A Bit Of This N’ That



Every once in a while, I have a thought I would like to share with all of you…not enough for a whole blog entry, just a useful thought. I think what I’ll do is take the time every now and then to share these little unconnected factoids which might prove helpful to all of you.

One fact I found several years ago was if you take a great many medications, as many of us with chronic illness do, it can have a build-up affect on your hair. Is your hair lifeless? Does it poop out at parties along with you? All those chemicals can be stored in the hair shaft and I have discovered the use of a clarifying shampoo can bring a bounce back to the old bean. Two brands I have found very helpful are Pantene Clarifying shampoo and a similar product made by Joico. That last one can be found at beauty supply stores. I use them about twice a month and can see and feel the difference. I don’t exactly have that much hair left due to all those drugs; can’t complain too much because I’m still kickin’.


Another year round product I just couldn’t possibly live without is aloe vera gel. It’s cheap, it’s soothing to the skin irritated by either the sun or some weird rashes rheumatoid patients often get. I always have an aloe vera plant growing at my house but to be honest with you, I use the bottled gel instead of grabbing a leaf. The fragrance right out of the inside of the leaf is not all that wonderful and it’s very messy to deal with. The plant tends to “bleed” when you cut off a leaf and you have that goo to face. Not fun. Apparently, the climate here in Oregon is great for them by a nice large window because I had the only aloe plant I ever saw that burst into bloom. It was gorgeous and about three feet tall. It finally died from the weight of its leaf’s.  When you get a serious skin rash, there are some topical steroid creams that also contain aloe. Just remember some small amount of that steroid is absorbed into your body. For any rash that sticks around awhile, it’s best to visit a good dermatologist.


For those of us with Sjogren’s Syndrome it’s that time of year when we have to watch forsmall heaters and forced air heat because it can really dry out the eyes and nose. It’s not fun to be up half the night squinting into the mirror popping in eye drops. You also have to watch those ceiling fans because they can also be very drying. Back to the key word of Sjogren’s and many rheumatoid conditions: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Just skip the alcohol or you’ll defeat the purpose by being in the “pee pee room” all the time.


Another product that is not as well known in this country is Tea Tree Oil. It’s from Australia and similar to camphor and eucalyptus. It has a natural antibiotic/anti-fungal property. You can find it very helpful for athlete’s foot or other fungus and I keep it around for use as an antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes. Also, remember if you keep Neosporin ointment around for similar use, it should be discarded after a few months because it has been known to grow bacteria. Just get a new tube.


Even if you have never been photo sensitive before, give it some thought, yes, even in the fall and winter seasons. Be vigilant because many medications can cause you to develop photosensitivity. I’ve shopped for many sun proof clothing items over the years; longsleeved shirts which block the UVA and UVB, as well as sun proof pants. They are available in many more catalogs and online stores now than previously; Sun Solutions, Eddie Bauer and LL Bean to name a few. I’m afraid I’m not up on what’s in the stores. We live 75 miles from the nearest mall and I just find it easier to go online or pick up the phone to order. A shopping trip is also just too difficult and the price my body pays that night is too great. You don’t have to spend a great deal for sun proof clothing if you don’t want to. By the way, what’s the deal with the shorts and short sleeved shirts that are sun protective? Does that make sense to you? The whole idea is to cover up, isn’t it? All of you probably know by now my favorite sun proof hats are from a company called Wallaroo Hat Co. from Colorado. I buy them online and they wear forever. I know they are also found on Amazon.com but for the best selection, go straight to the company.Incidentally, I wear a sun proof hat every day of the year. Even when it’s raining it keep the head dry and you never know with this zany Oregon weather when the sun will pop out for a visit. We are only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean and it causes our clouds, winds and storms to zoom past us. When we lived in California, a storm would move in and stay for a while.


