Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Rheum update

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2zcrsQE

If you were following my personal Instagram (@thatgrrlshireen) back in November, then you might have already seen that I had a little rant about my latest rheumatology appointment.

I'd been waiting a year for this appointment and after my last appointment went so well (as well as previous appointments with the same doctor), I didn't think this one would be any different. But, it was. So much so, I ended up crying with frustration afterwards.

I saw my rheumatologist on 3rd November. His clinic was running on time and wasn't particularly busy (just trying to set the scene and reason his actions)... My notes from my appointment last year weren't in my file either which didn't help matters. 

First and foremost, my 'borderline osteoporosis' is now back in to osteopenia levels. I'm starting to understand that the 'borderline osteoporosis' term might just be something my hospital has come up with as I can't find anything online about it, only that it's either osteopenia or osteoporosis - nothing in between. But either way, it's an improvement which is great news. He said something about it being within the 2% they allow for errors with the DEXA machine but I didn't really understand all that. I've listed the T-scores I have a bit further down. However, last year he spoke about starting medication if my bone scores did get worse by this scan but this time he completely back tracked and said he wouldn't want me on anything until I'm in my 40's now. 

He was really helpful with the pain in my left hip last time around and had diagnosed it as 'trochanteric bursitis'. I had hoped he would help with the pain in my right hip which has flared badly in the last year. Unfortunately, he wasn't interested in discussing that.

I also mentioned how the pain in my knees is so bad someday's that I can't walk. I don't think he even responded.

I had hoped to discuss my fibromyalgia more with him since I'm feeling so lost with it - especially after the lupus type rashes that took me to the doctors earlier this year. But after a short while, he cut me short and said he wasn't interested in discussing that!

I did, however, manage to get in that I can tell what pains are now due to my endometriosis (things were still very unsettled last time I saw him as my endometriosis pains were only gradually coming back still after having Hunter) and what is separate to that. For example, I told him that the pain in my shoulders is because of my diaphragmatic endometriosis, and that pain travels down my arms. And any pain in my legs is also endometriosis as it radiates downwards. The pain that is separate to my endometriosis is very much in my hands, knees and occasionally my feet. And I do get full body aches but I think I get that more when I'm very fatigued. Which I do get, majorly. But, anyway... When I mentioned about the pain in my shoulder being due to my endometriosis, he looked confused and asked why that would be. So I explained about the nerve that travels up to that area and how it's the same as with an ectopic pregnancy, which seemed to be new information to him. He then asked why the pain in my hands couldn't be endometriosis. I kind of nervously laughed and said "well... because you can't get endometriosis in your hands!?". He explained the same nerve runs down to my hands and so now he thinks that's all down to my endometriosis! I mean, I don't even know what to think about that! I've never heard of endometriosis causing pain in your hands and causing you to lose grip but... It's something to mention to my endometriosis consultant in January!

So, then he discharged me. No DEXA scans for 3 years and I'm only having one then because I quickly managed to get in about having the implant and I know before he's said that I need periods for my bone health. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been discharged with no further checks.

A letter detailing the appointment arrived early December and that was completely wrong too. For starters, it said that the 20mg Amitriptyline I take each day has helped. I had explained to my rheumatologist that it had helped but I was in so much pain still and some days could barely walk. The letter also states "Interestingly she is able to correlate her symptoms in her shoulders and arms with her endometriosis on the basis that she has been told that she has endometriosis of the diaphragm" - which is true. However, he's writing it in the sense that it explains the pain in my hands and wrists - which certainly does not correlate with my endometriosis pains. It also stated that the Nexplanon implant "can have an adverse effect on bone mineral density" because it "inhibits the action of progesterone" - whereas my doctor tells me it doesn't inhibit progesterone because it is progesterone and it doesn't have any effect on bone density!

