Monday, October 5, 2015

It Happened So Fast

"Call me when you get this..." is the text I woke up to that morning. Instant adrenaline rush. Ryan never asks me to call him.

"My mom fell last night, got a skull fracture and is in the ICU", he tells me.

I don't remember the rest of the conversation. I know I was crying and shaking when we hung up.

Queue a whirlwind trip to Portland and a blur of updates from his father. She's improving, moved out of ICU, changed from critical to serious... the realization once the adrenaline wears off that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

We are forever changed as a family. What happens now afterwards will define us as a family.

(Ryan's mother fell while on vacation. She suffered a serious traumatic brain injury late September 16th and was flown to Portland very early on the 17th. As of October 5th she is in serious condition, still in Portland and we are working to get her brought back up home to Western Washington.)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Testing, Testing, One Two Three

A groan of tedium escapes me,
Startling the fearful.
Is this a test? It has to be,
Otherwise I can't go on.
Draining patience, drained vitality.
This paranoid, paralyzed vampire act's a little old.

But I'm still right here

Giving blood, keeping faith,
And I'm still right here.

Wait it out.

Gonna wait it out.
Be patient (wait it out).

If there were no reward to reap,

No loving embrace to see me through,
This tedious path I've chosen here,
I certainly would've walked away by now.
Gonna wait it out.

If there were no desire to heal

A damaged and broken man along
This tedious path I've chosen here
I certainly would've walked away by now.

And I still may ... [sigh] ... I still may.

Be patient.

I must keep reminding myself of this.

And if there were no rewards to heal,

No loving embrace to see me through
This tedious path I've chosen here,
I certainly would've walked away by now.
And I still may.

Gonna wait it out.

Tool - The Patient, Lateralus

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Cautiously Optimistic

I decided to make a separate post to keep up with my right leg/sacroiliac joint pain saga.

Yesterday I got an injection into the right SI joint itself. Well, not before first passing out while getting an IV started. I was so embarrassed. I've passed out before from needles but it has been over ten years since the last time.

The doctor said he was able to really fill up the joint and that it often isn't an easy thing to do, but it went really well in my case. I have so little pain from the injection itself this time! Usually I'm in massive pain for three days, but today I'm in much less pain than I have been and my leg weakness is drastically improved. I'm hoping the relief lasts for awhile. I could get used to being able to walk & hike again!

I got all my health records forwarded to the pain doctor and I see them next week. I'm nervous but my last call to them did make me feel a little better. I was trying to reschedule due to my new job but there was nothing close enough to move me to. During the call though, the receptionist asked if I would see a specific provider. It was the one that has made me cry the two times I've seen them. I told them absolutely not and that I have no problem with the other providers I've seen, just not this specific one. He actually said, "You're not the first to say that."

I feel SO much better knowing I'm not the only one that this provider has not gotten along with. No one should be made to feel like a drug addict or that their pain is insignificant. Chronic pain is so hard to live with and no one's pain is the same. 

So many more hikes to look forward to!

The Fog Has Lifted

Throughout all the ups and downs I have tried to stay positive. Katy Perry's song, Firework, was one of the songs I would put on to help me keep my head up. Especially these lyrics: 

Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road
Like a lightning bolt, your heart will glow
And when it's time you'll know

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July

I hadn't even realized how depressed and anxious I had been ever since leaving Wisconsin in 2007. I loved my job there. I worked with people I liked, doing a job I liked, it was in the same town I lived in, etc. Just a perfect scenario...until my ex upset his father (who owned the house we were living in) and we ended up having to move back to Washington State. I had totaled my car in March 2007 and now in June that same year I was having to resign from a job I loved. It was devastating.

I've gotten work over the years but nothing I actually liked. I looked for jobs like the one in Wisconsin, but I didn't have quite enough experience to even get looked at for anything. I pretty much gave up and decided I would have to do school in order to get into a field I could enjoy working in long term. That was until last week...

Last Wednesday I went to an employment agency to fill out paperwork and do a preliminary interview with them to find some work. The representative was saying how she wished I had come in the day prior because they had a job that was perfect for me, but it had already been filled. Oh well, there were other jobs in the area I was also interested in, so I figured that I may get an interview somewhere the next week.

About four hours after my interview the employment agency was calling and texting me that the job I was perfect for was available again! It started the next day BUT it was only part time and temporary. I almost didn't take it for those reasons. I really needed something full time. I agreed to take it because we need the money and I like being helpful.

Once there, I started talking to the person in charge about my previous experience. Then I find out from him that they have been needing someone to do quotes and some sales and asked if I was interested in a full time position. Uhm...YES!!! I wasn't quite that animated but I think my excitement probably showed.