Briefly, I would like to revisit the subject of sunscreens. Since my favorite oncologist just had a baby, I have had a substitute oncologist who is also great and a bit older but works a bit even though he’s retired. He shared with me the sunscreens he believes are best. He is basing his belief on the ones without any toxic chemicals with a more natural approach using minerals. Just remember all the other factors involved are not just the protective factor but are they slippery? Will they get into the eyes? Will your make-up slide off your face? It matters. Do they burn the skin on application? Some of them go on like wave set or goo and cause the skin to be shiny and sticky. My grandson asked me one day why I always wear socks with my sandals. It’s easier than wearing sunscreen on my feet and toes and I also don’t want to mess up my shoes. I have some really fun socks, so why not? I think fun clothing on older people is a riot. After people laugh with or at you they keep wondering if you’ve lost a few brain cells. The answer would be yes, of course, hasn’t everyone?


The new-to-me brands the oncologist shared are Blue Lizard, Mighty Nest, which is apparently a store online and off and any other brands with zinc oxide or titanium oxide or both of them. I found another one that is mineral based called Beauty by Earth. I have used Neutrogena for years and like the way it soaks into the skin without being sticky. All the other ones I mentioned are better for you but are heavier and thicker to spread. For a day in the sun, I will use one of the mineral based but for a trip to the market or to work in the shade of my small potted garden, I continue to use the 100 spf proof Neutrogena. I use the aloe for any sun rash, and also like Clinique brand After Sun.


Now that all the Hallmark movies are filled with pumpkins and people wearing fall colors, Mother Nature is dropping leaves like mad and the air at night is cooler, just remember to stay warm. I’ve always admired the way the Chinese culture stayed warm over the centuries by layering in quilted material. Layering is a good idea for us to remember because many of us are immunodeficient and just don’t fight those nasty viruses as well as we used to. Ask your doctor if you should get a flu shot and if he agrees and doesn’t give you one then head on down to your local pharmacy where a somewhat nervous pharmacist will give you one. Just remember it isn’t something that’s in their usual job description, so be kind and be a patient patient.


For those of you like me who do poop out at parties, it’s a good idea to start Christmas shopping early so you aren’t overwhelmed for the holidays and kick yourself around the block for not planning better. Please enjoy each season and find a pile of those fall colorsto dive into. Just be sure the dog didn’t get there first.  


That’s about all that’s in my little mind to share with all of you today. Enjoy the weather as much as you can. Get out and about, take off that bathrobe and jump, crawl, skip or dance back into life. I’ll be thinking about all of you, fondly, as we fight the good fight, together.

37 thoughts on “A Bit Of This N’ That

  1. Sue, loved all your ideas and the blog which seemed like a friendly chat!
    I too have started my Christmas shopping! Costco is the only store I venture into these days, but if I can’t find it at Costco, it can usually be found online! I am still waiting for a date for my neck fusion, so I am trying to “wrap” things up early, lol, as I have been told my surgery date should be some time this year! We have just shut down the cottage for the winter, so it is time to get the fall cleaning done, (the best I can) before the Christmas decorations go up! I can still hear my Mum, her last Christmas with us, telling me to remember “what goes up must come down”, and the putting away has become a chore these last few years, even after giving some of my decorations to the grands … but I always loved the Christmas season, as did my mother before me! Decorating this year may also take my mind off my future surgery, which I must admit is kinda frightening, but there is no sense worrying about it because it won’t do any good … something else my mother would say! She has been gone now for over sixteen years, but I still feel her with me every day, and so much of who I am is because of her! I know she will be right beside me during my surgery, and my family, especially my husband, will be right beside me when I get home!
    Gentle hugs to all! Love ~ Pommum Brenda

    • Brenda, Oh yes, Christmas is so much fun but takes so much energy we have to sacrifice instead of doing something else. Simply put, this life is hard. That’s why it’s so important we have each other. It helps me to keep my perspective to chat with all of you, my dear friends. Tonie and I had the most wonderful visit. It was very short but for me, very sweet. We showed her the sights, as much as we had energy and time for.

      You’re so right. For me it was my dear Dad who calmed me down when I was afraid or worried. Jim is like him in that way. When I ask him in any situation of stress if he is worried, aside from politics, he says NO, wait until we have something to worry about. I’m always the one who is praying like mad. Do let us know when you are scheduled and it will be okay. I know it will. Of course there will be the recovery time but this one is definitely a must do as were so many other surgeries you have endured. It’s not just your sweet grands who need and love you, we do. Much love, Sue

    • Pommum
      I really love Christmas. When I had my house in Az, I decorated every room, bathroom, all of it. But now….Of course I have a very small house now, barely room for a small tree. We are having a big yard sale soon and I want to sell some of my many decorations I will never use again. The kids all have theirs, and no one wants them.
      I have almost all the shopping done I am doing. I am sending homemade candies to a lot of people in the family in place of gifts they don’t need.
      Prayers for your surgery upcoming, just keep us informed okay ?