I don't have my last set of T-scores or the full set from my most recent scan but the following is a run down of where I'm at now:

Osteopenia is diagnosed when the T score on a Bone Densitometry (DXA) Scan result is between -1.0 and -2.5 (as per criteria set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

14/07/2009 DEXA scan results:

AP SPINE RESULTS:
Region L1-L4                T-score -0.8 (Normal)

FEMUR RESULTS:
Region Neck Left          T-score -1.0 (Normal)
Region Neck Right        T-score -1.2 (Osteopenia)
Region Total Left          T-score -0.5 (Normal)
Region Total Right        T-score -0.2 (Normal)


20/01/2012 DEXA scan results:

AP SPINE RESULTS:
Region L1-L4                T-score -0.6 (Normal)


FEMUR RESULTS:
Region Neck Left          T-score -1.2 (Osteopenia)
Region Neck Right        T-score -1.1 (Osteopenia)
Region Total Left          T-score -0.3 (Normal)
Region Total Right        T-score -0.1 (Normal)


03/11/2017 DEXA scan results:

AP SPINE RESULTS:
Region L1-L4                T-score -0.6 (Normal)

FEMUR RESULTS:
Region Neck Right        T-score -1.9 (Osteopenia)
(4% improvement on 2 years ago)

I saw my own doctor on 14th December and mentioned the appointment to her which she knew nothing about because they hadn't copied her in on the letter and she was shaking her head about it. She's now referring me on to a new rheumatologist which I'm really pleased about. I'm not expecting new results or anything but just a little bit of care and understanding wouldn't go amiss.

S.
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Friday, 22 December 2017

Nexplanon implant: 4 months in


Since my last update, there has been a little change... I actually stopped bleeding. At last! I had been bleeding since mid-September and in the last week of my first pack of Desogestrel (which I'm taking alongside my implant), it stopped!... But, it lasted all of a week and then I started spotting again.

What was more annoying though is that my pain levels while on the pill and bleeding were much better, but then I started getting really bad pains when I wasn't bleeding. And the pain has eased since I started spotting again... My body is so awkward!!

I saw my doctor last week and she thinks it's best to continue as I am (carrying on with the pill) as I see my consultant at the beginning of January so it's not long to wait. I think she's a bit flummoxed by it all to be honest. She said she wants me to make it clear to my consultant that I need a plan of action because my doctor can't provide any further primary care for me and she doesn't want me to go in and tell her everything is working and then be left as I am for however long it is until my next appointment. She thinks I've given the implant a good go now but she did also say that she doesn't think anything else is going to work until I'm menopausal. So, that wasn't great to hear. Even though I know it's the truth.

I guess I'm no further with anything really but, it's only a few weeks until I see Miss Potdar so, fingers crossed, she'll have some suggestions... Who knows!

S.
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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

My story: Carla Cressy

Myself and Sir David Amess MP at 1 Parliament Street presenting my Endometriosis Awareness Campaign
I have personally been affected by endometriosis so severely that it has almost cost me my life.

Aged fourteen, my periods were extremely irregular and were occurring every two weeks. I trialled many hormonal pills, however, they never helped regulate my cycle and over time my periods become more and more painful resulting in severe blood loss. It became debilitating. I spent my school years taking days off having numerous scans on many occasions. As time went on, unfortunately, there was no explanation or answers to why my periods were so irregular.

As a former child model, at 18 I was approached by a well known glamour company and modelled lingerie and fashion for many magazines and catalogues.

Frustrated with endless blood loss, pain and feeling unwell further into my teenage years, my cycle continued with no relief. There have been times I’ve had to call into work to take days off, as well as cancelling modelling jobs and even travel trips. Knowing there was something wrong and being told it’s normal left me feeling physically and emotionally drained. I even asked on four occasions for a smear test to put my mind at rest that it wasn’t cancer, however I was refused because of my age.

This condition has had a huge impact on my previous relationships. I have been extremely hormonal causing me to be irrational. The constant bleeding has affected my intimacy as well as my well being. The affects of this condition have caused me to feel insecure, resulting in low self esteem.

In September 2015 until January 2016 I was admitted to A&E several times a week for severe pain, resulting in unconsciousness, vomiting and unable to pass stools. Once again I was given a scan and told I had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sent home with pain relief and laxatives. Struggling to eat with absolutely no appetite I was advised to control my pain with 8 x codeine tablets along with laxatives, however, the effects from codeine causing constipation made my condition worse. During this time I lost my job as I was found on two occasions unconscious.

Feeling fed up of being told to take pain relief without a real diagnosis, I took myself to a different hospital where I collapsed in the car park and wet myself. Even worse I was wearing a pig onesie with a curly tail! I was rushed into A&E, screaming in pain. Once again, more scans identifying both endometriosis chocolate and kissing cysts, some attaching my bowel to organs. The doctor said the words “You have endometriosis”. The satisfaction of finally being given a diagnosis was relieving. However, the soonest they could perform surgery was June, meaning I had to wait another 6 months.