Me after my first day!

After being there a few days and knowing I for sure have a full time job I realized that I've had a tightness in my chest that is now gone! I think I was in denial about how awful I have felt for the last 8 years. Bitterness, anger, depression... It feels like I had been in a dark, suffocating fog that I only realized was there once it was gone. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Stuff is Happening!

Things are finally starting to pick up and fall into place. The injection helped my right leg weakness considerably, but not my pain. I'm okay with that. It is positive progress! I've already had a follow-up visit and scheduled injections to my sacroiliac joint this time to try and help the pain there. I'm not super hopeful that this will help my pain. It didn't years ago BUT it is part of the process to get nerve ablation (burning the nerves).

I've also been gathering the medical records that have been requested. It is such a tedious process but very necessary. I also put all the records I have and notes I've made into a single folder I will bring with me to appointments.

Unemployment got approved! I probably won't need it for long and it isn't a whole lot, but every bit helps. We are so broke since a couple of sources of income failed... We are going to food banks and other places for free food to supplement the groceries we buy. I'm very grateful to have resources around us to help.

I'm going out! Making new friends! So weird for me... I need it though. I can't spend all my time moping at home. My back hurts. I have dietary restrictions, but I'm still going to go out and have a good time.

We did the Sultan Shindig again this year! This is the third year in a row now! The kids went on rides, Jim watched the rides and we went to the live music and fireworks show. It was a lot of fun for everybody!

It was a ton of fun and we plan to go again next year!

Monday, July 20, 2015


Right before my injection a couple weeks ago my leg got way worse. So bad that I couldn't walk. I went to the pain center to talk to them about my right leg being really bad and that my medicine was not working to the extent I felt it should be. That was a mistake. I got to see the nurse practitioner that had made me cry at my first visit. He was still abrasive and extremely rude.

He asked why I was there. I told him because my pain was really bad and that I needed something else to help with it at least until my scheduled injection that coming Tuesday. He starts interrogating me: "Did you get your MRI done?", "Why did you have this drug in your system in May?", "Why did you get this prescription?", "You know you're getting an aberrancy for all of this."

Wait. What now? Aberrancy?

"Behavior that is outside the norm", he barks back at me.

Oh. My abdominal pain flare up in May that I went to the ER, my primary and a GI specialist for. I had NO IDEA I was supposed to have all my records sent to them if it involved me receiving narcotic pain medication. I had even called them in May when I was getting one of the prescriptions to ask if I needed to come to them or not. The person I spoke with told me that since it was not related to the chronic condition they were seeing me for that I didn't need to involved the pain clinic.

Now that I know this, I will request that copies be sent to them if I ever have to see a doctor for pain. It's not like I'm trying to lie or do anything wrong. At the ER visits I told the nurses & doctors that I was on pain medication long-term for back pain. If you are expecting good medical care, you have to be totally honest and I always am.

I told the physician's assistant that his bedside manner was terrible and that I wanted to make a complaint about him. He stands in the hallway in front of several people and says, "Oh! Yeah! Go to the front desk and complain about me!!"

I was so shocked. I just stood there with my mouth agape and looked over at one of the nurses and he just tried not to make any expression but I could kind of tell that they were embarrassed for this dude.

At the front desk I asked the receptionist to make a note on my file that I never wanted to be scheduled with him again and ensured that my next appointment was NOT with him. Then I went home and started calling to gather all of the medical records for my most recent issue. Again, I will prove this nurse practitioner wrong on his assumptions about me and show them that I am really just a sick person trying to get help. I'm so over being treated like a piece of shit because I have chronic pain and want relief.



At least my abdominal pain was figured out and all of the symptoms are managed quite easily with an increase in one of my medications. Yay! I'll take whatever positive progress I can get at this point. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

MRI Results

Things finally seem to be moving along. After waiting the 60 days required by insurance following a denial, my lumbar MRI was finally approved! I got it done and the findings are not much different than back in 2008. Bulging L5-S1 to the right side. My right leg is getting progressively weaker and it is because my disc is pushing on the nerves. Recently the pain, pins & needles and weakness have so terrible. 

This is not my MRI, but this is exactly what mine looks like. My L5-S1 is dark and pushing on my spinal cord.

My doctor wants to first do an injection with steroids at the L5-S1 to relieve the swelling. If that doesn't help then we will start moving on towards nerve ablation for the nerves going to my right SI joint. We both agreed that surgery (fusing the joint) needs to be considered absolutely last.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Baby Steps

Earlier this week I got to see a specialist that knows a lot about the chronic condition I was diagnosed with years ago. I should be getting some tests redone to check how I'm doing and also pinpoint where the upper abdominal pain is coming from. He had a couple ideas and had me increase one of my medications that I take to reduce nerve pain. Four days later and it seems to be helping a ton! Finally something works for me.

