Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why I Wear Rings


     I’m a jewelry person. I LOVE my jewelry. I have rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces…  And I wear them a lot. And a lot at once. It’s rare for me to have a single necklace or bracelet on and my hands always sport multiple rings. This may seem like an exercise in vanity or that I am high maintenance, but it isn’t and I’m really not. Even though I don’t leave the house without full makeup on and I don’t just color my hair but add highlights as well, it’s less about attention and more about concealment. And it's all come about because of my disease.
    Here’s how it works…  When I first got sick, my Sjogren’s affected my wrists almost exclusively. I had the dry eyes and dry mouth, but my wrists hurt like Hell and were constantly swollen. At first, I stopped wearing bracelets because I couldn’t find any that fit. I endured questions about the lumps on the sides of my wrists and I had to take numerous breaks at work to rub them and sometimes even ice them.
    But then, I found stone beads. I was (and still am) an Autism Specialist and was given an Autism awareness bracelet made from real stone beads. Natural stone is much cooler to the touch than plastic beads or even metal and this bracelet felt awesome on my wrist. I learned how to make them and was soon wearing up to 10 per wrist. The weight and coolness helped the swelling and pain in my wrists and I could keep some in the freezer to switch out during the day. In essence, I had made a wearable yet pretty ice pack. I was camouflaging my disease while treating it at the same time. And my personal style was born.
    You see, as my symptoms changed and worsened, tricks like this became more necessary to come up with. Like the necklaces I own that I can keep pills in that don’t even look like they open. Or the ones with soft, polished, palm sized stone pendants that can alleviate hand pain when cooled or be squeezed when my pain becomes difficult to bear. I have crystal “wands” that are, in actuality, great massagers for palms, shoulders, legs, and feet but look like a simple long necklace that I layer with matching shorter ones. And my rings? People see them before my swollen, bruised knuckles. Who would ever guess 80% of what I wear can also be used therapeutically?!
    As far as my makeup goes, I cannot be in the sun. The components of sunlight not only react with some of my medications, but can set off my disease as well. I started using only sunscreen or the tinted moisturizers as Sjogren’s, drying as it is, requires me to moisturize a lot. But that wasn’t enough. I also “rash out” in the sun. It started as deep purple triangles from cheekbones to jawline. Lately though, I develope smaller bright red triangles. (These are called Butterfly rashes and are common with Lupus which is a part of my MCTD). I decided I couldn’t beat the rashes, or predict them, so I now pair my blush color to the color of the rashes. It makes them a whole lot less noticeable when they happen!
    But my lips are also greatly affected by the sun. Go figure! They peel regularly and if I am not careful, the will swell and split. Tinted lip gloss didn’t cover well enough so I started wearing lipstick daily. But lipstick alone looks kind of weird and since I have other symptoms to deal with, full makeup it is!  My eye make up is simply because I happen to think my eyes are my best feature and have long natural lashes. If I have to do the rest to protect my face, I’m going all the way-HELLO!
    And that leaves my hair, baby fine and impossible to do much with. Until I was put on Methotrexate. For some reason, that med gave me texture. So I took advantage of it while I could. But now, “doing” my hair is tiresome. It takes energy I rarely have after showering. So I keep it short. And if I have to have it shorter, I’m certainly not going to have it “mousy”. I found the best stylist on earth who breathes life into my hair even though it’s a “do” I don’t really have to “do”!

    I guess the real lesson here is that there are always little things we can do daily to make ourselves feel better. Even if none of my tricks can truly stop my pain, they all help. But add to that the fact that when we take care of ourselves, pamper ourselves, and go out in the world looking good, we naturally feel better about ourselves. Our confidence goes up and yes-we feel less pain. That being said, for most of us, getting all fixed up is hard. But maybe, just starting out by finding that one special accessory that makes you feel like, well-you, would be a good place to start. After all, none of us wants the focus to be on our disease all the time, right?

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