I have been considering doing this post for quite some time, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. There always seemed to be something else on priority ahead of it. But in light of the recent GDPR laws and in the spirit of being completely transparent, I thought now would be a good time to talk about the different ways I have implemented sponsored posts, banner ads, and affiliate links to try to at least get the blog to pay for itself.
For those of you who have been following the blog from early on, you all know that I did not make any efforts to make money in the beginning. I started this blog with the intent to help other women with loving themselves, finding products that work for them, and just basically living their best life. I have tried to be really open about the ways that I make money through the blog now, and when I first starting putting ad banners on the site I did a post explaining why I was adding them. My basic goal for earning money has been to at least break even. I haven’t met that goal yet, but I at least am getting closer.
I think it is a good thing that the law is starting to catch up to the age of the internet. There have been recent laws put in place for Europe, but governs over anyone who has citizens of Europe visit their website. This is known as the GDPR. Make sure to click that link if you want more information on the laws implemented.
But before the European laws even took effect the FTC imposed more regulations late last year on how sponsored posts must be identified. If you want to read more about the FTC rules follow this link.
Let’s break this down one at a time. I want to talk about each of ways I am earning money, explain a little of what they are, current rules surrounding each of them, and my personal rules of how to incorporate them.
I want to talk about banner advertisements first because I think they are the most straight forward and easiest to understand. I mean who doesn’t know what a what a banner ad is at this point? But lets pretend for a moment you have never heard of them. What are they? According to the website How Stuff Works, “A banner ad is simply a special sort of hypertext link….With a basic text link a bit of HTML code instructs a Web server to bring up a particular Web page when a user clicks on a certain piece of text. Banner ads are essentially the same thing, except that instead of text, the link is displayed as a box containing graphics (usually with textual elements) and sometimes animation.”
Banner ads can fall into two camps. Like a news paper sells ad space, some websites sell premium spaces to companies with banner ads. Cost and payment arrangements are up to the individual website owner and are generally paid up front with no guarantee of clicks. The other type of banner ads are affiliate links. With affiliate links the website owner would have a predetermined arrangement with the company that says they either get paid per click (these are very rare) or a percentage when someone buys someone buys an item after clicking on the link.
Currently, I only have affiliate link banners on my website. I have a couple of rules about what companies I will place banner ads on the site. The company must first fit within the categories I blog about and offer products that I think will benefit all of you, my readers. And the company must offer products that I feel comfortable recommending, products that I do/would buy.
While banner ads are a type of affiliate link, I wanted to talk about the other types of affiliate link, the ones that are more affected by recent laws. They are way more subtle than your average banner ad because they look just like any other hyper text link, but they lead to a tracked affiliate website. And when you make a purchase using one of the links, the website owner receives either a small percentage of the cost or sometimes there is a set fee. These links do not affect your purchase price, the cost is the same no matter what. Sometimes there is an added benefit of getting advance notice of sales and new releases from someone who is an affiliate of a company.
You may have noticed a few months ago the addition of some text to the bottom of all of my posts. It reads as follows, “Please note that some text links on this site may lead to affiliate links. However your prices will not be affected and you are under no obligation to use my link. Thank you to all who help keep this blog up and running.” I will also be adding a similar blurb to the top of all blog posts soon. I did this in a way that it appears on every post simply because it is easier for me. This way I don’t have to try to remember it every time I make a post. Better safe than sorry is the motto here.
I worded this specifically to say some text links because not all of the links on my website are affiliate links. Many post don’t have any affiliate links in them. I have actually heard a few bloggers/influencers/vlogger say they never share a link unless it is an affiliate link, but I just can’t get behind this idea. If my only goal with blogging was to make money, then I suppose that would be how I would do things. But as already stated, my goal when starting this blog was to help other women. Not to knock anyone else for the choices they make personally, I just feel that seems counter productive and a good reason not to trust someone’s recommendations if they only link to things they will make money from.
This is the place where I feel things get the most confusing, mainly because there is more than one type of sponsored post and some companies blur the lines of the definition of a sponsored post. Traditionally a sponsored post would be any sort of post that a blogger/influencer/vlogger got paid for or received free product for in lieu of monetary payment. Click here to read more about sponsored post.
I do occasionally do sponsored blog post as well as social media posts. Because there are some big differences in what gets marked as sponsored on the blog versus social media I want to talk about them individually.
I think that the sponsored posts on the blog is what will fit closest to the traditional definition of a sponsored post. I haven’t done many, and the ones I have done have been mainly reviews. When I am asked to do a sponsored post I only agree if it is a product I have actual interest in trying. I also make it clear to the companies that I work with that I only do honest reviews but I do try to remain objective. Companies know going in I will say if there is something I don’t like, but I also try to be fair and tell if I think the product would work better for someone else. So essentially I treat my sponsored reviews the same way I do any other review I do.
Things tend to be a little different with sponsored posts on Social Media. There are way more nuances that I think can be confusing for the viewers. I usually try to say something in the post that indicates what sort of sponsorship the post is, but not everyone does this.
Just like a blog post, sponsored social media posts can fit the same description of a post that is paid either with money or product. Some of those paid posts can be pre-written by the sponsoring company, while others are done in the influencers/vloggers own words. Paid posts can range from mini reviews to something as casual as just showing the product. And occasionally a paid post could just be a link to someone else’s blog post (this type typically only get paid if people share or react to the post).
In addition to paid posts, there are also posts that get marked as sponsored that maybe the products were just discounted. Again if the influencer/vloggers do not include information on what sort of sponsorship this is you have no way to distinguish this apart from a paid post.
I do share sponsored posts on my various social media. The majority of the ones I post are the type that are just discounted products, but I have on occasion done paid posts. Most of those paid post have been the type where you just share a product or review it. But my philosophies on what jobs I accept pretty much follow the same rules as I do for choosing sponsored blog posts and affiliate links.
I hope have written this in a way that helps give you all some insight into how banner ads, affiliate links, and sponsored posts work as well as I how I incorporate them. I welcome any questions or comments, so put them in the comments. Let me know if you need me to clarify something.