      • Tonie, My Mom, during the depression always made candy for Christmas presents. They went into metal boxes that people returned to her for use the next year, I remember putting walnut halves into sliced dates and then rolling them in powdered sugar. She also made chocolate fudge and divinity. One of my best memories.

  2. Sue
    It was a delight to read and as Brenda said Like a friendly chat
    I love layering clothing which I discovered years ago for hot flushes,but it works
    And did you know socks with sandals is coming to be trendy now with the top models!
    I start my next years diary usaually about now transferring all my next years appointments from the old one.and any Xmas cards I send I now start the messages as they are getting longer although the card list I send is getting shorter
    The aloe plant …I have one and cut off one and wrapped it in plastic wrap and In the fridge ..it still leaked on top,of paper towel too.. ended up chucking it ,they say it keeps a week in the fridge .but I’ve never used it .the ailment and having it never match up! And it seems a nuisance as you say
    Take care Brenda be sure to tell us when you go into hospital

    • Chris, oh my….I don’t think anything would mistake me for a trending model but good to know. I even wear wool socks with sandals in the winter because of arthritis in the bones on the side of my feet. I love the SAS sandals and used to wear their nursing shoes. They are very comfie and can be adjusted with straps. They are real leather and wear forever…I think I’ve had five pair over the years and just get the slip proof soles put onto them for our rainy weather. I love the sock designed by Laurel Burch. If you ever saw the bloom on an aloe vera you would see why I loved it….a long stalk like an amaryllis then the flower at the top…in my case it was a lovely white bloom. The easy pump bottle of the processed but pure aloe is so easy to use isn’t it.

      I also have divert and IBS right now so am on a clear liquid diet with a coffee thrown in with milk in the AM. I was almost to the stage I was when hospitalized last summer with a bowel obstruction. I’m sticking with hot jellos and broths. Boring but helping. I got too much sun over the last few weeks and it caught up with me. Now, reading this Tonie is going to blame herself but that is not at all the case. Seeing her in the flesh and having time with her was worth anything price!! Gees, I can’t just lie around for the rest of my life. Looking forward to news about wedding preparations. Love you much, Sue

      • Chris
        Yes I told her she was getting it to much sun, but no !! No she is as hard headed as me ! I am going to starts a journal, but for finances. I am bad about not noting what I spend, so gonna follow B’s lead and keep closer track of expenses etc.
        Sue, I am having bad upset with my tummy these past few days. Eat and go with pains and cramps. Yesterday I was so bloated I looked pregnant. Came home and found those gas-ex you gave me. Thank you again.
        There was not much prep for the wedding, we just stood in front of the clerk and answered. But happy now it is done and we are “legal”. haha !! And no pictures, I couldn’t get him to take one no matter what. He really hates having his picture taken.
        I have to catch him offguard to get them.
        Okay, on to the next post. Sue I hope you feel better really soon.

  3. Sue dear, These are splendid tips and, as I once had told you, you are still very much the nurse. Thanks for sharing your research with others; it is so caring of you. Love you, girlfriend. Phyl

    • Phyl, What’s this girlfriend bit….I thought we were adopted sisters? Those are the best kind. I hope you are having spots of great joy right now in your own life. Oh yeah, once you’re a nurse, it’s kinda like joining the mafia…you’re there forever, whether you are paid or not. Much love, Sue

  4. Sue
    Wonderful tips, and suggestions for making life easier and better. I am all for that. Had good visits with the Dr’s this week. Had to get a shot in my knee to calm it down from all the stair climbing I did ! It was not happy. That and the sitting traveling. But, it was worth it. I really really enjoyed our visit. Wish we weren’t so far apart. My rheumy says maybe I have another disorder, not sjorgrens . But similar, because 1) I am not sero pos for RA, and 2) she has already checked me for sjorgrens, which I didn’t know. But she sent in a rx for something to help me with moisture. Also, need to go to the eye doc. I have bad numbness in my left bicep on down my arm into my thumb nd first two fingers. I am told it is carpal tunnel. But next month I will go to my ortho and see what he says.
    I too like socks with my sandals, but indoors. No sidewalks here, so you get too wet from the grass, lol. Judy bought me some new ones yesterday, thigh highs that are warm and cozy for skirts. We will see if they fit and work on my fat thighs, lol

