Extended trips to a hospital suck. Here’s what you can do to make it more comfortable.

I recently returned from a long trip to Mayo Clinic. It was successful and I learned a lot — including a bit about self-soothing. Okay my mom helped too.

The point is, having a long stay at a hospital can be really depressing, uncomfortable and the homesickness sets in the moment you set down your bags. All we ever want to do when we’re sick is to cuddle up with something familiar. Here are some things you can do to make the stay a little more comfortable.

Where you stay

  • Do you like walks? Baths? Working out? Try and stay at a place that allows you to have at least one outlet or point of comfort on-site. I personally desperately wanted a bath tub. My whole body hurt after long days of being poked and prodded and all I desired was to melt in an epsom soak tub.
  • Also, keep in mind proximity to the hospital. My mother and I chose to stay close enough to the hospital that it wasn’t stressful to drive there and back a couple of times a day, but far enough that I didn’t completely feel like I staying was on campus.

What you bring

Bring anything that reminds you of home and makes you feel the most like yourself. Stuffed animals, a candle, a book, tarot cards, excessive skincare options (obviously I took part in this one). No matter your age, this is your chance to have a safety blanket when you want it. If you have an emotional support animal and are able to bring them, DO! Now that I have my puppy, I wish she would have been there with me.

What I brought: 

  • Tarot cards
  • Magazines/books
  • Crystals
  • Skincare/treatments and masks
  • My favorite sweatshirt and sweater
  • Fluffy socks (it was summer but I was able to snuggle up during a movie!)
  • Bright nail polish
  • Homemade soap from Sade Baron
  • Lord Jones CBD Gumdrops

I was planning on only bringing comfy clothes and was going to opt out of bringing my favorite handbag. At the last second, I tossed it in and I’m so happy I did! It helped me feel more like myself and less like a patient (even if I needed to be one for 12 hours a day).

What you can get there

  • My mom came up with the best idea on the first day — flowers. We went to Trader Joe’s and took some time to pick a few different kinds of my favorite, non-allergic flowers. After that, we went to the local dollar store and bought a couple of vases so that we could make bouquets and place them around the hotel room. If they don’t have vases, use big cups or glasses!
  • We also got little baskets to put our toiletries in. This way, it looked more homey and we didn’t have to go through the process of digging through our bags every time we needed lotion or toothpaste. It was all out for us to see!
  • Cotton pads and micellar water saved my life during this trip! Okay maybe not. But they saved my skin! Every night I was too tired to stand at the sink and wash my face. With micellar water and cotton pads, I was able to wash my face in bed and go to sleep feeling clean.
  • Epsom salt is easy to find at any pharmacy so you don’t need to lug around a 6 lb bag. My favorite is Dr. Teal’s Lavender Epsom Salt. Dump a bunch of that into your tub and wait for you muscle aches to chill out.

Set it up

  • Put away all signs of the hotel. If there’s a sign telling you how to use the coffeemaker, hide it. It’s amazing how putting away those constant reminders can help you settle in and shake off that hospital/patient feeling.
  • Spread color and flowers around the room(s)! I’m a big believer in color therapy. Happy colors make you happy!
  • Stock your fridge with healthy snacks that fit your diet. And make sure to bring some with you during the day while you’re running between tests and appointments. Hospitals have horrible options for anyone with dietary restrictions.

As always, feel free to share your recommendations and ask questions in the comments section!

IMG_6864

Karolina’s Spicy Hot Toddy

Whether you’re still getting over the flu, are starting to get a cold, or just want a healthy — and slightly boozey — drink, this hot toddy is calling your name. I added a few adaptogenic ingredients with anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting benefits. Feel free to follow my rough recipe or add your own adaptogens for whatever your body might need!

Ingredients:

  • about 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • about 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • ginger (grated, cubed, however you want it. I like mine extra spicy and aromatic because ginger is so good for your belly. I clean the ginger and cut off about an inch-long piece and dice it.)
  • about 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (ground or sliced if you have some hanging around the house …  you know, chillin’ turmeric.)
  • lemon to taste
  • 1 tsp of honey
  • decaffeinated black tea (Caffeine can dehydrate you so I like to use decaffeinated Earl Grey)
  • Boiling water
  • your choice of whiskey

Instructions: 

While your water is boiling add ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric and your tea bag to a mug. I don’t strain out the ginger because I like to get as much of it as I can.

Once water has boiled, pour into your mug and stir. Let tea steep for around 4 minutes.

Squeeze lemon into your toddy and allow it to cool off so as not to burn off the alcohol of the whiskey.

Stir in honey until it dissolves.

Once cooled, pour in however much whiskey you want (I won’t judge).

Sip, enjoy, heal! I recommend sitting in a lavender epsom salt bath while you indulge in your healthy treat.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

How to save your hair from winter static

I know what you’re thinking, “Karolina, why are you just now giving me winter advice?It’s almost February!” But if you live in the Northeast like me, winter could continue for at least another month. Plus, I wanted a couple of months to test out these products before I declared them lifesavers. So, cut me some slack.