I know I have essentially went MIA for the last few weeks. I haven’t made a blog post since early in May. My social media accounts have only been posted on sporadically at best. I really try not to skip out like that. I am an introvert, and my natural tendency tends to be to keep a of things to myself.
I know my reactions to major stress aren’t the healthiest ways to handle things, but they could be worse. Sometimes I shut people out when things get to be too much for me to deal with. I often feel I need more time than what is usual for me to center my thoughts and calm myself. Maybe some of you can relate.
I try to remind myself to at least update people about what is going on instead of just walking off and not saying anything. And I did make some attempts on social media. But the universe converged to throw a lot of things at me all at once. And my communication even with my closest of friends has been minimalistic lately.
I kind of feel I could have alternatively named this post Why I Came Close To Having A Panic Attack. So here are all the things that have happened:
My Physical And Mental Health
I have talked about my health issues on the blog many times. So you guys know, I struggle hard with fibromyalgia. This year I have been having more problems than normal for me further into the year. I really suspect that it is tied into the fact that where I live that precipitation has doubled in the last three years. And at the beginning of may through the third week I was hit by a major fibro flare. And subsequent issues followed through till the end of May.
It isn’t just the pain that I struggle with, it’s the brain fog that comes with it. I find it especially hard because it really hinders my brain functions at times. I can’t think clearly enough to form sentences let alone comprehend reading legal lingo. And I find the more severe this becomes the more depressed it makes me.
While there are other things that happened over the last month, my feeling is that my physical and mental state contributed the most to having to take down the blog for maintenance. But, there was definitely way more too it.
Yes, that is correct, I have no AC right now. In fact I haven’t had AC in a little over three weeks. As I write this I still don’t have AC in my home, but I am hopeful that as you all read this that my AC will be back on.
It took forever to get anyone to come look at our heat pump unit because everyone else in my town had their AC go out at the same time apparently. When I first called there were 50 people ahead of us. So two weeks was waiting for them to get to us.
Once they got here, they found a hose that was leaking. The replacement hose was something they did not have in stock. So another week to get it in. I heard from them today that they are suppose to be here tomorrow to fix it. That is if the person they have scheduled before me doesn’t have something go terribly wrong.
So keep your fingers crossed for me. I don’t do well in the heat, only slightly better than I do in the cold. One of my meds makes me extremely sensitive to the heat, and I easily overheated because my sweat glands don’t work right while on the med.
No Meds And No Doctor
So I have been on the hunt for a new doctor since back in the winter. I didn’t really want to switch, but it has become a necessity. My doctor of over 15 years now has slowly been seeing patients less and less. She currently is down to seeing patients one day a week. And between it taking 3 months to get in to see her and me having a hard time keeping appointments due to my actual ailments, I needed to find a new doctor. I need someone who can see me quicker and have more flexibility with my appointment times.
I actually have found a new doctor, or at least one to try. But like typical, the first appointment is always a longer one and the earliest appointment I could get was almost four months away. So it will be later this month before I can get to a doctor for refills in my prescriptions. The one thing I just ran out of, despite trying to spread them out, is my migraine meds. And yes my migraines have become far more regular.
I have to take some responsibility for this one though. I think part of the reason it took me so long to decide on a doctor to see was anxiety. I didn’t really expect to have anxiety. Perhaps I should have expected it, but as I said its been over 15 years since the last time I had to look for a new doctor. The last time I had to go through a good 12 different doctors to find one that worked for me. I definitely wasn’t looking forward to it, but I thought I was prepared. And then the anxiety just kind of sprung up out of no where.
So if you don’t know what the GDPR is, you can read about it here. The very basics of it is that is a European law that governs your privacy rights. Some of you out there might be thinking but I don’t live in Europe, so why does this matter. And its complicated, which was part of the problem. There probably are a handful of people out there somewhere that are in no way affected by the new law, but those people probably don’t have internet service. Essentially if you live in Europe, have a website that has traffic from Europe, or do business with a company in Europe or a company that does business with people in Europe, then you are at least in some minute way going to be affected by this law.
Please don’t take any of what I am saying as though I am complaining about the law itself, I actually think it is a great thing that people’s personal information is going to be more protected. The part that I wish were different is all of the legal jargon involved. Everything I have read says its suppose to be put in easy to understand terms, but in reality you need a law degree to understand any of it. That is on top of me having the brain fog problems. This is the point where I almost had a mental breakdown. I really came close a couple of times to having a panic attack about everything that had to be done to make my website compliant. And to be honest, I am still not 100% sure that it is.
Your still probably wondering how this all came to me shutting the blog off for a time. And honestly, it was a solution my husband came up with. I didn’t really want to shut the blog down, but it was preferable over the panic attack that was brewing. The deadline for being compliant was May 25. I knew I couldn’t be ready in time. So rather than losing my mind over something I couldn’t possibly do anyway. So the solution ultimately became putting up the under construction sign and doing it as I could.
I have actually read a lot of comments on the web essentially condemning those of us not ready in time. People are saying that it was put into law two years ago and everyone should have been ready. And maybe if I lived in Europe or was part of a business that had the financial means to pay someone else to do the work that would be an accurate assessment. But honestly the first time I heard anything at all about the GDPR was back in February of this year (2018). It was very obtuse at the time, no real details other than it was a law in Europe. So I honestly didn’t think it was something I had to do, because well not in Europe. It wasn’t until the beginning of May that I heard any more detail about it, and it was then that I had a oh shit moment. And after reading all of this, if you have made it through all of my ramblings, you realize this is probably the worst time it could have hit for me.
What is coming up
I have a lot coming up over the next few weeks. I had several things planned for the month of May, that now need to be squeezed into June. I have a couple of reviews coming this week. And later this month I have a feature on bathing suites. And there is a new dress challenge on Instagram for July, I am thinking I will be participating some in that.
As always, let me know in the comments if there is something in particular you want to hear about. Much love to all of you have stuck in there with me during my disappearing act.
According to the statistics, every year millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions. (About 133,414,000 to 188,732,000 people depending on the year. I did the math for you.) But out of all those people, only about nine percent feel like they are successful most of the time compared to the 42 percent who feel they never succeed.
