Flying with Endometriosis Part 2: Carry-On

For many people, flying is already a nightmare.  For people with endometriosis, there’s an added layer of difficulty.  In this multi-part series, “Flying with Endometriosis”, I want to talk about some of things we can do to make travel a bit easier.

In my last post I talked about some of the things people with endometriosis can do before they travel to make the journey a little easier. But what should you take on the flight with you to help once you are in the air?

I’m going to list all the things I’ll be packing in my carry-on and why. It won’t all be endo-stuff, so hopefully this will be useful to everyone, but there will be plenty of endo-specific items on there.

Although I do want to try travelling with only a carry-on in future, that’s not feasible this time round as I’ll be having surgery and will need more items than I can fit in a carry-on. This post is therefore going to assume people are travelling with both a carry-on and checked luggage.

My carry-on bag is the Deluxe Handbag of Holding from ThinkGeek (unfortunately discontinued). It has lots of pockets, is comfy to carry and holds heaps of stuff. It also slides neatly into the overhead lockers, or, better yet, under the seat in front. For that reason I prefer it to a backpack, which can be more three-dimensionally bulky than a messenger bag.

Deluxe Handbag of Holding
Deluxe Handbag of Holding.  Note the many handy pockets.  

I’ll divide the contents up into “themes” within the back, using the different pockets and some clear makeup bags to corral all the different bits and make them easy to find.

Now, onto my list.  Buckle up, because it’s a long one!

ENTERTAINMENT

– A book. Kindles and e-readers are great, but we have a family tradition of treating ourselves to a new book when we go on a long-haul flight. It is nice to read something new and to give my eyes a break from the screen.

– A kindle, because I read quickly and there is no way one book will be enough, particularly whilst I’m recovering from surgery. It is easier on the eyeballs than a backlit screen and holds a charge for a million years.

– My phone. Music, books, movies, my blog, the internet, app games, and a useful tool all in one. To maximise its use I will also be taking my earbuds and a portable recharger pack, because iphones are battery-guzzlers and I use mine a lot.

– A puzzle book. I love sudoku, killer sudoku, kakuro and grid-based logic puzzles. These booklets are usually thin and light, but doing something on a hard copy is a nice change from electronic entertainment and helps stimulate my brain by giving it something different and a little challenging to work on.

– My journal and pencil case.  I’ll be able to write, doodle, plan, play noughts and crosses or hangman, and pass immature notes to my sister.

COMFORT

– Cosy socks. I’ll be wearing compression socks to reduce the chance of DVT (more on that later), but they aren’t very warm, planes are chilly and I have poor circulation. A pair of warm socks makes for a happy me.

– A blindfold and earplugs. Most airlines will provide these and they are really helpful in getting some shut-eye on the plane, especially if you, like me, sleep with a blindfold anyway.

– A travel pillow. For economy/premium economy, a neck/shoulder pillow that makes it possible to sleep in an upright position, as it will support your head from lolling uncomfortably to the side. There’s bucketloads of different styles out there, but I’ve chosen this one as I like how high it keeps my head and the fact that it doesn’t go behind the neck or across the throat. Although I may not need it on the flight it will be very useful on the trip to hospital. For people in business or first, you may not need a pillow at all, but I have used this one before and really liked it. It can also help bolster the slightly sad pillows they give you to sleep on.

– A blanket or shawl. I opt for the blanket in the above pillow/blanket combination. It’s thin and light but very warm. I get cold absurdly easily and get too cold on flights even with the blankets they provide, so an extra blanket is a must for me. I choose a blanket rather than a shawl as it covers all of me, but a shawl is more versatile as you can wear it and not look like a ninny.

Berocca. I love this stuff. For those not familiar with it, it is a multivitamin that dissolves fizzily in water. It comes in a few flavours (only berry and orange are readily available in Australia) and it is very refreshing. It perks me up far more easily than caffeine without the crash when it wears off. It’s healthier than coffee and has the added bonus of helping prop up your immune system with easily-absorbed vitamins.

– Painkillers of varying strengths. I will be taking everything from panadol and De-Gas to endone, just in case. If you are planning on taking the strong stuff, it is a good idea to have a letter from your doctor explaining that you have a legitimate reason to be carrying a small pharmacy of opioids.