I also found out this week my insurance FINALLY approved the MRI for my back. Hallelujah! I'm so relieved that I'm moving forward at least a little. 

Hiking with Ryan! Hopefully we get to lots of this.

Now for some not so great news. I got let go from my job! I called in sick a couple Saturdays ago and got an email a couple hours later from my boss letting me know they would be taking over my duties and mailing my final check. I got fired by email. I don't see how me calling in was terrible considering I hadn't even called in yet this entire year, so nearly 6 months without missing a shift. He said it was because of lack of business. Oh. Oh, that's why? Not because the other women there didn't like me? I tried so hard to talk to the other housekeepers but it didn't matter. They had some perception of me that I couldn't change.

I know I worked my butt off and deserved more than being let go through email. Oh well. I really didn't plan on working there any longer than through the end of this year since I was starting school. It was an easy, easy job and I got paid for sleeping. I doubt I'll find a job anytime soon, so in July I'm applying for unemployment. SO, the girls at the motel essentially gave me a paid summer vacation. Thank you!! ;D

There will be lots of weekends involving our fire pit! Yay!

This last weekend we inherited a lot of furniture from Ryan's grandmother! I love it all so much. I think Jim likes it too!  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

And now this...

Monday afternoon I was volunteering at the local food bank when I started to get extremely nauseated and sweating profusely. It was terrible. Ashlynn was working with me and I didn't want her to have to stop so I asked and she was able to stay. We live very close to the food bank and it is such a small town that the people there know my daughter already.

I ran home to the bathroom and threw up. I went and laid down and realized I was having a very sharp pain in my upper right abdomen, actually under my bottom rib. I texted Ryan that I was having pain and that we would probably need to hit up the ER that night. Great.

Trip to the ER Monday night - nausea meds, pain meds, blood work and an ultrasound. Blood work and ultrasound were normal and they wanted to do a CT scan but their machine was down. Perfect. Went home with prescriptions for nausea meds & pain meds but was still in a lot of pain and nauseated.

Trip to the ER Tuesday night, different ER. Nausea meds, pain meds, blood work and a CT scan with contrast. CT scan was normal. Go figure. Every time I've had something wrong before (gastroparesis, gall bladder) initial tests showed nothing. I had to see a specialist and get additional tests to find what was wrong. Went home, again still in pain and nauseated.

I realized early Wednesday morning I left my phone in the room at the ER. Brilliant. Had to shut down all my accounts on the phone and change all my passwords. Thankfully it was a fairly inexpensive prepaid phone that only had 4 days of service left. The hospital says they didn't find it and no one has come forward with it. Oh well... My fault. Wednesday evening Ryan was an absolute sweetheart and bought me a new phone. He went to the store, picked it out, and got it activated. I am beyond grateful to him.

Thursday I was still in a lot of pain and couldn't eat anything at all. Along with all of my other symptoms I have no appetite. I smoke marijuana to stimulate my appetite anyways because of the gastroparesis but even that isn't helping right now.

I called and made an appointment with a doctor at my primary care physician's practice (she is out on leave). I got a referral to a gastroenterologist, some more nausea meds, and a prescription for some more pain meds to add on to the ones I take regularly for my chronic back pain. When I tried to fill the pain medication my insurance sent back a request for a "prior authorization" which means that the doctor has to explain why I need the medication before insurance will pay for it. They will only approve 1 fill of that medication every 90 days unless they see a good reason for me to have it.

The INSURANCE decides whether I need the medication. Not the doctor. Oh, and if I want to pay for it out of pocket I will lose my insurance because if I can pay for a $40 prescription out of pocket I somehow have the resources to pay for ALL of my own medical care. What In The Hell?! People probably think I'm exaggerating or lying when I tell them how bad things with my healthcare and insurance are.

Since I couldn't get the pain medication prescribed to me by my regular physician's office I had to go back to the ER for pain control. I waited in the lobby for 3 hours. They kept bringing back people that they could get in and out quickly instead of taking me back and getting me some help. "Pain won't kill you." What about people that kill themselves due to chronic pain?

Nausea meds, pain meds, blood work and this time an MRI of my bile ducts, pancreas and liver. One of my levels in my blood came back off (not sure if it was high or low). I just know they said something about my lipase levels and that it could be something with my pancreas. I had been suspecting that all along with where the pain is. Nothing showed up on the MRI so there really was not much to be done. I threw up a lot while there and also freaked out when I had to get the MRI done. I had a lot of medication... I finally went home around Noon on Friday.

