I am not sponsored by any of these companies. I purchased all of these products with my own money (or they were gifted to me by family members) and these are my honest reviews.
If you missed it, last week I shared 30 products that improve my quality of life with chronic illness here. This week, I thought I'd follow up with 25 MORE products I love.
1. An essential oil diffuser for my car. My brother Devin knew I wanted one of these and bought me this one for my birthday. I am in LOVE with this thing! Although my POTS no longer makes driving difficult or impossible, I am still very conscious of making sure my brain fog doesn't limit my concentration while driving. One thing that has helped make that a possibility has been this diffuser. It's only $16.99 from Saje Wellness and not bulky like some of the cup holder essential oil car diffusers I've seen. Each little insert lasts me a month (or maybe I'm just overusing them) and this diffuser has honestly been such a blessing. I usually diffuse peppermint oil (and keep a bottle of it in my car) to improve concentration and my energy levels.
2. This back massager from Homedics. Before I developed POTS, I had chronic neck and back pain for as long as I can remember. The year before I developed POTS it became extremely debilitating and so my ex bought me this massager for Christmas. It also has a heated option which I love.
3. This foot massager that isn't mine but I wish it was. My mom (who has EDS) is an author that spends a lot of time writing at her desk at home. Her boyfriend (who has Mastocytosis and Hemochromotosis and wasn't diagnosed until a year after they started dating- what are the chances?!) bought her this foot massager this past Christmas. He bought it from Bed Bath and Beyond but I've also found it here at Walmart. It is AMAZING! EDS can affect our feet in many ways but it's something we tend to neglect. One thing I also loved about this foot massager is that it uses air bags that compress your feet in a similar way that compression socks do (but only your feet). It also REALLY helps swollen feet.
4. This blood pressure monitor. My mom purchased this blood pressure monitor the week I got sick over 4 years ago. My first weekend stay at the hospital revealed high tachycardia so my mom was proactive and went out to buy both a blood pressure and PulsOx monitor. This BP monitor is simple and is still going strong 4 years later! A couple of my doctors actually use the exact same one in their practice.
5. This wrist blood pressure monitor. When I first developed POTS I took my blood pressure readings a lot because my blood pressure was a lot less stable than it is now. Over the years, I've also become more in tune with what my blood pressure is. I was completely bedridden for 8 months when I joined a 9-month, once-a-week thing at my Church. For those 9 months I barely did anything the rest of the week besides doctor appointments (so I was still mostly bedridden). I was really anxious about leaving the house and having this wrist blood pressure monitor helped because it provided an extra measure of security ("what if I feel ___?" well then you'll take your BP and see what med you need to take). I still bring this blood pressure monitor on trips because it's less bulky than your standard blood pressure monitor. In the beginning I had difficulties getting an accurate reading with this wrist blood pressure monitor until I found out that you have to have it quite a bit lower on your forearm than a watch. There are a lot of helpful diagrams online that helped me figure it out.
6. My PulsOx monitor. My mom got this PulsOx the first week I got sick with POTS (over 4 years ago). At my first ER visit they didn't know what was causing my symptoms but did realize that I had extreme tachycardia. The doctor prescribed Metoprolol (that I was on for 4 years) and my mom bought me this PulsOx and my main blood pressure monitor. I can't seem to find this "Fingertip" PulsOx online anywhere besides Staples. However, my mom bought it from Shoppers Home Health. For the first 2 years after I developed POTS, I used my PulsOx multiple times a day. Since then, I don't use it as much but I still do every once in a while. Over 4 years later and I've only had to change the batteries twice and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon! I used to carry this in my purse with me everywhere I went so I've compared it to my stats when I've been in the hospital and it was precisely accurate.
7. These water jugs from Ikea. I know this might not be as practical for everyone as it has been for me, but these Ikea jugs are my favourite. My fridge doesn't have a water filter and I don't like using disposable water bottles (for pro-environmental reasons), and our tap water in BC, Canada, is incredibly clean. So every day I fill up 3 of these water jugs and keep them in different rooms and pour myself water whenever I need it. It helps me stay hydrated which is important for POTS. I drink so much water that I often fill up the jugs a couple times throughout the day as well.