And it should be no surprise that one of the largest groups of resolutions revolve around weight loss. We do after all live in a culture that forever tells us that we are not enough unless we weigh the perfect weight. Also at the top of the list are goals involving money and relationships (undoubtedly made by all the single people who just spent a week with their family harassing them about when they were going to get married and have kids).
I have talked about this before, but for anyone who is not aware I have a couple of rules about New Year’s Resolutions. Rule number one, I don’t make New Years Resolutions. Rule number two, refer to rule number one.
I think it is great if someone wants to do something that will improve their life in some way. The problem that I see with most New Year’s Resolutions is that 1. they are usually very lofty goals that leave you set up to fail, and 2. they are often not made for your own betterment, but instead out of feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
I encourage everyone to dump the New Year’s Resolution with me from now on. What I like to do instead is take a few days at the beginning of the new year to reflect on how the year has went and think about what I want to achieve during the following year. I then make a list of small achievable goals, both personal and business wise. I have even shared them here on the blog before. I like to be in the mind-space that as long as I achieve most of my goals by the end of the year I am happy.
Here are some of my goals for the year:
I want to create a more balanced work/life schedule.
I need to make time at least once a week for meditation preferably out in nature.
I want to double my twitter following.
I want to improve the quality of my Instagram pictures.
I would love to see some of you join me in creating some reasonable goals for yourselves and stepping away from those unachievable resolutions. Share some with me using the hashtag #goalsnotresolutions
I have some great things coming up, both here on the blog and on my various social media platforms, before the end of the year. I wanted to give you all a little heads up on some of the things I have planned.
First, starting tomorrow (11/29/17), I will be posting various giveaways on my social media. All giveaways will be done and mailed out in time to reach you for Christmas. Here are just some of the things that will be given away:
This is just a few of the items being given away. Additional items will be included with these giveaways, some will be surprises and some won’t. There may even be more than four giveaways. Each giveaway will on a single social media channel. So make sure you are following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This is the one and only announcement about these giveaways outside of the actual giveaway. These are not sponsored giveaways, they are a combination of items I purchased to use for this and items that were sent from some affiliate companies that were preview items. When I do these types of giveaways it is my way of saying thank you for being loyal readers and followers.
In addition to the giveaways, I also have a lot planned for the blog over the next few weeks. I certainly hope I can get everything up in time for you. You should expect to see a Holiday look book, as well as a few other styled posts after the holidays. I am also working on “The best beauty gifts under $30” as well as a “Splurge Worthy Beauty Gift Guide”. And after the new year I will have some more makeup reviews. I have some new subscription box reviews, including Instacandy coming soon. And there is so much more.
Another bit of news, I recently got invited to the Amazon Influencer program. What does this change for all of you? Not a lot really, but it does mean that a lot of my favorite things I share with you that I find on Amazon can now be found in one convenient place. You can find the list at https://www.amazon.com/shop/karenmsmith77. I will try to periodically update this list.
Let me know in the comments if there is anything you would like to see on the blog.
So far we have talked about why I wanted to speak about this subject in part 1, and my diagnoses (or essentially why this is so relevant and important to me) in part 2. If you missed those posts, you can find them here at Part 1 and Part 2.
Today I wanted to talk to you about something that ties this together. While it’s not the only issue, its something I see as one of the big issues that women, people who are overweight, and people with disabilities deal with to one degree. In one way or another they all, in a sense, have their voice taken away. What do I mean by that? People constantly talk over you, they put words in your mouth, and they often think they know what is better for you than you do.
Lets talk about the concept that I think most people will be familiar with first. Unless you are living under a rock you have heard of the concept of mansplaining. As a matter of fact I recently had a man interrupt a conversation I was having with someone else so he could mansplain mansplaining. It’s really not uncommon for women to feel like men, or even on occasion other women, are taking their voices away. Now if you feel you have never experienced mansplaining, then I am over-joyed for you, but you are in the minority.
But it’s not just by mansplaining that we have our voices taken away as women. A ten minute look at congress will show you a large group of men who think they know what is best for women and their bodies. From dictating what birth control health care will cover to deciding what choices are right for a woman’s body, they think they know what is best for us. They put in place laws that limit our choices and effectively take out voices away from us.
But what about people with disabilities? How are their voices stolen? Before I go any further I want to preface this part by saying this is based on my own personal experiences. I have spoken to other people with various disabilities, and this seems to be most, but not all, of what I am going to talk about is more of an issue for people like me who suffer mainly from invisible illnesses.
Here are some of the things I experience on a regular basis as a disabled person. It’s not unusual for people to question if I am really sick since they can’t see anything wrong with me. If they aren’t questioning my health itself then I typically get unsolicited advice on how I should be dealing with my health or people questioning if I have done enough to try to get better. Now sometimes these things are said out of a good place, and I try to recognize that. But the idea that I somehow wouldn’t try, or at least investigate, everything that is available to me to get better is a little absurd. But when I tell people as much, but in a nice way of course, I get incredulous looks or responses of how I must have tried something different because their friends daughters best friends sister has the same thing as me and it worked for them.
But it truly goes beyond just the average person on the street that you deal with. You would think that the treatment you get from a doctor would be better. Sometimes it is easier with a doctor, but a lot of the time it’s not. Doctors aren’t always fully trained on every illness, they are also sometimes directed in a certain way by state laws or hospital policies that may not actually be for the best of the patient. And really they are just people and make mistakes too.
I shared in my previous post that I actually suffer from several chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia. In the state I live in there are still doctors who don’t believe it exists, and I have been told this by a couple of doctors before. One took it so far as to tell me he thought I was just being lazy. But then if you do find a doctor who will treat you and believes you, if you dare state that you know what medicine works for you, then you are treated like a drug addict.
Being fat (insert plus size, curvy, pleasantly plump, Rubenesque, or whatever you want to call it here) in the US, and maybe other places too, comes with a lot of those same sorts of examples. People make unwelcome comments about how they think you look, what you’re wearing and whether they think its appropriate for someone your size, and especially about what you are eating and whether they think you should be or not.