I slept that whole day and night since I had to work the weekend. I just can't afford to take any time off and I especially can't afford to get fired. I really wish I could get the pain medication that was prescribed to me. As I sit here typing I'm in so much pain. I also have no idea how long it is going to take to get the appointment with the specialist. It could be weeks. I can't do this for weeks.

So this is what healthcare looks like now. Do not get sick. Prevention is definitely key because unless you have a ton of money you will not get proper healthcare.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A New Normal?

First, I want to share a movie and album of images I made of my little boy that just turned 2! My children are all very important to me, but my youngest holds a special place in my heart. He is my rainbow baby. He brought hope back into my life and is such a special little man.

Now, a sort of update...

It has been nearly a month since my last update. There hasn't been a whole lot happening. I did get an approval for physical therapy (six visits only) but suspended it after 2 visits because I was in too much pain to do the exercises. I saw the orthopedic specialist and he said that the insurance wanted me to complete at least 6 weeks of physical therapy and still have pain before they would approve an MRI.

This is ridiculous. Not only am I in pain my leg is weak. Very weak. I cannot lift my toe up and my reflexes are off on that side. I need some imaging so they can see what is going on and get me some injections and then possibly surgery.

I have not declined any treatment since September of 2013 since I started seeing a doctor for this pain again. Insurance has denied treatment and so my condition and quality of life has been slowly deteriorating.

I missed a counseling appointment last week because I was too depressed to go. I feel worse after talking to my therapist because she just doesn't seem to be connecting with me and hearing what I'm saying. I can't go see the therapist that helped me before because he isn't covered by my insurance and I can't afford $150 per visit.

So, I'm waiting again. My orthopedic doctor replied to insurance that I was unable to complete physical therapy due to pain. I really hope it is enough. I can't believe this is dragging out like this.

Monday, March 30, 2015

I Understand Your Frustration

What I picture when I call my health insurance provider...
Well, it has been almost two weeks and absolutely nothing has happened. No approvals. No new appointments. No treatment. I called my insurance company to find out what I could do to help in the process and was told, "Nothing". All information and documentation has to come from a medical provider. I can't send them records so that they can see that I have tried physical therapy and medication.

I mean, the insurance company is paying for the physical therapy and medication but they give me the reason that I haven't tried those things for denying the MRI. I am SO utterly confused and frustrated.

The insurance company has 30 days to respond to the appeal. They string these processes out so long that they end up not paying for as much treatment. I firmly believe that this strategy is used on purpose by the health insurance companies as a way to get out of paying for treatment/medication and it is SO WRONG. I have children, a grandchild, and a partner that need me. My life is on hold and it isn't even my choice. I fell. It was an accident and now I feel like I'm being discarded. There is no need to get me healthy and functioning when we have enough people out there that the government doesn't need to pay out benefits for, right?

All I want is to get better. I know I probably won't be pain free but I at least want a chance at feeling less pain and being more active. I'm not asking for a lot and I've been patient. Please just let my doctors treat me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What is the Point of Insurance?

X-ray picture of an injection being performed on my right SI joint. 
Just to keep up on my SI joint treatment/lack of treatment... Insurance still hasn't approved the MRI my specialist wanted to have done.

I really don't know what I could be doing differently. I get treated like I'm the one saying no to treatment. I've wanted injections and nerve ablation for a year and a half. Insurance keeps saying no to everything except pain medication. Now the doctors are warning me, "This is only a temporary solution. You need to try injections and RFA to attempt to get off of pain meds completely or reduce your need." NO SHIT!!!! Tell my insurance that!!

I haven't been eating cause I'm so stressed out. I've lost probably 10 pounds and am back to being underweight. I'm losing more muscle and then that makes my pain worse. My joints need to be stabilized with increased muscle but how am I supposed to work out when I don't eat and have massive pain?

This is when I want to give up. Instead I throw in the towel for a few days and cry a lot. Then it's back to jumping through the hoops, begging for pain medicine and fighting with my insurance.

Monday, March 16, 2015


This little guy keeps me going!

I got some good news Friday! The pain management doctor I saw is on the exact same page as me and my orthopedic specialist. Imaging, injections and then nerve ablation (burning the nerves). He had my records from three other providers including a spine physiatrist and another pain management doctor that had done nerve blocks on me before.

We talked about why I stopped pain management before and he understood. He did a real exam on me and found the same symptoms that other doctors have - I can't walk on my heel with my right leg, my pelvis is lower on the right, positive for FABER (Flexion, Abduction and External Rotation), etc. Something is seriously wrong with my right SI joint and I'm sick and tired of being told I'm too young to have the type of pain I have.