Now let’s get into it. I have never in my life gone through an entire winter without staticky hair. Hair that sticks to my hats, sweaters — and when I have bangs — hair that’s plastered to my forehead. As you may know, I’ve battled with my hair my whole life (thinness, hair loss, dryness, etc. Read this if you want to know how I won that battle).

This winter, I changed things up and I experienced my first cold months sans-static.

Here’s what worked for me:

IMG-0670.JPG

*full transparency* Virtue Labs sent me these products a couple of months ago. I started using them and fell absolutely in love after seeing the results. They’ve truly changed my hair, and in-turn my confidence and my life. I’ve decided to work with them after being seduced by their awesome products and ethical production.

Use code: KARO for 20% off. 

  • Virtue Labs The One For All 6-in-1 Styler: Use about a quarter-sized amount (depending on the length/thickness of your hair,  your perfect product amount may change) on damp hair. Smooth through mid-shaft to ends. Comb through for a smoother look and scrunch for a wavier look OR style however you’d like!
  • Virtue Labs The Perfect Ending Split End Serum: Just do what you did up there ^!

Pretty simple, huh? And it works beautifully. I now have stronger, more conditioned hair.

Bonus: If you have frizz and want to tame it, Ouai’s Smooth Spray is killer.

 

How I grew my hair back (after harsh meds and disastrous haircuts)

I’ve struggled with my hair for my whole life. I wasn’t gifted super thick locks to begin with (thanks, genetics), but the combination of harsh medications and rapid weight loss certainly doesn’t help. To make matters worse, a few years ago I was seduced by the cliche of chopping my hair after a breakup. On good days, it was adorable. But it also meant I needed to suffer through the process of growing it out once I was tired of sporting a bob.

Here’s what helped me achieve the healthiest — and soon to be longest — hair I’ve ever had.

BIOTIN — It makes all of your hair grow more. But hey, it’s easier to quickly remove hair than it is to grow it back. It’s worth extra waxing and this is what I swear by. I take organic biotin chews because I take so many other pills that I figure I’ll give my stomach a break.

REGULAR TRIMS — Keep the hair that you do have on your head, healthy and strong. I usually get a trim every two months.

STYLE — Get yourself an awesome stylist to make all the in between cuts look intentional. I’ve been going to Jaime at Stilisti in Boston for years now. She took my mullet and turned it into a cute cut at each stage of hair growth. It saved me, because I probably would have chopped my hair off again in desperation for a style.

PRODUCT — It matters. Some products can leave residue on your hair that will lead to breakage. You don’t want to undo all of your hard work! I’ve been using Virtue products for the past week. Full disclosure, they did send them to me. However, my hair has never felt so smooth and healthy and I find myself recommending the products to all my friends and family. Even my fiancé uses it!

Call me a stoner, but I love my medical marijuana

Today was a great example of how medical marijuana saves me.

I woke up nauseous, in a lot pain and with terrible anxiety. I thought maybe it would be another lost Sunday in bed.

Then, I took an edible.

My day turned into cleaning, dancing and writing. I was able to be me.

Most days involve dragging myself out of bed while in a lot of pain. I’ve been sick since I was about eight-years-old — which means I’ve tried pretty much every medication in the book.

Morphine. Demerol. Dilaudid. None of it cuts the pain. I’ve had it all orally, injected and continuously through the IV. For nausea, I’ve tried Zofran, Compazine, Reglan — doesn’t touch me. I still puke and feel horrible. And if one more person recommends Tums or Pepto, I’m going to scream. For migraines, I’ve done Topamax, Sumatriptan, Imitrex, Fioricet, narcotics, nerve blockers, Botox. And nada. These are all to name a few — excluding natural remedies and diet changes.

F38F409F-1A27-44D3-A6A3-25AD31EBBAC4 (1).jpg

So, when I started using medical marijuana and discovering the various options it presented me with, it changed my life. Really. I can get out of bed. I can do simple things like the laundry and the dishes, without having to stop for a nap. I can eat a full, balanced meal. I can take a deep breath and let out a roaring laugh. I can see friends and dress up to go to my favorite restaurant.

All without pumping my body full of poison and causing other debilitating symptoms.

So, yeah. You bet I’m a stoner, pot head, space-cadet.

IMG-8287.JPG

Some quick terms: Cannabis 101 

Strains | Methods I’m using now:

  • Chem Dawg — Vaporized. Hybrid. Great for nausea and pain. Psychoactive qualities but strong against pain and anxiety. Potent for new users.
  • Heavenly Haze — Vaporized. Hybrid. Great for nausea and pain. Psychoactive qualities but strong against pain and anxiety. Super chill.
  • Hurricane — Flower. Hybrid. Awesome for pain but definitely gets you stoned. Gives me great giggles. This is awesome if you go to a party and everyone else is drinking. (Hey, sick people like to have fun too!)
  • Sweet Tooth — Vaporized. Indica. Subtle. Eases pain. Good before bed. You’ll get the best sleep.
  • Cubes — Edibles. Hybrid. Extended effects of anti-nausea/pain. Great for the weekend!
  • Lord Jones CBD Lotion — Great for sore muscles and achey joints. Non-psychoactive.