People really seem to think the only reason someone might be fat is because they don’t know how to make good life decisions. Or maybe they think we are too stupid to know if you overeat that it will cause you to gain weight. And so by telling us these things, they are then going to be this awesome hero that sweeps in and saves the day. But in reality life isn’t that simple. There are tons of reasons someone might be overweight, and at least for the majority of people I know, overeating is not what caused them to gain weight.
And again, you would think that you would have better treatment from a doctor, but in my experience that is not the case. You would be surprised at how many doctors just make that assumption that because you are over weight you automatically are going to have high cholesterol, diabetes, etc.. I have actually had a doctor say to me, “No, you’re too fat to have better numbers on your cholesterol and blood sugar than me. This can’t be right”. And it’s not just rude statements like that, I could probably live with those if I felt I was getting the best medical treatment possible. But the shear waste of time that is involved with these preconceived notions is unacceptable.
When I was at my worst, health wise, it often meant going to the doctor at least once a week. It took forever to find doctors who were giving me quality care and not just focusing on my weight. It’s not helpful to go to the doctor and have your blood drawn by the same doctor at every visit simply because the doctor can’t get beyond their own personal biases. Now if you are relatively healthy, and you only go to the doctor once a year for an annual physical, then its acceptable. But let it sink in, I literally had doctors who wanted to draw my blood on a weekly basis, just because they couldn’t believe it was possible for me to have healthy levels of blood sugar and cholesterol.
Now maybe you have read all of this and you don’t understand why I am saying people are taking our voices away. It really comes down to this, I think anytime someone doesn’t listen to you, thinks they know what is better for you, doesn’t respect your opinions or the facts, then they are essentially taking your voice away. Whether someone’s intentions are good or not is besides the point. And women, fat people, and disabled people are not the only ones who experience this, I think anyone in a minority group or oppressed group experience these things as well.
I would love to hear what some of you have experienced yourself. Tell me in the comments how people have been trying to take your voice away. Or if you want to disagree with me leave that in the comments too. All comments will be approved unless they are disrespectful or of a bullying nature.
I have only ever sat down and made a list of everything I have been diagnosed with once, and that was quite a few years and diagnoses ago. I found it quite overwhelming at the time due to how many there were at the time. I think that has a lot to do with why I was so hesitant to write this post as well as why it took me so long to write it. If I find it overwhelming and hard to understand it all, how are you suppose to understand it?
Rather than try to go into the complete definition and all of the symptoms of each ailment, I will link everything I can to places you can get more information. I will just talk about what I feel bothers me the most and do my best to talk about the challenges caused by each illness. I have put everything in order of most disruptive of my life to least, or most difficult to deal with to least. Please keep in mind that is completely subjective to my personal experience and my experience does not represent everyone’s experience with an illness.
Fibromyalgia (a.k.a. in the past as fibromyalgia syndrome,fibromyositis, and fibrositis) – This is both the most difficult illness that I deal with and the one of the most difficult to explain to other people. It’s so complicated, and there is so little known about it even by doctors. However, I will do my best to describe what I go through to you.
I have lots of pain. There isn’t a moment of any day that I am not in some sort of pain. And it’s not just one type of pain or even located in one place. One moment I might have a random pain in my foot and the next my shoulders are hurting. Sometimes it might be a stabbing pain and other times it feels like someone has taken super hot rubber band and put it around an arm or leg and tightened till the circulation has been cut off. Sometimes even the lightest touch becomes painful. This one is a unique pain though. The best I have ever been able to describe it is like this; think of that feeling you get when someone runs their nails down a chalkboard, now times that feeling by ten and instead of it being triggered by sound its triggered by touch.
The next biggest thing I have to deal with when it comes to fibromyalgia is what is often referred to as brain fog. This means I often have memory loss, but it’s not like the kind of memory loss you think of with amnesia or Alzheimer patients. With brain fog you don’t actually lose the memory so much as you can’t access it for a brief period of time. For instance you might be in the middle of saying something and then just can’t get a word out. Or maybe you constantly can’t remember people’s names, even the ones you have known for years. But then ten minutes later you will remember what you were about to say. You continually have that feeling of having what you were about to say on the tip of your tongue. I personally find this symptom distressing, especially when dealing with people who haven’t known me for long or don’t know how my illness works. This is because it in a way strip me partially from my identity. I feel like the intelligent and creative mind I have is hidden behind constant pauses with me saying uh I can’t think of the word I was trying to use.
In addition to the pain and brain fog I deal with fatigue, temperature sensitivity, sleep disturbance from the pain, and numerous other issue. There are also many other illnesses that go hand in hand with fibromyalgia as well as some have similar symptoms. It can get really complicated to tell what is causing what. But I will talk more about that as we go.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – I think that the name of this makes this sort of deceptive to people. People hear fatigue and focus on that. You can’t imagine how many times I, as well as other people, with chronic fatigue have people ask something like “so your just tired all the time right?”. But it’s more than being tired. I have periods of time that I am so fatigued I literally can’t move to get out of the bed. Or I try to get out of the bed and my whole body will just shake and I can’t function. If I try to push myself past this point it actually triggers my fibromyalgia to get worse and I can get sick and stuck in bed from a flare up. This may last a few hours or a few weeks.
This is one of the illnesses with tricky to distinguish symptoms because I have so many other things wrong with me that may cause fatigue. For example one of the symptoms you can have with fibromyalgia is fatigue, but for me I have found the level of fatigue is very different. And it is very different from the feeling of just being tired from not sleeping. It took me a while to really figure out the differences and what to do to handle my illness.
Chronic Insomnia – I suffer from both Primary and Secondary Insomnia. The difference between Primary and Secondary is that Primary Insomnia does not have any underlying medical reason like pain or sleep apnea that is causing the insomnia, and secondary does. You might wonder how I have both Primary and Secondary, and how I distinguish between them. Well, I have dealt with Primary insomnia since I was a very young child. It wasn’t till I was older and started dealing with pain conditions that I had Secondary Insomnia, and you can very easily tell whether you are awake for no reason or if you are awake because of pain.
If I had made this list ten years ago, maybe even five years ago, insomnia would have been much farther down the list on things that bother me. As I said, I have dealt with this since I was a young child. It was never unusual for me to run on three or four hours of sleep. Sure I felt a little tired at times, but for the most part I usually just dealt with it and no one could ever tell. But in the last five years or so, it’s become increasingly harder and harder to deal with. I just can’t recover from it anymore.
