets for adults (it should be about 10% of your body weight; I chose to go a bit heavier than that and have now lost enough that it's about 5 lbs heavier than that formula indicates), and the fabric choices are extensive. Mine is made of a fabric that I love (this is important with sensory issues) called Minkee Dots. It's typically used for baby blankets. Back when mine was bought at least (didn't look about now) they also had free shipping which was a big factor given that it is really expensive to ship 22 lbs of blanket. The biggest problem was that since this is custom-made it takes a long time. On the plus side, I never fell asleep easily until I had a weighted blanket and now I'm even sleeping without it sometimes. Not by choice, but I can do it (ie last night I kicked it off).

The Therapy Shoppe sells all kinds of sensory wonderfulness. I just bought a bunch of things from them to try to give myself things to fidget with that do not result in ripping my own skin off. What I've learned so far is that I have a serious need for things to mess with. I took one to my appointment with Dr. Mind and during a rather intense session I did not stop using it for the whole hour-plus I was there. And I have been Band-Aid free since I got these things. I have them in the car, my purse, and often my pockets.

Crockpot/365 days of crockpotting is my favorite cooking tip. The crockpot lets me have fresh and healthy food that has actually been cooked, not just microwaved. This particular webpage is a recipe site for crockpot cooking and all the recipes are delicious and nutritious. The author has a cookbook coming out soon and I'm very excited to buy it.

Orange glasses help keep me functioning in the summer. Essentially I have the opposite of SAD in the summer: too much light makes me manic. Since I don't just do mania, I wind up with a mixed episode every June. These glasses cost about $7 and block blue light. This year I just put them on when I got to the car and wore them until it was too dark to see. Within a couple days of getting them I was sleeping at least an hour to an hour and a half more per night. That is still less than I should get but enough to keep me relatively healthy

My Diet book has helped me lose 35 lbs this year. Granted, some of that has been weaning off Depakote, but this book has made a huge difference. I had a scary blood sugar test in January which is why I chose this particular program, and it has helped me lose a lot of weight and my blood sugar is normal again. Since I'm at high risk for diabetes based on family history and taking an atypical anti-psychotic this is really important to me. I do not need to have to deal with another major illness.

Danskos are shoes that have changed my life. They are expensive but worth every penny. They are designed for people who are on their feet a lot, and in 3 weeks of use I have yet to come home with tired feet or knees. Since I have a knee that has a lot of problems, this is huge. They're a little weird looking but once you are used to them you don't care. I have the Professional Cabrio in hickory and ones that seem to be discontinued called Vanessas.

Seroquel XR is the first psychotropic that actually worked for me. Others helped some, in hefty doses and big combinations, but this drug seems to be precisely what my body lacks. I am on a small dose of it and a tiny amount of lithium and an antidepressant, and that is it for psychotropics. That is in comparison to years of 3 or 4 mood stabilizers at high doses, plus and antidepressant, plus meds for anxiety, plus meds for sleep. It's a huge change and it has given me my life back. Seroquel original helped me, but it wasn't until the XR version came out that I started becoming myself again.

Provigil also gives me my life back. I've been on it for years; it isn't until recently that I found a good balance. It always helped but now it works incredibly well, partly because I manage to wake up in time to take it when I really need the help. Essentially Provigil helps with overcoming sedation. People with bipolar need to take it with great caution and supervision, and it's somewhat controversial for bipolar patients, but I've never had problems with it. In all the time I've been on it there have been some days that it has made me a little manicky, but I just am aware of that and take a dose of ativan as soon as I feel it is needed. There's a newer version of it out now called Nuvigil that I'll be switching to sometime soon, but for now I'm very happy as is. The worst part is that this drug isn't one insurance always wants to pay for, so generally there's had to be a fight between my doctor and a reviewer with each new insurer. The fight has ranged from once my doctor just kept sending them stuff until they shut up, to a check box, to my doctor having to talk to my case manager (that I didn't know I had). Fortunately that time my case manager was a psychiatrist (imagine that, an intelligent decision by insurance) and it was easily approved. I have new insurance now so we'll see what happens.

I think that's enough for now. I just like finding out about different things, so I thought I'd share some of my favorites.


Emilija said...

Thanks for the info! I've been wanting to try provigil, but I don't think my insurance company will pay for it- although I have just submitted paperwork for it.

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Just Me said...


(forgive my typing, I just sliced the living daylights out of a finger and thumb and typing is hard.)
Provigil, at least for me, totoally is worth the fight and the higher copay I've sometimes had. That has varied and the last several years it was covered without any issue at all. My doctor just sent in a form saying I have complicated bipolar disorder, require excessive sedation and need help to wake to function, and I believe had to show that numerus meds were trialed before opting to treat the side effects.

Provigil is the only reason Im working fulltime successfully, on a regular work schedule.