Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I Revolve Around Chapstick

Last week I ran out of chapstick. I am very particular and will only use DCT (Daily Conditioning Treatment) in the peach pot made by Blistex. I smear a thick layer on at night and it keeps my lips lipstick soft all day. And well moisturized. Seeing as I have used this product religiously since my teen years I am without a doubt absolutely and completely addicted to it. Dependent on it. Unable to function without it. Like ask me what the one thing I could not live without on a deserted island is. Its that darn DCT. If they discontinued it I would camp out on the lawn of company headquarters and handcuff myself to the door so they could not get in until they promised to reinstate it. But when I ran out I did not race to the nearest CVS (across the street, literally) to replenish my supply. I could not be bothered to shower, dress and actually leave my hermit cave. So I smeared like things I had around the house on my lips. Vaseline, some department store lip conditioner, lip gloss, vitamin E oil. And my lips proceeded to become so chapped and cracked and dry, pieces were flaking off. I could barely speak. It hurt to move my mouth. 

See I have no natural moisture barrier protection on my lips. I have had so many cold sores, sores that would turn into 5 or 6 at a time, causing the bottom half of my face to morph into, and I am being kind here, Daffy Duck proportions. Valtrex was a Godsend to me. It has saved me from wearing a paper-bag over my head ever since my college years. So seeing as I am lacking the natural moisture protection and my addictive menthol chapstick, I find myself in quite a quandary. But I did not do anything about it until I wake up Saturday morning with a deep crack in the corner of my mouth, rendering it impossible to even yawn. This massive injury on my lips, for that is what it now looked like, made me incredibly grouchy and mad. I took the puppies out for their morning potty break, hollared at my husband to walk out onto the front porch and sent the dogs up the stairs to home. I jumped in the car, drove across the street, and in my full just-woke-up glory (minus the night-guard and ear plugs) marched in to that CVS store and bought myself some bloody DCT. Three pots, to be exact.

And this experience has made me contemplative. How Fibromyalgia has been such a loss of freedom. I cannot just pick up and trek across Europe, healthy and young. I can't take off on a spontaneous or impromptu road trip. I would need my medications first! The mountain of supplements that go with them, too. Sleeping in a bed that is not my own is unrestful and unsatisfactory. Travel just plain sucks. My sleep gets screwed up, my body hurts, I do too much with not enough rest. Grrrrr! Who is this grouchy and confining woman? Where did she come from and how do I get rid of her? I want my choices back! I want to be able to work as hard as I play and possess freedom and possibility. I really need to be so much more than this illness, this pain. But my "dependencies" loom large, chapstick being but the least of them. So how do I marry this sick body with that soaring spirit? How do I coax  illness out of primary focus in my life? I guess maybe the first step is believing it can be done, and then setting out on the painful and twisty road to accomplish it?

Thanks for joining,


  1. I know this feeling exactly! I once told a medical professional, "It's a lot of maintenance, being me." She thought I was joking and laughed heartily, probably in part because I assume I was sitting there with my hair slicked back into a pony tail, no makeup, and clothes rumpled from a hour's drive in a truck with no A/C.

    A person without chronic illness just can't grasp the many, MANY things we absolutely depend on. Not just pills and supplements and naps and "quiet time", but things like alarms set on my cell phone to remind me to eat before my blood sugar crashes, or to tell me when I need to be leaving the house for something, to pick up my kids from school at the right time, to let the dogs out in the morning, to water the plants, to send the kids to bed at the right time. The very elaborate Google calendar without which I'm not only unlikely to know what I'm supposed to be doing, I'm unlikely to know what day it is. The ABSOLUTE necessity of using GPS while I drive, even when it's a drive I've done a hundred times. I can't handle polyester touching my skin so we have to pack our own sheets any time we stay somewhere because hotel sheets are almost always poly/cotton blend.

    I look longingly at pictures and descriptions of outdoor activities and remember when I could USE my body, when I was strong and fit and capable. There is so much I want to do that I either physically cannot or that I have to make the grownup decision and walk away from the fun rather than pay the price later. I want to go everywhere, see everything, but even a short plane trip is excruciating. I haven't been home to South Dakota since my grandmother's funeral five years ago, despite my intense desire to show my kids the magical place I grew up and to see my husband overwhelmed by culture shock.

    I have HUGE plans for the house and the yard, but I can't even keep the dishes done or the floor swept. GRRRRR is precisely the word.

  2. Oh, and you really can be physically addicted to chapstick, even without all your awful lip issues in the past. Lip balms with a lot of beeswax or other wax, in particular, "fool" your body into shutting down your natural lip lubricants, so you really do physically need the chapstick to keep your lips from cracking and bleeding, especially out here in the desert. Pretty sure you're not giving up your DCT, but the rest of us can avoid the addiction problem by choosing lip balms high in natural butters--mango butter, shea butter, cocoa butter, etc.; and lower in wax. Read labels, though--just because it says it has natural butters in the label doesn't mean wax isn't the main ingredient, and wax is a WAY cheaper ingredient than natural butters and oils.

  3. Leah and KZ,
    I can relate to both of your post soo much! Leah, I too have been addicted to my chapstick. I absolutley must be chapstick brand. I cannot be without one ever, I do not throw away the container that you can no longer rub on your lips just to have "something" to put on incase I run out..I just scoop it out with my nail and put it on that way. I have a chapstick in my car, my purse, and next to my bed, just in case. I have even had panic attacks when I've run out.
    KZ, I also live by the alarms and calender reminders in my cell phone. I always say "if it's not in my phone it doesn't happen". I can no longer remember when to go to an appointment that had been twice a week for the last 2 years! and this is with my blessed chiropractor. I am so happy to finally see the I am not alone!

  4. Thank goodness I found your blog! Iormally would write more but today I just can't do it. I'm so glad I'm not alone and don't have to explain myself.