Ruptured Disc (a.k.a. slipped or herniated disc) – When I was 24 years old I woke up one day and I was in immense pain. I was in so much pain I couldn’t walk without assistance, and I was barely able to move my legs. I was told I had a ruptured disc at L5/S1 and that it was one of the biggest ruptures the doctor had ever seen without the disc completely breaking. (I later found out I had another much smaller ruptured disc in my upper back, but this one is the one that causes the majority of my problems).
I was in college and working two-part time jobs, so I had no health insurance and had little money. I was fortunate that I had a chiropractor that was willing to work with me till I figured out how to pay. And I knew the right programs through the hospital to help pay for the expensive tests I needed. I ended up being in this severe of a condition for about six months, though I still have problems with it till this day. And as you will read further in, it caused other problems as well.
During that time I essentially went from someone who was very active to almost a completely sedentary life. Beyond the pain it had numerous ramifications on my health , my mental well-being, and my body. Typically people who have issues with a ruptured disc that are as severe and that last as long as mine have would have surgery. Even if I wanted surgery, it is not an option for me, and you will understand why as you read further.
Sciatica – Sciatica causes pain to radiate from your lower back or buttocks down your leg and to your feet and toes. Where the pain ends has depends on what the cause of the sciatica is and how severe the problem is. It typically is only on one side of the body, however for me due to a hip issue making my ruptured disk move back and forth, the pain can be on either side. But most of the time the pain is on my left side. My sciatica was long lasting. This was one of the many problems caused by the ruptured disc I have.
Endometriosis turned out to be Adenomyosis – You may be far more familiar with Endometriosis, or at least heard of it, than you are with Adenomyosis. There are many similarities and differences between these two conditions. The biggest distinguisher between the two is that with Endometriosis the Endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus and can grow anywhere in the body, and with Adenomyosis the Endometrial tissue grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. Also, since Endometriosis can spread throughout the body, it can never be definitely cured, however Adenomyosis can.
Both conditions can be extremely painful, and because they have so many of the same symptoms and treatments they often are both diagnosed as Endometriosis. And from my understanding, Adenomyosis can only truly be diagnosed when a hysterectomy is performed, which is what happened to me. So for years I was treated as though I had Endometriosis.
From the time my period started at the age of 12 they were heavy(in a way that is not explainable unless you have experienced it), painful, and embarrassing. I tried to find out what was wrong for years and had gotten many other misdiagnosis like PCOS, but I will talk about that more in another post. When I was in my mid 20’s I finally got a diagnosis of Endometriosis, and that finally made sense. After using various treatments on and off for about ten years my symptoms finally got to a place that it was necessary to have a hysterectomy.
As a woman, the word hysterectomy can be quite frightening in and of itself. So I think its needless to say there was a bit of stress I went through over the decision to have a hysterectomy. But I found the support of other women and much-needed information through the website Hyster Sisters, and it really got me through the hardest points. I can now say it is one of the best decisions I have made for my health, and I actually wish I had done it earlier.
Nerve Damage – One of the long-term repercussion of the ruptured discs I have is nerve damage. I have nerve damage of varying degrees in my lower back, down both of my legs, and down my left arm. This means I have varying degrees of numbness in some areas, decreased reflexes, and occasional issues with motor functions.
Migraines – I have had migraines since I was thirteen years old. In the beginning I would have them occasionally. I really just assumed it was going to be like my grandmother who also gets them but she gets them maybe once every other month or so. When she gets them she ends up in the bed for a day or two and then she is better. And in the beginning that is how mine were as well, or because I had a lot to do I would typically push through the pain.
As I got older the migraines got more frequent. By the time I was in my late teens I was having at least two migraines a week and I had started to figure out some of the things that triggered them, but also realized because of the world we live in it is hard to avoid. Again, because of a lack of health care and living in extreme poverty I didn’t actually get the official diagnosis until about the age of 25.
After I was diagnosed I was put on a preventative medicine called Topamax. There are various preventative medicines on the market, not all of them work for everybody. I was fortunate enough to hit a home run with the first one. Topamax does have some pretty heavy side effect, so if you don’t have a well-informed doctor helping you it can be dangerous. It is definitely not the medicine you want to go on and off of on a whim, but side effects are something I will talk about in another post. Lets just say that this was like a miracle drug in many ways for me, but it does have some drawbacks. And once I really got to a point where my headaches were under control that’s when I realized how bad they really were and how much they were really interfering with my life.
Interstitial cystitis (a.k.a. IC, irritable bladder, or painful bladder syndrome) This is one of those odd illnesses that you probably never heard of unless you either have it or have thought you had it at some point. IC is one of those illnesses that are not uncommon to have if you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue. I think people are far more familiar with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, however it works very similarly just with your bladder instead. However, IC can be more dangerous than IBS. Left unchecked IC can actually cause your bladder to explode. The good news is there are things you can do to help with you bladder. So if you suspect that you have IC, I urge you to see your doctor to have testing done.
Cluster Headaches – I thankfully don’t get these often, I don’t think I would survive if I did. And they would be much further up the list if I did get them often. When I do get them, the pain is intense. I often feel like I have a hot poker pushing through my eyeball. Not much more to say than that.
TMJ Disorder (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) – This is another disorder that is often associated with fibromyalgia. Don’t get me wrong, you do not have to have fibromyalgia to get TMJ, but if you have fibromyalgia it’s not unusual to have it. TMJ can be caused by a few things, mine caused by the alignment of my jaw not being correct at times.
When that happens some of the things I can start having issues with is opening and shutting my mouth, my jaw clicks when I open and shut my mouth or even chew, pain in the jaw joint, pain in the ear area, and facial pain. Thankfully my TMJ has been reasonably easy to treat as of yet.