Let me know your favorite strains and products in the comments!

TLDR; Jeff Sessions, keep your grimy paws off my pot. 

giphy

Cannabis 101

  • Indica —One of the three types of marijuana. Sedating and relaxing. Great for sleep issues, pain and anxiety.
  • Sativa — One of the three types of marijuana. Uplifting and focusing. Awesome for fatigue and depression.
  • Hybrid — One of the three types of marijuana. A mix of Indica and Sativa for a happy, chill medium. My personal favorite.
  • CBD — Non-psychoactive (doesn’t get you high). Soothes muscles and anxiety. Good option for days at work.
  • Flower — Allows you to better taste the plant. Can take a toll on your lungs over time.
  • Vape — More healthy for you than smoking. Usually comes in pen (like the one in the main image). More potent than flower.
  • Edible — You eat it. Duh. The effects last far longer because you’re digesting it.

xIspUeNQA2h8rBNhMHAk_sativa-indica-comparison (1)

It’s time we take stress seriously

I’ve been a stress ball since I was little. I’m type-A and I take some convincing when it comes to calming down. Instead of my parents yelling at me to do my homework, they would tell me to go to bed already because I was staying up too late working on my project. I basically came out of the womb with a furrowed brow.

10828133_787994617958064_4949245330923131461_o
Note the intensity of four-year-old Karolina.

When I got diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, that changed (or rather, it needed to). Stress doesn’t cause Crohn’s but it is one of the biggest triggers for a flare. The same goes for my other inflammation-driven ailments: psoriasis, migraines, chronic pain. I’ve known this for most of my life, but that doesn’t mean I always gave stress the credit it deserves.

You see, I never wanted to admit that my body was being rundown by stress — that I was actually harming myself with it. People often look down on being stressed. You know what I mean — when you can’t eat or sleep and your friend says, “oh, you’re just stressed.”

But stress is so much more than what causes a permanent crease on your forehead. Some of the symptoms of stress are: headaches, muscle pain, digestive issues, sleeping problems, chest pain and a weaker immune system. None of those symptoms should be taken lightly. The most alarming thing about stress is that is can physically change your body. Doctors know that high levels of stress can actually change the composition of bacteria in your gut — leading to digestive issues like IBS. And if I wasn’t freaking you out enough before, recent research suggests that chronic stress can alter your DNA.

This summer, I landed in the emergency room. I couldn’t stop throwing up. I had an ongoing migraine for weeks. Not even morphine would touch my abdominal pain. I was convinced I was having a flare and so were my doctors. So they kept me in the hospital and ran some tests. My blood came back pretty normal and my MRI results were at my baseline. I had a follow-up appointment with my gastroenterologist and he asked me if I was stressed more than usual. I was. We talked some more and my doctor told me that my stress levels were so high that my body was mimicking a Crohn’s flare. I was really happy to hear that I wasn’t flaring up again but it was quite a slap in the face. This is what stress can do to your body if you don’t manage it.

All this to say, TLDR; Everyone gets stressed and stress makes everyone sick. Stop feeling bad about being impacted by stress, and start advocating for your body. 

Here are some things that have helped me manage stress:

  • Making self-care a priority
  • Having a pet
  • Creating an oasis (this can be you bedroom, a library, a park)
  • CBD/Medical Marijuana (post on this coming soon)
  • Laughing
  • Listening to my body and responding to what it needs
  • Learning to say “no” sometimes
  • Acupuncture

My morning skincare routine

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t one of those kids that struggled with their skin during puberty (Don’t roll your eyes and stop reading, because my skin didn’t stay perfect).

So, when I got into my 20s and my hormones started to change, I really didn’t know what to do with this new issue of breakouts. Turns out, I was doing a lot of damage to my skin. I was over-exfoliating with physical exfoliants, essentially scraping my skin and causing it to produce more oil to make up for all the moisture I was taking away. BAD.

To make matters worse, the psoriasis that had previously decorated my elbows and knees, decided to make it’s way to my nose and around both of my eyes. Yeah, I had psoriasis-goggles. Not the cutest. When you’re dealing with health issues, the last thing you want is for them to be present where everyone can see them. And, because I struggle with autoimmune diseases, my skin has a difficult time healing, and loves to scar.

So to recap, I was dealing with:

  • hormonal breakouts
  • patchy psoriasis around my eyes and nose
  • scarring from acne

Fast forward a year, and I have the best skin I’ve ever had. I’m not a doctor or dermatologist, but this is what I do every morning and it’s made a giant difference. Plus, my process has been confirmed by the babes at ITG so it’s got to be good.