8. This pitcher from Ikea. I love drinking tea but hate how it makes me feel boiling hot for the rest of the day (heat intolerance much?). For a while I just avoided tea but that was frustrating because tea often has many medicinal benefits (chamomile= insomnia, ginger= nauea & anti-inflammatory, etc.). I kept making tea and putting it in the fridge and drinking it later but when I was shopping at Ikea one day I realized that I had been doing it all wrong. This might be obvious to you, especially if you grew up drinking sweet tea (I didn't), but now I just make a bunch of tea, water it down, put it in this jug and let it cool off. I now have medicinal tea in this jug at all times. I didn't want a plastic jug because when plastic is warmed up there are chemicals released into the substance being heated (food, water). Since I was going to be pouring in pretty warm (but not boiling as that would just crack the glass so I add ice first) tea, I knew that I didn't want my medicinal tea to be a brewing ground for chemicals- as that would defeat the purpose of drinking it for health benefits. I've also found that this level of organization (food prep, tea prep) has helped me maintain a healthy lifestyle.
9. Epsom Salts. Magnesium has many calming properties, and when absorbed through the skin in an epsom salt bath, it can relax our muscles and reduce inflammation. For around 2 years I only had showers and no baths because of the way heat would aggravate my POTS. Now that my POTS is more stabilized, I can handle a warm bath, but I only do so when my muscles are in need of it.
10. Magnesium Glycinate. I didn't know if I should include this supplement as a "product" Eventually I'm going to do a "what's worked for me" blog post and will include it there as well. But Magnesium is one of the only supplements that I've had a lot of benefits from (I still take other supplements as I now they're strengthening my body even if I don't see immediate results). So much so that once I went a week without taking Magnesium and all of a sudden felt brutal and knew it was because I ran out of Magnesium. It was 11PM and I called my brother telling him "I don't feel well but I need to go to Shoppers Drug Mart to get Magnesium before it closes, could you stay on the phone with me until I get there so you know I got there safely?" 20 minutes after I swallowed the Magnesium I experienced an improvement of symptoms and was able to drive home without my brother on the line. And get this, I am not, and never have been, deficient in Magnesium. My diet is very high in Magnesium-rich foods.
Magnesium is involved in hundreds of bodily functions, yet most of us are deficient in it. Apparently, even if your blood work doesn't show a deficiency in Magnesium (mine doesn't) you still might not be getting enough. Magnesium is a tricky thing. The typical all American diet is definitely deficient in Magnesium which you get from leafy greens and nuts. A protein deficiency is the least of our nation's issues! Magnesium drastically improved my restless leg syndrome, anxiety, insomnia, and muscle twitches (but it took around a month to notice the improvement).
11. Natural Calm Magnesium Drink. This drink is great for insomnia and is more fast-acting than taking Magnesium supplements. I don't drink this regularly but it's definitely one of my go-to's when I'm having insomnia.
12. A pill organizer that works best for you. You don't have to settle for carrying around a bulky, standard drug store pill organizer that only has an AM or PM option. Unless that works for you, then great! I still have one and use it for my vitamins. The days of the week have long ago worn off and so have my attempts at rewriting them with a permanent marker, but for my vitamins, it works. Since I switched to my current medication organizer (around 4 years ago) I've never missed a dose! I love that you can take out each day of the week so you don't have to carry the whole box with you. I also love that it has 4 compartments per day. I take pills around 6x a day so the more compartments, the better!
There are so many options out nowadays for pill organizers! For the next 2 points I want to share not only what has worked best for me when it comes to organizing my medication, but what I've heard works well for other spoonies. Our preferences in this area can vary as greatly as our symptoms! I am not sponsored by any of these companies and have not used them personally (unless stated otherwise) so please do your own research before purchasing. The product examples I'm showing you are just to give you an idea of the options you do have. I have seen many of these options used by other Spoonies and/or have high ratings online. What works for one of us might not work well for the other, though. But since medication organization is a key component of being a spoonie, I thought I'd give these next couple of points a lot of detail.
For example, I personally don't have any experience with this company but have heard great things about Sabi's line of medication organization.
13. Pill organizers over-the-counter medications. I bring my daily medication from this pill organizer everywhere I go, but I also keep extra pills in my purse and car in case I drop one when I'm trying to take a pill on the go, or I am wanting to sleepover at a friends. Along with my extra prescription medications I also put over the counter pills like Tylenol, Advil, Peptmo Bismol, or in-case-of-emergency migraine medication in small containers in my purse and car. I also keep both extra prescription medications and OTC medication in my emergency evacuation duffle bag and in my travel bag. Storing these pills doesn't require the same organization as my daily meds but I still want to keep them organized.
I personally have one of these pill containers from Chronically Fabulous (@chronicallyfabulous). My mom gave me one for Christmas because we both love Kat and her company! I find that this design of pill case tends to break easily (it stops staying shut) but my one from Kat has yet to have this issue.