Balsam Of Peru – This is one area of my health I have talked a lot about here on the blog. Since I cover a lot of beauty issues and part of this allergy verges into that arena, it’s kind of relevant. So rather than linking you to an outside source for this one, I have linked to a previous article that I wrote about my allergy. It links to plenty of reference articles. All I will say here is it is one of the most complicated allergies you can have. It causes you to have reactions to hundreds of items in beauty items, food, and medicine. I may have reactions in the form of Contact Dermatitis, blisters in my mouth, or a migraine.
Dust and Dust Mites – The only time I seem to react to the dust and dust mite allergy is when I am cleaning. I am guessing this is because this is when they are stirred up into the air. I range from having a brief sneezing fit to a full on sinus infection after.
Mold – This is my most recent diagnosis. I haven’t had any treatments yet or leaned a significant amount about it. I had suspected for a while that I was allergic to mold, but went to get tested because I had read there was a possibility that some people have been misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia who actually have an allergy to mold. However you can also be both allergic to mold and have fibromyalgia. But the symptoms are very similar. This is of course something I am still looking into, so don’t put too much stock into it.
Raynaud’s Disease – This is another one of those odd diseases that you probably haven’t heard of unless you or a loved one has it. It only bothers me about half of the year, but if you live somewhere with a colder climate then you might have issues year round. What happens to people with Raynaud’s Disease can be a little different in each individual, but here is what happens to me. Anytime I am exposed to temperatures below forty degrees my fingers (sometimes my toes and nose as well) start to go numb and they ache. They even start to turn blue, sometimes they turn white. Then as they start to warm back up I get painful tingly sensations, like the sensation you get when a limb falls asleep and you are trying to get the circulation back, but its twice as painful. And the area turns red and swells.
This has honestly happened to me for a long time. I just never knew it was anything but normal until I read an article someone posted on Facebook about this condition a few years ago. I then asked my doctor about it, and then I was diagnosed.
Degenerative Disc Disease – Even though this is called a disease, it’s not a disease in the sense you typically think of a disease. Degenerative Disc Disease is really just the normal breakdown of the disc in our spines that happens as we age. However when it happens at a normal rate it usually doesn’t get referred to as Degenerative Disc Disease, it is only described this way when things happen to cause it prematurely. I was told at the age of 25 that my spine looked like that of a 80 year old woman’s.
There are many things that can cause it or at least contribute to it. This is one of the few cases in my health where being overweight really can be harmful. It does put extra pressure on your spine, so it can contribute to how fast the discs deteriorate. In addition injuries caused from falls or car accidents may cause the start of Degenerative Disc Disease as well as bone spurs.
Arthritis – When I was in third grade my school gym class often had days where we had indoor activities due to weather. One of those many days our gym teacher decided we were going to have relay races. When I was running into what was our home base for the race, I fell and slid in. Had this been outside it would not have been that big of a deal. However, it was a big deal because it happened on a concrete floor. I ended up cracking my knee caps, of course we didn’t know that is what happened at the time. Since we didn’t have insurance my parents held off on taking me to the doctor. To be fair I didn’t complain a lot. I told them it hurt but I wasn’t crying in pain. I don’t think they understood the severity at the time. It ended up being two weeks later when I made it to a doctor. The bone had already started to heal wrong by then. All they could do at that point was give me exercises that would hopefully help. But of course being a kid I didn’t do most of them.
Depression – I think most people suffer from some form of depression at one point or another in their life. But not all depressions are created equal, there are different types and degrees of depression. For some it is a short-term issue and for other people their depression is a lifetime issue. During my teen years I often felt down, but not fully depressed. I think the best reference would be I felt melancholy.
When I got older and my initial major health issues hit, that left me feeling majorly depresses. More than that I had feelings of rage and of morning. The type of depression I was going through, I now know is not unusual for someone who has become newly disabled, but it really scared me. After experiencing years of dealing with a parent who had bipolar disorder and refused to get treated, I didn’t want to be that person. So I went as soon as possible to go get myself a therapist. I got checked and thankfully I do not have bipolar disorder. But I did get a lot of help for what I was feeling at the time.
I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to seek out a mental health professional in a time of crisis or if you just feel like you need someone to talk to. It doesn’t mean you are crazy. It doesn’t mean there is something horribly wrong with you. Your just human, and we all need some help sometimes.
Sialolithiasis (a.k.a. Salivary Duct Stones) – This is once again one of the odd illnesses that I have that you just don’t hear about unless you have it yourself or someone you are very close to. You may even already be thinking what the heck is Salivary Duct Stones(I am pretty sure most of us can’t even say the other name for it, or at least I know I can’t)? Just like you can develop stones in your kidneys or gallbladder, you can also develop stones in saliva ducts. Some people are just more prone to it that others.
Imagine going to sleep one night and everything is fine, the next morning you wake up and notice you have a small knot on your neck. It was so tiny at first it gets dismissed as a large pimple. But throughout the day it increases in size and starts to become tenser to the touch. By the next morning it’s the size of golf ball. Obviously you go to the ER at this point. Now know what this is, and as funny as it sound, it is still not something you would want to play around with as far getting checked out by a doctor. I was lucky and the simplest treatment available worked for me, and has continued to work the other two times it has happened. But this can become serious, especially if it becomes infected.
Chronic Dry Eye – I think everyone understands what Chronic Dry Eye is. What most people don’t know is there are a ton of things that can cause it from other illnesses to medication side effects, or even the way you eye is shaped. My chronic dry eye is a combination of having a very severe keratoconus astigmatism causing the tears to evaporate quickly and my contact dermatitis clogging my tear ducts. The type of treatment used for your Chronic Dry Eye depends upon the what the cause is.
Sleep Walking – Apparently its unusual for adults to sleep walk. So yeah, I know, Its amazing I have something unusual. It actually runs in my family. My father is worse than I am when it comes to sleepwalking. There are various things that can cause sleepwalking in an adult. I actually attempted to find out what is the cause of mine and if there is any way to stop it. However the place I went was not very helpful, and I never found out what was actually causing it. My sleepwalking seems to happen in spurts, so if it ever gets to a place where it is problematic again I may go to another sleep clinic to try to find the cause.