From January to June I panicked as I had no job. I completed three courses in beauty where I worked from home and carried out treatments when I had my good days, although I still performed treatments with hot water bottles strapped around my back and regular trips to the toilet to vomit. Some days, I had three baths in one day. I found heat helped a lot for the pain I had in my stomach, back and legs.

June 2016, I finally had surgery. They inserted the Mirena coil in a bid to lessen the symptoms and stop the bleeding of endometriosis as I was made aware it had been identified in other areas, there was no cure and it could return in future, however, this coil will help keep it under control and lessen the symptoms. After recovery I returned to my beauty and carried on with my treatments.

January 3rd 2017, I had this sudden onset with pain. My stomach was rock hard and the pain was worse than ever before. I was taken by ambulance to hospital where I was advised I had gastroenteritis and sent home with pain relief. I was unable to sleep and curled into a ball on the floor. By the morning I went to see my GP, barely able to walk, who sent me via emergency to the hospital with suspected appendicitis.

From January 3rd onwards, for seventeen days I spent in the hospital, my blood results showed abnormally high inflammation and infection markers. I was rushed into theatre where I underwent two major surgeries, a week apart. One to remove my appendix which proved still to be intact, stating it wasn’t the cause.

After the first surgery I then suffered with Post Ileus Syndrome, where my bowel went to sleep, resulting in a tube being inserted up my nose and down my throat, and my stomach content required syringing through my nose. Rather than recovering, my stomach began to swell and blew up so big I looked pregnant. Again I was rushed back into theatre. I filled with what was described as chocolate milkshake fluid from the endometriosis cysts that had burst inside of me. Surgeons drained over 2.5 litres of poison caused by endometriosis. I woke up with two tubes each side of my stomach which was draining poison and blood into bags either side of me, along with staples the entire way along my knicker line where they cut me from left to right. I also had stitches higher up across my right abdomen where they performed open surgery to remove my appendix and smaller openings from key hole incisions. During this stay in hospital I was nil by mouth and lost over three stone in weight resulting in muscle wastage and being extremely weak.

Following this procedure, I was given strong antibiotics via drip and daily blood tests to monitor inflammation and infection markers in my blood. This become even more so distressing after two surgeries when my markers hadn’t came down, and, to my horror, started to rise again indicating infection was still in my system. At this point I generally felt like giving up and I started to think I was going to die. Doctors made regular decisions to change my antibiotics in a bid to find one strong enough to fight this infection and gradually they begun to come down.

After seventeen days, I was finally allowed to get out of my bed and, eventually, I begged the doctors to make my antibiotics into tablet form so I could go home - which they did. Prior to leaving the hospital, the gynaecologist came to see me and informed me that my endometriosis had caused a secondary condition which they referred to as frozen pelvis, explaining that my organs have become glued together appearing in a frozen like state, sticking one organ to another, and that the hospital can no longer treat me and were referring me to London University Hospital for further surgery ASAP.

Since surgery, I have suffered with stomach complications where I have absolutely no appetite and blow up painfully when I eat a meal. I have followed a strict gluten, dairy, wheat and caffeine free diet as advised, however, my stomach has become extra sensitive to foods of all kinds causing acid reflux and a highly sensitive stomach.

My first appointment at London University Hospital, after further scans I was advised that my endometriosis has now spread to my bowel causing a large nodule which is growing deeply within my rectum, as well as my fallopian tubes are in ruins and will highly likely need to be removed, meaning I will never fall pregnant naturally. I asked whether I could freeze my eggs, however, I was told there was a mass of endometriosis seen on my ovaries meaning surgeons are unable to get to my eggs. I was also told if I was to ever fall pregnant naturally, it is highly likely it would be an ectopic pregnancy. The hospital advised I have a injection to turn my ovaries off resulting in a forced menopause, along with a six month course of Prostap injections to shrink my organs to a smaller size to make it safe for the surgeon to perform surgery.