– Heat patches. You can’t really take a microwaveable heat pack on a plane, but stick-on heat patches can give the same relief for a fraction of the room and don’t require external heating. Carry plenty. I’ll be wearing one on my lower back as a matter of course and carrying spares for my pelvis.

– Nasal drops and nasal spray. I get a very dry nose on flights because they are so dehydrating and I live in dread of that turning into (yet another) sinus infection. Nasal drops help get rid of congestion and the spray helps rehydrate those sore passages.

– Lozenges. Again, dry air, insufficient water – a sore throat is a strong possibility.

– A water bottle. You do get water on planes, but it comes in very small disposables cups or bottles. It simply isn’t enough to keep you hydrated. Taking a water bottle lets you have more water at a time without bothering the cabin crew every thirty seconds.

– Knee pillow. This isn’t something everyone will need, but I’m a side-sleeper and I need something between my knees to alleviate pressure on my back. I have a very old, very floppy pillow I use for this and I’m going to be terribly extravagant and take it with me. I can also use it as lumbar support, cushioning between my pelvis and a seatbelt, or just for clutching to my stomach as a comforting thing during a flare. It’s not for everyone, but for me it’s a must.

– A hair tie and hair brush.  I’ll be braiding my hair out of the way anyway, but hairties snap and get lost exactly when you need them not to, and it is always nice to have brushed hair.  Makes you feel a little more human when you stagger off the plane.

SKIN

– Face and body wipes. Air travel is exhausting and it is easy to end up clammy and gross-feeling. Being able to clean up either at a stopover or in the airport loo can make you feel so refreshed and more awake.

– Mist toner. Whenever I wash my face I always follow up with a toner. I’ll be taking my Skinstitut mist, which is not only a toner but can also be used as a refreshing spray under or over makeup and smells divine. A little spritz can help wake you up and help you stay feeling fresh in between washes or stops.

– Night cream.  Because it is heavier than a day moisturiser it is better at standing up to the beating your skin takes on a long flight.  I’ll be taking this one from ELF as my normal Sukin one, whilst amazing, is in a big heavy tub.

– Lip balm.  Again, airline = dehydration = chapped lips.  I’ll be using a tinted one from Hurraw to add a little colour to otherwise uniform pasty white of my face.

– Sheet masks.  Yes, it’s a bit extra, but I’m going to be on those planes for a long time and a little extra moisture and luxury never goes astray.  I am determined not to look the way I normally do when I stumble off a long flight – like an ashen, pasty-faced zombie.  I will have glowing skin, darn it!

– Eye roller.  I just use this little doodad from ELF, which instantly refreshes and cools my puffy eye bags.  It’s just really nice and takes up basically no room, so for me it is totally worth it.

– Concealer and brow powder.  The only makeup I’m taking.  I just want to be able to cover the inevitable enormous pimple that will arise during the flight and fill my brows in, because that makes me feel a little more put together and with it when I land, which in turn makes me feel more awake, confident and ready to deal with the jetlag.

– Hand sanitiser.  Planes are filthy and you don’t necesarily want to wait in a queue to wash your hands before your food comes, especially if you get trapped by the food trolley and have to wait ten million years to get back to your seat.

– Hand cream.  Dehydration, etc etc.

– Deodorant.  For the sake of your fellow passengers, please.

– Toothbrush and toothpaste.  Some airlines give it out, some don’t.  I want to take my own toothpaste in any case, so I know that it is vegan, cruelty-free, low-abrasion and contains fluoride.

MISCELLANEOUS

– Spare undies, because when you have endo you never know what your body will surprise you with.  Also, luggage can get lost.

– A spare top and leggings.  I’ll be taking these leggings and this long-sleeved top from Boody.  These items are incredibly thin and lightweight and take up very little room, but they are warm, soft and incredibly comfortable.  The leggings I won’t wear without something covering my bottom as they are a touch see-through, but these will double as a change of clothes in an emergency, and will function as pjs if my luggage goes AWOL for a while.  They are also great for an extra layer of warmth if I get even colder than anticipated on the plane or when we land.  I plan to buy several more of those tops.