Keloid Scars – Keloids only develop on people who are genetically predisposed to them. They are overgrown scar tissue that cause very massive growths after a cut or scratch. If you remember back to me saying I was not a candidate for surgery on my ruptured disc, this is why. Keloid scars in general just cause cosmetic issues and maybe some itching, however there are exceptions like me not being a candidate for surgery. While most of the scar is topical, there is a small bit under the skin. Because they are so large and dense, and because of where my ruptured disc was located, the thought is that if a keloid were to form after the surgery it could cause worse problems than I already have.
Sebaceous Cyst – Sebaceous cysts are caused by blocked sweat glands or hair follicles. The oil and dirt build up and cause a bump to grow under the skin. Usually they are larger than acne, and they can be anywhere on your body. Typically I would say that these are just bothersome and a cosmetic worry. However, while I don’t get them often, I do get them close to my spine. This seems to cause some discomfort because of the pressure it puts on my spine.
I am not going further with the list and explanations. I didn’t include things that were one time incidents like the kidney stone I dealt with. I also didn’t include things that have long since healed like my torn elbow tendon. Nor did I include things that were chronic, but I have long since figured out what was the cause and put them to rest like my COPD from hAsthma and Chronic Bronchitis. I didn’t even include my many misdiagnosises, unless it was relevant to something I was already talking about, including the ear infections I was constantly diagnosed with as a child. And I am pretty sure there are even a few things that I wanted to talk about that I didn’t.
This post is already way longer than I wanted it to be, but I wanted to talk about as much of my diagnosises as possible. So if you have made it this far and read all about what is wrong with me, your probably for one wondering what any of this has to with being fat, and I promise I am getting to that soon. I actually wanted the next piece in this series to be about how being fat affects you when you go to the doctor and how being disabled affects you. And where the similarities are in those two things. But that may get pushed to the next one. It may all depend on how much information I can get on the upcoming vote on the Trumpcare Bill that Mitch McConnell is trying to force through a vote next month.
And Speaking of the Trumpcare Bill or the amended ACA, I said I would let you know where I stood as far as pre-existing conditions. I mean my title is I Am A Pre-Existing Condition. So here goes, based on the initial list released here are the things I have or have previously had that make me a pre-existing condition.
Mental Disorders (they say this includes Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Schizophrenia)
That is fifteen pre-existing conditions. And they aren’t even for the weird obscure things I have, its the everyday things that so many people have. Things you would expect your insurance company to cover. For the full list of pre-existing conditions you can find them here. (Note: as I awoke this morning, right before my final edit of this post, I read the Trump Care Bill as it currently stands has been scrapped. However, they will be back with another bill soon, they are going to be pushing for the ACA to be done away with completely and starting something new. I will try and have more details on that later)
Tell me in the comments below, what makes you a pre-existing condition? Also let me know if there is something you want me to talk about further regarding health or if there is something specific I haven’t talked about yet about being fat and sick.
I have wavered back and forth about doing this post for the last month or so. If you have followed me here on the blog for any amount of time you know I have health issues, but you probably don’t know to what degree they truly affect me. And to be honest even most people who know me in person don’t know how affected I am by my health, and how much of a struggle it is at times just to live.
You may also have noticed that since around Christmas time I have significantly slowed down, both here on the blog and on social media. Unfortunately that has been not of choice, but out of necessity. I have had moments where I have done more, either because I had a break and started feeling better, or out of obligation I pushed myself past the point I should have and worked anyways.
Please understand, the things I just said and all the things I am about to share with you are not for pity. I am absolutely not sharing this for pity, nor do I want anyone’s sorrow or pity. But under the current governments administration it is very clear that I as a fat, disabled, woman am being treated as a person that has no value and in many ways am under attack.
Because of the nature of my blog I think that most of the people who visit here will already identify with being a woman, especially a fat women. And even if you are, for the most part healthy, you can probably still appreciate the extra frustration that comes with dealing with healthcare. All the extra time spent talking about your weight, even when it has nothing to do with what you are there for. Or the down talking you get for just being a woman. But there is a special sort of hell that you go through when you add having disabilities into the picture. Part of that is because when you have the types of disabilities I have, essentially your job becomes going to the doctor. And its ridiculous how long it can take to find a doctor who will simply take you serious enough to actually look at you like a person and try to find out what’s wrong rather than just going with “it’s because you are fat”.
Ultimately I suppose I have a few goals in writing this post. I hope maybe for those of you who are completely healthy to perhaps gain some understanding of the people in your life who are disabled. I would love for people to understand how the healthcare changes massively affect people with disabilities and how congress trying to get rid of the ADA(American’s With Disabilities Act) at the same time makes it feel like a war against the disabled. And more than anything else, I want other people who are going through similar things to know they aren’t alone.
So in the beginning I mentioned that I struggled with whether or not I wanted to write this post. Obviously I did decide to write the post, but I decided I wanted to make it as thorough as possible. Since I foresee this becoming very long and possibly overwhelming, I decided it was best to break this into multiple posts. In this first post I really just wanted to share why I wanted to talk about this topic and what I hoped to accomplish from it. In the next post I want to talk about my own diagnoses, what difficulties they actually cause for me, and under Trump’s healthcare bill how many would be preexisting conditions.
I do plan on having several parts to this, but I am not sure how many exactly. I think this will be done when I feel like its done. If you have any questions or topics you want me to address in the next part, please feel free to post them in the comments or go to my contact page and send me a message.
If you are a ModCloth lover or follow any number of plus size blogger, you probably already heard ModCloth has been bought out. The news was leaked just the day after their Groupons went up for sale. They were bought by Jet who is owned by Wal-Mart. This has in fact made many ModCloth lovers, including me quite upset.
The problem is the two companies sort of stand for completely different things, both from a business and ethical stand point. Plus given their total different approach to plus size clothing, this may leave the plus size consumer out in the cold. And based on just a couple of changes that has already taken place, one can only speculate that this takeover will see the decline of the things most have loved about ModCloth.
You might have seen that I posted about the Groupon that ModCloth had posted the day before the news leak of the buy out. I myself had bought one. After reading the news I went back and forth in mind about what I wanted to do. So I personally have made a decision. After I use my Groupon, I personally will not be shopping with ModCloth any more, and I will explain why.