The goal is to get me to a point where I either do not need long term narcotic pain medication or reduce the amount needed. I know that I don't want to get on a high dosage long term because my body will start to need more. I need to be functional though. I've gone from being able to walk 2-3 miles or hike with a pack to only being able to walk a few blocks. The next doctor that tells me I shouldn't have as much pain as I do is going to get an earful. I'm done feeling like a victim of the system and being treated like a drug addict. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pain Management

I've decided to document my struggle with insurance and medical providers. I think it will be good to have a journal of what I'm going through... 

The initial injury - On May 15, 2011 I fell (on the right buttock) while roller skating at my older son's birthday party. I fell so hard I knocked the wind out of myself. I heard a pop and have been in pain ever since.

Since I fell I have had x-rays, fluoroscopic diagnostic injections, two rounds of cortisone injections, physical therapy, chiropractic care, MRI, prolotherapy, sacroiliac support belt, and multiple shots of Toradol in urgent care and with my primary.

In February of 2012 I got pregnant. In March 2012 I had a miscarriage. I know the pain medication wasn't the reason for the miscarriage but I still felt guilty and decided to stop any treatment until I had a healthy baby & had my tubes tied. In August 2012 I was pregnant again and gave birth to a healthy baby boy in April 2013.

Later that year (August 2013) I started seeing the doctor that is now my primary care physician. My pain had come back and was worse than before the pregnancy. My primary referred me to a specialist. They tried prolotherapy and attempted to get my insurance to pay for physical therapy again so that I could then have cortisone injections. Well, I was also having muscle spasms internally from the pregnancy so I had been to physical therapy for that. Insurance refused to pay for any more visits even though it was a different issue.

The only option I had was to maintain as best I could with pain medicine. Unfortunately there are laws telling my primary care physician how long they can prescribe pain medication and at the end of last year I had reached that limit. I had to be sent to a pain management clinic.

The pain management doctor said he didn't get enough in the referral to prescribe for me though. I've spent years in pain, getting treatment and there isn't enough on record that he can see?! He didn't even seem to be slightly concerned about my state of mind or my quality of life. I was crying and dazed. So many years of dead ends and pain...

In the few weeks since my "pain management" appointment I have gone to an orthopedic specialist, physical therapist and counselor. I've called all my old providers and had every record I can locate faxed & mailed to them. It really shouldn't be this difficult though. I feel like I'm being punished because of a few bad doctors and a prescription drug epidemic that I had nothing to do with!! I didn't choose to get injured. It just happened. Chronic pain sufferers shouldn't be treated like they are drug addicts. It is already hard enough to deal with day to day. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


I'm fighting with my body again. I've been in so much pain since falling years ago and now I can't get the pain medication I had been getting because a doctor thinks I'm too young. He coldly said something about DEA requirements...blah blah blah... What about me as a patient? What about my quality of life?! He stares at me blankly. Left the office dazed, crying and confused. My primary doctor told me they would be able to give me MORE options. Not just tell me that I will no longer get the medication I need to function.

My life means nothing to them. Insurance is terrible now. They delayed my treatment by a year and now I'm so much worse. And now I can't even move around to get better...

I feel so damned hopeless right now. I have these ambitions and dreams and my body keeps stopping me. I get sick to my stomach EVERY morning. EVERY morning. Maybe once a year I will have a morning when I don't feel like I'm going to die. Every day I feel dizzy and have stomach pain. No matter what or how much I eat. I've been to specialists, had a diagnosis, gall bladder removed and a bunch of shoulders shrugging at me. Sure, I don't go to the hospital once a month with uncontrollable vomiting anymore but I'm not doing good. Not by a long shot.

Being negative does no good so I soldier on and focus on the positive but when I'm not even sure I can complete the course I'm on and take care of my own basic necessities for the rest of my life I want to give up. I don't have anyone to take care of me. I have four kids to take care of. I have a partner that is depending on me to pull my own weight. There is no way in hell I can get approved for disability so why even try?

Tomorrow I see an orthopedic specialist and I'm hoping against hope he can send something to the pain specialist giving him a good enough reason on paper to please the DEA. Excuse my language but government needs to stay the FUCK out of healthcare. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

An Old Mantra

Music really influences me and helps me a lot. I just heard a song that drove me around 5 years ago to make some pretty significant changes in my life (leaving my husband, new job, etc). Finally, the years of sacrifice and work is showing its results. Thank you Michael Pastore for telling me how it is and forever changing my life. My life is the result of choices I have made, good and bad. It is up to only me to make my life what I want it to be.

by Killswitch Engage

Forever falling, Into oblivion
The darkness crawls forward
It engulfs, my will to live
Fear is failure
And this is my motivation

Take back what was stolen
Reclaim all that's lost
With virtue, I will rise up from the ruins

Through adversity, there is redemption
With passion, fighting
I am unbroken
Through adversity, there is redemption
With passion, fighting
I am, unbroken!!