– Sanitary pads.  See above re underpants.  Also, it’s nice to be able to have one to hand if another person finds themselves in period-related difficulties without adequate supplies.  Tampon or cup users will want to bring those instead.

– Passport, tickets and wallet (duh).

I think that more or less covers it!  I will no doubt think of extra things I want to take, forget to pack something, or change my mind at the last minute, but this is my list as it currently stands.  Anything you would add to it?  Anything that you have found really helps your endometriosis travel a little easier?  Anywhere you think I’m being totally OTT?  Let me know!

 

 

Make-up to Fake-up

I’ve done a few posts recently on cosmetic stuff (hair or hair removal) recently and I want to veer in that direction again over my next two posts. Today, I want to talk about makeup.

Makeup is a thing I love. I have a gajillion lipsticks and more eyeshadow palettes than is entirely reasonable.  I got into makeup originally because I was massively insecure about my appearance, but it rapidly evolved into a form of self-expression and outlet for fun and creativity (I was a face-painter, after all), and is now a comforting ritual I enjoy engaging in every morning.  I settle back, listen to my audiobook and enjoy the transformation of my face.  I don’t feel the need to always wear make-up anymore, but I do like that it makes me look more alert and put-together for work, and I do like the extra little polish it gives me.

I have a couple of go-to youtube channels for my makeup, primarily Cora Avillar at Vintage or Tacky (although she is doing more fashion than makeup these days) and Australian Stephanie Lange. However, my makeup style isn’t always fancy.  Sometimes I have to go super basic because I’m exhausted and in pain and simply don’t have the energy to go through my full face ritual.  Unfortunately, these are the days I need the most makeup to project an image of a confident, competent and awake lawyer rather than a half-dead banshee.

Below are some of my tips for days that I am struggling a bit. None of these are particularly revolutionary but they really do help so I think they bear repeating.  First and most important is to prep your canvas, which requires some long-term investment.

  1. Take your vitamins. Vitamins D, E and A are all important for skin. I take a vitamin D and then a specific hair, skin and nails supplement (I can’t see a huge different in my skin, to be honest, but my hair and nails are way stronger for it). Faking a healthy glow starts with a little bit of real health. Likewise, eat a good diet full of all the essential nutrients.
  2. Stay hydrated. Yes, I know, could I be more basic? Everyone says this. But honestly, the difference is huge. If I get dehydrated my skin loses colour – something I can’t afford as I don’t have much to start with – and looks dull and dry, my massive dark circles get even more pronounced, and I feel bad, which I think makes me look worse.
  3. Wash, exfoliate and moisturise. You don’t have to plunge into the full Korean 10-step routine, but washing your makeup off at the end of the day, exfoliating regularly and moisturising daily will all help to keep your skin looking fresh and clean, which is a lot easier than trying to hide things with makeup down the track.
  4. Wear sunscreen. Sunburn hurts and it looks bad and you will peel like some kind of flaky snake that can’t shed properly, and all the other snakes will laugh at you. No amount of makeup can take that weird effect away.
  5. Keep something cool in the fridge. Whether it is a metal spoon or cotton pads soaking in cucumber water, green tea and aloe, having something cool to put against your eyes in the morning will help reduce inflammation and puffiness. It also feels really nice. ELF does this cooling little eye doodad, or you can get all fancy with this DIY.
  6. Sleep well as much as you can. This will help reduce the abovementioned puffiness and massive black under-eye circles, or so I’m told. My under-eyes are always super dark. When I have a bad sleep, though, my face looks puffier, more red and more dry, and just generally less healthy. A good sleep isn’t always possible, but take it when you can.

But if you are doing all that/can’t be bothered doing all that and want to push on anyway, what are some quick things to do when you don’t have the energy to do a lot?