I am now preparing and waiting for surgery, whilst suffering side effects from my medication, as well as being told by my surgeon he cannot promise this endometriosis won’t return within two months to two years, as all they can do is treat the symptoms because there is no cure. However, if only I was listened to in the beginning my condition may have never got this far but there is always hope and that’s what keeps me positive for the future.

Endometriosis has ruined my life. After almost a decade of being told my symptoms were normal and having to push for a diagnosis, this disease has now spread, ruining my organs and almost cost me my life during surgery. My purpose now is to raise awareness and educate women of the signs in hope to push for a earlier diagnosis to avoid a life of surgeries and heartache like mine, as well as giving back to those who are suffering.

Further reading:
:: Top model wants to educate girls about endometriosis after it ruined her career
:: Model struck down with rare pelvis-freezing illness is raising awareness of life-changing condition
:: Young model faces early menopause aged 26 after doctors mistook her endometriosis for IBS
:: 'MY BODY IS IN RUINS' Stunning glamour model lives in crippling pain from ‘frozen pelvis’ where her womb, bowel and intestines are all ‘STUCK together’ by endometriosis
:: Former model fights life-changing illness
:: Model faces early menopause after battle with endometriosis undiagnosed for decade


Thank you for sharing your story Carla.


If you would like to contact Carla, you can follow her on Instagram @womenwithendometriosis, Facebook Women with Endometriosis, Twitter @womenwithendo or through the Women With Endometriosis website.

You can also sign Carla's "Endometriosis awareness campaign for women aged between 14-18 in Education" petition, which is pushing for endometriosis to be set as part of the curriculum in secondary schools in the UK.

Remember, every one of us has a different story, and the more shared, the more we can learn. If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact me at shireen.emlwy@gmail.com.

S.
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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Chronic illness and the new year

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2kKVtSC

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


New years eve is typically spent with a glass of bubbly in one hand, while you have a boogie and a fabulous night of socialising with friends. It’s not quite the same for those of us with a chronic illness though.

Some of us might be struggling to keep up appearances, fighting through the pain to see out the year as we are expected to. But, the rest of us will be sat at home, maybe having a very normal evening of television before an early night, feeling like we are missing out on all the fun.

Some people can also find the new year a particularly difficult time, mentally. A new year usually brings about a reflection on events that have happened over that year and resolutions for change for the coming year. “New year, new start”. A time to start afresh, make amends for past events, turn the page and become a new you. But what happens if your health holds you back from making those changes in your life?

As a chronically ill person, the ‘normal’ resolutions that everyone else would make don’t mean quite so much. Get to the gym more? Hmmm. Travel more? Maybe not. Sadly, those with chronic illness will still carry the same health setbacks, pain and sickness through to the new year making the coming year a challenge before it even begins.

If you really want to make (and keep) some new year's resolutions, why not try thinking of them in a different way?

Let go of expectations
Just because it’s a new year, doesn’t mean you must start afresh. Carry on the best you can and let go of any expectations you or others have put upon yourself. Think about what you have achieved this year. You might have been a busy bee all year and achieved lots. But there is no shame in having done less. You might feel some days like all you’ve done is get out of bed to go and rest on the couch. But hey, you got out of bed! Celebrate those small victories. And remember, expectations equal pressure, and we could all do with a little less of that!

Focus on the can’s not the cannot’s
Think of all the things you can do. It might not be much, and, because of the way chronic illness works, it will most certainly be different every day. But what can you do? Can you breathe? Yes. Can you get dressed? Some days. Can you get out of the house? Maybe tomorrow. Don’t fixate on the negatives because you can do so much. Even if they don’t seem important, you are still doing something.

Be gentle with yourself and practice some self love
You are not lazy if you don’t start going to the gym. You are not weak if you need to rest. You are not selfish if you need to put yourself and your health first. We are so hard on ourselves sometimes, especially as people who suffer day in and day out with illness. We want so much for ourselves and it’s not always feasible - but we are not failures in any way, shape or form because of our illnesses.

Let go of the negative
Whether it is our own self loathing, or maybe someone in our lives bringing us down. Let go. You don’t have to answer to anyone else. Think positively and take steps to banish that negativity.

Take baby steps
We might want to get somewhere quickly but that’s not always possible in the world of chronic illness. We have to pace ourselves and rest in between. Take baby steps towards each goal and then look back and see how far you’ve come. It’s similar to thinking about the year. You might think the year has been a waste of time but you’ve made it through all 365 days of that year - even when you thought you couldn’t. Keep going. Take it slow and easy. Eventually you’ll get there.