Take back what was stolen
Embrace the cycle
Refuse to turn back now and be led astray
Fear is failure
And this is my affirmation

Through adversity, there is redemption
With passion, fighting
I am unbroken
Through adversity, there is redemption
With passion, fighting

The absence of fear, is the renewal of ourself
The absence of doubt, breeds desire
If there is truth to face
I will design it
I will not be denied!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Da Plan, Da Plan!

I'd love to study Mars...

I think I have come up with a good plan and goal. I need to be able to make more money to support my family but still do something that I enjoy. Science is something that I have a natural affinity for and something that I love. Ultimately, I would love to be in the field of Astrogeology but there aren't any places I could work where we live. I don't want to move in order to start working so I am going with something safer that will still let me work towards my goal. 

First I will get my 2-year transfer degree from a community college that has a transfer program to the big 4-year university in the area. I will concentrate on going into medical laboratory testing so that I can start working with just a 4-year degree. Then I can work and probably still do graduate studies in the earth sciences field. I still need to talk to the academic advisor at the community college and one at the university to finalize my plans since requirements have changed since I was enrolled and attending 10 years ago. 

I'm excited! Ryan and I have both been working so hard and it is starting to pay off. We moved into a much bigger house (more than twice the square footage and 2 additional bedrooms). I'm feeling very sure of my footing and my abilities. Not overly confident, but I know I can do what I have set out to do. I know how much work it is going to take and I'm ready for it. 

Reese's Spreads from Influenster!

Influensters got another great complimentary product to try! Reese's Spreads, Peanut Butter Chocolate. This stuff tastes just like a melted peanut butter cup. It can be put on toast, fruit, pretzels and pretty much anything else edible that you like. My Reese's Spreads creation? I put that yumminess on pancakes!! It was so awesome. 

I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Shake It Off

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
(Taylor Swift - Shake It Off)

I feel free and happy. Something clicked for me recently and I'm not as angry and in as much of a moody fog anymore. So much of the bad I had been seeing in other people has been a reflection of my own state of mind. I've been projecting my feelings and emotions onto others and it isn't fair. People are who they are and I have no right to try and even guess what they are thinking. Now, this realization has also helped me see that I shouldn't gauge my behavior or actions based on what I think someone's opinion of me is. I'm gonna do what I do and shake off any doubt.

Then there is reconciling who I am in relation to society. I'm weird. People don't get me! They don't! I try and change the way I communicate or mimic someone else and it makes me uncomfortable. So FUCK IT! I am not mean. I do not harbor ill-will. I may come off as cold sometimes but I'm just shy. I really do care for people deeply. If someone thinks I'm being negative or mean, that's their issue and most likely a judgement they are passing on me. Ain't my problem. I'm focusing on my life and my goals. Not what other people think or making an image. My experience is my own and I want to really live this life I have.

Getting a little older does bring mortality into focus. You can kind of see the end and it is scary! I was never afraid of death until around a year ago. A friend of mine passed away. Then another battling stage 3 cancer. Others having serious health issues. These are people that are my age. Okay... This is real. I don't have forever to accomplish my dreams. I gotta get going! I feel like I do have a head start since I have nearly raised one kid and have a couple that will be "adults" in a few years. But professionally I have lacked.

In the Fall I will be attending college to finish my two-year transfer degree for some field in scientific research or geological studies. Something has always driven me to think I had a bigger purpose. The guilt that goes along with feeling like I am wasting my potential eats at me daily. I mean...if no one felt the push and desire to further our scientific knowledge and preserve the human race how would we ever be where we are?! I am not setting out to be published or have my name known. I want to contribute something REAL to science. And I will. I am gonna shake off all the distractions and drama and be ME. The antisocial, awkward, inappropriate at times, but very authentic Janella.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Ipsy 2014 Hits and Misses!

A review of the products from my Ipsy bags!

Ipsy is a beauty subscription service that sends you 4-5 products to your door (free shipping) every month for just $10!

(Since I didn't start with Ipsy until March I can only review products from that month on.)