If I am going to wear makeup, I will always do my eyebrows. I have weird sparse brows that don’t grow evenly, and without them being done my face just looks unfinished, like God got a bit distracted partway through.  Filling them in frames my face, emphasises my cheekbones, and makes my eyes look much more defined.  I use this Bare Minerals powder that I have had for 10 years (yes, that is appalling make-up hygiene) but when that runs out I’ll switch to this powder by Adorn.  It’s a little lighter and warmer than my current one, which gives a slightly different effect, but it is still good on my super pale self with my dark hair.  I prefer powder to pencil or gel, and find it to be much quicker, but different strokes for different folks.  The takeaway is, eyebrows make a huge difference.

I also like to throw a quick powder on to matify any residual sunscreen shine, even out my blotchy skin, and reduce any areas of extreme redness. I use this DB powder at the moment but it is a bit yellow for me.  I also have an Adorn one but I find it a little drying.  I’m on a constant search for a powder that is both pale and neutral and gives amazing coverage, that is also vegan and cruelty-free and not owned by a parent company that tests on animals.  Let me know if you find one.  Sometimes I also mix concealer in with my sunscreen to make a tinted sunscreen, since they don’t make those in uber-pale.

For low energy days, mascara is optional, but I do like that it works with the eyebrow powder to frame my eyes. I like my eyes, and I want people to focus on them when talking to me, so making them a standout feature is helpful.  Luxurious-looking lashes do that.  I use DB’s Tubing Mascara for ordinary days and a super duper volume one by ELF on fancy days (now discontinued), both of which have the advantage of being cheap.  I also use an eyelash primer by ELF, but I think that has also been discontinued now, and it’s far from necessary.

Final step on a low energy day is a tinted lipgloss. I adore my vast range of lipsticks, but Limecrime’s Velvetines do take some precision and effort.  If your hands are shaky from exhaustion, pain, or some of those fun meds we get to take, they aren’t the best, because you’ll accidentally paint outside of the lip line and these babies do not budge once they’re dry.  Instead I’ll go for one of these ELF lip crayons, which have surprising longevity and are soft and creamy, or a tinted Hurraw lip balm.  The smell of the Hurraw balms are just to die for, and the cinnamon one has a lovely tingle to it.

In summary, I turn to the inestimable Jeremy Renner:

Image result for jeremy renner makeup gif

Like I said, nothing earth shattering, but on bad days we don’t have enough in us to shatter the earth.  This is just to get us through and give us a false semblance of health and energy.  I hope this is of help to some.

Do you have a go-to routine for bad days?  Any products you swear by?  Let me know in the comments!

All You Need to Know About Korean Skincare

In my post, “14 Little Things to Make Life Better,” I mentioned my self-care ritual being the 10-step Korean Skincare Routine.  For me it is an essential part of my self-care and helping me to love and appreciate a body that causes me all kinds of problems.  I’ve yet to see a post explain it better than this one, so I encourage you to read it.  But, for those who see that and think “tl;dr”, let me list the steps that I do below.

Morning

  1. Gently wash the face with water only (the intense night-time ritual should mean that there is no need to do more than that for cleansing of a morning);
  2. Apply toner;
  3. Apply an essence (I usually skip this step in the morning as I only have one essence and it lives in the other bathroom);
  4. Apply an ampoule;
  5. Apply a serum;
  6. Apply eye cream;
  7. Apply a daily moisturiser;
  8. Apply sunscreen.

Evening

  1. Use an oil cleanser (see here for how to do it properly – it’s a little more complex than just smearing oil on your face);
  2. Use a water-based cleanser;
  3. Exfoliate (do not do this nightly – two-three times a week for most skin types is plenty);
  4. Apply a clay mask (not in the original but I prefer clay masks to sheet masks and this is the best spot for them in the routine);
  5. Apply toner;
  6. Apply an essence;
  7. Apply an ampoule;
  8. Apply a serum;
  9. Apply a sheet mask (I don’t do this step as sheet masks aren’t super eco-friendly or cost-effective);
  10. Apply eye cream;
  11. Apply a nightly moisturiser.

Is it excessive?  Probably yes.  Are all the steps necessary?  Of course not.  I’ve survived years without doing most of them.  Does my face feel like angel-kissed silk since I’ve started doing this?  Definitely yes.  I’ve never had such smooth, hydrated skin.  No more dry, flaky bits or that weird network of micro-cracks I used to get on my nose.  Whilst my blemishes still appear (thanks, hormones) and I’ve still got dark circles, the love I am showing my skin makes me feel 100% more confident in it.  I can’t wait to see what more time will do.