    Okay, all the frost has killed the flowers, so today I must clean out my flower beds. B has built a beautiful new bird feeder pole, he is happy and ready for the birds to watch. Lots to do today, if I can feel up to it. Hope you have a good day today with healing and love.
    Love ya

    • Tonie, Poor flowers. It’s that time already? I like to talk to my flowers so I tell myself they have feelings and for those to bloom for only one season or to die in the winter? How sad. I know many plant ornamental cabbages in the winter but I will have to shop around for something more interesting for my porch. Any ideas? Hope you got your flower beds cleaned out before the cold, cold weather hit. Any snow today?
      I don’t know what you are going through right now but it sounds concerning and of course you have my prayers. May it get resolved soon.
      Please don’t take atrial fib lightly, especially when it is combined with atrial flutter. That is quite serious and must be converted if it doesn’t happen on it’s own. A. fib leaves open the possibility for a clot and a stroke. As for me, I guess the aspirin will have to be done away with and I’ll have to go back on a cardiac drug of some sort. What are they doing for your A fib?
      Curious to hear if you get that snow.
      Now that you two are hitched…I can’t help but feel that all of us were bridesmaids. So happy for both of you. Love, Sue

      • No, thankfully, no snow. It is actually warm8ng back up to fall temps now. Yeah, I got the flower beds cleaned out, they look so bare. One day full of blooms, the next all dead. I am not sure what will survive in the cold. Right now mums are good. They survive even frost.
        Nothing is being done for my afib because they have never caught it. I take extra mag, which keeps it under control mostly. Also, the med she prescribed for dry mouth, the side effects were terrible so I wasn’t going to take it. And my insurance denied it. So….just muddling by on drinking and lozenges.
        Sure hope you are feeling better. I have some issues with me now. What could be carpal tunnel in my left hand and arm. If so surgery…..ugh. But not until next year. And my stomach has been really bad. Eat and run all day. Taking some of my prednisone, seems to help. Tried Pepto, did nothing. Not sure what is going on. Did ya’all know that RA can cause carpal tunnel ? Crazy !
        Well, must be moving. We have been really lazy this morning. B is not feeling well, taking his prednisone, so I KNOW he is feeling bad. We have to find him a Dr here soon.
        Take care, kiss for my little Georgie !
        Love ya

  5. Tonie
    How good now before all the end of this year and start of next
    All the waiting is all done now
    Wonderful news and all the best to you both

  6. Cant believe that we are beginning to think about christmas already and yes definitely a good idea to start doing little bits early so we dont get overwhelmed. I love it though and made some Chrsitmas pickle with a punch the other day. (I added a little too much cayenne chilli pepper) so if I give it as presents it will have to come with a warning.

  7. What a good date to choose then forever remembered tonie
    Colder here gives nearly freezing tonight
    It’s been so warm just lately as well
    I bet the pickle will be well received rosetint just what’s needed that time of year

  8. Rosetint
    What is a Christmas Pickle ? Always interested in the different foods.
    My mother always made candies at Christmas, fudge, divinity, and Martha Washington. I had to crack out black walnuts, hated it, lol.
    I make Mother’s fudge, peanut butter pinwheels, and peanut butter balls, always for my kids. Usually choc chip cookies, oatmeal, and macaroons. This year I am making the truffles for special people, lol. And some French ones for B.
    Chris, very cold here. Only in the 40’s today and cold rain all day. Maybe snow flurries later tonight, maybe not. We spent the day out. Judy with us, worked out, then lunch, then down into North Carolina for apples, stopped at a few other stores, then to a friend of Judy’s to giver her anestimate for some painting she needs done. Gonna be a lot of work, so we have to. Mull it over and call her back.
    Now, I am in my jammies on my warm chaise. My hubby is cooking tonight, so……
    Hope everyone is well and warm.