March - "Destination Beauty"


bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick - I love the color, it goes on nicely and it lasts throughout the day. ($18)

Nicole by OPI nail polish with "roughles" in 'On What Grounds' - Just a great nail polish brand all around. It dries fast and doesn't chip. This particular shade/formula is matte and textured. It was my first experience with both and I really liked it. Definitely something different to try on your nails if you're adventurous! Adding a good topcoat will take away the matte and give you a nice shine if you prefer. ($8.50)

Be a Bombshell 'Bora Bora' Eyeshadow Quad - Wonderful, creamy, pigmented beautiful colors. They work well together and also alone. ($8)


Pixi Beauty Flawless Beauty Primer - I think I am mostly alone in my dislike of this product. Most of the reviews I see for it are positive, but it just didn't work for me. I do not use foundation often and the tint on this was too much for my super pale skin. I prefer a clear primer. ($9)

(Total retail value for March - $43.50).

April - "Beauty Rocks"


Elizabeth Mott Pop! Goes the Shadow in 'Champagne' - Silky smooth, nicely pigmented and a great everyday color with some shimmer. ($13)

Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Eye Liner - Excellent eye liner. It is super black, creamy and stays on throughout the day. ($10)


Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm in 'Apple Pink' - The color was way too orange for me. Otherwise, nice, but a miss. ($13)

Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion - I did not like how  my skin reacted to this product. I seemed to break out after using it. I tried it a couple times and it just never worked well for me. (Around $60 for a full size - 60g; the sample size was 7.5g so estimated $7.50 value). 

Demeter Jasmine Roll-on Perfume Oil - I did not enjoy the scent at all. It smelled very soapy to me. ($8)

(Total estimated retail value for April - $51.50)

May - "Beauty's Fresh Picks"


Hang Ten Classic Sport SPF 50 sunblock - This was a great product to receive right before summer. Growing up in central Arizona, I have used many different sunscreens and this one was awesome. It has a pleasing scent, goes on smoothly and it doesn't get oily or sticky! ($10)

Nailtini Straight Up Color Nail Lacquer in 'Champagne' - This was a nice little polish to get. It is sheer but can be layered to build up the color. It dries semi-fast and didn't chip. ($13)


Pacifica Mineral Eyeshadow Duo - Hard, cakey and not pigmented in the least. I even tried using this shadow with a primer and it was still awful. Probably the worst product I have received from Ipsy. ($5)

Pur~lisse pur~moist hydra balance moisturizer - Made my skin feel greasy. I'm not a big fan of moisturizers though. I tend to have oily skin and breakout whenever I use a moisturizer. ($15)

Crown Brush Pro Blending Fluff Brush - This brush was hard and I couldn't really use it for much. It didn't work well for blending and didn't pick up very much product for application. ($13) 

(Total estimated retail value for May - $56)

June - "Pretty in Paradise"


Nicka K New York Shimmer eyeliner in blue - This is a great little eyeliner. It goes on smoothly, doesn't smear and is a really pretty shimmery blue color. ($3)

NYX Butter Gloss in 'Apple Strudel' - This gloss smells amazing, is such a pretty color and I love the application. It doesn't get all weirdly sticky like other glosses I've tried. Definitely one of my all time favorites from Ipsy! ($5)

Laneige BB Cushion - I liked this foundation a lot as far as foundation goes. It was light but had fairly good coverage. I don't wear foundation but if I did, I would get this product for sure. ($35 for full size, est sample worth $5)


Be A Bombshell Lash Out Mascara - This mascara smelled funny and made my lashes droopy. Definitely a miss. ($10)

Marc Anthony Dream Waves Beach Spray - This was supposed to create beachy waves but all it did was make my hair a little more textured. It smells pretty good but I didn't like how I felt like I had product in my hair when using it. ($8)

(Total estimated retail value for June - $31)

July - "Sensationally Sunkissed"


bareMinerals 5-in-1 BB advanced performance cream eyeshadow - I love this cream eyeshadow! It works great on its own or in combination with other cream or powder eyeshadows. Really, really fell in love with bareMinerals from this product. ($18)

Elizabeth Mott Tints & Sass Lip Tint in 'Cherry' - I had never used a lip tint before, but this one has me sold on them. It looks amazing with a shimmery gloss on top. ($11.50)

Pop Beauty Sunkissed Bronzer - Great, everyday bronzer. Very happy with this product. ($8)

Marrakesh Hair Care Marrakesh Endz - This product saved my over processed hair. I cannot say enough good things about Marrakesh Endz. It smells AMAZING and all you need is a little to get your hair soft and shiny. I am squeezing out the last little bits from the bottle after trying to make it go as far as possible. I will be buying more of this shortly. ($9)


Pur~lisse moisturizer with spf 30 - Again, I did not like this moisturizer. My face felt sticky and then greasy. ($5)