I also have 3 similar-sized plastic containers in my purse with OTC and extra pills and 3 in my car. I'm looking to purchase something a little bigger, but still not too bulky, for inside my purse to help me be more organized. On more than one occasion I have forgotten to refill my migraine meds because I assumed one of the other 2 plastic containers must have more. Organization is everything when it comes to medication! So I've been looking to purchase something like this for in my purse to carry around my OTC and in-case-of-emergency medication so that they're all in one spot instead of a couple containers.
14. And more medication organization... If you're known for forgetting your medication every now and then, like I do with my OTC medication, it's always good to have
I've also found a similar travel pill case on Amazon here. The package includes 2 travel pill cases and a pill key chain which I thought was a cool idea. Another way to make sure you don't forget any emergency medications! You can also buy just a pill holder key chain on Amazon here for $1.94 and free shipping.
I also have one of these in my travel bag for OTC medication because I pack more than I do in my purse and car. Nothing fancy here. I used to store them in one of these medication towers but 2 of the compartments broke when I was opening them in the past. My mom and I love London Drugs because they carry really good quality medical products for a pretty decent price.
One cool option is this water bottle that has a pill compartment stored on the side.
Another might be these slim pill pouches for inside your purse, or this slim container from Sabi.
15. A travel bag for your medical supplies. If you read my other blog post where I first started sharing products that help improve my quality of life with a chronic illness, you'll know I store all my medical supplies in a shelving tower. Now you've just read how I store my daily pills in the above points. I also have this bag I bring if I'm ever staying the night somewhere. It's super spacey and fits my daily pill container, my vitamin container, my OTC travel container, bags of syringes, glass bottles of liquid B12 and B6, a thing of kleenex, wet wipes, a couple bottles of essential oils, and can fit 1 vitamin bottle (it's usually Melatonin) all in this bag! I'm really lucky because my parents are financially secure enough to afford the insane costs of chronic illness (even though we're lucky enough to live in Canada where ALL hospital & doctor visits are free, the fact that I've shared 30 products here and now 30 more products that have helped me with a chronic illness, you can see that being chronically ill is expensive). However, I'm an unemployed student. I don't like spending any sum of money, usually because I don't have it haha. But when I applied to be a note-taker at my University's Disability Service Office for a class I was already taking (and already had to take notes for, this position just required me sending them to someone else as well), they gave me $100 gift card to our school's bookstore. The bookstore is like a mini Chapters/Indigo. They have everything. So I bought myself this bag from Herschel because my old one barely fit anything. It was honestly one of the best purchases I've made in a while!
Just like pill organization, there are so many options out there for this. You probably already have a bag that'll do the trick! But if not, Society6 has a ton of cute medical supplies bags including this "All My Medical Shit" bag (they have a lot of different colour options too, just search the saying on the website and more will come up), this "All My Arthritis Shit" bag, this "All My Allergy Shit" bag (Mast Cell Activation Disorder anyone??), this "All My Asthma Shit" bag, this "All My Diabetes Shit" bag, this "Insulin Queen" bag, and this more generic (but still cute!) medical bag.
They also have all of the above options that say "stuff" instead of "shit" if you're not about the cursing life, like this "All My Medical Stuff" bag. They don't look super spacey (although they do have a size Large option) but if you're looking to treat yo self to something cute and don't require a ton of room, this might be up your alley!
16. A pill cutter. As someone who is extremely hypersensitive to medication, this pill cutter has been my lifesaver. I never start a new medication (except for antibiotics) at the dose a doctor recommends to me, because I will experience side effects. I've noticed that if I slowly (like a 1/4 of the smallest dose) introduce the medication to my body I will often never experience the side effects I will if I were to introduce the medication at the smallest dose right away. Even when I am at the optimal dose for my body, it's quite often 1/2 of the smallest dose. Some meds are easy to cut in half with your fingers but then there's Midodrine that is as hard as a rock. My mom and I both have this pill cutter in orange and mine has worked wonderfully for years but my mom's doesn't seem to go up and down in a smooth motion, like it gets stuck halfway down. I feel like it needs some WD40 or something haha. Exact same product, completely different results. It doesn't seem to bother her though.
17. My FitBit Charge HR watch. When I was bedridden this FitBit clip my mom bought me really helped me get reconditioned. She bought it for me when I had slowly started to sit up, walk around 2x a day upstairs, and decided I needed to become reconditioned. The first day I wore it I was shocked to realize that I had only taken 230 something steps in the entire day. Doctors recommend that people take 10,000 steps a day but the average person takes around 5,000. Using my FitBit clip helped me make practical and concrete goals. Each week I had a goal to increase the amount of steps I took by 100- this slow progression was really foundational to helping me get reconditioned. Unfortunately, thanks to brain fog, my FitBit clip found itself i the washing machine not once, but twice. It survived the first time! The second time I wasn't so lucky. A couple years later my Dad bought me a FitBit watch for my birthday. I have a purple FitBit charge (now the Charge 2 is out) that also monitors my heart rate. My favourite feature though is the step tracker (because it helps me not get deconditioned again) and how it reminds you to go to bed at the time you've chosen (great for night owls like me who are trying to become early risers- or just risers before noon haha) and tracks how long you've slept and how many times you've waken up throughout the night.