Look forward not back
Keep your goals in sight and look forward to them. Don’t keep looking back at what could have been or what has been.

Whatever you do this new years eve, and whatever the new year brings your way, I wish you all good health, happiness and love.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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Monday, 11 December 2017

The complexities of living with invisible illness


:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


What does a chronically ill person look like? Would you look at these photos of me, all made up, hair done and dressed, and think that I’m ill? Probably not.

I suffer with endometriosis, fibromyalgia, osteopenia and a range of other health and mental health issues. You might presume that because I can get myself dressed and put makeup on, that I am fit and able-bodied. But, I’m not. I am in pain, fatigued and on a range of medication in both photos. You cannot see my illnesses though, because they are invisible.

Some days I feel OK. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I’m fine, but I have the energy to get ready and leave the house. It doesn’t happen everyday. Sometimes, it doesn’t even happen every week. But, occasionally, I feel OK. I love nothing more than getting to use all my make up that sits gathering dust in between these times. Putting on one of the pretty dresses I’ve accumulated but rarely have the occasion to wear. Walking out of the front door. I get to see the real world. People. I love these times. Even though they are energy-consuming and I always have this nagging knowledge at the back of my mind that my illness will make me suffer for the next few days as payback; these times take me back to how my life should be.

I feel incredibly jealous of others that are able to live their lives as I want to live mine. Sometimes I feel anger towards others when they don’t live their lives to their full potential. I have learnt to appreciate the path my illness has led me down and in some ways I have discovered a gratitude for it. But that’s only because I don’t have a choice. I’ve had to start appreciating the little things that others might take for granted. Taking a shower, getting out of bed, making dinner; these are all massive tasks for someone who is chronically ill. But you have to look at them as positives when you have achieved them.

On certain days, usually after I’ve enjoyed an hour or two out of the house (but not always, because chronic illness has no rhyme or reason), I struggle with even the smallest of tasks. Getting out of bed, making myself a drink, stringing a sentence together. Chronic illness isn’t just about pain. It affects all of our bodily functions. You cannot think clearly and movement is restricted, often to the point where we cannot move independently. It is both physically and mentally exhausting.

Even on the ‘OK’ days, I have to take a range of medication to even get me to the point where ‘normal’ people start their days. There is never a point where I am not medicated and feeling good. It just doesn’t happen.

Chronic illness isn't straightforward and the fact it is invisible doesn't make it any easier for others to understand. It must be hard to see someone looking a mess, tears running down our faces, popping pills left right and centre, barely able to walk with the pain on one day, and then the next, be dressed and out the house like nothing is wrong. But, let me assure you, it’s all a facade. A face we plaster on to make us fit in with everyone around us. Something that makes us feel a little bit normal, even if it isn’t our own normal.

We’re not attention seeking, nor are we hypochondriacs. We are simply trying to live in any which way our bodies will let us.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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Wednesday, 6 December 2017

My story: Emma O'Donnell


My name is Emma O’Donnell, I am 23 and live on the central coast in New South Wales, Australia.

I have struggled with period pain since I was 14, but it got a lot worse when I turned 20. I went in for my first laparoscopic surgery in May 2016 where I was diagnosed with endometriosis.

During the time I was having the surgery and recovering, I had recently finished my bachelor of nursing and was doing a new graduate program at our local hospital. Unfortunately, I lost this job because I did not recover quickly and needed too much time off. Since then, life has changed a lot. Again I am on long term sick leave (as I got a new job) because the pain is unbearable most days. I have good days and then really bad days!

I got married in January this year to the most supportive man in the world. I couldn’t do it without him and some days he is the only reason I keep going. We are now trying for a baby. It’s been 6 months and I am on Clomid for a few months before we embark on the next step of the journey, IVF.

It’s so amazing to have support networks from other women with this horrible disease and even more amazing hearing their stories. The encouragement is incredible.

We fight everyday with our own bodies, but we just have to remember that maybe one day we can say “I used to have endometriosis”.


Thank you for sharing your story Emma.

Remember, every one of us has a different story, and the more shared, the more we can learn. If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact me at shireen.emlwy@gmail.com.