  9. Dear, dear Friends, Just a quick note. I am in deep trouble but better today than I was yesterday. I am nauseous as I sit here typing. I spent all morning in the Emergency Room yesterday. Due to the inflamed bowel and extreme dryness from Sjogren’s syndrome I couldn’t poop. I started vomiting Friday night and couldn’t keep down my metamucil, juices…three types, or my pills. Finally I couldn’t take it, woke Jim up for the fourth time and said, “This is it, I have to go to the ER.” It was raining so hard and we made it in with me on shaky legs. They gave me 2 liters of IV fluids, a shot for nausea, my pain meds IV and after four hours I came home, took an incredible amount of laxatives and began to become nauseous again and the meds I had weren’t working for it. Called the ER they called in the meds that had worked in the ER and Jim made it out to Walgreen’s five mins before they closed; just as Jim went out to get the meds I heard my gut “exploding” and just made it to the BR where I was for 45 mins. I had weighed an hour before and during that little “sit in” I lost 7.5 pounds. That was a long, long night but today, when I woke up, I felt like a full army tank had run over me. Those gurneys in the ER’s are not for anyone with a bad back, joints…all of them. I am sure you all will understand. I read some of your remarks, pray for me my dear friends. I love each of you and will attempt a new blog for the weekend if that is what I am supposed to do, prayers once again. Sue

    • All, I forgot to mention I had to stay in the ER longer because I went into atrial fib and atrial flutter, everyone got upset except me and now I have an appt with my wonderful cardio guy in two weeks but now am just in A FIb. Sue

  10. My goodness sue…what a thing to happen to you
    Well you rest .you got no choice this weekend
    I bet your exhausted and all that weight loss! Have you got diver with it or just like an ibs that side?
    Dh must be tired too
    The af mite settle when over all that trauma.
    So. You rest and thinking of you
    You also take care with doing too much
    Hubby cooking meal…all sounds all loved up there…..

    • Sue
      So sorry to hear of all this bad stuff. Maybe the af is from alll the stress ? Happens to me. Hang in there, you know I am praying for you. And Jim. Both of you have need of it.
      Lots going on here, not so good. I will share some later. Need prayers here also.

      • Tonie, Indeed, I was in deep stress, full up to my eyeballs and distended and miserable. I wasn’t a bit surprised by the heart acting up and the gurney’s didn’t help at all. Love, Sue

    • Chris
      Always something with thes “wonderful” diseases we have, doncha think ? I think of you so much as I see B suffering with his Crohns. He won’t adjust his diet though. Can’t tell him, says he is too old and will not stop enjoying his food. Boy this man LOVES to eat. Like a man three times his size, lol.
      Hope all is well with you and yours. That wedding is getting closer now ! All ready ?

      • Yep all seems ok and sorted
        But dd has sciatica and limping and at work….in pain
        I’m worried for her
        Yes those meds for making more saliva have bad side effects.i don’t want them either
        Do hope this carpel thing gets easier to live with…I did know with rh you can get it
        Poor B I’m limited.. but can understand thinking I’m fed up gonna eat anyway
        Trouble is I’d be bleeding again and hospital and dh would find life difficult being deaf so I try to keep ok
        Hope all a bit better ….

  11. Janet, My Mom always made fudge and years later always the See’s fudge with the Eagle brand and chocolate chips. I have a beloved memories of dates rolled in powdered sugar with a walnut tucked inside. I still love them but I’m the only one in my family who does. We didn’t like divinity in our family ever…and here in moist OR it is difficult to make. Enjoy your Fall dear friend, Love, Sue

  12. Alison/rosetint. I am pleased to hear you are making progress…speed isn’t everything, although we always wish things, healing, etc. happened more rapidly. I have had a hideous week…one for the books. Good thing I keep a datebook with lots of pages for notes. There is always so much going on I often forget things and get others jumbled up. When one doesn’t feel good….oh life is a puzzle and so darned tiring. Hope you continue to mend so you can enjoy the holiday season. Love, Sue

  13. Chris dear, oh so many problems. Life can be so overwhelming. Poor daughter. That can be so miserable. Ask her to check out the stretches on thelowback.com. R. Don Tigny is an elderly physical therapist who has invented some very helpful stretches for the areas where the sciatic nerve can problems. I use them and have shared that info with hundreds over the years who also find them helpful.