18. A water bottle. Okay, so this one is simple and I'm sure you all own water bottles. But finding one in all the right sizes has been a game-changer for me. I personally bring around a 1L water bottle I bought at my University's bookstore and use it as my main water bottle. I also have one I keep in the car, a couple glass ones, and a small 400mL (14 oz) water bottle because it's perfect if I don't want to carry something big around and it's the perfect size to mix an electrolyte drink in. Some of my favourite electrolyte drink mixes (like Dr. Price's Electrolyte Mix, Recoverors, and Banana Bag Oral solution) don't mix evenly into your water like Nuun tabs do, so you're going to have to mix it with a spoon. But with my little water bottle I can quickly pour one in, close the lid and shake it, and chug the drink without coming up for air- which is what I need when I'm feeling really lightheaded.
19. This reflexology ring from Saje. I bought this $5 ring on a whim when I was buying a couple other things from Saje. Although it hasn't been life-changing, it's been helpful every now and then. When I find myself really stressed, anxious, and restless, having this ring can help. It's also helpful to roll up and down your fingers when they're sore. This ring is not designed to just be worn and not fidgeted with, though, as it will cut off your blood supply if you leave it on like you would another ring.
20. A vogmask. A lot of people who are immunocompromised where Vogmask's to protect them from viruses (although there are many reasons to wear a Vogmask). My mom bought one before she went to China (because of the poor air quality in China) and gave it to me once she came back. I've only ever worn it at walk-in clinics, in hospitals, and when we had a lot of forest fires up North this past summer and the air quality where I lived was horrific. I find wearing a Vogmask incredibly uncomfortable because of how hot it gets under there. However, I've heard there are light and more ventilated options. Thankfully I don't need to use mine often but I'm glad I have it. I haven't used this company before but a popular Vogmask company is Vogmask.com.
21. This essential oil necklace. My mom bought me this gorgeous essential oil necklace for my birthday a couple years back. If you don't have a Saje Wellness near you, there are many essential oil necklace options available on Etsy. I love using mine during exams because having the peppermint oil right under my nose helps me concentrate (and it's easier than reapplying it to my skin constantly).
Pictures are the supplements Dr. K from the POTS Treatment Center recommended for me, including the Spark energy drink.
22. Spark energy drink. "Energy drink" and tachycardia? I know, it sounds like a nightmare. But this stuff isn't as intense as most other energy drinks. I've only ever had a couple sips from other people's canned energy drinks in the past to try them, but I couldn't even handle that. However, Dr. K from the POTS Treatment Center recommends this Spark mix for her POTS patients that experience debilitating fatigue. She usually recommends 1 scoop in a bottle a day but my fatigue was so bad that she recommended 2 a day. I used this stuff for years and found it really helpful! I know a lot of people with POTS can't handle caffeine because it can dehydrate you and increase tachycardia but I think it depends on what your worst symptoms are. My worst symptoms are brain fog and fatigue so risking a tiny bit more tachycarida is worth it for me. I found this Spark drink less dehydrating than Coffee and helps more with brain fog than coffee. However, eventually I was put on a medication in which I couldn't take vitamin A (which is an ingredient in this Spark drink mix) so I went back to coffee and haven't went back since. Also, I don't have a preferred flavor.
23. This bumper sticker. If you sometimes use a "handicapped parking spot," I highly recommend this cheap investment. At less than $4, I no longer receive harassment (like I used to on multiple occasions) from strangers accusing me of using my grandparents' parking pass.
23. Arnica cream for pain relief. My brother bought me a small blue tub of something called "Arnica balm" for a birthday one year. Unfortunately he doesn't remember where he got it and I can't seem to find it anywhere online as it's just titled "Arnica balm". It's a mix of Arnica Montana and essential oils which both work separately and together to help with pain relief.
24. The book "POTS- Together We Stand." My mom bought this book when I first was diagnosed with POTS. It helps SO much if you're still trying to find out your underlying cause of POTS (EDS? Sjogren's? It can all be so overwhelming!). It also talks about school accommodations, medications, specialists to see, tips for travelling with POTS, and the grief in developing a chronic illness. I highly recommend it!
25. The book "Life Disrupted: Getting Real About Chronic Illness In Your Twenties And Thirties".