I currently do not shop with Wal-Marts or Jet. I do not like their business practices or their treatment of their employees, and I do not want to support any business they own. Where I live there are many options to shop at places that treat their employees well and that are more ethical. I do on rare occasion have to buy from Wal-Mart if they are the only place that carries something and its an emergencies, but I try everywhere else first. I want to also say, when I was on a tight budget and living by myself, I did shop at Wal-Mart because I had no choice. I totally get not everyone has that choice because of finances or location, and I hold no judgment of anyone who does shop there. This is simply a personal decision.
For me, I feel like that even if everything stayed the same at ModCloth after this I would not want to shop there. Because even if they did continue paying those employees fair wages and keep ethical standards, shopping there is still ultimately supporting the parent company.
ModCloth for a long time has filled a niche in the plus size market. But don’t worry, there are other places to get those vintage and retro inspired clothes you desire if you feel like I do. I will be working on a list for you of alternative places to shop, and I hope to have it up soon.
In the mean time I would love to hear your thoughts on the take over. Tell me in comments below how do you feel about it? Will you continue shopping ModCloth? And please share any and all the vintage and retro clothing brands you know.
As you all probably already know, March is Women’s History Month. At this moment, as we struggle to hold on to many of our freedoms and rights we have fought for through the years, I think it is more important than ever to talk about Women’s rights and the women who have fought for them thought history. We need to remember where we came from, and why we must fight to maintain the rights we have both earned and deserve.
So all through the month I will be sharing, both here on the blog and on social media, information, thought, and feelings about women I admire through history. I have already started on social media, and you can find those post easily by searching the hash tag #womenshistorymonth
I will be talking about women both living and deceased, so know one is exempt. I know a lot of other people are also sharing women they admire, so don’t be afraid to explore everyone’s post. And I fully encourage all of you to share as well, whether that be here on the blog in the comments section or on your social media accounts.
Just another reminder of some other things coming up soon.
Next month I will be participating again in #AllDressApril. If you don’t know what that is you can check out last years post. This year I am working on something really special for you all in conjunction with it. Look for the announcement on that near the end of the month. Since April will be filled with fashion, you probably won’t be seeing a lot of it this month.
Also next month I will be going to The International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio. It will be on April 28 – 30 this year. Let me know if you are going too. And don’t be afraid to say hi.
Tell me in the comments below if you have a personal female hero from history.
If you have been missing post from me the last couple of weeks, sorry for the sudden MIA. I decided to take some much needed time with friends and family as well as time to work on things around my home. I also found this a great time for some self reflection and healing.
It’s been a really crazy year in many ways, with many highs, and unfortunately many more lows. We can all sit around and wallow in the misery of 2016 or we can do something about it. The world needs healing, and that can only happen if we work together and make plans with positive intent.
I am not really much for New Years resolutions, I think they are statements of grandeur that no one is ever able to live up to and leave you feeling like a failure, so I won’t be making any of those. What I do like are attainable goals, and I thought I would spend some time in this post sharing some of my personal goals for the year as well as goals for the blog. I will also be sharing some various itinerary going on for the blog and my various social media outlets.
First let me talk about my own personal goals because I think that may be what some of you can relate to more.
I want to work harder to find a sleep schedule that works for me. (I have suffered from Chronic Insomnia since I was very young and as I have aged it really makes a difference in how my other health issues do)
I want to work on creating a household budget.
I would like to get at least two bills completely paid off this year. (bills the bane of everyone’s existence, they ruin all the fun.)
I want to finish getting my house rearranged and organized by the end of the year. (I would prefer mid year, but I would be happy with end of year)
As far as the blog and my various social media, I am happy with the direction I have been going. And everyone’s comments and continued support seems to say that you all think so to. I can happily say I met all my goals except one this past year, so I am also happy with that. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have bigger and better goals for the year ahead, and if you are here reading this now I am so glad you are here wanting to grow with me.
Since I have done my best to stay transparent with all of you about what is going on with the blog the past few years I wanted to continue that. Here are the goals for the blog and my social media for this year.
I would like to get at least two paid post this year. (I had my very first one last year, and managed to keep it within the scope of things I like and use. I am confident I can continue with that)
I would like to see at least 100 visitors a day to the blog by the end of the year. (I currently have about 50 on average)
I would like to see more comments and participation from you my readers. (I currently only get consistent commenting on giveaways, but I really love talking to you.)
I would like to have 1200 Instagram followers at least. (Currently I have just a little over 500. I could easily have more now if I wanted to trade out like for like, but I want followers who actually want to follow me and like what I produce. Its quality over quantity that is important to me.)
I would like to double my Twitter following by the end of the year. (I currently have around 180 followers. I’m just not as active on there as I am on other social media.)
I would like to fit 1,000 followers on Facebook. (I think I am at like 830 at the moment)
I would like to see my shares on Facebook increase. I don’t have a tangible number in place here.
I think that sums up my major goals for the blog and social media. If I do more than this, I will be ecstatic, but if I just hit these goals I will be happy.
Here are some things coming up soon that you don’t want to miss.
For the month of January I have challenged myself and a few others to staying on top of skin care. It’s a sheet mask challenge on Instagram. Every day of January I will be using a different sheet mask, no repeats. And I will be posting pictures along with info on what I used and where you can get it on Instagram. You can find mine in my feed or look for anyone that chose to do it by searching the hashtag #newyearnewskin All are welcome to participate that want to. Just remember to tag your pictures with the hashtag.
As I have the last couple of years I will be attending the International Steampunk Symposium. The dates for this years event is April 28 -30. If you go please don’t be afraid to say hello, just don’t come over and put your hands on me without introducing yourself. Yes I have had that happen.
All Dress April – I do plan on participating in that again, both on Instagram and here on the blog. If you don’t know what All Dress April is, you can search my previous blog posts and it will show you post from last year.
Those are the things I know for sure that are coming up outside of just the average blog post this year. I will try and update you of any new events as they arise.
Tell me in the comments below either something good that happened to you this year or a goal you have for making next year better.
Also please let me know if there are any specific challenges you would like me to participate in, products you want me to review, or topics you want me to cover in a blog post. While I can’t promise till I hear your ideas, I will consider all requests.