    I have been thinking about you as I have had so many problems with my gut. Finally went on semi regular food yesterday instead of those nasty clear liquids with some homemade potato soup. I used that lazy recipe with a scored baked potato chopped up in milk and a dash of salt and butter in the microwave. Isn’t gut trouble the worse? Do be careful dear friend. I know for me with dry gut, etc. constipation is the biggest problem as well as cramping. I have also found any homemade soft foods are better than bought because we can avoid additives and chemicals. Do take care. Don’t think you need to lose any more weight. You’re a wonderful wife and love can be a blessing and a burden at times but that’s what we do, isn’t it, husbands and wives. Seems like I am usually the burden these days and Jim has been so kind. Love you much, Sue

    • I will tell her as she will like to know that, she is a fitness person ,and will do all exercises
      But I met her today for lunch and a trail of the shops and she said it was much easier .i was so pleased as with the wedding next week etc walking about seemed ok for her as well so all the heat ,gel and time has started to work
      She went for a hen party on a boat on the Thames in London on Saturday I thought that would play it up but it seemed ok.she said suddenly something clicked and it seemed better……magic
      Yep the gut diet is a pain and now with keeping the glucose level down too it is difficult .they don’t go together!
      Yes homemade food in the end is the best
      Kind words sue…but as you say we do what we do
      Meeting for a scone with a friend for breakfast this morning and later a small get together to watch the Halloween frolics in the evening .i don’t think I’ll be able to appreciate the food tho ….
      Hope your gut settles now after all that trauma

  14. Tonie dear friend, no, I don’t find it unusual to have carpal tunnel with all you do. RA can affect nerves, ligaments, etc. as well as bones. I had a friend who had it several years ago and had it disappear after acupuncture. You might try it.

    Well, went to see the doc who screamed at me last month and he apologized…twice. We talked it over in depth and he truly felt terrible. He seems troubled by many things. I told him since I spent many years as a house supervisor in hospitals, he wasn’t the first doctor who had yelled at me. I got the impression my numerous problems are overwhelming him. He talked me into trying opioids last year because he knows how much I suffer everyday and now the state is clamping down so hard on all of those all the docs are afraid. All those state officials don’t know s–t about pain or much about medicine. I don’t know what they expect us to do. I take very little of them, only when up against some major pain but it’s good to know there is more than just a heating pad and crying. When challenged, doctors forget that all current pain medication is based on that damned poppy seed. Since I have bone cancer, I assured him I will talk to my oncologist but right now she is out on maternity leave so I will talk to the nice older guy who is filling in for her. I may have to take marijuana yet!! I just can’t imagine smoking with my dry throat so that is out.

    I will chat with you on PM soon today. Love all your holiday memories and am blown away by all the baking and candy making you do every year. Have you trained that new husband of yours to bake yet? Love you, Sue

    • Sue
      Glad he apologized, if he is overwhelmed, what does he think about you ? I have been overdoing it the last ew days, this I know. Now my muscles are covered with swollen red marks that feel like bruises. Something else new. B will be going to Fla on the 18 for his appointment with the lawyer. Can’t believe they want him to pay again for his card that they lost! And of course, his gut is rebelling. But, he has been taking his prednisone which has calmed him down. He has been trying to call his Dr in France. He knows he is going to have to have the surgery, but thinks he just has to go to France. If he holds out til March, I may go with. Horses, chickens, dogs……I don’t know. Time will tell. So much all at 9nce, but, this too shall pass. He is in charge and promised he would see us through. I believe in His promises.
      Chris, glad DD is doing better. Soon, it will be a happy day for all. Take care

  15. Great chatty blog, Sue! I vote you do just this from time to time. I’m so sorry to hear all you have been going through. And I apologize for not checking in for a while. The little surgery to remove the tiny spot of basal cell carcinoma sent me into a flare – of course – and I was just trying to keep up with what was absolutely necessary. I’m almost back to “normal”. Stitches are out and healing continues.
    Tonie, a belated congratulations!
    My thoughts and my prayers to everyone! I must get showered to make a Costco run this morning with my Mom.

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