It’s also giving me time to relax and unwind at night, and to wake up slowly in the morning.  The whole process is so luxurious and gentle (harsh scrubbing is not a thing in this ritual) that I feel great mentally doing it.  It sets my mind for bed, or for the new day, and it feels superb to begin and end the day doing something quiet that is just for me.

So, what products am I using?

At the moment, I’m using a weird mix of the super budget and the true Korean stuff (although all cruelty free and vegan).  Once I’ve given the Korean stuff a proper whirl, I’m intending to migrate all the steps to a brand I love, like Sukin or maybe even ELF (although they’ve been getting fancy and expensive with their skincare).  Both ELF and Sukin are cruelty-free.  Sukin is entirely vegan and ELF has just one or two non-vegan products.  Sukin is my preference as they are also very eco-conscious.

Oil cleansing

Right now I’m using coconut oil.  Yes, all the experts say don’t do it because it can clog your pores, but it is actually working really well for me and it is cheap and readily available, and I already had it in the pantry.  If I tried to use it as a moisturiser rather than wiping it off I think I’d get a cloggy face, though.  In future, I’m planning on investing in Sukin’s Super Greens Cleansing Oil, because I love the Super Greens range and it is a lot more convenient for travel than a giant jar of coconut oil.

Sukin Super Greens Cleansing Oil

Water-based cleanser

This is basically any cleanser that isn’t an oil cleanser.  Almost all cleansers are water-based.  I’ve got a reaallly old passionfruit Body Shop one I’m trying to use up, but my go-to is this Sukin one.  It isn’t particularly foamy, despite the name, but it does the job and smells nice.

Toner

Toner is important to rebalance the skin after being washed and to better prepare it to absorb your moisturiser.  I switch between this one by Skinstitut (also vegan), which has a lovely botanical smell, and this Sukin one, which is the same thing but less strong-smelling.  I only use two because then I have one in each bathroom (I tend to use the main bathroom in the morning and the ensuite in the evening) and I’m not organised enough to move my products between the two.  The Skinstitut one is gorgeous but it’s more than twice the price of the Sukin one, so Sukin will be my future staple.

Multi-Active Mist
Skinstitut Multi-Active Most Toner

Essence

Sadly, Sukin doesn’t have anything that could be classed as an “essence”, which is a slightly watery substance somewhere between a toner and a serum.  I’m using this one by Missha, a Korean brand, which purports to calm redness and iritation (something I don’t see much of with the double cleanse anyway).  This ELF one seems like a nice alternative for waking the skin up, as it has coffee in it and that just sounds energizing.  Surprisingly, though, the Missha one is cheaper.

MISSHA Near Skin Simple Therapy Essence Lotion
Missha Near Skin Simple Therapy Lotion.  The website I purchased it from, Soko Glam, makes it easy for people wanting to start this routine by dividing products into the different steps.

Ampoule

I’m trialling two ampoules at the moment, one for morning and one for night.  An ampoule is supposedly like a serum on speed, and concentrates all its energies on one particular skin-loving benefit.  I’m using this Vitamin-C-packed ampoule by Yuja in the morning, not because I need it’s weird whitening properties (any whiter and I will literally vanish) but because I would love the brighter complexion it promises.  We’ll see how that goes.

At night I’m getting into this rather intense Time-Stop ampoule, which allegedly brightens, calms, strengthens and prevents wrinkles.  I’m not too worried about the wrinkles, but stronger, brighter, less irritated skin does sound attractive.  That being said, if I can have a decolletage like my mother’s, who is nearing sixty and doesn’t appear to have a trace of a wrinkle on her neck or chest, I’ll be pretty chuffed.  The lady knows how to moisturise.

Time Stop Collagen Ampoule
Time Stop Colleagen Ampoule.  It has a bizarre, slimy feel and smells faintly of mushrooms, but feels lovely on the skin despite that.