(Total estimated retail value for July - $51.50)

August - "Beauty Schooled"


Urban Decay Perversion Mascara - This is now my go-to mascara. I had been searching for a good brand and Ipsy found it for me! (Full size - $22, Sample estimated value - $5.50)

Jersey Shore Sun Mongongo Lip Conditioner - I am definitely a fan of chapstick so this was right up my alley. It has a tropical scent and works wonderfully at softening lips. I think I'm already half way through it! ($7.45)


Dr. Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiner - The tint in this primer was too dark for me. I prefer a clear primer. ($6.95)

J. Cat Beauty Flying Solo Eyeshadow in 'Half Naked' - The shadow quality wasn't bad, but I didn't like the color much. Too peachy and I had already gotten a nude shadow I liked much better. ($3.50)

Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk - Awful experience... Powdery, weird, and didn't work. I tried a couple times and it never worked out for me. I could see it maybe working if I had short hair. Another in the running for worst product this year. ($9)

(Total estimated retail value for August - $32.40)

September - "Street Style"


Crown Brush Infinity Shadow/Crease Duet Brush - Very soft brush that does a good job at both applications. I have to store it flat in a drawer, but worth it! ($10)

NYX Hot Singles Eye Shadow in 'Dressed to Kill' - I love this gray as an alternative for black for me. I'm pretty pale so black is too much for me. This gray with some sparkle is perfect for a dark, smoky eye. ($4.50)

Pacifica Natural Water Proof Eye Pencil in brown - This was a surprise. I did not like the Pacifica eye shadow I had received so I wasn't expecting much from this. It is a really great brown eye liner. Creamy and stays put! (Full size $11, sample estimated value - $2.75)

Cailyn Art Touch Tinted Lip Gloss - Not as good as the NYX Butter Gloss, but still a good lip gloss. ($10)


Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair Deep Conditioning Mask - This was a hair mask and it didn't seem to do what it was supposed to at all. Total miss. ($7)

(Total estimated retail value for September - $34.25)

October - "Beauty Candy"


City Color Be Matte Lipstick - I love the color and the matte finish. I love using it under a gloss. ($5)

Figs & Rouge Hand Cream - My hands have been so soft since I received this product! ($8)

Mica Beauty Mineral Eye Shadow - Beautiful shimmery green eye shadow. Nicely pigmented and stays put. ($8)

Nourish Organic Moisturizing Face Cleanser - This works wonderfully to gently cleanse my skin. No break outs and my face feels clean and not overly dry. ($7)

Skyn Iceland Mini Glacial Cleansing Cloths - These made my face tingle and my skin happy. ($5)

(Total estimated retail value of October - $33)

November - "Girl Meets Glitter"


Be A Bombshell Cosmetics Eye Base - I love this stuff. It is shimmery and makes for a great eye shadow on its own and also as a base. ($10)

Marc Anthony Volume Shine Hairspray - This is a nice hairspray. It smells good and holds my hair in place. ($3)

Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil - This is a really creamy sparkly purple eye pencil. I absolutely love the color and how easy it goes on. ($7)


J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in 'Red Potion' - This was FAR too dark for me. It was also a strange color for my skin tone. ($5)

TEMPTU S/B Highlighter - This left my skin feeling sticky and I didn't like the pearlescent effect it had. ($3)

(Total estimated retail value of November - $28)

December - "Thinking of You"


Cailyn Cosmetics Just Mineral Eye Polish in 'Orchid' - This is a nice, pigmented loose eye shadow. The applicator is really fun too! ($9.50)

NYX Cosmetics Butter Lip Balm in 'Parfait'- Again NYX hits it out of the park with this product. Such a cute pink color and the tint is just right. It is also smooth and doesn't get weird and sticky on my lips. ($4)

Tarte Deluxe Lights, Camera, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara - Bingo! Another mascara I love! This is just an all around great mascara. ($5.50)


Nourish Organic Renewing Eye Cream - Meh. No great scent. I didn't really notice any difference and plus I don't use eye cream. So..yeah...meh. ($7)

Bumble and Bumble Repair Blow Dry - Another meh. I haven't even tried it. I will possibly blow dry my hair once a year if that. I hate the concept of any heat treatment because it kills my hair. This will be given away to someone who blow dries regularly. ($5)

(Total estimated retail value for December - $31)

All in all I think Ipsy is well worth the $10 per month subscription cost. (Shipping is free!) I consistently got products I use that are worth more than $10. I definitely came out ahead in 2014 with the products sent by Ipsy! Do you want to subscribe? Use this link so I get a referral credit!