S.
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Monday, 4 December 2017

Surviving the holidays with chronic illness

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2AwAmel

:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but the holidays can be a particularly difficult time if you have a chronic illness. Stress, exhaustion, generally feeling frazzled; it tends to set me on edge before I’ve even begun. December is my favourite month of the year, but, over the years, with my health declining, I’ve had to change a few things around and let go of unimportant expectations to just get me through to the other side.

Here are few tips that might help you survive the holidays...

Get organised
They say ‘preparation is key’ and it really is. Make a list of everything that needs to be done - from gifts that need to be bought, cards that need to be sent, food that needs to be bought and prepared, decorating that needs to be done; everything.

Don’t feel flustered that there is so much to be done. Once you have written your lists, you can prioritise what needs to be done first, delegate tasks to others and schedule things to certain days. Making lists is an important step for anyone trying to organise, but especially for those of us who suffer from the dreaded ‘brain fog’.

Start preparing in advance
Ignore all the odd looks and people exclaiming “Christmas!? But it’s only [insert month]!”. I start my Christmas planning as soon as Autumn comes around. It not only gives me plenty of time, but it also helps to spread the cost. If everything is left to the last-minute then it can add a lot of stress onto an already demanding time of year. Get writing those lists and have a think what needs to be worked on first. I like to start my shopping first because you can usually find quite a few sales happening in the shops between the end of summer and the beginning of the festive period which means you can save even more pennies.

Rest
It’s so important for those of us with chronic illnesses to take time out for ourselves and rest. This doesn’t have to mean days on end. It can be as little as sitting down with a cup of tea before attacking more of the ‘to do list’. Try and pace yourself, you have plenty of time after all. Take breaks in between tasks, maybe get out of the house if you can, have a nap - anything to take your mind off the matter in hand.

Remember to also try to factor in time to rest when you have something exertive coming up. Whether it be shopping or visiting family, it can take up a lot of that much-needed energy.

Simplify everything
Do you need to cook a big dinner if there is only you and your partner eating it? Try having something that you both really enjoy eating and that is easier to prepare instead of something you think you should be eating like a big roast dinner with all the trimmings. Does the whole house have to be decorated? Will people see those decorations? Try concentrating those decorations in the room you spend the most time in. Does the gift wrapping have to be so elaborate? Gifts bags are a much easier way of wrapping presents but can still look just as nice. Have a think about what is important and prioritise your energy into that task.

Break tradition
Christmas is full of traditions passed on down through families. Some of them can be quite energy-consuming. Have a think about what traditions are important to you. If it’s not meaningful, try breaking tradition and start new ones of your own. If you usually have family over for a home cooked meal, why not try going out to a restaurant for a meal instead.

Ask for help
It’s not solely down to you to do everything for Christmas. Ask for help and let people know if you are struggling or not feeling well. Some people have ‘decorating parties’ where friends and family gather to decorate the house for Christmas. If you have people coming over for dinner, ask them to prepare an item of food to bring with them, that way you won’t have as much to cook.

Do your shopping online
If you can’t easily get out of the house or if hoards of people send your anxiety sky-high, do your shopping online. You can quite often find discounts for online shops too.

Most importantly, enjoy!
Don’t let your health spoil this lovely time of year and precious memories with loved ones.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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Friday, 1 December 2017

Hotteeze heat pads


I was contacted recently by Hotteeze and asked if I would like to help them raise awareness of heat therapy by trying some of their heat pads... Of course, it was a big fat yes!

Here's the important stuff...

What is Hotteeze natural heat therapy?
Hotteeze heat pads were created by Donna Burke in 2004 after she was given a self heating pad by her chiropractor for her lower back pain. Hotteeze were launched in 2005 in Australia, initially selling in physiotherapy clinics and chemists - but can now be found in hospitals, schools, football stadiums and they are used by people of all ages for a variety of reasons. The pads are made in Japan and have been endorsed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association since 2012. 

Hotteeze are made from all natural biodegradable eco-friendly ingredients (including iron, vermiculite and water), are ultra-thin and odourless. The filings inside the heat pad react with oxygen in the air to create heat so they start heating up as soon as you open the packet - no wires or microwave required.