An alternative to an ampoule might be one of Sukin’s skin oils.  I currently use the rosehip one, but I’m keen to try some of the others.  Of course, you can always use both!  I’d throw on the oil after the serum or even after the moisturiser.

Serum

This is another area where I’m alternating.  I started the Skinstitut Retinol serum a few weeks ago, but it is only supposed to be used every second night.  It allegedly will help reduce the blind pimples on my chin and jawline.  I’m willing to try anything to stop those painful little blighters.  On the other nights and in the morning I use Neogen’s Pore Refine Serum to try and shrink the large pores on my cheeks and hopefully give those blind pimples the old one-two, as Vernon Dursley might say.  Once my skin situation is a little more level I’d like to investigate Sukin’s Super Greens Serum, or maybe even their Intensive Firming Serum when I get a bit older.  I’ve used ELF’s Hydrating Serum before and quite enjoyed it, and I’d be interested to see what their Beauty Shield Serum is like.

This stuff felt so hydrated I nearly forgot to put moisturiser on afterwards.

Eye Cream

I currently use Sukin’s Antioxidant Eye Cream, although I still don’t really understand what antioxidants are or why they need to be in your eye cream.  A pricier alternative is ELF’s Illuminating Eye Cream, but I won’t try that unless it goes on sale.

Moisturiser

I’m currently using Sukin (surprise surprise) day and night.  I’m thinking of switching out my day cream for one of their more hydrating ranges, but that’s a maybe.  I’m pretty happy with the ordinary one.

I’ve tried ELF’s Nourishing Night Cream before and liked it for its powers of hydration, despite the rather weird, silky texture.  They also now offer an Illuminating Moisturiser and a Daily Hydration one.  I’ve not tried either.  They also have this very funky-looking cream that has a built-in massaging cap.

Masks

As indicated above, I can’t make any recommendations as to sheet masks as I’m not a huge fan.  In the past I’ve used Sukin’s Super Greens mask and quite liked it, but I am in love with their Purifying mask at the moment.  I’ve never met such a clever creature when it comes to drawing out reluctant pimples that just need to develop and move on.  Love it.  The Charcoal one is nice too, if a little less intense.

I’m currently trialling this but suspect I’ll go back to the purifying mask for the anti-acne superpowers.

I confess, I am curious to try ELF’s bubble mask and their magnetic mask, because both sound like fun concepts, although I will wait for a sale.  They also have a gel mask, which doesn’t sound quite as exciting.

Overnight masks are also a thing in Korean skincare for those seeking hydration above and beyond the norm.  I don’t think I need one, but if I did I’d probably turn to this ELF one.

Exfoliators

I’ve got a couple of different exfoliation methods at the moment.  I’ve tried a sample of the Skinstitut glycolic scrub and was very impressed with how smooth my face felt afterwards.  I would buy again if I was buying a bundle (makes their otherwise pricey products much more affordable).

My go-to is the Sukin Super Greens exfoliator.  No micro-beads and no harsh little kernels causing micro-tears, as far as I know.  It’s very gentle but gets the job done.

One a week I also use my Baiden mitten gently on my face.  The website for the mitten looks like a total gimmick and I assumed I was waving goodbye to my money, but it came through and I’ve been in love ever since.  It’s very eco-friendly (I’ve had mine for years now) and boy, does it do a good job of peeling off that dead skin.  I don’t think the website is accurate in saying it will change your life, but it does exfoliate well.

Image result for baiden mitten
An example of the super-gross but incredibly satisfying exfoliation the Baiden mittem offers.

ELF have two, a peeling one and a bog-standard exfoliating scrub.  I’ve not tried either.

Suncreen

For vegan sunscreens I can’t go past Sun Bum or Sun Bear. Sun Bum smells a bit like a banana, and Sun Bear supports charities that rescue sun bears (although it is worth noting that they are not reef-safe as claimed).

So there we have it: my lengthy skincare/self-care ritual.  I won’t always be well enough to commit to every step and I do keep micellar water and cleansing wipes handy just in case I can’t stand up, but every day I can this little routine makes me happier, and I believe is doing wonders for my skin.

What are your go-to skin products?  Would you be interested to see how this routine is treating me in the future, or to read reviews of different products I use?