There are three different types of Hotteeze available:

Hotteeze hand warmers come in a pack of 10 and are individually sealed. These don't have an adhesive backing which means you can hold them in your hands, pop them in your pocket or tuck them in to gloves. Hotteeze hand warmers stay hot for 10 hours.
Hotteeze for feet come in a pack of 10 and are individually sealed in to 5 pairs. They are designed to fit in to men's and women's shoes and the adhesive backing means they can be stuck to socks without them moving. The Japanese believe that the feet are the second heart and by keeping them warm, you keep healthy and “genki” by keeping your chi energy flowing from the tip of your toes all over the body. Hotteeze feet pads will keep toes toasty for 5 hours.
Hotteeze heat pads come in a pack of 10 and are individually sealed. They are perfect for those times you need a steady supply of heat. Hotteeze heat pads stay hot for more than 12 hours.

Hotteeze provides natural relief for a variety of ailments, including:
:: back pain
:: period pain
:: arthritis
:: shoulder pain
:: neck pain
:: knee pain
:: elbow pain
:: wrist pain
:: muscle soreness

... But they can also be used to keep you warm on cold days!

How to use Hotteeze

Simply open the packet, remove the adhesive paper from the back of the pad and stick the heat pad on to your undergarments wherever you need the heat. Do not stick the pad directly on to your skin.

After use, you can dispose of the heat pads in your normal household waste. 

Alternatively, the contents of the heat pads can also be used as a soil conditioner, which contributes to the reduction of wastes. Once cooled, cut the pad open with scissors and sprinkle the contents on your garden. The outer material of the heat pad can be disposed of in your household waste as it is combustible (and does not generate toxic gases). The contents of the Hotteeze heat pads are mainly iron filings and the soil conditioner is potassium chloride (other ingredients are water, vermiculite and activated carbon).

Why should I try Hotteeze?
Heat therapy (thermotherapy) has been used by the Japanese for hundreds of years. They believe that heat can be used to boost the immune system and prevent colds and sickness. 

Heat therapy is most commonly used for it's therapeutic effects, including:
:: decreasing joint stiffness
:: reducing pain
:: relieving muscle spasms
:: reducing inflammation
:: aids in increasing blood flow

Heat therapy is effective because of the three channels it activates that get the body working to sooth itself:

1. Stretching of soft tissues One of the most common reasons for the employment of heat therapy is stiff, sore muscles. What heat therapy does here is to stretch and relax the muscles it’s applied to, allowing them to loosen and ease into more natural positions.
2. Dilating skin and muscle blood vessels Another prime function of heat therapy is its dilation of blood vessels in the skin and muscles. This widening of vessels increases the blood flow to the areas where the heat is applied, raising oxygen and nutrient levels and leading to more rapid repair of damaged tissue.
3. Stimulating dermal sense receptors Heat therapy activates sensation in the skin where it’s used, effectively crowding out a portion of signals from stiff and sore muscles. Because of the brain’s limited ability to handle incoming sensation, anything you do that raises sensory “noise” to the brain - from pinching yourself to heating sore parts - can be effective at reducing the effects of tender muscles.

Where can I buy Hotteeze?
Internationally: Hotteeze heat pads are available in chemists across Australia, including Chemist Warehouse, Nova Pharmacy and Pharmore Pharmacies, but please check here for further stockistsYou can also purchase Hotteeze directly from their Australian website.

UK: Hotteeze heat pads are available to purchase primarily online in the UK, from Amazon, Molly Mojo, Ibuprofen or Provitality. You can also purchase Hotteeze directly from their UK website.

Anything else I should know?
You can find more information on Hotteeze via their website or by visiting their Twitter or Facebook pages.

Sound good, don't they? Well, they are good! 
I have to admit, I love this type of heat pad. I mean, you know me, anything remotely similar to a hot water bottle and I'm all over it! But these are just so handy! 

The individual packets make them great to keep in your handbag for when you're out and about. I can keep one in there, just in case, without worrying about it weighing my bag down!

They're really easy to wear. They're not at all bulky which means you can wear them under tighter clothing. You can also fully move around without wires or the need to hold it in place with your hands restricting you... You can also stick them just about anywhere.

The heat is a 'good level' - it doesn't burn but it projects enough to help relieve any pain, and they stay hot for what seems like ages!

... Thanks for giving me the opportunity to try these out, Hotteeze!

S.
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